Happy Trails: The 15 Best Trailers of 2014

I’m sure you’ve been seeing a whole mess of “Top 10 Trailer” lists floating around as the year draws to a close, and you might be thinking “which of these lists is the best list”? Well we can put your mind at ease. Whichever one you choose, you’re wrong! No single list of trailers can fully emulate the thrill of a 12 months of great trailers…until now. Yes, this is the list for you, based solely on the criteria of how much the trailer made us want to see the film. No small feat, for a bunch of grumpy cynics. Also this list has 15 entries, that’s like…5 better than a top 10. Or 5 worse, depending on how you look at it. In any case, look at it!

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron is the perfect example of a film that has developed a solid sense of momentum. First we had the news of a sequel, then we had a name, then we had credit sequences, then we had artwork, then we got the trailer. But the trailer wasn’t just one in a long line of promotions: it was very careful to include all the little bits and pieces we’d seen so far in their shiny, finished form. Add in a chilling James Spader monologue and you’re all done. Best Moment: Iron Man busting out his Hulk Buster Armour.

Birdman

The trailer for Michael Keaton‘s phoenix-like rebirth had a lot going for it: a strong cast, dry humour, giant mechanical birds, Keaton jumping off a roof, Keaton running naked through New York, Keaton fighting Graham Norton in their underwear. What made us want to see it more than anything was the fact that these scenes appeared to have no connection to one another whatsoever. Sure there was the general plot reveal of Keaton’s character brining his once prominent career to the stage with the character that’s been tormenting him for years, but that was it. There was no foothold , no distinction between what was real and what was fantasised. Well, we just had to find out, didn’t we? Best Moment: Keaton on his bizarre walk to the stage from his dressing room.

Godzilla

The people behind Godzilla did it right. They started with a teaser that was, in a word, disorienting. We don’t see much, but we know what we’re looking out for. Then we get the roar. So out comes the full trailer, and even though we get a lot more solid looks at the cuddly alpha predator, we’re still pausing the video every three seconds trying to catch that shape that went shooting past the building. It seems obvious and childish, but we went to see this film just to get a good look at the bloody thing! Best Moment: Hey, what was that thing flying in the sky? Was that Mothra? I think it was Mothra!

Inherent Vice

Sure, you’ve got Paul Thomas Anderson and a book by Thomas Pynchon, but the real draw of this trailer is Joaquin Phoenix. We’ve been steadily falling in love with him through The Master and Her, watching him come so close to Oscar’s but never quite reaching the finish line first. So it’s nice to see him blow off some steam in a role that is unabashedly and sometimes violently silly. The quality of the writing and directing is kind of a safety net for a film like this, but the chance to see Phoenix struggle through a town full of loonies is the big draw. Best Moment: The opening monologue that trips you into the rabbit hole.

Jurassic World

Another good example of an enticing teaser followed by an awesome trailer. But Jurassic World broke a few rules by making the gap between the teaser and the trailer as small as humanly possible – only a couple of days really. That’s another way to get an audience excited – make them feel like they’re getting more than they should. And even though you don’t see the dinosaur everyone’s running from you do get to see what everyone really wanted to see…Jurassic World itself! And a return to the classic format of a five second scene at the very end that raises so many more questions than the rest of the trailer answers. Best Moment: Wait, is Chris Pratt working with raptors now?

Whiplash

It’s a testament to a film’s intensity when the trailer freaks the nonsense out of you. There have been a lot of horror trailers this year (sorry you didn’t make the list Babadook), but the trailer for Whiplash is the only one that really put the scares on me. The real appeal goes to J.K. Simmons as the unstoppable menace of a band leader who puts Miles Teller through emotional and physical hell to make him the best of the best. I couldn’t wait for it to be over just so I could watch it again. Best Moment: J.K. Simmons is wearing a pork pie hat…nice. 

Tusk

For a film that was critically decimated, Tusk doesn’t seem to have director Kevin Smith‘s career any harm. He’s continuing with the True North Trilogy with Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws and even getting Clerks 3 back in motion. I was in pieces at the end of this trailer: I couldn’t believe how simple it was to combine gristly horror with comedy that was on the light side of black. A monstrosity of a trailer in the best possible way, much like the film itself. Best Moment: Are Justin Long and Michael Parks having a snarling match?

Gone Girl

A more standard turnout of David Fincher directing and Trent Reznor composing there could never be. For a story that is full of twists and surprises, the trailer is pretty vacant of both. What makes this one of the best trailer so the year, along with the chilling cinematography, is the construction of the trailer itself. The whole thing isn’t that long, but plays out like a short film in itself. It could nearly be a short film! Best Moment: Seriously Ben Affleck, could your smile be any more murderous?

Nightcrawler

The unique selling point of the trailer for Nightcrawler is almost certainly the portrayal of Jake Gyllenhaal. But we don’t just see what his character is like – we see how he developed, how he changes and adapts to the violence going on around him until he can’t help but get blood all over his hands. We see an arc from desperation to inquisition to ambition to ambition becoming everything as Gyllenhaal wades through the muck of freelance crime journalism. But we don’t see him drowning in it…we see him playing around in it. Best Moment: Seriously Jake Gyllenhaal, could your smile be any more murderous?

Xmen: Days of Future Past

A surprising change of pace when you consider the trailer for its predecessor. They didn’t have to go quiet and emotional with the Days of Future Past trailer, but they did, and it worked an absolute treat. I know people who started tearing up at the back and forth between James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as past and future Xavier. What? No not me, don’t be silly. It hinted at all the mutants without feeling the need to name them all or show them all in action. For a blockbuster it was as understated as it could be, which worked in its favour. Best Moment: “I don’t want your future” (“Are you crying?” “No! shut up!”)

White Bird in a Blizzard

This is one of the few films on this list where the film didn’t quite live up to the trailer. But that doesn’t stop the trailer itself from being a gem. The whole thing plays out like a photo shoot for Eva Green, in countless 50’s household moments. But the fact that she’s the missing mother in this modern world is a bizarre turnaround. the visuals were definitely the part that I just couldn’t get my head around in the best possible way. Crime-drama, coming-of-age, all that good stuff. Shame the film didn’t quite match up. Best moment: Oh, so Eva Green is a bit nutty huh?

Snowpiercer

I’m a sucker for any film that takes place in a confined space. But weirdly enough what made the trailer for Snowpiercer – or mutiny on the dystopian future-train – magnificent was the sheer capacity and volume of action that was taking place in such a small space. The almost monochrome interior made for a very claustrophobic trailer , and only upped the ante when the guns started going off. Shame about the lack of a UK release, but that only made us want it more. Best Moment: Seriously Tilda Swinton, could your Northern accent be any more murderous?

Foxcatcher

They already had everything they needed to draw people into Foxcatcher. They had Channing Tatum, and they had Steve Carell in a serious role, which almost always works out well for him. But it was the way they focussed on Carell throughout – not on his actions, but on his presence in the background of every scene. We hear very little from him, from any of the characters really, but it’s Carell’s blank face in the corner of the room, always on the point of snarling, that made this trailer so enticing. You could have easily missed the gun in his hand at the end. Best Moment: Did Carell just slap Tatum? Is that allowed?

The Zero Theorem

You can always rely on Terry Gilliam for a giddy asylum patient of a trailer. Like Gone Girl, the trailer for Zero Theorem is almost a short in itself, with Christoph Waltz floating miserably through the scenes and every other character seeming to divert his straight line of movement. Great pops of colour and bizarrely cheeky lines, all with the underlying heartbeat of “Zero can equal 100%”. A mad treat. Best Moment: “Christoph Waltz is referring to himself in the plural. That’s weird.”

Kingsman: The Secret Service

The final trailer on our list represents a return to form for the balls-out action trailer. It reminded us of the pant-wettingly awesome trailer for Kick-Ass all those years ago, and how once again we were just getting wrapped up in the fast-moving snippets and the clockwork shift from dialogue to gunshots to martial arts to Colin Firth with a spy umbrella. Firth is definitely the main draw of the trailer, busting out moves we haven’t seen since the deleted scenes from Love Actually when he wins his love interest over by taking on a team of Spanish assassins invading his house. Best Moment: Why is Samuel L Jackson wearing his hat like that?

So that about wraps it up for a year of great trailers. Did we include your favourite?

The Crime-Fighters, They Are A-Changin’: The 76 Faces of Batman From the Beginning

This year marked the 75th Anniversary of the creation of the legendary crime-fighter Batman by Bob Kane. There’s been a whole bunch of homages throughout the year to the dark knight, including animated shorts, historical montages and artwork. Even the TV show Gotham conveniently coincided with the impressive and somehow inconceivable milestone. Of course, that also means that we only have another week to celebrate batman in outrageous ways in public before we just look silly again. So let’s make the most of it gang!

This week we came across one of the most succinct and impressive summations of the many changes made to the caped crusader during his 75-year-long war on crime. Deadline reported on a poster that had been designed by Salvador Anguiano, which catalogues every change to the cape, cowl and complexion as batman passed hands from then to now. It’s easy to forget a lot of batman’s incarnations, or perhaps mix up which came first and which came after. So just like the timeline that maps out all the Marvel and DC films that are coming out over the next few years, this poster serves to draw a straight line and make the development over time a little clearer. Have a look, courtesy of Hero Complex. Remember to click on the image for a closer look:

batman 75

 

Yep, they’re all there! As well as the comic book versions of batman, the list also includes the video game versions developed in the Arkham series, not to mention the cartoon versions. Even Lego Batman is there! It’s a considerable artistic feat and we thank Salvador for putting it together. And just in case you would like to have one all to yourself, you can actually buy the print on Hero Complex.

Which is your favourite incarnation of the dark knight?

Trailer Trash: Cusack, Brody and Chan Fight and Run Places in “Dragon Blade” Trailer

If we told you a project was gestating that was a mix between 300 and Exodus:Gods and Kings, and starred John Cusack, Adrien Brody and Jackie Chan, you’d probably think…well actually you probably wouldn’t be interested in it all that much. As well you shouldn’t! That’s the same as me asking you “would you like a smoothie that’s a combination of mango and passion fruit, mixed with horseradish, Gorgonzola and some pebbles”? It’s a combination that just doesn’t work together. Well, that project is Dragon Blade, the story of a legion of Roman soldiers in Han Dynasty China, fighting to maintain the stability and leadership of the region. Sounds epic, right? And maybe if you just had a monologue from Brody and some sweeping battle scenes you’d have a pretty good trailer. But here is what the trailer really looks like, in a foreign cut, courtesy of Webzine Check:

Maybe it’s the fact that Exodus: Gods and Kings just came out, maybe it’s direction-less fight scenes, maybe ham-fisted back and forth between Brody, Chan and Cusack. Maybe it’s just Cusack. In any case, it doesn’t look god. Don’t get me wrong, the film could be thoroughly entertaining and do really well overseas, but I don’t see it making a huge dent over here. Although, if you listen to the dialogue between the three, this trailer could be re-cut into some ominous military love triangle drama. Think about it. The film is directed and written by Hong Kong director Daniel Lee and also stars Lorie Pester,  Choi Siwon and Lin Peng.

Fun fact: Daniel Lee has written and directed two other films with “Dragon” in the title.

Does Dragon Blade tap into your epic battle mojo?

Kat Dennings Dabbles in Fantasy in new “To Write Love on Her Arms” Trailer

It’s always tricky to see an actor you like in a sitcom or TV show that you really can’t bear to watch for more than a few minutes at a time – but with the sheer volume of shows out there it’s bound to happen. And so it goes that even though I really don’t like 2 Broke Girls, I am an enormous fan of Kat Dennings. She kept the rest of the characters in the Thor films fully stocked with grump-humour and has made her mark with a number of comedy-dramas that aren’t afraid of getting serious from time to time, including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and a favourite of mine, Charlie Bartlett.

So it’s definitely a treat to see Dennings slowly dipping her toe back into films between sitcom seasons, and her latest project, To Write Love on her Arms, looks to be a perfect fit for her. The story follows Dennings’ character Renee, who is struggling not to care about her troubles with drugs, self-abuse and bi-polar disorder. The trailer is now up, straight from Sony Pictures. Have a gander:

What really looks interesting about this film is Renee’s detours into fantasy that look great on the screen and seem to really reflect how she is coping and not coping with her issues. It looks like this film will take a far less travelled road to describe the indescribable. The songs and music in general definitely seem to play a big part too, so we’ll be looking forward to a impressive soundtrack. Oh, and if the title sounds familiar, it’s because the film is based on a true story that started a global non-profit organisation with the same name.

The film comes from No Saints for Sinners director Nathan Frankowski and writer Kate King Lynch.  Alongside Dennings the cast includes Chad Michael Murray, Rupert Friend and Corbin Bleu. Look out for this film in March 2015.

One For the Diary – “Star Trek 3″‘s Release Date is Now July 6th 2016

Just a quick update on Star Trek 3 before Christmas Day!

It’s cold out there, it’s real cold. We need something to look forward to, something warm to think about until Spring. Well, we have just the thing. Deadline has reported that just 17 short months from now, on July 6th 2016 to be exact, we will be sitting down in cinemas across the country to watch Star Trek 3.

What’s that? It’s too far away to get excited about? Oh fine then be a grinch about it.

Seriously though, we’re getting a good stream of info on the latest in the franchise that was rebooted in 2009 by J.J. Abrams. After Roberto Orci left the director’s chair and settled into the not-quite-as-luxurious-or-comfortable producer’s chair, we found out after a lengthy vetting process that Fast and Furious director Justin Lin would take the helm. Now, we have a confirmed date of release to along with a new director.

Justin Lin will be joining the "Star Trek 3" team as director. Looks like the lucky hat Robert Rodriguez leant him worked a treat!
Justin Lin will be joining the “Star Trek 3” team as director. Looks like the lucky hat Robert Rodriguez leant him worked a treat!

I’m sure there are still Trekkers out there that will be sobbing into their figgy puddings tomorrow now that the rumours that “Commander Riker”Jonathan Frakes would direct have been effectively photon torpedoed. But a solid release date to pop on the calendar should certainly help.

Well, you won’t be putting it on this year’s calendar, obviously. Just wait until next Christmas and pop it on the 2016 calendar.

Well, that about does it. Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!

Zimmer! Elfman! Reznor! Composers Unite in a 2014 Movie Score Roundtable

If there’s one thing King Arthur and I have in common, it’s that we both enjoy a bloody good round-table. Sorry, but at this time of year my jokes resort to cracker-level quality.

It’s been an amazing year for films and that’s due in no small part to the work of the humble composing-folk, setting orchestral and often innovative backgrounds to the great motion pictures of the year, both mainstream and undiscovered.

In light of this, THR has continued its round-table series and put together some of the most significant composers working in Hollywood today. And it just so happens that they all have films in the running for a whole mess of awards: Hans Zimmer with Interstellar, John Powell with How to Train Your Dragon 2, Marco Beltrami for The Homesman, Trent Reznor for Gone Girl, and Danny Elfman for Big Eyes. 

With so many important films of 2014 under their belts, their insights and responses are incredibly relevant to Hollywood today. There might also be a bitchy comment or too. I’m just kidding, they’re all probably lovely.

So here’s the round-table, 45 minutes strong, courtesy of The Playlist:

Not bad right? If you want to see more round-tables from THR, you can check them out here. A lot of them are really worth watching, but it’s more fun not to tell you which.

Who’s your favourite of the composing crew?

Read Dan Gilroy’s Original “Nightcrawler” Screenplay – The Perfect Christmas Present

There’s not an awards programme this winter that isn’t going mad about Jake Gyllenhaal and his startling performance in Nightcrawler, and for good reason. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you’d better get a move on! No I’m kidding, you take your time – it’s not going anywhere. The film has been on pretty much every top 10 list and is definitely one of my favourite films of the year if only because Gyllanhaal’s portrayal of an opportunistic crime-hound was like a welcome punch to the gut. It’s a good film, that’s really the point I’m trying to get across.

Anywho, if you can’t get around to seeing it any time soon, then I have the next best thing. is it the actors playing out every scene in your living room? Don’t be ridiculous! We both know your living room isn’t nearly nice enough. No, it’s the original script for Nightcrawler as penned by Dan Gilroy. There’s no denying that much of the success of this film goes to Gilroy’s masterful screenplay, so it’s definitely worth checking out. So here it is, courtesy of The Wrap:

Nightcrawler Script

Not exactly a heart-warming Christmas fable, but it gets me going. If you really want some Christmas fun, print out a few copies and distribute them among your relatives on Christmas morning for some impromptu festive theatrics.

Does Nightcrawler chill as deep on the page as it does on the screen?

Trailer Trash: Johnny Depp’s Licensed to Fail in “Mortdecai” UK Trailer

Hey, you know that fool-proof plan if you have a film that’s getting negative press before it even comes out, when you bring out a trailer that has everyone in the film badmouthing the main character to seem all self-aware and post-modern? No, neither do we.

That seems to be the only explanation for the first UK Trailer for spy-comedy Mortdecai, starring the previously-incomparable-but-now-increasingly-comparable Johnny Depp. That’s the hope at least, because if this is a cut of all the best bits from director David Koepp’s latest Depp project (they worked together previously on Secret Window), then it’s going to be an unbearable 90+ minutes. But hey, why am I ruining it for you? Take a look for yourself, courtesy of Webzine Check:

It’s not that bad. You can see what they’re trying to do – they just don’t do it. The most disappointing thing about this project is that it seems to be taking a lot of good people with it. Sure there’s Depp, who’s like a daredevil motorcyclist trying to find the riskiest, most unstable films to vault himself into, but there’s also Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Olivia Munn. All fine actors, clearly doing their best, but it looks like this turd might be beyond polishing. But fingers crossed, right? It would certainly be nice to see Depp make a dramatic return to form. I’m just not sure that it’ going to be with Mortdecai. Release is January 23rd, 2015. Go on, give it a go.

New Teaser Trailer for “Entourage” Movie

I’ve never seen a trailer split people down the middle as quickly as the first teaser for the Entourage movie has. Warner Bros. has officially released a teaser for the HBO drama-turned-feature that has been floating on the fringes of the info-sphere for the last year or so. People have been a little anxious about talking about it too much. Why? Because there is no way of knowing how a person is going to react if you tell them that you’re looking forward to an Entourage movie. Was the tv show perfect? No. Have worst TV shows been adapted for the big screen? Most certainly. I can’t tell you if you’ll like the teaser because when it comes to Entourage, apparently you just can’t tell. So it’s all down to you. Have a look, courtesy of Youtube, if you dare!

Soooo…are we good?

All of the original cast are returning, including Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Dillon and Jeremy Piven. Grenier plays Vincent Chase, a Queens-born actor who has hit the big time and took his friends with him along for the ride. Mark Wahlberg is producing and starring, while Doug Elin directs as he did with the original series.

The film will hit theatres June 5th, 2015.

Seriously, we’re still friends right?

Try and Get Your Head Around New Short “The Grey Matter”

If you don’t mind my saying, your Christmas preparation is missing some much-needed mind-boggling horror. Enter Peter and Luke McCoubrey, known in some circles as the McCoubrey Brothers, who have released their first short film The Grey Matter online. Moving away from their music video and TV commercial resume, the brothers have concocted a dark satirical horror with a hint of whimsy…because hey, it’s Christmas. The film follows a complacent office worker played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach of Girls fame, who is forced into the company of a grim, sentient worm that has taken up residence in his head wound, the result of an unexplained accident. Or was it an accident? I don’t know, but the worm helps him through a bizarre relationship with a woman he works with.

The short has been doing the festivsal rounds, including Film Shortage, Nitehawk Shorts, The Sidewalk, The San Antonio and The Brooklyn Film Festival. So have a look at the short in full, courtesy of Slashfilm:

Not too shabby right? A lot of shorts can give away pretty much all they can offer with a still, but you really have to watch The Grey Matter through to fully appreciate it. There’s almost a Terry Gilliam balance between the uncomfortable, grim aesthetic and the delirious light-heartedness – which makes sense since Luke McCoubrey has worked with Gilliam in the past. A lot of attention has also been given to the score behind the short, which really gives it a lot of meat to get your teeth into. Could it be that this is the starter’s pistol that sets these guys running head-first into features? Wait, does that metaphor work? Yeah, no it’s fine. Keep an eye out for more from the McCoubrey Brothers, and check out the website for this short.

Are you digging The Grey Matter?