Monthly Archives: December 2011

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: The Best and Worst Trailers of 2011

Wow, I can’t believe a whole year has gone by. Sure, that’s just about the tackiest thing you can say come New Year’s Eve, but considering the fact that 2011 is Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week’s inaugural year, it’s entitled to use the phrase. But what’s really quite unbelievable is the amount of trailers that come our way in a single year. I’ve always had a penchant for promotional material, but ever since the launch of this column back in June, it’s become a weekly routine to sort through every single new promotional item that hits the web – and there are certainly a lot of them!

To close out the year for Best/Worst Promos we’re doing a top three and bottom three trailers of the year list. Just like when we’re looking at trailers on a weekly basis, the best and worst can be quite obvious, but there are also a bunch that wind up just missing the cut.

For instance, as a hardcore Paranormal Activity fan, I was itching to include the trailer ofParanormal Activity 3 in the top three, but it was just edged out. Then there was the trailer forWe Need to Talk About Kevin, which will undoubtedly never let you listen to Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” the same way again. Snow White and the Huntsman also managed to get ahead of the pack, not only trumping its Snow White competition, Mirror Mirror, but also looking as though it could be one of the most monumental battle and visual spectacles of 2012.

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‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: The Best of ‘The Hunger Games’ 2011

One of the greatest things about Movies.com’s Countdown series is that you really get a sense of what it takes to develop a feature. In 2011 alone, we watched as Lionsgate settled on a rating and a release date, followed by a casting director who helped narrow down a stellar list of potential leads to land on Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Shortly after, images were altered and a slew of fan-made posters hit the web, as did a number of other Hunger Games-inspired items like jewelry, quilts and more, adding to the already massive amount of Hunger Games devotee art.

The month of April basically became the month of the Hunger Games Tributes, as day by day we met the innocent faces who’d eventually have to head into the arena and fight to the death. Simultaneously, Lionsgate continued casting the adult roles, naming Elizabeth Banks Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci Caesar Flickerman, Woody Harrelson Haymitch Abernathy and more. Even after casting was complete, the hardcore fans and curious moviegoers continued to keep a close eye on the production, eating up every set photo and video that came in.

Sure, The Hunger Games was solidifying itself as potentially being one of the biggest films of 2012, but it really sealed the deal with its promotional campaign. First the Entertainment Weekly covers made waves and then the country practically shut down to watch the debut of the teaser trailer on the MTV Video Music Awards. From then on, the material continued to flow in – the motion poster, the character posters, TheCapitol.pn – and with each new piece, Lionsgate amassed more troops.

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Perri’s Top 10 Movies of 2011

I suffer through an annual end of the year meltdown. As we get closer and closer to the close of the year, I get more and more concerned that I won’t have enough films to fill out my top ten. Now how sad would that be? Fortunately, this is merely a bad habit I’ve gotten myself into and not only did I come up with a nice selection after running through everything I’ve seen in 2011, but I had a pretty tough time narrowing the list down to just ten.

Per usual, my goal as a critic is to find the happy medium between my growing film studies background and simply being able to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Over the past year, being enrolled in Columbia University’s Film MFA program has undoubtedly affected my reviews, but focusing on a film’s entertainment value is still a top priority with filmmaking quality a close second and that’s as evident as ever in my list of the top ten films of 2011.

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Interview: Pariah Director Dee Rees

Attention all aspiring filmmakers; looking for some inspiration? Check out what writer-director Dee Rees accomplished. After spending some time working in the marketing industry, Rees decided she had a story to tell and aptly used NYU’s graduate film program to do it. To fulfill her thesis film requirement, Rees created a short with a portion of that very story and, thanks to the success of that short, Rees finally got the opportunity to tell the full tale through a feature, Pariah.

The piece focuses on a young girl named Alike (Adepero Oduye) who’s not only hesitant to come out to her family, but is also just having a tough time navigating the realm of romance. As her parents continue to brush her development aside, Alike’s feelings only grow stronger leaving her in a particularly trying situation.

Forget the fact that this is Rees’ first feature, which is an achievement in, and of itself; Pariah is downright fantastic. It’s no wonder Spike Lee was so willing to help Rees and her producer during development and all the way through post-production; Rees had a story not only prime for filmmaking, but just worthy of being told.

Think you’ve got something similar? Check out what Rees had to say about her road from film school to critical acclaim.

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Review: The Darkest Hour

Tell us an alien invasion movie is on the way and, regardless of who’s in it or what it’s about, it sparks intrigue. Not only am I particularly guilty of this in general, but upon hearing the concept backing The Darkest Hour, I fell head over heels for what should have been a wildly original dose of ET destruction. However, perhaps test screenings didn’t go as planned, because as the film’s Christmas day release approached, its marketing campaign fizzled out, warning us of what’s to come. Is it all that bad? No, but it’s certainly not worth a promotional push especially with the high quality fare it’s going up against.

Longtime buddies Sean and Ben (Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella) head to Moscow for a business venture, the opportunity to develop their smartphone social networking application, The Globe Trot. It’s too bad their Swedish partner, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), decides to steal their idea and present it as his own. Now abroad and with nothing to do, the boys turn to booze and drown their sorrows in a night out. That’s when they meet another traveling duo, Natalie and Anne (Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor).

It’s all fun and games until the power goes out. When the partygoers head outside to investigate, they come face-to-face with the culprit, an invading alien race. The foursome and Skyler manage to barricade themselves in the club basement for the initial onslaught, but, even after emerging days later, the streets are still overrun with invaders, invisible balls of electricity with the power to turn their victims to dust.

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Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Only the Best for the Holidays from ‘Prometheus’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rise’

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, maybe not for our worst three movie promos of the week, but at least they still have time to kick things up a notch before their releases.

However, even though there was an obvious bottom three this time around, the promotional material released this past week has generally been pretty solid. Of course the big news is the debut of the first trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and, even as someone who wasn’t exactly caught up in The Lord of the Rings craze, An Unexpected Journey is looking pretty good. In other big budget, CGI-to-the-max news, we also got the trailer for Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer and the combination of a doe-eyed Nicholas Hoult plus some wicked flaming tree throwing giants should make for a blast of an adventure.

In the weird but intriguing zone, we’ve got the new international trailer for This Must Be The Place. I get the sense that Sean Penn’s character will likely drive me nuts within minutes, but this trailer is just odd enough that it leave you needing to know more. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen finds itself in a similar situation with well-known leads taking a dip in a rather unusual story. I used to think the title, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, had figurative meaning, but, no, it quite literally refers to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

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Review: War Horse

There’s a reason why Steven Spielberg is so successful; he knows how to make a movie for everyone. Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, Catch Me If You Can and more. Sure, not all of them can be considered pristine filmmaking, but still, generally all of his films are incredibly enjoyable and not only does War Horse follow suit in terms of entertainment and emotional value, but quality-wise, it’s certainly on the top tier.

After his pride gets the better of him during an auction, Ted Narracott’s (Peter Mullan) son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), becomes responsible for making the young horse Joey worth the hefty price his father paid. Albert dedicates every waking hour to Joey, training him to pull a plow so the Narracott’s can get their failing farm back in order and keep them from losing their home. However, just when everything seems to be going to plan, Joey is snatched up by World War I.

Never forgetting Albert’s training and care, Joey goes on to ride with the English army as well as the German army, making additional bonds along the way including British soldier Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and a young girl named Emilie (Celine Buckens). Meanwhile, Albert’s distracted from his longing for Joey by the war, getting thrown into battle himself.

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