Some Gems, Some Crap

Fall 2018 Trailer Collective

Although in the past I've done articles about specific movie trailers that have come out, it was usually to gripe about some random detail in the trailer that bothered me. However, by and large I don't tend to like doing articles about every new trailer that comes out largely because a trailer may not be indicative about how good the actual movie may be. I've seen plenty of crappy trailers that didn't know how to sell a good movie just like I've seen a fair number of good trailers that lied about what the movie would eventually be. So we're going to avoid that going forward.

Instead, I have a list of movies I'm planning to see in the next few months. We're going to do a little "trailer roundup" to look at those movies and get a feel for if they're worth our time or not (although, obviously, I'll end up seeing them regardless so I have content for the site). Think of this as your "Fall/Winter Movie Preview".

The films, in order of release date, are:

Comes Out: October 5, 2018

As you likely know, Venom is one of the most popular anti-heroes/villains from the Spider-Man comics. Originally created as part of a "What If" series that launched after their first Secret Wars (wherein Spider-Man lost his traditional blue-and-red suit and got a black one instead), the storyline posited the question of "what if the black suit were a symbiote". This idea took off, and Venom was born.

Because Sony currently has the movie rights to Spidey and all his associated characters, the studio can make any movies they want with the characters. Spidey is, of course, currently tied up in the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe., so he can't be in any side-project film Sony makes. Sony, though, has wanted to make a Venom movie for quite some time, so Spidey or no, we're getting one.

There are actually two trailers (Trailer #1, Trailer #2) for Venom so far. The first focused on main character Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a reporter digging into an evil corporation before, somehow, getting the symbiote attached to him. He then learns about the creature living on him, and they come to a kind of accord for how they play to use their new powers. The second trailer, though, focused more on the interaction between Eddie and Venom as well as hinting at a larger plot about multiple symbitoes (presumably to introduce characters like Carnage).

The thing about both trailers is, well, they just aren't very interesting. We've seen enough superhero origin stories, especially ones about secret lab experiments gone wrong, that Eddie's whole origin here (free of any connection to Spider-man) feels pretty rote, bled of any originality. He's a creature from space, an alien with special powers, and he bonds to Eddie for... reasons that are unclear in the trailer. What worked about Venom in the comics was that he was kind of an evil version of Spider-Man, a dark reflection of the hero with powers not entirely unlike Spidey (because the symbiotic connection was a two-way street). Divorced of that, Venom is just a suit attached to a do-gooder reporter. Eddie has to play the good guy in the duo, which loses the nuance of the character.

Also, to be frank, the CGI effects in the film look awful. Venom, even in the second trailer, is shiny and plasticy looking. Because he's CGI, and not practical effects, he doesn't feel real at all, lacking in true texture. The awful CGI doesn't help that, but even if he was made well, I don't think Venom would come across as anything other than a computer creation. Certainly what the movie is showing us, though, is a total misstep.

I could be wrong, and maybe this film turns out to be great. Remember, though, Sony has made two great Spider-man films. The third Raimi was a mish-mash of corporate needs that sake the film, and the two Amazing films never rose above a "mediocre" rating at best. The most recent film, Homecoming, was great, but that was an MCU film, so Sony really can't take credit there. What I'm saying, then, is Sony has a terrible track record with their recent Spidey films, and this looks like another stinker for the pile.

Comes Out: October 19, 2018

I've talked before about how the new Halloween film ditches all but the original movie to create a more streamlined continuity, no matter how strange that might be. Getting past my own hang-ups about the story, though, the two trailers (Trailer #1, Trailer #2) present a pretty consistent story going forward: Forty years ago, Michael Myers killed three teens and almost killed Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Now, after all this time, he's escape from the institution again and is going back to his home town, Haddonfield, to try and finish what he started.

The trailers give a good sense of the creep factor of the new film, which does look like it ups the scares, and the body count, on this new Halloween night. Jamie Lee Curtis also seems like she's going to be great in the film, giving a tough-as-nails performance as returning character, Laurie. On these fronts, the film looks like a solid effort.

The problem is the trailers are clearly presenting a story that works best if we're all surprised, somehow, that Michael is back to kill again. It presumes that all the previous movies never happened, and that we can get into the idea that the last 40 years have been quiet on all fronts for the characters. But they haven't. Michael never went away as, every few years, he'd be back to kill again in one more or another. The studios never let him die, so him suddenly breaking free to go after Laurie again isn't something new or special, it's just the same old story again.

Still, considering the vibe I'm cautiously optimistic. I've seen reviews that the film is either horrible for being more of the same, or great for being more of the same. Clearly, then, Halloween 2018 doesn't reinvent the wheel. If it can delivery on the ambiance (and kills) from the trailer, I'll be a happy camper.

Bohemian Rhapsody
Comes Out: November 2, 2018

Normally, I don't gravitate to biopics, especially not ones about bands or singers. You can, inevitably, map out the entire plot music biopic before you even going into the theater: formation, success, push-back, standing up for artistry, bigger success, sudden problem (usually drugs), hitting bottom, rising again. This is the formula, and any biopic you're going to watch normally conforms to it because, I'm sure, it also matches the standard Hollywood "three act formula".

That being said, I'm still cautiously interested in Bohemian Rhapsody. As shown in the trailer, nothing seems to really break out of the standard biopic mold, but then it also looks slickly produced and pretty lush. At the very least it's Oscar-bait with good production values, and I could certainly be interested in giving that a watch at least once. Why?

Because it's Queen. Very few fans of rock music, no matter the era they prefer, hate Queen. The band, during the Freddy Mercury era, was awesome. Any film that has Queen's music in it, as this official biopic does, is at least worth watching for the music. So long as the film gives us the tracks we want and lets us enjoy the music from the band, it'll be a winner no matter what.

Well it suck otherwise? Maybe, but we can hope it works out. At the very least we'll get some good tunes and never watch it again.

Comes Out: November 9, 2018

Speaking of films I normally don't care much for, I can't say I have any kind of affection for World War II era movies (or, really, World War I era, either). I love period pieces normally (and I have no clue how I got into them), but right around the turn of the 20th Century I zone right now. And the start of the trailer makes Overlord seem like anothter World War II film. Not a bad one (although the CGI during the opening battle looks a little sketchy in the trailer), but nothing special.

That is right up until the Nazi zombie experiments begin and the movie looks to become a tense horror film. I know Nazis and zombies have been done before (multiple times, as in Dead Snow and Wolfenstein), but this looks to be a far less humorous take on the subject, something much, much darker.

It is a J.J. Abrams production, and based on a story idea of his, so I wouldn't be surprised if the actual film borrows liberally from other works (as in Abrams's way). Even then, his homages to the past tend to work well in context, and he's produced some great little horror films in the past, so this is certainly worth keeping an eye on. Reviews have been good (even if they mostly confirm the films is exactly what you expect from it -- Nazis and zombies -- and nothing more), so I'm more than optimistic as to the quality of the film.

The most surprising thing, honestly, is that it's a sci-fi horror film from Bad Robot Productions and yet not a Cloverfield tie-in. Who knew Abrams had it in him.

Creed II
Comes Out: November 21, 2018

I'm off-and-on about the Rocky series. The very first film, with Rocky in the lead, wasn't bad, but I found most of the movies to be basic retreads of the original, often to diminishing returns. Even the pretty great decades-later revisit, Rocky Balboa still didn't really break out of the mold of the original films. When Creed, a movie about the son of Adonis Creed, Rocky's friend from the early films, came out, I gave it a pas assuming it would be yet another retread of the material.

And sure, when I finally saw it, I was pretty right. Creed doesn't really get that far outside the mold of the original, but seeing the father/son style bond between Rocky and Creed, and having Rocky take on a training role for the new boxer, was just enough difference to make the similar material seem fresh and interesting.

I'm not sold on the sequel, though. As we see in the trailer, not only is the younger Creed back for more of the ups and downs of boxing, but we're revisiting the big fight that killed his father in Rocky IV, just now with a younger Drago taking on a younger Creed. The film is going to have to find a really fresh angle on the material to feel like more than just another retread, but considering the past films, I still don't have much hope.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2
Comes Out: November 21, 2018

The original Wreck-it Ralph is a gem. A great animated film loving devoted to retro gaming, it told a fairly personal story about what it meant to be a hero (and a villain). It was also supremely funny and just a great time over all. It's one of those films that when people tell me they haven't seen it, I'm just left dumbfounded. Why wouldn't you watch this film?

So, of course, I was happy to hear about a sequel coming out. More adventures with Ralph and his pals in retro-gaming wondering? Sign me up. The thing is, though, that the two trailers (Trailer #1, Trailer #2) we've seen so far haven't really sold that experience at all. The plot of the film seems to be that Ralph's best friend, Vanellope (who was also the second protagonist of the first movie) is in trouble after the steering wheel on her arcade cabinet breaks. Because she's a video game character (as is everyone in the first film), she gets into real danger if her game breaks -- when a game breaks, it'll probably be unplugged, and if it's unplugged the world of the game dies with it.

To save Vanellope, the two leads head off to the internet. And that's where things break down for me. While the first movie was a loving pastiche of retro video games, mining humor from a world where all these characters get to hang out after hours, when the arcade is closed for the night, the sequel seems to rely on a lot of internet memes and references. There's a lot less humor to be mined from imagining Twitter as a tree full of birds, or a search bar as an actual building with a know-it-all in it.

There's also a lot of emphasis on the Disney media family. Vanellope meets gets chased by stromtroopers, meets all the Disney Princesses, and seems to spend a long time going "hey, look at all this Disney stuff." I get it, it's a Disney movie, but seeing real product placement in the movie is a lot less charming when it's there just for the sake of being there.

The original film built up a lot of good will with me, so I'm going to choose to believe the trailers are just bad and there's much more to the film than the internet scenes we've been given. I just have to hope, though, because these trailers are bad and don't sell a movie anywhere near as good as the original.

Robin Hood
Comes Out: November 21, 2018

Okay, this one is a mess. I don't think there's any other way to describe it. An origin story for Robin Hood that reimagines the classic character as a British street rat on a quest for revenge (or something), the whole movie seems to want to be a kind of action-oriented caper with neither the charm, nor wit of Ocean's Eleven.

As we see in the trailer, Robin (Taron Egerton) is taken under the wing of a character who remains nameless in the trailer but is supposed to be Little John (Jamie Foxx). John trains him to be a bow-wielding master criminal, and then sends the lad out to steal from the rich and yada yada.

That's all fine and dandy, if a little silly to watch. Then, though, the action picks up and the film seems to want to be bother a period-piece take on Kingsmen and an epic war-drama at the same time. I really don't know what to make of it, and I'm even less sure of the overall plot (which may be indicative that the film doesn't really have a well-told plot). It's hard to get excited about the movie when it's so sloppily put together in the trailer.

I really have no hope for this movie and I don't expect it to do well at all, especially when it's opening up against both Wreck-it Ralph 2 and Creed II on the same weekend. Feels more like the studio is trying to bury it on a busy weekend so they can get a good tax write-off.

Anna and the Apocalypse
Comes Out: November 30, 2018

And here's a weird little addition for the season. How about a zombie-hunting, end-of-the-world, Christmas musical? That's a genre-spanning idea I never would have thought of, but the creators of Anna and the Apocalypse certainly did. Essentially, from what the trailer shows us (with lots of singing and dancing but no idea, yet, as to the actual musical numbers), Anna goes to sleep the night before Christmas and wakes up to find her entire sleepy English hamlet invaded by zombies.

Obviously, the only way to handle that situation is to kill the undead during musical numbers. I honestly have no idea what to make of that concept but ever since I heard about it I've wanted to see this movie. It's sounds strange and bizarre and like a really weird trip, and if it delivers on that, I'll be a happy camper.

I really just wish the trailers would give us more of an idea about the actual story. Right now the film looks like a fun lark, but if the whole story just amounts to "kids hide out in a high school until the apocalypse ends" I'll be a little disappointed, to be sure. I guess we'll find out come the end of November.

More Trailers On the Way...

We'll continue our look at upcoming movies on Monday. Honestly, this list has already gotten pretty long, so let's take a short break and be back after this...