Archive for the 'Films' Category
Filed under Films, Trailers; 1 comment.
The summer movie season kicks off this week, with dozens of big-budget blockbusters maintaining the momentum through Labor Day. Although our attention may be piqued by many films, from Pacific Rim to The Wolverine to Now You See Me, only three film have bubbled to the top of my must-see list. For each one, I am cautiously optimistic, as each has the potential to be awesome — or to soar too close to the sun and plummet spectacularly.
I have purposely avoided trailers for each of these three films. If the purpose of a trailer is to sell its audience on seeing the movie, then mission accomplished: I'm sold. Many trailers do so by featuring the film's best moments, and I'd prefer to avoid such spoilers and see them in context. If you're of a similar mindset, you're welcome to skip over the trailers embedded below.
Despite ignoring these media, I've still absorbed critical details about each of the films. So here is my breakdown, which I'd like you to use to answer the question: If you could see only one movie this summer, what would it be: Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, or Man of Steel?
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
- Jon Favreau, director of the excellent Iron Man, is not at the helm of this sequel. How good can it be?
- Jon Favreau, director of the mediocre Iron Man 2, is not at the helm of this sequel. How bad can it be?
- Written by Shane Black, who also wrote the excellent Robert Downey Jr. noir comedy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
- It's been only a year since we last saw Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark; his Avengers teammate, Thor, is also returning to the silver screen later this year. Is Marvel running the risk of saturating the superhero genre?
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
- Likely J.J. Abrams' swan song in Gene Roddenberry's universe before he departs to play in George Lucas's sandbox.
- Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain — but do we know yet what character that is? Could Paramount be playing this too close to the chest?
- Star Trek XI was the highest-grossing Star Trek movie of all time; it earned almost as much as Star Trek Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis combined. Can lightning strike twice?
Man of Steel (June 14)
- The first Superman film reboot since Christopher Reeve's 1978 movie.
- Smallville was on the air for a decade before signing off in 2011. Is it too soon for more Superman? Or is this just the right time to capitalize on the character before he fades from public consciousness?
- Directed by Zack Snyder, who's had mixed critical success with past films 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch.
- Produced by Christopher Nolan, who directed the recent Dark Knight trilogy. He knows how to make a superhero relevant and cool — but Batman and Superman are the dark and the light. Will Superman become a brooding badass?
- The film's title does not actually say "Superman", in much the way the first seasons of Enterprise did not include "Star Trek". That didn't work out so well, either. Are the producers trying to cast this as something it's not?
- This film holds the potential to set up a Justice League team-up movie. If well-executed, could DC finally begin to rival Marvel in silver screen popularity?
Fortunately, we can have our cake and eat it, too: I'll be seeing all three of these films in due time. What about you?
Filed under Star Trek, Trailers; Comments Off on We Are the Explorers
Next month sees the return of several important sci-fi franchises to the silver screen: Star Trek, Superman, and Iron Man. Possibly the most important, the most relevant, of the three is Star Trek, as Gene Roddenberry's vision has long prognosticated the future, inspiring generations of scientists and explorers.
It is with that dream in mind that the Aerospace Industries Association has created a trailer promoting the past and future work of NASA, to be aired before next month's Star Trek Into Darkness. Said Dan Hendrickson, Director of Space Systems for the AIA:
When the Space Shuttle landed for the last time, we noticed that a public misconception seemed to be taking hold that the U.S. human spaceflight program was closed for good. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, more vehicles are being developed right now for human spaceflight than at any other point in history. Placing a trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness was the perfect opportunity to show that U.S. human spaceflight is alive and well, and that we’re making real, tangible progress toward an exciting future in space. We can leave audiences with a very simple message: NASA today, Starfleet tomorrow.
The trailer to be aired in theaters will be a 30-second version of "We Are the Explorers":
I find this spot inspirational (if a bit melodramatic) and reminiscent of both the opening sequence of Enterprise and the previous fans campaigns to save that series, which argued that Star Trek isn't just about entertainment; it's about motivating humanity to reach for the stars. Like NASA's previous PSAs, the above video has its own star power, being narrated by Peter Cullen, better known as the voice of Optimus Prime (and, less relevantly, Eeyore and Venger).
To produce a condensed trailer and buy airtime in theaters across the country, AIA went the crowdfunding route, giving fans the opportunity to participate in the evangelization of space exploration. The original goal of $33,000, which would put the commercial in fifty theaters, was reached in under a week. Their new goal is $94,000, "which would ensure that the space program trailer will play on 750 total screens and in at least one theater in every state across the U.S." according to StarTrek.com. You can contribute to the Indiegogo campaign until May 1.
Filed under Films, Television; Comments Off on Game of Thrones: The good parts version
I read George R. R. Martin's maiden voyage into his Song of Ice and Fire franchise, and though I enjoyed the detailed and political world he crafted, I was not swept away. As a result, I've not found myself riveted to the television show or reading the rest of the series' novels.
A fantasy world that was also adapted to live action but which has entranced me is The Princess Bride. William Goldman's 1973 adaptation of S. Morgernstern's classic tale (the original of which I've still not found… huh) is as wonderful, whimsical, and dashing in literature as it is starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, and André the Giant.
So timeless, so enduring is that fairy tale that I can't help but wonder how much more successful the already flourishing Game of Thrones series would be if it adapted some of Goldman's more creative literary devices. Namely: What if the book Peter Falk read to Fred Savage was Martin's?
Having read the first book (the equivalent of seeing the show's first season), I encountered no spoilers in this video, only delight — and inspiration. My nephew recently turned five; how long before I can start reading my version of Martin's epic battle scenes to him? But, ah, kids these days — maybe the video game would be more his speed.
(Hat tip to Lauren Davis)
Filed under Films; Comments Off on Tis the season to Die Hard
When folks ask me what my favorite Christmas movies are, I turn to a stable of reliable hits: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; Jimmy Stewart's It's a Wonderful Life; and … Die Hard.
Yes, Bruce Willis's violent defense of Nakatomi Tower from Hans Gruber and his personal militia is indeed a holiday film, set as it is on Christmas Eve. The sequel occurred in the same season, but the second and fourth Die Hard films moved away from that synchronicity — with a fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, set to do the same. In fact, it mixes up not only the time but also the place by being set in Russia, in much the way the seventh and final Police Academy film went to Moscow. Certainly that series didn't jump the shark…
If you're missing your annual dose of holiday havoc and can't wait for Valentine's Day for Bruce Willis to tear up the screen, look no further than Tom Ridgway to give you your dose of festive fight scenes. TomSka, creator of the silly "asdf" animations, goes after St. Nick himself in Christmas Destruction:
Filed under Trailers; 2 comments.
Tis the season for superhero reboots: Spider-Man got his this past summer, and the Fantastic Four will get a makeover in 2015. Between those two will be the most iconic superhero of them all. Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton, will become Clark Kent, then Superman, this June 14 in Man of Steel, an original film directed by Zack Snyder (300), produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), and written by David Goyer (Blade II, Jumper, The Dark Knight, Ghost Rider 2). With teasers having been released at this past July's Comic-Con, it wasn't until this week that the masses got their first glimpse of Metropolis' defender with this full trailer:
Man of Steel is the first Superman film (if it can be considered that, given the movie's title's lack of nomenclature) to not be based Christopher Reeve's interpretation since he made that role manifest in 1978. Bryan Singer's 2006 sequel was both empowered and limited by its adherence to continuity, and though I seem to be one of the few who enjoyed Brandon Routh in the role, even I agree it's time for an original retelling.
And that we'll get: Snyder's version appears to focus away from the action and more on the character. Although there are hints of super-powered villains, the film's tension appears to originate from the identity crisis Kal experiences. Is he an alien, a Kansan, or a Samaritan? How will he balance his responsibilities to himself, his family, and his world? It doesn't sound like the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster, yet with such a storied production crew behind it, Man of Steel has potential to deliver the movie franchise back into the sun.
Filed under Trailers; Comments Off on Shuffle: A life out of order
The answer is Shuffle, a 2011 film from writer and director Kurt Kuenne, creator of the Showbits Summer Shorts pieces Rent-a-Person and Validation. Kuenne reunites with Validation star T.J. Thyne for Shuffle, a mystery about a man living his life out of order for a reason he has to decipher — before it's too late. Here's the trailer for the film that production studio Theatre Junkies describes as "Twilight Zone meets Frank Capra":
Kuenne's previous shorts were so sincere and touching that I'm eager to see how he manifests the human condition in Shuffle. The film was released this past August to home video, streaming via Netflix, and rental from iTunes and other services.
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.
The Lord of the Rings made for an epic cinematic tale that debuted in the 2001 holiday season, becoming an annual tradition until the trilogy's conclusion in 2003.
Now we have another three years of J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations to look forward to, as this December 14 sees the premiere of the first of three movies based on The Hobbit, the tale that precedes LotR. (It's not a prequel, as The Hobbit was written first.)
Three movies from only one book is possible because we'll be seeing many of the sequences and scenes that were only hinted at in the original narrative. If you wondered where various characters disappeared to while the story followed the main party, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy will fill in those gaps. Although skeptics and pundits may decry this elongation as a desperate money grab, one must admit that it's a darn effective one: who's going to see just two-thirds of this tale, especially given previous successes in the series?
Back when the original trailer was released, The Hobbit was still envisioned as a duology. The latest trailer is the first to preview the trilogy and shows more of the scenes that are unique to the film:
I'll be in line on or near each of the three opening nights. What about you?
(Hat tip to Jason Schreier)
Filed under Humor, Trailers; Comments Off on The Hobbit trailer, real and literal
I'm a fan of The Lord of the Rings — the movies, not the books — and not obsessively so. I saw each of the three movies the weekend they were released, followed by the director's cuts back-to-back in a marathon session seven years ago. But the tale didn't begin with Fellowship of the Ring, and neither did the marathon: we started with Rankin's animated movie, The Hobbit, which I'd seen many times as a child. It's a fun movie and the best in an overall poor series of animated adaptations of JRR Tolkien's books.
It seems the only way we'll have the complete tale in a single medium, animated or live action, is to target the anomalous entry in the above marathon for replacement. Peter Jackson is happy to oblige beginning December 14, 2012, with the first of the two movies, the first being The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
This is not technically a prequel, as it was written before Fellowship, but it is indeed set many decades before that 2001 film. Some things remain constant, however: just as the previous trilogy is greatly enhanced by RiffTrax, so too has The Hobbit already begun attracting its satirists:
Like the literal trailer and its lyrics? You can get the song on iTunes for only 99 cents! Good grief.
I eagerly await this return to Middle-Earth and all the good humor it portends.