Summer-movie mania: What trailers have the most heat?
Every year as we approach the onset of the noisy summer movie season I get together with a bunch of high school kids to talk about the summer films. I show them the trailers from a dozen or so hotly anticipated films; they decide whether the trailers make them want to see the films -- or run as fast as they can in the other direction.
This year's Summer Movie Posse is made up of a bunch of kids from Orange County, which means that the studio marketing execs can't complain that their movies were unfairly judged by a bunch of jaded Westside L.A. private schoolers (look for my post to go up early next week).
I've been watching the trailers, trying to figure out which movies might be interesting for the Posse to see. I have to say that it's quite a fascinating immersion experience, since it's almost impossible to find a trailer that isn't crammed with fiery midair explosions, high-speed car or plane chases, gunplay of one kind or another (with really, really big guns) and tons of fantasy creatures who often morph into extremely scary looking monsters. It generally feels like you're watching a bunch of movies that were originally written by the team of C.S. Lewis and Mickey Spillane.
I make a point of never letting the Posse members know what I think of the trailers, not wanting to influence their opinions -- and more importantly, not wanting them to laugh at me. But for you, my loyal readers, I offer a few off-the-cuff opinions of some of the summer movie trailers that I've been watching:
"Salt": Actually, Ken Levine put it best on his tongue-in-cheek assessment of the summer movie crop when he write that "Salt" was an "action adventure developed for Tom Cruise now starring Angelina Jolie because they wanted someone more masculine." It looks like a thinly veiled knockoff of "Wanted," with Jolie as a suspected Russian spy on the lam who always seems to traveling at about 180 mph.
"Get Him to the Greek": I know there must be some good laughs in this picture, but does anyone care about rock stars and their bad behavior anymore? It feels like a comedy that should've been made in 1985 starring David Lee Roth.
"Iron Man 2": All I can say is -- thank God for Robert Downey Jr. He makes all the material he's in feel hipper and more irreverent than it probably is. (If only I can could get him to do the audio track for this blog, I'd look a helluva lot smarter.) If he wasn't in this sequel, it would might be hard to tell it apart from all the other tech-geek superhero movies. Although you have to admit that Mickey Rourke has great teeth.
"Robin Hood": I don't want to beat up poor Russell Crowe anymore than I have to, but for all the smash 'n bash battle scenes, you still find yourself going -- do we really need another Robin Hood movie?
"Karate Kid": Hey, no one is going to accuse Will Smith of nepotism. His kid looks very cool in the trailer, especially starring opposite Jackie Chan, who finally gets to play a wizened old warrior part.
"Prince of Persia": Every time I see this trailer, I think to myself -- is the box-office genius of Jerry Bruckheimer his ability to make sure there are never any original ideas in any of his movies?
"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World": Every summer you see one trailer that feels like it signals a sleeper hit. And this one is it. Everything in the film looks cool, starting with Michael Cera.
"The Last Airbender": Remember when M. Night Shyamalan was going to be the next Steven Spielberg? Now he's making what looks like a totally generic special-effects movie, complete with such dialogue as "You are the only ones who can control the elements and bring peace to our world." Yikes. Maybe he should've made this movie in 4-D, because 3-D may not be enough to distract us from the impenetrable storyline.