10 for '11

The Best Trailers for Upcoming Films

by Ben Travers

9 August 2011


With summer behind us, it’s time to look forward to fall. Ah, fall. Leaves turning. Temperatures mercifully dropping. Pro football back to the field (phew!). Best of all, it’s the best time of year for movies. Ambitious Oscar hopefuls make their pitches starting in September while patient box office dynamos wait for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to bring them a bit of luck. We get it all in the fall. What better way to prepare ourselves than previewing it through previews? Below are the most intriguing trailers for the remaining year (sorry, that means no Dark Knight Returns info). Some may turn out as grand as their marketing department made them out while others merely capitalize from the initial depiction before disappointing. Either way, forget Tosh.0’s YouTube videos—these are the ideal form of two-minute entertainment.

Best Trailer for Men of All Ages - Killer Elite

Anyone can make an action movie. As long as there are a few explosions and at least one star to root for, the target demographic is going to show up, even if it’s only a few choice representatives. If you want more than that, though, follow Sylvester Stallone’s lead. Ok, so this advice can be applied for any situation in life. Here, I’m specifically talking about bringing all of the best action stars together for one rollicking good time, as Sly did for last year’s The Expendabes.

Now, I’m not saying Killer Elite, a film by a first time feature director, is going to stand up next to the towering presence of 2010’s best movie (ok, best action movie… ever), but Gary McKendry and co. have assembled a crack team of stars to carry out the chaos. For the young, we have Jason Statham. For the more mature generation, there’s Robert De Niro. For anyone not hooked by the aforementioned acting stunt man and veteran thespian (and really, how many of you are there?), we’ll throw in Clive Owen to boot.

Clocking in at a clean 1:40, the teaser for Killer Elite is lean, mean, and, thanks to its closing line from De Niro, apparently funny, too. How can anyone with testosterone in his veins say no?

Best Trailer for a Film I’m Obligated to Recommend - Footloose

I’m not a fan of remakes. Ok, the Dawn of the Dead remake was an improvement, but usually they’re a terrible idea. I’m also a man who’s not afraid of doing a favor for his friends when it’s ethically explicable. I have a few acquaintances and one very, very good friend who worked on the 2011 MTV version of Footloose. From what they’ve communicated to me, they loved it; the experience, the cast and crew, and even what they’ve seen of the movie.

That being said, the Kevin Bacon-less trailer (and movie, from what I’ve read online) for Footloose still looks as fun as playing chicken with tractors on a gravel road. What? You’ve never done it? Silly city folk. As a fan of the original film and an even bigger fan of the lost art of dance, I was ecstatic to see the two-and-a-half minute trailer paying more than enough homage to both. There’s the unfortunately requisite Stomp the Yard-esque dance off, but there’s also the black leather jacket and loosened tie. The old VW bug. The dancing through the warehouse in a wife beater. I’m in, and whether you believe my pure intentions now or not, you will be too come October.

Best Pre-Workout Trailer (aka Best Rocky-esque Trailer) - Warrior

Though this trailer commits the cardinal sin of movie previews by giving away 90 percent of the plot in two and a half minutes, the hook of brothers squaring off for the world title may be the only thing to put non-MMA fans in the seats. Also, by doing this, I feel there’s an unspoken promise from director Gavin O’Connor there’s more to his film than just who wins. Even if there’s not, though, audiences should still be jumping up and down by film’s end just because of the score (as long as it’s in the movie, that is).

Both brothers get equal screen time befitting two major Hollywood up-and-comers. Tom Hardy already got his breakout role in Inception, but Joel Edgerton, best known as Owen Lars in the two latest Star Wars movies, is ready for his own. Hey, the worst case scenario is we get a preview of Bane’s bulky bod for next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises.  Best case: Rocky of the new millennium (you know, other than Rocky Balboa).

Best Trailer for a Film Without a Shot at Best Picture - 50/50

Why no shot? Isn’t it obvious? Sure, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has the chops for Oscar-caliber acting, and, as a cancer patient, the perfect Oscar-bait subject matter. Filmmakers even cast recent Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick and Oscar veteran Anjelica Huston in supporting roles.

Plus, it looks like a perfect blend of poignancy and puerility. It doesn’t look like they’re trying to change Seth Rogan’s crudely charming personality – they’re just placing it in a new, better setting. I doubt he’ll have to carry any emotional scenes, which is good, because Gordon-Levitt can more than handle them on his own.

Yet…it’s a comedy. Comedies never get nominated. Its late September release date also hurts. As does the lack of awards pedigree behind the camera. Ok, so maybe it’s not trying for Oscars. Still, it shouldn’t be disqualified before its first screening.

Best WTF? Trailer - Red State

What. The. F. Just. Happened. Really. I had heard plenty of rumors and read a few reviews of Kevin Smith’s first foray into the horror genre, but none of it prepared me for the red-band trailer for Red State. A maniacal preacher shoots a man in the head. A devout follower lures three high school kids with sex and then drugs them into submission. John Goodman, as an FBI agent, is caught in the middle of a shootout between churchgoers and their prisoners.

These are not the scenes I imagined when first informed about the Kevin Smith horror film (other than Jersey Girl, as he jokes in the teaser’s intro for iTunes). By all first accounts, it seemed like a straight scare. Instead, he appears to be taking the most sensitive of subject matters and using it for some seriously dark humor.

We knew the film would be controversial. After all, which one of his films isn’t? The man who made Dogma obviously still has some issues to deal with regarding the right-wingers’ religion he openly disdains. Still, if Smith’s wry sense of humor pairs with his eerie horror plot as nicely in the final film as it does in this surprisingly action-packed trailer, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

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