new review: the happening

Wall*E is opening this weekend, fresh after a trailer campaign that is arguably the best of the blockbuster season so far. The first trailer – a tease, really – was simple and elegant; the cute little robot passing the time on a lonely junkyard planet until, suddenly, the rocket ship lands. Next up: a bit more detail, a soupçon of plot. Finally, a trailer that reveals some of the film’s other characters. Kudos to Pixar’s marketing folks for sparking and sustaining a level of excitement that is genuinely exciting without quite reaching the frenzied, much-dreaded level of hype.

Compare Wall*E to Hancock’s confused marketing. First we get comedy. Then we get a plot overview. Now we’re getting some boo-hoo to go with the ha-ha – and more spoilerish plot revelations. Sure, Hancock still seems like an extra super-duper spiffy. It might, praise all the saints in Hollywood, even be different kind of superhero movie. But the marketing proves one of two things: dramedy is harder to market than Two-Face at a dating service, or marketing wonks are deathly afraid of surprising audiences.

Speaking of Two-Face I had to say that running a close second to Wall*E in terms of quality marketing is The Dark Knight. The viral campaign featuring Harvey Dent’s bid for Gotham City’s District Attorney was, from the little I saw, pretty slick. And we even got a glimpse of other characters from the movie. But what’s particularly great about the Dark Knight is that this is a movie that stands on its own. All the elements from the first movie are in place, and the decisions Chris Nolan and his team have made so far have been spot-on. Aaron Eckardt as Two-Face? Outstanding. Heath Ledger as a chaotic, psychopathic Joker? Brilliant. The look of that bat-cycle? The buzz writes itself. The key has been to manage expectations, and I think while the bar is set quite high, everything pouring out from the film ahead of its release says the same thing: quality.

Too bad none of the above applies to the subject of this week’s review, The Happening. The trailer was intriguing. Shyamalan’s name still had (emphasis on had) shine…but it turns out that quality just isn’t a word applicable to this wreck of a movie.



And I apologize for the less-than-happenin' title for my review over at TFPO. Sometimes, the mojo just doesn't go.

1 comment:

Lou Kije said...

If you paid to see The Happening, you should write to Rupert Murdoch and ask for your money back. I'm serious.

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