Don’t Believe the Hype
At least, not always. Films that studios allocate ridiculously bloated publicity budgets to are not always likely to be showered in glowing reviews and critical acclaim. This is usually because execs tend to decide on allocation of advertising funds for a release based on its number of high-tech special effects, bankable lead stars wearing small amounts of clothing or, well, both of the above. This month’s most overly-hyped film award must surely go to James Cameron’s Avatar – we can’t remember the last time we went to the cinema and didn’t see the trailer, not to mention being bombarded on every website, TV channel, tube station and passing bus with adverts. In a truly terrifying fusion of those two media-hyped monsters, Avatar and X Factor, Leona Lewis is also singing the title song on the soundtrack.
Luckily for those nervous-looking marketeers currently sweating buckets in Fox offices worldwide, initial reviews of Cameron’s latest blockbuster have indicated it was worth the bazillion-dollar publicity budget. But sometimes, no matter how many close-ups of brooding teen idols or impressive whoosh-boom-click-bang moments you shove into a trailer, there’s just no getting around the fact that your film’s a stinker. Here, we recap some of 2009’s most hyped films, some of which delivered and some of which blew up in studios’ faces with more explosive force than all three Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen trailers combined.
Hype much? With four teaser trailers in total as well as television and web campaigns leading up to the film’s release in May, both old-school Trekkies and fans of giant space-set blockbusters with lots of explosions in them were frothing at the mouth for this remake of the classic ’60s series.
Did it deliver? In a word, yes. We’d love to be able to brutally slag this first of 2009’s ruthlessly promoted big-screen blockbusters, but the fact is it boldly went where few of its kind have gone before. Not only did it manage to (mostly) escape slaughter by the critics, it also achieved the virtually impossible task of keeping the series’ infamous nerd army of fans placated. With no shortage of generic appeal (flashy effects for the menfolk, attractively chisel-jawed man candy for the ladies), Star Trek 2009 was a winner on all accounts.
2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Hype much? The ultimate brainless summer blockbuster from that king of mind-cleansing explosion fare, Michael Bay, the TV commercial featuring a totally rockin’ Linkin Park song played over montages of explosions and Megan Fox in tight clothing was played about once an hour until this baby hit the screens.
Did it deliver? Not so much. You’d have to be a fool to go to a Bay film expecting any level of sophistication or indeed a discernible plot, but this was worse than usual. Characters dying then inexplicably coming back to life, robots that look like something the contestants in Scrapheap Challenge threw together and dialogue so cheesy you could could put it in a nice toastie and have it for breakfast for the next year. Epic fail.
Hype much? In the lead up to the release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest envelope-pushing docu-comedy, there wasn’t a city in the world where the comic wasn’t spotted, dressed in a different camp outfit and surrounded by half-clothed men, women and/or animals.
Did it deliver? Containing even more, erm, ‘colourful’ scenes than the scandal-ridden Borat, the movie received mixed reviews. Master of the inappropriate Baron Cohen tackled everything from ‘adopting’ an African child Madonna-style to riding a bus chained to his gay lover in an S&M suit. Let’s just say it wasn’t to everybody’s tastes.
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Hype much? Arrrgggh! Eeeeek! These were the sounds heard across the globe as the release date for the hysterically anticipated second film in the Twilight series approached, and also whenever Robert Pattinson turned up in public, on any occasion, anywhere.
Did it deliver? The box office results tell another story, but critically, and in our opinion, the Twilight sequel just didn’t have the first film’s heart and originality. Not enough attention was paid to plot and character development, and far too much to vampires zooming around impressively and Pattinson’s overly enhanced red lips and golden eyes.
5. Where the Wild Things Are
Hype much? The trailer was perhaps one of the most infuriating of the year, giving away virtually nothing of the film’s plot, characters or setting, but it was still enough to get tongues wagging excitedly about Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the classic childrens’ book.
Did it deliver? It certainly did. Visually a wonder to behold, and one of the most interesting and unique children’s films of the year (debatably ever), this was one instance where a heavily promoted film was everything it purported to be – beautiful, bizarre and very watchable.