For the benefit of those who couldn’t make it out to Las Vegas for theater-owner convention CinemaCon, 20th Century Fox has been showing their exclusive new footage from the event to select writers on the studio lot. I was one of the writers invited, so before the things I saw make it into national trailers, I am going to use my words in this space to create pictures in your mind as to what the stuff looks like! Nifty, right? It’s like a magic trick or something.
Of all the reports from CinemaCon, the ones that most made me feel I was missing out were the stories about Fox actually bringing out Vanilla Ice to sing “Ice Age, Baby” in front of the Ice Age: Collision Course trailer. He’s not in the trailer itself, but another white rapper is: Eminem, whose music has somehow made it onto the sound system of the flying saucer that Scrat pilots to kick off the events of the movie, as seen in the short “Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe” that preceded The Peanuts Movie in theaters.
Like the last couple of Ice Age sequels, the new one again threatens to offer closure to the story, with a series of mysteriously purple-glowing asteroids headed for Earth, looking set to end the real Ice Age for good. Ironically, the trailer also features heavy use of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”—in its best moment, Scrat gets repeatedly hit by the sliding sci-fi doors on his UFO, only to finally escape…and make the fatal mistake of taunting the door, which promptly falls down on top of him.
Though I liked the first Ice Age movie, the series lost me once it started ignoring its own continuity, i.e. Scrat freezing and being thawed out centuries later, only to return for more sequels in the past. If, as is implied in what was shown, Eminem’s music actually is played in the spaceship and there’s a time-travel element, well… that bothers me more than it should too. To end on a positive note, I think it’s great that Denis Leary still gets to play a crabby saber-toothed cat.
X-Men: Apocalypse‘s new footage seems to be relying on our love of the ’90s cartoon more than previous versions have. However, not quite enough to bring back the old theme tune—instead, we get Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” which was, of course, everywhere for the entire second half of the ’90s (not enough people credit its origins on the soundtrack for Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight). Mystique actually wears her classic white and blue outfit from the comics, which is presumably a boon to both purist fans and Jennifer Lawrence, who doesn’t have to be naked and covered in paint the whole time.
I wasn’t keen on Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse voice in the first trailer, but that issue has been remedied by digital distortion and bass galore. We get to view more of his origin story, beginning with a shot of a human body laid on a slab in an Egyptian tomb. Blue energy starts to surround it, and the flesh morphs into that twisted Apocalypse face and lined body. I’m pretty sure there was also a quick shot of a blue-skinned Archangel, who has only been shown in human form so far.
There’s not much Jubilee yet, but Quicksilver gets a serious “Magneto—he’s my father!” moment that’s followed by a more comedic explanation of how intercourse works when his comrades look skeptical. Yes, one wonders if he’ll mention his sister over in the other movie franchise. Probably not. Nightcrawler is more featured, too, looking skinnier and more awkward (in a real-teen way) than the Alan Cumming version.
Amid scenes of the team battling in big, swirling piles of flying rubble, the footage comes to a climax as Cyclops says, “Not all of us can control our powers!” to which Mystique responds “Then don’t!” Laser eyes for everyone.
And then we’re into Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, beginning with what seems like an unfinished trailer, and then a full-on scene that appears to potentially be the comedic Big Moment the studio hopes everyone will be talking about.
Mike and Dave, played by Zac Efron and Adam Devine, are brothers in need of dates to the wedding of their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard), so they place an online ad. Due to the ad mentioning that the wedding takes place in Hawaii, it goes viral. Enter stoned, scuzzy schemers Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), who stalk the brothers and fake an automobile injury so that they can be “rescued” and fall in love in time for a free trip to Hawaii. Once there, much of the humor appears to be in the two ladies saying inappropriate things, like offering an outraged senior some of their weed, or asking a couple, “You’re so tiny, he’s so big. You take all that?”
Now, remember in Transformers 4 (yeah, yeah, you didn’t see it, but it was in the trailer) the scene where the car actually hits a cop in the head with its wheel, knocking him out? Picture that, only it’s Adam DeVine on a four-wheel ATV, and it’s his sister getting smacked in the face as he vehicle comes down off a big jump. Then they show her afterwards with wacky burn marks on her face.
Anyway, this is all just a precursor to the big gag, in which poor injured Jeanie goes to get a massage and relax the pain away. The moment you see the masseur is Kumail Nanjiani with a ponytail, you know something’s gonna be up. Alice, in a misguided attempt to be nice, slips Kumail some money and launches into a semi-coherent speech about how Jeanie needs a big release, wink-wink, nudge-nudge (yes, she says “wink-wink” and “nudge-nudge”), and then asks if he know what she’s saying. He responds, “I feel like I’ve gotten what you’re trying to say, but I figured it out. You didn’t really communicate it.”
In most other movies, the door would close and you’d just assume . Not here. This is the Big Scene. He takes off his shirt, squirts oil all over himself, says, “In my country they call oil ‘God’s beautiful lubricant.'” Though he insists it sounds better in his language, and rattles off a string of unfamiliar words followed by “lubricant.” Then he gets totally naked, pulls off Jeanie’s towel so she is too, and a montage of him basically simulating all kinds of sex on her begins, including him rubbing his buttocks all over her body while suspended from the ceiling by two slings.
Then we cut to outside, with DeVine’s character looking for his date. But what comedic timing—he opens the wrong door just in time to see his sister in the throes of passion. He responds with expected comedic repulsion, and she yells “GET OUT!” This is clearly the scene the filmmakers hope will get people talking. Best case, it’s the hair gel in There’s Something About Mary. Worst case, it’s the dog semen in Van Wilder.
Independence Day: Resurgence
I thought at first this next trailer was for Star Trek Beyond… before I realized that this isn’t Paramount, and Liam Hemsworth isn’t Chris Pine. A futuristic world with giant globe structures and hovering shuttles sure looks like some sci-fi tale of tomorrow, but it isn’t. It’s the alt-present in Independence Day: Resurgence, in which our coopting of alien technology has advanced the world considerably. Earth looks like a new kind of Utopia, at least until Jeff Goldblum discovers a new spaceship that has been sending out a distress call back home.
Well, in the second movie in a row to borrow from Transformers 4 (keep in mind, I’m the one guy who liked that movie, so that’s less a dis than a comparison), these aliens pull that thing Decepticon Lockdown did where they suck cities up into the air and then drop them down again.
An unspecified voice yells, “It’s touched down over the Atlantic!”
A reply: “Which part?”
The reply back: “ALL of it!”
Our military now has laser weapons, but these aliens appear to be gigantic. Roland Emmerich, who at the time of the first film boasted about bringing big effects movies in under budget, seems to be spending like there’s no tomorrow this time around. Or rather, like there was a Day After Tomorrow. Brent Spiner’s Dr. Okun isn’t dead, but Will Smith is. And yes, Bill Pullman starts to make another damn speech.
The kicker: Goldblum saying, “They like to get the landmarks!” just as Tower Bridge in London gets blown up.
Now it’s time for the Trolls movie. And when I told a coworker at my night job about this, he informed me that there actually is a lore surrounding the ugly toys with the big Don King hair, which he knows because before Six Flags Magic Mountain had Warner Bros character branding, it was Trolls-themed. The more you know…
The key to any Trolls movie clip is to take an idea I hate and make me not hate it. Did that happen? Read on.
It begins with Anna Kendrick’s pink troll, Poppy, camping out with Justin Timberlake’s green troll, Branch. She’s happy; he’s crabby. She has a series of picture frames made from popsicle sticks, featuring far too many pictures of what I assume are the rest of the film’s characters. After wishing goodnight to every single one individually, she starts to sing in order to fall asleep, which makes Branch mad, because he hates singing (get it? Because he’s Justin Timberlake). He emphasizes that he likes silence.
Which she takes as a greenlight to bust out a mandolin and do a full-on version of “The Sounds of Silence.” I bet Mike Nichols, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel never foresaw this.
And this is where it gets weird. The entire forest comes to life to back her up and make it this huge production number, but it’s insane. The sentient flora and fauna are all in blacklight-ish, fluorescent colors, and feature big, bizarre smiley faces with large teeth and crazy stares. It swiftly becomes apparent that, whether anyone involved with the production will admit it or not, this is taking the Yo Gabba Gabba route of not just aiming at kids, but looking to get repeat viewings every April 20… if you catch my (pungent) drift.
When the song ends, Branch asks if he may have the mandolin. Poppy gives it to him, and he smashes it and tosses it in their campfire, before rolling over to sleep. She starts warming her hands. “Hm. At least we’ll be warm. So toasty.” Mission accomplished. I didn’t hate it.
What’s next? Assassin’s Creed! Yay!
This teaser sells the sci-fi aspect hard, introducing Michael Fassbender as a death-row inmate who has been pronounced dead as part of a coverup. He’s now in a top-secret program to tap into his ancestor’s memories via virtual reality… thereby justifying him looking like Michael Fassbender but being a Middle Eastern assassin in the past. The hip-hop music is a little weird, but the outfits and action moves look as they should, despite some irritating drop-frame stutter-vision that feels to me like a trick to speed up fights they shot in slow-mo. The money shot is Fassbender diving off a super tall tower as seen from afar, then landing in the present day VR room with a massive mechanical arm attached to his back, like it had been doing all the crazy parkour for him.
Why Him? and Birth of a Nation
Why Him?, a movie now in production, features Bryan Cranston as the father of a girl who’s marrying a foul-mouthed, multi-tattooed Internet billionaire played by James Franco. If you find humor in Franco saying “Fuck” over and over again, this is your jam. The other key gags involve him getting the family Christmas card tattooed on his back as a good will gesture, and falling into a giant water tank in which the stuffed body of a moose is already submerged, for reasons I kinda-sorta can’t wait to learn more about. Keegan-Michael Key plays Franco’s weirdly accented spiritual guru, and a statue of a monkey in a Santa hat wielding a machine gun is a key visual, so rock on.
The totally incongruous Birth of a Nation trailer played next. This was the same one you may have seen already, but what a segue from Franco and Key being goofy to slave revolts and racism. Best watched by itself, rather than surrounded by escapism, but maybe they thought playing to the action crowd would be a useful tactic.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Following a Tim Burton tribute reel that included scenes from all his movies (yes, even Dark Shadows), an expanded version of the Miss Peregrine trailer played. Same beginning, with the underwater ship, but this time each character is introduced by onscreen name and special power (I expect character posters for this one):
Milard: A prankster who turns invisible. We see him cause a bar fight.
Olive: Has fiery fingers.
Bronwyn: Very strong.
Hugh: Spits and swallows swarms of bees.
Emma: Wears lead shoes so she won’t fly away.
White-haired and -eyed Samuel L. Jackson: Say what? And he commands what looks like a Necromorph from Dead Space? And there’s a stop-motion doll fight featuring doll things that look like the baby-head spider in Toy Story?
Yes, this is definitely Tim Burton. And it ends with a skeleton fight that looks like vintage Ray Harryhausen.
Title cards for Fox’s 2017 slate flew by too quickly to catch them all. I noticed Alien Covenant, “Untitled Wolverine,” an animated Ferdinand the Bull, and “Untitled Marvel.” Not Gambit, not Deadpool, but Untitled.
Related: I have decided the next Deadpool movie should be called DEADPOOL: CABLE FOR TWO. Agree? Disagree? That’s what comments below are for. Have at it.
Images: 20th Century Fox