The summer movie world is in a bit of a lull right now: Spider-Man showed up in time for July 4, Savages sneaked in just under the "Blake Lively Being Double Teamed-Themed Festivus Day" holiday wire and now everyone's slowing their roll for a couple of weeks until The Dark Knight Rises opens. Which means it's time to forget about what's playing now and go watch some trailers on the Internet. I'll use the old Trailer Hitch format from Grierson's and my portal-ing days at The Projector, because it's a Friday and you're taking the afternoon off too.
JACK REACHER (December 21, 2012)
Trailer category: Tom Cruise movie. "Action."
Major selling points: Tom Cruise punching and kicking people in their unmentionables.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol Inconsistent Punctuation, the Bourne films.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" You can't tell from the trailer, but this has Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and ... Werner Herzog. More on that in a second.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: "He doesn't care about proof. He doesn't care about the law. He only cares about what's right."
Spoilage? Mild. We don't meet any characters other than Cruise's titular character, and all we really find about him is that he has a scar, he beats up people, he enjoys quoting Seth Meyers and he "only cares about what's right." Oh, and he drives a kickass car.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 43 percent. Much has been made how the Jack Reacher character, in the series of Jim Grant novels, is a 6-foot-5, 235-pound giant. (You can read the novel this is based on, One Shot, right here for free.) People are only bringing this up because Tom Cruise is playing him, though, and making fun of Tom Cruise for being short is the most fun way of making fun of Tom Cruise. We'd rank the Top Five Things To Make Fun Of About Tom Cruise as: 1. His height (he's short). 2. Getting divorced when each of his wives turned 33. 3. That time when he was wearing braces. 4. That he feels obliged to sue anyone who makes a gay joke about him. 5. Having a public feud with Matt Lauer, that notorious bully.
But we don't know why this should have any negative effects on Jack Reacher; the only reason you know Reacher is so tall in the books is because someone told you that, and the only reason they told you that is because Cruise is short. Whatever his off-screen, uh, eccentricities, Cruise remains the hardest-working movie star in the business; we don't always buy him in every role, but we always enjoy him. Plus: The bad guy in this movie is played by Werner Herzog. His character is "The Zec," who is introduced in the book thusly:
The Zec was the man he worked for. It wasn't just Zec. It was the Zec. It was a question of respect. The Zec was eighty years old, but he still broke arms if he smelled disrespect. He was like an old bull. He still had his strength and his attitude. He was eighty years old because of his strength and his attitude. Without them he would have died at age twenty. Or later, at thirty, which was about when he went insane and his real name finally slipped his mind.
Yeah, make fun of Cruise all you want: I can't wait to watch this movie.
THE LONELIEST PLANET (August 11, 2012)
Trailer category: Travelogue terror!
Major selling points: It looks pretty. And something horrible seems to happen to people who otherwise look happy and attractive.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? Into the Wild. Oddly, we got a brief Hostel vibe.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Gael Garcia Bernal is the only person you know. I prefer to pretend he hasn't been in a single movie since Y Tu Mama Tambien.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: "A mysterious feeling courses through us."
Spoilage? Mysterious! So, this is a couple that seems to be in love and happy and ready to go backpacking and then ... man, something awful seems to happen. But there don't appear to be any vampires or monsters, so this is one of those "of the mind" terrors. Helpful: Saves on special effects.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 63 percent. The trailer is spooky, and the way it turns on a dime makes me think the movie has the same cognitive whiplash going. Note: This is actually based on a short story by Tom Bissell—who wrote the brilliant Harper's essay on The Room a couple of years ago and also reviews video games for Grantland—called "Expensive Trips Nowhere."
THE IMPOSSIBLE (TBD)
Trailer category: Weather-related horror.
Major selling points: Naomi Watts desperately hanging on to a tree.
What successful movies are they trying to remind us of? Hereafter, which was totally not successful at all.
"Hey, (s)he's in this?" Ewan McGregor.
Line of dialogue that's really what the whole movie is about: "Run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Spoilage? Medium. Well, you know that tsunami that killed thousands upon thousands of people in it a few years ago? Imagine if Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor were two of them.
Enticement Percentage Increase: 17 percent. This trailer has actually been around since April, but it's in Spanish. The English-language trailer is probably waiting on a release date. The reason we even noticed it was because Movieline pointed out the sorta-offensive-and-totally-crazy poster, which literally features Naomi Watts screaming and hanging on to a tree. Yeah, this is a disaster movie, with McGregor and Watts with their perfect Aryan family enjoying their vacation when suddenly—BAM!—the 2004 Thailand tsunami hits. (You really don't feel the pain of it unless it's happening to white people.)
Anyway, it's disconcerting to see one of the most deadly tragedies of the last 25 years being treated as if a Tyrannosaurus Rex is about to attack just off frame, but hey, that's me: All told, I probably would feel better if Wayne Knight were being eaten. I'm pretty sure this movie is going to be five minutes of special effects and 95 minutes of Watts and McGregor separated, shouting each other's character's names into the air.
Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.