The Trailer Park: Spielberg & Cruise Dominate the Holidays

[Editor’s Note: With this post, we welcome High-Def Digest Blu-ray reviewer M. Enois Duarte (we just call him “E.”) as a regular blogger here in The Bonus View. For his first post, he’s going to introduce a new feature that looks at trailers for upcoming movies. Be sure to give him a warm welcome. –JZ]

This Christmas, moviegoers can spend the holidays with the two biggest names in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg adapts the children’s novel ‘War Horse’, which follows the adventures of a horse surviving World War I and its friendship with an adolescent boy. A week prior, Tom Cruise accepts another mission full of ridiculously impossible stunts in the fourth ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie. How many more times can a one-of-a-kind secret agent be disavowed and forced to prove his innocence?

‘War Horse’

Ever since ‘Jaws’ effectively made audiences scared to go into the water, the name Steven Spielberg has in many ways become synonymous with good quality filmmaking. Of course, as we all know, this is not entirely accurate. The man, however talented at conveying some terrifically impressive imagery, is also responsible for some pretty bad movies. One thing which can be said with slight confidence, however, is that he’s statistically a safer bet than most filmmakers working today. Yet when I see the preview for his latest epic feature, the confidence just isn’t there as it once was.

Hitting theaters in December, the week after another big-budgeted Spielberg voyage, ‘The Adventures of Tintin‘ (which also doesn’t encourage much enthusiasm), ‘War Horse’ seems terrifyingly dull. Granted, the war sequences look stunning and grandiose – gorgeously ambitious, in fact! But they’re juxtaposed with overly sentimental scenes of a boy we can safely assume probably raised the horse before it was enlisted to fight in WWI.

Accompanied by an emotional musical score from John Williams, the movie suddenly becomes a generic story about the relationship between a human and an animal. I admit that my personal dislike of animal movies probably plays a big part in my unease towards this picture, but I’m pretty sure most will agree this looks like standard melodrama trash. We’ve seen this countless times before, and we know how it all ends. Spielberg is no different, according to this trailer. Someone, most likely the animal, will die in a gut-wrenching manner meant to make you cry.

‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’

Also erupting on the silver screen this December with hot, steaming espionage action is another Ethan Hunt adventure featuring unbelievably improbable but still very cool stunts. I don’t hide the fact that I’m a ‘Mission: Impossible‘ fan. I’ve enjoyed all three prior films as decently fun escapism. Yes, that includes John Woo’s over-the-top, balls-to-the-wall spectacle of absurdity. (What else could be expected with Woo attached, except slow-motion, operatic violence?) J.J. Abrams brought the series back to reality with the third movie, which was something closer to what Brian De Palma envisioned in the first, only with Abrams’ own slicker, stylized version of that vision.

For the fourth installment, Abrams puts on his producer cap and hands over the reins to… You ready for this?…Brad Bird.

That’s right! The director of such animated favorites as ‘The Iron Giant’, ‘The Incredibles‘ and ‘Ratatouille‘ is making his live-action debut with a Tom Cruise actioner. The best part is that the trailer has me very curious – except that several plot points revealed in those two minutes feel oddly familiar. Hunt is once again disavowed, very likely due to some nefarious conspiracy committed by someone on the inside. And once again, the IMF team goes rogue and is forced to perform crazy bat-shit stunts because the info needed to clear their names is kept in a place with the most preposterous security system ever devised.

The preview is rather silly with the sort of hackneyed techniques meant to draw viewers in by misleading them. You know the type, where we’re made to wonder what it’s all about as some mysterious voice (in this case, Tom Wilkinson) explains the basic setup. Meanwhile, the main star of the movie remains conveniently unidentified as everything around him explodes. “Ooh, this looks interesting, honey. Hey, doesn’t that kinda look like Tom Cruise?” Then, when the time’s right and Wilkinson utters those famous words (“Your mission, should you choose to accept it”), the scene cuts to Cruise’s face and his perfectly combed hairdo. It’s definitely a roll-your-eyes type moment, but it made me chuckle nonetheless. I only hope that the rest of the movie won’t do the same.

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31 comments

  1. I think I’m more disappointed in the M:I-4 trailer than the War Horse trailer. I’d expect someone with a background in animation to come up with something more visually interesting than the bland teal-fest that we see in that trailer.

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      Enough with the bitching about teal!

      I apologize for my tone, and for even saying anything. I’ve actually resisted the urge to do so for months. I do actually feel bad for giving in and suggesting that you stop, and I’m genuinely sorry, but you’re kicking a dead horse.

      The teal fad is not going anywhere for now. Yes, it sucks! I don’t think anybody really enjoys it, but it’s the current fad in cinema. It will be a while before it’s gone, no matter how much you keep bitching about it.

      Save your energy for something that you might actually be able to influence. The majority of all filmmakers are obsessed with teal and orange right now. That’s not going to change in the forseeable future. All the bitching, whining, complaining, and moaning in the world is not going to do anything to make it more tolerable, or to change it.

      Get used to it! Find a way to suffer through it in silence. Try to find amusement in it. Just do something, anything, whatever it takes, to stop bitching about it.

        • vihdeeohfieuhl

          You’re damn skippy!

          Stop kicking the dead Bay horse, and stop kicking the dead teal horse.

          There are too many other interesting things to talk about, to spend any additional time on Bay or teal.

        • From now on this site that we, all of us, frequent daily specifically to read the opinions of its writers, is not allowed to use any of the following words: Teal, Michael Bay, Transformers and Avatar. Keep your opinions to yourselves while we are reading your opinions. Thank you and good day.

    • Alex WS

      Really? We’re criticizing movies by their color scheme now? I can’t think of a more superficial way to judge a movie.

      • The teal fad is a sickness that has swept Hollywood. Every single damn movie that gets released today is teal teal teal teal, with an extra heaping of teal piled on top for good measure. Directors are even going back and retroactively making their old movies teal. Every movie looks exactly like every other movie, and they’re all ugly. This trend needs to stop immediately.

        When our childred and grandchildren look back on this era, it will be seen as the worst decade-plus for cinematography in motion picture history. That’s just disgraceful.

        • Luke Hickman

          I guess I’m lucky to have color vision (a mild form of color blindness where I see every color, just don’t know exactly what some of them are). I can’t see it at all!

          • By that, of course, I mean I can’t properly judge the supposed awesomeness of ‘Tron Legacy’ or ‘Tangled’ in 3D.
            I vividly remember being impressed by Captain EO in the late 80’s, however, so I wonder if it has something to do with the ‘new 3D’.

  2. Jane Morgan

    I’ve been hoping that you guys would start covering trailers, but you forgot to include the best teaser of the week. ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.’

    The ‘War Horse’ trailer looks like Spielberg is making a parody of a Spielberg film.

  3. Personally, I’m all for M:I 4. Don’t care if it’s the exact same thing we’ve already seen, so is every Die Hard movie, and they could make that movie for the rest of time and I will watch the shit out of it.

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      I wholeheartedly concur!

      I loved every second of the M:I-4 preview! It looks better than any of the previous installments!

      I loved how the trailer was winking at some of the more discussed aspects of the previous films.

      Couldn’t agree more about not caring if it’s more of the same! I’m more excited about it than probably any other holiday film this year.

    • Luke Hickman

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. I’ll think of that picture often while at the ‘Zookeeper’ screening just to keep myself entertained during that turdfest.

        • Luke Hickman

          Damn my integrity! (and the fact that I review movies on a radio station that is heavily controlled by a family-friendly demographic. I have to see the ones I don’t want to and can’t talk about the ones I love!)

  4. Jane Morgan

    Will ‘War Horse’ become the highest grossing horse movie of all time?

    Spielberg’s script is based on a stage play that used puppet horses.

    It’s screenplay is by the writer-director of ‘Love Actually.’

    The competition is somewhat gimpy.

    Secretariat – $60M
    Hidalgo – $108
    Seabiscuit – $148M
    The Horse Whisperer – $187M

    And it even includes a song by the great English folk singer John Tams.

    My friends, I think we’ve got the makin’s.

    • ‘The Horse Whisperer’ made that much dough? Yeesh.

      ‘War Horse’ can beat them all out and probably take in a box office bigger than all of those movies combined if they made the horse talk, moved its lips with CGI, and gave him a silly Scottish accent for not particular reason.

      • Or they could just let Michael Bay direct it and have the horse die in one super awesome glorious explosion….oops I cant say Michael Bay anymore, well I thought it was funny while making a little jab at the man everyone loves to hate 😉

    • Luke Hickman

      Jane, you mentioned Mr. Love Actually – I’m sold 100%! Love that guy. I really want to see his full-length version of Love Actually. Please don’t crush my dreams again (like you did with the original footage cut of The Thin Red Line) by telling me I’ll never ever get the chance to see it!

      • Jane Morgan

        If you want to fulfill your dreams of watching all these original work prints, you might have to change careers, from film critic to ninja thief.

  5. I agree with the judgement on The War Horse trailer…

    As for MI:4, It’s Brad Bird! Looked what happened the last time they let an animation guy direct live action… The mediocrity fest that was The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, a film that if done properly, could’ve made all the Harry Potter’s look like a weekend at Butlins!! (Cheap and cheerful holiday camp, for those not in the UK.) 😉

    I have a bad feeling that MI:4 is going to look and feel distinctly average at best.