Two New Trailers

Both Marvel!

First, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2”:

Next, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”:

My thoughts…

GotG 2 looks absolutely fantastic. The second best trailers Marvel has ever done (next to the amazing stuff they put out for “Civil War”). Almost everything about that trailer works. I suppose the action seems pretty pedestrian, but when was that ever the point in the GotG films?

“Spider-Man”…hmmm (I almost wrote SMH until I realized that was the acronym for “Shaking my head”. Pluses: Tom Holland, avoiding the origin story completely (since we don’t need it), being the first movie to actually have street level superheroics (which I’ve always been fond of), and an EXTREMELY retro costume that hearkens allllll the way back to Spidey’s very first appearance (WEB WINGS!!!!).

Here’s the thing, though: None of that has to do with the trailer (except that it makes it clear we’ll be seeing some street level superheroics, which is nice).

What the trailer DID show:

– As mentioned, the heroics appear to be relatively low scale in comparison to the other Marvel movies – the only other Marvel film that didn’t involve huge world-wide or worse catastrophes was “Ant-Man”* (I suppose “Captain America” too, but that was barely even a superhero film – aside from some fancy jumping and Hugo Weaving’s face it was basically just a PG war movie after you get past the super-serum at the beginning). I can’t confirm that this will be the case for sure, of course, but it SEEMS that way. Either way, the focus on street level heroics is something the films have never done and is much appreciated.

– “Homecoming” seems to be trying to get a balance in its humor level between the more serious Marvel films and the outright comedies of “Ant-Man” and “GotG”. This is a good sign, since that’s exactly the tone “Spider-Man” should shoot for.

– The “John Hughes movie meets superhero movie” vibe is very strong, which is great. I approve.

– I really like the plot arc they’re going for. It’s something really different from Marvel’s other films, and I appreciate that.

The downsides…

There seems to be a LOT of diversity casting going on, from Peter’s best friend to his romantic interests. In theory, this makes sense. Peter goes to High School in NYC, right? Of course it would skew very multiracial. It’s something they hardly would have considered back when Spider-Man began.

But – and maybe it’s just me – this sort of thing makes me jumpy. The truth is that decisions like this are never made in a vacuum; we live in a society that is pushing diversity on us from every angle…and the people pushing diversity are almost always the SJW’s. See the comments from the creators of “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens”. See “Hamilton”. See Kevin Feige fumbling around while trying to justify casting a Scottish woman to play the oriental mystic in “Doctor Strange” (As good as Tilda Swinton was I mourn the missed opportunity to cast Jackie Chan). In Hollywood, everything is calculated: It’s never just about story. There’s always an underlying narrative being pushed.

That said…the truth is, this is right in line with the Marvel formula. Marvel plays a very careful balancing act when it comes to race. Their theory – at least in their films – seems to be this:

– Cast a lead who seems like he’d be a good fit for the character, regardless of what race the character might be. So far it’s been white male heroes, but with Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies coming out, they seem to have no issue casting for other races and sexes. It’s just that their most popular heroes are white males, so when they wanted sure bets that’s who they went with. Now that they can take more risks, they’re branching out.

– Try to stunt cast/diversity cast the minor roles. That’s why we see the Falcon, Black Widow, a race-bent Baron Mordo (and the Ancient One, of course), Rhodey, and even the small detail of adding an oriental to Captain America’s Howling Commandos. The point here is to blunt criticisms of racism and sexism without alienating the fans of the original comics.

This is a very clever plan, and one Marvel has instituted successfully in every single one of their films (backlash around “Doctor Strange” seemed to pose a brief threat and provoked a silly response from Feige and the director before being shut up by the quality of Swinton’s performance and the presence of the always welcome Chiwetel Eijofor). It essentially satisfies everybody, from the die-hard fans to all but the real die-hard SJWs, who can’t be satisfied in any case.

“Homecoming” would worry me more if it didn’t fall right in line with that. Neither of the love interests appears to be Mary Jane (reports Zendaya would be playing the role appear to be exaggerated – if she’s supposed to be MJ she’s at least MJ in name only), who is one of the more recognizable female characters in comics, so that’s good (the only one I recognize is Liz Allen, who I believe was on a Spider-Man cartoon from a few years back). Otherwise, we’re seeing basically what we always see: White male lead (as befits the character), mixed race background players.

It just worries me that his best friend AND his love interests seem to be mixed race. Is this fair? Maybe not. Marvel doesn’t have a history of messing up its movies with shoehorned politics, and the movie itself appears to be utterly unconcerned with racial issues. But I noted it and am at least not going to be surprised if “Homecoming” skews more SJW than the average Marvel film.

Otherwise, the trailer strikes me as unremarkable. It hits every checkmark of what I want to see in a Spider-Man film, which means it’s certainly successful on the metric of “Am I still going to go see it after watching this trailer?”, but…I don’t know. I forgot what happened in it almost immediately after I watched it, but I can pretty much quote the GotG trailer verbatim. It has a fun vibe to it and gets across what it has to, and I look forward to seeing it, but it does it in a very by the numbers way.

…Also, if Spidey is holding that ship together, they made him VERY overpowered (though I suppose Tobey Maguire singlehandedly stopped a train in its tracks, so I guess it’s not exactly unprecedented).

In summary, after a lot of rambling:

“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” trailer grade: A, marked down from an A+ for generic action scenes

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” trailer grade: B+. For all my griping I have to admit that I’m very happy with where they’re taking this and it made me really look forward to this film.

Looking forward to the summer!

*Having Hydra spread secret agents around the world and having a war start vetween Asgard and the Frost Giants do indeed count as

Trailer: The Dwarves of Demrel

Picture a movie with Dwarves. Now pictures a dwarf movie without elves. Yank out the humans, and the hobbits. And the singing. Got that image in your head? Good. Now watch this:

It’s not what I was expecting. But it’s something that I never knew I wanted so bad, even if Moria was one of my favorite parts of LotR.

The Dwarves of Demrel comes out next year. Fingers crossed that it’s one of those indie films that makes us watch terrible indie films for the next year in the hopes of lightning striking twice.

Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice Trailer

It’s a day for vs trailers, apparently.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m not a huge fan of DC’s franchises. The first Batman work I ever really liked (outside of a half-caught episode of Batman Beyond here or there) was Batman Begins, and, let’s face it, that’s a Chris Nolan movie. And Superman? Yawn. I’m all about truth, justice and the American way. I’m less about a dude who’s invincible, with a super power for everything.

I know, I know. I watch anime. I get the inherent contradiction here. There’s just something about Supes that’s always rubbed me the wrong way. So it’s probably fitting that the first Superman work I ever enjoyed was the one that all the fans apparently hated, cuz, y’know, Superman killed someone. But I, for one, as an outsider, thought Man of Steel was a pretty entertaining movie.

Meanwhile, DC doesn’t seem to really understand what it is that Marvel’s getting right in the MCU. They want a cohesive franchise, but kick out their beloved TV shows off the continuity boat. They released a memo calling for grim and gritty and never seemed to realize that the MCU’s got both grit and humor… Anyways. I feel like the cards are stacked against the fledgling DC cinematic universe, which is why I’m surprised to find that the trailer for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice actually looks…. entertaining. And not ridiculous, because, let’s face it. Superman really should be able to just punch Batman out of whatever Batmobile he’s driving these days. From the outside.

A friend once remarked that good Superman stories are about the conflict inside Clark Kent– threaten what he loves, who he is. It certainly looks like Zack Snyder’s at least playing with that idea here.

Ash vs Evil Dead.

Horror’s always kind of a mixed bag for me. I lean more towards films that scare with atmosphere and dread– such as The Ring and A Tale of Two Sisters than I do films that scare with gore and grossness. I’m not opposed to a gory film, per se, as long as the gore serves a purpose. (Think how much more desperate the battles in The Wrath of Khan are compared to typical Star Trek fare. They’re battles where people bleed and suffer and die rather than battles where a bridge console explodes and throws a red shirt at the captain.)

One thing I do enjoy, though, is a good horror comedy. (Even the depressing ones. I’m looking at you, Cabin in the Woods.) It should come as no surprise, then, that I’m a fan of the films that pretty much invented horror comedy: Evil Dead 2 (a goofy, slapstick remake of Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead) and it’s sequel, Army of Darkness. The recent remake of Evil Dead held no interest for me, as it seems to have abandoned much of what I love about these films– they even renamed the bloody Necronomicon!— and so I’m absolutely thrilled to see this trailer for Starz forthcoming series, Ash vs Evil Dead.