Dec 2, 2014

Trailer Dump: 2015 Sequel Edition

Sometimes my brain is tired, and I need to unwind with a good movie trailer. There's nothing like a 2-minute dose of movie wonder to jog me out of a funk. The spectacle! The CGI! The voice over work! The soaring score! The over-explaining of plot to the point that it ruins the movie! Thankfully, in the past few weeks, we have seen the releases of exciting trailers for movies that plenty of people are waiting to see, myself included. 2015, like 2014 before it, will be another year full of sequels, prequels, and reboots of some of the largest film franchises of all time. In an era increasingly defined by unearned nostalgia and Buzzfeed listicles, next year will possibly be the apex of our growing need to mix the new with the familiar. Let's take a look at what the new year has to offer, and judge harshly and preemptively:

Jurassic World
Release Date: June 12, 2015
I'm a huge fan of the first Jurassic Park movie (and the sequels too, to a lesser extent), so there's no way I'm not seeing this movie. Plus, Colin Trevorrow is at the helm, and he directed Safety Not Guaranteed, one of the most deftly handled lo-fi sci-fi films ever. On top of that, the trailer is gorgeous, highlighting the impressive dinosaurs, Michael Giacchino's beautiful handling of John Williams' score, and the lush landscape without giving away too much of the plot. Basically, though, it's all about human greed run amok, with the physical embodiment of that greed being the newest hybrid dinosaur cooked up by the peeps at InGen. The Jurassic Park franchise is built on this 'hybrid' conversation (female frog DNA mixed with Dino-DNA and whatnot), so I'm excited to see how they take it in a new direction in this film. However, the trailer is far from perfect. While Chris Pratt seems completely in his element, Bryce Dallas Howard still feels like a misstep on the part of the casting department. On top of that, the dialogue is pretty atrocious, and some of the CGI is... not great. The shark looks hella fake, and many of the dinosaurs lack a tactile quality, especially in the daytime scenes. Thankfully, darkness helps in making dinosaurs look real, and it's possible that we're not seeing the final version of these effects in this trailer. So, I'm hopeful that this will be a hoot and a half, but I'll settle for a hoot.
Grade: A-
Pitch Perfect 2
Release Date: May 15, 2015
I was less than excited when the trailer for Pitch Perfect 1 came out, and I loved that movie, so I hate to judge this trailer too harshly. Still, it's a little bit of a mess, with none of the scenes really gelling together to form a consistent whole. If the whole trailer was edited down to just the first minute of what we get here, I'd be pumped. It's got emotion, it's got singing, it's got a fart noise. After that, though, it looks like a clip reel of diminishing returns. Anna Kendrick is still fantastic as Beca, but Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy character seems played out, and blink-and-you'll-miss-her Hailee Steinfeld feels like an unnecessary addition to an already packed ensemble. Still, I reserve the right to be unabashedly in love with this movie when it hits theaters in five months.
Grade: B-
Release Date: March 13, 2015
I really wanted to like Maleficent when it came out this year, but I left the theater underwhelmed and bored. They took an amazing villain and neutered her, stripping of everything that made her great in the first place. Disney f*cked up. With their newest cartoon-to-live-action film, it seems like they've course-corrected with a film that's less revisionist and more plain, old-fashioned remake. It's a beautiful-looking film (directed by Kenneth Branagh) that doesn't sacrifice story for spectacle. Plus, the casting is on point (en pointe?), with Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchett sinking their teeth into roles perfectly fit for their acting styles, and adding Captain America's Hayley Atwell into the story as Ella's mother is a nice touch. However, Lily James as Ella gives me pause, Prince Charming (played by Richard Madden) has eyes that are distractingly blue, and the trailer gives away way too much of the plot (everyone knows the story backwards and forwards by now, but still). Hopefully the costuming and choreography alone will be enough to forgive what we can only assume will be some sub-standard acting and overwrought dialogue.
Grade: C
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Release Date: December 18, 2015
This movie is still more than a year away, and that makes me angry. A long time ago in this galaxy, George Lucas created Star Wars, the film franchise that raised me to expect more from cinema, with complicated characters and fantastic stories wrapped in a fantasy epic that even Ewoks couldn't ruin. Then he took a shit on the franchise with three films so terrible that they made me hate Natalie Portman, and nobody should ever hate Natalie Portman. She's a gift. We should treasure her. Thankfully, Disney has put the newest Star Wars film into the hands of J.J. Abrams, a man who saved Mission: Impossible from the not-good second film, woke the sleeping giant that was the Star Trek franchise, and created Alias, my favorite television series of all time. That's a long way of saying that I trust him to do justice to the movies I love, and he seems to be on the right track with this trailer. It's suspenseful, it taps into nostalgia in just the right way, and there's a Millenium Falcon (albeit in the most egregiously overdone CGI sequence in the trailer). Even with a dumb tri-saber and soccer ball droids, I'm pumped.
Grade: A
Furious 7
Release Date: April 3, 2015
In what appears to be the final film in the Fast and Furious franchise, everything is on the table. This trailer is like the circus... in tents intense.  The F&F films are a mixed bag, with 1, 2, and 5 standing out to me as favorites. Off the glorious ridiculousness of Fast 5, the filmmakers overshot a bit with the sixth movie, creating something that was more dumb than dumb-fun. Thankfully, the seventh installment seems to be a return to form. Obviously, the whole movie is overshadowed by the death of Paul Walker, but this trailer only hints at that rather than jamming the emotion down your throat. There are some cracker-jack action scenes, nothing really makes sense, Jordana Brewster is crying, and Vin Diesel and The Rock are still America's greatest actors who also have muscles the size of toucans. Adding Jason Statham and Kurt Russell into the mix is just icing on the cake.
Grade: B+/A+

That's all for Trailer Dump. Get thee to the cinema!
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