By Jack Mansfield
(Some mild spoilers for Season One of Stranger Things ahead)
Last weekend, the 51st Super Bowl took place in America. As a Brit, I barely understand the rules of American Football (apart from a brief look at the rules in a vain attempt to do well in our local pub quiz!) so the game doesn’t hold my interest for any long period of time. However, there is always something interesting about this sporting event: the plethora of film and TV trailers that are released throughout the course of the night. I thought I would have a look at each of them in isolation and talk briefly about which trailers (in my opinion) made me the most excited about the new films and TV series releasing.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (James Gunn, 2017)
Where else could I start but the explosive new TV spot for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2? Director James Gunn brings us the next chapter in the story about a ragtag bunch of heroes set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This trailer, just like those for the first film, sets the humourous, action-packed tone with various moments that made me chuckle, such as the little shake of the head from baby Groot when Rocket tells Yondu he “didn’t use frickin'”. Not only do we see some of the humour that we can expect to be a constant throughout the film, but also the lighter tone of the film in general, compared to some of the other instalments in the MCU: we see a purple Marvel Studios logo, vibrant colour palettes in nearly every frame of the trailer, and dazzling visuals that really create a sense of off-world action that sets the Guardians apart from heroes like the Avengers. This trailer also gives us a better look at Mantis (Pom Klementieff), a new character to be introduced into the MCU briefly seen in a previous trailer, and also the film’s (primary?) villain, Ayesha, played by Elizabeth Debicki. Set to yet another great song pick – Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ – this new trailer has cemented the fact that I will be seeing this film on opening night; if there was ever any doubt!
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg, 2017)
I was a huge fan of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, The Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski, 2003). It was a fantastic swashbuckler that had elements of the some of the classic films from this action-adventure subgenre while still feeling fresh, but now, sequel by sequel, this franchise loses some of its original charm. The most recent instalment, On Stranger Tides (Rob Marshall, 2011), felt to me like a phone-in as opposed to anything else, but I also felt that it failed as a result of losing some of its stronger supporting characters. Here, with the re-introduction of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) after sitting out the previous film in the series, it looks like we may be getting a new instalment more akin to those we remember more fondly. Plus, with the villainous Captain Salazar being played by Javier Bardem, we can expect at least one strong performance from the cast alongside that of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Hopefully, as we can see in this trailer, the series has changed its course and is now sailing with the wind once again.
Logan (James Mangold, 2017)
After the recent acclaim from both fans and critics for the violent and sweary Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016), fans were naturally going to be clamouring for an R-rated Wolverine film, especially if that film were to be based on the widely liked ‘Old Man Logan’ storyline. This new trailer for the Super Bowl shows us very little that we haven’t seen before, as 20th Century Fox only recently released a new theatrical trailer, but instead sets footage of our heroes in peril – Logan (Hugh Jackman), an ageing Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart), and newly introduced X-23 (Dafne Keen) – to a haunting rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’. It feels to me like this was simply done to tie in with the Super Bowl, as the song has little in connection with the tone of the film; I think that Johnny Cash’s cover of ‘Hurt’ was perfect for that in the previous trailer. Nonetheless, I’m incredibly excited for a grittier Wolverine story, and hope that it is the perfect sendoff for Hugh Jackman in his final time playing the most famous Mutant.
Transformers: The Last Knight (Michael Bay, 2017)
Whoever makes the trailers for Michael Bay’s Transformers films needs a pay raise. Each time a new Transformers movie is released, trailer reactions across the internet often go along the lines of “maybe this will be the good one?”, and this is no different. The trailer makes this film look interesting and possibly even worth my time, showing Anthony Hopkins, impressive visuals, and yes, plenty of explosions – but I don’t feel in any way obliged to make this film a priority when it’s released in June.
Baywatch (Seth Gordon, 2017)
From one ‘bay’ to another now, and the TV spot for new comedy Baywatch, based on the American cult TV series starring David Hasselhoff (who I remember far more fondly being used as a boat back to Bikini Bottom in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie!) I’m not quite sure what to make of the promotional material coming out for this film, as it looks like it could go either way – sink or swim, if you will. Director Seth Gordon looks to bring a comedic style similar to some of his past projects such as Horrible Bosses (2011) and Identity Thief (2013) in a film about beach patrol in California, and I feel like this could be a good laugh, after stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron have proved that they can definitely stay afloat when doing comedy (and that’s more than enough beach puns for one paragraph.)
The Fate of the Furious (F Gary Gary, 2017)
Maybe let this franchise go, guys? After an incredibly fitting tribute to the late Paul Walker in Furious 7 (James Wan, 2015), fans were unsure as to where the series would go when this film was announced, and even a little disappointed that they felt the need to continue the story of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew. And, to the surprise of some (but not myself), this film looks like it will be something of a letdown as the writers completely disregard Toretto’s character, built over the past seven films. In a move that feels completely wrong, Toretto seemingly turns his back on his ‘family’, and this provides enough justification for another two hours of drawn-out, superfluous car chases and never-ending quips. It’s safe to say I won’t be buying a ticket to this one.
Life (Daniel Espinosa, 2017)
In one of only two trailers for original properties this Super Bowl, Life looks to be an intriguing new horror that has the look and feel of the original Alien film (Ridley Scott, 1979). The trailer shows a team of astronauts sent into space to recover research pods from Mars, one of which contains a new form of life. The team, including Roy (Ryan Reynolds) and David (Jake Gyllenhaal), are thrust into a fight for survival and ultimately the fate of everyone back on Earth. This trailer definitely leaves me wanting to see more, and I love the sudden shift in tone from happy-go-lucky explorers (even using Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit in the Sky’, previously heard in Guardians of the Galaxy) to terrified survivalists. Although this film can easily be compared to loads of different, possibly similar films (I include myself in doing so), I’m looking forward to seeing this film and hoping that it proves me right in being innovative and exciting.
Buzz (Aldrin, anyone?): 4/5
Stranger Things Season 2 (Various, 2017)
Why, Netflix? Why must you make me wait until Halloween for this gem of a series to return? The first series of Stranger Things was one of the best pieces of television to come out of 2016; a consistently thrilling, edge of your seat sci-fi romp that had me utterly hooked from episode one. Season Two is set one year later, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Will (Noah Schnapp) are back at Hawkins Middle School, getting on with normal life after the events of the previous year. The trailer hammers home the 80s feel to the series, with an extract from an Eggos advert (which also leads to the confirmation that Eleven is alive, but after the final scenes of the first season, this was to be expected) and the boys’ Ghostbusters outfits, drawing neat parallels between the two sets of characters. It is the brief reveal of the monster for the series, however, that made me truly gasp: with the Demogorgon defeated, the second series needs a monster to rival it, and it looks like we’ve got just the thing. Of all the trailers released last weekend, for me this one takes the crown.
Buzz: 11 (see what I did there?)/5
A Cure for Wellness (Gore Verbinski, 2017)
The other original property apart from Life also gave us an intriguing Super Bowl trailer, albeit being comprised of mostly previously seen footage. A Cure for Wellness looks to be a visually impressive horror/thriller from director Gore Verbinski about a mysterious ‘wellness centre’, where their remedies are far from what they initially seem. These types of films aren’t usually ones that I would consider seeing as I’m not one for horror movies, but this film looks like not only a clever, narrative-driven project, but also a tonally engaging film. Starring Dane DeHaan and Mia Goth, and a supporting cast including Celia Imrie and Jason Isaacs, A Cure for Wellness definitely looks like one to watch out for when it releases later this month.
Ghost in the Shell (Rupert Sanders, 2017)
Based on the acclaimed anime of the same name, Ghost in the Shell tells the story of a cyborg policewoman (played by Scarlett Johansson) attempting to bring down a dangerous computer hacker known as the Puppet Master. The trailer shows off beautiful set pieces, seemingly non-stop action and establishes a tense mood, which I think all look fantastic. In the trailer, it seems that director Rupert Sanders has managed to bring a realistic, gritty style to a film In the build up to this film’s release, there has been a certain degree of controversy surrounding the decision to cast Johansson – a white actress – in the lead role, which hopefully won’t spoil the viewing for fans of the original anime, or cinema-goers who are experiencing this story for the first time.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski, 2017)
Has a trailer ever had me so fooled as this one did? I don’t think so. The TV spot for John Wick: Chapter 2 parodies the trailer for Fifty Shades Darker (James Foley, 2017), which is out now (but I implore you, there are plenty of better films you and your date can go and see for Valentine’s Day.) You can imagine my pleasant surprise when John Wick (Keanu Reeves) – professional assassin, dog lover, and all round badass – appears on the screen instead of a poorly written romance between two characters we couldn’t care less about. Far from it: I absolutely loved the first John Wick (Stahelski, 2014) for its gritty action and excellent protagonist, and it looks like the sequel will be a more than welcome ‘more of the same’ deal, but in no way a carbon copy of the original. Take your date to see this.
What did you think of the trailers that we were given over the Super Bowl Weekend? Which was your favourite? Were you disappointed when the John Wick trailer turned out not to be for Fifty Shades? Send me your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you!