It’s been more than a year and a half since we first discussed Ang Lee’s plan to turn the 2012 novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk into a feature film. We followed the casting of names like Steve Martin and Garrett Hedlund, and the even more recent news the acclaimed director had filmed the whole thing in an unprecedented (for this kind of project, anyway) 120 frames per second. (For context, remember the brouhaha over Peter Jackson’s higher frame rate for The Hobbit? Yeah, that was 48 fps.) And through it all, we’ve prefaced the film by using the shorthand descriptor “Iraq war satire.” So if you watch this official trailer for the film (and somebody at Sony Pictures apparently thought it was important to include the awkward “official trailer” tag at the beginning of this thing), you could be forgiven for thinking, “Satirical how?”
The trailer—how to put this delicately—makes it look like a higher-budget version of one of those Christian-marketed films, all pomp and circumstance and serious as a heart attack. Which seems faintly ridiculous, given the multiple shots of the hoary over-the-top football halftime show that supposedly constitutes the story’s centerpiece. Look, you’ve already got Ang Lee, a script from the writer of Slumdog Millionaire, and newly critically relevant actor Kristen Stewart in your film. You don’t have to worry about Oscar not noticing you, Billy Lynn producers. Presumably, there’s a cutting satire buried underneath this ringing homily to seriousness, or at least we hope there is. We’ll know this fall, when the movie hits theaters on November 11. No matter what, we’ve got everybody’s favorite sentient talking gravel pit, Vin Diesel, to get us buying tickets.