by D.W. Lundberg

Friday, December 14, 2012


There's been a strange confluence of movie trailer releases over the past week, as if studios are already vying to one-up each other for Most Anticipated Film of 2013. I honestly can't remember the last time so many big-budget previews came out around the same time; has it now become like the Oscars, where you're forced to submit your entries before the new year rolls around in order to qualify? (FYI, you can expect most of these to debut in theaters along with The Hobbit today.)

That's not to say the movies themselves look like a waste; if anything, they're equally enticing in their own way, depending on your preference for genres. Thanks to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises last summer, audiences are primed, I think, to accept nothing less than perfection from their next potential Hollywood blockbuster. And these latest don't look to disappoint.

The "announcement teaser" for Paramount's Star Trek Into Darkness (due May 17th) debuted last Thursday, December 6th.* J.J. Abrams' knack for keeping fans in the dark about specific plot points is again in full swing, revealing next-to nothing about the identity of the series' newest bad guy, played here by Benedict Cumberbatch (from the BBC's Sherlock):

Speculation suggests that Cumberbatch is playing either Khan Noonien Singh (Trek's most notorious villain) or Gary Mitchell, a Starfleet officer who developed God-like powers in an episode of the original TV series. (The actor's recent comments to MTV seem to suggest either character.) You can also check out the Japanese version of the same teaser, which includes a curious familiar shot hidden at the end:

But wait: They can't be killing off Spock this early, can they? Especially since Abrams' franchise reboot is meant to show the prequel days of Trek? If Cumberbatch is indeed playing a younger version of Khan, then perhaps Into Darkness is merely setting us up for the future. In any case, this is exactly how a teaser should play, giving us a hint of things to come, rather than divulging its secrets too early.

Our next two trailers, however, reveal a little too much about the movies in question. This trailer for Oblivion (April 12), from the director of Tron Legacy, debuted on December 8th, starring Tom Cruise as WALL-E:

I like the early mystery of it, and then Morgan Freeman shows up, apparently, as the leader of the Morlocks - at which point Oblivion becomes the umpteenth version of every post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller you've ever seen. And is that Olga Kurylenko as Cruise's (supposedly) dead wife? Holy shades of Tarkovsky's Solaris! Still, the visuals are nifty, and that dragonfly spaceship thingy looks promising.

Then, on December 10th, Columbia released the trailer for After Earth (due June 7), starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith as a father/son team who crash land on Earth 1,000 years after it's been abandoned by humans. Is it me, or does this look like Oblivion's distant cousin?

It'll be fun, I suppose, to see Will and Jaden together again onscreen (the last time they starred opposite each other, it was for 2006's Oscar-baiting Pursuit Of Happyness). Less fun: After Earth is the latest big-screen venture from M. Night Shyamalan, who's found himself in a downward creative spiral ever since The Sixth Sense. Notice that his name is conspicuously missing from the trailer? I'm guessing "From the director of The Happening and The Last Airbender" wouldn't be much of a draw these days.

Westerns, too, have been less of a box office draw during the past few decades. Disney's July 3rd revamp of the classic Lone Ranger TV series aims to dispel that notion, thank you very much, coming from the guys behind the Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy. (The newest Ranger trailer made its way online December 11th.) Not sure what to think of Johnny Depp as Tonto, though:

That's Armie Hammer as John Reid/The Lone Ranger, by the way, whom you might recognize as the Winklevoss twins from The Social Network. Hammer was originally poised for superstardom when he was cast as the Batman in George Miller's failed Justice League project. Warner Bros put that production on hold so they could focus on solo efforts for their DC comic book heroes, but now that Marvel's The Avengers has grossed its gazillionth dollar at the box office, a new Justice League has been tapped for a Summer 2015 release.

Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel seems to be the first logical step in that direction - although, as is typical of most filmmakers these days, he's being particularly cagey about it. A viral campaign for the Superman reboot (soaring into theaters on June 13th) kicked off earlier this week, which led to this exclusive trailer:

Nice to finally see Henry Cavill in action as the Last Son of Krypton, as well as Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Ma and Pa Kent. (Blink and you'll miss Russell Crowe as Jor-El, or Amy Adams as Lois Lane.) It's looking like MOS aims to copy the epic realism of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Here's hoping they don't skimp on the fun.

Not surprisingly, G.I. Joe also began its life as a comic strip, appearing in Yank, the Army Weekly as early as 1942. Over sixty years and several toy lines later, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2009) turned out to be a modest hit for Paramount, grossing $300 million worldwide. The sequel, G.I. Joe Retaliation, was originally slated for release last summer, until the studio pulled it for reshoots. (It is now scheduled for release on March 29th.) Bruce Willis is a nice addition to the canon, though it's not hard to see that the new trailer has been marketed squarely at teenage boys:

Finally, the trailer for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures' Pacific Rim (directed by geek god Guillermo del Toro) premiered Wednesday, December 12. The premise for the July 11th release is as high concept as it gets: "When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge." Now I don't know about you, but seeing something like this in live-action has been a particular dream of mine ever since, well, this happened. For the closet kaiju fan in all of us, this looks crazy good:

And to think we still have full-on trailers for Fast And Furious 6, The Hangover: Part III (both May 24), Monsters University (June 21), and The Wolverine (July 26) yet to come! It's looking like this upcoming year will be one worth remembering. So tell me, folks: Which is your Most Anticipated Film of 2013?

* UPDATE: The "official" trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness is now online. Check it out here for all sorts of awesomeness.

1 comment:

  1. +1 for the Voltron reference! :) Oh, and Superman is the one I look forward to the most.