Posts Tagged ‘Evangeline Lilly’

One trailer shy of a Furious 7 joke. Sigh.

I know a lot of people are concerned that the bubble’s going to burst on movies geared towards those of the geekier sort. If, however, the quality of the six movies whose trailers dropped within the last two weeks is any indication of their quality, then I think we’re good, where movies are concerned, for the next couple years. The last four days alone have seen most of those trailers released into the murky atmosphere of the internet, so I thought I’d go ahead and give you my thoughts on these films based on the most recent and previous trailers.large_trailer

Spoiler alert: I plan to see all of these films. I may have reservations about a few, some more than others, but I’m also the type of person who likes to experience the entire movie before I decide whether it’s the new love of my life, the biggest assault on the senses since Batman & Robin, or a disposable piece of fluff.

I’m just that type of girl. Go figure. Anywho, on to the trailers.

Second spoiler warning: The Terminator Genisys trailer gives away the biggest twist of the movie, so if you’ve managed to avoid it and want to remain in the dark I’d recommend scrolling down really, really fast and move on to the next trailer at a furious pace!

Jurassic World – June 12, 2015

Since the first trailer dropped I’ve been on board with the concept of Jurassic World as the logical extension of the original Jurassic Park (1993). Park and World share the same themes of scientific and corporate hubris with World upping the ante as the genetically modified dinosaur created to boost attendance wreaks havoc on the park. Previous trailers and clips have shown the movie will definitely be calling back to some of the more well-known moments in the first film while sticking to the tried and true formula of monster movie scares, dinosaur fights, and possibly some philosophical discussion about blah, blah, blah and oh my God Chris Pratt on a motorcycle riding with his velociraptor hunting pack! Ahem. Sorry, what was I talking about? Anyway, at the very least the movie promises to at least be visually stunning with each park attraction having a very Disney-esque immersion happening. And I know this is wishful thinking, but if there’s any chance Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm could make a for real cameo, I’d consider this movie a win.

Terminator Genisys – July 1, 2015

Yeah, I’m not sure why a trailer was made that gives away what would arguably be the biggest mind-blowing moment in the movie, but there ya go. Either the filmmakers and the production company really think Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the franchise will put butts in seats just because or they’re really worried no one will see this movie because the last two installments didn’t do them any favors. To be fair, the premise is intriguing. With all the time travel that goes on in the myopic missions of machines trying desperately to eliminate one dude from the timeline, the idea of alternate timelines and what if scenarios actually makes sense. Of course, the type of time travel setup in the Terminator movies requires time to be linear otherwise John Connor’s future would keep changing. There’s also the notion of fate and fixed points in time because the machines keep sending assassins to kill John and his mother and yet they never succeed. But I’ve already put too much thought into this movie. Sorry, time travel as a narrative device is one of those things I obsessively pick apart. But hey, Emilia Clarke looks like a rad young Sarah Connor!

Ant-Man – July 17, 2015

I like the trailers for this movie more and more. Yes, it’s disappointing that Janet Van Dyne, a founding member of the Avengers has been all but written out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but here’s hoping that Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne will become the Wasp and give Ant-Man a run for his money! After the teaser trailer left something to be desired based on the performance of previous Marvel trailers, this one definitely makes up for it in every way possible. Better jokes showing off Paul Rudd’s endless charm as thief turned hero, Scott Lang, and a nice hero turned mentor dynamic set up between Lang and Michael Douglas’ older Hank Pym. Since Hank was also a founding member of the Avengers in the comics, it’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate the Ant-Man origins into a world where superheroes have only been a recent thing. Plus, I’m really digging the effects as Ant-Man and Yellowjacket shrink and grow during their fights. Even though the climactic battle will occur in Scott’s daughter’s room among her toys, director Peyton Reed promises there’s much more to it than just a cute shot of an epic battle on a Thomas the Tank Engine.

Fantastic Four – August 7, 2015

The Fantastic Four…with powers! Much better, 20th Century Fox. Like Ant-Man, the Fantastic Four teaser trailer didn’t exactly wow anyone, but this trailer feels like we’re getting a better idea of what the movie will actually be about. Yes, the premise for Marvel’s first family has always been a bit hokey, but there’s plenty to work with as the crux of the movie will center on Reed Richard’s genius that leads to the discovery of another dimension and ultimately changes him and his friends into superpowered heroes. Oh, and Doctor Doom is there too. Doooooom! Reed’s sense of responsibility and his guilt are a huge driving force behind the character so I’m interested in seeing how this will play out in the movie. Crucial to this is the friendship between Reed and Ben Grimm, so hopefully the dynamic between Miles Teller and Jamie Bell has some meat to it. Otherwise we’re just looking at four strangers who happen to get cosmic powers, live together and have their lives taped. Like a superhero Real World. So, yeah, I like what I see from director Josh Trank so far. The effects look amazing and there was actually some humor. Thumbs up for now!

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – December 18, 2015

As someone who only looks at Star Wars through the movies (I know, I know Clone Wars and Rebels are part of the canon), I held out a lot of hope for Episode VII after being terribly disappointed by the prequels. Thankfully, it looks like J.J. Abrams will be doing right by the franchise because I love every friggin’ second of this trailer. The opening shot of the Star Destroyer is gorgeous and Luke’s narration made all the goosebumps happen. Do I really need to explain how awesome that final shot was? Do I? It’s Han and Chewie, for cryin’ out loud! This looks like the movie we’ve been waiting for as the older generation gets ready to pass the baton down to the next. How John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac’s characters factor into the universe post-Return of the Jedi still remains unclear, but that’s part of the fun. If all I have going into this movie are the ridiculously awesome visuals, then I’m still going in content with my ignorance of the plot. I want to be surprised by this movie and fall in love with Star Wars all over again.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25, 2016

Okay, not gonna lie, I’ve been down on the burgeoning DC Cinematic Universe for a while. Not because I dislike DC Comics, quite the opposite. I’ve been a DC fan since before I can remember, but Man of Steel was so underwhelming – for me – that it’s going to take a lot to change my mind about what this franchise can offer. At the very least, Batman v Superman holds promise. It won’t be out for another year, but I’m hoping Chris Terrio’s script tackles the rivalry and eventual friendship of Bats and Supes in a way that at least makes sense despite borrowing heavily from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns wherein their decades long friendship falls apart. Throw in a dizzying amount of cameos from other DC heroes and it’s quite the ambitious start on the road to Justice League. The religious connotations are, of course, present. Looks like Zack Snyder will be following up on the destruction of Metropolis and what it means to have a superpowered “savior” among us. Supes and religion isn’t new territory and Snyder isn’t shying away from the obvious symbolism, so hopefully the script handles it with some subtlety…please? Other than that, Henry Cavill still looks great as Superman and Ben Affleck looks good for the few seconds we get of him as Bruce Wayne and Batman. I’m pretty sure people will be griping about the “Batman gravel” in his voice, but those things don’t bother me. I just want to be able to walk out of a theater next March pumping my fist in the air and shouting “Yeah, Bats and Supes!”

So those are the most recent trailers. What did you guys think? Which movies are you the most excited for and does the trailer factor into that excitement?

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SPOILERS! Please do not continue beyond this point if you haven’t yet seen the movie! The same also applies if you’ve only read the book because they obviously deviate from the source material!

I’m not kidding…

You’ve been warned…

Okay, here we go!The Desolation of Smaug

The Desolation of Smaug (DoS) is a sequel in a prequel trilogy based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien that is as entertaining and magical as it is frustrating. Before I get into that, let’s recap and summarize. In An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a hobbit, was recruited by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) to join a company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to reclaim their homeland of Erebor from the dragon, Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). After fighting off orcs, goblins, and besting an unfortunate creature named Gollum in a game of riddles, Bilbo found the strength and courage to commit wholeheartedly to helping the dwarves in their quest to take back their home, earning their respect in the process. The Desolation of Smaug, mostly picks up where we left off, with the company making the final leg of their journey towards Erebor. The way is not without peril as they come across giant spiders, the elves of Mirkwood, a new orc pursuer, and the enterprising inhabitants of Lake-town. All of which leads them to Smaug himself. Elsewhere, Gandalf investigates the escape of the Nazgul from their prison and the veiled darkness at Dol Guldur that heralds Sauron’s return.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUGAs sequels go, Desolation of Smaug is an entirely different beast (heh). Unlike another sequel that came out this year, Catching Fire, or its twin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, Desolation of Smaug is not a standalone book with its own internal arc under the umbrella of a greater plot. DoS coasts on the plot set up by An Unexpected Journey, giving it more in common with Fellowship of the Ring in that the movie is more about atmosphere and defining the stakes of what lies ahead. The prevailing attitude towards The Hobbit trilogy has been the extension of a 300 page children’s book into three movies that precede a trilogy we’ve already seen, making the events of these new films a forgone conclusion. To flesh out the story, director and co-writer Peter Jackson along with fellow co-writers and producers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens borrowed from J.R.R. Tolkien’s supplementary material in the Appendices and The Silmarillion that delved into the history of Middle Earth and the events that took place before The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. While some cry foul on Jackson and company padding the films to justify the trilogy, Desolation of Smaug actually shows some payoff for the additional backstories and histories. Because DoS has no true narrative structure, Jackson cleverly uses the continuing story to thematically comment on the dangers of greed, power, and obsession that ultimately tie The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings.

Thorin and BilboHow, you might ask, does Jackson accomplish this task? Given that a lot of DoS is about moving the questing party from set piece to set piece, what links many of these pit stops to Erebor are the warnings and threats heaped on Thorin for daring to enter the mountain and take back his birthright. Hampering Thorin at every turn is the stereotype of dwarves as a greedy race concerned only with the pursuit of gold. Thorin’s grandfather, Thror, serves as the primary example since it was the madness induced by the Arkenstone that made him obsessed with acquiring more gold, thus attracting Smaug to Erebor. The Arkenstone functions a bit like the One Ring. It’s sought after for the power it represents, but it quickly becomes an object of obsession leading to one’s downfall. And while the Arkenstone serves the purpose of legitimizing Thorin’s rule, his obsession with obtaining it by any means necessary puts Bilbo, the people of Lake-town, and his own kin at risk. It’s really a testament to Richard Armitage’s abilities as an actor that the complexity of Thorin’s pride and gradual obsession with the quest’s completion work seamlessly in tandem. The closer he gets to Erebor, the more risks he’s willing to take, but you still understand the reasons behind them and sympathize with him. His pride and the survival of his people are at stake, but the closer he comes to succeeding, the more madness creeps into his eyes.Thranduil

The same themes of greed, power, and obsession creep up in just about every aspect of DoS. When the dwarves are captured by the Mirkwood elves, Thranduil (Lee Pace), the king that turned his back on Erebor when Smaug attacked, offers to help Thorin in exchange for the Arkenstone. When Thorin practically spits in his face, calling him out for abandoning his people in their time of need, Thranduil shows him exactly why we wasn’t so eager to go up against another dragon and that he’d warned Thror about the dangers of the Arkenstone but was ignored. His “betrayal” of the dwarves was as much a means of protecting his people as it was a sign that Thror’s obsession ultimately brought about the ruin of his own people and, by extension, the downfall of the surrounding kingdoms. Lake-town is a prime example of the consequences wrought from power and obsession. Without the dwarves to mine Erebor, and the threat of Smaug waking up looming over their heads, the residents of Lake-town live in relative squalor. So when Thorin returns and promises them and their corrupt mayor (Stephen Fry) with untold riches in return for their help, they jump at the chance to reap the rewards regardless of a prophecy spouted by Bard (Luke Evans) that says their town will burn should Thorin return to power. Even Smaug is both a symptom and a transgressor of greed and obsession. He usurps Erebor because of the gold, jewels, and treasure in the mines Thror hoarded and spends his days sleeping amongst the wealth while others suffer outside the mountain. He claims to be threatened by no one, yet he distinctly needs to maintain his dominance over the treasure and the power of the Arkenstone hidden therein. The treasure and the mountain are his but his need to boast and brag not only exposes his one vulnerable spot to Bilbo, but shows the extent to which obsession will drive even a powerful dragon to madness and revenge.

Bilbo and the ringNot even Bilbo Baggins, the bravest little hobbit of them all, is exempt from the lure of power. After the events of An Unexpected Journey, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is no longer a liability to the quest and proves himself to be more of an asset with each obstacle that comes their way, even if he is helped by a little trinket he found in the goblin tunnels. Freeman infuses Bilbo with the same loveable and endearingly quirky mannerisms, but with the acquisition of the ring, we begin to see a visceral reaction to the source of Sauron’s power the more Bilbo uses it. One scene early on in the film perfectly encapsulates how powerful the ring is and how adept Freeman is at showing its influence on Bilbo. After saving the dwarves from the spiders in Mirkwood, Bilbo loses the ring. Frantically searching for it, he sees it just as another spider approaches. In a moment of uncharacteristic brutality, Bilbo hacks the spider to death, taking the ring and smugly stating, “mine” to the carcass. It’s a chilling moment, made more so when Bilbo slowly snaps out of his fugue state and realizes what he’s done. The horror Freeman manages to convey without speaking a word is phenomenal.Legolas

As much as I’m singling Armitage and Freeman out, the truth is their performances, with a little help from Sir Ian McKellen, truly carry the film. Thorin, Bilbo, and Gandalf are the character’s we’re supposed to form attachments to because it’s their actions that are shaping the course of Middle Earth and leading us towards Lord of the Rings. Not that the rest of the cast slacks off. If anything, the returning cast benefits from the movie’s padding because it gives the audience a chance to get to know the dwarves a little more as we’re introduced to a slew of new characters that includes Thranduil, Bard the Bowman, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), captain of the Mirkwood guard, and the return of Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Thranduil’s son. Of the new cast, Pace stands out the most as Thranduil. He’s enigmatic, yet menacing, displaying an ethereal quality that belies a brutal nature reflected in Legolas as well. I know there were a lot of fears that Legolas was just being shoehorned into the film, but trust me when I say that the addition of Legolas and Tauriel help the story. Seeing a younger Legolas as a ruthless fighter (oddly enough played by an older Orlando Bloom) gives us a chance to see what led to his eventual participation in the Fellowship. He’s rough around the edges now, and there’s a great moment between him and Gloin that Lord of the Rings fans will get a kick out of, but Legolas does possess a good heart, one that will put him at the center of the war for Middle Earth.

TaurielThe creation of Tauriel is also a welcome deviation from Tolkien’s original work not just because it shows a little diversity amongst the male-dominated universe of Middle Earth, but Tauriel is the much-needed dissenting voice amongst the isolationist elves of Mirkwood. She, more than any of her people, understands the encroaching threat of darkness and it isn’t hard to see her influence on Legolas in the future, even if her heart lies with a certain dwarf named Kili (Aidan Turner). Yes, we have a bit of a fledgling romance between an elf and a dwarf, but it really isn’t as bad as you’d think. Part of what makes it work are Evangeline Lilly and Aiden Turner. They play the romance as low-key as possible, showing that Tauriel and Kili as sort of kindred spirits. For all of her badass fighting, Tauriel can be just as insightful and philosophical while Kili displays a knack for spinning funny stories and clever quips, though he’s not without a sentimental side, especially when it comes to his family and his homeland. You buy that these two characters could fall in love, though it’s no less intrusive on the plot than the strange love triangle that wasn’t between Aragorn, Arwen, and Eowyn.

 
So, I think that’s about it. Wait, I think there was something else I was going to talk about in greater detail. Something big and scaly that breathes fire…

 

Smaug

Oh, right, now I remember! OH MY GOD, SMAUG IS THE GREATEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THINGS! I’m not even kidding. In a movie that clocks in at two hours and forty minutes, Smaug only comes into play as a character in the last half-hour, but he’s worth the wait and the price of admission. This is clearly where all of the money went on the CGI budget because Smaug is the dragon by which all other dragons on film will be judged. Weta has truly created something special in the arrogant, lordly, and vengeful dragon. His movements – heavy, yet strangely graceful – his expressive face, and his booming voice (Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong!) all work together to create a believable menace and formidable enemy worthy of the fear that crosses the face of any who utter his name. When Bilbo finally enters the mines in search of the Arkenstone and encounters Smaug, the scene is on par in intensity with the game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum. You believe the danger is real and that Bilbo could easily be killed despite knowing that he’ll survive. That’s just good filmmaking.

On the whole, DoS is a remarkably enjoyable film, but there’s a sense of frustration surrounding it because of how it functions within the Hobbit trilogy. Unlike An Unexpected Journey that had a clear arc surrounding Bilbo’s full commitment to the quest, Desolation of Smaug is pure set-up. There are many exciting sequences – the river barrels, Gandalf at Dol Goldur, and everything with Smaug – but the entire purpose of these sequences is to stack the deck on the plot for the inevitable payoff in There and Back Again, which will be released in December 2014. I’m not kidding when I say that there was an audible groan of frustration from the crowd at my theater when DoS ended. I haven’t seen that kind of reaction since the end of Inception. But I guess the old adage is true: Keep them wanting more. I’m pretty sure we all want more and we’re all coming back.

Oh, and be on the lookout for Peter Jackson’s cameo at the beginning and Stephen Colbert’s cameo in Lake-town.