The Sun is Also A Star: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnbdH4IHvkM
Jake: What I’ve always appreciated about every rom-com made after the release of Notting Hill (1999) on May 13, 1999 is how definitively they prove that god is dead and American culture was just a big ol’ oopsie that we should probably forget about and toss in the nearest dumpster fire.
Sky: Wow, I see Warner Brothers and MGM trying to use beautiful actors and aesthetically pleasing shots of the best city in the entire world to cover up for the fact that this movie seems like a cringe-fest, and, honestly, it almost worked. The opening cinematography of the trailer, the question, “What does America mean to you?”, and the revelation that the protagonist will have to leave the country soon because of some kind of immigration enforcement had me really intrigued. Then, I find out that this whole thing is just a set up for the painfully cliche premise of a rom-com where Natasha (Yara Shahidi) only has one day to fall in love with a charismatic stranger named Daniel (Charles Melton) who has just saved her life. I’m sure if you like rom-coms, this would totally be your jam—a cute New York City-based love story with a diverse cast and relevant political themes. However, at the end of the day, when Daniel says that one of his key ingredients to falling in love is “the X-factor” and Natasha asks, “What’s the X-factor?” and he responds by looking at her straight in the eyes and saying, “Don’t worry, we’ve got it,” I, personally, wanted to hurl my laptop across the room. If I see this movie, it will be because I’m homesick or because I could honestly listen to Yara Shahidi’s voice for days.
Margaret: I agree with Sky that the “X-factor” question was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard in a trailer takes. I’m fresh off of seeing Charles Melton in the “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” music video, so it’s good to know he still only has one facial expression: smolder. I really hope this movie capitalizes on its diverse cast and interesting angle on immigrant families, but when your trailer hits the “man with notebook of poems,” “I don’t believe in love,” and “give me a day” beats within the first 30 seconds, I don’t have much hope. @Halftime editors, don’t tease me with a trailer I think is going to be an astronomy documentary and then give me this.
Jake: This trailer had me asking a lot of questions. Questions like: “Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? / Who’s the man who would risk his neck for his brother, man? / Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?” I imagine these questions will haunt my days and nights for the weeks to come until this movie comes out and answers them. The movie looks genuinely terrible and a complete affront to the life and legacy of Richard Roundtree, but the protagonist seems like a complicated man. It’s a shame that no one understands him but his woman.
Author’s Note: Almost the entirety of the above take is just the lyrics from the 1971 theme of the original Shaft. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdZQu0yyrM0. This song won an Academy Award. The ‘70s were a strange and funkadelic time.
Sky: This movie has a lot of potential; it’s set in the best city in the entire world, I was vaguely entertained/amused throughout the entire trailer, and Samuel L. Jackson looks like he’ll be awesome (as usual). However, I feel like overall the movie is having an identity crisis. I never saw the first two Shafts (1971, 2000), but people in the YouTube comments say that this movie seems significantly different from its predecessors, so it must be true. I thought this was going to be a detective/action thriller type movie, but as the trailer progressed I began to think the film was actually a comedy. Then, when I Googled the movie to find out the cast, I saw the genre listed as crime/action, so now I’m just really confused. Additionally, some of the jokes weren’t even that funny, even though they took up a lot of the trailer. Having John Shaft Jr.’s mom (Regina Hall) refer to two women flirting with John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) as “Lady Syphilis” and “Madam Chlamydia” can be called tasteless at best. Overall, though, I would definitely give this movie the benefit of the doubt and go see it.
Margaret: This trailer sent me down a really interesting rabbit hole of the Shaft franchise and the history of blaxploitation films—a think-piece for another day and for someone with a better understanding. The film looks irreverent and fun with a great 70s soundtrack (which will hopefully answer some of Jake’s questions above). I can’t even imagine the cost of getting the two previous Shafts into this film, but it seems like Jessie Usher will bring a twist to this third generation to modernize the series a bit. I probably won’t see Shaft (2019) in theaters, but it will be on Netflix just two weeks after its theatrical release, so I’ll check it out there.
Jake: So far, every DC movie that has avoided mentioning a certain nocturnal-rodent themed character and his friend who enjoys nuking major cities with his super powers as much as he does dying with zero emotional impact has been an unmitigated success. Billy Batson (Zachary Levi) is a fun character, and the best stories with him always center on one thing: how f&*#!ing cool it would be to be a kid with superpowers. From that starting point, writers have done a lot to flesh out why and how Billy Batson is such a good person, what the meaning of hope is, yadda yadda yadda. While that’s what make those stories great, they still need to nail how cool it would be to get super powers when you’re a kid before they move on to actually writing the rest of a Shazam story. This trailer looks goofy as hell, the inclusion of Kendrick Lamar’s Humble makes no sense, and a grown man flosses in it. And that is fine. This is a movie about a dumb kid who is essentially a good person learning some responsibility. So if he acts dumb and like a kid and the rest of the trailer reflects that, I’m weirdly OK with it. I also just defended flossing on the internet, so I’m going to go take a cold shower, look myself in a mirror, and wonder where my parents went wrong.
Sky: I’m normally not one for superhero movies, but for some reason I’m very excited for this. I was honestly relieved to find out that this would be a comedy instead of a really heartbreaking film about a young boy’s emotional struggles within the foster care system (but maybe it still is? But in a lighthearted way?) Either way, the premise of an adolescent boy having a superhero alter-ego as a 30-something-year-old man has great comedic potential, and the material thus far revealed in the trailer does not disappoint. As Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has shown, there’s definitely something endearing, yet painfully relatable about watching extraordinary abilities being shoved upon those who are already enduring one of the most confusing and awkward times of their life. I’m definitely ready to start associating the term Shazam! with a fun superhero movie instead of an app that lets you identify background music.
Margaret: That is a ridiculous costume. It makes sense, since this movie is really leaning into the ridiculous side of this character, but I honestly couldn’t look away from the giant, bright lightening bolt. I do, however, trust the man inside the costume, Zachary Levi, to play a kid stuck in a man’s adult body—and a normal person thrown into superhero scenarios—pretty convincingly based on his time as Chuck in Chuck. On the other hand, I don’t quite trust DC with comedic superheroes (although Aquaman (2018) began to restore my faith in them). It seems goofy! It seems fun! It seems like I probably won’t see it in theaters because it’ll be released when I’m recovering from Captain Marvel (2019) and gearing up for Avengers: End Game (2019).