Tag Archives: Doug Whelan

What you may need to know.

1. Look, I know it must seem like Marvel movies are the only trailers I actually write up here, and you’d be right, but it’s hard not to when they’re knocking them out this fast. If you don’t like the look of them, you should see the absolute tripe that comes and goes. Transformers 5? Cars 3? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

2. That said, I am looking forward to Manchester by the Sea 2: Electric Boogaloo.

3. Anyway, here comes Marvel, making it look easy again. Every trailer they roll out, whether it’s Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming and now this, is met with near-complete enthusiasm. In contrast to blockbuster rivals DC’s ongoing woes, that is. Wonder Woman has been very well received over there but the upcoming Justice League looks like another hyperactive, adolescent, CGI overkill snore festival.

4. While the format and formula looks largely to remain unchanged something-teen movies in, they key to that enthusiasm is the studio’s sharing and rotating creative contributions with appropriate directors. In the role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth has shown an unlikely comic talent, so the reins to Thor: Ragnarok were handed to What We Do in the ShadowsTaika Waititi. And Black Panther being Marvel’s first black superhero (est. 1966), who better to direct than one of the most talked-about young African American directors of the moment, Ryan Coogler.

5. Coogler is currently two for two, having made his debut with Cannes-prize-winning indie Fruitvale Station (2013), and the improbably excellent Creed (2015), his hip-hop hymn to Rocky Balboa. Both films, and this one, star The Wire alumnus Michael B. Jordan. Coogler was tapped for the Black Panther job just as Creed was being released, but it was too late to cast Jordan in the title role, since Chadwick Boseman was already filming the character’s debut in Captain America: Civil War (2016).

6. Alongside Boseman and Jordan, you’ve got Lupita Nyong’o, Forrest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Marvel regulars Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman.

7. Strong use of Legend Has It by Run the Jewels, currently the toast of hip-hop and of whom Marvel Comics are big fans. Their fist/gun symbol has featured on more than one Marvel cover in the past couple of years.

8. Now. Black Panther was Marvel’s first superhero and it’s not insignificant that the Studio is now putting up the cash for an Africa-set, black-cast, black-directed blockbuster. Relatively few black actors have fronted mega-budget blockbusters (Will Smith is the only one I can think of off the top of my head); for an unknown like Boseman to lead one is unheard of. Combine that with the recent feminist success of Wonder Woman this month, and it’s apparent that attitudes are changing in Hollywood. Who said Blockbusters don’t matter?

9.
Not linking to it, but racist dicks on 4chan and Twitter are having their say all the same. Something about a liberal agenda, you can guess the rest. It will be interesting to see how the film will address racism as it exists in the world today.

10. On the topic of “#OscarsSoWhite and the steps taken by the Academy to revise its imbalance, read this excellent New Yorker article.

11. That remarkable Afro-future costume design comes from another Coogler collaborator Hannah Beachler.

Verdict: Panther like a Panther

Release Date: February 9, 2018

What you may need to know

1. To quote another fantasy series, we come to it at last: the great battle of our time.

2.
The seventh season of Game of Thrones, despite coming three months later than the usual April debut, consists of just seven episodes. An eighth and final season will follow in 2018.

3. The shorter season and later debut mean that more time has been spent on writing and filming, while vastly more cash has been spent on each episode. That’s quite clear from those sweeping battle shots and brand new sets.

4. Filming was also pushed back so as to avoid the usual summer (as in last summer) shooting schedule. It’s winter in Westeros now, so shooting took place later in the year in Northern Ireland.

5. It’s endgame time: Season 7’s plot will see the long-gestating confrontation between, well, everybody, as the war for the Iron Throne enters its (apparent) final phase. Fresh from her Corleone-esque massacre of her enemies, Cersei Lannister sits on the Iron Throne but her reign promises to be a short one as Daenerys Targaryen arrives to reclaim her throne. Meanwhile, in the North, Jon Snow aims to keep the White Walkers on the right side of the Wall, because if he fails, it doesn’t matter who rules King’s Landing. Meanwhile, Arya Stark may just make it back to Winterfell, Tyrion will continue to find his place in the world and a zillion other plot points will approach their conclusion.

6.
If all that sounds like gibberish to a non-fan, well, it is, but make no mistake, Game of Thrones is the real deal. Everyone may live in castles and swing swords, but themes of politics, class division, family religion and faith, the horror of war and more make it one of the most brilliantly realised TV dramas of this or any other era.

7. On top of that, and the masterful acting and production value, I’ve always said the key to Game of Thrones addictive success is the same as what made Breaking Bad such a hit. Right from the very beginning, the question was put to the audience: how’s it going to end? With BB, the question was what will happen when Walter White is caught; here the question was and is who will be the last one standing? Each time a new person has climbed those steps over the past six years to sit on the throne, it has always felt temporary. Now that Dani and (as it turns out) Cersei Lannister are set to go to war with one another, whichever one comes out on top really will be the conqueror.

8. This show famously hasn’t shied away from killing off its heroes, don’t forget, so it’s entirely possible that fearless, scheming thunder-bitch Cersei might well be that last one standing. Unless (personal prediction alert): history repeats itself and the Kingslayer becomes the Queenslayer, but we could go on about that all day.

9. Along with the vast returning cast, the great Jim Broadbent has taken up a role for season 7.

10. As with season 6, events of the show have long overtaken the events of George R.R. Martin’s source novels. His last instalment, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011, while The Winds of Winter is still a work in progress. In your own time, George.

Verdict: Do we even need to say?

Date: July 16, Sky Atlantic.

Baby-Driver-poster-620x930

What you may need to know:

1. Here comes the new one from Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013), sometimes known as the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. You’d have thought the trailer would signpost that fact, but it looks like a bit of a tonal shift for him so perhaps you don’t want to create an expectation of the same kind of slapstick comedy and endless film references.

2. Wright was also responsible for Channel 4 sitcom Spaced (1999 – 2001) and the underappreciated graphic novel adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010).

3. Baby Driver sees Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) play the title role as an unnaturally talented driver who puts his skills to work as a wheelman for Kevin Spacey’s idiosyncratic armed robbers. That is until he meets the girl of his dreams and sees a way to get out of the criminal life before his ruthless boss blackmails him into one last….wait a minute, we’ve got déjà vu

4. The similarities to Drive (2011) are certainly there, right down to the hero’s savant-like skills, but that was hardly a groundbreaking work itself. According to Wright, his film owes more of a debt to Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978) than anything else. Also, given Wright’s track record, you’d hope Baby Driver has a similar surfeit of ideas that would give a well-told story a feeling of freshness.

5.The film, while not a musical, is entirely driven by music happening within each scene – i.e. what’s Baby’s iPod rather than on a soundtrack or score. (It’s less common than it sounds). The film takes its title from this Simon & Garfunkel song.

6. The supporting cast includes Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, as well as (if rumours are to be believed), an uncredited Meryl Streep. Oh, and Flea.

7. Wright has also been busy with Marvel in recent years. He was slated to direct Ant-Man (2015) but left the role after shooting had begun, while retaining screenwriting and executive producer credit. Given his hyperactive directing style, it’s a good bet he wanted to do something “different” with the otherwise indistinguishable Marvel universe, but Kevin Feige and the lads had different ideas. That’s a question of ‘who knows best?’ Look what happened with Rogue One last year, for example.

8. Aswell as being needlessly long, this trailer struggles to put across the tone of the film. It’s colourful, with plenty of pause-for-a-one-liner moments, but none of them seem particularly funny. Spacey is playing it straight, while Foxx and Flea are not, and Elgort is somewhere in between. The vehicular stunts do promise there’s plenty more where that came from though…dig those donuts and reverse-180s. The reviews from its premier last weekend at SXSW are mostly very positive.

9. Variety calls Wright’s style of directing “a bit like someone smoking in a fireworks factory”: packed with potential but with the possibility of all going horribly wrong at any moment. Sounds about right.

Verdict: Bad trailer for a great film? Let’s hope so.

Release: TBC

alien-covenant-poster

What you may need to know:

1. Ridley Scott’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s prequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic. Who says Hollywood has run out of ideas?

2. Prometheus (2012) was ambitious and very well made, but spoiled by a few too many plot points and lots of unanswered questions; Covenant looks like it wants to answer some of those questions. Hopefully it doesn’t throw up a load more.

3. Another thing Prometheus arguably got wrong was the absence of the actual Alien; probably why it didn’t use the moniker. This movie clearly aims to make up for that with Alien and Facehugger carnage dialled up to eleven.

4. The official synopsis:

“The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.”

5. You can guess the above, but there looks to be more going on. Fassbender’s presence is wisely unelaborated-on; it’s safe to assume he’s an android, the same type last seen as David’s talking lopped-off head, escaping from the Engineers to go and find their homeworld and do…something. (It was a baffling movie really). He’s credited on wiki as Walter/David so let’s leave it at that for now.

6. There’s Kenny Powers being an action hero.

7.
In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the creator of human life. A Covenant, meanwhile, is a formal agreement with God. What we might glean from this is David/Walter is aware of the trap the crew is walking into, while they have no idea he is an android – just like Ian Holm’s character in the 1979 original. But who is God in that case? The Company? Peter Weyland? Then there’s the Adam + Eve connotations we can take from the crew of couples travelling to what they believe to be paradise.

8. It wouldn’t be the first time the series has invested in religious symbolism. Let’s once again take the opportunity to point out David Fincher’s Alien3 (1992) is a massively underrated film and I will fight anyone who says different.

9. That said, it’s also possible we’re looking too much into a film essentially about loads of people getting killed by monsters, but these elements don’t make their way into films by accident.

10. Lots to intrigue and satisfy fans in this trailer; it really didn’t need that last shot. Kind of overkill, like LOOK LOOK THERE’S PROPER ALIENS THIS TIME AND THEY DO COOL STUFF OK PLEASE WATCH IT.

Verdict: Stop Your Grinnin’ and Drop Your Linen (RIP Bill Paxton)

Release Date: May 19.

mummyposter

What you may need to know:

1. The 2017 blockbuster previews keep coming, so here’s the Tom Cruise’s latest excuse to run fast and jump off things, The Mummy. He plays a military type charged with transporting an entombed mummy from the deserts of Egypt to London, only to find the creature (Sofia Boutella) is alive and set on causing chaos and revenge.

2. Yes, technically this is a remake of the immensely silly Indiana Jones rip-off The Mummy (1999), but it’s actually a franchise that goes all the way back to the 1930s, when the likes of Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney played the titular creature. Things got a bit out of control when Abbot & Costello got in on the act.


3.
It’s a well-established fact that blockbusters and sequels aren’t enough anymore; at least four movies are required in any franchise, so Universal Pictures are getting the band back together.

4. So The Mummy is the first in a series that will see outings from Frankenstein’s monster, Count Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein and more.

5 Russell Crowe plays none other than Dr. Henry Jekyll, of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Here Jekyll is the head of Prodigium, an organisation which tracks the whereabouts of these creatures, which is presumably how the producers will crowbar those eventual team-ups off the page. They haven’t got a script yet, but they can bang one out by Friday.

6. Rather than the retro swashbuckling of the Brendan Fraser movies, or the gothic nature of, say, Penny Dreadful, this is a supernatural film set very much in the present, with what looks like the same globe-trotting antics as something like Mission: Impossible.

6. Tom Cruise seems to be giving less of a **** as he gets older. He’s got little to prove, and seems to choose roles based on what kind of stunts he gets to do. Rumour has it he actually spent a weekend in a body bag in a morgue before filming.

7. The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman, the seasoned writer best known for the likes of the newer Star Trek movies. Kurtzman says he wants audiences to fall in love with each character first; if they can do that, then a world will present itself. “You have to make great individual movies, first and foremost,” he told journalists at a briefing last week. “And if you do that, then the audience will follow you.”

Verdict: The Meh-mmy.

Release date: J une 9, 2017