Trailer Mash

From 'Dredd' to Diana Vreeland, this week's new films judged solely by their previews

Jean-Luc Godard famously declared that all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl. Judging by last weekend's box office receipts for Resident Evil: Retribution, the American public agrees. An identical formula applies to this week's Dredd, and to the Rob Schneider comedy You May Not Kiss the Bride. Which do you suppose will do better? Perhaps the contemporary coda to Godard's formula should be "… and a comic book/video game/action figure of a Saturday-morning cartoon character."

Someone is messing with the geek hive mind. Supposedly a fashionably gritty and realistic take on the comic book, the new Dredd looks almost exactly like the old Judge Dredd, a roundly mocked Stallone vehicle from 1995. The key difference is that this 2012 version is so deeply seasoned in self-awareness that practically every frame in the trailer references a different genre flick. Even the soundtrack is an enjoyable mashup of Vangelis's Blade Runner score and John Carpenter's sequencer blips in Escape From New York. What this trailer is saying, then, is that a film like Dredd can no longer be made without being a film about the reasons why it has been made.

In Source Code, a movie posing as a glorified '70s TV-show pilot, movie star Jake Gyllenhaal's glorified '70s TV-star face was perfect. But in the trailer for End of Watch (which yet again drags out that creaking old found-footage trick), something is terribly wrong. The coalface of street-level LAPD work is a hardy perennial for the movies, and the right guys for this line of work are Sean Penn and Woody Harrelson and even, incredibly, Ethan Hawke. But it turns out that some heads simply should not be shaved.

Apparently not a remake of an '80s slasher flick, House at the End of the Street sure works hard to look like one. Oiled lightly before every shot, Jennifer "Hunger Games" Lawrence is the teenage girl in the dirty singlet caught up in some sort of historical haunted-house horror show. Were there a camera style known as sleaze-o-vision, this trailer would be used in film schools as a definitive example.

The Woody Allen of dramas about tough guys who are too old to be doing what they think it is that defines them, Clint Eastwood should have drawn a lesson from his own recent oeuvre by now. Gran Turino would have been a great movie to go out on. Not as good as Million Dollar Baby, but not bad. Respecting the acuity issues of its adult-diaper-wearing target audience, the trailer for Trouble With the Curve takes no chances. When Clint mumbles, "What you staring at, I'm not a pole dancer," it cuts to another character laughing at something else, just in case you didn't personally think the delivery was all that funny. Because, frankly, it wasn't, even if you're Mitt Romney. A man's got to know his limitations, as Dirty Harry once said.

In Diana Vreeland, the role model for all the devils in Prada who followed, there was once an editor of such absurd self-possession she could make people believe fashion magazines were the highest art form of all. Her key lesson, as she says in this trailer for Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, was this: "There is only one really good life, and that's the one you know you want and you make it yourself."

Here is how bad the trailer for The Perks of Being a Wallflower is. Of the six new releases selected for preview in Trailer Mash this week, the Adweek panel has decided that that movie must lose its slot to a Rob Schneider comedy. Yes. This week, a Rob Schneider comedy looks better than an Emma Watson vehicle. But in truth, You May Not Kiss the Bride is seemingly more than a Rob Schneider movie. Rather, it is a gung-ho stab at the kind of warm-hearted comedy romance you rarely see anymore—movies like Mickey Blue Eyes or, even further back, Romancing the Stone. And if Schneider is there in the Mel Gibson cameo role as a drunk and grizzled helicopter pilot for hire, well, it's not as if Mel is going to do it anymore. Could be a sleeper hit, though probably not, at least according to this trailer.