Fact: Every week for the past five years, a remake, prequel or sequel to a '70s or '80s movie has been released, occasionally one of each. And as inevitably as cell-phone lights follow title sequences, so each and every one of these films has immediately taken a beating from critics and punters alike. This week's first punching bag is Footloose, an update, a remix, a reboot, or a retelling of Herbert Ross's 1984 flick starring Kevin Bacon as a sophisticated teen who fetches up in a small town where dancing and rock 'n' roll are illegal and the hottest girl in town is the Bible-bashing preacher's daughter. Dancing, rock 'n' roll, and Bible bashing ensue. It's a great little tale well told, and exactly the same things happen in the new trailer, which is beautifully filmed and cut, doesn't engage the mind, and offers a cast far better aligned with contemporary standards of pulchritude. As for the original, anyone old enough to remember it probably can't, and anyone young enough to watch the new version won't. Thus, this is Schrodinger's remake: simultaneously necessary and unnecessary.
Did you happen to see Machete? It was bloody awful, notable mainly for banging another nail into the coffin of Robert De Niro's career reputation. Why can't he just go back to being the benchmark? That aside, the plot at least attempted to draw attention to lives destroyed by Mexico's all-pervading criminal drug economy. Miss Bala looks like Machete for New York Times readers. But rather than a Danny Trejo, our central character is a young beauty queen who spends most of the trailer semi-dressed, face down and with an expression of abject terror on her face. Any uncouth suggestion that this is mere exploitation may be mitigated by the imprimatur of executive producers Diego Luna and Gail Garcia Bernal, venerated co-stars of the breakthrough Mexican movie Y Tu Mama Tambien (now 10 tears old, good God).
Kevin Spacey is much beloved by the U.K. luvvie community. The Hollywood glamour and flair he brought to the Old Vic since becoming artistic director in 2003 earned him a CBE, and no one even minds anymore that he palled around with the upper tiers of New Labour (Dec'd.). That said, he always does exactly the same thing in every movie he's in, and with his recent choices, he appears to have been studying Robert De Niro's playbook (Duncan Jones's brilliant Moon notwithstanding). This trailer for Father of Invention, about an infomercial king returning from jail after some stupid invention injured a bunch of people, seems to be aiming at broad comedy with a sad tear in the corner of its eye, and as such, it is as emetic as that description sounds. There's a curate's egg of a cast, from Johnny Knoxville to Virginia Madsen, but on this evidence, necessity is definitely not the father of invention.
The Big Year is a trailer whose story is told in its entirety simply by looking at the first three faces you see. Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson: together at last. With Kevin Pollack, JoBeth Williams and Rosamund Pike bringing up the rear. Does it even matter that the plot appears to have something to do with traveling to win a competition? Or that a plot exists at all? "Most people wake up one day and realize they didn't do everything they wanted to do," says Steve at one point. Deep stuff, but perhaps begging the question of how many people wake up one day and realize they did things they didn't want to do, such as watching this trailer?
Surefire Illogical Hollywood Plot Device Number No. 1374: The retina/thumbprint scanner that restricts access to the MacGuffin. In the Trespass trailer, the villain growls to Nicholas Cage: "You're gonna put your thumb on that thing sooner or later. Only question is whether it will still be attached to your body." But surely if it's not attached to Nicholas's body, you don't need him to do it? In fact, if you cut his thumb off, it seems logical his enthusiasm for putting it on that thing would be significantly diminished. Better to get a goon to do it. And that's about the level of this trailer for a home-invasion movie, the inevitable and dependably implausible twists and turns to which might be enough to divert a person's mind from wondering how much longer the Cages and the Nicole Kidmans have got. There's an army of kids in the Footloose remake just waiting to move in for the kill and take their places in the Hollywood firmament. Even in this kind of a movie.
And finally, returning to the universe where ideas concocted, filmed and released in cinemas up to and including the late 1980s are the only ones deemed worthy of adaptation for the contemporary screen, we are offered a rather shocktastic trailer for The Thing. The movie is ostensibly a prequel to 1982's The Thing, itself a remake of 1951's The Thing From Another World, and for those struggling to remember and the few who never knew, it's the one about the explorers trapped on the arctic base with an alien that can mimic any living creature it touches. But since the central conceit has been repeated over and over ever since, not least in the "mimetic poly-alloy" of Terminator 2, what is the point of doing this again? The trailer is the answer. Saying "the CGI looks great" may well be the dimmest of faint praise for any movie, but in this case it's the primum mobile. As the Thing shuffles itself to resemble its prey, the effect is thrillingly convincing, even if it's not nearly as scary as the Tin Tin footage we've seen, at least according to this trailer.