A Tale of Two Trailers

Quote of the Day: "It was a swing for the fences week in the world of movie trailers." -- IMDB.com

Last week, on the same day, we saw the debut of two sneak previews for a couple of movies that I am eagerly awaiting. The first, which generated the most buzz, was for director James Cameron's science fiction epic, Avatar. The other, which suffered from being in the shadow of the return of "the King of the World," was the remake of the classic monster film, The Wolfman.

It's ironic that these two movies premiered their trailers on the same day. James Cameron's film has been hyped up as a revolutionary cinematic experience, using state of the art three-dimensional effects that will arguably change film forever -- only to cause some fanboys, upon seeing the clip, to argue that the movie doesn't really look all that groundbreaking. The werewolf remake originally was being hyped as a throwback to classic monster movies, and the filmmakers were bragging about how they were using "practical special effects" -- in other words, no computer generated imaging needed -- only to have the film's release delayed so that CGI effects could in fact be added.

Despite the naysayers' critiques, I found both trailers to be enticing and well made. Avatar looks visually stunning, as we have come to expect from James Cameron. It should be noted that the film is meant to be seen on giant, 3-D Imax screens, so viewing the teaser on a computer monitor, even a high definition one, will not do it justice. Still, even with that disclaimer in mind, the special effects look fantastic and the plot action-packed and full of fantasy elements that should make any fan of speculative fiction ready to buy a ticket and watch the tale unfold. The cinematography looks crisp and top rate, just like Cameron's other hits, such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Many of the shots are reminiscent to me of Cameron's underrated but groundbreaking The Abyss. And the final shot invokes Cameron's legendary Titanic. In this case, maybe less would have been more. The aliens (or artificial avatars, the plot still remains mostly a mystery) are giant blue beings, that reminded me of Jim Henson's creatures from Dark Crystal -- I'm sure that's not the intent that Cameron had. I do have faith in the director to tell a good story and to surprise us, so I'm holding out hope.

The Wolfman is directed by Joe Johnston, who might not have the same pedigree as Cameron, but has a solid resume of entertaining, if not exactly classic, films: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; The Rocketeer; Jumanji; October Sky; and Jurassic Park III. It features a wonderful cast, with Benicio Del Toro, Hugo Weaving, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. The trailer captures a lot of the elements of the classic original along with the staples of werewolf lore -- the dark, shadowy cinematography; the silver bullets; the full moon; the hunt for the monster; the damsel in distress. The monster effects seem slightly mixed -- I'm not sure if it will be the traditional Lon Chaney Jr. style look, in which the creature is mostly man, or the more modern interpretation like American Werewolf in London, in which the creature more closely resembles a real wolf.

We'll have to wait to see the movies themselves in order to judge how good or how bad they really are. But the trailers did their job sufficiently well, despite their flaws, to grab my attention and make me anticipate watching the whole thing.