Sadly, the ads make The Eagle look like a lightweight version of Gladiator starring the very un-Roman Channing Tatum. They'd be better suited emphasizing the quality of filmmaker involved (director Kevin MacDonald also made State of Play and The Last King of Scotland) and the top flight supporting cast (Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Tahir Rahim) instead of poorly trying to pander to fans of dumb action movies. Also, I can't imagine many Americans would understand what the significance of 'the' eagle is to a Roman soldier so why not either keep the film's original title (The Eagle of the Ninth) or come up with something stupider to pander to American audiences.
Just Go With It (February 11)*
Better than those horrific Facebook status inspired commercials that litter the airwaves lately, the Just Go With It Super Bowl commercial at least seems to sell the movie's box office strengths: Adam Sandler-style humor and Brooklyn Decker in a bikini. It does look like a step-up from the last few more family friendly (Grown Ups and Bedtime Stories) and serious (Funny People) Adam Sandler movies. Interesting that the marketing department has completely removed Nicole Kidman from the trailers and commercials as she has one of the film's largest roles.
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (February 11)**
Absolutely no interest here, but credit should go to the marketing department for making this at least appear to be a Bieber biopic instead of just another overpriced 3D concert film (like Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, U2 and The Rolling Stones in recent years).
I Am Number Four (February 18)*
I believe I Am Number Four is supposed to feel like the epic start of a new franchise but it justs seems a bit dull. The lead actor, Alex Pettyfer, seems to lack any of the necessary charisma to carry an action movie. At least this spot emphasizes great TV actor Timothy Olyphant, but I can't imagine he is going to put many asses in theater seats.
Drive Angry: Shot in 3D (February 25)*
It seems remarkable to me that in the course of two months Nicolas Cage could have two of the worst movies ever released. At the very least this one seems to be embracing a spirit of trashy fun more than Season of the Witch. However, they've done nothing in the marketing to suggest this is the sort of movie that merits the extra money for 3D despite the commercial begging otherwise.
The Adjustment Bureau (March 4)*
I have no idea why they're advertising this as a trashy scifi action movie. The movie is full of damn good actors (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Terrence Stamp, Anthony Mackie) and is every bit as much a love story as an action movie. If they bring the focus back to the Damon-Blunt love story and try to appeal to a more upscale viewer I think they'd have a far better shot at making some money.
Rango (March 4)
To Rango's credit, it sports the only unique look and style of the many animated movies marketed last night. With an appearance that seems computer generated by way of Ray Harryhausen creations (think: the original Clash of the Titans) and a relatively funny trailer I think Rango's marketing is right on to capture a broad audience.
Take Me Home Tonight (March 4)**
Didn't this movie come out last year under the title Hot Tub Time Machine, only with funnier actors? Seems like nothing more than a bland 80s-set sex comedy with an unappealing lead actor.
Battle: Los Angeles (March 11)*
Late last year a movie was released called Skyline. The directors of Skyline are special effects gurus who created new effects technology for use in Battle: Los Angeles. They then re-utilized that technology and cranked out the atrocious Skyline in just a few months. By making another aliens invade Los Angeles movie, they're effectively undercutting the movie that bankrolled the creation of the new effects technology. Thankfully, it looks like Battle: Los Angeles has exciting and unique enough commercials to sell this premise. The commercial hits all the right notes, giving the viewer a look at the lead actors, the plot and the action. More importantly, the effects look impressive enough that it has more of a summer 'feel' than the typical March movie so it should play out like a major event at the box office.
Mars Needs Moms (March 11)
Using the lifeless zombie animation style of film's like The Polar Express and Beowulf and sporting a broad, bland sense of humor, Mars Needs Moms looks like an absolute dud.
Limitless (March 18)
Bradley Cooper as a smarmy guy who knows everything seems like perfect casting, De Niro looks motivated and Kanye music fits the premise extremely well. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the movie is awful, but for now I'm sold.
Hop (April 1)*
One of the worst previews of the night, Hop's commercial told us basically nothing about the film's plot or premise. The animation style seems bland and Song 2 by Blur was a better fit in trailers nearly15 years ago when paired with movies like Starship Troopers.
Rio (April 15)
Another nominee for worst commercials of the night, Rio looks colorful but the trailer tells us next to nothing about what to expect from the movie. With so much animation on the schedule, movies need to stand out and Rio utterly fails to.
Fast Five (April 29)
I didn't particularly care for Fast & Furious (the series' 4th film), but for some reason I find myself pretty excited for the sequel. Throwing in some parkour and The Rock seem like good moves to keep the enjoyably trashy series strong. An impressive money shot at the end of the commercial of Diesil and Walker jumping out of a car flying off a cliff and 'The Summer Begins' tagline make for a solid way to sell Fast Five as an event movie.
Thor (May 6)
I want to be excited for this movie SO badly, but the marketing so far just isn't really hitting home for me. I think that the movie is fantastically well cast, that Kenneth Branagh is an inspired choice of director and that the efforts to link Thor into the upcoming Avengers movie should keep it from getting to fantasy-esque. But this commercial is just kind of uninspiring. A lot of mediocre CGI (what the hell is that creature at the end of the commercial?), hokey costumes and unimpressive action are making me pretty nervous about Thor.
Priest (May 13)*
Why is this January junk being released during the summer?!? The same star and director as 2010's mediocre January Legion, along with a weaker supporting cast and a 3D post-conversion that is all but certain to damage eyeballs, make Priest look like a disaster on the horizon.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20)
I like that the commercials seems to emphasize that gone are the convoluted plots of Pirates 2 and 3, replaced by a back to basics approach that hearkens backs to the superb original film. I can't quite put my fingers on it - I don't know if it's the fact that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are gone or the change in director to Rob Marshall (Chicago) from Gore Verbinski - but something about this trailer leaves me a bit uninspired. Maybe the sequels have already done too much damage to the franchise.
Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 27)*
The commercials is a decent enough play on the classic sports anthem 'We Will Rock You' and the character is likable enough that the movie watchable. I don't understand Dreamworks' hubris with this series though - they've already planned for 5 sequels.
Super 8 (June 10)
Seemingly I'm in the minority, but the trailer for J.J. Abrams' Super 8 was a big hit for me. Intended as a tribute to Steven Spielberg's early career, Super 8's commercial manages to evoke E.T., Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in just 30 seconds. Not a great idea about the exact plot, but it's clear enough some sort of creature escapes from a train in a 70s town. Nice to see a summer movie starring role for Kyle Chandler, so good on Friday Night Lights.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1)
The big surprise of the night for me. Like most, I hated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I've been cautiously optimistic about the fact that Michael Bay seems to recognize the many ways the first Transformers sequel went astray. The Super Bowl commercials was basically 30 seconds of Chicago getting absolutely ravaged by Transformers, capped off by an impressive long take shot of Optimus Prime fighting his way through the city streets. Michael Bay can still craft some of the most impressive action scenes in Hollywood and, mercifully, this dark commercial suggests a stark move away from the horrifically stupid humor of Transformers 2.
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)
The trailer was a tiny bit of a disappointment for me. I loved the designs and the World War II setting (director Joe Johnston previously made The Rocketeer and was a key art director and special effects designer for the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones series), but the action seemed somewhat unimpressive. Tough to tell much of anything about Chris Evans' performance (he says five words in the trailer), but it does sadly seems like his signature humor will be part of the role. Cautiously optimistic about Captain America at this point.
Cowboys and Aliens (July 29)
The director of Iron Man (Jon Favreau) plus the star of Casino Royale and, arguably, the greatest 'event movie' actor of all time equals a movie for which I'm damn excited. Despite the dumb title, Cowboys and Aliens looks like it's going to sport a motivated Harrison Ford, top flight action, a great supporting cast (Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Walton Goggins) and some fantastically bizarre creature and set designs. Cowboys and Aliens is probably the movie I'm most excited for in the summer of 2011 and this commercial only strengthened that notion.
* denotes a movie trailer that aired before the Super Bowl
** denotes a movie trailer that aired during the post-Super Bowl episode of Glee