The Descendants – B+: It is really gratifying to have a new Alexander Payne film coming out this year. There is nothing really revelatory about the trailer, but this still manages to look wonderful headed by reliably subdued work by George Clooney.
50/50– B+: 50/50 looks like a solid balance of comedy and drama, headed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is so adept at both. He and Rogen look like they will have great chemistry.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – C+: Guillermo del Toro’s involvement has me interested, but my reaction to this was the same as my reaction to the teaser; indifference. It does not look necessarily bad, but nothing about it stands out. The little CGI seen looks somewhat poor.
The Whistleblower – B-: My hope is that this film does not fit quite as succinctly into the political thriller mode as the trailer makes it look. Anything that brings attention to this issue, even if through a conventional thriller (to call human trafficking a ‘problem’ is the biggest understatement you’ll ever see on this blog), is a good thing. However, from a cinematic perspective, this looks a bit too cliched to be anything outstanding. Hopefully, it can prove me wrong.
The Smurfs 3D– F: This is the first F I have given since writing these short trailer sound-ups. I say this with all seriousness: I would watch Zookeeper over this any day of the week. This looks like bottom-of-the-barrel filmmaking, if we can even call it that. On The AV Club’s Directors You Didn’t Know You Hated installment of Inventory, they cite director Raja Gosnell. Along with the upcoming Smurfs, he is also responsible for directing Big Momma’s House, Scooby-Doo and its sequel and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The comedy here looks about as lazy as it gets. Children clearly deserve better than this. After seeing this, I will bet that the most average of children’s films will seem like a breath of fresh air. Neil Patrick Harris looks particularly annoying. Hank Azaria as Gargamel looks appropriate cartoonish, and thus, moronic. The Smurfs themselves do not blend in at all, and they seem more annoying than anything else here. The amount of times “Smurf” is injected into their vocabulary is grating. Just because they make a joke about it, does not mean you will not have to listen to their repetitive ‘Smurf’ lingo. And as if you need another reason to not see The Smurfs, Katy Perry is voicing Smurfette. Oh. My. Smurf.
I Don’t Know How She Does It-D-: Again, I say this with all seriousness; I would rather watch Zookeeper. I get that this is going to appeal to busybody women who want to feel appreciated for all the running around they do. Nothing wrong with that. Having Sarah Jessica Parker doing Sex and the City narration complete with breaking the fourth wall does not help. It really looks like she will just be her zany self, running around for about ninety minutes. Why would I want to watch this?
Happy Feet Two 3D – F: Oh boy. The second F of this week. For the third time; I would rather see Zookeeper. Poor poor “Mama Said Knock You Out”. You have been unfairly destroyed in less than a minute. I am not sure I have seen a worse teaser than this. Ever. I have never seen Happy Feet. I never care to see Happy Feet. The teaser is loud, crowded, nonsensical, obnoxious, a little bit creepy and completely bewildering.
John Carpenter’s The Ward – C+: This, like so many horror trailers, looks completely forgettable but totally watchable.
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front – B+: This is one of my most anticipated docs of the year. This looks like it will have an excellent insight into eco-terrorism, balanced with a humanistic approach that offers no easy answers. That makes me more excited about it, docs that are too broad can become easily problematic. That it is called “A Story” as opposed to “The Story” makes me hopeful that this will live up to my expectations.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – A+: This is, for my money, the best trailer of the year so far. I really enjoy this book (much less crazy about the final two installments). The Swedish film left me largely unimpressed, but Noomi Rapace’s spectacular performance alone had me against a US interpretation. By the time Rooney Mara was cast as opposed to a big name, and David Fincher on board as director, my opinion had completely turned around on this project. My initial worry that the film would tone down the more brutal and disturbing aspects of the film look to be untrue by the feel of this teaser. Can I just say how happy I am that Fincher is getting back to the kind of material he is most comfortable with? My adoration with The Social Network aside (as well as my very conflicted feelings towards Curious Case of Benjamin Button), this pessimistic world of violence and grime is where he is at home. By the looks of it, he has wasted no time with this teaser, showing us that he is coming back with a bang. His visual motifs look right at home in Stieg Larsson’s world. The Trent Reznor/Karen O “Immigrant Song” cover is just as sick and fierce as one would hope. The tagline rules. Craig and Mara look perfect from the little we can see of them. And Entertainment Weekly’s observation that the teaser lines up chronologically with the story looks to be pretty much correct from what I can tell. This is going to be far from an easy watch, but if Fincher’s vision holds up, it’ll be more than worth it.
Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World – D: The one thing I like about this trailer is that kids this young are never really given key roles in children’s action adventure films of this scale. They are almost always several years older. So in a way, I think it’s nice that kids this young can be front and center instead of the protagonists’ being 12 and up. That being said, this looks like it should be straight-to-DVD fodder. I am still trying to figure out why there was a Spy Kids 2. Oh yeah; money. This looks awful.