“1917” First Trailer!

It’s shaping up to be a good year for World War I dramas – between this grim, harrowing account of two men racing against time to prevent a massacre on the battlefield, to The King’s Man, which seems to present a more romanticized view of British spies and assassins weaving through early 20th Century politics, pretty much all your bases are covered. So let’s talk about the first trailer for Sam Mendes’ 1917, which has just dropped today.

First up, the fact that it’s a joint Universal Studios/DreamWorks Pictures release stunned me right off the bat – I’m just not used to seeing the DreamWorks logo before a trailer filled with mustard gas, military chaos and the horrors of war: but here we are, and that’s what we’ve got. The trailer is masterfully edited to reflect the claustrophobia of the trenches on the front lines: it opens with a man running across an open field, being peppered with bullets and bombs, but the camera frame shrinks tighter and tighter around him, quickly becoming the second 1 in 1917, while the man himself is lost in a cloud of smoke. That’s quickly followed by darkly-lit shots of soldiers creeping through an abandoned building, guns at the ready – the shadows encroach around them oppressively before being abruptly shredded by a bomb exploding in their midst. As the air rings around the survivors, their voices are muffled and distant, their figures merely dark silhouettes in a fog. There are haunting shots of men wading through rivers clogged with dead bodies, or staring into the ever more rapidly shrinking title cards as if they’re caught in the enemy’s crosshairs, while the music beats in time to their gunfire.

And then, of course, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch: no decent British historical fiction would feel right without him. The cast also includes Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Richard Madden – as of right now, the film looks very (as in, entirely) male-driven: there’s only a single female character credited on IMDb, and since she doesn’t have a name except for “Mother”, I’ll bet she’s very unimportant to the story. That’s not necessarily a mark against the film, but plenty of war dramas can and do find enough time for at least one named female character to appear: though they’re typically little more than plot devices who inspire the soldiers to invoke their name as they charge into battle, or who can cry over said soldiers when their dead bodies are returned home for burial.

All in all, though, the film looks very good: with the market currently wanting more war dramas, I hope 1917 has enough appeal to win out over bigger, more mainstream releases like Roland Emmerich’s Midway, or The King’s Man.

Trailer Rating: 5/10

“The Witcher” First Trailer!

Firstly, let me preface this post by apologizing for my delay: I’m more than an hour late by now, due to not being able to get home fast enough. Destiny has arrived, so have I, and so has the first teaser trailer for The Witcher on Netflix!

My first impressions are a mix of chaos and confusion: I’ve never read the books or played the video games that this series will be based on, so I have almost no idea what the plot is – I am slightly familiar with the main characters like Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Ciri (Freya Allen), mostly because I watch a lot of videos by BookTubers who are devoted fans of The Witcher series: specifically Elliot Brooks – go check out her channel, it’s great.

But for right now, until she publishes her own review of the trailer, which will undoubtedly be far more intelligent than mine, I must work from what I know: very little. Okay, let’s dive in. Let’s see, we’ve got Elves, beautiful dark-skinned Elves for a change, and we get a tantalizing glimpse of the paradise they created long ago in this strange world, known as The Continent. These Elves were sorcerers, and taught the arts of chaos magic to humans – only to have the humans rise up against them and massacre them. From what I gather, that is a core theme of the series, both in book format and TV – humans are horrible, despicable creatures, little better than the monsters that populate their myths and dark imaginings. This trailer shows off just how wicked people can be, through some montages of them killing people…wait a second, for a moment there I thought this was Game of Thrones.

Netflix wants this to be Game of Thrones for a new audience dissatisfied with how that show ended, and so they’ve gone to elaborate lengths to make sure this show looks incredible. The production values are insane – beautiful costumes, realistic CGI, and mostly good wigs (there was a lot of worry about that last point, after Henry Cavill had shared a picture of himself wearing one depressingly-cheap set of platinum extensions). The only thing that indicates this show has to work on a somewhat smaller budget than your average movie studio is the general absence of top-notch talent – Cavill is the biggest star by far, and his co-stars are virtually unknown actresses. But thankfully, they do a pretty good job, in this trailer at least, of being mysteriously magical. Magic is one of the trailer’s big attractions, in my opinion: it’s always been an element that fantasy films and TV shows are wary of, because it can easily look and feel slightly ridiculous. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones both steered clear of depicting much magic onscreen, unless they absolutely had to: magic is something that usually finds its way into more light-hearted fare, such as The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. But The Witcher doesn’t shy away from fancy lights and displays of sorcery and enchantment: we have glowing trees in the desert, plenty of monsters (including giant spiders, can’t go wrong with those), catastrophic explosions of uncontrollable power, and even people throwing lightning from their hands. When was the last time you saw that in mainstream fantasy? It’s actually been a while since we’ve seen anyone but superheroes and psychic teenagers harness supernatural powers like this. At least, it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything like this.

Overall, it looks really good, definitely something that I’ll want to binge-watch when it arrives on Netflix this…Winter? I don’t know, the trailer doesn’t inform me. Well, whenever it comes out, it looks like it will be really good. Fingers crossed, people!

Trailer Rating: 8/10

“Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil” Full-Length Trailer!

Who expected Maleficent to be the year’s most epic family drama? Even Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, with its all-stars cast, pales in comparison to a film starring Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer as rivals vying to control – and mother – the rebellious young princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), in one epic custody battle involving magic, witchcraft, and giant bears ripping people limb-from-limb. We even get the pleasure of watching Jolie literally turn people into burning skeletons, while Pfeiffer takes aim at her with a hefty-looking crossbow, and – wait a moment: this is a Disney movie?

Indeed it is, proving that the Mouse House isn’t afraid to take some risks every now and again. After the first teaser for the film dropped, I was a little worried that the whole thing was just going to be a sparring match of witty one-liners between Jolie and Pfeiffer, and it might still boil down to that in the end: Jolie’s performance as the demonic sorceress Maleficent seems to be mostly about evoking a “mood” – with lines like “Don’t ruin my morning!” and “Love doesn’t always end well” dropped as if they’re mantras to live by, while her variety of outfits continue to stun and dazzle (though I still hate the wings: even worse, there’s more wings on the way, but we’ll get to that in a moment). Pfeiffer’s character, the Queen Ingrith, is quite clearly a villain: the smirk on her face as she embraces Aurora makes it kind of obvious that she’s not just concerned for the princess’ well-being – though it’s still a little unclear as to why she wants to risk open war with Maleficent’s forces of magic. As we go “beyond the fairytale”, a lot of things become unclear.

Granted, there’s still a lot of good stuff in the trailer: the darker elements are still very cool and surprising; Jolie and Pfeiffer are still good actresses, so their dynamic looks interesting and it does appear that we will indeed get some intense showdowns between them, such as I asked for after the first trailer; the production values look great (except for Jolie’s wings and horns: for some reason, Maleficent is the only character in the film whose costumes look completely bizarre and uncomfortable). The first film was criticized for relying too heavily on special effects, but honestly…the special effects look like they’ve only gotten better. There’s a real sense of danger from the trailer, something that Disney doesn’t often indulge in – I genuinely don’t know what will happen: will Maleficent conquer the forces that oppose her, and win back her adopted daughter? Will Aurora choose to leave the beguiling witch, and instead risk it all for true love? And what’s going on at the end of the trailer?

Near the end, we watch Jolie’s character get hit by crossbow arrows – fired by some of Ingrith’s own henchmen, or at least it appears that way. Anyway, she falls into the sea and is saved by a strange dark shape, that carries her away to some other mystical place of labyrinthine tunnels and glowing caverns where she encounters…Chiwetel Ejiofor? Sorry, that’s Chiwetel Ejiofor dressed up with horns and giant wings (wings that look just as ridiculous as Jolie’s). In fact, it turns out there’s a whole bunch of other demons like Maleficent (all of them winged and horned, to my dismay), and they want her to join them in their…war against Ingrith? Quest for world domination? Hunt for a better costume designer?

I don’t know what’s going on there, but it looks like both Maleficent and Aurora will be conflicted as their mother/daughter relationship is tested by the forces of evil – including Maleficent herself.

Trailer Rating: 7/10

“Charlie’s Angels” Trailer Review!

My first thought while watching this trailer was that Sir Patrick Stewart clearly didn’t want to be left out of all the wickedly charming fun that his good friend, Sir Ian McKellen, is having in The Good Liar. Yes, the first trailer for the upcoming spy-thriller Charlie’s Angels has dropped, giving us our first look at a fun, diverse cast of all-female heroines – and a cameo from Stewart, who strolls into the scene grinning from ear to ear. Interestingly, the two films will probably have to go up against each other in the busy November scene. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d predict that Charlie’s Angels will have the slight advantage at the box-office, due to its more light-hearted, comedic tone. But both films will likely be swallowed up in Frozen 2 fever, which leaves The Good Liar with the last laugh, as it can at least stick around long enough for an awards-season bonus round, whereas Charlie’s Angels…probably can’t.

But this film has something that too few films can boast: the aforementioned all-female lead cast. Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska – and Naomi Scott, still fresh off her own magic carpet-ride: here, though, Disney’s newest princess is a government whistle-blower, trying to prevent the creation of a dangerous new weapon that could lead to global catastrophe. These three talented women come together under the direction of Elizabeth Banks from The Hunger Games, who also stars in the movie as the leader of the team.

The action and adventure elements showcased in the trailer do tend to verge on the over-the-top and ridiculous – not so much because the stunts and situations themselves are humorous, but because the actresses are: even Scott, who was actually rather dramatic in Aladdin, but plays wide-eyed naivete very well here. If you’re looking for a Mission: Impossible movie, you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. But if you’re looking for Project Runway meets Mission: Impossible, well…that’s a little more like it. The actresses are perfect paragons of modern fashion.

And, the other notable thing to mention: the song. I feel like I’d be guilty of a crime if I didn’t mention it, considering the way this film is pushing it as if it’s one of the main marketing attractions. A collaboration of three talented musicians like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey is never a bad idea, and it sounds pretty good from what we hear of it in the trailer, but seriously, the film shouldn’t have to rely on its soundtrack to sell tickets. The cast pretty much sells itself.

One last thing: the trailer ends with the women answering, almost as if brainwashed, to the commands of some robotic voice called “Charlie”, which presumably explains the film’s title, but I (casual viewer that I am) have no idea what I’m supposed to make of that: a hint of suspense in an otherwise upbeat trailer? Just a fun nod to the 1970s TV series this film is based on?

Trailer Rating: 7.5/10

“The Good Liar” Trailer Review!

Sir Ian McKellen is one of the more interesting and unique faces on the Hollywood scene, popping up every now and again in a bizarre array of roles, from the kindly wizard Gandalf, to British novelist Arthur Conan Doyle, to a talking clock in Beauty & The Beast, and then disappearing quietly. Now, the Shakespearean actor is looking to nab his first Academy Award (not to mention a tidy profit at the box-office) with an elegant thriller where he will portray the cunning con-man Roy Courtnay, as he attempts to swindle a wealthy widow (Helen Mirren) out of her fortune.

The trailer itself is a work of art, beautifully edited and armed with the combined talents of McKellen’s charming (but oh, so evil) criminal and killer, and Mirren’s upper-class delicacy – whether arguing with her grandson or sprawled in shock across a floor, the actress is a portrait of perfection in these two minutes of action, suspense, and romantic drama.

Well, let’s amend that to just drama. While the official synopsis claims that McKellen’s character will develop true feelings for Mirren, leading to conflicts between him and his shadier business-associates, we see virtually none of that here – for the better, in my opinion. We’ve seen a sweet, mild-mannered McKellen so many times over the duration of his career that it will be a nice change to have him show off just how dangerous and dastardly he can be. That’s the McKellen we want to see, and that’s the McKellen we do see here – he’s throwing people in front of moving trains and smiling over his wicked schemes. He even has a villainous mustache! But you better savor this version of the character now, before the film reveals him to be a troubled soul who’s really not quite as bad as he makes out to be.

The film has a juicy release date in the middle of November, where it will undoubtedly be ripe for awards season (apart from McKellen, I could see Russell Tovey maybe winning some much-needed recognition for work in the film, where he plays Mirren’s concerned grandson), and could also rake in a comfortable profit at the box-office – director Bill Condon was the mastermind behind the huge financial successes of Beauty & The Beast and the final two Twilight movies.

Trailer Rating: 10/10

“Frozen 2” Official Trailer!

Brisk and tightly-paced, the first Frozen 2 full-length trailer gives us some interesting food for thought, but not a whole lot of answers to our burning questions. We do know, now, that the story will indeed focus on Queen Elsa’s magic, specifically its origins, as many suspected after the first teaser trailer.

So, right upfront we see the same beach-scene from the teaser, with Elsa running across the ocean, apparently trying to escape – but this time we see what happens after she plunges underwater, seemingly crushed by tons of falling ice. Obviously, she doesn’t die (thank you, plot armor!), but she does have a really weird encounter with a blue glowing horse…underwater. The horse seems to scare her, before it disappears in a cloud of bubbles. I don’t know what that’s about.

Vague exposition is then provided by my absolute least-favorite characters from the first Frozen movie: the Trolls. I mean, yeah, it makes sense that they might know what to do, since the chief Troll (his name is Pabbie, apparently, but I refuse to use that ridiculous name) was the one who originally made Elsa and Anna’s lives miserable. The Trolls sound concerned about Elsa’s powers and helpfully remind her that “the past is not what it seems”, while also providing flashbacks of a young Elsa staring out of the palace window, at the Northern Lights in the sky. The Trolls don’t seem to be the only people concerned for some reason, though: we can clearly see a whole bunch of citizens of Arendelle standing around in the background while Pabbie is talking – it seems clear: Elsa must have done something truly horrible with her ice-powers again, and she needs to figure out how to make it stop.

But…we get a glimpse of what she’s up to these days, and honestly it seems pretty innocent. She’s using magic to conjure up beautiful spectral horses (like the one she encountered earlier, perhaps?), giants, and amazing firework-displays – and she looks really happy about it. Who wouldn’t be? It looks pretty harmless. But no, for some reason, Elsa, Anna, Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff, and their snowman Olaf, all have to pack up and head north, on a journey “across the enchanted lands”, according to them Trolls. Like, seriously, Trolls? You couldn’t even give them a map, or decent directions? Go north across the enchanted lands. What does that even mean? And why do they have to go north? Is there something there that will explain Elsa’s powers?

Clearly, something goes wrong with their little road-trip (thanks a lot, Trolls), because we see Anna and Olaf off on their own, boating down a river in a charming little ice-canoe – and plunging over a waterfall. There’s a pink wildfire spreading through an autumnal forest, and interestingly we can people in gray outfits running away from it: do they live here? Then it looks like the fire was caused by Elsa, as it takes the shape of some hopping, glowing, star-burst thing. Kristoff swoops in on a reindeer to save Anna – except…wait a moment. It’s a quick scene, but we clearly see Anna running towards Elsa, who is curled up on the ground, motionless, when Kristoff rides in and grabs Anna. Why would he do that? Is Kristoff evil? What is going on?

Oh I see, we’re going “into the unknown”, now, thanks to Troll-narration.

Then we get more Trolls, and now they’re talking about how they “always feared” that Elsa’s powers were “too much for this world”. Again, though, the scenes used to back up this preposterous claim are happy, beautiful ones of Elsa conjuring giant snowflakes and stuff – though I’m really confused about one particular scene of her skiing up an ice-ramp and then just standing still, staring up at thousands of tiny crystal-diamonds falling from the sky. But on a side-note, the city of Arendelle has never looked as beautiful as it does in this trailer.

The trailer ends on an ominous note. Elsa and Anna walk hand-in-hand into a foggy circle of standing stones: as someone who knows my Celtic history, I can tell you for a fact that nothing good comes of walking into a circle of standing stones. Those are places of sacrifice, typically of the ritualistic variety.

And the last shot is of Elsa cowering behind a tree, as, in the background, something huge rises up from the darkness.

So, yeah. Something has gone wrong in Arendelle. I’m blaming it on the Trolls, personally, but it definitely looks like we’ll see the mysterious origins of Elsa’s power: is she the only one out there like her? If there are others, what can they do? After the first teaser, there was a lot of speculation that Elsa would run into somebody with Autumn-powers, since that trailer featured so much Autumn imagery, like falling leaves and stuff. Not as much of that shows up here, and we don’t even see the strange boy and girl that we glimpsed in the teaser.

So what do you think? What’s going on? How can Elsa fix this situation – and, what exactly is the situation? Too many Trolls, not enough answers.

Trailer Rating: 7/10

“Ad Astra” Trailer Review!

It’s been difficult for any sci-fi films to compete with the indomitable force that is Star Wars over the last couple of years, and so we’ve seen the genre descend into something of a niche – sci-fi and space-adventure films like Gravity and Interstellar still win awards and get critical praise, but tend to fall short at the box-office. Sci-fi adaptations have been few and far between: even Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, which should be an easy win for any studio, has been stuck in stasis over at Apple TV.

This year, 20th Century FOX (now owned by Disney) is going to be attempting the impossible, with a new, completely-original sci-fi epic that transforms award-bait Brad Pitt into an astronaut living in the shadow of his father, who was lost in the deep expanses of space. He’s got all the trademarks of one of your generic astronaut protagonist of the last few years – maybe it’s just the astronaut suit and the sort of vaguely Midwestern name, but our hero Roy McBride feels like an amalgamation of many stellar explorers who have come before.

The first part of the new Ad Astra trailer only seems to reinforce this: Liv Tyler gets the thankless job of playing Roy’s wife – again, one of the archetypal characters in modern astronaut thrillers. After meeting her, we’re then treated to some fairly generic explosions on the International Space Station that send Roy plummeting towards the surface of the Earth (I honestly have no clue how he makes it out of that alive). As he wakes up in a hospital bed, I’m already yawning and waiting for this to turn into a sequel to Gravity.

Yeah, no.

Immediately after that point, the trailer changes radically – Tyler’s character is going on about fires and explosions all over the world, Pitt discovers that his father is alive somewhere on the far side of the solar system, working on alien tech that could destroy the earth, and there’s…a car-chase on the Moon? The way this trailer plays on your subdued expectations, and makes you think you’re watching another sad, ponderous astronaut drama: and then suddenly throws you into a full-speed-ahead science-fiction epic? That’s brilliant. It’s like the best of both worlds – because don’t get me wrong, the trailer still unabashedly shows off how much Ad Astra wants praise (and awards) from critics; aside from Pitt and Tyler, the film also stars Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones and rising star Ruth Negga (who, unfortunately, is not seen in the trailer).

And yes, there is one epic action-scene on the Moon, with astronauts in little space-buggies zipping around shooting at each other – you honestly can’t go wrong with something like that.

Trailer Rating: 8.5/10

“Terminator: Dark Fate” Trailer!

One of the words that comes to mind immediately while watching this trailer is…wow. Just…wow.

I don’t even know if it’s a good “wow” or not. On the one hand, this is just James Cameron trying to breathe life into a tired franchise that feels generic in our modern world, over-saturated as we are with action thrillers, and sci-fi dystopians. He’s really not giving us anything new with this trailer, and that’s a shame. But on the other hand – well, it’s still got Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton reuniting one last time, and nobody’s going to want to miss that. I’m not even a Terminator fan, and it still feels like a big moment to me: Hamilton’s entrance, equipped with bazooka, is probably the best scene in the trailer.

But seriously, how can it not be? When Sarah Connor’s car screeches to a halt and she faces down the new Terminator (played by Gabriel Luna of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., here just barely managing not to reprise his role as Ghost Rider, creepy skull-mask, reckless driving and all), you immediately prepare for an epic showdown. Unfortunately, that suspense is lost pretty quickly – Connor guns down Luna’s character in a matter of seconds and carries away our protagonists, the half-human, half-robotic assassin Grace (Mackenzie Davis), and Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a half-human, half-Terminator girl. The trailer is pretty light on action, even though it can’t afford to be. Seriously, you’ve got these robots and androids and cyborgs running around – use them! Luna’s Terminator is this really cool and terrifying liquid-metal skeleton creature that is able to detach from his body – use that!

But no, the trailer’s “money shot” is instead Grace whacking Gabriel Luna’s Terminator over the head with a hammer. Like…a literal hammer, too, not some Hammer of Thor or anything. Just the most boring weapon imaginable. Unsurprisingly, we see Luna’s character shrug off the impact.

Where’s the fun in that? Especially after Cameron’s latest project Alita: Battle Angel, which featured very inventive high-tech robot weapons, this seems like a downgrade. Cameron and director Tim Miller better have something truly incredible up their sleeve: the shock and awe of seeing Schwarzenegger and Hamilton reunited is only going to last so long.

Trailer Rating: 6.5/10

“Toy Story 4” Final Trailer!

On June 21, for the last time, we will join Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Little Bo Peep and their gang of toys on an epic adventure to save a spork.

While the previous trailers for this final Toy Story outing have mostly been designed to bring tears to our eyes and leave us heartbroken, this one is a fun and goofy callback to this franchise’s golden age and the characters we love – with a few new additions, like the aforementioned Forky the spork, as well as Canada’s Greatest Stuntman, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) and a plushy duo voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael-Key. Bo Peep herself might as well count as a new addition, considering how much she’s changed since her last appearance in 1999.

The new trailer gives us a lot of great humor but very few plot details, so there’s not exactly a lot to discuss. Woody is taking a leap of faith on the back of a toy-motorcycle, Bo Peep is a daring adventurer who seems to have great proficiency at zip-lining, and Bunny and Ducky ambush an elderly lady – which, to me, is the most interesting moment in the trailer: in all the previous Toy Story movies, the toys have kept their existence a secret, “playing dead” when a human would enter a room – but here we see them literally attacking a lady. I’ll be interested to see if that has any consequences, or if it’s a purely hypothetical scenario, as it’s edited to look like in the trailer. Even if it is, Bunny and Ducky imply in their conversation with Buzz Lightyear that they’ve done “the ole’ plush rush” before – so…how does that work? Do the human residents of this town know about the animated toys waiting to attack? Why does this sound like the premise of a horror movie?

The trailer doesn’t bring much to the table, but it reinforces my tentative faith in this upcoming movie. I’m going to need that faith when walking into the movie theater – endings are the most difficult part of any story. I don’t expect Toy Story 4 to be a perfect finale to my favorite Pixar franchise, but it needs to be better than Toy Story 3. Fingers crossed.

Trailer Rating: 8/10

“Downton Abbey” Trailer!

The Crawley family has been expecting us at their iconic English country house, and this time around they’ve got company. The Downton Abbey movie places these familiar characters in a new predicament – preparing for a royal visit from the King and Queen.

If you ever doubted whether interior decorating could look epic, you should watch this trailer: you are wrong, I assure you. The situation might seem like proper fare for a comedy, but not here. There is drama and elegance in every folded sheet, every polished banister, each and every meticulously-scrubbed silver dish. There is suspense as Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) holds the family together even as the tension threatens to break them apart. There is a palpable sense of fear as the dreaded car arrives at the very end of the trailer – the music swells to a crescendo. Will the King and Queen be properly entertained by the royal luncheon, parade, and dinner? To quote Mrs. Patmore – “I think I might have to sit down!”

Downton Abbey knows the kind of audience its targeting – the audience that will cheer and gasp when all of the characters are revealed at the opening of the trailer, getting out of their fancy automobile; the audience that watched the TV series and will recognize every little Easter-egg hidden throughout the trailer, tiny British callbacks to the show. Downton Abbey‘s new status as a feature-length film, however, also means it’s targeting another type of viewer – the critic. The show broke the Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show of all time, winning 3 Golden Globes and 15 Emmys, and an 86% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Focus Features, the studio behind the Downton Abbey movie, is itself a critical darling, and star Maggie Smith has two Oscars to her name. Is this small-stakes, charmingly antiquated movie about laundry-folding and royal brunch actually going to aim for an Academy Award? It would certainly be a triumphant way for all involved to finally leave the show.

Well, I am certainly intrigued by the possibility that this movie might be more of an event film than previously guessed. It’s time to polish up the silverware and pour yourself some tea, sit back and eagerly wait for September.

Trailer Rating: 7.5/10

“Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil” Trailer!

Angelina Jolie is back in business as the horned witch Maleficent in the first full-length trailer for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (great title, by the way), looking just as demonic as ever. Coming hard on the heels of the announcement that Jolie will be joining the Marvel Studios team in next year’s The Eternals, it looks like the actress is going to enjoy our undivided attention – as we try to figure out which Marvel role she’s taking, and how she’ll match her performance in the first Maleficent, which was lauded as pretty much the only good thing about the movie.

Jolie is going up against Michelle Pfeiffer in the Maleficent sequel, which looks to be an interesting conflict – villainous female characters have always been relatively rare in Disney movies, so it’s cool to get not one, but two, here. If great acting is the best thing going for the Maleficent franchise, then Pfeiffer is probably a good choice – but her character, Queen Ingrith, doesn’t have much to do in the trailer: which is very upsetting, considering that Pfeiffer was already cheated of a cool action-heroine role in Ant-Man And The Wasp last year, even when she was armed with a wicked-looking javelin. Hopefully we’ll see her in a more active role here. The official synopsis says that Maleficent and Princess Aurora will be joining forces to protect the magical creatures of their homeland from “new adversaries” – i.e. probably Queen Ingrith. I have hope that Ingrith will be an active magical-beast-hunter, rather than someone who just sits around in a castle all day, exchanging witty quips with Maleficent.

Oh yeah, Princess Aurora is back, obviously, but she makes no impression on me from her brief appearance in the trailer, so we’ll just skip over her.

And on to…well, not much else, honestly. A few shots of ravens flying. One truly awful freeze-frame at 0:52 (which I just realized is also the trailer thumbnail) where Jolie’s costume looks horrendous – the wings do not work, in any way, shape or form, and the horned hairpiece looks like a cheap Halloween-store prop. The lighting in that shot is pretty bad, to be fair (green isn’t too flattering, in general), but Jolie’s makeup also seems odd.

Overall, pretty decent trailer, without a whole lot to offer. Nice to see Jolie donning the horns again, though (even if they do look ridiculous).

Trailer Rating: 6/10

“Judy” Trailer!

While it’s only a little more than a minute long and features no dialogue, the first trailer for the Judy Garland biopic Judy is a poignant and powerful statement about one of the 20th Century’s most tragic and beloved celebrities: it goes straight for the heart – and it doesn’t miss.

Firstly, there’s no denying that RenĂ©e Zellweger looks the part: and no surprise, considering the two-hour long transformation Zellweger had to go through daily on set to become Garland. The trailer features a heartbreaking rendition of Over The Rainbow by Zellweger herself, who makes it her own in a new – yet immediately familiar – fashion. The song, in fact, looks to be one of the key focuses of the movie, which will be set in the year leading up to Garland’s death at the age of 47, during which the singer and actress performed in London at a series of famous concerts. We catch brief glimpses of her life onstage in the trailer, including song-and-dance routines and filming for the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Garland’s Oz co-star Margaret Hamilton will even make an appearance, played by Fenella Woolgar.

But Judy will also look into Garland’s personal life, with Game of Thrones‘ Bella Ramsey portraying her daughter Lorna, while Finn Wittrock and Rufus Sewell will play Garland’s fifth and third husbands, respectively. There are hints of her drug addiction and her struggles with a life of stardom. Biopics such as these have a tendency to dig a little too deep into the dark sides of the people they portray, but musical biopics can leave us with an uplifting feeling even when the story being told is uniquely depressing. Just as Bohemian Rhapsody showed Freddie Mercury’s legacy of great music, so Judy must also: showing us the tragedy of her passing, but reminding us of the hope she left behind.

Judy has to compete with many other musical biopics, but the legacy of its larger-than-life protagonist will probably boost it into consideration for awards season, just like Bohemian Rhapsody before it. Hopefully we’ll get another trailer – one that perhaps doesn’t aim to rip out our heartstrings?

Trailer Rating: 10/10