While the movie trailers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire continue to dominate views on YouTube and other streaming websites, it’s been a relatively slow couple of weeks when it comes to first looks at some of 2013 and 2014′s most anticipated films. That is, unless you’ve been keeping your eye on smaller independent films. Here’s a list of five trailers making the rounds this week, starting with the biggest of the bunch.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (December 25, 2013 — Wide)
Paramount Pictures’ Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the fifth film in the Jack Ryan series created by author Tom Clancy and departs from the previous films as a reboot. Actor Chris Pine becomes the fourth actor to take on the role of Jack Ryan following Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and featuring the actor-director in a supporting role, the film also stars Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley.
Scheduled for release on Christmas Day, Shadow Recruit seems to indicate an increased focus on action compared to previous films in the series like Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears. Seemingly taking some cues from the Bourne series and recent James Bond films, Paramount is hoping that Branagh’s reboot can spearhead a revival of the Jack Ryan series that has been marred by starts and stops ever since 2002′s The Sum of All Fears was a surprise financial success. With a production budget of $80 million, Paramount is betting big that Shadow Recruit will successfully ignite a new franchise.
Kill Your Darlings (October 18, 2013 — Limited)
Kill Your Darlings is an independent biographical drama distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. It is the feature film directorial debut of John Krokidas and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, and Jack Huston in a film based on the true story of David Kammerer’s murder in 1944 by Lucien Carr and the way in which the event drew together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.
Kill Your Darlings premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and garnered a positive reception among viewers. For actor Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, Kill Your Darlings is one of his first higher profile film outings following the conclusion of the hugely popular Harry Potter series and the actor has drawn acclaim for his portrayal of Allen Ginsberg. Additionally, director Krokidas has been noted for his assured style behind the camera.
Parkland (In Theaters — Limited)
Parkland is a historical drama based around the events that occurred immediately after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Directed by Peter Landesman and produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, Parkland stars James Badge Dale, Zac Efron, Ron Livingston, and Paul Giamatti among others.
The plot of Parkland waves together a series of different perspectives to the event on the day of JFK’s assassination, including the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital; Dallas’ chief of Secret Service; the cameraman who captured the most famous home movie in history; the FBI agents visited by Lee Harvey Oswald before the shooting; the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald left to deal with the aftermath; and JFK’s security team. The film, which does not explore conspiracy theories regarding the assassination, premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival and later screened at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.
Charlie Countryman (November 15, 2013 — Limited)
Charlie Countryman is described as a romantic-comedy, action-thriller hybrid and stars Shia LaBeouf, Rupert Grint, Evan Rachel Wood, and Mads Mikkelsen. Directed by Fredrik Bond and written by Matt Drake, the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was later screened in competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.
Charlie Countryman appears to be one of those strange films that proves impossible to define from a genre perspective. The film has polarized critics in the early going with Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter calling it “An atmospheric feature that sets out to tackle big questions of love and destiny,” while Jordan Hoffman of Film.com said “There is nothing necessary about this movie,” and award the film an “F.”
Big Ass Spider! (October 18, 2013 — Limited and VOD)
Big Ass Spider arrives in the tradition of silly B-movie horror without any qualms of characterizing itself as anything but. From director Mike Mendez and starring Greg Grunberg, Clare Kramer, Lombardo Boyar, and Ray Wise, the film premiered at the South by Southwest in March and will be arriving in theaters in limited engagements and video on-demand everywhere just in time for Halloween.
Don’t expect a lot of critics to go out of their way to review Big Ass Spider, but the trailer has garnered a lot of attention for its no-holds-barred approach to silly filmmaking — and for those who have seen it, the film is described as surprisingly solid. “If you like horror-comedies with a heavy emphasis on the comedy (although there’s still lots of face melting and people being torn in half), you’ll probably get a big kick out of BIG ASS SPIDER,” Chris Bumbray of website JoBlo explains.