Underworld: Evolution official website

Sony has seriously upgraded the official website for Underworld: Evolution, the sequel to Underworld (which was the subject of my very first Movies on the Brain column.) There’s now a whole host of content there, including a gallery, a game and more. If you’re looking forward to this one – a group that does not include my brother-in-law – then surf on over.

(courtesy of ComingSoon)

Wells on Underworld trailer

Jeffery Wells has a great quote that sums up his thoughts on Underworld: Evolution.


The trailer certainly gives every indication it’s a straight programmer and strictly a paycheck movie for the talent. If it rises even a tiny bit above the level of pure bilge I will buy a red rubber enema bag and do the appropriate thing.

That’s what you call putting your money where your mouth (or whatever) is.

Movie Marketing Madness: Match Point

Like a lot of things, I came to appreciate Woody Allen later in life. I had been prejudiced against him in childhood by a ridiculous story my mother told (repeatedly) that skewed my view of the Wood-man. In the early 90′s I came close to getting into him when I watched Husbands & Wives but, due to a lack of his early films being available at the local video store I couldn’t get in a groove.

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I made an effort to watch his early stuff and immediately got hooked. Since then I’ve not seen everything he’s ever done but have hit most of the high points of his career. While he may not always achieve what he’s going after he more often than not tries for a finish line that other filmmakers don’t appear to see.

So the end of 2005 sees another Woody Allen film being released. Since he seems to put out at least one film yearly that’s not all that notable but his consistency is amazing, especially considering his age. His latest is Match Point, a drama of doomed and ill-advised romance starring Scarlett Johannson and Jonathan Rhys-Myers.

The Poster

Very dramatic, with it’s black-and-white image of Johannson and Rhys-Myers, or more accurately their mouths and chins. With only half the poster real-estate being used it seems like they were going for a claustrophobic feeling, as opposed to Big Floating Heads on the full poster.

A while ago Jeffery Wells made mention of Allen’s name being in significantly smaller point type than the cast list. I think Wells has a point in that this seems like a calculated move by the poster desingers. Allen has a certain stigma with younger folks like those that would ordinarily be drawn to a Scarlett Johannson movie. By putting his name in smaller type but still above the title they’ve fulfilled their contractual obligations but done so in the least intrusive way they possibly could. It’s a bit demeaning to someone of Allen’s stature but, well, there it is.

The Trailer

Wow, does this not look like a Woody Allen movie.

Actually I take that back. It looks very much like a Woody Allen movie. Shortly after Rhys-Myers gets married he meets Johannson and they begin an affair. What starts out simply enough gets complicated as she becomes more and more unhinged, demanding he leave his wife and making other threats on his comfortable life. What created the impression of this being atypical from Allen is the music. His movies don’t have swelling, dramatic music. They have simple instrumental jazz soundtracks that don’t play along with the emotional upheaval he puts his characters through. That’s what makes this trailer seem different.

That being said it is a pretty good trailer, with Johannson looking lovely as usual. I’m looking forward to an Allen movie that doesn’t use New York as both backdrop and metaphor for a change.

The Website

Most of the website is nothing all that special. Most of the usual suspects can all be found in The Film. If you start clicking on any of the links behind “Love. Lust” or the other quoted phrases be prepared to click for a while and get little in return. Once you start clicking you basically get stills from the film with a little of the trailer dialogue behind them. Seems like an awful lot of effort – both on the developer and user end – is or was devoted to basically nothing. There’s also a section called “Press Room” that you would think is a portion of the site for the press to go to and find information to use. It’s not. Instead it’s just a list of media quotes about the movie. Not the best or most accurate label

The one interesting portion of the site is “Podcasts.” It’s a series of video interviews with Allen, Johannson and some of the other stars of the movie. The only problem is that the only way you can subscribe to them is via iTunes. There isn’t just a all-purpose RSS feed that you can plug into an aggregator/reader and get the videos. That’s a bit disappointing if you don’t have consistent access to iTunes (such as when you’re at work). Minor quibble, but still I think a valid one.

Overall

The poster and trailer are first rate. The trailer, as I mentioned, is definitely trying to make a different impact than would be expected from a Woody Allen movie. With it’s use of dramatic orchestral music it is trying to appear as a more conventional drama. Combine that with the marked downplaying on the poster of Allen’s name and you can see Dreamworks really wants to do something different with this one, something that does not make Allen the main component of the marketing in any way shape or form. You’d think at this point in his career he would have earned the right to have studios trust him. Oh well.

Thank You For Smoking trailer

What exactly is life like for the men and women who act as the public face of industries such as tobacco, alchohol and firearms? Thank You For Smoking follows the spokesman for Big Tobacco, played by Aaron Eckhart as he tries to navigate a life where he is openly villified and hated. It’s a very funny trailer but, as always, I’m afraid the satire will be a bit too broad.

Microsoft and Yahoo vs. AOL and Google

Yahoo and Microsoft are reportedly working together so that users of their proprietary instant messaging and other free internet services can talk to each other.  Compatability across platforms will enable users greater freedom to use their preferred software regardless of what their friends or coworkers are using.

What it means for the larger internet industry is that these two powerhouses are going after people who are fans of AOL’s IM platform or the recently launched Google Talk.  Yahoo isn’t likely to bend over backwards to make sure GTalk is compatible with the new Y/MSN integration and nobody to my mind is going to go out of their way to please AOL now that they’ve suddenly embraced the open web as a means to survive.  Could those two now create their own compatible language?  That depends on how much code Google is willing to share with people outside its own sandbox.

Movie Marketing Madness: The White Countess

I’m a sucker for period dramas. I find the recreations of bygone eras more than interesting and when they’re done well they truly do transport you back in time to that point in history. The lastest such film that has flown onto my radar is The White Countess. The movie stars Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson as a U.S. diplomat and Russian exile who cross paths and fall in love in 1930′s Shanghai.

The Poster

I love it. The only way that I could enjoy this poster more was if they had produced like a one-sheet from the 30′s and painted it. Had they done so it would fit in well with any film from that period and would have graduated from great to absolutely spectacular. As it is, the image of Fiennes and Richardson in a passionate embrace is simple yet immensly powerful. Love it.

The Trailer

The trailer does a very nice job of setting up the main plot – that of the love story between Fiennes and Richardson- as well as the subplot – the political intrigue that’s going on around them. Based on this it seems emotions are not over-the-top, as they sometimes tend to be in this type of film. Instead everything seems to be evenkeeled and under control.

The Website

Most of the site is made up of the standard elements. Story, About, Cast and such. My favorite part is the Links section. The main players in the cast and crew get links to their IMDb entries as well as official or fan-run sites. That’s a really good way to let people find out more about the movie and it’s players by embracing these outside sites. Excellent sense of belonging to a community as opposed to making yourself look like you think you’re the only fish in the ocean.

Overall

Very well done, if a bit sparse, campaign for a movie that will probably be looking for at least a few Oscar nods come time. The poster is absolutely fantastic, the trailer is above average and the website gets points for it’s communal outreach. I like it.

RV trailer

RV (or, as it was originally called, Johnson Family Vacation With White People) stars Robin Williams as the head of dysfunctional family who rents an RV in order to get everyone to bond. Hilarity, of course, ensues. Much of that involves Williams acting like a clueless jackass and/or poop. Check out the trailer here to see just how much this movie might be saved by costar Cheryl Hines and director Barry Sonnenfeld’s visual style.

When A Stranger Calls trailer

If you’ve seen the opening 10 minutes of Scream or, really, any teen horror movie from the last ten years or so then you’ll be able to predict the entirity of the plot of When A Stranger Calls. If there are any surprises in the movie (creative ones, not “BOOO!” ones) then they were completely left out of this trailer. Girl is left all alone to babysit some kids at a big fancy house in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden she starts getting creepy phone calls that wind up coming from within the house (great way to spoil a perfectly good plot point, folks). She must then fight for her life as well as that of the kids. Yawn. And it’s a remake to boot.

300 official website

Warner Bros. continues to curry my favor (like they actually care) with their websites. The latest is for the Frank Miller graphic novel adaptation 300. They’ve launched the site with not only ordinary things like a Synopsis and Downloads but also with a Production Blog. This is the kind of thing I’ve been asking for. Hopefully the blog will be updated with more and more information as the production progresses and be a valuable tool that can be used by fanst to stay in touch with the film’s progression. As always, though, there is a catch: The blog has no RSS feed so you can’t subscribe to updates. So close to being perfect.