A fairly quiet week for big trailers, with Rachel McAdams wearing a bunch of masks, Sylvester Stallone kicking a bunch of asses, and a lot of famous people carving up a bunch of butter. Roll 'em!
Release Date: December 21
The trailer for this drama about a family vacationing in Thailand during the catastrophic 2004 tsunami is at once compelling and problematic. Does the horrifying rush of the natural disaster and the human struggle that resulted in its aftermath look like inspiring cinematic fare? Of course. Yet from the get-go, it seems odd -- insulting, even -- that the story of a nightmarish real-life experience which claimed the lives of over 200,000 natives is told from the vantage point of an affluent white family who, from the looks of it, makes it out of that hell alive. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts seem game to trudge through the rubble, but one has to wonder if they're the ones we should be watching.
Release Date: November 30
Vanessa Hudgens is a stripper! John Cusack is a creepy killer! Nicolas Cage is a cop, and he's mad! Welcome to the punchless, one-dimensional world of "Frozen Ground," which seems so riddled with cliches in the trailer alone that a full-length movie at this point appears to be downright redundant. Good for Hudgens for surrounding her big "Hey, I'm an adult now!" role with veteran actors, and props to "Breaking Bad's" Dean Norris for getting to play a non-DEA cop. But shame on this trailer for not including a whiff of 50 Cent, who (according to IMDB) plays a character named Pimp Clate Johnson. Pimp Clate Johnson! How can you omit the most intriguing part of a movie in its first full look?
Release Date: October
What? What's going on? So Jennifer Garner is carving butter to redeem herself and get back at a cheating husband? Rod Corddry and a stripper are simultaneously helping an African-American orphan take down the butter champ? Was that Hugh Jackman in there? "Butter," a movie ostensibly about a butter-carving competition, is kind enough to make room in its wacky, convoluted trailer to highlight its condescending attitude toward its main characters, as the audience is jolted into laughing at a Southern-fried Jennifer Garner's White House aspirations based on her artistic abilities. We deserve better than "Butter."
BULLET TO THE HEAD
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2013
Stallone is back in a non-"Expendables" role as a "problem-solver" (read: hitman) whose partner was "clipped," as he eloquently describes in tough-guy talk. He was done with the killing-people, shooting-guns lifestyle, but now he's back in the action, ignoring his new BFF, an Asian policeman with a common enemy, when he pleads not to kill more people. But then, his daughter gets abducted! It's "Taken" meets "The Last Stand" as Stallone, like Schwarzenegger in the latter movie, tries to reignite a wily genre with the use of a big gun. But unlike last week's "Last Stand" trailer, "Bullet To The Head" looks so tired that it can't even entertain on a schlock-value level. By the time the age-old "They don't even make records anymore!" joke rolls around, the below-40 action fans have already checked out.
Release Date: February 2013
Best shot from this 67-second trailer: Rachel McAdams chilling in a bubble bath, getting gifted a necklace from some unseen man while chatting on a cell phone and smiling devilishly. There's not much plot reveal here, but "Prometheus's" Noomi Rapace looks like a fly caught in McAdams' crazy, sexual, possibly murderous pusuit of happiness (and masks, always more masks). The editing and design of this clip, however, are impressive, from the "Come here... come closer... now kiss me" voice-over as the credits roll to the cheesy but effective single-letter unveiling of the title. Brian De Palma ("Scarface," "The Black Dahlia") has concocted another gonzo drama for his actors to chew up, and this one looks as sickeningly satisfying at multiplex popcorn butter.