Every year there are a batch of movies that look so garish, far-fetched and expensive that you wonder who greenlighted them and how is their job at Kinko’s going now that their films have flopped at the box office. Still, every year they get made and every year we’re subjected to their hideous advertising campaigns and the unintentionally hilarious trailers that belch forth onto our eyeballs. 2013 is no different. Who knows, maybe behind the outlandish absurdity contained within each of these trailers is a beautifully unfolding narrative filled with poignant moments, a ballet of choreographed violence and outstanding character development. Maybe somewhere herein lie this year’s Oscar contenders. If that’s the case, maybe we’ll go see them after it’s been confirmed. Until then, consider this a heads-up on how not to blow 10 bucks while flushing two hours of your life down the toilet.
Day of the Falcon
The number of clichés at play in this trailer is rivaled only by how ridiculous it is to see Antonio Banderas playing an Arab Sultan. Like Charlton Heston in brownface playing a Mexican in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, Banderas might turn out to be this decade’s Miguel Vargas. It’s a shame that the film which was co-produced by the Doha Film Institute and is “ one of the most expensive films backed by an Arab about an Arab subject” relies so heavily on Western cinematic language and tropes. Maybe next time we’ll see a little more Battle for Algiers, a little less English Patient.
Alternate Titles: There Will Be Crud, Dances with Sheiks, Zorrance of Arabia
Olympus Has Fallen
On the other side of the Atlantic, the American public is no less smitten with the drivel that passes for entertainment these days. You can almost hear the pitch, “Die Hard meets Air Force One.” Yes, it has three excellent actors, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and the “This Is Sparta!” guy, but all that glitters isn’t gold. Director Antoine Fuqua has a few good action films under his belt (Replacement Killers, Training Day), and if any of these top five “get in the chopper” spectacles is going to make it out of the bargain bin, this is it.
Alternate Title: Zero Plot Sharty
If Kirsten Dunst didn’t appear in the trailer you’d think this was a comedy skit. Like that scene in Inception when Paris folds in on itself, Upside Down features twin planets literally upside down and facing each other, “each with its own and opposite gravity.” Upside Down looks like The Great Gatsby with anti-gravity boots and features as much falling as there were hairy feet running in Lord of the Rings. M.C. Escher’s estate deserves royalties on this.
Alternate Title: A Tale of Two Quickies
Earth is a memory and Tom Cruise needs to know what happened. The only oblivion here is pretending you can get these two hours back. As a nostalgia-ridden starship trooper, Cruise relives a famous Super Bowl and reads books searching for clues to something that involves cryogenically frozen humans in space pods and post-apocalyptic zombies. Beautifully rendered CGI of future technology and brief cameos by steampunk Morgan Freeman as Cruise’s tormentor fail to alleviate the soul-crushing monotony of another Cruise action vehicle.
Alternate Title: Top Drone
What’s up with all these semi-deserted Earths, is Hollywood trying to tell us something? One hundred years after humans left Earth, Will and Jaden Smith crash land on the planet, miraculously surviving and sending the spandex-clad Karate Kid into the jungle for hunger games against the highly evolved hunters of the animal kingdom. An unstoppable alien creature that also escaped from the crash sets up a surprise finale for this touching M. Night Shymalan-directed coming of age in the post-apocalypse story.
Alternate Title: Apocalypse Back Then