The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds

This week we are looking at and listening to The Darkest Minds, a new thriller that is one part Stranger Things (produced by the same people, no less), and one part X-Men – “if you can hear this, you’re one of us” intones a voice underneath grainy radio static at the beginning of the trailer, immediately suggesting the kind of psychopathic horror/adventure that Stranger Things has become emblematic of, but as will be seen and heard, definitely of a more action-oriented lilt.

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I Am the Night

I Am the Night

​​​​​​​Coming in early 2019 as part of TNT’s “Suspense Collection,” I Am the Night promises to be a thrilling match-up, with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins directing Hollywood phenom Chris Pine. In this series, a runaway woman discovers that she’s familially connected to a doctor-come-murderer, George Hodel. The suspense that ensues promises equal parts horror and film noire, and the trailer certainly obliges.

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Halloween

Halloween

Not quite a reboot and not quite a sequel, Halloween is part of an eleven-instalment franchise stretching back to 1978. Without particular for continuity with its previous sequels, this version of what’s become a sort of re-told myth in the American slasher tradition of filmmaking sees Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her original role as Laurie Strode, seeking some forty years later to enact violent revenge on the escaped mental patient and original film’s murderer, Michael Myers (Nick Castle). As such, the film is best thought of as a direct sequel to the original, within its own continuity.

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The King

The King

In recent weeks on this blog, we’ve been tracking a recent spate of biopics, including seminal musical legends Whitney Houston and Freddie Mercury / Queen. This week we’re continuing this trend with an upcoming feature retrospective on Elvis Presley called, suitably if obviously, The King. The previous trailers were relatively straightforward, presenting a predictably positive overall image of Houston and Mercury. However, with The King, it becomes apparent midway through the trailer that this film is as much an extended metaphor acting as a comparison to and appraisal of the current American cultural moment as it is a remembrance of where and how Elvis Presley impacted his own time.

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19th Annual Golden Trailer Awards Nominees Announced

19th Annual Golden Trailer Awards Nominees Announced

The Golden Trailer Awards nominees have once again been announced. Practically the Oscars of motion picture trailers and television marketing, the nomination tallies reflect a shifting of the cultural guard over from the traditional major studios towards the major players in streaming such as Netflix. This year, both Warner Bros. and Netflix round out the top two studios with 62 nominations each.

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Whitney

Whitney

It’s only natural that the music of Whitney Houston would take centre stage in the trailer for her biopic, due for release July 6th. A joint release by Miramax and Roadside with Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald on board, the trailer includes an interesting choice of music that balances a view of Houston in popular culture with the deeper understandings of an individual that any biopic worth its salt will offer.

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Johnny English Strikes Again

Not detracting from a noticeably rampant Hollywood affliction of “sequelitis”Johnny English Strikes Back is nonetheless a sequel that relatively few might recognize as its entries have been released about seven to eight years apart. Including 2003’s Johnny Englishand 2011’s Johnny English Reborn, which both earned $160 million worldwide, the series is a send-up of the Bond franchise, probably drawing inspiration from the Austin Powers trilogy (1997 - 2002).

 Strikes Again sees Rowan Atkinson back in action as a bumbling MI7 agent. While best known as “Mr. Bean,” Atkinson’s brand of comedy shines here, while also giving him the ability to have a speaking role and to fit a bit better amongst the broader cast, something that “Mr. Bean,” taking after the Charlie Chaplin school of comedic miming, was never intended for.

The trailer opens by taking advantage of the fact that few are expecting a sequel to Johnny Englishright now: a solemn cello is paired with a sombre drone in the upper strings against a shot of the London Eye; an incredibly sophisticated MI7 headquarter is presented as a trailerized version of Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero” is sung against stark images of phones off the hook and a few action shots. 

The ruse is revealed, however, on the word “hero,” which is contrapuntally juxtaposed with the image of Atkinson’s famously goofy visage, as he raises a martini glass and opines that someone is “looking particularly beautiful tonight.” It turns out there is a second reveal, as we realize he is actually, for some reason, teaching this gesture to a large class of schoolchildren. 

At 0:38 we’ve reached the second third of the trailer, and with it, after the reveal, a marked change in tone, with a rollicking rock riff pausing only on cue for the comedic dialogue, with the occasional trailer-signature “winding down sound”for good measure. 

At 1:18 the music changes track to more of a stomping groove as various other cast characters and new gimmicks particular to this entry are introduced, such as a virtual reality gag. 

By 2:00 the final third of the trailer is in play, which, while keeping the same music, has moved from presenting an assortment of clips to a more extended scene involving magnetic boots. At 2:12 we get the main title card, and at 2:20 there’s a moment of synchronicity between the music and image, as the music seems to be building towards a climax, only to end in Atkinson’s thudding body as he falls off a cruise liner’s railing, emphasizing Atkinson’s penchant for slapstick humour. The music returns at 2:28 with the release card (“coming soon” – more precisely, September in North America and October in the UK). 

Strikes Again’s trailer reaffirms many things that we already know of the modern comedy trailer, including the trope of the fake-out opener. It is interesting, however, that the editors would go for a completely new rendition of an existing Bonnie Tyler song rather than anything fully new or pre-existing. It could be that by presenting such an over-the-top song in this context, it could act as a subconscious indicator that the world of Johnny Englishis fundamentally satirical and more than slightly ridiculous. The effort to lampoon the slow pop song trope in a way that completely lifts from Bond openers, including the slowly rising and falling chromatic embellishments, is noticeable.

 

– Curtis Perry