We’re back, with yet another handful of the week’s biggest and best trailers. It’s a weird mix of sequels, prequels and biopics this week – but that’s ok, weird is good! At least, most of these films seem to think so…
I never saw The Maze Runner, so I could easily be wrong, but this sequel appears to be a very different kind of film. The first seemed to be a semi-fantasy, Lord of the Flies type tale of teenagers trapped in an enormous and dangerous maze. This one, alas, reveals that the first film was all some kind of post-apocalyptic social experiment run by evil adults, because of course it was – it’s a YA book adaptation.
Gotta hand it to this series, though – no-one can accuse it of resting on its laurels and repeating the same plot again. From the get go this is a very different scenario, with the teens captured and detained by Aidan Gillen and his bizarre accent. There’s no mysterious maze, and no weird monsters (except in tubes) – instead, they’re fighting other humans in a scientific prison complex. Even when they apparently escape, we’ve moved from the first film’s forest to a desert wasteland.
This all looks very very different, and that could really be great for the series. But who’s willing to bet their “escape” is all part of another social experiment? Yeah, me too.
So this is an Adam Sandler film about old arcade games attacking the world and being fought off by slobbish gamers. Shockingly, given that description, it actually looks pretty good. The jokes are funny, and they’re surprisingly affectionate towards what they’re referencing.
The danger was always that Pixels would just be making fun of these old games – but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead there’s lots of nods to the fans (like the number-plates of the “ghost” cars) thrown in among the big croud-pleasing action. It feels as much aimed at people who know Tōru Iwatani as those who don’t, and I like that.
What sucks about this trailer, though, is that it feels like it shows us the whole film. We get the initial alien attacks, we get the military response, we get the big chase scene – and then there’s the Donkey Kong stuff, which is almost certainly the finale. It doesn’t just show us the whole story, either, it gives us plot spoilers too: Q*bert apparently becomes an ally, and Peter Dinklage isn’t in that final scene. That probably means Dinklage dies or gets captured (or maybe turns out to be the villain) but I’m choosing to believe he actually becomes Q*bert somehow. We’ll have to see.
Look, Hollywood, not every fictional character needs an origin story – and they certainly don’t all need an origin story where they’re mystically prophesied to become the character we know. It’s boring, it’s hackneyed, and it robs the character of their own agency. Which is exactly what looks to happen in this Peter Pan prequel.
That said, there is good stuff in here too. I love how young Peter is, for one thing, and Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard is an exciting prospect for a villain. The idea of Tigerlily and her people being some kind of weird circus tribe (presumably to make the whole “Indian” thing less racist) is also pretty interesting, if not particularly successful. There’s cool visual ideas, too, like the floating balls of water and tiny planets. Unfortunately none of this can change the fact that it all looks and feels a lot like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – a comparison that instantly kills all excitement stone dead.
For me, the only real ray of hope is seeing pre-Captain James Hook as some kind of jungle adventurer, not to mention Peter’s friend and ally. Unlike Peter, Hook’s future doesn’t look to be a preordained destiny, so whatever leads him to turn against his young friend will be the result of events and choices and his reactions to them – and that’s the kind of story I’m actually interested in seeing.
There’s not a great deal to be said about this first teaser, really. It shows us Michael Fassbender as the head of Apple, and we get a few snippets of context-free dialogue, but that’s about it. Fassbender definitely looks the part and, more importantly, sounds the part – I didn’t actually realise it was him talking the first time I watched this. It’s always nice seeing Seth Rogan in dramatic roles, too. But, as yet, there’s no real sense of what this film actually is.
Jobs has been portrayed as many things over the years – from a visionary who saved the computer industry, to a monster who broke the computer industry. Personally I kinda believe he was both, and the most interesting thing will be seeing which side the film comes down on. I just wish we got some idea from this trailer – but maybe that ambiguity is the point.
At the risk of becoming horribly predictable, this week’s Trailer of the Week goes to the trailer that looks the silliest and most fun. Again. But I can’t help it – the idea of a zombie-plague that only affects children, terrorising a school full of hapless teachers, is exactly my kind of stupid!
And while that premise certainly looks stupid, the movie itself doesn’t. It’s every teacher’s fear of getting a class full of little monsters, literalised in the form of Elijah Wood’s new-guy. There’s a deeper layer under all this that I really like. It explains why these zombies can open doors and throw switches and run – it’s because that’s what kids do. And, of course, kids also go straight for the face.
So if you want to go deeper, there’s some great stuff here. But if you don’t that’s cool too, because the surface level stuff is great too! It’s not the most original-looking zombie story, but it’s leaning heavily into that and playing the clichés for laughs. The use of the environment – using hockey-sticks and dodge-balls as weapons – is always fun to see, too. The horror is downplayed compared to the comedy, but the small amounts of gore we do see are nasty and well handled. But, let’s be honest, it’s the wanton violence against children that really works. From the first kid that gets whacked in the playground, to the last one that’s set on fire, this had me laughing throughout. It’s funny enough that I’m not even worried about whether that makes me a bad person.