Trailer 1 — No Time to Die (2020)
Dajour: I must admit, I’ve never seen a Bond movie—and I’m not just talking the Daniel Craig ones, I mean in general. So, watching this I got the general plot but am missing context for a few things other than the very general knowledge I have of Bond. This cast is phenomenal. Daniel Craig and Ana De Armas both starred in Knives Out (2019) and play incredibly well off of each other. Plus, De Armas is a star in the making and gave the best performance in that film. Rami Malek will probably make a good villain seeing as how he exudes a general creepy vibe. But the standout here is clearly Lashana Lynch. A dark skinned black woman playing a double 0 agent is everything and she looks badass while doing it. As a trailer, however, this didn’t really stand out to me and if it wasn’t for the cast I would have no interest.
Nathan: Daniel Craig is back in the suit after proclaiming that he would never wear the outfit again until MGM and Universal showed him a new script alongside a sizeable paycheck. The trailer seems to present a movie focused on rectifying the past mistakes of the franchise while respecting the tradition set forth. An emphasis on connecting the dots between previous Bond films of the current era shows that the film is factoring the events of previous installments into how it tells its story, possibly using them as the crux of the plot. This could make it hard for newcomers or people who simply don’t remember what happened the last few films. On the plus side, the return to some of the older tropes of Bond, but with a twist (iconic gun barrel shot in a sewer and the Aston Martin doing a donut with machine guns), suggests moments of levity and callbacks that will help alleviate what appears to be a serious storyline with tense action sequences. The inclusion of a replacement for Bond is the most intriguing element of this film since it expands on the possibility of storylines and characters that could be included in future Bond movies whilst providing representation for black women in action films. If the filmmakers continue with this new 007, then they might make up for the use of the increasingly tired cliche about coming out of retirement to finish one last job. It would also neatly circumvent the problem of starting from scratch again once Craig finally passes on the role to the next generation. At the end of the day, this is a Bond film, so there’s an obvious checklist of what you’re going to see in the film: fancy cars, gadgets, sleek fashion and some adequate tension with bits of action and sexual innuendos. Even though the franchise has not been as innovative as other spy thrillers in the past few years, it still serves as a good time for those who know what they want, and the new alterations could rejuvenate it for the next decade.
Bella: Maybe I’m not the best person to review this since I barely remember anything about the previous Bond movies starring Daniel Craig, but I’ll try. As a trailer, this definitely succeeded in making me intrigued, though I’m not sure in the best way. The entire opening before the Metro Goldwyn Mayer logo flashed on screen made me audibly go “What?”, which I was unsure was a good sign or not. I then spent the entire rest of the trailer not being able to pinpoint what exactly the plot of this movie was going to be, which could be seen as a good thing since most trailers give away the entire plot pretty unabashedly. The confusion that I felt, brought on by the multiple unexplained—but still highlighted—character relationships, did leave me frustrated however. Am I supposed to know who this blonde woman is? Am I supposed to have already connected with their love story? Then why are they showing it again? Am I supposed to see this movie as a buddy cop type of thing thanks to the new 00 agent? How does Christoph Waltz’ character fit into this? Despite all of this confusion, however, I can say that this trailer did have a more serious quality that I enjoy in action films, including Craig’s semi cautious and tired “Bond…James Bond”. Rami Malek’s villainous voice over was also a big draw in.
Trailer 2 — Black Widow (2020)
Dajour: This trailer would have been so exciting in around 2012 or 2013 after Avengers (2012) came out, but as of now I’m wholly uninterested. Black Widow is dead, we all saw that happen in Endgame and Scarlett Johansson has become endlessly irritating as a human being—particularly due to her recent support of Woody Allen—making me not want to see anything she’s in. That would be the end of this Trailer Take except there goes Florence Pugh, and Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour. These are actors that I love and seeing them all in one film together is a must. Also, the ending graphic in the trailer where it goes from Black Widow’s silhouette to the film’s logo was really cool. So, I’m probably going to see this a few months after it comes out when it eventually ends up in streaming, despite my reservations about it being too little, too late.
Nathan: This is probably the most overdue Marvel character to get a film, due to the length of time that she has been in the universe along with the sizeable fanbase that Black Widow has acquired. This movie may be a bit confusing for audience members who saw or heard about Avengers: Endgame but are unaware that this movie takes place in the past. If they are willing to suspend their disbelief, then they should be fine, yet it could lead to a disconnect for those that worry to much about these kind of details. I’m appreciative that they are leaning into the Russian spy roots of the character, not because the actual backstory of Black Widow appears interesting, but instead because this allows the movie to feel more similar to a spy action thriller (a la Jason Bourne or Mission Impossible) wrapped up in a superhero guise. There are sure to be some world-building elements and callbacks to the comics for those interested in that. However, it’s doubtful that this will take center stage—except for a mention of the next Black Widow-esque character—since this movie appears to appeal more to the fans than Disney’s future plans for Marvel movies. The scenes that were shown include interesting physical fighting sequences, CGI scenes that appear serviceable but could end up being goofy, and the regular sarcastic wit found within MCU films. Hopefully, Black Widow focuses on the thriller aspects alongside what appears to be a family story arc since those will most likely carry the film, unless it’s somehow able to pull some serious introspection on the title character’s questionable moral actions. Don’t hold your breath on the last possible plot line since merchandise of ethically dubious characters is rarely put out by Disney.
Bella: I can safely say that I am pleasantly surprised by how this movie is shaping up to look. As I’m usually not extremely excited by ScarJo as an actress, I was a little disappointed to hear that there would be a whole multi-million dollar movie centered around her acting when Marvel could have instead taken a break from its factory-like pumping out of blockbusters and focused on story development for more Black Panther movies. I forgot, however, just how cool Black Widow is as a character. Seriously, who doesn’t love a cool Russian assassin story? Especially one that involves some childhood trauma that feeds our morbid curiosity (evil ballet?). And they’re adding some new characters to the MCU like Taskmaster and Red Guardian (who’s being played by David Harbour, which is pretty dope), only making the cast of said universe ever More Massive. Additionally, not only is there some cool intrigue with what Natasha calls “where it all started”, but there’s clearly some unresolved tensions with people from her past that can only lead to some excitement—as seen by that fight scene with her “sis”. That being said, I have to call out that scene with her “sister” as being a little too reminiscent of every other violent sibling confrontation that is only revealed to be such after the fact when one of the siblings says something like “Nice to see you too, BROTHER” or “I missed you, SISTER” (think every time Thor and Loki interacted for the first time in a given Marvel movie). Also, that shot of Natasha and the evil goons falling out of the sky as they shoot at her was kind of silly, but I digress.
Trailer 3 — Mulan (2020)
Dajour: “Another live-action remake,” everyone groaned. “Can Disney please come up with something else?” I agree, it has become tiring. But, wow this trailer feels fresh. The melody of Reflection, a classic Mulan song, playing throughout brings the nostalgic factor that could attract fans of the original while the rest feels like it is something new. The exclusion of Mulan’s god-tier soundtrack has caused a bit of controversy, but I honestly think that was the best direction Disney could have went with this. We already have the songs of the original we grew up with that we can listen to, if we’re going to revisit the Mulan story, why would we want to hear the same thing but probably worse? In fact, isn’t that always the argument against the live-action remakes? That they’re unoriginal, uninspired retreads of films we’ve all seen that make no attempt to add anything worthwhile? With this, Disney is doing something different, they’re finally attempting to change things up and now everyone complains that they can’t hear the songs they already know? Seems odd. Is this remake necessary? No, not at all. I’d prefer we have original new stories that don’t make it seem as if animation is a secondary medium to live-action. But, we all knew this remake was inevitable and if it has to exist I’d much rather one that does something different versus say, this year’s Aladdin and The Lion King. All that being said, the main actress, Yifei Liu’s support of the Hong Kong police in light of protests makes it difficult for me to give my money to this movie in theaters. Thus, I will probably watch online.
Nathan: The latest attempt by Disney to make people pay for a movie that they’ve already seen, except now it looks more realistic. On the bright side, this movie provides good representation for the Asian population and will hopefully open up the door for more roles, in addition to inspiring little children who can see themselves in the characters. While the beautiful animation and artwork of the original film are unable to transfer over, at least the set pieces and costume design look great and hopefully authentic to the time period. The story for this film holds good themes due to its focus on protecting those who are weaker than you and sticking by those who have helped you but the mystical elements and new additions could drag it down since the previous additions to live-action updates of Disney films haven’t always been necessary or bogged the movie down. The greatest casualty that this trailer makes abundantly clear is the loss of the awesome music that defined and gave longevity to the original film. The trailer’s line about making men out of the soldiers caused more anger than nostalgic remembrance since it underscores the loss of one of the original’s most important aspects, causing me to become too upset over something that won’t affect the millions of people going to see the movie. It’s a slightly modernized version of a movie that came out less than two decades ago and will probably make a billion dollars at the box office.
Bella: This is may be the first time that I am not horrified to see a Disney live action remake. This is probably due to the fact that most of the main characters are human (RIP Mushu) so no creepy CGI animals have to be front and center, but also, the animated version’s plot focus on fight scenes just seems like it could be easily translated to a live action style. On top of that, some of the shots from the first movie seem to have been recreated pretty identically, which is honestly enjoyable given the nostalgia and the realistic portrayal of certain elements of Chinese culture, particularly the painting of Mulan’s face for her consultation with the matchmaker. Despite this loyalty to the original movie, there were some noticeable deviations that are definitely either going to alienate audiences or add new excitement, like the new witch character and Mulan’s reveal as a woman being on the battlefield and seemingly sooner in the plot. I’m interested to see how this recreation turns out, especially after the whole scandal with the actress playing Mulan, Liu Tifei, supporting the Hong Kong police on Twitter and the subsequent call for boycotting the movie by some people. On a less serious note, I don’t know if it was just me, but the actor who plays the official who comes to town to call the males to war yells in the exact same voice as the original voice character, which makes me enormously happy.
Image Credits: Jacob Bilich