Trailer Trash – Side Effects, 21 and Over and World War Z

Sara Bentley reviews everyone’s favourite part of the going to The Pictures – the trailers…

Vague Curiosity: Side Effects

It’s all blue skies and smiles as Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara frolic in an embrace of love. Twenty seconds later, a pill is popped and a murder is committed. Who, what and what, I hear you ask? This rather bemusing introduction is in fact the trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s (Contagion, Ocean’s Eleven) latest venture into the thriller genre, Side Effects. Emily Hawkins (Mara) turns to anxiety pills ahead of her husband’s (Tatum) impending release from prison. The pills, however, would appear more sinister in their side effects than generally assumed.

The trailer for Side Effects is one of those leaving you with more questions than when it initially came on screen. Flashes of murderous action are combined with a precariously described relationship with the assumed psychiatrist in the shape of Jude Law. The face of Catherine Zeta-Jones also pops up in surprising fashion. With just a scent of a plot scattered throughout the two minutes, its narrative direction is weak, relying mostly upon star shots and dramatic action to carry through.

For all its vague confusion, there is some intrigue to Side Effects in the form of its cast. Mara is fresh from her acclaim as Lisbeth in Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher), whilst the track records of Tatum, Law and Zeta Jones should provide strength. It’s a step into the unknown, with just a few familiar faces to guide your way.

Side Effects will hit UK cinemas on 15th March 2013. 

Tried and Tested: 21 and Over

When you hear that the writers of The Hangover (2009) are creating a film called 21 and Over, it’s not too hard to envision the general proportions of plot. And we’re not too far off the boil with Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s debut attempt at directing. A male group celebrate an old friend’s 21st birthday by getting ardently ‘wasted’, thus jeopardising the birthday boy’s important interview the following morning.

Sound familiar? Just replace ‘21st Birthday’ with ‘Stag Do’ and ‘Interview’ with ‘Wedding’, and you have the basic plot of both The Hangover and The Hangover Part II (2011). With perhaps just a slightly younger starring cast. Harking upon its predecessors, the trailer for 21 and Over is full of fast paced hilarity. A night of drinking and digression summed up in two minutes. The focus here is simple juvenile humour. When the two friends throw their inebriated companion over a balcony for him to bounce off into a tree – it’s funny. When someone vomits atop a rodeo bull – it’s funny.

One would forgive Lucas and Moore for effectively playing safe with their debut feature. A tried and tested narrative, with just enough of a twist to keep it fresh. 21 an Over should attract attention all round.

21 and Over is set for a US release on 1st March 2013. A UK release date is yet to be confirmed.

Ambiguous Enemies: World War Z

A family leisurely play ‘Guess What’ as they wait in a traffic jam. Suddenly the wing mirror of their car is broken off as a motorbike zooms past. A helicopter flies overhead as a commotion begins to gather ahead of the queue. As the family are ushered to stay in their car by a policeman, he is instantly crushed by a garbage truck as it launches through the traffic. Within forty seconds, a scene is set. This explosive start belongs to the theatrical trailer for Marc Foster’s latest feature World War Z.

Adapted from the novel by Max Brooks, World War Z is essentially a zombie movie. Interestingly, however, the trailer steers clear from any direct mention of this major narrative aspect. Countless shots of crowds running through streets in disarray fill the screen. But what are they running from? Figures emerge from an overturned bus into a spray of bullets from armed forces. But who is the enemy? Those shooting? Or those being shot at? As UN employee Gerry Lane, when Brad Pitt askes his colleague ‘What is this?’. No answer is provided, just ambiguity. With just the one shot of an apparent human figure chasing Gerry’s family as they flee, the enemy could be almost anything.

Foster’s decision to shroud the trailer in narrative mystery could hark to a number of reasons. Enigma most certainly builds intrigue. Does Foster assume an informed audience in their dealings with the feature’s source novel, and as such a descriptive trailer would prove unnecessary? Or does Foster wish to touch upon, and thus make his feature applicable to, matters closer to home and certain battles that rage upon this earth as we know it? Reasoning aside, World War Z looks set to cause a storm. An epic approach with a magnificent ‘look’, it is most certainly one to look out for.

World War Z is set to hit UK cinema screens next summer on 21st June 2013.

Sara Bentley

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