This fall, we’re going to get a really varied selection of movies. Only one of them looks highly promising, even though the least of them is more likely to draw a crowd. First we get a found-footage tale of a secret moon landing that exposes the reasons why NASA never returned, followed by another swashbuckling adaptation of the classic Alexandre Dumas novel, and finally an espionage film with a very strong cast of actors that’s sure to keep you guessing until the end.
‘The Three Musketeers’
Paul W.S. Anderson is definitely not a director who brings crowds lining around the block. I’m sure we can all agree on that. But the preview for his latest picture has piqued my curiosity. Part of that could be my ridiculous fixation with Milla Jovovich. I’m starting to think she’s some kind of sorceress, because I’m just drawn to any movie she’s in, no matter how god-awful it looks. And frankly, ‘The Three Musketeers’ does look like ten-kinds of awfulness.
I think the other part of my curiosity is that I simply want to revel in what is sure to be a complete disaster. (Keep in mind that I have a thing for bad movies, and overly-ambitious, wannabe-blockbusters are often a great deal of fun.) Anderson moves away from his usual genre forte as if trying to cash in on the sudden popularity – if we can even call it that – of swashbuckling movies, thanks to the Verbinski-Depp ‘Pirates‘ franchise. Sadly, I’m reminded more of ‘Wild Wild West‘ when watching this trailer. It’s way over-the-top and far-too imaginative for its own good. Plus, I’m sure that it makes a better movie in two minutes than it probably does in two hours. We can quickly gather evil people who will make absurd technological advancements for their evil intent, which only our heroes can stop. With rapiers? Seriously?
I suppose I could also think of ‘Cutthroat Island,’ but I doubt this movie will become a thing of legend. With the ‘Twilight‘ series raking in all the dough, Summit can probably afford a big-budget flop now. Besides, ‘Cutthroat’ is a fun, mindless actioner. This just looks hilariously mediocre from the preview. But chances are, it will come fully equipped with tons of cool visuals. As always, Christoph Waltz looks deliciously evil in his role, but I don’t much care for Logan Lerman, who honestly seems to me like the next Channing Tatum in waiting. On the bright side (there must be one, right?), we have some choice scenes of Orlando Bloom with a hideously stupid-looking Elvis hairdo. That’s at least worthy of a hearty laugh.
Coming to theaters a couple months earlier is ‘Apollo 18’. With a steadily growing interest in Spanish cinema, sci-fi horror fans may enjoy this low-budget flick from Gonzalo López-Gallego. His only other noteworthy feature is ‘King of the Mountain’ (‘El rey de la montaña’), which is essentially a modernized take on ‘The Most Dangerous Game’. I know I’m a little late with this trailer since it was originally attached to ‘Scream 4,’ but I’ve noticed little promotion for it since. I actually sort of like this preview. It’s nothing spectacular, but it makes me think the movie might not be complete rubbish.
Granted, that little bit right at the beginning isn’t all that reassuring. It clearly establishes the picture as another in the “found-footage” subgenre. This time, NASA seems to be part of a covert effort to conceal the real reasons for ending its moon missions. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, logic intervenes, and we become skeptical of this implied conspiracy. For example, there’s no conceivable way anyone could secretly launch a spacecraft to the moon. And secondly, how exactly did anyone find this so-called footage if NASA never returned to the moon? But what??!! I did mention that I sort of liked this trailer, didn’t I? As I said, I have a thing for schlock, so that could account for something.
Well, then, what I enjoy in watching this is the level of realism and authenticity López-Gallego is aiming for. The footage is badly aged with specks of dirt everywhere, a bit of noise, and even some vertical scratches. Colors and contrast look awful, and the image is framed in the 4:3 aspect ratio. That’s all part of the fun, ain’t it? Strange sounds are heard roaming on a barren landscape, and shadows creep about, creating a spooky air of mystery. It’s likely taht the movie won’t amount to much, but at least the preview is amusing. That, or maybe I should lay off from drinking while watching these trailers, because pretty much anything looks good at this point.
‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’
Now then, with my head a bit more clear (meaning sober), let’s take a gander at what is by far the best preview of the lot. Pretty much everything about this trailer is utterly perfect. It does what trailers are meant to do. It creates dramatic suspense and makes viewers feel like they must watch this movie. It shows us the primary players, gives the basic outline of the plot without spoiling anything, and has our eyes glued to the screen for a full minute and a half. With slightly revised music by Danny Elfman, which was originally used in ‘The Wolfman (2010)‘, the trailer terrifically holds my attention and really has me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it.
Part of what I love is the way the cast is introduced while the atmospheric score plays in the background. Gary Oldman plays retired intelligence agent George Smiley. In nearly every scene, he appears in a very stoic, determined posture. He’s a man who will not fail in ousting the secret Soviet mole. Then we see a flashing montage of all the suspects referenced in the film’s title: Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds, Stephen Graham, Stephen Rea and John Hurt. My favorite amongst these images is Benedict Cumberbatch standing ominously behind another man while the doors to a lift open. With such a long list of great actors revealed in a short span of time, I’m all in for this film to be a real winner.
The film is based on the novel by John le Carré, the pseudonym of real-life MI6 agent David John Moore Cornwell, and is set in 1970s Cold War England. From Tomas Alfredson, director of the excellent ‘Let the Right One In,’ the trailer for this espionage thriller looks really exciting and has me convinced that I won’t be disappointed.
Of course, this is also the intent of any good preview, and I’ve been fooled many times before. The teaser for ‘Transformers 2‘ remains a sore spot. That was an utterly fantastic trailer for a truly godawful movie. But here, I don’t feel like I have much to fear. Let’s only hope that the film lives up to its excellent preview.
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