Monday, July 28th, 2014

2015 Summer Movie Forecast: Desert Explosions With a Chance of Good

What is it, exactly, that's so unsettling about this trailer? I am exhilarated by it, but I can't tell exactly why. Is it that the last film George Miller directed was Happy Feet? Is it that the most beautiful scene in the trailer, with the silent powder explosions over the desert, sort of evokes The Color Run™?

The trailer gives us an aesthetic and a few set pieces, and that's it. If you haven't seen the original film, the trailer tells you about as much as you already know: Something something wasteland, cars, chaos. Which isn't unusual—most trailers, particularly for action movies, don't tell stories so much as they leave impressions. But the impression here is unusual.

It's orange and warm and the action sequences hold together from shot to shot. The camera doesn't shake at all! Every single human is beautiful. It's "almost a continuous chase," according to its director, which sounds stressful. The only staggeringly large objects are natural, and things fall apart when they collide with one another. There are plenty of percussive sounds but no Inception horn or Michael Bay decaying slo-mo groans. Is the problem that it's… too orderly? Has Transformers just dulled all our senses and blown all our nerves?

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BadUncle (#153)

For me, the unsettling nature of the trailer is the big-budget beauty of a mythology growing out of low-fi, punk-rock Ozsploitation sci-fi campiness. This balances beautifully with an utter dearth of Mel Gibson, creating an artistic tension that will, one hopes, allow us to forget the word "Ozsploitation."

@BadUncle : The existence of a film as wonderfully mad as "Dead End Drive-In" more than makes up for the fact that its oeuvre acquired such an unfortunate moniker.

Alternate take : Also, possibly, "Razorback."

barnhouse (#1,326)

Maybe it's the utter fragility of the painted, hurtling, sweating flesh in it against the hellscape and explosions and pole-dangling and spikes… every frame looks unsurvivable.

@barnhouse : It does have a very specific "painterly" look to the colors and textures, and I'm not sure I'm 100% good with that.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Well… it's the photography, or as Americans call it "cinematography". All the shots are not just well lit and colored, but above all well composed as static. In fact, I'm hearing that the the movie wasn't even shot from a written screenplay, but from a series of drawings, better known as "comic book" (or "graphic novel", if you will). The action is not conveyed so much by movement, but mostly by composition. This trailer loses almost nothing when broken down into individual stills. The camera not only doesn't shake… it barely moves. Instead, it's tilted, set deep, set high, etc.

This trailer is awesome, but of course, whether the movie is good remains to be seen. It's been (well) done before, though: Dredd. The key is to do just this "comic book experience" and nothing else. I hear it has almost no dialog. Good sign.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Niko Bellic Oh, and by the way for the killer "comic book" movie (or a TV series in this case) check out Utopia on Channel 4. It's both more beautiful and more bloody than any Batman or Dredd or what have you. It doesn't have a "super hero" though (and worse: no smoking hot actors either), but hey…

@Niko Bellic : Yes, Dredd gets extra points in my book for trying to do unfiltered comic-book-experience. It wasn't a great movie (heck, it wasn't even as insane as the Judge Dredd comics actually were), but dammit, it had the courage of its convictions, style- and content-wise.

See also Punisher: War Zone, which was absolutely faithful to the Garth Ennis-scripted books, to its simultaneous benefit and detriment.

Alternate take : I would pay good money to see a Judge Dredd movie directed by the guys who did Crank 2.

Mr. B (#10,093)

Ugh, I know I'm old-fashioned about action movies, but slo-mo, computer-aided explosions make me angry and depressed.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Mr. B Yeah, back in the good (in so many ways!) old fashioned 1969, when they used a REAL big explosion, it looked so much better! (from Wikipedia of Battle of Neretva):

an actual railway bridge over Neretva River in Jablanica was destroyed. Director Bulajić's justification for taking down an actual bridge rather than getting the shots in studio was that a destroyed bridge would later become a tourist attraction. The bridge was thus blown up, but because none of the footage was usable due to the billowing smoke that made it impossible to see anything, it was decided that the bridge should be repaired and destroyed again. However, the problem with the excessive smoke occurred even when the bridge was blown up for the second time. Finally, the scenes of the bridge being blown up that eventually ended up in the film were shot using a small scale table-size replica at a sound stage in Prague

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