Culture

Top 10 Most Popular Midsummer Movie Trailers

The month of July produced a bevy of movie trailers for releases we can look forward to in the fall. The holiday season tends to be where studios place releases they stand most proud of, a showcase for the Academy Awards. That said, there are also some good old-fashioned popcorn flicks on this list, the top 10 most popular trailers released throughout July.

10. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth saga comes to its presumptive close with this final chapter of The Hobbit film adaptation. Perhaps you’ve been putting off upgrading from your old DVDs to The Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-ray in anticipation of the inevitable super-mega-funtime edition of the complete Middle Earth anthology.

News that 2012’s The Unexpected Journey would be the first of a new trilogy adapted from the relatively short J.R.R. Tolkien novel evoked suspicion that Jackson and the studio were stretching to wring every last bit of cash out of the franchise. But The Desolation of Smaug redeemed that impression, demonstrating that there was indeed enough story to warrant three films. This final entry looks poised to begin with a bang and sustain the novel’s climax throughout its running time.

9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

If you have not read the novels, and therefore do not know precisely where this story is going, this beginning of the end of The Hunger Games saga should prove exciting. The first two films established a conflict simmering just below the surface of this dystopian society which asks its subjugated districts to sacrifice their young in tribute to the capitol. Could there be a more apt analogy to so many of the public policy problems facing us today?

After enduring the tension suffered by heroine Katniss, as she has attempted to navigate a system designed to kill her without antagonizing her persecutors, the gloves are finally about to come off. President Snow’s haunting question from Catching Fire will soon manifest in real choices.

“Would you like to be in a real war?”

Here she answers, “I am. I will.”

8. Horns

Daniel Radcliffe faces the same dilemma which has claimed the would-be careers of many an actor. Mark Hamill will forever be Luke Skywalker in the eyes of the public. Christopher Reeve was Superman until his dying day. Neither actor overcame the iconic majesty of the roles which made each famous. Others have pulled the trick off. Hamill’s Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford blasted off from Han Solo to a storied career as an A-list movie star. Hugh Jackman has peppered his career with departures from his Wolverine persona and has successfully established artistic legitimacy. But Radcliffe, despite several efforts, has yet to break from his place in the public mind as The Boy Who Lived.

This role might do it for him. It’s about as far from Harry Potter as you can get without cross-dressing. The gothic concept and American accent serve to differentiate this character from those Radcliffe has played before. But will anybody go see it?

7. Foxcatcher

In another entry which defies typecasting, Steve Carell and Channing Tatum both step out from their respective comfort zones to portray characters far removed from what each is known for. Will audiences accept Carell as a dramatic actor, or will they just see Brick Tamland?

Of course, Carell has taken a turn at dramatic roles before, but never quite like this. Transforming himself akin to the way Charlize Theron metastasized into
Monster, or the way Nicole Kidman roughed herself up for The Hours, Carell is casting his rod for an Oscar here.

6. Love, Rosie

It’s good to see Lily Collins endure despite the misstep of The Moral Instruments: City of Bones. That film, her highest profile performance to date, earned a paltry $31 million at the domestic box office after blowing through a $60 million production budget. Worldwide receipts made up the difference plus a few million more, apparently enough to warrant the announced sequel, but it still underperformed in its creator’s hopes to capitalize on the young adult adaptation craze.

Collins herself retains a star quality, endowed with an ethereal beauty that landed her the role of Snow White in Julia Robert’s Mirror Mirror. She’s one to watch.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

If you’re going to reboot a franchise, it helps to have the original creator’s blessing and advice. Better yet, get them to do it for you. That’s apparently the case with Mad Max: Fury Road, a reimagining by original creator George Miller.

If you bemoan the recent decade’s reliance on computer graphics in place of practical effects and location camera work, you should appreciate this return to the movie-making techniques of the 1980s.

Tom Hardy is worth watching in anything, and Charlize Theron looks set to dazzle in another typecast defying role.

4. Behaving Badly

There are times, during the compilation of these lists of most-watched trailers, when we encounter one whose popularity we cannot explain. Selena Gomez is apparently a thing with the kids. So that probably explains most of it.

It may help that this coming-of-age high school comedy also features a top-notch list of Hollywood cougars. Elisabeth Shue, Mary-Louise Parker, and Heather Graham all star.

Will Behaving Badly become this generation’s American Pie?

3. Exodus: Gods and Kings

A full-blown remake of Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments has been overdue for some time. Along with the obvious technological advances which could enhance the viewing experience, a fresh interpretation of the material which nonetheless remains faithful to the biblical source material could fill a market void which Hollywood has left vacant.

That said, it’s hard to believe that Exodus: Gods and Kings will be that film. First, there’s the subtitle. What does it mean? Will the God of Israel be glorified, as in the biblical account, or downplayed as He was in Darren Aronofsky’s recent Noah?

Then there’s the casting. It’s 2014 and we’re still casting white guys to play Hebrews and Egyptians? How about some authenticity? How about a humble and even homely Semitic elder, soft of speech and reticent to act? Moses was 80 years old when he encountered the burning bush. He didn’t look like Christian Bale.

2. Sharknado 2: The Second One

What do you say? This is what it is. The only question is whether more people will actually sit down and watch this sequel than have viewed its trailer.

1. Fifty Shades of Grey

Incisive commentator Matt Walsh offers “4 reasons to hate 50 Shades of Grey” to his female readers, concluding:

I’ve long struggled to define feminism, but if 50 Shades of Grey makes the cut, then feminism is dead and buried.

Surely the movement is worthless if it won’t loudly reject a book about a woman’s adventures in being manhandled and used by an emotionally stunted playboy.

Surely that is not too much to ask.

Surely.

Surely I am a naïve fool.

This thing will be a box office smash and we all know it.

Says a lot about what women really want, doesn’t it?