“Bombshell” Trailer Review!

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie are on fire in the new trailer for Bombshell, which recounts the explosive birth of the MeToo movement out of the wreckage of FOX News founder Roger Ailes’s downfall. And for Kidman and Theron at least, Bombshell could land them some well-deserved Oscar nominations.

The film tackles a difficult subject, with Kidman taking on the role of Gretchen Carlson, the controversial FOX News host who first spoke out about Ailes’ history of sexual harassment – Carlson herself recently revealed that, due to the terms of her settlement with Ailes, she is unable to say much about the upcoming film; but that she thinks it’s “amazing” that projects such as this and the Showtime series The Loudest Voice are continuing the conversation that started in July of 2016 (it’s worth noting that women have been speaking up about these issues long before Carlson, but for whatever reason it was her revelation that sparked a sudden furor in society): but let’s not forget that Carlson has herself made sexist, transphobic, and blatantly racist remarks in the past – and even though she says she doesn’t watch FOX anymore, it’s hard to say whether those were her own opinions or Ailes’. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron is Megyn Kelly, an even more controversial character; Kelly, who came forward with allegations against Ailes not long after Carlson and got into a very public fight with then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, is not a swell person either – during her time on FOX, she was a divisive and negative influence, and was forced to step down from her brief stint at NBC News after multiple incidents, such as defending racist Halloween costumes and encouraging body-shaming. So any attempt to portray either woman as heroines is inevitably going to court controversy – which may be why Bombshell has invented a third character, a third victim of Ailes’ unwanted advances, this one an entirely fictional young producer named Kayla Pospisil, played by Margot Robbie. While she’s not as prominent in the trailer, I feel certain the movie will make her out to be the emotional core of the complex story.

Regardless, the trailer is stirring and powerful, accompanied by a great song choice (Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”) and intentionally walking the line between biting satire and intense drama: there are unsubtle parodies of all of FOX’s most notorious hosts and contributors walking the hallways of this newsroom, including Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and, for whatever reason, Rudy Giuliani. And, of course, there’s Kate McKinnon to provide some of her classic wise-cracks – plus, there’s a brief appearance from D’arcy Carden of The Good Place, who is also a fantastic comedian.

So what do you think of the trailer? Is Bombshell going to be a hard sell with audiences and critics alike, or is it going to earn one of its three leads a Best Actress nomination – or a win? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 9/10

“Dolittle” Trailer Review!

We’ve grown so accustomed to Robert Downey Jr. being a movie-star, it’s hard to imagine him ever losing that status. But Dolittle seems intent on sending Downey back to obscurity, with a lonely January release date, and a poorly executed trailer that showcases bad CGI, and a badly exaggerated British accent from Downey, who is clearly much more comfortable in a suit of iron armor: and can we really blame him? The role of Iron Man was tailor-made for the actor – whereas that of Dr. Dolittle is perhaps better suited to someone like comedian Michael Sheen, who will actually have a prominent voice role in Dolittle.

There is charm in this newly released trailer, and a sense of wonderment that is appropriate for the material: too often, these days, even the smallest, most intimate stories get turned into big-budget CGI spectacles – the first look at The Secret Garden is a good example of a low-stakes children’s classic rudely transformed into a mindless mess of visual effects wizardry. So in that regard, perhaps it’s encouraging that Dolittle is going in a different direction, with shots pulled straight from the pages of a fairytale – specifically, I’m thinking of the adventures of Sinbad, since Dolittle also has a sea-faring journey at its heart, as well as a faux-Indian setting (along with all its traditional, if rather stereotypical accouterments, such as hungry tigers, golden palaces, lavish banquets, and a malicious prince with dark eyeliner played by a non-Indian actor).

Now, it’s worth noting that this trailer, despite being two minutes long, mostly consists of large animals hurrying about without rhyme or reason. It seems that Dolittle will be called upon by the Queen of England to find a cure for a mysterious illness by traveling the seven seas with his menagerie of talking animals, but absolutely none of that is even hinted at in the trailer. Instead, we listen to a rendition of “What A Wonderful World” (a great song, but overused), while Dolittle himself mumbles almost incoherently about how it’s okay to be scared (meanwhile, his sailing ship is literally being torn to pieces by enemy warships, and he’s just crashed out on the deck in a clumsy 19th Century diving-suit: personally, if I were in such a situation, I think I’d be trying to get away as fast as possible, rather than just sitting about, but whatever; you do you, Dolittle).

I mean, one thing to look forward to is the all-star cast: but almost all of them are voice roles, and does Emma Thompson even count? She’s in literally everything these days: it’s almost like we take for granted that “obviously, Emma Thompson’s in this movie too”.

So what do you think? Is RDJ a good fit for the role of Dolittle? Is this movie going to be a hit or miss with modern audiences? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 4/10

“Jungle Cruise” Trailer Review!

I’m just gonna say it, loud and clear: Jungle Cruise will be a billion-dollar blockbuster summer juggernaut next year. Even if the trailer had not been good, it would probably still crush its competition and rake in plenty of cash for Disney – but the trailer is fantastic.

I knew it was going to be good when Emily Blunt, decked out in her most Indiana Jones-esque fashion, came onscreen wielding a gigantic spear, trying to steal an ancient Amazonian arrowhead from a team of archaeologists in London. Having Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as her unwilling traveling companion hilariously trying to swindle her out of £15000 is also exceptionally fun – Johnson is an excellent comedian. We even catch a brief glimpse of Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first openly gay character, though he has no lines just yet. But for me, the main selling point for this film is adventure.

During the interminable wait until Indiana Jones 5, I have been waiting for a new, epic adventure movie: one with high-stakes, danger, action, a dash of humor, and all the thrills that Disney has to offer. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, a movie based off a theme park ride delivers up all that, and more. There’s huge waterfalls, giant snakes, and a warrior god protecting a magical tree in the Amazon Rainforest: is that not what your heart has been secretly hungering for these past few years? I literally breathed a sigh of relief watching this trailer, realizing that I’ve wanted this for so long. Jungle Cruise looks like it will manage to give us all the fun that we expect from classic adventure movies, but with modern sensibilities: including the appropriately diverse cast of heroes.

My only complaint, as of right now, is that the actual cruise boat is a bit smaller than I had imagined – that’s entirely my fault, though: for some reason, I was picturing some majestic Mississippi riverboat sluggishly moving down the Amazon…off the top of my head, I can’t recall whether any such vessels were ever actually built for travel on the jungle waterways, so perhaps for once Disney might actually be kind of historically accurate? Or, more likely, it’s just cheaper and easier to build an itty-bitty little jungle cruise than a gigantic one.

So the real question is not whether you will see Jungle Cruise, because I have no doubt that everyone will at some point, but whether or not you will see it simply because it’s a Disney movie, or because this trailer actually does an awesome job promoting this film. In this day and age, great trailers aren’t necessary to boost a film into the billion-dollar club (looking at you, Aladdin and The Lion King), but Jungle Cruise can’t be hindered by the fact that its marketing campaign is off to a great start. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 9.5/10

“Charlie’s Angels” Trailer Review!

Months ago, when we got our first look at Charlie’s Angels, as reimagined for modern audiences by director Elizabeth Banks, I had no idea what to expect, no idea what to critique, and what to compliment. I had never watched a single second of footage from the two previous Charlie’s Angels movies, or the 1970’s TV show that started it all. Well, I’m proud to say today that that has changed, and that, thanks to Netflix, who always seem to conveniently release older movies just when they’re relevant again, I have watched both of the original films. They’re bad movies: they’re cheesy, ridiculous, and laughable – they’ve got sexist and racist overtones, and are unabashedly and sometimes even uncomfortably intended for the male gaze: so it comes as no surprise that, unburdened by a male director, the modern Charlie’s Angels is quite the opposite of the two films that precede it.

I completely agree with what Banks is trying to do with the franchise, bringing in more diversity, focusing significantly more on the women themselves rather than their relationships with men, and shaking things up in the general premise of the plot.

Now, on the flip-side, Banks also seems to have gotten rid of one of the more unproblematic elements of the first two films: the crazy, over-the-top action that made those movies actually watchable – there were some iconic and clever fight scenes in those films, made possible through CGI wizardry and a lot of wire-work: the Angels repeatedly verged on becoming superhero ninjas, even defying the laws of gravity – the fact that there are not one, but two scenes in those films where the Angels successfully climb onto a helicopter in mid-air, is proof of that. And yes, it’s so hilariously implausible that it’s hard not to laugh, but isn’t that what made the series fun? But Banks has chosen to focus less on cool action-sequences than on “party vibes”, which is an okay route to go, I guess, but doesn’t compare to the sword-fights, race-car duels and motorbike murder from the first two films. And with actresses like Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott in this movie, is Banks seriously going to rob us of any cool fight sequences with the two?

And at the same time that the film is straying dangerously far from its roots into uncharted territory, the trailers are also extremely confusing: for one thing, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey all show up in this new trailer – except, their footage appears to be taken straight from the music video they did for the film’s hit song, “Don’t Call Me Angel”. So, um, are they in the movie…or not? I mean, I guess it makes sense, since the song is pretty much the only thing that has so far captured the public’s attention, so capitalizing on that is a surefire win…but also kind of perplexing, since audiences who haven’t watched the music video are now going to think that those three, popular singers are in the movie – or maybe they are! Who knows?

So, the trailers are almost definitely going to be a miss for many people, and long-range box-office tracking predicts that Charlie’s Angels itself will be a miss: I mean, honestly, it looks decent. What it lacks is brand recognition, action, and cohesion. What do you think? Are you going to see the film, or will this angel’s wings be broken at the box-office?

Trailer Rating: 5.9/10

Robert Downey Jr. Passes On Oscar Opportunity!

As the 2020 Oscars race heats up, and more and more actors throw their hats into the ring for a chance to take home the gold, we can be assured of one thing: Robert Downey Jr., the star of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, won’t be among the contenders at next year’s ceremony.

RDJ has been one of the most talked-about and hyped-up candidates for the Best Actor award, but despite the anger and outrage of fans, despite all the petitions in the world, the veteran actor has made it clear that he is not going to make a move for the prize: in a recent interview with Howard Stern, Downey rather vaguely suggested that he didn’t feel it was the right thing to do. “There was some talk about [an Oscar campaign], and I said, “let’s not”.”

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Downey didn’t give any specific reasoning for his choice, and it seems particularly surprising given how hotly anticipated his campaign already was in the media: Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo, along with Iron Man director Jon Favreau, had both publicly given Downey their support in the race, and millions of Marvel fans were completely behind the idea. Whether or not the Academy Awards would have recognized Downey’s position as the figurehead of one of Hollywood’s biggest and most fortunate film studios for the past decade is a question we now have no way of answering: but why? What could have inspired Downey to back away from the finish line when it seemed so close?

Well, obviously, his choice could be entirely personal. It’s possible he has better things to do with his time than try to win a shiny gold trophy. But it’s also possible that Downey recognizes an unfortunate trend in modern Hollywood, and has made his choice to avoid courting controversy and stirring up trouble: what I’m trying to say is that the Academy Awards simply might not want to give such a prestigious award to the star of a superhero movie.

The discussion we are having now has been the subject of a great number of essays, articles and opinion pieces in the past few days: it started a long time ago actually, but acclaimed director Martin Scorsese’s recent comments have made everyone sit up and take notice yet again. While promoting his new film The Irishman, Scorsese claimed that, despite having never watched a Marvel movie (he “tried”, to be fair), he believes that the films are “not cinema”, adding that “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” Scorsese’s controversial comments quickly riled up the internet – Marvel directors and actors responded in various different ways, from James Gunn being “saddened” to Samuel L. Jackson bluntly pointing out that “Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either”. As for Downey himself, he was cool about the whole subject, saying that, while Scorsese’s insult “makes no sense”, he still respects and appreciates the director’s opinion. But he’s also not going to intentionally upset the other filmmakers and Academy members who agree with Scorsese, by campaigning for an Oscar. Because there are others: many others, in fact. And The Hollywood Reporter has turned a spotlight on them in a fascinating new article published just today.

The article has nothing to do with Robert Downey Jr., or even Scorsese: instead, it’s about another comic book movie making headlines right now – that being Joker. A gritty, realistic approach to the genre (and unabashedly inspired by the works of Martin Scorsese, in fact), the supervillain origin story has generated plenty of Oscar buzz already, with critics praising Joaquin Phoenix’s intense performance. But today, Academy Award voters were asked to anonymously contribute their opinions on the film, and on the genre as a whole: and their responses confirm that Scorsese is not alone in his beliefs. Several stated that comic book movies hold zero interest for them, with some even pointedly referencing Scorsese’s comments in their rebuttals of the film – and as for the one who said that we live in an age of “sanitized, shrink-wrapped cinema”, well, I don’t know if he was referring specifically to comic book movies, but I can’t imagine his opinion of those is good. Some of them didn’t even have plans to see the film at all, or were reluctant to see it for a variety of reasons; some logical (security concerns), or illogical (comic book movies suck).

And these are Academy voters: the men and women who will decide who takes home the biggest awards in the entertainment industry. Are they biased? Yes, some of them are undoubtedly biased. A large number of them might be voting against movies that they haven’t even watched. Are they right in their condemnations of modern cinema – do superhero movies deserve to be called cinema at all, or are they nothing more than flashy merchandising ploys? That’s for you to decide. But imagine if Robert Downey Jr. were to step into this arena and even try to launch a campaign for Best Actor. There’s a strong chance he wouldn’t win, and his efforts would most likely be laughed at behind his back – the fact that Joker is still considered by many to be an Oscar darling, even after the reactions from those voters, just goes to show how badly superhero movies are usually treated by the industry. As frustrating as it is, the Academy’s electoral process is not fair; not by a long shot. Downey is probably better off steering far clear of all these shenanigans, and instead focusing on the things that matter to him – such as his plan to help clean up the environment using high-tech robotics.

So that’s that: Downey has made his choice. The Academy will probably end up nominating Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor in his stead, but it’s not a sure bet that he’ll win either. Avengers: Endgame, which is up for several other awards (including Best Picture and Best Director) is also an underdog going into this highly competitive fight to the death. And so we have to consider whether or not Black Panther, which won a considerable number of Oscars at this year’s ceremony, really was a fluke after all: did it signal a change, as we all thought at the time, or was it merely a cheap publicity stunt?

I leave the question for you to answer: how biased is the entertainment industry against comic book movies? Could RDJ have won an Oscar, if he had run? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!