1. The Great Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation promises to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel off the dusty shelves of libraries and classrooms and into the modern world. The trailer plunges us into an extravagantly synthetic, hyper-real version of the twenties, complete with fast cars, guns, explosions, and, of course, parties of mind-blowing dimensions. Literary puritans will no doubt argue that F. Scott Fitzgerald intended something more than flashy visual effects, and that even the most advanced 3-D technology cannot capture the depth of his characters. But back in 2001, Baz Luhrmann’s hit musical ‘Moulin Rouge’, set amid the garish dance halls of nineteenth century Paris, demonstrated that romantic revelations can rival the biggest explosions for sheer spectacle. Now, as Daisy and Gatsby, played by Leonardo Di Caprillo and Carey Mulligan, mutter about how pleased they are to see each other to the background of ominous musical beats, the audience must mentally prepare themselves for the emotional roller-coaster to come.
2. The Lone Ranger
‘Pirates of the Carribean’ director Gore Vebinski exchanges the high seas for vast arid plains and swashbuckling pirates for shooting cowboys in his grand reenactment of the story of the Lone Ranger. Judging from the trailer, the dramatic shift in setting entails an equally profound change in mood. Even though the unmistakable Disney castle suggests a young target audience, the initial shots of warped clocks, muffled screams and drops of blood create the unmistakable impression of psychological horror. The only source of comic relief comes from Jonny Depp’s cringe-worthy imitation of a Native American accent, as he delivers ponderous words of wisdom in a husky baritone and carefully omits all articles from his sentences. But as the trailer progresses, the audience becomes uneasily aware that his character is meant to be taken seriously; with immortal lines such as ‘horse says you are spirit-walker’ and ‘sometimes good man must wear mask’, he articulates the weighty morality of the Lone Ranger’s mission. The trailer goes through all the usual action movie sequences, including slow motion bullets, people falling into water, people running on trains, and a generous helping of explosions, but with the grim seriousness of Old Testament justice; apart from the occasional racial stereotype, the Wild West is evidently not a place for fun and games.
3. Man of Steel
Action movie heavyweights Jack Snyder, director of ‘Sucker Punch’ (2011), ‘The Watchmen’ (2009) and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2004), and Christopher Nolan, the mind behind the monumentally successful ‘Dark Knight Trilogy’, have teamed up to create what looks like the Superman movie to end all Superman movies. The trailer does not even make an effort to identify the central protagonist or explain his story, clearly assuming that such subject matter needs no introduction. Like all the most fundamental legends, ‘Man of Steel’ is principally concerned with creation; we travel deep into Clark Kent’s troubled psyche, see him floating in the soup of his complicated thoughts and feelings, and watch him grow from a scrawny child to an angst-ridden, stubbly teenager. It is only when he reaches adult form, accepts responsibility for the fate of Earth and shaves off his beard that we are at last treated to a glimpse of action; we see him shoot up like a sparrow through the clouds of Earth’s atmosphere, to the background of thundering choral music. But the subsequent scenes of Superman fighting, running, swimming and even being lit on fire are dispensed in a fleeting, almost offhand manner. Visual effects become little more than a backdrop for deep, philosophical themes, as the film takes a brave, unflinching look at the challenges faced by superhuman aliens in today’s society.
PHOTO/The Movie God