In this installment of Trailer Hitch, our semi-regular rundown of the biggest recent movie trailers, I've got a superhero flick, a broad comedy, a couple Oscar contenders, and a dance movie. Who says Hollywood only caters to one type of audience? Also, I would love to meet the person who is really excited about all five of these movies. That person clearly hates sunshine and human interaction.
LIFE OF PI (Nov. 21, 2012)
Trailer category: Fantastical Family Film.
Major selling points: It's based on Yann Martel's acclaimed novel. It's directed by Ang Lee. It's got animals in it.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? Mostly, Cast Away. But there's also a bit of a live-action Adventures of Tintin vibe going on. (And while I hate to say it, parts of it did make me think of The Lovely Bones, too.)
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Tobey Maguire's in the movie, but he's not in the trailer, which spends most of its time on the central character Pi Patel, played by newcomer Suraj Sharma.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: Title cards inform us, "When all you've ever known is lost, find your courage."
Spoilage? Mild to medium. If you've read the book, you already know the story, but this clip establishes the basics: Pi has been shipwrecked and must survive in the middle of the ocean with a tiger. The real spoilage is that Fox is showing off some of the film's lavish visuals.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 59 percent. Ang Lee is a top-notch filmmaker, so of course I'm interested in seeing this. But this trailer makes it hard to get a good grasp on what the movie will be, beyond "magical" and "inspirational." Because there's no dialogue in the trailer, who knows if Sharma can actually pull this off? From this clip, you can't tell if Life of Pi will be a moving drama or an empty, boring spectacle. Still, there are some pretty great shots in this.
MAN OF STEEL (June 14, 2013)
Trailer category: Very Solemn Comic Book Movie Epic.
Major selling points: It's a Superman movie, except, y'know, serious.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? The Tree of Life. Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Honestly, the trick here is that they don't want to remind you of your typical Superman movie.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Kevin Costner—who plays Jonathan Kent, Superman's father on Earth—in voiceover form. (If you prefer your ponderous musings uttered by Russell Crowe, who's Man of Steel's Jor-El, you can hear him do the voiceover in this version of the trailer.)
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: "You're not just anyone. One day, you're gonna to have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be."
Spoilage? Mild. We learn that Henry Cavill as Clark Kent is a bit of a drifter who eventually is going to decide to accept his destiny and become Superman.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 68 percent. The Man of Steel trailer knows that you've seen lots of Superman movies, so what it's trying to do is sell you on the specific type of Superman movie that this one is going to be. And while this clip plays up the fact that the movie's produced by Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, Watchmen), the tone of the whole thing sure feels more like Nolan's meticulous cool than Snyder's yowza-yowza fanboy geek. What the trailer is basically saying is, "Trust us: We're gonna make a cool, somber, excellent Superman movie." So for now, I'm going to trust them. But we'll see.
BACHELORETTE (Sept. 6, 2012)
Trailer category: Girls Night Out!
Major selling points: Women acting like dudes.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? Bridesmaids. Sex and the City. Also, Bridesmaids.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Adam Scott, who apparently is going to be playing the Adam Scott-y role.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: "Look at these people: It's like a Jane Austen novel on crack."
Spoilage? Medium. We get the gist of the story: Rebel Wilson is getting married, and all her reluctant bridesmaids do their best to throw her a good wedding, even though they sorta can't stand her. More importantly, people hook up and say bitchy things to one another.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 13 percent. Supposedly, Bridesmaids proved to the world that audiences would go for raunchy, over-broad comedies starring women, but they still have to be good raunchy, over-broad comedies, don't they? Bachelorette, which hits VOD Aug. 10, just looks like reheated chick-flick nonsense that's rendered only slightly more interesting because it features some actors I really like. I have a feeling I'd like them all more if they were in something else.
THE MASTER (Oct. 12, 2012)
Trailer category: Eye-Popping Prestige Picture.
Major selling points: Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the leader of a cult-like religion. Joaquin Phoenix playing an unstable follower. Paul Thomas Anderson made it.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? Even if you didn't know that The Master was Anderson's follow-up film to There Will Be Blood, this trailer's big, bold dramatic scope would probably remind you of that film.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Amy Adams in demure, mousy mode.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: (Said about Hoffman's character.) "He's making all this up as he goes along. You don't see that?"
Spoilage? Mild to medium. The trailer establishes the film's 1950s setting and its central relationship between Hoffman's would-be guru and Phoenix's uncertain disciple. Really, everyone just wants to know how close the film parallels the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Beyond the fact that both men are authors and self-made men, those connections aren't blatantly obvious in the trailer.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 89 percent. Now that we've seen The Dark Knight Rises, the Grierson & Leitch team's next Most Eagerly Awaited Movie is this one. And this trailer is pretty fabulous: There are several terrific shots, and the period detail is superb. Am I slightly concerned that Anderson might be making his second straight sprawling period picture with a Daniel Plainview-like anti-hero at its center? Oh, maybe a little. But I think I'm mostly voicing such mild reservations to help keep my expectations in check. God, I can't wait to see this.
BATTLE OF THE YEAR (Jan. 25, 2013)
Trailer category: Inspirational Sports Movie, Breakdance-Competition Edition. In 3D!
Major selling points: The smooth unveiling of every underdog cliché you can imagine.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? The Step Up movies. Any film in which a ragtag bunch of screw-ups team up to Reach. Their. Dreams.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Chris Brown. You know, for as many people who hate Chris Brown, apparently studios are totally happy having him in their movies.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: "The only way we can win is if we go in there as a team."
Spoilage? Medium to high. If you've seen a sports movie, you've probably already seen most of Battle of the Year, which is about an actual international breakdance competition. Josh Holloway plays a down-on-his-luck basketball coach who decides to guide a group of directionless street toughs to realizing their b-boy dreams. The only thing we don't see in this trailer is if they win at the end, but, c'mon, they're gonna win at the end, right?
Enticement Percentage Increase: 40 percent. Yeah, this looks completely hokey. But ... a well-made sports/dance movie, no matter how predictable, can still be fun if it's done well. If Holloway and the rest of the cast, which includes Josh Peck and Laz Alonso, give it the right spin, it could work. Let's be optimistic, shall we? (Note: If Battle of the Year turns out to be completely terrible, I'll deny ever once even remotely thinking it could have been good.)
Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.