A Personalized Message to Evan Crean: This is How You Review Trailers [Aug 12, 2011]

I just found out I’m not the only moron out here writing reviews about trailers. Granted, I understand these here interwebs are fairly expansive and have become rather popular as of late, so there had to be at least one other jerk out here who thinks this activity is a valuable use of time. In fact, there are probably a number of people with blogs who review trailers, and they probably all boast a higher number of readers than I (though their readers are no where near as awesome as you guys). Most of those critics, I wouldn’t dare berate. In fact, to all those who clearly state their opinion and have some wit, I would like to take this moment to wish all of you well, fellow trailer reviewers. But, then, there’s this son-of-a bitch at Starpulse.com. His name is Evan Crean, his blog is “Trailer Talk,” and he decided this would be a great picture to use for a profile.

Ha ha! I just pooped

Okay, that’s not very nice. Maybe he doesn’t take very good pictures. Or maybe his head is just that tiny. I can’t really talk; this is the only picture on my LinkedIn profile:

BEAT DRUMS!

The point, however, isn’t his minuscule head or his enjoyment of constipation. The point is that he gets paid to write stuff like:

This is your format to review trailers? You poorly paraphrase the IMDB summary, then make an asinine guess at who should go see this flaming pile lizard dung? You truly think that people who are fans of the Planet of the Apes series should be the “first in line to see this?” Did you even watch the trailer? I imagine you couldn’t have, as the new film doesn’t attempt to answer the question of “how the apes took over the Earth” in the original series. Any examination of the trailer indicates how this is obviously a completely new (and terribly realized) Planet of the Apes. If you couldn’t figure it out from the trailer, then you could have done a quick internet search. Had you the insight to give any real opinions and the ability to clearly state it, then you would probably not have just spat out exactly what the advertising execs already forced down our throats.

You damn dirty ad execs!

Granted, I hated the trailer, while the “real critics” seemed to love the movie, so you can trash me for that. Hell, you can argue my ridiculous opinions and challenge the very reason I talk trailers instead of movies themselves. At least I formed an opinion and put in some work. What the hell is the point of your blog? What information can be gathered from what you write that I can’t find looking at IMDB? In fact, I can probably find more insightful information on IMDB by scrolling down to the comment section.

Or perhaps just some good old fashioned racism...

Evan, I know they don’t pay you much at Starpulse. Perhaps they don’t like colorful commentary, or maybe they just prefer mediocre, middle-of-the-road, all-movies-are-good-movies statements. In your defense, I decided to check out your blog, where it turns out you have actual aspirations to be a film critic. Well, there’s your problem right there. It’s not your writing; you have some thoughtful insight and good language (though “plus” should always be spelled out). It appears that reviewing trailers is simply below you, so you just don’t care. As a proud trailer critic, I’m disheartened and offended by your lack of respect for the field of reviewing movie trailers. It’s what you are. Don’t fight it, embrace it. You have a (paid) voice on a site that dozens and dozens of people frequent. Make the most of it, sir.

Now sit back, Evan, and let me show you how it’s done.

30 Minutes or Less or Always Make Sure You Lock Down the Rights to your Dead Relative’s Life Story

30 Minutes or Less is the comedic story of a pizza delivery guy who is abducted by criminals, gets a bomb strapped to his chest, and is then forced to rob a bank before the bomb explodes.

Brian Wells was a pizza delivery guy who was abducted by criminals, got a bomb strapped to his chest, and was then forced to rob a bank before the bomb exploded. True story.

Supposedly the filmmakers knew of this story but continued to make the film anyway because it’s a really funny idea. The not so funny part? The real Brian Wells died in police custody when the bomb went of like he said it would. The investigation never cleared Wells’ name, but I would assume that, if he were involved, he would probably have known how to disarm the bomb and would have explained that to the cops. Hell, if he were involved, he probably wouldn’t have strapped a live bomb to his chest. Either way, director Ruben Fleischer fails to see any relation between his movie and  Well’s tragic story “…other than the fact that there’s a bomb strapped to somebody’s chest.” Yep. That’s the only correlation.

Fleischer went on to say, "and, like...in real life, it totally wasn't Jesse Eisenberg getting attacked."

This is a really upsetting development to me. Honestly, 30 Minutes does look like a hilarious film. Ruben Fleischer also directed Zombieland (not based on a true story…yet), a delightful Zom-Com with Eisenberg at his comedic best. 30 Minutes also has Aziz Ansari, who is so funny he almost makes me want to watch Parks and Rec.

...Almost...

I like the idea of a double buddy-comedy, and, off the top of my head, I can’t think of another film that has tried that angle. I don’t think the actors knew of the true story behind the film, and there’s even a good chance the director didn’t know until he already signed on to the project. However, the writers and the producers had to know this shit from the beginning, and that is fucking wrong.

It’s okay to pull material from the headlines. Every writer goes there at one point or another, and it is one of the best places to get material. But you have to be creative enough to disguise it as something else. You have to use the stories as inspiration to fuel creativity. You can’t just pull out a tragic story and say, “hey, this would be funny as a buddy comedy!”

Anyone else thinking of a Jackie Chan movie?!

Do you see how that is the most offensive joke I ever told on this blog? That is why you change your story. Practically every serious American movie that was produced after 9/11 was somehow about 9/11, but the only films we hated were the ones that were literally about 9/11. And those were serious films.

As serious as his mustache.

Yes, this is an extreme example, but you really need to show discretion as a storyteller. What is inspiration to you is incredibly offensive to someone else. It wouldn’t be that hard to make Eisenberg’s character the manager of go-cart park or a valet. Either of those would have played well into the basic premise and removed 80% of the blame.

As far as the trailer is concerned, it’s pretty damn funny. I’ll probably see this film, but I won’t pay for it as a form of protest.

On a side note, congrats to Dilshad Vadsaria, the female lead in 30 Minutes or Less. I’m glad to see she’s moving onto better things now that Greek is finally over. She’s great, and she deserves it.

She also has great taste in beer. Newcastle, if I believe it was.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People who like to laugh in the face of the dead (sorry, Dilshad).

Final Destination 5 or The The Final Destination

After Final Destination 3, we thought the final Final had finally come. But, when 3D became big, the producers decided they needed to reboot the franchise with the clever usage of a definite article. Thus, The Final Destination was thrust upon us in the highest known capacity of dimensions.

Despite what Rod Serling says.

I figured the inclusion of “the” on the last movie meant that there would be no more, or that the series would at least be newly resurrected. Instead, producers just dropped the “the” and resorted to the classic numerical system, to which I say, “what happened to Final Destination 4?”

Now that I’m thoroughly confused by the endless cycle of the poorly named Final Destination movies, I have to say that it doesn’t really matter. I never saw any of them after the first one, and it wasn’t all that impressive. The principal cast dies in each movie, meaning the next installment always has a completely new roster, so I doubt there’s much of a linear storyline.

Ali Larter did actually make it from the first film to the sequel, but even she tries to forget that happened.

In fact, they all have the exact same storyline: the main character’s sudden clairvoyance saves the lives of a handful of people who were meant to die (typically in a major transportation accident). This makes unknown entity “death” extremely angry, and “death” seeks out and kills each of the survivors, typically in a method that is almost as gruesome as it is preposterous.

What is it with horror movies and eyes?

The previously botched reboot attempt was just successful enough to prove that there is still money in the series, though there isn’t a single ounce of tangible horror left. The producers completely realize that each new Final Destination flick is, at best, a ridiculous parody of itself. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the viral promotional video they released last week (if you dare). There is absolutely no comedic value to this video, and I can’t seem to find any concrete relationship this has with Saved by the Bell, but it features one of the stars of The Final Destination 4.5 and people die in dumb ways. A double parody (Saved by the Bell and Final Destination) is their creative way to get people to see this movie.

The trailer is still trying its hardest to be a serious horror film. There’s some really serious music, and there’s a big interrogation led by that head doctor guy from Grey’s Anatomy — he makes everything more serious. They even present the premise with such sincerity that you’d think we’d never heard of this crap before. Really, you knew this was gonna happen? What!? You’re all still gonna die? They try so hard to pull off the serious schtick, and it nearly works. Then they show a clip from one of the death scenes.

Specifically this one.

This guy falls off the table while he’s getting acupuncture. Freaking hilarious. Another chick is about to step on a screw while she’s performing on the balance beam. I think another girl is going to get her brain fried by a Lasik eye surgery machine? I have never seen a Lasik eye machine, and I think the director is relying on that. Sadly, with the exception of eye surgery girl and acupuncture man, most of the deaths the trailer showed seem pretty lame. One character just slips on a ring and falls out of a high rise apartment building. I want my deaths to be hilarious, and that’s just not cutting it.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Sheep and people who liked the guy from Candyman.

I hear you're looking for Candyman, bitch. Well, you found him!

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie or Ryan Murphy is a Godless Goat Fucker

Two years ago, Ryan Murphy  co-created Glee, a very entertaining musical comedy you might have heard about. When I say “very entertaining” I mean the first thirteen episodes were very entertaining. Honestly, they were. They were produced with the reckless abandon of any FOX show forced into a summer release.

Seriously, you need to watch this shit. It's great.

The only downside was that the show accidentally became wildly popular and was picked up for a full season. To be clear, I am not saying the popularity of the show made it bad. Well… actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You see, they didn’t really write the show to exist beyond the first (half) season arc. Everything was resolved by the thirteenth episode. It was a great ending to the (half) season, but all of the loose ends were neatly tied up, and there wasn’t a single storyline to lead into the next season. They obviously made no plans to be so incredibly popular and had absolutely fucking nowhere to go once FOX decided to continue the series.

Unlike some other canceled Fox shows.

Ryan Murphy decided to take this new found success head-on. Instead of going the conventional route of working hard to develop even stronger material, he decide to spout mindless, self-aggrandizing bullshit and just write the scripts in his own success-binge-piss. In lieu of creativity, the series now consists of half-baked episodes with premises like “Rocky Horror is a part of pop-culture, so let’s bastardize it for ratings.”

Yet I guarantee you none of Glee's target audience can identify this picture.

He has used the shit ton of money he made from this series to purchase the highest horse in the whole god-forsaken business, where he now sits and yells at bands who refuse to be associated with his now completely bat-shit insane TV show. If you’re in the press, you must fear the wrath of the Murphy! Say anything bad about his show, and it’s because you’re a gay-basher. Obviously, his show is the only prime time show in the history of time that has depicted a  homosexual.

With only a few exceptions...

I hate to admit it, but this summer I have been the willing subject of drunkenly watching The Glee Project . Even most gay men wouldn’t admit to watching something that is both Glee related and on The Oxygen Network. To be fair, I don’t watch it regularly; it’s on between cooking shows (or does that make it worse?), and it’s such a fucking train wreck that it’s nearly unavoidable. For those who don’t know, this show is basically Ryan Murphy making the staff of Glee work through the summer so he can line his pockets, even though he’s only working about 30 minutes a week. I suppose a more apt description would be “Ryan Murphy is forcing a bunch of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kids compete against each other for a new spot on the cast of Glee. That kid is going to be a recurring character with a line every third episode, but whatever.”

The show has made me realize two things about Murphy. First, he looks like Gunther from Friends contracted HIV.

Poor Gunther...

Second, he is dickless. I have never seen such a backhanded, asshole way of kicking someone off of a reality show. At the end of every episode, the bottom three contestants have to perform in front of Ryan Murphy, and Murphy alone chooses who goes home. It’s all up to him, so he probably already picked who he wants to win the competition weeks ago and is just making everyone jump through hoops so he can get more cash. That’s not the dickless part.

Every week he posts a cut list. The bottom three walk in to see who got cut. All alone. He doesn’t have the balls to say it to their faces, he doesn’t congratulate them for getting this far or pat them on the back and say, “keep at it!” He doesn’t tell them why they’re gone. He just writes their name on a piece of paper, leaves the set, and doesn’t return until he kicks off the next person. Never mind that no one is cut from the glee club in the show, Glee. Ryan doesn’t want to talk to the lowly peons who aren’t worthy of his masterpiece, so he simply chooses not to.

Though he does make sure to collect their tears in a jar to mix into his cocktails later.

If I could have avoided watching this trailer, I would have. This film is just a documentary showing how Ryan Murphy milks his cast for all the money they are worth. You want to make a movie between seasons of Glee? Fuck that. You’re going on tour. Hey America, let me cum grandeur on your face. Not pretentious enough? Let me do it in 3D.

His ego is too big to fit into just two dimensions.

The only positive about the trailer is that Jane Lynch gives you fair warning: this movie is going to suck.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People with zero fucking taste in television, film, music, pop culture, or society in general.

The Help or A Little White Girl Gon Don Help da Black Folk Betta Demselves

In The Help, Hollywood’s new best girl, Emma Stone, plays the lead role of “Educated White Woman.”

A role most recently popularized by Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side."

She has just graduated from college and returned home to Jackson Mississippi. It’s early in the 1960s, before black people had they own folk like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Spike Lee. Someone white is going to have to stand up for these negro woman being put down by their rich, white bosses. Stone decides it’s gonna be her, and she’s gonna do it by…interviewing them and writing down what they have to say? How the hell is that going to help them? I mean, they get to vent a little about how much white people suck, but I really don’t see how that will help them in the long run.

I don’t know if this is anything like the book as I haven’t read it. I understand it is a very good book. At least, I’ve seen a lot of white people reading it on the subway, and they really seem to be into it. I don’t think the book is written purely in the blood of white guilt, but I know that it at least has a healthy basting of it. How do I know that?

Because the author's white.

I don’t want to talk about a book, though. I judge movies by their trailers, not books by their authors, and the trailer to this movie is dripping in white guilt.

As a white person, I’m not against a little white guilt. You need it to keep yourself honest. But white people these days use white guilt as a Band-Aid. White people go and see a movie like Crash and feel bad about how racist white people can be. They think because they felt bad then they’ve done their work.

Starred in The Blindside, Crash and the parent of a black baby in real life. She LOVES white guilt.

The problem is, white people don’t consider the context of racism outside of the movie. They see racism as something from the Sixties they need to feel bad about. Even when movies show white people being racist in modern day, the white audience never looks inside themselves and says “You know what? I’m pretty fucking racist myself.” They think that because they like the movie and they felt a little guilty, they must not be the racist people the movie is really talking about. The truth is that, most of the time, white guilt is an indirect, empty apology for 150 years of oppression, and it avoids addressing the issue of how racism manifests itself today.

But that’s just what I get from this trailer. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there will be lines around the block in Harlem.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: White people. ALL OF US.

Senna is A Documentary That Exists

ESPN made this documentary about a famous Formula 1 car racer. His name was Ayrton Senna. If you recognized the name from the title, then you already know more about this documentary than I can tell you.

On some of their promotional posters it says, “the best superhero movie of the year!” in big block letters, right below the title. I don’t think these people know what a superhero is, but it typically involves someone with a lot of power who chooses to fight crime, and it typically has nothing to do with driving Formula 1 cars.

Typically.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People who don’t know what superheroes are.

Vigilante Vigilante is Riding the Coat Tails of Exit Through the Gift Shop

If you haven’t heard of last years’ Oscar nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, there’s a good chance you’ve also never heard of Vigilante Vigilante. They both deal with the perception of graffiti art and artists, but the similarities end there. In fact, it’s pretty unfair for me to say Vigilante is riding on the coat tails of Gift Shop; a more accurate statement would be to say the success of Gift Shop has opened doors for Vigilante. The downside for the new documentary is that it will undoubtedly be compared to it’s popular predecessor.

Exit Through the Gift Shop was a fantastic documentary (or possibly mockumentary) told from the point of view of  two of the most popular and most respected graffiti artists in the world.

Shepard Fairey (left) and the only known recorded physical manifestation of Banksy (right)

It is as much a cynical critique of the high art world and art consumers as it is a critique of the art itself. It is not, however, an accurate representation of common graffiti artists — taggers who are sought out, arrested, and responsible for 98% of the graffiti we see in most cities.

All of us from the 49th St stop miss you, Mustache Man

Vigilante taps in to the other side of the graffiti world, and it does it in an interesting way. Not only does it follow graffiti artists, but it also follows people who fight graffiti artists. These aren’t police or government officials. They are simply locals who take it upon themselves to cover up graffiti with fresh paint. The film draws parallels between the artists and the, er… de-artists, both of which consider themselves vigilantes (hence the clever title).

And that’s the most boring review I’ve ever written.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Artists and those who enjoy destruction of property.

Littlerock or An 80min Ride on the WHA-mbulance

If you’re going to watch the trailer, brace yourself, because it’s 4 minutes long. Absolutely nothing happens to justify the trailer’s length. I’m pretty sure it could have told me everything there is to know about this film in 15 seconds.

There’s a Japanese guy and girl, who I’m pretty sure are brother and sister. They are traveling through America because sometimes Japanese people do that in American independent cinema.

They always look like they're really enjoying it, too.

Brother and Sister spend a couple days in Littlerock, California, where they befriend one of the most unbearably whiny hipsters I’ve heard in my entire life (and I’ve been to Williamsburg). The Japanese people don’t speak any English, but there is no way his gratingly annoying disposition is completely lost in translation. The whiny little hipster falls in love with the Japanese girl, presumably because she is the first woman who didn’t run in horror the moment he opened is mouth. Meanwhile, she falls in love with Whiny Hipster’s best friend, Bearded Hipster. At this point, your ear drums turn into yellow mush and you have to go see a doctor.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Whiny little hipsters and maybe the filmmaker’s mother. Maybe.

UPDATE: There’s now a new trailer on Apple Trailers. The film made a nice little visit to a colorist and they decided to avoid showing Whiny Hipster as much as possible. They also threw in some title cards with buzzwords quoted from critics we’ve never heard of, but the original trailer is still up on Trailer Addict. All that crap I said in my original post still holds true, now matter how much they try to gloss it over with this new trailer.

Bad Posture or Somebody Misplaced Something. Probably Drugs. That is all.

Indie films should invest a little money to find an editor who can cut a decent trailer for them. Otherwise, they’ll end up with the trailer for Bad Posture.

I imagine Bad Posture is a decent freshman effort from director Malcolm Murray. There are a few strong shots in the trailer, and there appears to be some genuine tension in a number of the scenes. Most of what the trailer shows, though, are shots of people standing around doing nothing. I’m not sure why so many indies believe shots like this are necessary ingredients for a trailer. The truth is they’re boring as fuck, and they make your 1:30 trailer feel like it’s 4o minutes long.

Trailers need story arcs just like movies do. That doesn’t mean you tell the whole story of the movie in the trailer, but it does mean divulging some of it. The closest thing we get to a story in this trailer is a guy talking to another guy about “that thing” and “whatever happened to it.”

By the context clues, I'm going to assume they mean the Beek's career.

The actor asking about the thing’s location is playing the part about as apathetically as possible, so I don’t even know if this missing thing matters at all (definitely Beek’s career). As a random trailer viewer, it looks like they put this exchange in because it was the best piece of acting they have in their entire movie, and they had to show something worth watching.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: No one? I’m not sure. I think that’s the target audience, though.

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow or Sorry, I can’t Improve on the Title

How fucking awesome is that title? That is simply an epic fucking statement. Is this the story of the end of man? Is this about how society’s abounding consumerism will eventually be its downfall? Perhaps it’s a commentary on war in general. No? Maybe they are revisiting famous WWII battlefields, telling the story through what remains.

No, it’s about Anselm Kiefer, an installation artist in Germany. I’m sure his themes are somewhat reminiscent of Sara Teasdale’s poem, but I can’t imagine this film is worthy of a title that epic. Especially when this is the first “trailer” you find for the documentary:

This isn’t just a clip from their film; this is the film’s official trailer on Trailer Addict. That means they consider this clip one of the most exciting parts of their movie. I didn’t use it in my link because it’s too damn boring to be a trailer. There are four shots and five cuts in all. If he were using paint for this piece of art, then we would literally be watching paint dry.

Still, it does look beautifully shot. From the blurbs I’ve read, it sounds like Kiefer has developed an unbelievable artistic project. He took a decrepit silk factory in Germany and transformed it into a sprawling mini-city, complete with underground tunnels, crypts, and art studios. What does the trailer show us? Some guys knocking dirt off of an iron wall.

The Hulu trailer is much better, but I think this film’s viewing experience is very obvious: at some point, we will inevitably fall asleep.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People on Adderall. Otherwise, you’ll fall asleep. Or maybe people having trouble falling asleep. Or me. I kinda want to see this. I’m on Adderall.

Alright, Evan. That’s how you review trailers. You give a clearly stated and well-defended opinion of every movie based on its buzz, filmmakers’ history, your previous knowledge, and, let’s not forget, actually watching the trailer. Be sure to work in a James Van Der Beek reference. In the end, you’ll probably offend your entire audience, but at least they know where they stand on every movie opening on any given week.

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