Trailer Mash

Our weekly review of opening movies based solely on their previews

The trailer for Battleship—or "Rihanna Movie," as YouTube helpfully co-titles it—is the event horizon of the black hole of super-vacuity that exists within the black hole of stupidity that most movie trailers already inhabit. Watching it is like spectating Buzkashi, the Afghan version of polo played with a headless goat carcass rather than a ball. It is possible to acknowledge the enthusiasm and expertise on display, so long as you can avoid throwing up at the central premise. And we learn once more that these days there is not a headless goat carcass Liam Neeson is not prepared to hit with a stick.  

What to Expect When You're Expecting evidently wants to be this year's Bridesmaids, pregnancy being another of life's key moments everyone can relate to while snorting at poo-poo jokes over popcorn and soda. But the template this time seems to have been reversed. Instead of casting relative unknowns and giving them good new jokes, the trailer features good-looking superstars telling jokes as old as Cain and Abel. Heard the one about how you'd have gotten pregnant earlier if you'd known how good it would make your boobs look? Thank you, Cameron Diaz. Heard the one about how looking at houses with a woman for fun always ends up in you buying a house? Thank you, Chris Rock. Continue until you can taste the metal in your mouth.

American Animal wins Title of the Week and also Second Best '80s Indie Tribute Movie Trailer of the Week. A terminally ill Jesus lookalike (if it were the '80s, he'd be dying of AIDS) freaks out in high style because his best friend wants to take a job rather than stay with him for every moment of what's left of his rather overdramatic life. It all seems to take place in an apartment where nothing isn't quirky, from the girls who show up for dinner to the use of Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" on the soundtrack. A way to get rid of your hipster roommate for the evening, would seem to be the message of this trailer.

The Best '80s Indie Tribute Movie Trailer of the week, and to be fair, a strong contender for Title of the Week, is Beyond the Black Rainbow. Set in 1983, it is evidently the work of someone who has drunk deep on the early oeuvre of David Cronenberg, followed by hefty Ken Russell and John Carpenter chasers. In an enclosed lab, one Doctor Mercurio Arboria (tells you everything) watches over a mute young girl evidently possessed of superhuman powers. Oversaturated color schemes, low deep-focus camera angles and mysterious technologies that serve some unknown ominous purpose are set to a perfectly modulated synth score that bursts into an organ riff at precisely the right moment. To be enjoyed with or without drugs.

Lovely Molly, this week's one-location horror movie, comes from one of the fellows behind The Blair Witch Project. Despite the provenance, it appears to conform to the by now rather familiar device of a girl in a haunted house who may be haunted by her own self as a result of some earlier incident. Technically it looks fine, but doesn't this movie come out every fortnight?

In its far-from-prestigious history, the Great British Sex Comedy has only ever raised an actual titter when the late Frankie Howerd was involved.  (Americans: Brits only find Carry On movies hilarious because they see themselves reflected in what are at their core tales of bleak desperation among the lower-class poor.) Now, in the fine tradition of No Sex Please, We're British comes Hysteria, the story of a young doctor's invention of the vibrator. Various Victorians, unempowered and otherwise (Maggie Gyllenhaal, managing a credible Toff accent), talk in double entendres, and by the time Sheridan Smith concludes festivities with the line "We're gonna need a bigger appointment book," it may be asked in fairness how much more of its length a person might be expected to take. That was not entirely a double entendre, by the way.

Has Jennifer Connelly now been around long enough to warrant the titular role in a one-name movie? Virginia says yes. Two years ago, in fact. Why the story of a white-trash single mom's complex love life is being released now is one of those distribution mysteries the vast majority of us need not trouble ourselves with.

There's this great French TV cop show, Engrenages. Has the freshness and flair that recalls the impact of NYPD Blue 20 years ago. You'll never see it here, of course, but some of its style can be witnessed in this trailer for Polisse, last year's Jury Prize Winner at Cannes and the story of a Parisian police station's juvenile unit. Impossible to follow what is going on, but doing the important work of saving kids while looking like a crazy fashion shoot is something only the French could manage without provoking too much hilarity, at least according to this trailer.