The Big Guns are Here. In Every Sense..
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. As in: multiple trailers, flying at us like Santa’s reindeer! The good news is that most of these are truly brilliant; mini movies in their own right and summaries of what to expect without spoiling the surprises for next year. The bad news is that only a few are truly great and there is a LOT of overlap (as in one could cut some of these together and you would not know which was which..or care, for that matter). One thing is for sure though and that is 2017 will be one helluva cinematic ride. Let’s unpack the presents..
This is the best of the bunch. Should the trailer reflect the film accurately then we are in for one of the most charming and entertaining movies of all time. This deserves to be a record breaking hit. I was never much of a Spider-Man fan. Too clingy 😉 or rather, too normal. Yes, he had adventures and powers but there was no fantasy in his lifestyle, which was alarmingly close to every adolescent angst and real world woe one could imagine. So, capturing the charm of the character was always going to be something of a wall to climb?
Tobey Maguire’s iteration (2002-7) was almost too downtrodden and Andrew Garfield (2012-14) was all too cool. But Tom Holland, the latest Web-spinner, is perfect. He’s awkward and comic but also projects genuine heroic ambition and ability. Helped by the appearance by Robert Downey Jr as the great Tony Stark /Iron Man, in full on mentor mode (this is not just a cameo). And Michael Keaton back to what he does best, arguably and playing a villain but on the kind of comic book blockbusting scale he’s missed out on since he stopped being Batman. Think of a John Hughes comedy crossed with all the action and gloss of the Marvel universe, via coming of age morality play and I think we have a BIG winner at the ready in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2
Marvel are quite simply a ‘marvel’. They’ve done it again, it seems. A heart warming, funny, action packed, toy sale friendly, visually stunning and exciting trailer for the new Guardians of the Galaxy film. Very little..no in fact, nothing at all, is revealed about plot or premise to the film’s events. In this case though, it honestly would not matter if we find ourselves greeted by a film without any story structure whatsoever. Because the sheer quality of humour, fun and chemistry between cast members is a joy to just be around.
I cannot wait to immerse myself in this universe again and share these adventures, however lacking in actual substance they might be. And I am particularly encouraged that there is no charade here at making tings ‘darker’ or ‘bigger’, just because it is a part 2. The characters do appear to have moved on and developed.
Groot is now a baby tree and Drax is developing a sense of humour. But the essential dynamic between the team is the same as before and it just leaves you wanting more. The first film was a risk and a surprise hit; this sequel should be a surefire record breaking hit.
Hilarious. Nostalgic yet fresh. Sexy. Action packed. And The Rock proving he is not just a movie star but some sort of human miracle secret clone army who appears to be turning up in almost every big movie nowadays, without ever outstaying welcome. Zac Efron is shaping up to be a great leading man in his own right here; with comic timing fused to impossibly honed toight body abs. And the ladies seem rather lovely, too.
Granted, you will never top Pamela Anderson jogging down a beach in big bouncy buoyant slow motion; but they do at least reference that style of camera work in this very promising trailer. It’s meta, it’s self referential but it seems to still function as its own action-comedy, in 22 Jump Street mode.
Looks like they saved the best for last with this third trailer for the computer game adaptation, starring and produced by Michael Fassbender. Finally, we get a sense of cohesion and tone and pace and clearer explanation of what is going on and why (critical to those unfamiliar with the source material). There is too much Jeremy Irons, though and far too little Fassbender.
This should be a vehicle for Magneto in action and Fassbender should be showing off some quasi-007 chops here. But he’s in it surprisingly little and frankly could be replaced with almost any other actor of similar age /status/rank. That’s a shame because he deserves to be a massive star as much as he is the consummate actor.
Charlotte Rampling looks amazing here and arguably upstages Marion Cotillard. For the umpteenth time, Hollywood: Marion is just NOT suited to popcorn blockbusters; she’s the weak link in Dark Knight Rises and despite being a great actress is equally awkward here.
And I still don’t get why Jeremy Irons is placed so prominently here. Good actor; great villain; solid Alfred in Batman v Superman. But charming movie star selling point? No. So, the marketing alone, from start to finish, plus a terrible release date, might just consign this one to the near miss list in cinema opps of 2017. They are aiming for Raiders of the Lost Ark but I fear we are getting Terminator: Salvation.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Excellent viral launch campaign is followed by this so-so trailer. I don’t mean ‘bad’ so much as just ‘ok’. We get a sense that Woody Harrelson (always excellent) is playing the leader of the humans. But what’s less clear is whether we should see him as hero or villain? Of course, that might be the whole premise / point here? And if so: great, am willing to be corrected by the next trailer. That does not change the fact that it remains difficult to see what the story arc is here.
The title alone sort of gives things away. We just seem to lack the emotional innovation or clearly defined journey for both Apes and humans here (did I really just write that?). Action does look impressive as a direct extension of the previous films in this rebooted series, though at this rate, one wonders why they do not simply now just go straight into the mythology /imagery of the old series, though that is a pervasive problem for any reboot/remake/prequel. The quality of the first two films alone should ensure this is a hit.
FATE OF THE FURIOUS
Guilty pleasure. Kind of speaks for itself? Vin Diesel. The Rock. Jason Statham. Kurt Russell. Fast cars. Fun. This is the eighth Fast/Furious movie and whilst we are getting more of the same, there do seem a few new twists. Vin has gone bad, it seems? Tempted by the alluring Charlize Theron. Like you’d turn her down if she asked YOU to turn bad? Well, I would not turn her down, anyway.
And Vin is a great gangster style villain, always. There is no Paul Walker this time (God rest his soul), but a clear motif about ‘family’ pervades the trailer, thereby counting as a tribute of sorts. Lots of ice chases seem to be on the menu here; think Die Another Day without the invisibility.
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
What is the point in this film? Seriously. Yes, we know..make money. Fine! But at least try to be something more? Dark of the Moon (Transformers 3) did try to be more but just ended up as a convoluted mess. The best of the series was part one though. It was more, genuinely, than a cash-grab, functioning as a charming story about a boy and his car.
In short, the first film fused the Michael Bay action visuals (which are always a joy to just look at) to the Spielberg school of soulful innocence and adventure. Revenge of the Fallen (Transformers 2) was adolescent Red Bull on speed with neither coherence nor charm. Part 4 (whatever the bloody subtitle was) passable and acceptable but unremarkable and overlong.
Now, I’m assuming Spielberg is still nominal Exec Producer here on Transformers part FIVE? Bay is still the director. So why does this trailer begin with a shot of Nazi swastikas? Ah yes, because it’s an epic action adventure, with heraldic themes. And the Nazis were like evil versions of Arthurian lore.
Fine. Except that Spielberg expressly forbade the use of Nazis as throwaway baddies in popcorn blockbusters post Schindler’s List and he had Megan Fox fired from the third Transformers film for a throwaway comment comparing Michael Bay to Hitler. So: either Spielberg changed his standards very slightly or has little to any hands on involvement with this film, in which case..well let’s just say that does not bode well.
Even an Anthony Hopkins voice-over cannot seem to save this from being one Transformers too far; though I do have a kind of morbid curiosity about it and as ever, it is supremely bright special effects eye candy.
FIFTY SHADES DARKER
This is the second and presumably final trailer for the Christian Grey sequel. And again: I am both pleasantly surprised and thereby encouraged by the quality. Minimal reference to the loathsome odium and tedium of the BDSM nonsense. Far more emphasis on the idea that Grey is a billionaire with a secret life he has struggled with abandoning, only to have its legacy chase his attempts at normality?
Yes, that’s a departure from the book to some degree but I suspect even EL James would be fine with that. See, she wanted to write a Twilight novel and Fifty Shades started as fan fiction.
The bondage stuff was simply a ‘thing’ to give the hero because vampirism, spying or crime fighting were spoken for. And with a director as adept at the erotic thriller as James Foley, in Fifty Shades Darker, maybe we will get a movie that gives us the trappings of the Christian Grey life, without the awkward fixation on the BDSM?
Yes it has to be ‘there’ but the focus in the trailer seems yet again to be on mystery, thrills and an almost supernatural sheen beneath the surface. And if that does not excite you then maybe the thought of both Dakota Johnson AND Kim Basinger in one movie will? Feel free to check pulse now if you are still not curious..
ALL these lovely treats will be released in 2017. And yes, we will try and review them all, one by one, in turn. With bells attached. Oh and meantime? ‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Don’t do anything i WOULD do. And that grey area in between? That’s you’.