Halftime Leisure

Trailer Takes: Justice League, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Baby Driver

March 29, 2017

Justice League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cxixDgHUYw

Anne: Usually I give superhero movies a lot of hate (one can only watch white men save the world so many times), but even I am not immune to the powers of Hollywood…or Ben Affleck. Perfectly paced with flawless special effects, this trailer is proof that Justice League will be a box office hit. Ezra Miller’s character brings the action back down to earth with casual, albeit calculated, humor, and adds a human dimension to otherwise superhuman personalities. I’m not quite sure why Amy Adams was spliced into the trailer, and the plot is not elucidated at all, but it promises plenty of action nonetheless.

Eman: So ya know how the trailer begins with Bruce Wayne tirelessly travelling to the edges of the Earth to locate Aquaman? Yeah, he’d have to work even harder to find a bigger Justice League fan than me  — a kid who grew up spending hours in the library everyday reading comic books. That being said, there’s a lot to unravel here but not much to REALLY get excited for, other than the actual concept of finally seeing the team all on the big screen for the first time ever (RIP Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl… *Mockingjay whistle*). The trailer is as expected: an “assemble the team” kind of trailer laying out the assets and quirks of each character while they fight off arbitrary foes or throw up some quips. I tell ya, Parademons is not the way to go with the first Justice League movie. The design is cool, but having Steppenwolf as the main villain coming with a legion of Parademons from the planet Apokolips is a bad idea for the first big movie to introduce this team. I’m sure more than half of you didn’t even understand that last sentence, and that’s why it’s a problem! They’re packing all this universe-building into the movie that’s introducing us to the main characters. And an explanation of Mother Boxes and Boom Tubes. And a subplot about The Flash and his incarcerated dad. And an underwater visit featuring Mera. And a Lord of the Rings-esque flashback to a great war against evil incarnate. And addressing the problem of bringing back Superman (you know they will). It’s unfortunate that films of the DC Cinematic Universe have devolved from films to corporate mandates  — they’re obviously scrambling to play catch-up with Marvel. Anyway, Justice League looks to be a clash of tones if this trailer is anything to go by. Note: Warner Bros. hired the company that edited the trailer for Suicide Squad to edit the actual film/music video Suicide Squad, so trailers are definitely something to go by with these guys! They’re nailing Batman, though, especially with his more subdued dry humor (love the “maybe temporary” line!). In Wonder Woman we trust. Cyborg has yet to impress me and his design is spectacularly horrible if you want my first impression. The Flash is just a projection of Ezra Miller but I’m intrigued by the effects of the speed force here. But dudebro Aquaman is the clear MVP here. I feel like he shotgunned a beer before he went out to battle. It’s a totally new interpretation of the character but I’m in love so far with Jason Momoa’s portrayal, which I think will finally bring WWE validation to that long derided character. They should give this guy his own movie or something. (They are.) The action looks entertaining enough but this trailer had no money shots! C’mon Zack! I’m conflicted. I’m in a glass case of emotions. So many questions. Will this movie depart from the self-important gospel of BvS and Man of Steel or is it scared of fans who think it’s not fun enough? The trailer really amps up the fun, but, for me, to no avail. Will this world now only exist in dark blue tinted environments under a perpetually stormy grey sky with occasional tinges of orange? Is there anyone even left to even save after what looks like the destruction of the world? Is that shot of Lois Lane just B-Roll from a previous film? Why are these movies filled with so much obvious green screen instead of believable environment? Will we get a Snyderfest of perpetual motion and sustained human emotion or an incoherent sensory overload of the heroes in tights fighting space bugs that exploded out of UPS boxes? Shut up, Eman, you already set aside the money to watch this movie 3-4 times. You’re right, Eman, I did.

Brynne: I’m not that into superhero plots, however, generally I prefer Marvel over DC superhero movies. Justice League seems to me like the second step for DC Comics (the first being Batman vs. Superman in 2016) towards losing the interest of patrons uninterested in the actual comics. Whereas Marvel reaches a wide audience with funny, albeit popcorn, films that have buyable plots beyond the action and characters that are developed beyond personal trauma backstories, DC is starting to rely on DC comic-insider nods and revenge plots based on the comics as a means of differentiation. Marvel indulges this as well, however clearly has a conception that money beats fan loyalty any day. DC Comics is beginning to cater to the die-hards and care less for centering films on all-audience accessible content. This is fine, and if I were a fan of the comics I would likely prefer it this way, however flashy trailers like this one that focus on the comfortable elements of superhero films that appeal to even the most dis-comic-connected audiences will only continue to put butts in seats for so long. Sooner or later it will be realized that if you’re not a DC Comics fan, the cost of your ticket to a DC Comics film is buying you a high-production action picture packed with references and subplots you don’t understand.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-jxEX1XQpY

Anne: I want to believe more than anything that Oprah will deliver in this film, but sadly, I’m not convinced after watching the trailer. She seems too big for the role—I can’t listen to her ill-attempt at a southern drawl without thinking, “YOU get a car! And YOU get a car!” Not only does her persona eclipse the character she’s playing (the daughter of Henrietta Lacks), but her acting leaves something to be desired. The story is compelling, though, even if a bit melodramatic. The trailer provides a glimpse into the nefarious side of science by uncovering the truth about Henrietta Lacks’ cells.

Eman: What’s this, you say? Oprah starring in a film she’s producing about being oppressed (Oprahssed)? Oh, how new. Sarcasm aside, I ain’t buyin’ it, bro. Oprah looks to be doing a good job (she’s producing this after all, she better be passionate), but I can’t help but feeling like she’s trying to channel a bit of recent Oscar-winner/queen-of-articulate-speeches Viola Davis, which I would never blame anyone for trying to do. The film itself looks to show a story of reclamation which could be an important thing to learn about, but could also come as too self-important. But I dunno, it seems poignant for poignancy’s sake.

Brynne: Aside from what looks like a solid performance by Renée Elise Goldsberry, this trailer doesn’t impress me. I’m tired of watching Oprah trying to establish herself as an actress. Rose Byrne is filling a role that will seemingly exist solely to elicit dramatic responses and occasional one-liners from Oprah. There’s no hint that the film will even begin to consider a moral justification for the illegal act on which the film is loosely based. I will note that, according to the wealth of knowledge always available in the Youtube comment section, I’ve learned that the film is based on a book which is largely focused on Oprah’s character. Still, a balanced look at the science and the personal would have made this trailer more enticing.

Baby Driver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2z857RSfhk

Anne: The first scene in the trailer definitely grabbed my attention. Not only does it show off a star-studded cast, including Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx, but it also incorporates music in an unorthodox way. Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver, and music seems to be the key to his professional success. This aspect of the film is not really explored in the trailer, though. This is a huge disappointment because it seems to be the only possible salvation for Baby Driver, a film otherwise doomed to be another forgettable action movie. The percussive background music kept me engaged, but without it I would have lost interest completely. The plot seems predictable– Baby (Ansel Elgort) has to make a choice between his job and the girl (Lily James) while dodging the aggressions of his coworker (Jamie Foxx) and boss (Kevin Spacey).

Eman: If Edgar Wright does something, I’m usually onboard. His style of filmmaking is wholly unique and wildly fun, which I think this trailer subdues just a little bit to its own fault (gotta make it more wide appealing yo). Although that heist planning scene is juicy and the car stunt following said heist is even juicier! We’ve got a pretty standardly predictable plot going on, but Wright often does this and then flips it on his head so I’m optimistic. Word out of recent film festivals that have screened Baby Driver has been extremely positive thus far. Someone even put it as “the La La Land of car chase movies.” I’m down.

Brynne: I’m not feeling Elgort’s Southern accent. Still pumped for the film, though. Though I’m in agreement with Anne, the romantic subplot is a bit disappointing, the trailer’s pace, colors, and camerawork all indicate this is still going to be a fun ride. I thought about The Nice Guys (2016) watching this film, and I think it’s because the colors in that film are so similar to the ones showcased in this trailer. Bright reds, yellows, and oranges are so refreshing in what can seem to be a mess of dark color-scheme films. They’re also reminiscent of the 70s and 80s, times which produced, yep I’m going to say it, some pretty groovy, fun, bite-sized films. I’m looking forward to this one.

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