Halftime Leisure

Trailer Takes: Ghost in the Shell, Song to Song, and The House

February 22, 2017

Photo: IMDb

Ghost in the Shell, Trailer #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEDctELIm3I

Xavier: The jam-packed action of this trailer snatches my attention immediately. From start to finish, guns are blazing, explosions are detonating, and punches are being thrown. The pulsing musical accompaniment and cryptic dialogue also contribute to the general air of intensity and excitement. Over the course of the trailer, we are introduced to our cyborg protagonist (Scarlett Johansson), are confronted with the conflicts she will face, and are left with provocative questions regarding her past. Important details of the narrative are revealed, while still leaving room for the speculative intrigue of audiences. Behind all the action and exposition, viewers are also offered striking glimpses into the visual world of our characters, abound with futuristic technologies, holograms, and architecture. With its compelling story, convincing visual effects, and a promising leading lady in Johansson, this film seems to have acquired all the necessary ingredients for action movie success. Ghost in the Shell is definitely worth a watch.

Allison: This film immediately reminded me of a combination of Kill Bill, Tron, and the Jason Bourne series. It seems a little bit like a mashup of the stronger plot points and characteristic stylistic choices of all three films. Ghost in the Shell’s protagonist is an upgraded and technologically-enhanced Jason Bourne; she has an implied troubled past that she cannot remember and has been commandeered by a secretive government to do their killing for them. I’m guessing that the film will follow the discovery of her true identity and subsequent rebellion against the organization that claimed to have “saved” her. She’s a badass like Tarantino’s Beatrix Kiddo and Scarlett Johansson has mastered some pretty sweet fighting skills. The special effects look amazing and the city of neon lights is reminiscent of a Japanese Tron. I personally am not a fan of sci-fi films, but Ghost in the Shell looks like it will be an action-packed visual experience.

Song to Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9t4SKWryWM

Xavier: I’m stumped. Either my simple mind is incapable of appreciating the cinematic genius that is Song to Song, or this trailer was ambiguous to the point of ineffectuality. Whichever the case, I have no significant takeaways or insights into the film. Almost every shot shows one of three things: someone playing an instrument, relationship angst, or a scene in a convertible (seriously, why would such a short trailer have so many car scenes?). Sure, there are dangers in revealing too much in the trailer, but even any surface-level exposition seemed nonexistent. Despite its failure to introduce a compelling plot, the trailer’s primary intention was likely to advertise the strength of its all-star cast. With the likes of  Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman, this film has the potential to generate considerable box office buzz. I expect that the success of this film will rely heavily upon the talent and recognizability of its core cast, rather than the intrigue or originality of its plot.

Allison: Gosling, Mara, Fassbender, and Portman. I’m hooked. This film looks amazing. It’s beautifully made, impeccably casted, and full of what make movies great: sex, drugs, music, and betrayal. The panning shots remind me a lot of the style of Wes Anderson, but Malick also employs his own unique camera angles. Many of the shots in the trailer begin beneath the actors, placing the audience about 3 feet below their gaze. The color scheme is refined and purposeful; this movie will be one that values style almost as much as plot. The storyline is somewhat unclear, but Gosling looks to be a little known artist living with his girlfriend who is convinced by the devastatingly handsome, but probably psychotic and manipulative, Michael Fassbender to go pro with his music. Gosling makes it big, but ruins essentially every personal relationship in his life. Relatively standard stuff, but hopefully the trailer is purposefully keeping it vague. I’m very excited that Ryan Gosling is returning to a musical role because I loved his piano playing in La La Land. It looks like he is putting his skills to use again, and I wouldn’t put it past him to have picked up another instrument for Song to Song. Even if a plot does not develop, this film is guaranteed to have an amazing soundtrack and beautiful faces.

The House: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Oi0BGH-VVc

Xavier: Ferrell and Poehler seem like they would be a duo made in comedy heaven. However, their charm and humor in this trailer fall totally flat. Simply put, this trailer features unfunny jokes, mildly entertaining characters, and an uninspired premise. The casino aspect of the film is original in its own right, but this brand of comedy just feels stale and tired. Adults who resort to the extreme (even the illegal) in light of some mundane occurrence have already been projected onto our screens. The House seems like the type of film that includes its funniest moments in the trailer, so my expectations for the actual film are low. I can see a few one-liners eliciting the occasional half-hearted chuckle, but gut-busting laughter seems unlikely. If this trailer is any indication, this film will have all the formulaic predictability of every Disney Channel original movie ever (you’ve seen them). I suggest saving your money and time on this one. This is the sort of movie that would be aggravating to pay for, but could serve as the perfect mindless distraction while procrastinating one random Sunday.

Allison: This is a complete digression from a review of the trailer, but being from Pennsylvania, I received many the indignant message when this trailer was released. I have friends who attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, and college the daughter gets accepted to in The House pretty much rips off Bucknell entirely. They have the same logo, same mascot, and same school colors. Buckley and Bucknell? I mean, c’mon that was low effort at best. Shout-out to Lewisburg, I guess! This film takes a relatable financial aid problem and then solves it in the most ridiculous way possible. Student loans are obviously not a familiar concept to this family, but then where would opportunity arise to make a movie about middle-aged parents running an underground casino. I haven’t been that impressed with the work of Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler lately, and I’m not sure that this film will change my mind. It’s usually hit or miss with this set of actors and it looks like they may have put their best jokes in the trailer. I promise I will laugh if I see it, because I will laugh at the stupidest things, but I have a feeling this film will rely on mostly physical humor and truly awful jokes.

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