Category Archives: Trailer Synopsis

All the breakdowns of all the trailers.

Trying to find something to like about ‘Diana’

Diana trailer review.

These aren’t the words of the Queen spoken to Prince ‘I urinate in my fuel tank’ Charles upon meeting Miss Windsor for the first time, but the task I set myself upon viewing the ‘Diana’ trailer. The film may have disappeared without scratching the surface of any box office in any country, but as the primary ‘buzz’ generator for any movie, did the trailer fail this film by not covering up its faults, as trailers routinely manage to make a terrible film look incredible, or were the problems just too numerous to hide.

The trailer starts with music in the key of twee. It is the kind of music that ignorant people believe sum up the UK perfectly. That plinkedy, plonkedy, plink piano, which, for some reason, has become associated with an idealised view of England where everyone wears tweed, owns a ‘Roller’ and has tea and crumpets with The Queen on an hourly basis. Its inclusion is borderline insulting, underestimating the intelligence of the international audience whilst simultaneously ignoring a home grown audiences knowledge of their own country which, incidentally, is, and was even in the time of Diana, totally and utterly f***ed.

Cut in on a bird’s eye view of Windsor Castle, though it could be any stately home, which then fades into a bird’s eye view of a woman wearing a large, blonde wig on a red carpet. It is unclear at this point if the two have any correlation, maybe this is the story of a beautiful house that can transform into a beautiful woman in order to go to parties – oh, if only.

Flash bulbs pop and the wig wearer turns round. It is Naomi Watts. It is Diana.

‘Diana’ then walks through a house and in the most irritatingly righteous, impossibly smug, voice tells all her staff that she wants nothing for dinner and they can all go home, whilst cocking her head to one side like a dog that has heard an unusual noise outside the window.

Silver and gold words appear on a pure, white background – pure, like Diana, white, like Diana. ‘Sometimes the legend…’ Close up of ‘Diana’ taking her shoes off – presumably to show that the lead character, despite holding a title, is just like us as we too take our shoes off at the end of the day, problem is ours are often covered in dog shit – and walks round an impossibly large house on her own. Close up of ‘Diana’ looking sad. More dazzling white, more damp words, ‘…Is not the whole story’. This basically means, ‘Everything in this film is made up,’ so be prepared for outlandish flights of fancy that have no basis in reality, such as the revelation that Diana was the first (wo)man on the moon.

Cut to the titular lady gazing out of a rain soaked window, looking sad. She then takes a phone call on her mobile in the deserted Royal Albert Hall. She mumbles some words about the palace in a way that suggests she doesn’t like being a princess very much – and this is where I gave up. 20 seconds in and I, and presumably everyone else, am already out. And it is this last snap shot of a scene that perfectly encapsulates everything that is wrong with the film.

The film unintentionally portrays Diana Windsor as a brat. Here is a lady, in every sense of the word, surrounded on all sides by beauty, wealth and luxury, yet she is lonely; fine, I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that the way she rebels against this, in the world of the film, is to act like a two year old that has just been told the sweet shop is closed, sulking and pouting her way through every scene. At one point she even stamps her foot and morosely mumbles, “I don’t want to be Queen! I want to help people!” Alright ‘Diana’, how about you are just content to have a thoroughly nice life being waited on hand and foot instead of acting like life within the Royal circle is akin to the workout yard at Guantanamo Bay.

At a time when the economy is in the toilet, unemployment is at a record high and the mood of the nation is one of bitter resentment, the films depiction of a privileged princess rebelling against entitlement is not just utterly misjudged but distasteful in the extreme and, I am afraid, Watts’ performance is partially to blame.

There is no doubting her ability as an actress, she was so perfectly fragile and destructive in Mulholland Drive, and yet here, she puts on a funny voice and walks around with an air of sincerity that is so utterly insincere it feels, and looks, as if she is taking the piss. It really is that simple. Her performance would be more at home on Saturday Night Live than in a ‘serious’ film. All the work the trailer does in attempting to remind us how utterly normal and likeable Diana was, is totally undone by Watts’ apparent belief that Diana was actually a very tall, very rich, seven year old with laryngitis.

The camera work doesn’t do her performance any favours, swooping up and down and round and round, as if it is on some kind of royalty rollercoaster. I am no anti-royal – I personally think the Queen is brilliant and applaud her gang of loveable nitwits, especially Harry, every time they turn up on TV doing something odd – yet each shot helps to create a world so overtly and impossibly lavish, populated with such pompous and outdated stereotyped versions of ‘English people’, that I was crying out for someone, anyone, to tell everyone else to, “F**k off!” just to bring some kind of sense of realism to proceedings. The dialogue of the film may as well be that of the planet Zargon, in so far as that too doesn’t exist anywhere in the Universe. If you want to show how normal Diana was, make her sound normal, not like a robot manufactured in the wine cellar of Sandringham Palace.

Verdict: A biopic works because the world it creates, the world of the real life character, is believable. Diana fails as a trailer, and presumably as a film, because  in a time of economic crisis it is trying to implement an idealised view of a nation that is, and was, never true. When you base an entire film around a fictional story within the life of someone that actually existed, nine times out of ten, you will end up with a film that looks and feels as preposterous as the source material. Sometimes it is better to leave the legend alone. Move along there is nothing to like here.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say: “A royal disappointment. Get it?”

Don’t say: “So which one of the Royals was that giant gorilla meant to be?”

Prison ain’t for Vegetarians

Escape Plan Trailer Review

Action film fans have waited for three decades to see the mountain of muscle and mumbling that is Sylvester Stallone team up with the Austrian institution that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2013 it has finally happened (The Expendables films don’t count). Terminator versus Rambo, Dutch versus Rocky, John Kimble versus the guy out of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; the playground argument of those born in the 80’s is about to be settled. Directed by…who am I kidding? No one cares! Arnie and Sly are in a proper film together.

The sound of a hammer hitting something hard, possibly a rock, an anvil or Sly’s head, opens the trailer. It is the sound of hard labour, the sound of jail, the sound of action! Smash cut to the inside of a ‘slammer’. A guard puts food on a tray and opens a hatch. Sly sits inside the cell in a bright orange boiler suit, his face drooping into his neck. He begins narrating in his usual, nasal, too tough to talk properly, drawl, like his mouth is made of fists. “A man confined thinks differently to someone on the outside, he sees things in a different way.” This is essentially one line, said twice, ‘in a different way’. What Sly means by this though, is no man on the ‘outside’, or woman for that matter, would stamp on a milk carton, pull off the plastic seal, which incidentally appears on no milk carton in the world, and put it over a key pad, conveniently located next to his food hatch, to get a code to unlock a door. I have to hand it to the ‘Italian Stallion’, I would never think to do that to get out of my house. I’d just use a key.

“A successful break-out depends on three things…” the voice-over continues as Sly makes bonbons and places them on the toilet, I don’t know how he plans to use these, but I imagine it will be fiendishly clever. “Knowing the layout…” Sylvester looks over his shoulder, presumably memorising the ‘layout’ of the whole prison in a single glance. “Understanding the routine…” Big Sly sticks his hand out of the hatch. Routine nailed. “…And help from the outside or in.” A woman in heels blows up a car. I don’t actually understand how this last bit ‘helps’, but Sly is soon out of the prison and calling someone from a payphone as cops circle him. Set up finished, bonbons unused, Sly is a criminal, roll production company credits.

But the trailer is playing with the audience, the old rope-a-dope, show them the right, bash them with the left – kapow! Sly is not a criminal, his job is to break out of prisons. Didn’t see that coming did you?! Who said action films are unbelievable and stupid?!

An attractive lawyer type lady talks to Sly at his desk. There is a new facility that houses the worst of societies criminals, the type that, “No Government wants on their books.” An odd turn of phrase, as if the Governments of the world are just giant casting agencies for criminals. “Yeah Barack, it’s D-Cams, I need a guy who is good with explosives and knives, got anyone on your ‘books’ that can help?” Anyway, the people that own these prisons need to know that they are escape proof. Sly looks serious. 5O Cent wears glasses and a duck egg blue jumper. Sly takes one look at him and decides he will do the job. I would too, 50 Cent in spectacles and knitwear?! Who wants to live in a world as f**ked up as that?

Rapid cuts, staccato music and a Taser to Sly’s gut, move us from the street, to a truck, to a prison where all inmates are contained within Perspex cubes, but this is no game and there is not a Schofield in sight.

A hood is pulled off Stallone’s head and in walks the son of God (Jim Caviezel) who introduces himself as, “Warden Hobbs.” Stallone growls, “Hobbs!” as if he has surname Tourette’s.

The trailer then moves rapidly, as it should do, no one in their right mind cares about the back story, we are all waiting for Arnie to appear – though it turns out Stallone’s contact on the inside doesn’t exist and he is stuck in Jesus’ prison with no means of escape.

“Barrrck aarway.” The unmistakable pronunciation of the Austrian Oak breaks up a fight between Sylvester and a bunch of men who couldn’t be more of a Mexican stereotype unless they were wearing sombreros, riding around on donkeys whilst eating fajitas. Arnie is a proper criminal, we know this as he has a grey goatee and slicked back hair – either that or he is a flasher.

The trailer then dips into ‘main plot middle third’ territory, a common trait of the preview genre. During this section the audience is drip fed information about the film’s dominant narrative, the music is sporadic and ominous, and the expositional voice-overs come thick and fast, book ended by, in this case, a loud blast of evil synth. This being a trailer for an action film, however, all the voice clips just reiterate what has already been said, as everyone knows action film fans are really f**king stupid.

Sly tells Arnie who he is. Jesus tells Sly that people paid for him to be here. Sly tells Arnie that he was a set up. A blonde woman asks a geek where Sly is – we know he is a geek as he owns a computer and a telescope, total loser. 50 Cent pops up, still wearing glasses, and tells the blonde woman he doesn’t know where Sly is. Arnie tells Sly he can die in prison or get out. Sly tells Arnie he is going to get out. After this slurry of information reiteration even the genres most mentally deficient fans should manage to grasp the ‘intricacies’ of the story, but just in case here comes the stereotypical Mexican to say, “They are planning a break out.”

Excellent. Plot sorted, get ready for some punching.

“I need a diversion,” Sly growls. Arnie looks serious. Cut to the general prison population. Sly punches Arnie in the face. Everyone cheers. Arnie laughs it off, “You hit like a vegetarian.” This is an insult as vegetarians are generally known to be weak and emotional individuals that are allergic to punching. Sly is understandably angered by this comment so hits Arnie again. Cue ‘Punchfest 2013’. Arnie punches a guard. Explosions punch a door off its hinges. Sly hits a guard across a room. Everyone hits everyone else. Yeah, hooray for action! And what is the only thing better than people hitting each other? That is right, people firing guns out of helicopters!

Arnie fires a gun from a helicopter. Sly fires a gun. The guards aim their guns in a helicopters general direction. Arnie fires a gun from in front of a helicopter. Sly hangs from a helicopter and aims a pistol at the camera – this is undoubtedly the end shot and the way Jesus will die. No cross and nails for him, nope, he will be shot by a 67 year old Rambo from underneath a helicopter – put that in your bible and smoke it.

The trailer ends with the obligatory crash of gun fire and explosions.

Verdict: The fact that the most farcical thing in the trailer is 50 cents attire and Arnie’s child catcher facial hair, bodes well for the film itself. Arnie and Stallone make up in charisma what they lack in acting chops, and if the action grows organically from the plot rather than being shoe horned in for no good reason, like in both Expendables films, there should be enough here to keep the fans happy.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say: “That film made me want to punch my own mother in the face!”

Don’t say: “I thought the love scenes were very sensitively handled.”

White House Down (to F**k)

This is not a trailer, this is breaking news. You are not in a cinema, you are watching a very large television – you can tell you are watching a television as the footage is shot via wobble-cam and the picture is really fuzzy, just like on all televisions. Where is this breaking news happening I hear you cry? “Washington,” the news says. Washington? But that is where the White House…shit the bed, the White House is on fire!

And so the trailer for White House Down begins, the latest offering from Roland ‘I will blow that up’ Emmerich. Rumours that the film owed 50% of its opening weekend takings to fans who accidentally inserted the word ‘trousers’ in between ‘House’ and ‘Down’ and subsequently queued up hoping to see Channing’s Tatum or Jamie’s, um, Foxx, are unsubstantiated…but back to the trailer…

‘America Will Never be Destroyed…’ The blockbuster titles proclaim, you know the sort, like the impact font in word but with added animation. Then to show that this film doesn’t care about quotes from past Presidents the roof falls of the White House amid much screaming.

‘From the Outside…’ Continues the quote.

Everyone panic! People run through halls. Walls are on fire. Unseen explosions boom around them. A missile explodes out of nowhere. Air Force One gets hit. This is a bad day for America.

‘If we Falter…’ The quotes are still carrying on, they don’t care that a plane has just been destroyed by a missile and the White House is on fire, but how can they, they are only words. Helicopters fly through the streets. “What the hell is happening?!” screams a female voice. Aren’t you watching the news lady, the motherflippin’ White House is on fire?!

‘And Lose Our Freedoms’. Another explosion in the White House. A helicopter goes down. A TANK!

More quotes, because quotes are not only poignant but also exciting. ‘It Will Be Because…’ A helicopter zooms past the Washington Monument just in case you still have no idea where this film is set or where the White House actually is.

‘We Destroyed Ourselves.’ – Abraham Lincoln. This quote clearly has nothing to do with the plot of the film, it was just a nice quote about destruction and America from a man who once occupied the Oval Office. I bet ten, whole, English pounds that *James Woods – not in the trailer, is in the film -is definitely not the bad guy and that there is no way he orchestrated the whole thing from the inside.

Everyone is running away, away from the White House, which is now totally on fire. How much more ‘down’ can this building get?! Strings scream at us through the speakers, informing us how truly terrible everything is. News footage over – whoever shot this must have had all the clearance cards, the ability to fly and nerves of steel.

Darkness. Silence. Men, bad men, men who lurk in shadows, walk across a polished floor. They have done this to the White House, the bastards! But wait, who is this? He is wearing a suit, and has a gun, yes! It is the Channing, come to save the day (the end of Lincoln’s quote ran, and I believe this is verbatim, ‘Blah, blah, blah…destroy ourselves, but don’t worry because Channing Tatum will save us all.’). Here we go…or not, nope the trailer is still being deep and silent, leading me to conclude that Emmerich, director of Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, may have changed tact. Maybe everything isn’t going to get blown up, maybe this is a dark, noirish, spy thriller, maybe everything should be in slow motion?

Everything is now in slow motion. A command centre, everyone looks sad. Jamie Foxx hides behind Channing as gun fire ricochets of a nearby wall, or Tatum’s face, who knows…probably his face. Jamie Foxx hangs out with Channing on top of a lift. These guys are bonding. No idea who Foxx is meant to be, but Channing is definitely trying to protect him, so either they are lovers (White House Down to F**k) or Jamie Foxx is Barack Obama.

More helicopters, giant stone Lincoln, Jamie Foxx shining a torch in slow mo. A giant, red, digital clock tells us something will happen in 8 seconds. Channing is on a walkie-talkie, “Tell me how much time I have got?” 8 seconds, Channing, can you not see the giant red clock?

Slow motion set to ‘off’, so get ready for a turbo injection of computers, explosions, shooting, more helicopters and hugging kids. What? Oh yeah, Roland made this didn’t he. Who is this girl? Channing is hugging her so I am guessing she is his daughter, but they are in the Oval Office, is she the President?

No time for that, here comes the 80’s action film role call. ‘Channing Tatum’ – slow-motion-turn-around-Channing-face. God I wish I looked like Channing Tatum. ‘Jamie Foxx – slow motion-looking-down-and puzzled-Jamie-face.

Back to the action. A rocket launcher, a car flipping into a swimming pool. Gun fire cuts a building in half. Channing and Foxx duck. “We got to go, got to go, got to go!” shouts Channing. Ah, so Jamie Foxx is Barack Obama, which makes Tatum…John McCain? I suppose it does sound like John McClane, and this is Die Hard in the White House.

Another helicopter – the end. Thank God.

Verdict: A terrible trailer which has minimal dialogue, minimal action and is obessed with helicopters. As previews go it doesn’t really push the boundaries of trailer production. Although it runs for 2 minutes, it felt like 4, and as most of it was in slow motion, and ol’ Abe wittered on for the other half of that, there was probably only about 30 seconds of film, sorry, breaking news, in there. The film will be awful, saved only by Channing and Foxx’s enduring awesomeness.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say:  “It was the stupidest God damn thing I have ever seen in my life!”

Don’t say: “I liked it when Jeff Goldblum got in the spaceship.”

*This is almost certainly what happened.

Jason Statham’s ‘Hummingbird’

Who doesn’t love Jason Statham? Kelly Brook, that’s who – bit of a dated reference, but let’s carry on regardless – I watched the trailer for Hummingbird, the latest effort from the world’s most dangerous man,

Here is a breakdown of this two minute masterpiece.

Neon Soho (also the name of my third ‘comeback’ album), night. Rain pours from the sky. A homeless man in a tracksuit sleeps beneath cardboard with a young blonde girl. A gang approach. Violence erupts. The girl screams. The homeless man is hurt, stabbed. She runs. He protects her. He gets away onto the roof tops of London. He finds an open window. He falls in. Lovely place. Answerphone, “This is Anton, I won’t be available on this number until October 11th.” (his name is not Anton but you get the idea).

“I need to turn my life around,” he growls. He looks at his face. Bruised, battered. His hair is long, it is Statham. Wham. His hair is gone. He looks tough. He works in a kitchen washing dishes. Now he is a chef. Some football thugs start shit in the restaurant. They send out Statham. He growls at the hooligans to leave. They do so but outside things get nasty. Idiots. Don’t they realise this chef is tougher than a boiled boot? One grabs his collar. Papow he is floored. Pow, block, pow. These idiots take a pummelling.

The owner sees ‘The Staths’ handiwork. “You want to work?” he asks.

“Yes.” comes the reply.

He has a suit. He kicks ass. He drives a nice car. He looks great, an old flame tells him so. He wears a coat. He meets a nun. She asks if he is hurting people. “Only myself,” comes the reply. Deep. The nun shows him a picture of a dead girl. It is the blonde from the beginning. He looks sad. He gets mad so get ready for some…

SHOUTING.

Statham walks through a lorry, it contains bodies in cardboard boxes.

MORE SHOUTING!

He knows what is going on (I’m glad he does as I bloody don’t). He throws money on the floor for the homeless. Fifties mind. He is big time.

He tries to flee with the nun. Her cornette comes off. She looks fit.

Roof top. A posh party. Tuxes and canapés, you know the type, dick central. Statham arrives. He grabs a man. The man looks scared. People shout and scream. The Statham is relentless, he pushes the suit backwards through the throng, creasing his perfect suit. He holds him over the edge of the building.

Title.

I only watched it once so may have missed a few bits, but you get the idea. This film means business…just like ‘the Stath’.

Verdict: An incredibly enjoyable 2 minute romp through London and the best bits of the film. Confusing and visceral, the finished product will undoubtedly be a pile of shit.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say: “The bit where ‘the Stath’ knocked everyone out was incredible.”

Don’t say: “I cried twice.”