The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners
For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one! So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!
Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.
I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much. Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies. It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero. That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking. The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer. I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part. I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer. If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.
Directed by James Wan; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) also known as Aquaman has avoided his duties as the Prince of Atlantis which has allowed his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) to take control and is now planning to wage war with the surface world. Now only Arthur and the warrior Mera (Amber Heard) have a chance of stopping him from potentially destroying both Atlantis and the world above.
If SHAZAM! has anything going for it, it at least is VERY distinct when compared to this movie which frankly looks like every other DCCU film; not necessarily the WORST of those as there’s a clear attempt to make it more fun and cartoonish than the Zach Snyder films, but the overreliance on CG, the angst ridden protagonist, and the whole FATE OF THE WORLD cliché are all present and accounted for here. We already saw what the DCCU formula can do when put into the right hands with Wonder Woman so there’s certainly potential here even if what I’m seeing isn’t quite on that same level. Momoa is fine if still kind of stiff (he doesn’t seem NEARLY as natural delivering jokes as Zachary Levi), and the sheer amount of sunlight this is a breath of fresh air, but there’ a whole lot of sound and fury here that doesn’t seem to signify all that much. Honestly, the copious use of flashbacks and the whole DESTINED CHILD OF TWO WORLDS thing is a tad bit too reminiscent of Man of Steel, but hopefully this new corner the DCCU is supposedly turning will not only include small scale oddities like SHAZAM! and groundbreaking classics of the genre like Wonder Woman, but can also be solid summer blockbusters as well. I mean sure they’re releasing this in December, but I don’t see any Star Wars or Marvel films coming out then, so there’ll certainly be a spot to fill!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Directed by Michael Dougherty; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Toho
The world is falling into chaos as environmental catastrophes not only threaten humanity but the rest of life on the planet. Seemingly as a way to stop us before we destroy ourselves, the Monsters of the world which includes Godzilla, Mothra, and king Ghidorah, have awoken to wreak havoc on civilization and possibly put an end to us all.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit too much plot in this one. I mean isn’t this the series that brought us space alien gorillas, a pirate island guarded by a giant crab, and a King Kong that was even bigger than he was in his own film? That was my problem with the Godzilla reboot and what felt so refreshing about Kong: Skull Island; both of which are supposed to be continuity with this one. I mean look, the goal of a trailer is to sell us on the movie and this trailer just didn’t do that. It still treats the monsters (renamed in this one to Titans), like they’re some giant mystery instead of what should be occupying the screen eighty-five percent of the run time. Heck, we already got a REALLY good ground level Godzilla movie with Shin Godzilla, so this can play all the choir music it wants but I’m just not sold on another US monster movie that doesn’t want to have monsters in it. That said I DO want to see how this plays in a theater because the most praise I can heap on this is that the scale of the monsters is PHENOMENAL! Even watching it on YouTube, you can just FEEL the magnitude of some of these creatures and maybe that’ll be pushed to the forefront more so than this trailer is letting on.
Alita: Battle Angel
Directed by Robert Rodriguez; Owned by 20th Century Fox
A robot girl known as Alita (Rosa Salazar) is recovered and restored by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) in the far off future dystopia of Iron City. However, there’s more to Alita than even she knows and she soon finds herself being pursued by others who want her all to themselves; leaving her no choice to but to fight them and learn about her past in the process.
So… Ghost in the Shell, but GOOD this time? I mean at the very least the damn thing knows to throw in a bunch more over the top action which the former film was lacking, but I’m still not so sure about this movie. For one thing, while we haven’t heard as much about it as we did with Ghost in the Shell, there’s still no denying that whitewashing is in effect here with there being very few actors of Asian descent in this despite being from a Japanese source; especially when it comes to the two leads with Rosa Salazar looks great in the movie with very interesting and slightly unnerving CG enhancements but is not of Asian descent, and Christoph Waltz who I always love to see in a movie but is playing a character’s name was westernized from Daisuke to Dyson. Outside of that, I think the movie LOOKS really great with some brilliant visuals and set pieces, but I’m still not getting a real sense of the story despite this being the second trailer so far. She’s apparently a robot that’s THE LAST OF HER KIND, but there are other robots running around all over the place, and she finds another body to use in a spaceship… so does that make her an alien? I have no idea, but at least there seems to be enough robot-on-robot violence to tune it out if the story is truly that lackluster.
Directed by M Night Shyamalan; Owned by 20th Century Fox
David Dunn, Kevin Crumb, and Elijah Price (Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, and Samuel L Jackson) find themselves under the same roof in a psychiatric facility as the patients of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who wants to help them get over their obsessions with being super heroes and villains. This may prove more difficult than initially thought however as putting Kevin and Elijah in the same place turns out to be a bad idea as they start working together on some great nefarious scheme and David may just be the only one who can stop them.
Speaking of problematic movies, I still REALLY enjoyed Split but there’s no denying the fact that it paints Dissociative Identity Disorder in a PAINFULLY contemptuous light and doesn’t do enough to separate Kevin’s heinous actions and murderous tendencies from DID itself. That’s the thing with Shyamalan. He always shoots for the moon, but more often than not falls short due to his lack of subtlety or restraint when it comes to realizing his ambitions. Now we have what might be his most ambitious movie yet as he’s finally making that sequel to Unbreakable he’s been keeping on the back burner for nearly two decades. To put it simply, it certainly looks like another Shyamalan movie which I have a very special place in my heart for. Sadly though it seems he’s doubled down PRETTY hard on McAvoy’s outlandishly sinister performance which means it’s gonna be THAT much more distasteful if he doesn’t do the right thing of keeping his DID completely separate from THE BEAST that Bruce Willis is gonna have to fight. Now aside from that, I actually love the idea of trying to ground an idea as absurd as a superhero team up movie (or at least a team up for the villains) into as down to Earth terms as possible, and the execution looks to be utterly fascinating if nothing else. I haven’t seen Unbreakable in a VERY long time so I’ll defiantly need to find time for it between now and January, but this looks to be about as natural (if exaggerated) an extension of the themes of that movie as possible, and I honestly can’t wait to see it; ESPECIALLY if it turns out to be another train wreck! Say what you will about Shyamalan, you at least
So what do you all think? Do these films look great? Do they look terrible? Let me know in the comments below!