Friday, March 26, 2010

Aussie Film Trailer: Animal Kingdom

akBack in early February I had a few bad things to say about the teaser poster for the Aussie crime film, Animal Kingdom. Today they released the actual poster and the trailer for the film.

I have to say I am much more impressed with this version (done once again by Jeremy Saunders). I think it does the job – it has rather sinister overtones and nicely conveys that the character in the middle of the front row is the subject of influence by those around him. I also like how the lighting highlights Jacki Weaver more than the others – a seriously sinister presence.

I wouldn’t say it’s a great poster (film journalist, Lynden Barber on twitter described it as “dull”) but I think it conveys the mood of the film very well – though I do wish the faces were a bit more distinct – if you’re going to have Guy Pearce on a poster, you should be able to see it is him – perhaps they need to be a bit more close-up. 

My wife who absolutely hates these types of films (she still won’t forgive me for getting her to watch The Departed - “they all died!!!”) thinks the poster is great – in her mind it makes them all seem like animals – the type of people you don’t want to be around.

When I first saw it, it reminded me of this publicity shot for The Sopranos:


Now obviously they are a completely different tone, but that feeling of family wrapped up with sinisterness is conveyed in both (though with a lot more gloss with the Sopranos).

I do like the gun in the letter “G” though.

The trailer is also good, but not great. To be honest it feels a bit too “made for TV”. It feels like they are going for the Underbelly vibe – especially the first half. And that is fine, Underbelly was/is incredibly successful, but I think for film you’ve got to be different.

I was trying to think what is missing – at first I was thinking it was music – because the trailer only really kicks into high gear when the Air Supply “All out of Love” songs comes in (as it did throughout the teaser trailer), but I think what is missing is music during the first half, and voice during the second. I kept waiting for someone to say something over the top of the “All out of Love”: a few shouts or something, because most of the lines said in the trailer are very restrained – I wanted a bit more emotion. I’m also not all that enraptured with the way the explanatory writing came up. Again my wife liked it (though at the end she said, “there’s no way I’m going to see that with you!”).

But hell I’m being as critical as all get out – mostly because I really want this film to succeed. The Departed made $11.8 million in Australia (but with the cast it had, that’s to be expected). American Gangster made $11.7 million (but that had Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington). Of Aussie “crime films”, best is Chopper which made $5.9 million. Sadly I think this is looking more like taking in the $2.9 million that The Hard Way earned, because Aussie crime films tend to do best when they’re marketed as more irreverent crime/ dark comedy – Two Hands made $5.5 million and Dirty Deeds took in $5.21 million (and even Chopper was marketed as having humorous elements). It seems when we wants hard edged crime, we want it at home on our TV.

I would love to be wrong – after all Animal Kingdom has been picked up for distribution in America by Sony Pictures Classics – and those guys don’t pick crap films, and best of all they know how to market a film and give it prominence (and often notice around awards time). By all reports Jacki Weaver absolutely steals the film as the matriarch of the family – and how cool would it be to see her up for a supporting actress award?

It would be great if they could afforded to show the trailer a few times during the next Underbelly series, because let’s be honest that’s a big audience that should theoretically like the concept of this film, though that might stretch the marketing budget too far.

But here’s the trailer – would love to know your thoughts.

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