The holiday season is all about giving. While for most of us, this means a clumsily-worded Moonpig and a hastily-purchased gift card, in MovieLand it means trailers: sackfuls of them.
In an attempt to both spread some Christmas cheer AND ride the wave of movie hysteria caused by the biggest film of a generation (hint: it’s the one about space), distributors have gone totally mad for 3-minute promotions. There have been so many videos to consume in the last couple of weeks, that new movie trailers are becoming the pop-culture equivalent of your 5-a-day. Trouble is, so many films look so alike these days, that once you have fully digested all the videos, they come out the other end of your brain (to tritely continue the nutritional metaphor) resembling a uniform pile of poo poo.
So, in what may become a regular feature (I’ve said that before), let us chew on the latest promos and squeeze out the bad stuff…
Or, ‘Bureaucracy With Biceps’. On reflection, The Winter Soldier was one of Marvel’s strongest films to date, largely because, in the wake of Snowden, its snooping satire seemed rather prescient. After the destruction caused from Age of Ultron (not just to Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s career) someone has decided that superheroes need to start filling in forms and going to INSET days… or something like that. In truth, this all looks very promising: Chris Evans is a perfect Cap, and his moral dilemma faced here is genuinely interesting and seems to be poignantly written (try not having a lump in your throat after the ‘So was I’ line…). The problem, as ever, will be how all these heroes avoid stepping on each others’ toes. Black Panther, seen here sprinting like a jungle cat, might be sidelined, and what of Ant-Man and the new Peter Parker?
Or, ‘We Need Some More Characters Up In Here’. There has already been much controversy about Zach Snyder’s sequel/origin story/apology, mainly regarding how the trailer seems to filter an entire three-act narrative into 3 minutes. Honestly, this promo stinks of a distributor which is shitting in its tight red underpants. Iron Man and his pals over at Marvel currently have DC in a Krptonite-powered choke-hold, and the latter have panicked. You would have thought that the title of this film would sell itself, but instead this reveal-all trailer relentlessly throws new characters and plot developments at the wall, including the unveiling of Doomsday, who appears to tie Wayne and Kent together. Spokespeople have claimed in recent days that they haven’t given the whole game away: for starters, we haven’t seen Aquaman or Cyborg, plus they have promised an ‘even bigger threat that Doomsday’. What’s that then: Netflix?
Or, ‘Bumble In The Jungle’. A weirdly uneven trailer, this, that seems unsure whether to focus on reminding people who Tarzan is, or on a swashbuckling, sweeping romance between Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie. We don’t hear too much here from the king of the swingers, but this seems to retain some of the ‘Two Worlds, One Family’ narrative explored by Disney (albeit with much less Phil Collins). My main issue here is one of typecasting. Christophe Waltz recently phoned in his performance as a European baddie in Spectre, and it seems that he is climbing on the same vine here. Similarly, I can already hear the Guardian journos taking a sharp intake of breath, itching their fingers at the opportunity to write about Djimon Hounsou doing his ubiquitous ‘rent-a-savage’ schtick.
Or, ‘X-Position Favoured For Mystique’. Thanks to some inter-cutting between explosions and Rose Byrne, this is a horribly narrative trailer that feels less like Armageddon and more like a soft pat on the head from a patronising relative. Yes, we get it, Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse has some (ancient) history, but can’t we work it all out on the night? It seems that, like First Class, too many mutants are going to spoil the gene pool; we have increasingly seen this franchise sideline interesting new characters in order to prop up Our Queen and Saviour, Her Royal Katniss Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and Oscar Isaac still looks like Ivan Ooze; hardly the Apocalypse Wow we have been promised.
Or, ‘Welcome To Earth (Again)’. Yes, Bill Pullman’s interrupted speech is a nice touch, but this looks largely like a victory lap of a film that could be an almost shot-for-shot remake. Blue filters, sci-fi dogfights and shooting into dry ice all feature here, cementing Resurgence as a kind of tribute act to the 1996 original’s ageing rock star. Part of the beauty of the first film was its dedication to a multi-faith, multi-cultural ensemble cast, showing that, when aliens want a war, it really don’t matter if you’re black or white (or Jewish, or a stripper, or a hill-billy). I will be interested to see if this sequel retains its focus on family drama; the increased screen-time for space walks and Jeff Goldblum reciting variations of ‘Uh-oh’ suggest not…
Or, ‘Live Long And Faster’. With that other Star film just around the corner, it’s easy to forget that the USS Enterprise will be revving up next to the Millennium Falcon within six months. In truth, we aren’t used to Starfleet vessels doing much revving, but with The Fast and the Furious’s Justin Lin at the helm, it seems as though much of this sequel will be in warp speed. Critics complained about the length of the runway in Fast 6, and here that issue is resolved by replacing the track with lightyears of dark nothingness. Still, it would appear that, true to Starfleet protocol, there will be much more in the way of strange new worlds, new life and new civilisations, including Idris Elba’s cultish villain. With lots of on-planet action, it will be nice to see Kirk, Spock and Co have the space to breathe a bit, aided no doubt by the fizziness of Simon Pegg’s script.