Halftime Leisure

Trailer Takes: Downsizing, The Florida Project, and Fifty Shades Freed

November 8, 2017


Juliana: With all the crazy and wild movies that exist out there, Downsizing feels weirdly original. Like most sci-fi stories, it sprouts out of a “what if?” question: what if humans could be shrunk to 5 inches tall? From there, the trailer comes out with a relatively well-built world, both in terms of plot and special effects. It has its moments of humor and a strong cast of leads. My only trouble with it would be Matt Damon’s monologue near the end, since it felt like his character was bordering on the lines of “The Chosen One” cliché . If the film is able to steer away from that and maintain its originality, it definitely sounds promising.

Rachel: *Gasp* Is that Matt Damon? *GASP* Is that Kristen Wiig? Jason Sudeikis? Heck, even Christoph Waltz is in this movie I have never even heard of. This movie seems like it’s going to make some larger point and be a metaphorical analysis for modern society’s values and blah blah blah. But, with such a star-studded cast, it should be interesting. I’m hoping whatever big picture agenda it’s serving manages not to come across as contrived and that the film will find its footing outside of that message. The song choice was excellent—The Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime is now irrevocably stuck in my head. I think the real decider of if this film can pull it off is the world building. What makes a society get to the point where some entity (presumably the government) must provide incentives for people to undergo a procedure to make them take up less space? What does the new world look like once this element is incorporated? If the film can build a believable and, more importantly, intriguing world for the audience then I think it has lots of great potential. It’ll be up to the production team to make sure there’s real substance to the film instead of falling back on flashy special effects and the cast’s collective star power.

Jack: I’ll say it: Matt Damon peaked in The Bourne Identity. He is forever typecast, and there’s nothing he can do about it. Moving on. There is a problem with any movie that contains the words, “That woman is really sick,” followed shortly by the words, “These are the people we should be helping.” The beginning of the trailer—in fact, up until that pair of quotes—was growing on me. I liked the premise. But the premise doesn’t lend itself to the sort of morality play that emerges halfway through the trailer. It’s just too obvious. The premise is original, but the plot isn’t: guy takes risk and comes to understand something that had been under his nose the whole time. Big deal. Point is, I’m not convinced.


The Florida Projecthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwQ-NH1rRT4

Juliana: Let me just start by saying that I love the little girl, and I really believe this is going to be the kind of movie where the kid is the best part of the whole show. She’s genuine, expressive, and incredibly hilarious (I had to pause the trailer to laugh when she shouted back, “You’re not welcome!”). The movie is also a hit with Willem Defoe’s and Bria Vinaite’s characters: they give structure and tension to the story, and the actors are phenomenal in bringing them to life. While it looks like a small-scale movie in terms of distribution and viewers, it’s painstakingly honest, and it’s definitely worth hunting down for a cinema that’s showing it.

Rachel: The scenery and bold use of color caught my eye immediately. Also, I haven’t seen Willem Dafoe in much since the good ol’ Green Goblin days, excluding a forgettable performance in the film adaptation of the teen romance novel The Fault in Our Stars. This film looks sort of artsy and overly heartwarming—not the kind of thing I usually watch. But, I have to say I’m very intrigued by this film. I’m not usually a fan of films relying too heavily on such young child actors, but the kids brought a certain realness and heart to the trailer that made it stand out. I’m thinking the end result will be a quirky little family flick like Captain Fantastic or Little Miss Sunshine in that it’ll have light humor while also dealing with heavier topics through the likable and unique characters. So, though this is not something typically up my alley, I’ll probably watch it on pay-per-view with my mom somewhere down the line.

Jack: This one’s a lot better than the last one. In fact, if I were the type to go see every movie I might like, I might almost think about seeing this one. The trailer shows off the depth of some of the characters. For this movie to succeed, it will have to put those characters front and center; it can’t rely on tear-jerking plot lines or anything else for its drama. I’m not normally one for such obviously dramatic dramas, but I think this one might balance light-heartedness with drama in such proportion that neither is overwhelming. That’s a common flaw—at least, in the movies I’ve seen—and it’s one this trailer indicates the movie could fall victim to. But it’s sure got some compelling elements. I only hope they strike the right balance over the course of two hours.


Fifty Shades Freedhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJCc5HRPxYA

Juliana: I’ll admit I don’t know much about the trilogy’s storyline. That being said, this trailer is really confusing. I understood the scattered wedding shots, the tense jealousy plotline, and the evident overdose of just how rich Christian Grey is. However, after the car chase scene, the trailer just lost me. Who’s Jack? Why is Anastasia carrying a gun? In fact, while we’re at it, why does it seem like everyone has a gun near the end? Who even are these bad guys?! While I’m glad for the fans of the trilogy that they’re getting a complete set of films (something that other best-selling series like Percy Jackson never did), I’ll have to disagree with the trailer: I’m missing this one out.

Rachel: Just in time for another Valentine’s day release, Fifty Shades Freed’s trailer teases a few of the franchise’s notorious steamy scenes. The rigidly-delivered and atrociously cheesy opening lines “Good morning, wife” and “Good morning, husband” made me cringe right off the bat, but that was remedied with some beautiful establishing shots of the Grey’s lavish lifestyle. All seemed to be going pretty much how I’d expected it to go in this trailer—some fabricated conflict in the form of a sensual blonde architect with eyes for Anastasia’s man, for example. Like Juliana, I was taken off-guard when there was a car chase all of a sudden. From what I know about this series, the way the rest of the trailer played out was highly unexpected. Does she have a deranged ex-boyfriend I don’t know about? A stalker? I guess that’s the hook to get you to tune in and find out. The trailer was a little heavy-handed in the establishing what the film would be about—it systematically took you through all the new plot elements to be aware of and didn’t leave much to be desired. It was a little insulting—let the moviegoers find out for themselves. No need to jump the gun and tell us everything about the Grey’s beautiful new life and how it’s being threatened by an unnamed stalker/psycho-killer/ex-boyfriend or whatever he is.

Jack: It seems to me that the role of a trailer is to introduce to the audience the interesting elements of a movie. If I’m right, this movie is in trouble. Either the trailer is so bad that it can’t find a single interesting point of plot or character, or the movie is so bad that there was nothing for the trailer to find in the first place. Regardless, I’m not rooting for this movie. There are at least the following elements in the trailer: sex, romance, jealousy, and action. Each could make a compelling movie. I have no reason to believe that any of them do. The romance/sex angle is corny—see what Rachel said. The jealousy angle makes no sense: the marriage vows—that which might establish a basis for jealousy—come into play after the (potential) unfaithfulness, which makes no sense except in a matrimonial argument. The action angle is just gratuitous, as is the sex angle. The guns and car chase add nothing, as far as I can tell, to a movie that’s really about a couple and their relationship.

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