— I used to love watching the coming attractions when I was a kid. Fantasizing about what might take place in the movie that was arriving in my local theater the next month was almost as good as seeing the final product.
But that was then, back when they let you wonder.
Now trailers are just one tentacle of an eight-armed octopus assault of junkets, blogs, events, talk-show promotion and pre-release products, all to make sure audiences have an insane amount of information before the film even arrives.
Strangely enough, for all the lack of mystery involved, this is supposed to convince moviegoers to pony up the cash to see a film on its opening weekend before everyone ruins it for them with even more spoilers. The words “too much” or “too soon” are no longer part of any marketing team’s vocabulary.
When the following movies open, it will be my job as a critic to see them. And I promise to approach them receptively. It’s impossible to call them overrated before they happen, but I’m already fed up with the endless chatter I hear about how amazing they’re going to be.
'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'
All those other movies starring go-to funny nerd Michael Cera — a known delivery system of awkward-guy-rising-to-the-challenge material — just weren’t enough for me. I needed more. And I needed last year’s San Diego Comic-Con to officially begin blowing the small breezes that would turn themselves into the current hype tornado. And I needed that darn director Edgar Wright to make the exceptionally cool “Shaun of the Dead” and the really funny “Hot Fuzz” as a follow-up so that my and everyone else’s expectations could be raised to roof-is-on-fire levels.
That’s a potent combination of elements that, on their own, wouldn’t necessarily result in anything resembling the annoyingly frenzied anticipation this movie is whipping up. I think it mostly has to do with the POW and KRASH and BLAMMO bits included in the trailer. And by that I mean when people get punched or kicked in this movie, those words actually appear on screen, making for a literal comic-book adaptation.
I wish that stuff had been allowed to remain a clever jolting surprise, if for no other reason than that people will not lay off talking about it. By the time this opens next month, the real battle in my head will be Scott Pilgrim versus my need not to be hassled into loving him.
'Paranormal Activity 2'
Remember "Exorcist II: The Heretic"? Or "Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows"? Sure you don’t. You never saw them. You know why? Because they were laughably bad attempts to make lightning strike twice.
Here’s a thing that never happens: a horror sequel catching you off guard like its upstart, from-out-of-nowhere predecessor did. Hype it all you want, but this one is almost certainly doomed, based on that historical precedent alone.
This time around, there’s a baby and a dog. And if that dog is not a hellhound and if that baby is not the Most Supreme Satanic Juicebox Overlord or, failing that, if neither of them are flat-out eaten by the paranormal activity before the credits roll, well then it’s all just pointless.
(By the way, if you haven’t seen the first film yet then you might want to stop reading here because I’m about to tell you the secrets.) A person who appears to be the surviving devil-wife from the first one looks to make at least a cameo appearance. Or maybe she’s the star. And if so then what’s she going to do? Pretend not to be the possessed lady by day and then clomp down halls in the night and scare herself? And who’s operating the camera if the guy from the first movie was smashed to death against the wall?
'Eat Pray Love'
Every woman in every book club ever in existance was forced to read and adore this book. It was the law and Oprah was the enforcer. To prove her point, she invited her best non-Gayle friend Julia Roberts on the show to talk about how meaningful and important the film adaptation is going to be.
You’re going to take all your girlfriends to see this, and it’s not only going to be 100 million times better than that other terrible movie about shopping in Abu Dhabi, it’s going to spiritually enrich you until you light up like a glow stick at a rave in 1995. Then you’ll have a perfect marriage like Julia and gifted children like Julia and be super in touch with your personal godlike qualities the way Oprah is and suddenly a giant bowl of pasta with tons of cheese will appear and you’ll eat it all but not get one pound fatter. Can you even stand the anticipation?
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'
Good Friend and Major Potter Fan Whose Words I’m Paraphrasing: “The wand-zapping imagery contained in the trailers for this two-part mega-event are significantly different from all other scenes of wand zapping that have come before in other Potter movies and I may personally explode from it right now. If you don’t understand that then there’s just no speaking with you like a rational person because if you had a sense of wonder or a working imagination then you’d already have your ticket booked to the theme park and you’d care more about this wrapping-up process — Daniel Radcliffe wept, you guys! — than the BP oil spill because, for real, they’re going to clean up all that stuff eventually and we’ll forget about it. But Harry Potter is going to be my friend until the day I die.”
My Response as a Casual Fan Who Enjoys the Films and Then Moves on But Who Also Knows That Not One Good Thing Can Come From Dissenting on Even the Most Minor of Points: “Totally! Snape is No. 1!”
The biggest offender here is the one I’m least unhappy about, mostly because it seems reasonably organic. A not hugely successful film from the early 1980s that appeals primarily to men born between the years 1970 and 1975 is discussed in hushed guilty-pleasure tones, then bubbles up back into public consciousness and suddenly “Flynn Lives” shirts are everywhere and there’s a promo game with 32 levels of nerdgasm fun and closeted fans speaking up in proud, clear voices.
I’m personally monitoring the meltdown of a guy I know who’s a “Tron” superfan (seriously, he has two huge, thousand-pound vintage “Tron” arcade games in his apartment) as he zooms increasingly round the bend, attending events where all they do is show you the trailer, scouting out locations from the first movie (hip restaurant Akasha in Los Angeles, you were the original arcade, were you aware of that?) and demanding that I come watch the first movie on DVD with him before reviewing the new one. It’s kind of entertaining to watch this guy engulfed in the neon frenzy.
Also, unlike the four other films on this list, it’s got the redeeming coolness of Daft Punk providing the score. Those French disco space robots make everything better.