Double teaming for this week's Trailer Mash (above) are the stars of Puss in Boots and The Rum Diary, a couple of cats who owe their careers to near-identical on-camera techniques: One can perform fairy-tale acrobatics, has eyes of such magnetic limpidity that women melt before them, is devoted to his whiskers, and speaks using a barely comprehensible timbre. The other is a cartoon cat.
While the Puss in Boots trailer unselfconsciously milks the Shrek franchise, what we see of The Rum Diary is Johnny Depp shamelessly milking his own. Offering one part Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing…), one part Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the…), and one part movie-star good looks (every women's magazine in the world), this tripartite Depp never quite seems to add up to a three-dimensional character, at least on this evidence. Hiring the great Bruce Robinson, of Withnail and I fame, to take on Thompson's novel of fear and hedonism may have been his best decision. Indeed, everything around the star of the trailer looks fantastic.
Meanwhile, judged exclusively on their own trailers, promotional materials and advertising, here's our survey of the rest of the highlights of the weekend's eye glaze.
Whether or not you hold with the perennial fantasy that William Shakespeare was not the author of William Shakespeare's plays, the trailer for Anonymous is super-gorgeous—utterly luscious CGI renderings of 17th-century London, dark and meaningful glances exchanged between hooded lids and bristling ruffs, and a fantastic song by Coldplay.
Two years ago, Christina Ricci makes a lighthearted comedy about a Renaissance faire. For reasons evident in the first 30 seconds of this trailer, it is immediately shelved. In 2011, she is the star of the TV show Pan Am, and so presumably recognizable as someone other than that kid from The Addams Family movies and Black Snake Moan. Anyone prepared to watch the trailer from second 31 onwards may see other reasons why All's Faire in Love was taken off the shelf.
13. Lucky for some. But not for any of these guys: Sam Riley, Mickey Rourke, 50 Cent, Jason Statham (in a fetching yet spectacularly erroneous Don Draper hat), Alexander Skarsgard, etc. Remake of 13 Zemetic, subtitles fans.
In 1997, the director Andrew Niccol made a very fine science fiction movie about what happens when a man of few means, Ethan Hawke, gets to take advantage of opportunities normally afforded only to his social superiors. The trailer for In Time appears to be for the same story, but instead of genetic superiority, the trading commodity this time is time itself. Value is indicated by a string of glowing numbers on a person's arm that thoughtfully invoke Death Camp tattoos and all those electronic billboards that show the national debt. Besides this clog-subtle parable of our own world as portrayed by #OccupyWallStreet, there's the usual sci-fi running about and shooting, with Cillian Murphy affecting a touching Michael Ironside tribute in the long leather coat of the lead bad guy. And yes, you didn't dream it. In this fashionably self-aware car crash of ideas and action sequences, Justin does indeed say his character's name using the Bond-ian surname, first name, surname formula while wearing a dinner suit and bow tie.
If In Time were a documentary it would star Richard Gere. Gere looks exactly the same as he did in 1997, when, just as he does in this trailer for The Double, he played a tough guy tasked with chasing down a notorious assassin. But the twist in 2011 is that not only is Gere the hunter, he is also the hunted. He is the assassin! See him kill. See him track down his partner, Topher Grace. See him terrorize Topher's wife. YouTube comment of the week: "Did you see the trailer for Dream House? They pretty much did the same thing. Spoiling the twist is the new 3D!!!"
"What if something that is meant to be played starts playing with your life" is the premise of the 1995 film Virtuosity. This was the film that introduced American audiences to Russell Crowe as a boorish escapee from an alternative reality (a computer simulation, not Australia). It is also the text that accompanies the running about and car stunts in the trailer for Ra One, best described as a kind of Bollywood Tron but set in London. Among the special effects, the star's haircut is by far the most fascinating.
Finally, Inkubus, in which original '80 Freddie Kreuger, Robert Englund, walks into a police station and controls the phone with his mind. First thing he does is call '80s icon William Forsythe. Seems these two have a history. After that, it's clever flashes of gore and a bunch of well-chosen actors addressing the scrupulously remembered conventions of '80s horror movies with respect, integrity, and wit, at least according to this trailer.