Trailer of the Week — “Interstellar” & “Horns”

Horns Daniel Radcliffe

We’ll get to adult Harry Potter’s misfortunes in a second, but right now, Interstellar simply owns the world of trailers. Combining Michael Caine monologues with Matthew McConaughey’s uncanny ability to cry so hard it looks like his face is melting, its trailers are some of the most emotional we’ve seen all year. In two minutes, the two sides of our social conscience are reflected – our blasé nonchalance to the inevitable burnout of our planet, and the hope and determination that discovery and scientific pioneerism can save it. The former is giving up, easier and easier to do in a tougher and tougher predicament, the latter is hard work and no guarantee of success.

Nolan could sell us on what looks to be a nailbiting, rollicking journey through space. That would be easy to do, especially the year after Gravity. Yet he doesn’t. Nolan’s never been interested in that – look to The Dark Knight trilogy and the first thing you see is a riot of ideologies – Batman’s vigilantism, Rachel Dawes’s strict law & order approach, Commissioner Gordon’s more practical balancing act between the two, all posed against Joker’s anarchy and Ra’s al Ghul’s broader notion of cyclical civilizational decline. Don’t mistake The Dark Knight trilogy for anything but a political anthropology thesis.

This is the way he’s selling Interstellar and, more importantly, this is why we’re buying it. It’s clear the story audiences are primarily interested in seeing him tell is the moral one, not the one that takes place via visual effects. It reflects the trust and expectations we once placed on our best science-fiction storytellers, on figures like Asimov, Heinlein, and Le Guin of years past, who could move us with ideas first, and the genre’s flash a distant second.

Horns
Based on his selection of projects, I’m very much looking forward to Daniel Radcliffe’s career as an adult.

Horns is the best debut trailer this week. Indie films have always offered unique twists on classic fairy tales. In this, Daniel Radcliffe’s Ig is accused of murdering his girlfriend. He maintains his innocence, but it hardly helps when he starts growing devilish horns from his forehead.

Combining black comedy with religious satire? Taking the Nancy Graces of the world to task? Daniel Radcliffe playing such a bad boy the role was originally given to Shia LaBeouf? That lush, small-town, Pacific Northwest feel that screams, “All your supernatural fears are about to descend from the trees!”

It all sounds like the perfect late night showing.

Honeymoon
I’d also like to highlight Honeymoon. The trailer’s a few weeks old, but 2014 has been the worst year for horror in recent memory. It’s up to these independent projects that come out of left field to keep genre fans sated. This one looks good, and I’m always happy when a female director like Leigh Janiak can break into the boys’ club that is horror filmmaking. It’s a promising sign when the trailer itself can creep me out.

Others
More trailers of note this week include the international trailer for Michael Keaton project Birdman, which looks crazier every time I see it; the second trailer for the newest YA-adaptation on the block, The Maze Runner, which looks like a film that could go either way; and a project that looks intriguing but suffers a rather ordinary trailer, War Story, which stars Catherine Keener as a war photographer suffering PTSD.

Into the Woayj
There’s one trailer for a high-profile project this week that just didn’t sit right. Nobody comes out of the Into the Woods trailer looking good, except Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine, who always look good but hardly look as if they inhabit any kind of believable fantasy world. Into the Woods is, simply put, one of the best stage musicals we have, subversive, mature, and hilarious as hell.

For people who know the play, this trailer doesn’t fit the tone at all, and news that anything remotely dealing with sex (which is, basically, the entire play) has been scrapped (including the best song) leaves one wondering what the hell they’ll fill that runtime with (probably more violence). For people who don’t know the play, there’s no hint in the trailer that this is a musical, and it comes off looking like Maleficent with a better FX budget and worse everything else. It could be good (though I’m generally underwhelmed by Rob Marshall films), but this trailer is piecemeal and inconsistent.

Worst of all, the only time we see the film’s title, we can read, “Into the…” but aren’t given enough time to decipher the knotty bramble that (badly) spells out, “Woods.” This is even more egregious in the theater, where the big screen means your eyes take a bit longer to decipher angular shapes. I just typed “Into the” into Google and the most popular search term that showed up was “Into the Wild.” At least now, people will discover one of the best films of the last decade and an awesome Eddie Vedder soundtrack. “Into the Storm,” which opens this Friday, also thanks you for the free advertising.

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