“Black Widow” Super Bowl TV Spot Review!

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow is only a few months out, and with a new line-up of character posts, special Twitter emojis and recently revealed tie-in merchandise, the film’s marketing campaign is heating up. Tonight, we’ve got a new Super Bowl TV spot that gives us tiny glimpses of new material: nothing too substantial, but just enough to keep us talking.

The brief teaser, which highlights each of the characters who make up Natasha Romanoff’s team of Russian special agents, features a voice-over from Romanoff, the Black Widow herself, who tells us that the Avengers weren’t her first family – before she was the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s super spy and legendary assassin, she was a member of the Red Room program, which trained her (along with her “sisters”, Yelena Belova and Melina Vostokoff) to be the world’s most lethal killers. Now, in the Black Widow movie, she’s taking on the Red Room with the help of her comrades, and facing off against an impressive roster of villains.

We still haven’t seen the face behind Taskmaster’s skull-shaped mask, but we’ve now got more proof that he is indeed displaying his comics-accurate abilities, such as the photographic reflexes that allow him to copy any opponent’s fighting moves – in this new trailer, he flips his shield in a manner reminiscent of Captain America’s classic move, implying that at some point he fought the First Avenger.

The trailers for this film have been careful to avoid showing any spoilers, and this one is no different. We still have no clue what will happen to Natasha’s family on their mission deep into Siberia: a theory created soon after the first trailer’s release suggested that Natasha could be seen holding Yelena Belova’s jacket in a scene after a helicopter crash, leading the internet to believe that Belova might have died in the crash. That theory is disproved by this new TV spot, which shows the whole family safely reunited at the crash-site and gathering in a circle to hold hands – with Natasha being the only member of the team to stand to the side.

What do you think of the TV spot, and do you think any of Natasha’s family are doomed to die in the hotly-anticipated Marvel thriller? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 6.5/10

“Black Widow” Special Look Review!

In what could technically be considered the second trailer for Marvel’s Black Widow but is instead being called the first “special look”, ex-KGB assassin Natasha Romanoff is forced to reunite a lethal team of trained killers to take on a new wave of Black Widows, and all the might of the villainous, government-operated Red Room program that created both them, and her.

This special look gives us a hint of what has spurred the events of the Black Widow movie, which take place after Romanoff went on the run following Captain America: Civil War but before Thanos’ invasion in Avengers: Infinity War. All the way back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha made a brave decision to leak all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency’s deepest, darkest secrets (including her own) onto the internet in an attempt to expose the far-reaching corruption of organizations like HYDRA. In this teaser, Natasha seems to reference that, saying “I was trying to do something good” when asked why she’s suddenly being stalked and hunted by Russian operatives.

But Natasha learned a lot from her mentor Nick Fury, and one of his lessons must have been how to assemble a great team – because she’s got the help of some of the deadliest Russians ever to bear arms in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at her side in her fight: Yelena Belova, her “sister”, whom we still don’t see wearing her iconic spider-eye mask, much to my dismay; Red Guardian, (played by David Harbour, currently the only member of the main cast without an Oscar nomination in real life), who appears to be something of a father figure to Natasha; and the mysterious Melina, a white-suited martial artist who has a certain maternal charm in one scene, and then cold-blooded killer instincts in another.

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These four are up against the Taskmaster, who has a much better showing in this teaser than he (or she?) did in the movie’s first trailer, which earned him/her a bunch of criticism for looking like a Power Ranger in the light of day. Interestingly, all of his/her scenes here are at night – and they look fantastic. In the first trailer it was hard to tell whether the character (who in the comics is legendary for his “photographic reflexes”, which allow him to mirror any opponent’s fighting moves) was displaying his/her unique power-set, but here there can be no question, as we see the masked mercenary perfectly replicate not only Natasha’s moves as they fight on a Budapest bridge, but also those of Natasha’s dear friend Steve Rogers, even employing the Captain’s very same shield-tricks. In the comics, Taskmaster is typically a man named Tony Masters – but it looks like Marvel could be shaking things up, because a couple other characters in this same movie have already been shown to have skills like “photographic reflexes”: Yelena Belova copies Natasha’s moves as they fight in her shabby apartment, and Melina emulates the fighter’s classic superhero pose at one point – and the “new wave of Widows” all seem to move in perfect harmony. Considering that all these characters originated in Russia’s Red Room, another possibility is that Taskmaster is the head of the program, or even the very first Black Widow (who in some comics is also Natasha’s identical clone, if I remember correctly).

So what do you think of the trailer? Do you think it’s a good idea for Natasha to work with a team, or will they stab her in the back (figuratively or literally)? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 7.8/10

“No Time To Die” Trailer Review!

Yesterday, Marvel Studios had to abruptly shift the release for their first Black Widow trailer to the middle of the night so as to give themselves ample room to break the internet before the hotly-anticipated first trailer for No Time To Die dropped. And now we can see why. The trailer for Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie is finally here, and it looks like the sort of film that Black Widow, with its similar spy-thriller vibes, will probably want to keep at arm’s length. But considering that both films are going to be released within the span of a few weeks, they will eventually come head-to-head, and it will be very interesting to see which one comes out on top.

No Time To Die has the advantage of being the latest installment in a well-established franchise, and fans are going to want to see Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond, since he’s made it very clear this is his last time playing the character. Fittingly, the plot of this movie revolves around Craig’s Bond coming out of retirement in Jamaica and being roped into a nefarious conspiracy. But along the way, he will end up passing the torch (sort of) to a new agent 007, this one a young black woman played by the extraordinary Lashana Lynch. Lynch’s character, named Nomi, may be new to the franchise, but she’s already charismatic and captivating in this first trailer, telling the middle-aged Bond to stay in his lane unless he wants her to put a bullet in his knee – “the one that works,” she adds. With her glamour and winning personality (and Phoebe Waller-Bridge writing all of this film’s female characters), Lynch is almost guaranteed to be one of the best things about this new Bond movie, and hopefully she’ll get to stay in the franchise for some time.

As for Rami Malek, his performance as the villain Safin is probably going to be hindered by the ghostly Phantom Of The Opera mask his character is wearing throughout most of the trailer. Hopefully the Oscar-winning actor has something more to do than just deliver villain speeches. Not that he won’t knock those villain speeches out of the park, but still, this is a Bond movie – give him something to do!

All in all, the film looks good: I do want to see more action, however, as most of what we see in the trailer consists of the standard building-blocks of any spy-movie trailer: cars careening over cliff roads? Check. Bicycle chase through a seaside village in Italy? Check. There are a couple of things that Bond has that other spies don’t, however – specifically, an Aston Martin with machine guns in the headlights. Stylish.

So what do you think? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8.5/10

“The King’s Man” Trailer Review!

The first trailer for Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man was an impressive, if wildly inaccurate, depiction of the First World War, and a veritable rogues gallery combining some of the most legendary criminals and heroes of the era into one high-stakes, epic adventure. It looked fun, a little ridiculous, and charmingly British. So how does the second trailer hold up?

Pretty well. It doesn’t do much to add to what we’ve already seen, and unfortunately there’s no big reveal – no new historical figure waiting to be turned into a ninja super-spy, that is. Even the stinger is just a mildly amusing joke about parachutes. But we do get some tantalizing glimpses of the characters we already know will be in the film.

Rasputin, obviously, is the big bad: he’s seen bewitching or poisoning Alexei Romanov, the Tsarevich of Russia, and battling British agents in the gilded halls of Moscow or Saint Petersburg. As I noted in my review of the first trailer, there’s no mention made of the famed princess Anastasia, but at the rate things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns out to also be a gifted martial-artist, code-breaker or military strategist. Vaughn is not wrong to choose Rasputin as a villain for his movie – Rasputin was a mysterious and frightening force in Russian politics, and his genius, whether mystic or mundane in origin, won him a place in the history books as a master manipulator, and a charismatic religious leader – but he should be cautious when playing so lightly with the very real, very tragic story of the Romanov Dynasty.

We get quick looks at our main characters fighting these historical figures in a variety of different locales – from the snowy streets and balconies of Russia to the streets of Sarajevo, the trenches of the Western Front, the Oval Office, and the manors of merry old England, retrieving ancient, magical artifacts and using high-tech gadgets. Kingsman is a franchise that has always wanted to be Indiana Jones or James Bond for a new generation – and The King’s Man could be the closest they ever get to achieving that. I know I’m excited to see this movie, even if it’s just so I can nitpick and shake my head at the willful distortion of historical events.

So the second trailer might not do much to increase my anticipation, but it doesn’t do anything to change my opinion on the film either, and that’s a good thing at least. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 5/10

“Underwater” Trailer!

Kristen Stewart is once again taking the internet by storm, only a month or two after the Charlie’s Angels trailer spurred an online tidal wave of rabid praise and swooning for the actress, whether because of her fashion statements, her smile, her short hair, her yoga pants; this time, though, the Kristen Stewart fanbase is taking it a step further – in the first trailer for Underwater, their idol is not only the paragon of style in her big round glasses, but is also firmly establishing herself as one of the Greatest Actresses of this generation. I have yet to see the evidence (that’s because it’s so subtle, apparently), but I’ll give her this: those glasses alone make this trailer much more interesting – but not quite enough.

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this film is supposed to be, but that might be because I’m so focused on the glasses that I wasn’t paying attention. I’ll take a wild guess it’s a horror thriller, but it can’t be that horrifying, because it’s still got a PG-13 rating. And is there a reason why the “monster” is being kept hidden? Shadowy glimpses of tentacles and some sort of vaguely frog-shaped silhouette are all well and good, but it’s not a lot to go on. And why is the submersible laboratory reminiscent of a sci-fi spaceship? Why do I feel like this is not an accurate representation of what it’s like to be a marine biologist?

And, most importantly, what is going on with the film’s logo? This is something that has continuously bothered me while watching and rewatching this trailer: the title font, which slowly, painstakingly, spells out the word Underwater in the most boring typeface I’ve ever seen, has nothing to do with the sensation of being underwater, and it doesn’t add anything to the film’s look, atmosphere or overall style. And yet it’s presented as if it’s so epic, it deserves to be part of the main action in the trailer – if they were going for that effect, why not at least present it on a background that has some water-ripple effects or something going on? It just looks like a missed opportunity to me.

I’m sorry, Kristen, but your performance simply isn’t as important as title-card layout. I feel like I nit-pick about the weirdest things in trailers sometimes, but this one had to be mentioned.

Honestly, the conversation about Stewart’s glasses has robbed the other actors in this trailer of any chance of recognition: I mean, seriously, are you going to completely ignore somebody like Mamoudou Athie, who gets, what, a single line of dialogue in the trailer – if even? You are? Well, that’s just unfair. I tell you, nobody stands a chance against Kristen Stewart these days: even in Charlie’s Angels, people were too busy obsessing over her haircut to even notice the incredible talent surrounding her, like Patrick Stewart and Naomi Scott. It’s the same here: that Lovecraftian sea-monster is going to take one look at her glasses and scamper back into whatever hellhole it issued from, because it knows it can never summon the Bisexual Energy™ that Kristen Stewart can.

What do you think of the first trailer for Underwater? Is Kristen Stewart too powerful to be stopped at this point? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 4/10

“Indiana Jones 5” Begins Filming Next Year!

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All the way back in 2008, it seemed like Harrison Ford was finally going to pass on the mantle (or, rather, fedora) of Indiana Jones to Shia LaBeouf, who played Indy’s long-lost son, “Mutt” Williams, in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Eleven years later, the fifth and presumably final installment in the franchise has yet to be released, and continues to get pushed further and further back, while Ford himself continues to get older and older, and…well, nobody even knows what Shia LaBeouf is up to these days, but most sources agree that he’s not planning on returning for the fifth film (which is fine, because he was one of the worst things about Crystal Skull), leaving the door open for a newer, fresher actor (or actress?) to enter the franchise at this late stage, and possibly even continue after Ford has exited. Then again, Ford himself is understandably upset with the idea that anyone could replace him: “When I’m gone, he’s gone”, the actor proclaimed in a recent interview, before telling Chris Pratt that, as long as he has any say in the matter, the franchise will die with him.

The possibility of the franchise ever having a satisfying “death”, however, is seemingly almost unlikely at this point, though. Indiana Jones 5 was originally set to release…a week ago. Obviously, that didn’t pan out, and the film is currently suspected to be aiming for a 2021 release date. News has just broken today that Harrison Ford will start filming in London, in April of 2020, giving the movie just enough time to become a summer blockbuster the year after. But the film’s success largely depends on how good a movie it is, and right now we simply don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes: Steven Spielberg will direct, but he’s been vague about whether or not George Lucas will be helping him in bringing almost forty years of tomb-raiding and whip-cracking to an end. Meanwhile, writers on the project have come and gone, with Jon Kasdan’s original script (which apparently brought the story back to its roots of Nazi-defying adventures in a late thirties environment) being scrapped in favor of a new, completely mysterious one by Dan Fogelman.

Personally, I’d love to see Indy go back to fighting Nazis, as much as I loved Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of a Soviet psychic in Crystal Skull (though she never actually got to show off said psychic powers, so that was a bit of a letdown). But the franchise definitely needs to change its tune – the aliens and atom bombs from the last installment felt very out of place in a series that’s supposed to be rather old-fashioned (though, we could probably do without some of the original films’ old-fashioned racism and sexism). But with Harrison Ford nearing eighty, it perhaps makes sense to have him in a slightly more modernistic setting – probably the late sixties or early seventies: in which case, we could still have him fight Nazis, but they would have to be rogue former scientists or generals living in hiding. There could be a pretty interesting story there, actually, if it was done well.

Since I just recently binge-watched all four movies and still loved them (Last Crusade is the best of the franchise; prove me wrong), I’m very excited to see what Spielberg and Ford have to offer for Indy’s final adventure. And if the fedora absolutely has to be passed on, I hope it’s to someone worthy of that honor (i.e, not Shia LaBeouf).

“Gemini Man” Second Trailer!

Nobody’s changed the boring sci-fi logo for this film, which is a real shame – but at least this time around they’ve made it glow, so that’s something. Seriously, I give them three months to swap that logo out for something even remotely interesting, and they give me the exact same thing but in neon blue?

As for the trailer itself, its content has gotten more convoluted than last time, but at least they’ve extracted some of the cringey dialogue like “You made a person out of another person”. But just wait; I’m sure that memorable line is still somewhere in the movie itself, they’ll just trick you into thinking they’ve changed so they can get you into the theater. Who would do such a thing?, you might ask. David Benioff, I might answer in this hypothetical scenario. Benioff, one of the two Game of Thrones screenwriters now literally synonymous with “bad writers” in Google’s database,  is undoubtedly going through a hard time – but that honestly doesn’t excuse the fact that he apparently wrote this film: and besides, he’s getting a job with Disney writing a Star Wars trilogy, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

Will Smith still seems to be trying really hard to sell this story about an assassin trying to rescue his young clone from a life of brainwashing and manipulation: granted, Gemini Man is able to get to that premise before the upcoming Marvel film Black Widow, which looks like it might include that element as well. But take a wild guess which one will succeed. Anyway, one problem with the trailer is that Will Smith – obviously – plays both himself and his younger-looking clone, and it’s very difficult to figure out when he’s talking or his clone is; leaving aside the fact that they look similar enough that it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart. And to top it off, Will Smith is the film’s only selling point, so he has to be the brunt of really bad title-card puns, like “Who WILL Save You?”

One thing this trailer improves is its action: apparently you can do quite a lot with a bicycle – though said bicycle scene seems to be the film’s crown jewel of action scenes so far, which makes me a little nervous. We’ve got a fight in a hardware store with young Will Smith riding a tank into battle – I think it’s young Will Smith, could be the random dude in the suit who shows up occasionally to look evil, though. There’s one cool sequence where our Will Smith throws a grenade at young Will Smith, only to have young Will Smith hit it with a bullet in mid-air and send it ricocheting back. Honestly, I’m having a very hard time finding anything interesting here at all. And having Will Smith (our Will Smith, not young Will Smith) tell the other Will Smith ominously at the end of the trailer that “This has to be stopped, because what if somebody knew what we really are?” – well, that doesn’t cut it either. Because I don’t frankly care what they really are: they’re Will Smith and a CGI construct of Will Smith – the trailers haven’t given me any reason to want to see what happens to them, or what secrets about their past might be uncovered.

Trailer Rating: 4/10

“The King’s Man” First Trailer!

No offense to director Matthew Vaughn, but now was probably the worst possible time to release this trailer. At least for me – probably only for me.

You see, I have only recently finished watching The Last Czars on Netflix: a semi-dramatized documentary about the final days of the Russian Czar Nicholas and his entire family, who were brutally murdered in 1918 during the Bolshevik Revolution. Their story was very closely linked with that of the highly mysterious monk and spiritual healer Grigori Rasputin. Now, I went into this six-episode series knowing full well what happened to each and every one of these people, and how they died horrific deaths: what I did not know was how the series would choose to depict each and every one in the most awful ways imaginable – from Rasputin’s terrifying ability to defy death several times even while he was poisoned and brutally injured, to the slow and agonizing deaths of the Czar’s four daughters, who were probably the last of the family to perish since they were wearing diamonds sewn into their clothes, granting them a temporary immunity to their murderers’ bullets. I was expecting the deaths to happen off-screen, preferably with a minimum amount of anguished screaming. I watched it at night (could it get any worse?), and I couldn’t sleep for hours afterward. The next morning I tried as hard as I could to forget what I had just witnessed.

And who shows up in today’s first trailer for the upcoming spy thriller The King’s Man? That’s right – the bearded monk Rasputin, looking rather more fictionalized, and showing an impressive skill at wielding…glass ornaments? Teapots? I’m not entirely sure what he’s holding at the 1:18 mark, but it’s also very difficult to focus on anything other than those wide eyes, eyes which supposedly hypnotized and enchanted the Czarina of Russia, to the point where she was unable to break free of his spell. I suspect we even see the Czarina in the trailer: one of the two women clinging to Rasputin’s arm as he strides through an elegant ballroom. Then again, the characters in this film are clearly only loosed based on their historical counterparts, since the IMDb page reveals that the fabled spy Mata Hari will also be in this movie, played by Gemma Arterton (who’s been getting her fair share of spy thrillers recently, coming off the unexpected success of Murder Mystery on Netflix), alongside characters like Field Marshall Haig; U.S. President Woodrow Wilson; the Kaiser Wilhelm II, Czar Nicholas II, and King George V of England, all played by Tom Hollander, which makes me suggest that somehow all three warring heads of state are going to be revealed to be the same man; and…and Rasputin’s real-life killer, the Russian prince Felix Yusupov (played by Daniel Brühl, Marvel’s “Baron Zemo”).

And this is what has me slightly upset. Not the fact that Rasputin is actually as terrifying as all get-out, and his portrayal in this film by Rhys Ifans looks even freakier (well, okay, that too), but the knowledge that this film is going to necessarily fictionalize a whole bunch of this part of history. Now, don’t get me wrong: I like historical fiction. Usually, seeing Mata Hari cross paths with Rasputin wouldn’t be a problem for me – but coming at this time, just after I’ve watched the most grim, grisly, realistic depiction of this very intense period of human history…well, it’s just coming at a bad time. Especially because this has so much potential: it could do so many things – it could, for instance, seek to capitalize on the very popular myths of the “escape” of Russian princess Anastasia Romanov. Let me stress that those are myths: trust me, I’ve just watched the documentary – the bodies of all seven Romanovs have been found as of this writing, and Anastasia is among them. She did not escape, no matter how much we may want to believe that she did. I’m going to make myself cry just writing this, because I loved imagining all the creative ways in which she could have made her daring escape from the House of Special Purpose. But, sadly, none of it’s true.

Anyway…that’s all I’m trying to say. At this moment, watching this trailer, my emotions on the subject are very raw, and I’m not currently relishing the idea of watching our British protagonists smuggle the princess out of Russia before the Bolsheviks (or Mata Hari?) can catch her. I don’t even know if that’s one of the film’s plot points – but if it is, I’d rather not know about it for a little while.

Moving on. The rest of the trailer looks really good, though I do have one other complaint. Namely, that this film already looks like it’s trying to copy certain aspects of my all-time favorite World War 1 film, Wonder Woman. Like, literally, right down to some of the shots in the trailer, such as when Ralph Fiennes (I think it’s him, at any rate) gets thrown through a wall by an explosion, while holding what looks to be a Germanic shield of some sort: it’s basically this shot:

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But with a lot less dimension: seriously, if you’re going to throw a guy through a wall, have him…I don’t know, fall from a height or something? Instead the man in question just falls onto a really barren patch of gray dirt. Not very visually interesting, if you ask me.

Aside from probably coincidental similarities (such as the scene of British soldiers going up over the trenches), we also have the peculiar appearance of a very familiar name in the cast: that of General Ludendorff, whom Wonder Woman fans will remember for his large role in that film, where he was…a glowing superhuman possessed by the Greek god Ares. I know, I was just complaining about fictionalization.

But leaving all that aside, I’m still a sucker for anything set during the Great War; I like Ralph Fiennes as an actor; and I think this film definitely has potential. It’s got elegance, wit, and a good dose of classic British daring-do. Let’s see how it is – and whether it’s got Mata Hari smuggling Anastasia out of a Russian empire controlled by King George – before we make any assumptions.

Trailer Rating: 6/10