This month sees a new feature here at PJ Lifestyle, our review of movie trailers promoting upcoming theatrical releases. This will be a work in progress, guided heavily by your feedback and insight. So don’t hold back.
To kick things off, we present a list of the top 10 movie trailers released in June, based on their online popularity. There’s a surprising mix of several-hundred-million-dollar would-be blockbusters and smaller independent films, everything from chick flicks to the epic actioners you might expect. We begin with:
10. Very Good Girls
Two actresses work to advance their careers in this sexually charged coming-of-age drama. Dakota Fanning continues to shed her child star image, while Elizabeth Olsen continues to distinguish her individual brand from that of her more widely known elder sisters. The two play girls who “make a pact to lose their virginity during their first summer out of high school,” a plan complicated when they both pursue the same man.
Both Fanning and Olsen have portrayed older roles, and this may seem like a step backwards but for the mature subject matter. Peter Sarsgaard looks to turn in another performance as a pervy creeper, something he’s quite good at. The film also stars Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield lead Clark Gregg.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This new incarnation, produced by Transformers director Michael Bay (in what appears to be his customary loud style), has generated much controversy among Turtles fans and film buffs alike. Megan Fox as April O’Neil? The very Caucasian William Fichtner as the historically Japanese Shredder? A militarized Foot Clan wielding guns instead of, you know, ninja weapons? It all provides much cause for concern.
Early reports indicated that the turtles would be reimagined in this reboot as aliens, a fact alluded to in this trailer. Certainly, it’s clear license has been taken in other ways. We’ll see how it all comes together on August 8th.
8. Dracula Untold
As the title suggests, this fresh entry into the vampire genre delves into the “untold” origins of Dracula. Known to history as Vlad Tepes, Dracula apparently came into his unearthly dark power in a desperate effort to save his people from a tyrannical sultan. At least, that’s the gist of this trailer for the film which releases in October.
The concept holds promise, but may be overplayed in any variety of ways. How compelling is a large medieval ground battle between faceless CGI pawns and a flock of bats? Not very, unless we’re given some meaningful reason to care.
7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
There may be no greater irony in popular culture at this moment than the cognitive dissonance between loving The Hunger Games franchise while supporting the twisted governing principles espoused by its villains. Presented as a piece of in-universe propaganda, this first teaser for the upcoming next chapter features Donald Sutherland’s President Snow addressing the slave districts of his dystopian nation, Panem. Appealing to unity and sacrifice, and brandishing a thinly veiled threat, he exhorts the masses to submit to the Capitol’s authority.
If only the crowds rushing to these young-adult rebellion films were drawing the mental connection with reality, we might stage a revolution of our own.
6. The Best of Me
Hitting all the beats you’d expect from of a film of its type, this trailer for The Best of Me promises a paint-by-numbers romantic drama full of awkward courting, forbidden love, and a strong sense of destiny. James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan bring B-list star power to uplift their younger and lesser known counterparts, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. If the proportion of screen-time in the trailer proves indicative of the film, the bulk of the story will center on the couple in their youth negotiating various obstacles to getting together and remaining that way.
It’s probably nothing we haven’t seen before. But it looks to be well executed.
5. Final Girl
“You are an interesting girl.” So concludes an admirer (or perhaps victim) of the titular Final Girl played by an all-grown-up Abigail Breslin. Not exactly Little Miss Sunshine here, Breslin appears poised to take a turn as a femme fatale vigilante.
The style of the film, both in its narrative and visuals, seems to mix and match from a variety of influences. Is this film noir? A spy thriller? An atypical horror piece? Maybe it’s all of the above.
You may note the other now grown child actors, Alexander Ludwig and Cameron Bright. Can they each carry these mature roles, or will it come off like kids playing make-believe in the woods?
4. Are You Here
Perhaps if The Hangover franchise had stopped at the initial film, and we had not already received such a heavy dose of Zach Galifianakis as the proverbial “that guy,” the offer to see him retread ground here might appeal. As it stands, this looks like Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis playing Wilson and Galifianakis in a production of Let’s Make a Movie with Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis.
The trailer may not convey everything this film has to offer tough. The cast, including those strong comedic leads, represents a lot of talent. Plus, sharing a writer/director with TV’s Mad Men can only bode well.
3. The Equalizer
This may be for men what The Best of Me looks to be for women, a paint-by-numbers retelling of a familiar gender-driven fantasy. In the badass category of A-list actors, it’s hard to surpass Denzel Washington.
It’s not entirely clear whether this film is at all based on the ’80s television show by the same name. The premise is certainly similar. But again, the same could be said of this and a hundred other vigilante films. Sometimes, just as people return season after season to see the same stage performance by a different company, we go to the cinema seeking the familiar once again done well.
Dwayne Johnson has come a long way from his cinematic debut as The Scorpion King in 2001’s The Mummy Returns. His name need no longer be hyphenated with “The Rock” for audiences to recognize it as his. His transition from the world of professional wrestling to Hollywood heavyweight stands complete.
Johnson is the reason to see this new iteration of Hercules. Other recent incarnations have come and gone without notice. This Hercules will work if for no other reason than because it’s the role Dwayne Johnson was born to play.
1. The Expendables 3
It’s noteworthy that this trailer for The Expendables 3 has been viewed nearly four times as much as the runner-up on this list. One wonders whether it even matters what Stallone has all these guys doing in one film together. A role in The Expendables franchise has become the cinematic equivalent of an Action Star Hall of Fame.
Perhaps that’s why, even though this third film is billed as “one last ride,” retired Bond bearer Pierce Brosnan has publicly expressed interest in appearing in a fourth. He wouldn’t want to be left out, after all. Neither, it seems, do the rest of us.