Let’s have a look at some of the new trailers coming our way shall we?
You might want to imagine a giant pair of red curtains parting; I find it helps to create a heightened sense of anticipation.
First up is NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH (spelt with a “U” ‘cos that’s just how I roll) the new Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn movie. Like most Hollywood comedies this comes complete with the feeling that a script-writing robot was involved somewhere along the line, one of those machines that just spits out a Leading Man’s Name and a career or situation to hang a film on (saving the studio the time and hassle of say, oh I don’t know, writing a script).
At first I thought I detected the hand of the Filmatic 500, the high-cost piece of tech that gave us “Kevin James” and “Zoo Keeper” (last year’s – duh – ZOOKEEPER) and, of course, “Jack Black” and “Cave Man” in 2009’s Year One (incidentally, the Filmatic 500 was the replacement for the Filmatic 250, the model that was famously discontinued in the late 90’s when it spat out “Keanu Reeves” and “Scientist” for 1996’s Chain Reaction – the kind of technological Perfect Storm that it’s programmers said could never happen…) As it turns out, it was actually written by Seth Rogen and his frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg who, at the very least, had the sense not to hang around long enough to be in it.
The trailer itself gives very little away, just the four main stars pimping aroundin a car looking like bad-asses which – I’m guessing – the film will reveal them not to be. It’s the rest of the cast that makes this intriguing though. Stiller, while I’m sure still capable of greatness, has kept his light under a bushel of mediocre projects of late and Vaughn just seems to be getting less and less charming with every added year (and pound). But rounding out the cast is Jonah Hill, who is not as portly as he used to be and – for my money at least – has been stealing films from his better paid mates for long enough now. Far more bizarrely, however, is the inclusion of the director of last years’ SUBMARINE, Richard Ayoade. He’s a smart guy, no doubt about it and deeply funny too (as Dean Lerner in Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place he re-set the benchmark for fake bad acting at an all time high), but quite how the angular acting stylings of The IT Crowd’s Moss are going to fit in with Hollywood’s overpaid elite is an intriguing proposition, but one which I doubt will get me out to see the film.
Next is the first trailer for Tim Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE. An animated
re-make of his Disney-era short film, Frankenweenie is a kind of suspect package for me. There’s the feeling I can’t shake that Burton’s animated projects are a kind of phoned in Brand-enhancer. Like, he looks at some pictures – maybe even draws a few – signs off on the script and then sods off to make another terrible adaptation of something obvious while pasty faced boys in a dark room move little models around only for him to come back three years later when the work’s done, give everyone a cigar and then slap them back in shackles until he decides what he wants to “Re-Invent” next.
Now, this may be a residue of the Nightmare Before Christmas days when it seemed almost impossible for the film’s actual director Henry Selick to get any credit for it (a situation I didn’t really see Burton trying to fix) and it’s almost definitely the case that his steady and continuing line of grey-green dribble that is his live action work has bored the tits off me.
And this is from someone who used to be a huge fan; Beetlejuice (1988) was a key childhood flick for me and my love of film really took flight when, thirsty for news and stills of his upcoming Batman movie I started buying film magazines (as well as my cinema ticket, I still have a 1989 centre page spread from The Sun that had a Batman movie exclusive and a copy of Time Out with the Batman logo on the front from the same period). Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) was my favourite film for a good few years, a movie with a lot of warmth, something that’s generally missing from Burton’s work.
A love letter to cinema and – in it’s portrayal of it’s central pairing of lovable hack auteur Wood and aging horror icon Bela Lugosi –Vincent Price, it turned out to be Burton’s last hurrah. Mars Attacks! (1996) and Planet Of The Apes (2001), say no more. Sleepy Hollow (1999), OK, but he’s already begun treading water. The hideously over-sentimental Big Fish (2003) made me gag and so on and on and on.
The fact that, as his choices have descended from obvious to just plain lazy, he has become one of the world’s true superstar directors is just another sign that our culture celebrates mediocrity above all else. Having gone from being Hollywood’s key creative outsider inside, Burton is now just inside.
His sense of design has become a brand and his affection for marginal or disaffected characters has withered to a nub. I honestly don’t know what it’s all about for him anymore and, seeing as how he has gone from adapting pieces that scream “Obvious!” (Alice In Wonderland, his on-hold Pinocchio adaptation) to now regurgitating his own past (as well as Frankenweenie, he has a Beetlejuice sequel on the cards), he has started to resemble nothing so much as a huge black and white striped snake choking on it’s owntail. Having said all that, on the positive side, the voice cast is good (Winona Ryder – fantasy digression: how good is it to have her back in a Burton film? It’s like he chose the wrong side in the Depp/Ryder divorce as she was the one – up until Edward Scissorhands -that appeared to be his muse. Imagine if he had stuck with her instead, creating a whole parallel timeline in which she and Burton collaborated on a whole run of quirky, odd, female-oriented modern noirs, like Depp’s work with Burton but feminine, pulling Burton out of his love of the grotty and into a kind of mental, beautiful, dilapidated real world view, fuelled by a (female) love of real people and an awe of how they work instead of a (more male) fascination of vanity and processes of disfigurement and disillusion.
Sorry. End of digression. – Martin Short, Martin Landau, Conchata Ferrell) and most of them have worked with Burton before so they’ll get “it”. Add to this the fact that 2005’s The Corpse Bride was probably Burton’s last enjoyable film and maybe this ain’t such a dismal prospect after all.
Last for now is MEN IN BLACK 3. Now I have to be honest here; I quite enjoyed the first one at the time but I never got around to the secondone. It was like a vague wave of disinterest washed over me, a giant cosmic “meh” leading me to feeling fine about getting on with my life unencumbered by a need to sit though it (kind of like a weaker reaction to that Sandra Bullock feeling and minus the nausea).
The trailer for this though actually looks like a lot of fun, albeit of the extremely familiar variety. The plot centres around Tommy Lee Jones Agent K being written out of history, sending Will Smith’s Agent J back in time to the 1960’s to figure it all out (cue Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower and a guest spot from Andy Warhol). The big surprise of the trailer is Josh Brolin’s portrayal of the young Tommy Lee Jones. If his voice wasn’t dubbed the man is one hell of an impressionist, with Tommy Lee’s clipped, strangely high tones appearing out of Brolin’s mouth being a real head-turner. It’s hard not to be impressed with the amount going on in the trailer, with the aliens, weaponry and vehicles flying around all over the place, but the film did start shooting before an ending was even written and that seldom works out well. Still, with Smith almost impossible to dislike and Flight Of The Conchords Jemaine Clement on bad guy duties, this could be a lot of fun.
See you in a couple of days for part two of the New Trailer Round-Up.