by D.W. Lundberg

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


So here we are, not even two months into the summer movie season, and already studios are busy plugging their latest blockbusters scheduled for release after the summer's ended. Leave it to Hollywood, and its Lazy Susan manner of thinking, for keeping this particular gravy train rolling.

Last week, moviegoers welcomed the release of no less than three high-profile trailers - for a reboot, a prequel, and a sequel. Two of these, naturally, trade on your nostalgia for beloved returning characters, while the third assumes you've never even heard of its characters at all. Together, they give us an all-encompassing view of how to approach a potential franchise.

First up, Pixar's Monsters University, attached to theatrical prints of Brave. I've always liked Monsters Inc., though it's far from my favorite Disney/Pixar classic. The premise is clever, and two-year-old Boo is certainly one of animation's most adorable creations, but until its chase-through-the-factory climax, it lacks the breathless invention of the first two Toy Storys. Now comes the prequel, due on June 20, 2013, and set during Mike and Sully's pre-partner, pre-employment college days. Technically, this qualifies more as a teaser for the movie, since it offers just a glimpse of the hilarity to come:

I'm all for a decent prequel, and yes, Monsters, Inc.: When Sully Met Wazowsky does lend itself to some decent comic possibilities. But there's something amiss about the way Pixar insists on revisiting already-established characters - more a corporate decision than a purely creative one.

Next up: Dredd (in 3D!), with Karl "Bones McCoy" Urban as IPC Comics's world-famous one-man judge, jury and executioner. Bonus points if you remember they already made a version of Judge Dredd in 1995, starring Sylvester Stallone – an ugly, muddled mess of a movie vilified by fans for soft-pedaling the character's comic book mythology. September's grim, gritty reboot attempts to rectify the issue, co- written by Alex Garland of 28 Days Later fame. So, you know, there's always hope:

That plot, by the way, bears a striking resemblance to last year's festival favorite, The Raid: Redemption, which is also about a team of cops battling their way up a drug- and scum-infested apartment complex. Call it the world's first reboot/remake hybrid.

Finally, there's Taken 2, from director Olivier Megaton (has there ever been a name better suited for action pictures?), returning screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, and returning cast members Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen. The first Taken is something I enjoy more than I probably should, with its R-rated subject matter and bone-crunching action (the PG-13 version, released stateside, softens the violence a bit). But if you told me Neeson's character was really Jason Bourne living under an assumed name in his later years, I'd believe it - the guy is that good. The sequel promises more of the same, which is exactly what you'd want, I suppose:

So tell me, folks: Which of these trailers peaked your interest the most? Do they accomplish what they set out to do? And since Monsters University is the most family-friendly (and most recognized) of all three, does it catch your eye because the trailer's actually good, or because you'll follow Mike and Sully anywhere they take you? 

Dredd renders judgment on September 12, 2012. Taken 2 will find you October 5 in U.S. theaters. And Monsters University scares because it cares on June 20, 2013.

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