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Trailer Talk: Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus' Could Be This Summer's Next Big Blockbuster & More

June 4th, 2012 1:02pm EDT

Prometheus Unfortunately my pick from last week, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” was plagued by bad acting, lackluster action scenes, and farfetched concepts even for a fairy tale. Not only was it difficult to buy Kristen Stewart as “the fairest of them all” compared to Charlize Theron, but Snow White’s character spent the whole movie relying on men, in spite of marketing that indicated she’d be a strong, independent female lead. For more of my complaints, check out my review, if you haven’t already.

Trailer Talk: This Week in Movies: Arriving in theaters this week are Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated sci-fi vehicle “Prometheus,” the silly computer animated sequel “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” the coming-of-age comedy “Lola Versus,” the indie time travel comedy “Safety Not Guaranteed,” the period piece drama “Bel Ami,” the family relationship dramedy “Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding,” and Todd Solondz’s drama “Dark Horse.”

MY PICKS FOR THE WEEK: Prometheus and Safety Not Guaranteed

PROMETHEUS

A team of scientists travel to the darkest corners of the universe on a fact-finding mission. Their goal is to learn more about mankind’s origins on Earth. After pursuing clues on an alien world, they uncover a threat which could destroy the human race.

Director: Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner”)

Writers: Jon Spaihts (“The Darkest Hour”) and Damon Lindelof (“Lost,” “Cowboys & Aliens”)

Notable Actors: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Patrick Wilson

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. It has been said that “Prometheus” is/could be a prequel to Ridley Scott’s own flick “Alien.” The technology and alien bits in the trailer look similar enough to justify that claim. If it is indeed a prequel, this trailer indicates a return to the horror roots of the franchise with thumping music that builds ridiculous tension. Chills go down my spine when the music culminates in a score of haunting screams. With all of the really epic clips of conflict and the star-studded cast of the movie, I couldn’t be more excited to see what could be this summer’s next big blockbuster.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Sci-fi fans who love visually stunning pictures loaded with cool futuristic technology. If you worship Ridley Scott’s previous genre efforts, and you’re thrilled by the hints that this could be an “Alien” prequel, then you should see “Prometheus.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Opening night.

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED

Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman are still trying to find their way home to the Big Apple. Their latest adventure takes them through Europe, where they find an excellent disguise: a traveling circus. Of course they reinvent the circus Madagascar style.

Directors: “Monsters vs. Aliens” director Conrad Vernon joins Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell (“Madagascar,” “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”)

Co-Writers: Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach (“Greenberg,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox”)

Notable Voice Actors: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Jessica Chastain

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. Aside from Pixar, a company that largely focuses on original stories, studios like 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks seem content to just churn out sequels to popular animated films every couple of years to make a quick buck. Who can blame them? They’re easy for the actors to do and people keep going to see them, so the studios can get away with this lazy behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are at least one or two more “Madagascar” movies. Since the only time I laughed during this entire trailer was when Chris Rock’s character was dressed as a clown and singing, I won’t be seeing this one in the theater. Unless you’re hard up for entertainment, you probably shouldn’t either. Let’s send the studios a message that we want to see more creative tales.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Parents looking for something family-friendly at the box office this weekend. If you can’t get enough of these hilarious talking animals and their animated adventures, then you should watch “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

LOLA VERSUS

Dumped by her fiancé just three weeks before their wedding, Lola (Greta Gerwig) rallies her friends for a series of adventures that she hopes will help her deal with nearing 30 as a single woman.

Director/Writer: Daryl Wein (“Breaking Upwards,” “Sex Positive”)

Co-Writer: Actress Zoe Lister Jones (“Breaking Upwards”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Bill Pullman, Debra Winger, Hamish Linklater, Joel Kinnaman

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. “Lola Versus” seems like it’s trying very hard to be like every other quirky indie comedy about love lost. We’ve seen this premise so many times: a woman turns into a total mess after she gets dumped. She quickly throws herself into an awkward series of desperate encounters in order to rebound, but really she just needs time to herself. This trailer tries to be funny by using title cards to say things like “Lola Versus Love” or “Lola Versus Sex,” which gives it a disjointed rhythm. Plus the cards don’t even really apply that well to the scenes they appear in. Supporting characters played by Hamish Linklater and Zoe Lister Jones provide a couple of mild laughs and that’s it. Probably the lamest thing the trailer is its use of the line “from the studio behind ‘500 Days of Summer.’” I loved “500 Days of Summer,” although I’m not convinced to see “Lola Versus” if no specific writer, director, or producer from that movie was even involved with this flick.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Viewers who enjoy coming-of-age stories that involve adults reexamining their lives. If you like actor Greta Gerwig no matter what she’s in, then you should check out “Lola Versus.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Don’t bother. Just skip it.

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

Three magazine employees accept a bizarre assignment to interview a man who placed a classified ad for a time travel companion.

Director: Colin Trevorrow (“Gary: Under Crisis,” “Reality Show”)

Writer: Derek Connolly (“Gary: Under Crisis”)

Notable Actors: Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Mark Duplass, Jeff Garlin

ORIGINALITY RATING: High. What I like best about the trailer for “Safety Not Guaranteed” is the grounded realism it uses with the time travel premise. Whether this guy is lying or not is uncertain, however the filmmakers really get you to trust the character played by Mark Duplass. They do that by showing the melting skepticism of Aubrey Plaza and Jake M. Johnson’s reporters once they uncover more about the strange loner. The trailer establishes that he’s not just some wacko; he really could be telling the truth. It does a corny thing with newspaper ads throughout, but I love the final screen where praise for the movie is written in the newspaper like other classified ads. I’m excited to see this film later this week and to learn for myself what happens.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Indie film aficionados who dream about the possibilities of time travel. If you appreciate actor/filmmaker Mark Duplass and you want to know if his character really can travel through time, then you should seek out “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Opening night.

BEL AMI

The penniless George Duroy (Robert Pattinson) travels to Paris, in search of ways to improve his social and financial status. He quickly rises to power after realizing that he can use his charms to manipulate wealthy women.

Directors: Newcomers Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod

Writer: Rachel Bennette (“Lark Rise to Candleford”)

Based On: Guy de Maupassant’s novel

Notable Supporting Actors: Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. “Bel Ami” reminds me a little bit of “Dangerous Liaisons,” another French tale involving affairs and betrayal. Both movies even have Uma Thurman. Robert Pattinson shows a little more personality in his role than he normally displays as his “Twilight” character. There are still a few times in the trailer though, where he’s almost emotionless, reciting his lines to no one in particular. If there’s a good reason to see this movie it’s either because you love the book it’s based on, or you to take in spirited performances from female leads.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Audiences that prefer period piece films over those which are set in present day. If you adore Guy de Maupassant’s novel Bel Ami and you’re curious to see how this stacks up an adaptation, then you should catch “Bel Ami.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

PEACE, LOVE, & MISUNDERSTANDING

An uptight New York City lawyer (Catherine Keener) takes her two teenagers upstate to her hippie mother’s (Jane Fonda) farmhouse for a family vacation. What starts as a weekend getaway, quickly becomes a summer adventure of self-discovery for them all.

Director: Bruce Beresford (“Mao’s Last Dancer,” “The Contract”)

Co-Writers: Newcomers Joseph Muszynski and Christina Mengert

Notable Supporting Actors: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chace Crawford, Elizabeth Olsen, Katherine McPhee, Rosanna Arquette, Kyle MacLachlan

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. Gee an indie dramedy, where some quirky relatives get a tight-ass to relax and enjoy life? Never seen that before (sarcasm). The majority of the jokes in this trailer have to do with hippie lifestyle of the grandmother played by Jane Fonda. I have a feeling that could get old fast. Generic feel-good music plays while we see a few awkward moments play out and the characters speak corny lines to each other which are supposed to be inspirational. I would pass on this trite dramedy.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People that dig indie dramedies about dysfunctional families working things out. If you’re looking for a formulaic flick about life and love this weekend, then you should see “Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

DARK HORSE

Romance sparks between two thirty-somethings who are having trouble growing up: an avid toy collector and a woman who is the dark horse of her family.

Director/Writer: Todd Solondz (“Life During Wartime,” “Palindromes”)

Notable Actors: Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Jordan Gelber

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. This is probably the most depressing trailer I’ve watched in a long time. Abe seems like such a loser and so does Selma Blair’s character. People in the trailer pretty much crap all over them which is sad. What’s even sadder though is that it doesn’t seem like a happy ending is anywhere in sight. It’s strange to see Christopher Walken wearing his hair down and giving a really low key performance. That doesn’t seem to bode well. I think I’ll stick to more upbeat fare.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Fans of auteur Todd Solondz. If you weren’t depressed by this trailer like I was, then you should watch “Dark Horse.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Don’t bother. Just skip it.

Related: Aubrey Plaza, Bel Ami, Ben Stiller, Catherine Keener, Charlize Theron, Chris Rock, Christina Ricci, Damon Lindelof, David Schwimmer, Elizabeth Olsen, Greta Gerwig, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jake Johnson, Jane Fonda, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lola Versus, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Mark Duplass, Michael Fassbender, Noah Baumbach, Noomi Rapace, Prometheus, Ridley Scott, Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Zoe Lister-Jones, Starpulse Exclusives, Movies, Movie Trailers, Columns, Weekend Movie Preview

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Photo Credits: © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication, © Dreamworks Animation, © Fox and its related entities. All rights reserved, © Magnolia Pictures ,

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