Browse Author: andy

Best Action Trailers of 2015 Movies

Half the fun (sometimes literally) of attending movies in theaters derives from watching trailers. The Internet age allows us to watch trailers on the day they come out, and dissection often begins that moment.

Finding a surprise trailer, much less a surprise movie, is very hard when you plant your butt in a likely-stained theater seat, but we still try. Below are some of the trailers that excited me, plus two that awed me for 2015 movies.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Guy Ritchie all the way. From the start it’s stylishly funny and slapdash. Jared Harris is in it. I love Jared Harris. The trailer sells the movie as two brothers trying to get along, rather than a Cold War spy thriller. They sell plenty of sex, too, a welcome respite from all that bloody violence.

Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation

Any time Tom Cruise hangs from a plane, I am on board. Yeah, I just landed a plane pun. This trailer showed off all the stunts and delivered an EDM-ized version of the classic M:I theme. Setup, comedy, action–all were in the right place, but at about 2:00 someone remembered to tack on the whole underwater sequence, subtracting from the trailer’s continuity.

Hitman: Agent 47

I have not yet seen this movie, but Zachary Quinto is enough to sell me on a trip down reboot lane, and I’ll walk right past the mega hit that started the whole series. You know the one, Timothy Oliphant was in it. It came out a couple years back. Yeah, you remember.

This is a tight trailer that gives away less than the second one does. The song choices work well, because Hitman is a guy you rock out to, as long as he’s on the screen and not in your neighborhood, because it appears he destroys all neighborhoods.

Spectre

It’s Bond. It’s cool. It’s got Christoph Waltz, who has spent a lifetime bordering camp. I dug the creepy octopus logo and the Day of the Dead celebration. The teaser trailer for Spectre was first and best. It lets you know immediately that this film will continue (conclude?) the Daniel Craig Bond stories. Mr. White and remains from Skyfall are shown, and James still has a past.

San Andreas

This trailer, the first for the Earth-shaker, matches the super serious tone of the film. Like, so serious dude, not California-serious, but, like, Earth serious. The editors wisely chose small images of the Earth literally cracking before showing off the big gun effects that helped the movie succeed.

Paul Giamatti speaks gravely. When he does, you listen. That “California Dreaming” song haunts throughout the last minute. The trailer even surpasses the film’s stakes, insinuating that the Hoover Dam cracks after San Francisco and Los Angeles shake.

“You will feel it, on the East Coast.” I never care about stuff unless I feel it on the East Coast.

 

The previous trailers were fine, not memorable, like a lightly fried basket of wings on Sunday afternoon. The final two trailers rivaled their movie’s in quality.

2) Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s fourth Max film was a symphony of chaos, and its trailers fully promoted that. All three are terrific, but I prefer the first one, which Miller unveiled at Comic-Con in 2014. The trailer begins with images of Max standing, waiting, beside his car. Audio clips of newscasters explain the gas and water problems that have created Max’s world. We are calmed, but not soothed, in these opening seconds. Also, there’s a two-headed lizard.

(Side note: what percentage off of my car insurance could a two-headed gecko save? Initially I thought 30%, but they aren’t two geckos, just two heads on one body. The head is doing most of the negotiating of lower rates, but how much work does the body do? Between 20% and 25% seems like the best choice. Max certainly needed the water that reptile provided, but might he not have needed the increased savings on his car insurance? He had a wreck shortly afterward.)

Cue the cover of Cat Stevens’s “Wild World” and some fireworks. So many trailers suffer from Chop and Mix syndrome, when editors throw whatever tasty bits of the film they can find into the trailer. That’s what happens here, but the slow jam cover of “Wild World” tempers the frenetic imagery and wraps around the shots like a soothing blanket. The choir works perfectly with the wide shot of the huge sandstorm.

The War Boys catch Max and torture him, tattooing his blood type on his back in a major invasion of privacy. Furiosa is glimpsed. The song continues. It’s ethereal and haunting. At the midway point the sound editors weave in car and gun sounds from the movie, creating a musical selection that rocks you as the images frighten you.

The trailer is light on dialogue and heavy on explosive, quick-cutting images, exactly like the film it sells.

1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Oh my midi-chlorians. The movie underwhelmed me, overstuffing the narrative with setups and send-offs. The third trailer for the film overwhelmed me. The soundtrack begins with single piano strokes. You think you are in store for a low key, image-driven trailer. Finn and Rey speak their prime motivations, their justifications for being the center of the saga. They think little of themselves, are wracked with doubt and confusion.

When the Lucasfilm logo hits the screen, the score introduces a subtle, chilling bass before showing dozens of block-ranked stormtroopers. Horns accompany Kylo Ren’s modulated voice and Darth Vader’s crushed mask. Unlike the film’s heroes, Kylo knows exactly who he is and what he’s doing.

Kylo uses the Force to torture Oscar Isaac, whose screams ignite the symphony and Millennium Falcon through a firewall leveling a forest and a dogfight with a TIE fighter. The score is hopeful, but not triumphant. Also, a TIE fighter scream is only slightly less menacing a sound than Darth Vader’s breathing. Han explains to Rey and Finn of the tales of the Star Wars saga. “It’s true, all of it.”

Oh yea, what fun we’re going to have! Nope. Cue Imperial horns and terrible, terrible drums. You can practically see the drummers wailing the hell out of those drums. Kylo and his cronies and his lightsaber are waiting for everyone in a lightning storm. “The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.”

Laser blasts, Luke’s metal hand, tears, explosions–they’re coming. Both Imperial and hopeful themes combine as we watch the images of battle. More TIE screams, more lightsabers, more lasers. And the Force, it’s calling to…someone.

John Williams, cinema’s master symphonic artist.

 

BloodRayne: The Third Reich

BloodRayne: The Third Reich (2011): Uwe Boll

I saw this title on Showtime and immediately recorded it. I didn’t know a thing about it, except that Nazi movies are always fun. You know you’re going to get Nazis doing evil things, and the crazier they are the better the movie.

I should have stopped during the endless opening credits, because when one says “AND Clint Howard,” it’s time to quit. But I didn’t. I stayed for a sexual splatterfest tinged with National Socialism.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Rayne, a super vampire, finds herself in Eastern Europe, Nazi hunting/getting laid. Continue Reading

Blackhat

Blackhat (2015): Michael Mann

Subsumed in the Oscar wake of January 2015 came another Michael Mann camera shaker. Critically and commercially, it was a dud. The onscreen action, while explosive, didn’t come enough, and a strange editing choice derailed any chance of hitting with the people.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Superhacker Nick Hathaway can get out of jail free if he catches the superhacker who blew up a Chinese nuclear plant.  Continue Reading

DOOM

Doom (2005): Andrzej Bartkowiak

Hey, remember the cool shooter for PCs from the 1990s? They made it into a movie. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t it? Well they did. It was a dope game, remember?

Video games have a poor track record when turned into movies, an interesting conundrum considering that video games are constantly trying to become more like playable movies. Universal gives the old college try in reproducing one of the progenitors of first-person shooters (FPS).

Union Aerospace Corporation’s (UAC) Mars research base is under a Level 5 breach, and six scientists are under lockdown. The only men for the job are the brave Marines of the Rapid Response Tactical Squad (RRTS), led by The Rock.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Monsters, Mars, and Marines–the trifecta–collide in a shoot-em-up…of doom! Continue Reading

Jurassic World

Jurassic World (2015): Colin Trevorrow

Ah, remember the 90s? A decade when Steven Spielberg wowed us with a Michael Crichton story about dinosaurs; a chaos doctor; and some geneticists who, doggone it, just wanted to make kids smile?

Sure you do. Jurassic Park is a classic popcorn movie, and in 2015 we finally got a sequel. Yes, Jurassic World IS the sequel to Jurassic Park. Say it again: Jurassic World is the sequel to Jurassic Park. One more time: Jurassic World is the sequel to Jurassic Park.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Crazy scientists and investors make a crazy-dangerous dinosaur that goes on a crazy rampage through the crazy-expensive Jurassic World theme park. Continue Reading

Robocop 2

Robocop 2 (1990): Irvin Kirshner

Robocop was a wonderful gift to Detroit. But in 1990, life is worse, so much worse that a corporation is offering to buy the city. Kirshner, ten years removed from directing another sequel featuring robots, helms the shoot of the second in the vaunted, untouchable Robocop franchise.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Robocop struggles to stay human while hunting a drug-peddling robovillain and its corporate backers.

Hero (5/10)

Robocop has three prime directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law. Complex humans struggle to do those things, and have for, say, 15,000 years. How Robocop can navigate obtuse and flexible meanings confounds me, but it does, because Robocop never screws up. He bank shots a bullet into a goon’s head. Using math. Any kid who says they’ll never use math in the real world, show them that scene. Continue Reading

Spectre

Spectre (2015): Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes takes his second straight trip behind the camera of a Bond movie, three years after the titanic success of Skyfall. Bond’s 24th saga is his longest, nearly 150 minutes, and his most retrospective.

Many times we see the images of fallen friends and foes from the Craig sagas. Perhaps a symptom of the current world-building Hollywood marketplace, or perhaps a chance to do something different in a film world so constrained, the Eon Productions team succeeded in creating a story that can stand on its own and as a sequel.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The author of James Bond’s pain (no, not Ian Fleming) unearths Bond’s past to terminate his future. Continue Reading

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): Doug Liman

Live. Die. Repeat. Few taglines get better than that. Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt. Few headline actors get better than that. Edge of Tomorrow came and went in theaters in the summer of 2014, earning $100 million and finishing the year in 33rd place, a few tickets shy of Noah. It should have done better. Why didn’t it? Perhaps I can address that in today’s edition.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Forced to aid an invasion of alien-held Normandy, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage lives, dies, repeats. Continue Reading

Commando

Commando (1985): Mark L. Lester

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a worldwide sensation by 1985, but forgive yourself for ignoring the minor slump of Red Sonja, Raw Deal, and Commando. Those films were sandwiched between The Terminator and Predator, easily two of the finest action movies in history. On second thought, don’t forgive yourself, because Commando is an essential action movie, if not a classic. You probably forgot that Bill Paxton and Alyssa Milano appeared in this movie, but you shouldn’t have.

The shoot for Commando lasted 45 days. Considering the tremendous amount of stunt work, that’s amazing. More stunt people are credited than actors.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: All that matters to John Matrix now is his daughter, Jenny.  Continue Reading

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): George Miller

Imagine spending thirty years thinking about one creative project. You were ready to make this thing three decades ago, but forces of nature (and Hollywood, and Mel Gibson) conspired against you, always pushing back back back the thing you were trying to create. Imagine now that someone with some power somewhere gave you the green light, allowing you to unleash decades of pent-up ideas and energy, despite your seven decades of life. What would your creative work express? Imagine now that your long-dormant idea was a movie, a movie about the destructive nature of men, and a whole ton of things to blow up. Congratulations, you are George Miller, and you just made Mad Max: Fury Road.

ONE-SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A renegade general steals an armored truck to ferry fertile females to freedom as her boss pursues her with his glut of gonzo gas guzzlers.  Continue Reading