As is usual at this time of year, the trailers rolling out for soon-to-be-released blockbusters are coming more furiously and are accompanied by more judgment than almost any other time. Have you been keeping up? If so, I can only assume you’re very bored.
The Ghostbusters reboot is probably the most hotly contested new film on the docket to see its first trailer release this past month. The new installment in the beloved series brings the action to present day New York with a new band of scientist/bada*ses, only this time, they’re noted female comedians instead of male.
Needless to say this change caused an eruption of troglodyte dicks complaining of the series being ruined, which is just stupid. For one thing, the comedians they cast for this one are actually the perfect mirror image of where Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis were in their careers at the time of the original production in 1984. Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones are all SNL alums, and Melissa McCarthy is, like Bill Murray was, a comedy star with box office clout for days. Also, rebooting franchises is pretty much always a terrible idea, but of all the franchises that could use a sprucing up, Ghostbusters actually makes sense for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the rampant global weirding that has occurred in the last 30 years. The New York City of 1984 considered mohawks and nose rings to be signs of the fringe. Can you even imagine what the Janine Melnitz of 1984 would say about her city in 2016? Prime real estate for comedy, veiled social criticism, and ghosts.
So count me firmly in the camp that the reboot being gender bent is fine.
Now to the only problem: the trailer looks goddamn terrible. It’s hard to put a person to sleep in less than three minutes, but jeez Ghostbusters, what’s the deal? Obviously a bad trailer certainly doesn’t mean the movie won’t be funny and classic in its own way, but having your big rollout fall as flat as the thin-on-laughs, heavy-on-completely-
I’m still holding out hope…
Meanwhile the comic book adaptation-starved world was generally more a-twitter about the newest Captain America: Civil War trailer, which rolled out our third Spiderman reboot in the last 15 years, which seems like a bit much. The trailer is undeniably gonzo, though, and after the incredibly well-rounded Captain America: Winter Soldier, I am genuinely excited about this franchise, which has completely eclipsed Avengers as Marvel’s best property. Buckle up for the kind of massive super-on-super violence the comics always had, for arguably the first time on the big screen.
The best part is that the Spiderman tease isn’t even purely a marketing ploy—readers of the excellent Civil War storyline will remember the key role Spidey plays in the drama.
It sounds more amazing if you’re a half-developed adult-kid, I concede, but there’s genuine interest here for a mature audience as well.
Rounding out the field of major new trailer release is the first look at Tom Tykwer’s adaptation of the best-selling Dave Eggers novel, A Hologram for the King, starring Tom Hanks. Tykwer is most famous for his modern classic Run Lola Run, and notably worked with Hanks before in 2012’s Cloud Atlas. Here he shows a softer, more dramatic side with a film about a salesman who travels to Saudi Arabia to try and save his livelihood, and from the looks of it, finds love along the way.
I can’t pretend that doesn’t sound awful, and having not read the book, which was a National Book Award finalist, I don’t know for sure that it gets any better than this tremendously uninteresting trailer. The pinches of Tykwer’s trademark visual style are there, evidenced in a handsome musical number in the trailer where Hanks snaps away all his possessions. But a musical rendition of Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads? With Hanks screaming “How did I get here?!?”
No, thank you. That’s a little too on-the-nose to be considered clever, and a little too obvious to not be considered stupid.
There also appears to be a healthy dose of cultural tone deafness in the mix as well that likely won’t go over that well, but perhaps there’s more beneath the surface I’m not seeing here. That is sort of par for the course with trailers, to be sure, but this one seems particularly light for the potential in the subject matter. The novel was lauded for its complex look at the effects of modern society on the concept of the American dream, which sounds more overwrought as a concept than it actually is when done well.
There’s a crazy batch of films coming down the pipe this summer, and I think we’re in for some treats. Even some that don’t wear colorful tights. But definitely some that do.
By Ygal Kaufman