This week, schmaltz, Dwayne Johnson being loveable even whilst killing, and a new good-awful Nic Cage movie.
It must be shchmaltz week over at Trailer Central, because a whole bushel of syrupy promos just got dumped in one steaming load. There’s the trailer for the new goddamn Nicholas Sparks film, The Best of Me, in which a young couple are separated by family or some unfair bullshit, only to reunite years later as older, more recognisable actors. There’s a kissing in the rain scene in case anyone hasn’t seen The Notebook, but you have, so why even bother with this? You also have Lullaby, featuring Garrett Hedlund fresh off of saying almost nothing in Inside Llewyn Davis, which, going on what this manipulative-looking dramedy appears to offer, he probably should’ve stuck with.
Most notable of the bunch is Are You Here – it’s Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s first feature film as writer-director, and he looks to have delivered something unlike anything fans would’ve expected. On the basis of the trailer, it’s a broad familial dramedy starring Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler, and at least two out of three of those should know better. If Weiner’s name wasn’t front and centre, you’d never have guessed from the preview that the man who once shredded a man’s foot with a lawnmower and played it for laughs was behind it.
The best of a weak bunch, Very Good Girls is the only one of this week’s romantically-inclined flicks with any real promise, boasting as it does a pair of phenomenal leads (Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen) and a solid supporting cast. The downside is that it appears to be no more than a ‘two girlfriends vying for the affection of the same man’ scenario, but Fanning and Olsen always bring something to their roles (yes, even in Godzilla).
Moving on, which is incidentally something Hollywood should do, and the YA adaptation onslaught continues with Phillip Noyce’s The Giver. We know what you’re thinking – great title – but happily you’ve already seen The Hunger Games and/or Divergent, so you don’t even need a ticket to see how this one pans out. The film appears decidedly literal, using the Pleasantville conceit of a black and white world gradually turning to colour, as a dystopian future’s doped inhabitants – Reptilian spokesperson Taylor Swift among them – learn how to feel. The Giver has bagged two of the finest veteran actors of any YA adap to date in Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, and, judging from the trailer, it looks like Meryl’s had enough after three Oscars and is now making a tactical decision to get the Academy to stop bothering her.
“From the director of Bad Teacher”, boasts the trailer, as though it’s something to be proud of. Everybody, Sex Tape has arrived, promising zero laughs galore, so sure of its flimsy core idea that it seemingly forgot to dress up the surrounding film with anything even approaching acceptable. What we have in store can be summed up by these words alone: sex comedy. Cameron Diaz. Naked Jason Segel. Dead dog jokes. The director of Bad Teacher.
Having increased in mass to the point where he now resembles a rhino that’s just been turned into a person, Dwayne Johnson was probably the most obvious actor to cast in the part of half-god Greek myth Hercules. Johnson is admittedly too groomed and built on industrial-sized muscles to truly look at home in Ancient Greece, while the film is seemingly a mashup of all modern blockbusters, the trailer opening with an Inception BRAHM, a 300 slo-mo fast-mo brawl and a portentous blockbuster trailer voiceover. And yet, despite itself, Hercules actually looks like it could be some fun, with the typically endearing Johnson the big draw. He murders a man with a flaming spear in this trailer, and still you can’t help but love him.
For many people, their first exposure to Eli Roth was a nasty, uncomfortable affair: his performance in Inglourious Basterds really was that bad. Thank God he’s back to doing what he does best, or at least better, then, by confining himself to behind-camera only for The Green Inferno. An obviously obvious homage to cannibal horror schlock, there’s a sense The Green Inferno could run out of steam before time’s up, but it looks like a decent ride if you can turn your brain to ‘off’ for two hours.
Trailer of the week simply has to go to Left Behind, not just because the rest of the week’s trailers have been so average, but because oh. My. God. Everyone, from the dedicated cineaste to Ken Loach’s ordinary punter, is secretly always awaiting the next bad Nicolas Cage film (how OTT will Cage be? What wig will he be wearing? How absurd can the plot get?), and Left Behind looks so enjoyably shit that we should probably add it to our list of bad Nicolas Cage films we love now. Everything about this, from the TV movie special effects, to the soap opera acting, to the hokey religious angle, looks terrible. You won’t pay to see it, but you will happily let it play out when it starts regularly appearing on graveyard slot ITV4 in years to come.
Featured image: Samuel Goldwyn Films