Hello again! It’s not been a particularly big week for trailers, but the few we have seen have been pretty strong. There’s life-lessons abound in our selection below, as children become adults and stoners become badasses and Johnny Depp becomes a good actor again. Welcome to The Trailer Park.

Point Break

This week’s biggest trailer is also its worst. There’s just so much wrong with this, and it feels like no-one’s putting in any effort. The visuals are drab and grey, the writing is stunted and unnatural, the characters are uninteresting and even the actors playing them seem bored (although one does appear to be the long-lost fourth Hemsworth brother). Somehow even the crimes themselves sound dull – they’re disrupting the international financial markets? Oh noes!

Just about the only thing this trailer has going for it is the emphasis on extreme sports. It’s got climbing and surfing and motocross and even squirrel-suits. So it’s a shame that it totally fails to make any of them look enjoyable. It’s so determined to be serious and dramatic that it completely forgets this stuff is supposed to be fun. These criminals are meant to be living a thrill-seeking party lifestyle – yet this never once feels thrilling or like a party.

Black Mass

Have you noticed how every single true-life crime drama always claims that their particular criminal is the most dangerous and notorious in history? Black Mass is no different – it’s about the most feared and violent gangster ever which, on this occasion, is Johnny Depp’s James “Whitey” Bulger.

I’ve never heard of Bulger, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this character is the first in a long time where Depp’s performance makes me sit up and pay attention, rather than just groaning at his silly costume du jour. He’s absolutely electric – surprisingly warm and amiable but also deeply unsettling. You can always sense that, beneath the surface, this man is intensely dangerous.

While we do see that danger on display here – there’s violence and murder and what looks like torture – it’s the other parts that work best. Seeing Bulger eating with his family, or stopped by an old lady in the street, are such great moments, and offer such great contrast to the usual mob shenanigans. It’s this rift between his two lives, and the film’s two tones, that interests me most – I want to see how Black Mass reconciles them.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

What I really love about this trailer is how positive and optimistic it seems. Coming-of-age stories can so often devolve into darkness and misery, with the characters’ lives spiraling out of control, that to see the young Minnie Goets remain happy throughout this trailer seems almost novel.

Not that The Diary of a Teenage Girl doesn’t still threaten to go in that direction. There’s a tearful-looking hug at the end of this, and a scream in the middle, which suggest it’s not all plain sailing. In fact, the guy with the moustache is apparently her mother’s boyfriend, so you can see how this could all go very pear-shaped. But as far as the trailer itself is concerned, it’s nice to see a tale of sexual awakening treated in such an upbeat way.

Also nice is the strong period feel of the film – not so much the seventies sets and props, but the way soft focus and colour-grading are used to resemble actual footage from the time, echoing Minnie’s cassette tapes. Less nice, maybe, are the animated sections which presumably represent her imagination – they’re taken from the original illustrated novel, apparently, but I’m not sure how much they actually add here. Other than that, though, this trailer and it’s joyful tone have easily won me over.

American Ultra (NSFW)

Most sites reporting on this trailer – which sees Jesse Eisenberg playing some kind of superspy sleeper-agent – seem to be making the comparison to the Bourne trilogy, which is definitely fair. But I’m reminded far more of the TV series Chuck – which is great, because I really like Chuck. And, like that show, this looks crazy and funny and more than a little surreal.

One of the strongest aspects is probably the casting. Eisenberg is always great when he’s playing confused and nervous, and it’s nice that he gets to subvert that by kicking arse too, but I’m maybe even more surprised by Kristen Stewart. I’d forgotten how effective Stewart can be when she’s not forced to play the chosen one or the most special person in the world – she does great regular person, and she’s doing it here. Together they really seem like they could make this film work.

I’m pleasantly surprised by all this. I don’t usually enjoy stoner humour, so I wasn’t expecting much, but the addition of the spy stuff really elevates it for me. There’s a few jokes that don’t land (The Avengers did “language” much better, for one thing) but overall this looks really funny!

Cop Car

This is definitely not what I expected from a film called Cop Car. I thought it would be a gritty street-crime drama about a cop and their car – something like End of Watch, perhaps. So I was a bit disoriented when it opens with two kids finding an abandoned police car. And then it’s really fun and funny and exciting – the boys have great chemistry and even better comic timing, so seeing them bomb about in a stolen car looks like a blast. Now that I’d got my bearings, I settled down to enjoy what looked to be a pretty great romp. And that’s when it turned into a gritty crime movie.

I thought at first there was a body in the boot, but on a second watch it seems more likely that it’s drugs – but either way the boys are in way over their heads. From here there’s dirty cops and high-speed chases and at least one shootout. Kevin Bacon is cold and threatening, despite his moustache, but just mysterious enough that I still want to know what he’s up to. What I really like is how he’s an adult in a position of authority (not to mention one with guns) which makes the children seem so much more vulnerable and powerless – it’s almost like a horror movie!

My only concern is that the film might lose the fun and excitement of this trailer’s first half. I like the idea of a crime story with kids, but I hope it remembers to let them act like the kids they are. The best parts here are the boys just being themselves, and I hope that doesn’t get lost when the plot kicks in.