It’s so easy to miss a AAA trailer these days, even with all the endless marketing build-up around teasers, pre-trailers (“in one day,” etc) and other forms of cinematic hype. A good trailer is an art form, one that is able to convey a movie’s plot, tone and style all while resisting that ever-present urge to score it to a slowed-down pop song. So here’s the Trailer Park, where we’re parking all the trailers you may have skipped, missed or want to revisit from the past week. Appreciate them. Nitpick them. Figure out if the movies they’re selling are actually going to be any good. That’s all part of the fun, after all.
This week, we’ve got a first look at Snake Eyes, a tease at an exciting new horror trilogy in Fear Street and Liam Neeson doing more big nutso action with The Ice Road.
Director: Leigh Janiak
Release Date: July 2, 9 and 16, 2021
Truly in-the-know horror geeks have been waiting patiently at this point for more than seven years for a sophomore film from director Leigh Janiak, whose 2014 debut Honeymoon (starring Rose Leslie) was one of the decade’s most genuinely disturbing and icky horror flicks. And now, after an interminable wait, we don’t just have one new movie from Janiak heading to Netflix—we have three, to be released within a span of three weeks. All three adaptations of author R.L. Stine’s classic Fear Street novels are directed by Janiak, and together the three films tell a single tale on the titular street, set across three different time periods that also serve as titles for each movie: 1994, 1978, and 1666. Looking at the just-released first teaser, it’s plain to see how Fear Street differentiates itself from Stine’s better-known Goosebumps series. Where Goosebumps was intended for adolescents, with stories that typically revolved around monsters and paranormal experiences, Fear Street was a bit more grounded in reality, with antagonists more akin to classic slasher villains and roving psychos. Consequently, the Fear Street books were aimed at an older teen audience, and the film adaptations look to be more explicit horror films than the Jack Black-starring Goosebumps series. Still, we’d be shocked if any of these films approached the disturbing level of Janiak’s own Honeymoon. The films were originally developed for 20th Century Fox before the Disney merger, and were ultimately sold off to Netflix—evidence perhaps that they were too genuinely horrific to exist under the Disney banner. Fear Street Part One: 1994 has a skull-headed killer that seems particularly inspired by Scream (Janiak also directed episodes of the Scream TV series), while the Part Two: 1978 entry is much more evocative of Friday the 13th, with a setting that sure as hell looks like a summer camp, and a bag-headed killer who looks like Jason Voorhees in 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2. The final entry, Part Three: 1666 looks considerably more original, without as obvious a comparison to be made. Fear Street stars an ensemble cast, which includes the likes of Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke and Community’s Gillian Jacobs, along with Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Darrell Britt-Gibson, Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia Rehwald and Jeremy Ford.—Jim Vorel
Director: Robert Schwentke
Release Date: July 23, 2021
Crazy Rich Asians heartthrob Henry Golding doesn’t necessarily seem like a natural fit for a high-octane G.I. Joe adaptation, but his casting as Snake Eyes reminds us that it’s always pretty awesome when someone becomes a ninja assassin. Filled with flashy style (shadows, fog and that neon glow that always screams “Asian metropolis” in films) and actors with action chops (Andrew Koji and Iko Uwais as two of the most exciting cast members), the film from Robert Schwentke might give the director a chance to escape his reputation for churning out reliably bad genre blockbusters. Maybe all he needed was some action figure lore, a largely Asian cast and a couple katanas. Screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulous (Bright 2, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) seems like a fit for the silly material, but let’s hope Golding and crew come out on top of this…or else are able to easily forget it when they go see Shang-Chi instead.
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
Release Date: June 25, 2021
How many Ice Roads must a man slip and slide down before you can call him a man? If that man is Liam Neeson or Laurence Fishburne, the answer looks like “one.” Continuing Neeson’s quest to star in an action movie about seemingly every kind of transportation, Netflix’s The Ice Road sees the Taken and Non-Stop star on a rescue mission, diving a truck across a dangerous frozen route towards some trapped miners. A ticking clock, a ridiculous premise that only looks to get more ridiculous when it’s revealed that all is not what it seems—hey, this is premium silly B-movie action and a perfect fit for Neeson’s latter-day efforts. Writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh did the Thomas Jane Punisher movie and wrote Armageddon, so it seems that he too is squarely in his wheelhouse.
Director: Tom McCarthy
Release Date: July 30, 2021
One day, a musician biopic will drop a trailer that doesn’t immediately make me think of all the scenes in Walk Hard that parody it beat-for-beat. But with the release of Respect’s first trailer, we’ll all be waiting a little bit longer. The film has a compelling premise: Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, directed by Tony-nominated Liesl Tommy. In execution, well…that’s another story. Hopefully the final product is a bit more engaging than the trailer’s standard cinematic look at songwriting, where familiar lyrics or titles are figured out in dopey fashion. As long as Hudson is singing, there will be fewer things to nitpick either in plot or in screenwriting—so let’s just stick with saying that her voice is incredible, and a great fit for the Queen of Soul.