Trailer Takes: <i>Dunkirk, It Comes At Night,</i> and <i>The Dark Tower</i>

Trailer Takes: Dunkirk, It Comes At Night, and The Dark Tower




Graham: Of all of the promising films coming out this summer (and there are plenty), I am most excited for this one. Christopher Nolan is my favorite director and I have no qualms with passionately defending every single one of his works. Dunkirk is interesting because it takes away one of the most divisive aspects of Nolan’s filmmaking: his storytelling. Nolan loves telling mind-bending narratives, and when he hits, there is no one in the business who’s better at playing with the audience’s mind (The Prestige and Memento are the best examples of this). However, when the scale is too grand, he can stumble. Because Dunkirk is essentially a historical war film, Nolan can focus on what he thrives at: creating huge, realistic, and intense set-pieces. When I went to go see Kong: Skull Island, there was a four minute clip from this film that played ahead of Kong, and quite honestly was better than the two hours of dreck that followed. Dunkirk looks unbelievable: it’s big, loud, and immersive. I love the fact that Nolan is using actual destroyers and practical effects instead of CGI. The result should be rousing. This trailer certainly conveys the intensity I felt in the theater while watching the four minute clip. I can’t wait to see how he puts this film together and what he adds to the war-movie genre. I just pray it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of superhero and franchise films.


Eman: It’s not as perfect to me as the first trailer was. I watched Suicide Squad in the theaters a second time just to see the first Dunkirk trailer on the big screen again because it hit me so hard (that’s right: I gave my money to Suicide Squad TWICE just for Dunkirk!). Here we get more story and more action, with the fitting ticking soundtrack to really inject some haste into all of it. It’s the more blockbuster trailer for Dunkirk, whereas the first trailer felt more subdued and artistic. But of course, here in Eman’s head, we never doubt the power of Nolan. Everyone knows that Nolan is a master of technical filmmaking and spectacle, so it’s about time he brings those talents to a war film, and a war film about an overlooked British triumph no less. This whole “home came for them” tagline is a little too much of a crowd-pleaser for my taste, but the sentiment is wholly resonant. The human angle of common folk getting in their boats to go do the right thing is thematically arresting to me. It’s very much at the core of the Dunkirk evacuation story and is pretty much the thing I expected Nolan’s key interest in a retelling: thematically it’s not so far away from the ferries scene in The Dark Knight. What a lot of people tend to miss in Nolan’s work is the complex universal emotions he can relay in his films, especially through the mediums of big set pieces, editing techniques, or just tight dialogue. He’s economic with the structure of his films for sure, making sure every single instance has a purpose. Horrors of war and beauty of survival are what I’m lookin’ for here, in addition to killer visuals; and, oh boy, does that fire look absolutely mesmerizing! The story itself is pretty straightforward, but it’s education and presentation are gonna be big I bet. Nolan has spoken about who the events of Dunkirk were experienced in completely different time scales by different people: months for the soldiers, a day for boat captains, maybe less than an hour for pilots, and god knows how long for the families back home. Nolan has increasingly concerned himself with the way that film and editing can compress and expand time; Interstellar and Inception were directly driven by different perceptions of time and cutting between them. Applying that formula and talent to a real-life event should prove especially interesting, and this cast is quite encouraging. The new young guys look to be the “here’s life on the beach” view; Branagh’s the exposition, Hardy’s there for awesomeness, while Rylance and Murphy will probably offer the real heart-breaking stuff (which should no doubt be capitalized by connecting to the imagery from the other storylines). I can’t wait to see how that all comes together and I bet this ad campaign is still playing it close to the chest and not showing a lot. What I’m not excited for are the inevitable “how Dunkirk reflects Brexit” hot takes.


Emily: Given my love for WWII films and Nolan’s remarkable talent, I hardly needed a trailer (let alone a good one) to persuade me to watch this movie. Then, for all of the incredible content of this trailer, it was the negative space that captivated me the most. We catch the unmistakable, iconic glimpses of the beaches, soldiers, ships, and fighter planes—but only in short bursts, broken by stark silence. We know that the action is coming, but we don’t know when. What seems to be a mundane meal scene suddenly shifts to an attack and a struggle to stay alive. All the while, the ticker goes on, going and going and counting down—but to what? More than the action or the imagery, the waiting captures the essence of war tension, and the waiting makes this trailer thrilling—and so waiting for Dunkirk to hit the big screen will be a suspenseful challenge in itself.


It Comes At Night:


Graham: Are they zombies? Please say they’re not zombies. I love the atmosphere in the trailer and the fact that it relies more on straight horror than jump scares. That shot of the girl bleeding into the boy’s mouth after kissing him got quite a visceral reaction out of me. I really don’t want this to be another standard post-apocalyptic movie. I think it could be a really neat twist on the genre to have more realistic antagonists instead of your typical crazed-infected-zombie villains. The trailer promises lots of tension between Jason Clarke and the rest of the characters, so I’m hoping that It Comes At Night is more of a psychological thriller than a standard horror movie.


Eman: I’ve been intrigued with It Comes At Night since I saw it’s first poster, and then super hyped for it since I heard the overwhelming good word about it out of The Overlook Film Festival. This trailer only boosts that hype, with its nightmarish look at paranoia and mistrust. I love the routine nature of the trailer’s first half, giving us an efficient look at this world and this family with all their rules—which obviously gets upended. What follows seems to be an unblinking gaze at the cost of the collective fear of death. It’s eerily evocative of a post-9/11 genre that calls to mind recent narratives involving stable lifestyles crumbling in the face of new, mysterious threats. The use of natural light (or lack thereof) in those night scenes is hauntingly beautiful and I love the looming presence of that red door. I really don’t know what kind of horror movie this will be, but I’m always game for minimalist post-apocalyptic survival stories, and this looks brutal and brilliant, Plus, A24 has an incredible track record thus far. They mostly come at night. Mostly.


Emily: So, we see the horror movie staples: a forest, an isolated family, gas masks and covered faces, some significance of the nighttime darkness. The scariest trope of all is that the women in this film never seem to leave the house, or at least the front yard, as far as the scenes in this trailer go (and I’m pretty sure we see them in bed more often than we see them discussing the issue at hand). Feminist complaints aside, this trailer does have some merit. The mysterious, threatening force subtly permeates each frame, slowly creeping up on the family as the horror steadily creeps up on the audience. At first, it seems that something is out there; later, we realize that the threat is inside. I’m intrigued to learn more about whatever haunts (or plagues or enters?) this family’s life, and why the family remains in such a threatening location—but isn’t that always the question in horror movies, against all common logic? I’m certainly curious about this movie, and I see some potential, but it will take more than just that trailer to convince me that this film is anything beyond the ordinary.


Dark Tower:


Graham: First off, shoutout to the photo of the Overlook Hotel at 40 seconds into the trailer! From what I understand, some of Stephen King’s books do have overlapping stories and characters, so I’m not sure if that’s just a cool Easter Egg or a sign that we’re about to get a King Cinematic Universe. I have not read The Dark Tower series, so I don’t have much invested in this. Unfortunately, the trailer is just looks a little…generic. After so much production trouble, I would think that The Dark Tower would look a little more memorable. But the presence of both Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey will probably get me to go see it, if only because Elba’s action scenes look pretty great. It is a good time to be a Stephen King fan.


Eman: I’m a Stephen King fan but have not read The Dark Tower books, but I feel I know enough of it to get invested in this. The Dark Tower is King’s epic magnum opus, creating a fantasy world of good vs evil that somehow also ties together the events of his countless novels and stories. Just based on that alone, I’m excited to look for easter eggs of other King works (did you see that Pennywise ferris wheel?! And that framed picture of the Overlook Hotel?!), although I do anticipate that some of the mythology of this universe to be rejiggered around. The trailer itself looks like a dark and gritty adaptation of a 1980s cartoon. If I didn’t know any better I’d think this was just another generic “young person discovers secret world and bring their battle back to modern NY/LA” fantasy adaptation. I like the look of that fantasy world, especially that shot of the Idris Elba and the kid wading through the water (!!!), so I’d be disappointed if a lot of this movie takes place back on boring ol’ Earth. I die for McConaughey though; he looks like he’s having a lot of fun chewing up the scenery. But other than that and some cool action (you can only have so much variety in the Gunslinger’s reloading methods), this movie has a lot of legwork ahead of it in trying to get butts in seats and connect with audiences. I’m almost there.


Emily: Unfortunately, I have not read The Dark Tower, either—so I’d better hurry to the bookstore, because this trailer has me hooked. World-creation is always a fascinating endeavor, and it’s even more so when you have a master like Stephen King using that imaginary realm to comment on the realities of this world. Firearms are certainly a controversy right now, so I greatly appreciated the commentary on the psychology of using one, rather than just a bunch of bullet-filled action shots. Elba’s narration over the dynamic cinematography is pure poetry in the trailer, so I’m expecting this film to be a work of art with a message—I could be too optimistic, but even if that’s the case, I can’t wait to see The Dark Tower.

Image Credits: imdb

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