Christmas is behind us, which means that it's almost New Year's, and what better way to ring in 2014 than with a parade of clippings for a pair of January's upcoming releases?
By now you've probably heard plenty from us about both Blumhouse Productions' Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Millennium Films' The Legend of Hercules, but the studios aren't done marketing either of them just yet; a creepy new teaser (seen above) has been debuted for the former, while an eyebrow-raising total of four clips from the latter have gone online.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones premieres this Friday in theaters, which for fans of the franchise may make up for the lack of a 2013 series entry. Unlike the previous Paranormal Activity films, The Marked Ones focuses on a Latin-Catholic story within the saga's cinematic universe; as of yet it's unclear as to just how much this movie's narrative intersects with the events of the previous four pictures (outside of the many references made to central series characters Katie and Kristi in previous trailers), though we'll know for sure by the end of the week.
What's slightly more noticeable here is that director Christopher B. Landon - writer of the 2nd and 4th Paranormal Activity flicks - hasn't reinvented the wheel or stowed any new scares up his sleeves. That doesn't necessarily mean The Marked Ones won't be frightening, per se, but from the looks of things, there's not much here that's going to make the film feel fresh in comparison to its predecessors.
While the new trailer, simply titled "Prayer", doesn't seem to show off a lick of new footage, that whispered, hushed invocation recited over the images here is so eerie that the absence of previously unseen content barely matters - so maybe there's hope for The Marked Ones after all. (One could even argue that this, more than the teasers that have preceded it, is the most effective bit of promo material Blumhouse has put out there for the movie to date.) Put simply, it's a quickie but a goodie all the same.
Nobody can say the same for the following quartet of bits for Renny Harlin's forthcoming The Legend of Hercules, though; all together, they run a couple of minutes in length, and they don't do anything for the film beyond confirm early suspicions about its influences and tone. In other words, if you initially thought that the trailers looked they borrowed liberally from any number of Hollywood sword-and-sandals action epics, well, you were right. Talk about stale and uninventive.
In point of fact, each clip touches on the film's many apparent references, giving viewers a good idea of what they'll be in store for come January 10th. In this first video, we see Hercules (Twilight's Kellan Lutz) and his comrade Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) pitted against a pair of Mad Max rejects in a gimmicky gladiatorial arena, which may call to mind not only Ridley Scott's Gladiator but also Starz's Spartacus:
In the next, we see more of the same - another gladiatorial bout, this time a solo brawl with less Scott and more Zack Snyder's 300, and very obviously edited for content (though how much is another question entirely:
Stepping away from Rome-centric blockbusters, we move into pure fantasy territory: this might remind some folks of the climactic battle of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, if only for its atmosphere and setting:
Last but not least, a quiet moment of tender romance between Hercules and his lady love, Hebe (Gaia Weiss), in the only non-actiony scene of the bunch:
None of these clips inspire confidence in the final product, exactly; it's always worth noting that nobody can judge a film without seeing it in full, and in fairness, almost all of these feel like they've been significantly trimmed, so it's even more difficult to say how truthfully they speak to The Legend of Hercules' quality. But for now, the outlook isn't positive, and if you've already written off Harlin's movie in your mind, then there's nothing here that's going to get you to reverse your perspective.
Hopefully, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and The Legend of Hercules both exceed their low expectations. If not, 2014 is going to be off to a rocky beginning. We'll meet you back here in January as these films make the theatrical rounds for more info.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones arrives in theaters on January 3rd, 2014; The Legend of Hercules opens a week later on January 10th.
Source: Shock 'Til You Drop