Let’s play pundit for a minute!
You know what I would love? For my brain and being to be able to focus for extended periods of time so that I can start pumping out proper length articles on a consistent basis again. In lieu of a stable enough emotional state to make that happen, however, why don’t we try something easy, light, and a blatant attempt to try and pick up some bandwagon traffic for a bit, and voice some opinions on a bunch of Comic Con trailers and news that are totally not going to be representative of their final products so any legitimate analysis is basically an impossibility anyway!
I kid! Kinda. Although I’ve mostly shunned trailers over the last couple of years – as most of them are basically spoiler reels, and having to see the same ones three times in the space of 8 hours when you’re doing Cinema Days can very quickly sand down any enthusiasm one may have for a good one – I do still enjoy a good trailer. There’s an art to a well-made piece of hype and, every now and again, a few genuinely great ones break through the cracks and get me legitimately pumped for a film without also feeling like I’ve seen everything it has to offer. So, with that in mind, and a reminder that I have lost a lot of enthusiasm for superhero movies as of late, let’s examine what relatively little came out of San Diego Comic Con this year!
This actually looks really, really good. I mean, the “where I’m from we call that slavery” line feels super White Feminism, but otherwise this looks almost Best Case Scenario. Gal Gadot, as in Batman v Superman even though she did absolutely nothing (not her fault), physically embodies Diana perfectly, the visual design is like a cross between the first Thor and the first Captain America but in a way that actually creates a unique feel rather than just feeling like its apparent influences, the tone is already far more hopeful and mature than Zack Snyder’s latest attempt to fellate a Frank Miller book, and director Patty Jenkins manages so many excellent shots where a costumed Wonder Woman is primarily displayed as a strong and powerful warrior, downplaying the sexualisation almost totally, which makes me so very gleeful.
So, yeah, this actually looks really, really good so I am now immediately suspicious. Much like with Suicide Squad’s trailers (the SDCC one of which I have not watched because it’s out in a week so why bother), an actually good looking DC film has me actively cautious for I am nothing if not adept at pattern recognition. Wonder Woman currently looks amazing but, based on past evidence, that could also mean that the finished product is a complete garbage fire, so I’m going to temper my expectations regardless. At least then, if it’s bad, I won’t have to be disappointed!
OK, I am back on board. That first trailer gave off the very distinct impression that Sausage Party’s entire gimmick was going to be swearing and hardcore animated violence, sacrificing the super-fertile (if a few years too late to fully capitalise) ground of ripping the piss out of modern CG animation and Pixar in particular in the process. Fortunately, whilst swearing and violence do appear to still be a big part of the final film, I’m definitely picking up a lot more on that parody aspect, plus a possible extra undercurrent about religious faith, too, so I’m a bit more confident that there’s more going on here than we’ve been sold. That’s all I really want, cos Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg movies are without a doubt the most dependable in modern comedy – if they’re involved, you’re basically guaranteed at least a decent time, they are remarkably consistent – and I’d hate to see them stumble, and then get fixated, on the obvious joke here.
Character designs are still incredibly unappealing, mind.
Inception 2 is looking pretty good. I don’t really have much to add here. The possibility of mind-bending visuals and playing around with different realities are cool, but this is also going to be The Marvel Movie – because Marvel don’t know how, or more likely can’t be arsed, to make anything other than The Marvel Movie by now – so things likely won’t get anywhere near as crazy as I would like. Also, they’ll waste Mads Mikkelson like they’ve wasted every other non-Loki villain so far and that fact upsets me. Also also, Benedict Cumberbatch is here and I mostly just don’t like him for reasons I can’t quite articulate but feel nonetheless.
Marvel’s Luke Cage
OK, I apparently need to start watching Marvel’s Netflix shows yesterday if this is any indication.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Why in God’s name did you people not go and watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. last year, you cretins?! That’s not just me yelling about U.N.C.L.E. cos Guy Ritchie has also made this, I’m yelling because much of this trailer feels like Ritchie has stapled his U.N.C.L.E. aesthetic onto the King Arthur legend and the results feel very, very weird. Actually, that’s probably being unfair on Ritchie. The problem is not that he’s copying over the U.N.C.L.E. feel, the unfortunate problem is that U.N.C.L.E. was such an absolutely perfect fit for Ritchie and his sensibilities that any more Hollywood films he makes are going to feel like he’s painfully trying to apply that formula to other works. And that’s a shame, cos Guy Ritchie still makes Guy Ritchie movies and he can’t help that he stumbled upon the absolute perfect canvas for him to apply that Guy Ritchie style to. It’s Sorkin and Fincher all over again.
So, yeah, weird-feeling trailer and not in a good way. That said, I am now more interested in this project now that it’s no longer just words and names on a paper and I have some actual footage to chew on. Awkward fit for the material or not, I do still like me some well-done Guy Ritchie movies, especially since they have such an idiosyncratic feel compared to the rest of the Hollywood machine, and I am curious to see whether he can manage what Paul Feig and James Gunn (to name just two) couldn’t and keep his identity front-and-centre during the inevitable studio-mandated fireworks-filled final third.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Ugh. UGH! This thing. Look, I don’t get Harry Potter. I have never gotten Harry Potter. I didn’t get it when it was first a thing. I watched all of the films in a marathon leading up to the seventh (cos seeing it was part of a school trip and I never turn down the chance to watch a free movie) then saw the eighth opening weekend and found them to be fine with some even great but completely forgot about them all a good week later. I certainly haven’t gotten their continued cultural cache and staying power, as J.K. Rowling spends her days milking the thing well past its udders turning black and falling off in often the most offensively pandering ways possible, not when many infinitely superior – OK, one infinitely superior – Young Adult franchises and authors have come along since. I don’t get it. I just do not get it.
And I especially do not get Warner Bros.’ blatant attempt to Hobbit-ise a 128 page plotless supplementary guidebook into a business plan for the studio to remain profitable for the next 6 years. And I hate Eddie Redmayne, the talentless mugging hack, with the kind of intensity I used to reserve for Jai Courtney. And David Yates is an appalling director, as proven conclusively by his utterly incompetent work on The Legend of Tarzan. And this trailer has provided exactly zero compelling counter-arguments for my viewpoints, there is quite literally nothing here for people who don’t already adore Harry Potter, which I think Warner Bros. are soon going to find to be a bit of a problem if they want to build a new trilogy off of this thing.
At the risk of sounding like an unpleasable git, this feels like way too much of an overcorrection. If the only thing Warner Bros. took away from the total public revilement of Batman v Superman was, “we need to be more like Marvel,” then they’re even fucking stupider than I thought. Again, I’m cautiously excited for Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad not just because they don’t look to be as nihilistic-teenage-boy-having-a-temper-tantrum as BvS, but because they appear to have unique identities unique from Marvel. If I’m going to have to sit through 12 million different superhero movies between now and the heat death of the universe, they need to all have separate identities beyond “Marvel But Not.” And if they could maybe not be so outwardly or insidiously fascistic, that’d also be great.
“More jokes” is such a surface-level piece of advice that doesn’t actually address any of the underlying problems with BvS and instead just creates more problems of its own. I’m amazed that that was the best an entire studio full of filmmaking experts could come up with, I’m in actual disbelief. Meanwhile, the Bruce Wayne/Barry Allen scenes are so nakedly trying to be Tony Stark/Peter Parker from Civil War that it’s physically painful to watch. “Hey, everyone! You liked that bit in that Marvel movie? Well we at DC now have one of our own! Please dear God just like us again, we’re begging you!” Now, more than any other film covered today, this footage has been precision-calculated to score WB and DC a big PR coup to make it appear like they’re listening to fan complaints, and the finished film will almost definitely just be another Zack Snyder film instead of the thing that’s being advertised. Therefore, I have pencilled in “Watch another part of my soul die” for November 17th 2017.
I have absolutely no idea what this actually is as I haven’t read the book and have only been interested because the name Bryan Fuller is attached to it – which, as reasons to be interested in a project go, is a pretty damn bloody good reason – but this looks visually gorgeous and has Ian McShane, so I am so very much there!
Kong: Skull Island
Sooo… does everyone involved with this know that they’ve tripled down on the colonialism subtext of the King Kong story? I hope they do, cos this will now be the third time in 18 months that Warner Bros. have loaded the first entry in what they hope will be a crowd-pleasing franchise with colonialist themes and I would like for them, just once, to not royally fuck it up in a horrifying fashion. Is that too much to ask I don’t think that’s too much to ask it’s probably too much to ask. Other than that… it looks really pretty? …I don’t really have much here, folks, this trailer doesn’t do much for me. I would also like to remind Hollywood that there are plenty of talented black actors not named Samuel L. Jackson that they could also hire to play black roles in blockbusters. Just putting that out there.
The Lego Batman Movie
This is looking like the absolute best thing that WB DC have ever done or will ever do by a country mile. No, scratch that, by a continental mile. I mean, just watch it! Watch the damn thing again! What else could I add that wouldn’t be completely redundant?
My 4 thoughts in the order that they occurred.
1] FUCKIN’ YYYYYEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!! (*cries with joy for 10 uninterrupted minutes*)
2] Dammit, I should have had my first thought be, “Yeah, it’s, uh, not really something I can put into words.” I have failed at The Internet!
3] I still would have vastly preferred this news be broken by having had Carol Danvers appearing in the Doctor Strange post-credits scene, as played by Brie Larson. In this day and age of everything related to a superhero movie being announced well in advance of the actual film even being shot, and plastered over every single news outlet so as to make going on a blackout near-impossible, genuine surprise is sorely lacking in the superhero movie genre and I would have loved Marvel if they at least tried to put that element back in. Would it all have leaked before then? Almost definitely, but they would have tried and that would have counted for something.
4] lol like they’re ever actually gonna make Captain Marvel! I’m sure they’ll get right on that in 2031 when Vision III: Vision Hardest has been released.
Oh, dear GOD, NO. NO. NO NO. NO. NO. NO NO NO NO. NO. NONONONONONONONONONONONO. STOP. OH NO GOD. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. All of this, every single last part of this, is the worst idea ever and it’s barely even an idea at this point. No. Just, God, NO. STOP.
Can somebody also please go and forcibly beat the point into Warner Bros.’ collective head that the Looney Tunes don’t work at feature-length? Those characters, every last one of them, only work in concentrated bursts of 7 to 9 minutes of gags at a time. The shorts format is their true home. They can’t evolve, they can’t go on arcs, they can’t change. They’re basically a sketch comedy troupe. Yes, Back In Action was a hell of a lot of fun, but it also proved that you can’t do Looney Tunes at feature-length. You stretch them outside of 7 to 9 minutes, you end up screwing with the formula and turning them into something they’re not designed for, and they flail. Or, in blunter terms: this is why they’ve never truly worked since Mel Blanc died. Times changed, the medium of animation evolved, but the Looney Tunes physically cannot.
But back on topic: NO. STOP. PLEASE.
And so ends this fun little exercise of deflating a load of hype balloons. This honestly felt like a weirdly quiet Comic Con, this year. I don’t know if that’s a problem with the film industry, my getting older and my tastes shifting, or the convention getting back to its comic roots, but there you go. And, hey, this ended up taking a while to write, too, so maybe this can signal a return to form for this site after all! Most likely not, but you gotta be optimistic about some things, otherwise what’s the point, really?
Callum Petch is ready to crack as he raises his hands to the sky. Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!