Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v38MNmDcgrM
Initially the overabundant presence of celebrities in this trailer turned me off, but I have to admit that both Zac Efron and Lily Collins seemed less like themselves and more like other people in this trailer, so I’m willing to see if while watching this movie I might forget all the allusions that these stars carry with them. It would be interesting to know why the movie creators intentionally chose to cast an actor who’s been firmly entrenching himself in the stupid comedy movie genre and an actress who’s usually in romance movies or young adult film adaptations for a movie about a serial killer.
Here’s another choice to think about: this movie declares in its trailer that it is based on a true story, and that Zac Efron is the serial killer, Ted Bundy. I didn’t know anything about this movie when I watched the trailer so I was gripped in figuring out whether Efron was the killer or not. Unfortunately, the trailer (and by extension the movie) wrenched away all that ambiguity. Although what initially seemed to be the setup of the plot (Whodunnit?) turned out to be a bust, there’s a different setup that is just as interesting,“Howduzzit?” There are lots of ways this movie could use the fact that the audience already knows what will happen to its advantage, and I’m intrigued to figure out how this movie will.
From the beginning of the trailer it’s clear that Zac Efron’s character has a dark secret, but I didn’t begin to suspect that it was the serial killer, Ted Bundy, until towards the very end. The ambiguity draws the viewer in with what seems to be an untold mystery. His charming personality and family life contrasted with the evidence and trial makes you truly wonder whether or not he is guilty. The story of Ted Bundy is infamous and most people know how it ends, however Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019) tells the story in a way that not only presents us with the events but makes us question our own minds. The trailer makes you root for Zac Efron’s character, you want to believe that he is innocent, and then reveals his identity consequently taking away all the mystery. It is easy to see how people at the time were charmed by Ted Bundy’s performance when I didn’t recognize such an infamous story. The point is to make you question his guilt even when you know the outcome for certain. I am interested to see how this movie plays with perception and first assumptions.
Jake: Finally, a movie that takes America’s obsession with the “serial killer” and presents it in a nuanced light that demands that we turn our attention inward and analyze why we love Hannibal Lecter and can’t remember what the name of that character that Jodie Foster plays in that movie with the lambs is. What? Oh, this is just Zac Efron lending his charisma to the character of Ted Bundy and perpetrating the same tropes? Eh, whatever, it looks like fun. In all seriousness, this looks great. Check out the director’s recent Netflix docu-series on Ted Bundy. He clearly knows his stuff, and I’m fascinated to see how he pivots from documentaries to dramas. I love me some Malkovich, and it looks like the film is genuinely trying to pick apart some long-standing traditions and tropes of the serial killer in popular media. Bundy arguably created the archetype of the charming serial killer himself, so if there’s ever a movie that had a right to have a trailer like this, with the guitar riffs in the background and everything, its this one.
A Dog’s Way Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS0rTQz_Ggw
A cute dog. A cute boy. What more do you need? The trailer became increasingly cheesier the longer it went on, and I also found myself doubting the necessity to have “Bella,” the dog, have a voice at all. Aside from the jokes about her only having some basic understanding of things, do we really need to hear her thoughts? I didn’t see such an insightful or fascinating mind in the, admittedly, short trailer to be convinced that it wouldn’t only detract from the story. My other big concern (and pet peeve) about the trailer is that it basically revealed the entire movie and there wasn’t anything that left me wanting to know more. This trailer makes the movie seem like boy and dog are best friends, dog gets lost and has adventures, dog finds her way back home. What in this trailer is supposed to make me want to know more? The whole plot is already laid out. It seems like even the take-home message of the entire story was revealed towards the end by Bella.
Another deceivingly cute story about a dog that is going to make me cry my eyes out. No thanks, I’ll pass. I’ve seen a lot of these movies and sometimes I really enjoy them, but A Dog’s Way Home (2019) doesn’t seem like it has more to offer than those that have come before it. I can get most of the plot from the trailer itself and Bella’s voice was kind of annoying. The trailer is cute and heartwarming on its own, but the story isn’t unique or engaging enough to tempt me to see the whole movie. The creators of this movie know how to play people’s emotions, but as a dog lover myself, I will only put myself through that amount of tears for a truly moving and unique movie.
Jake: In the far future, when our cyberpunk dystopia is ruled by corporations and script kiddies are jacking into the neural net to go to a techno-paganistic rave, one poor young soul will look up at the stars through the endless sea of smog and wonder when art died. This trailer was released on October 12th, 2018.
Fast Color: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tySUZIiXObc
The first image of this trailer already had me, and it only pulled me in more with its continually gorgeous cinematography. The remoteness and seclusion of the scenes hint at apocalyptic times, especially with the voiceover warning of the end of the world. The quietness of the first scene juxtaposed with the suspenseful sounds of the ending brilliantly uses the 2.5 minutes to build up tension. I also appreciate the only information I was given was the setting, the main characters, and a situation (as opposed to the whole synopsis). This trailer had it all: problematic supernatural powers that require hiding, a complicated mother-daughter relationship, and tensions between people and the Earth. There is a hint of an entire hidden world in this trailer, and from its quality, the movie is extremely promising. I realized that I HAD to watch Fast Color before the video was even over.
Movies or books that fall into the science fiction genre are often generic and predictable. There are too many opportunities to fall into cliches and tropes. That said, Fast Color (2019) is completely different from anything I have come to expect out of science fiction. The trailer was brilliantly arranged in a way that kept me hooked the entire time. The striking imagery coupled with the musical score created a constant build of suspense. Everything from the concept to the diverse cast is unique and promising. It gave just enough hints and clues to keep me engaged without giving away any of the plot. I don’t even truly understand the powers and gifts of this mother-daughter duo. I hope the entire movie is as engaging as the trailer and I will definitely watch this movie when it comes out.
Jake: Alright, you have 10 seconds: without looking at your phone, what is your favorite sci-fi movie with a black protagonist? If you were able to come up with Men in Black (1997), Independence Day (1996), or Night of the Living Dead (1968) in time, nice job, you advance to the next round. What is your favorite sci-fi movie with a black female protagonist? Go ahead, I’ll wait. If you were able to come up with Alien vs. Predator (2004) in time, I’m so sorry that someone forced you, clockwork-orange style, to watch that movie, as I can’t imagine you did it willingly. If you came up with another option, let me know about it, because nothing comes to mind. So let’s expand the question a little: what is your favorite piece of sci-fi media with a black female protagonist? If you were able to think of the Broken Earth trilogy of books or Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency in time, contact me immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org, because I need to know more people like you. (Yeah, Star Trek Discovery does exist, but I wish it didn’t. Again, if I missed anything, let me know). My point is that movies like this, independent sci-fi movies with black female protagonists, just don’t happen. As much as the Star Trek franchise, the Walking Dead, and a small indie film called Black Panther (2018) can change the genre, it’s still incredibly rare to get a black woman not as a member of the supporting cast but as the protagonist. The movie looks interesting in and of itself. I love the The Giver vibes I’m getting, but I am kinda worried about how they’ll explain and justify what fantasy elements there seem to be. Even if it turns out to be hot trash, I’d buy a ticket to support some much-needed diversity in my favorite genre.
Image Credits: IMDb