Curator's Note: Well, I've gotten way behind over the past month in trailers, which is ironic because my job has me constantly looking at and occasionally reviewing trailers on a daily basis. Trailer overload I guess, which is preventing me from having the desire to write about them when I get home. This is still one of my favorite segments in The Film Tome and hopefully one of the more useful for you, so I'll put my hands back to the ropes and see what kind of strange things I can lasso in. Expect these next couple of Herds to include a lot a "catch up" titles. Thanks for reading!
Before Monsters University Disney showed this teaser for their next animated feature, Frozen. The snowman and caribou are great wordless characters that must rely on physical storytelling, though methinks the snowman will have a voice once the humans are introduced. This feels like a short they would play before a movie anyway and so it works as currently contained. We're told virtually nothing as to what Frozen will be about, but this was in no doubt an appetizer to introduce us to the comedic characters, not unlike the horse and chameleon in their recently released Tangled.
Keanu Reeves takes fighters into his martial arts Matrix in Man of Tai Chi. Reeves directs Man and stars as a fight club manager with an impressive catalog of his own moves. Beyond that I've no idea what this movie is about. Just an excuse to stage one brawl after another. It's very video game-y and some will giggle when the Mortal Kombat line is spewed. Most exciting about this film is the involvement of Iko Uwais, the star of The Raid: Redemption, one of the best films of last year. It was released in China last week and in Indonesia this week. No word as of yet when we'll get a release here.
American Mary is the second feature film from the Soska sisters (who previously delivered the exploitation film Dead Hooker in a Trunk). After Mary drops out of medical school to become a surgeon she finds an underground alternative that is much more lucrative. This horror films looks to get very twisted, but the classical music gives it a touch of sinister class. American Mary received a limited release back in May.
BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs is a favorite miniseries of mine, an informative epic of a nature documentary made possible through ground-breaking CGI (for its time). I've been hearing about a theatrical version of the series for years now, but it is finally coming this Christmas! Walking with Dinosaurs 3D is the result. The CGI only looks slightly better than it did some 14 years ago. Another aspect that has me scratching my head is what this film will be, a faux-documentary like the original? On IMDb there's a voice actor for a character named Jade. If we're dealing with talking dinosaurs (which is decidedly not Walking with Dinosaurs at all) then it'll be much more akin to Disney's Dinosaur from 2000. After looking at the second trailer my fear is somewhat confirmed. It appears there is a first-person narration from a tiny pachyrhinosaurus! I understand they have to make this appealing to children, but the original completely worked for me when I was still a kid. I've no idea what to expect now, but as the guy who once wanted to be a paleontologist, I'm all for seeing this on the big screen. Look for it in theaters on December 20th.
Hammer of the Gods follows a fierce warrior in the making as he travels across bare Britain lands in search of his long lost brother circa 793 AD. I find myself at a loss of words for this violent yet mostly uninspiring trailer, a crime when you consider the beautifully desolate locations they were able to shoot on. It's available on Video on Demand and is supposedly playing in a theater or two somewhere in the States right now. It feels like a movie I'll start some Saturday afternoon, hoping for a brutal and manly time, and then never bother finishing. That happend with Valhalla Rising for me, though I already feel bad for comparing a Nicolas Winding Refn/Mads Mikkelson film to this one.
The Lambert family continues to be haunted in Insidious: Chapter 2, the sequel to the clearly successful horror film. That first half of that film really worked for me until a number of characters enter and completely derailed its focus. The most effective thing about this trailer is the drilling score which, correct me if I'm wrong, is taken from the decent into the club from the beginning of Irreversible. Boy, I'll never forget that film... Can't say the same about Insidious (which I saw just recently too) or the trailer for this next chapter. The child-circulation scares continue on September 13th.
Kevin Hart needs to prove to his would-be fiancé's protective brother (Ice Cube) that he's fit to be her man in Ride Along. It's the set-up for yet another buddy cop movie that looks to mingle Training Day with The Heat. That second film turned the gender tables on the familiar scenario; will Ride Along be able to bring anything new? Does that even matter because this trailer is pretty laugh-out-loud funny, more than I can say for The Heat's trailer - though after catching up with it earlier this week I'm surprised to report it's one of the year's funniest. Hart fans will need to wait unti January 17th, 2014 to see Ride Along. Can't get enough of Kevin Hart in the meantime? His stand-up film Let Me Explain is currently playing in theaters.
Snowpiercer was my second most anticipated film of the year. Was until I saw this trailer when it was released a month ago. (Maybe that's what depressed me from keeping up with Trailer Round-Up?) It felt like The Hunger Games on a train, with distracting digital effects, over-the-top performances, and most surprisingly, generic action. It's second international trailer was only slightly better (maybe because it was shorter?). Bong Joon-ho is my favorite South Korean director, which puts him as one of my favorite directors in the world. I'm reminded that fellow filmmaker Park Chan-wook's newest film didn't have the most promising of trailers but was still excellent despite that. Of course I'm still going to be there on Day One (whenever that happens to be - still no U.S. release date), hoping against these previews that it's far better than I fear.
The History of Future Folk is the age-old story of a couple of aliens that came to destroy our planet but when they heard our blue-grass music decided to stay and rock out instead. (It's actually not all that removed from The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, also out this year.) This indie film has to think on its feet and use costumes and props that'd make Ed Wood snicker, but it looks amusing enough to make the hype around it understandable. It received a limited release in May.
LASSO OF THE WEEK
Ain't Them Bodies Saints not only has perhaps the most distinguishing title of the year, it has one of the strongest aesthetics I've yet to come across. Certain directorial styles come immediately to auteur-istic minds: Terrence Malick (particularly Badlands and Days of Heaven) and Andrew Dominik, whose The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was frequently described as a Western if done by Malick. The latter titular character was played by Casey Affleck (Ben's younger brother) and stars here opposite Rooney Mara. It's the tale of a Texas outlaw who escapes to reunite with his wife and their daughter who he has yet to see. Ain't Them Bodies Saints has the star power, subject matter and delivery to become one of my new most anticipated films of the year. We're looking at a limited release on August 16th.