Sunday, October 18, 2009

Movie Trailers: Alice in Wonderland and More

In today's fast paced, internet society, time spent analyzing and examining is time wasted, because there's always something new and exciting coming down the pike that is shinier, bigger and, well, newer than the last. This is especially true, of course, of the film industry, which has lasted for a century on the idea that audiences always need new product. But now the question is, who has time to watch a whole movie, much less spend precious minutes reading a review of it?

Luckily, that's where we come in with a new feature here on the Vault: Trailer Reviews. While some people believe you should actually watch the movie before you make up your mind about it, we disagree, After all, what is a trailer other than an attempt to make up your mind for you before you see the movie? But while the studios want you to have positive preconceptions about their movies, we're under no such obligation.

So sit back and check out the first batch of Trailer Reviews. Because in the time it takes you to watch one feature film, you could instead form opinions about 50 trailers. And in today's time-conscious society, which is really the better use of your precious hours?

The Expendables
Scheduled release date: August 20, 2010

The producers of this movie refer to it as a throwback and boy, they are not joking. The Expendables takes all the action, dialogue and directing cliches of a mid-80's Stallone film and pretty much doesn't change a single thing. While you might expect a production like this to be tongue in cheek, this is strictly pre-ironic territory. It's not that the people making the film don't recognize what they're doing, it's that they do recognize it and think that it's still totally awesome.

And for some fans, it probably will be. If the idea of a group of machine-gun toting mercenaries consisting of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li fighting against the evil and vaguely foreign forces of Dolph Lundgren sounds like a treat, then this is probably the film of the century for you [yes, it's the long awaited Rocky IV rematch]. And yes, this movie also features roles by Mickey Rourke and Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Is a parody a parody if it's played straight? At last we'll get the answer to that question.

My Grades: This is probably either an A+ or an F- depending entirely on whether or not you enjoyed being an 11-year-old boy in the mid 80's. But even though I did, I still can't give this more than a D because wow does it look terrible.

Toy Story 3
Scheduled release date: June 18, 2010

And now, on a slightly different note, it's Toy Story 3. I have to confess that Toy Story, and particularly Toy Story 2, are two of my favorite movies of all time. So while I am very happy to see that they are doing a third film, I have a slight bit of trepidation, because they have a very high expectations to live up to, not just from me from from the entire movie watching world.

And after watching the trailer... I am still a little worried. Mind you, everything about it looks impeccably crafted; the art is a beautiful as ever (and this time will be in 3-D), the voice acting is all great and whatever. My concern is simply that they may be repeating themselves just a bit. The "kid has outgrown the toys" theme was done perfectly in Toy Story 2, for instance, while the characters themselves even comment on Buzz returning to the "space nut" personality he had in the first film. Of course, this being Pixar, I have to give them the benefit of the doubt, because they haven't let me down yet. I just hope that they can continue to prove that there isn't necessarily a first time for everything.

My Grades: A for execution, B- for actual content. Prove me wrong, guys!

Alice in Wonderland

Scheduled release date: March 5, 2010

Speaking of Disney films, here's a live action version of Alice in Wonderland directed, of course, by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Now, if you're anything like me, reading that sentence probably made you so exhausted and spent by life itself that you nearly wept. But, what are you going to do, right? This movie is kind of like Nagasaki; everyone could see it coming but nobody could stop it.

Having said that, the first half of the trailer is actually pretty cool. The character design is intriguing and appropriately creepy (unlike the usual, inappropriately creepy Burton stuff), though the Queen does look a little too Shrek for my taste. The second half of the trailer, of course, is full-on Depp pimpage and should therefore be taken as a necessary marketing evil, if anything in this production can be called necessary. And the thing is, I like Depp. But this is really pushing it.

My Grades: It's an effective trailer and it doesn't give anything away since everyone knows the story anyway. So for trailer competence it gets a B. For the movie it's previewing, though... if I didn't know it was Burton/Depp, I have to admit I would probably still give it a B. But that unholy marriage is so tiresome to me at this point that I have to give it a D+. We'll see if I change my mind before the release date.

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