Thursday, July 23, 2015

Looking at this Year’s Geek Trailers from 2015’s SDCC

Just shy of a couple of weeks back there was some event out in California that at least a few of you may have heard of called San Diego Comic Con. Part of the fun of SDCC for those who can’t/don’t attend is the inevitable electronic landslide, both official and not quite all that official, of news about upcoming genre films and television shows. For those of us that didn’t make the trek west, this year had a lot of stuff coming our way, particularly where trailers were concerned. Now that we’ve given it a week to see what else might come out after SDCC turned off the lights for the year, let’s look at the trailer highlights.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I’m going to be honest here. I’m one of those people who were totally turned off by Man of Steel, not caring overly much for a grim and gritty Superman, so I’m probably not the target audience for this film. I still went in to this trailer with hopes that other aspects of the film showcased in more detail than the previous teaser would hook me, but this one is just not doing it for me.

This trailer really pushes the Batman and Superman hatred, setting up the fight that is based on the fight scene from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The problem for me with that is that the fight in TDKR was a smaller subplot in an overall great story. In here it’s supposedly the feature attraction. There’s also the deal with TDKR being considered an alt universe story. Batman and Superman getting to the point where they want to kill each other as they seem to here in an alt universe story might be an entertaining concept, but this is going to be the mainstream DCU with regards to their slate of films. With all of the villains they have to use in the vast DCU, I’m really not interested in seeing a mainstream DCU where Batman and Superman have that much hate for each other.

Other than that…

What we get to see of the film in the SDCC trailer looks visually powerful; unsurprising given that it’s Zack Snyder. It’s dark as hell, but it’s visually impressive. Still not into the ham-handed nature Snyder is apparently using to show the messiah-like worship being placed on Superman from some segments of society. I’m also a little worried about Snyder making the same mistake here that he made with Watchmen. He shows that he knows when an image from a comic story is iconic, but he sometimes seems to miss the reason behind why it is and causes it to be a little flatter feeling than it should have been.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is given a chance to look more impressive here than early images led one to believe, but there’s not enough shown to get a handle on if she handles the nobility of the character as well as she handles the action end of Wonder Woman.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor came off as… interesting? I’m not sure where they’re going with his take on the character. His Lex felt like a bored- maybe even slightly petulant -rich playboy and even drifted into a bit of an odd Joker vibe with the “red capes” line delivery. Jeremy Irons seems like he’s playing an Alfred who might act as the anchor to try to pull Bruce back from the brink, which is about where one would expect Alfred to be in this.

On the whole, based on the SDCC trailer this looks like a film you’ll love if you loved Snyder’s Man of Steel, but anyone who is looking for a lynchpin film for a DCU that’s not almost entirely Dark Knight grim and gritty may be disappointed.

The Suicide Squad

We move into some more DCU grim and gritty, but this one actually works with the grim and gritty based on the nature of its cast of characters. Once one gets over the “We Want to be the Age of Ultron Trailer” vibe the music mixed with the imagery created, the trailer absolutely makes it look like DCU’s amped up and darkened version of the Dirty Dozen might have a nice chance at getting the kickoff it needs to start it as a franchise.

The trailer is largely pure tease, telling us nothing about the story past the very basics of the Suicide Squad itself. There are a few nice shots of characters that look much better in motion on film than they did in still pictures, as well as a good chunk of fairly fun looking action scenes. There’s still some fan griping about Harley Quinn that I don’t really subscribe to, as well as a lot of griping about the Joker that I definitely do not subscribe to.

There’s been a lot of complaining about the look of the Joker, the volume of which is getting turned up again after seeing the blip of him at the end of this trailer. A lot has been made of the tattooed look and the teeth, ridiculing the look for not being traditional while calling it names like “Hot Topic Joker.” It’s criticism that I don’t really see as valid.

The look of the Joker has undergone changes over the years, some minor and some radical. This is a radical change, but it makes sense. This isn’t the 1940’s Joker, or even the 1960’s Joker. Given the apparent age of the character they seem to be going for, he’s going to be of the tattoo generation. Additionally, if his origin is that he was a brutal street thug before whatever happened to make him the Joker, it would stand to reason that he be part of a culture not exactly unknown for tats like his. This actually makes sense as a modern updating, and I think they’ll pull it off fine.

Oh, yeah, and we get more Batman on a speeding car’s rooftop.

On the whole, this trailer did its job well. It teased without giving away too much, and it was just enticing enough to get you a little more interested if you were on the fence about it before.

No Trailer at this Time

I was hoping that they would do in response to the Deadpool trailer leak what we saw done with the Suicide Squad trailer leak and just go ahead with releasing the thing officially. At the time of this writing, no such luck. I’m not posting a link to a leak since by the time this goes live the leaked footage may be yanked, so why bother? Odds are that you’ve seen the leaked trailer footage by now anyhow.

There are some parts of this trailer that were pulled from the entirely CGI test/teaser trailer we saw hit the web a while back, but a lot more of this was new footage. The new footage is awesome.

This really looks like it’s hitting the Deadpool mark to perfection, and even a few people I know who aren’t fans of the book found their interest piqued by the leaked footage. Ryan Reynolds may have finally found his successful superhero franchise (while poking fun at his failed one) as well as the film that might just break his streak of underperforming live action box office film roles.

The trailer is dripping in snark, and the gags fly at the audience in rapid succession. What interaction we get between Deadpool, Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead works well. The banter between Deadpool and others, both while in and out of his mask, plays well, we get a nice bit confirming the 4th wall will be broken, and I’m pretty sure we’re finally getting to see Stan Lee as a strip club DJ.

For a movie that I was really sitting on the fence with less than a year ago, this trailer did its job of making me want to see more of what the film has to offer tremendously well.

The Flash

They packed a lot in here that's old footage recut with a few voice overs to hint at the new developments in the upcoming season. I know a lot of people that are half a season or more behind, so watch if you want to, or avoid spoilers if you so choose.

The Walking Dead Season 6

You know the characters. You know the story. This does a good job of selling the conflicts and potential highlights of the upcoming season. If you’re a fan of the show, this should have you excited. Nuff said.

Fear the Walking Dead

This one addressed some questions that fans have had, but left a few more in its wake. Not necessarily a bad thing that. We get a good look at our central characters and of what the world will look like when coming to an end. The zombies are a bit fresher than the ones we’re used to seeing, so it will be interesting to see if/how they play with their creations’ intellectual and physical abilities here.

It’s been made abundantly clear that the one answer we will not get is the cause of the infection, but it looks like we might get a few clues. We’re only seeing in the trailer what looks like the first night and first few days of the full-on collapse of society that Rick snoozed through in the original pilot for The Walking Dead, so we’re not getting too great a peek into our cast of characters in full-on, post-zombie-apocalyptic survival mode.

That also brings up a question that I haven’t seen answered anywhere else. How many seasons of this are planned? The Walking Dead was born from Kirkman’s desire as a zombie movie fan to see what happens to the survivors after the end credits of a typical zombie film have rolled. With this we get his version of how the world ends and the new one begins. Outbreak to downfall to The Walking Dead survival mode can’t be stretched out but so far. We’re going to eventually get to the timeframe of the second half of Episode 1 of The Walking Dead. Will the series end there, or can the zombie fans making The Walking Dead such a huge ratings smash for AMC support two AMC survival horror shows with identical concepts?

Doctor Who

Pure teaser, but glorious Doctor Who teaser. Peter gets to play music on screen apparently, so his past career of being in a punk band with Craig Ferguson finally pays off in Who. And is that his daughter returned at last at the end?

And saving the best for last…

Ash vs. Evil Dead

If you’re like me, you own the original trilogy of films, you own the comics, you own Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness, and you own the reboot film from a few years back. And if you’re not like me, you should be.

When news of this TV show broke a while back; it had most of the Evil Dead fans I know feeling as cautiously optimistic as they were excited, and not without good reason. First, it wasn’t without precedent for Bruce to make statements at cons about Evil Dead projects that weren’t actually coming down the pike. Second, there were questions about just how they were going to pull it off and just which version of Evil Dead it would be playing off of. Plus, there was the worry of expectation vs. reality. Well, we found out that it was legit happening, we found out basically which Evil Dead we’re dealing with, and this trailer squashed any worries about the series not living up to expectations.

I gotta be honest. As much as I love some of the stuff above, THIS is the SDCC trailer release that created a smile on my face that a jackhammer couldn’t remove. We’re being treated to absolutely classic Ash in this series, and age has only made him funnier. It looks like the chemistry between Ash and his new protégés is dry humor pitch perfect, and the balance of action, horror, humor, and quotable lines comes across as having everything in just the right balance. Plus, bonus, we get some new monsters along with the deadites.

We’re also getting a new character who is every bit the deadite ass kicker as Ash, and maybe looking to kick a little of Ash’s ass as well. Say that last bit five times fast. The character is brought to life wonderfully in the snippets we see of her by Lucy Lawless, and it should be fun seeing the onscreen comedic chemistry she and Bruce Campbell had back in their Xena days played up in an entirely new way.

This trailer absolutely fired on all cylinders, and it’s moved me from being cautiously optimistic to psychotically excited about the series. So, basically, it did its job pretty damned well.

Other than that, fans of cast and crew panels should rejoice as well. There have been a number of the 2015 panels getting officially released in full on Youtube in the last week, so those who either couldn’t make it or who just generally pass up on SDCC for personal reasons can still see and hear what was said about their favorite shows and movies ranging from Arrow to the new Star Wars.

Hopefully it’s enough to hold your geek over until that big event in Atlanta in just about… Wow… Only about 43 days to go as this sees electronic print. Hope to see you there.

PHANTOM NOTE: Be sure to tune in to the Needless Things Podcast tomorrow for even more coverage of the trailers of San Diego Comic Con!
Jerry Chandler is in full-on Dragon Con panic mode. He’s got way too much to do, and a short time until he gets there.

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