It’s so easy to miss a AAA trailer these days, even with all the endless marketing build-up around teasers, pre-trailers (“in one day,” etc) and other forms of cinematic hype. A good trailer is an art form, one that is able to convey a movie’s plot, tone and style all while resisting that ever-present urge to score it to a slowed-down pop song. So here’s the Trailer Park, where we’re parking all the trailers you may have skipped, missed or want to revisit from the past week. Appreciate them. Nitpick them. Figure out if the movies they’re selling are actually going to be any good. That’s all part of the fun, after all.
This week, we’ve got Steven Spielberg’s lovely looking West Side Story remake (the trailer for which, fittingly, premiered at the Oscars), Sundance smash Summer of Soul and a pair of animated, single-word sure-to-be-hits: Vivo and Luca.
Here are the best new movie trailers of the week:
West Side Story
Director: Steven Spielberg
Release Date: December 10, 2021
The first teaser for Steven Spielberg’s hotly awaited adaptation of iconic musical West Side Story premiered during the Academy Awards last night, and it reaffirmed the director’s status as a presenter of beautiful American cinematic stories. The characters, music and themes of West Side Story are known to audiences young and old, but never have we seen such a visually lush presentation of the story as we can immediately glimpse in this 90 seconds of footage.
Spielberg’s film stars Baby Driver’s Ansel Elgort as Tony, alongside Rachel Zegler as Maria. The film also stars Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera, Ana Isabelle, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, and Rita Moreno, one of the stars of the classic, much-loved 1961 film adaptation. But with all apologies to director Robert Wise, the 1961 version of West Side Story doesn’t look anything like the gorgeous HD cinematography on display in this brief trailer. Spielberg seems to have shot in a highly atmospheric and evocative style this time around, as the midnight meeting between the Sharks and the Jets (presumably for the “rumble”) makes clear. The way the two gangs’ shadows intersect as they stride toward one another is a beautiful, chilling image. Even those on the fence about another West Side Story adaptation will probably be much more interested after watching this one.—Jim Vorel
Director: Enrico Casarosa
Release Date: June 18, 2021
Pixar has released a new trailer for director Enrico Casarosa’s Luca, its upcoming adventure about Luca (Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), two friends who galivant around the seaside town of Portorosso in the Italian Riviera by day—but live in the depths of the ocean as sea creatures by night. Paste’s Fletcher Peters explains that Luca is what happens when Pixar blends Shark Tale and the aesthetic of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. The previous trailer revealed the double identity status of our two main characters and offered the audience a taste of the film’s animation style and summery Italian feel. This new trailer unveils more about the world of the film and the characters within it—including curly redheaded human Giulia Marcovaldo (Emma Berman); Daniela, Luca’s sea monster mother voiced by Maya Rudolph; Giulia’s father Massimo (Marco Barricelli), a cook who has a passion for preparing seafood; and Ercolé Visconti (Saverio Raimondo), the twerpiest bully and Vespa owner in all of Portorosso.—Adesola Thomas
Summer of Soul
Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Release Date: July 2, 2021
The Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969 was attended by more than 300,000 people, but received none of the attention or enduring cultural canonization of the nearby Woodstock. Documentary Summer of Soul was one of our top 10 films of Sundance 2021, and as we wrote back in February:
“Featuring an immense catalogue of footage that sat in a basement virtually untouched for 50 years, Summer of Soul acts as an interrogation of what the absence of these materials has meant for the subsequent generation of Black artists, including Questlove himself. Despite the apparent cultural amnesia that followed the event (at least among non-Black Americans), the Harlem Cultural Festival easily overshadowed a ubiquitous moment in American history: The 1969 moon landing. Archival interviews with several attendees reveal that for many Black Americans, the moon landing was not seen as a boundary-pushing event worth celebrating. Catching Stevie Wonder’s set, on the other hand, was. Considering the undeniable essence of colonialism that space travel entails, who can blame them?”
Director: Kirk DeMicco
Release Date: Summer 2021
Lin-Manuel Miranda? Check. Colorful family musical with a cute animal protagonist? Check. Beautiful animation? Check. License for Netflix to print money? That’s a big, presumptive check right there. Everything about this just-released trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Vivo seems like the announcement of a property shooting for Moana-sized impact. A “kinkajou” is a Central and South American tree-dwelling mammal, also known as a “honey bear,” related to the more recognizable racoon, but this is hardly important. What is important is the lovely, Pixar-esque animation in this quick Vivo teaser, which evokes something like the warm tones of Coco in particular. —Jim Vorel
The Tomorrow War
Director: Chris McKay
Release Date: July 2 2021
Not to be confused with Tom Cruise’s time-looping Edge of Tomorrow, The Tomorrow War looks to pit Chris Pratt against a similar army of inhuman aliens…in the future. Or, maybe he’s warned from the future and is fighting it now. It’s ok to be confused in general, though Pratt and team (including the likes of Yvonne Strahovski and J.K. Simmons) are running and gunning enough in the first brief footage to distract from the whole time travel element. What does fighting a war 30 years in the future mean, exactly? Somewhere between a Tenet and a Terminator is my guess, though how that translates to a squad-based military sci-fi thriller remains to be seen—and yes, it remains to be seen in the future.