Ever since Weinstein (or longer, really, with the Film Twitter outing of people like Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles feeling like the true kick-off in my mind,) I’ve become accustomed to seeing people I admire be suddenly and without much warning outed as bad people, and dropped like a hot potato from Hollywood at large. For a while there, it almost became something of a daily ritual: wake up, take a shit, find out someone I love is shit, put out a shitty response on a shitty certain network (you know the one), and continue with my day. It might hurt for a while, but ultimately I’ve viewed this entire #MeToo thing as a necessary pain for both the industry and our culture: bad people being outed and shamed for doing bad things, from Louis C.K. to Roseanne, was a necessary step in the betterment of our society. Even if things debatably went “too far,” (which I would argue was rarer than the alternative), I was pretty resolute in my opinion that everything going on was “right.”
I still feel this way, in regards to #MeToo. But today’s piece of Hollywood shaming is not about #MeToo, at least not directly. This isn’t an example of a person mentally or physically abusing someone, and getting away with it for years. Nor is it an example of a person saying something offensive or reprehensible, and facing swift punishment for it. No, James Gunn getting fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes in the form of tweets….really bad tweets…from over a decade ago.
The background, just in case you need it: James Gunn has been the writer/director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise thus far, a task he has handled with aplomb. They are critical hits, audience hits, and box office hits. And perhaps more than any other current MCU series (give or take a Thor: Ragnarok), Gunn’s unique voice is clear throughout both films, in the musical choices (all his) to the jokes and gags (mostly his.) He puts one hell of a unique stamp on the MCU, and even if the Guardians movies aren’t my absolute favorite of the franchise overall (hint: you can see where they both rank here), they are dependably great in large part because of him. So regardless of the reasons for his firing, this would be a damn shame, and a massive blow to the future of the MCU post Avengers 4.
But the circumstances of his firing turn things into, frankly, a clusterfuck of political and ethical and moral quandaries that I’m far figuring out my exact position on. I will make one thing completely clear though: the tweets in question that lead to Gunn’s firing are UNACCEPTABLE. They are in incredibly poor taste, stink of someone trying way too hard to be “edgy” (one of my least favorite character traits in a person, really), and are not even the slightest bit funny. Even just putting the morality of the tweets aside, everything about the ethos behind the tweets represents someone I would never want to encounter, nor want to support. Not just because the subject matter is bad, but because the sentiment behind it (SHOCKING and IN YOUR FACE and NOT AFRAID TO GO THERE humor) is so unbearable.
All that being said…this is a lot more complicated than simply being about bad tweets. The timetable for one is important, as pretty much all the tweets are from nearly a decade ago, and Gunn hasn’t exhibited the same penchant for that type of “humor” in the years since joining Disney and Marvel. Gunn also seems to be expressing remorse about the jokes, lauching a Twitter thread owning the horrid nature of the jokes, while still trying to explain how he has moved forward as a person and changed in the years since making them:
2. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
4. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
5. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
He was equally as remorseful in a written statement he released following Disney’s official decision to cut ties with him:
My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
So yeah: the tweets were bad then, are bad now, and everybody involved is aware of this. But is Gunn’s stupid jokes from a decade ago enough to take everything away from him? Furthermore, the tweets were a matter of pubic record for years: did Disney really not search Gunn’s history to see examples of his past public behavior? Did Gunn really not consider, in his years of reflection, that these tweets were terrible and should be purged before they got him in trouble? Apparently not, although I’m sure both parties will consider that a high priority moving forward. We’ve seen people get in trouble for bad tweets, even ones that were many years old (I remember Trevor Noah’s sexist “controversy,” do you?), but this is the first time I can remember that a studio actually had to respond to it in such a strong manner. Like with Roseanne before him, Disney has shown they are willing to cut ties with people they deem to be even a little bit controversial…for better or worse, really.
Of course, I can’t ignore the political angle of this, which adds just another shit nugget to the entirety of the proceedings. The main reason these tweets came to light in the first place was due to a concentrated effort of right-wing trolls (led by human diarrhea bag Mike Cernovich) to basically knock Gunn down a peg, and show that the outspoken director was guilty of his own bad behavior in the past. I want to make it clear: nothing that Cernovich or his ilk do, in my mind, is “right.” But the unfortunate, ugly truth of the matter is that this outcry had the desired effect — Gunn lost his job, and has been Publically Shamed on the Internet™. This counts as a gross win for them, but should we just pretend this is better than it is, because it benefits a bunch of people who are awful?
While there’s certainly a part of me that wants to rally against the forces that conspired to take down Gunn, it’s a lot harder to do that when actually looking at some of the tweets that he made. Would it not be hypocritical of me to cheer on the collapse of Roseanne Barr, while at the same time trying to defend Gunn and his actions? One of my least favorite things in the whole goddamn world is hypocrisy, and there’s plenty of that all-over today. Case in point: the alt-right cheering on the public shaming of an “enemy” over the “jokes” he made, when the same fuckers probably would be bemoaning about policial correctness and “social justice warriors” if it was someone they viewed to be on their side. Equally as hypocritical is some of the response I’ve seen from more left-leaning people: now they are the ones using the tactics of “it was a long time ago!” and “they were just jokes!” and a myriad of other ways of rationalizing Gunn’s behavior. That shit hasn’t excused past people celebrities who were Publically Shamed on the Internet™, and I don’t think it’s right to give Gunn the benefit of the doubt just because we like him.
On the same token…they were tweets. From a decade ago. And I’m not comfortably completely crucifying the man over them. But if it was someone I disliked…would I be? Would we all be? This matter is complicated as hell, and I’m not sure who is right or wrong here, or even if there is a true right or wrong. This kind of situation requires more nuance than I, or probably anyone sounding off on Twitter and the rest of the internet, can probably muster. All I know is that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is going to suffer big time for this, and that Marvel is going to have to work hard on restoring the damage to the brand. I return to the business and fanboy matters because, honestly, that’s all I can rationalize without feeling like I am wrong in some way. Because when it comes to the mortality and ethics of what happened here today, I’ll reiterate:
Fuck if I know.
Also published on Medium.
The Avengers: Endgame Trailer Offers More Questions Than It Does Answers But, To Be Fair, What Did You Expect?
Oh, by the way, it’s called “Endgame.” So that’s something, at least,
Has there ever in the history of time been a trailer more anticipated than the one for the fourth Avengers movie? You could argue the one for Star Wars: The Force Awakens maybe, and The Phantom Menace too. But the former was more a curiosity than anything, and the latter was released before trailers hit the internet so, really, it doesn’t count (sorry, olds!) But after the jaw dropping conclusion to Avengers: Infinity War, pretty much every person on the planet who saw the film is asking themselves one question: “How the FUCK is Donald Trump still president?” But after that, they are kinda curious how the hell all our MCU heroes are going to get out of this one.
And now our first
But before we get into that, the most concrete piece of information:
Except, no, I AM going to dwell on it too much. Because c’mon, guys: I am so tired of respected journalists (like Mike Ryan, in this case) asking filmmakers questions about their movies, and them just completely lying just to hide a secret. It’s a fucked up thing to do to the journalist and to the fans, and completely unnecessary to boot: just say you don’t want to comment! But brazenly dealing with half-truths like this (you see, Endgame might be in the movie, but Avengers: Endgame isn’t! HA HA, FOOLED YOU ALL) is so incredibly annoying. Stop it, filmmakers.
Outside of that specific bubble, though, I will say this about the title: it’s a title, all right. Not as cool as either Age of Ultron or Infinity War, but it gets the job done. Really, it would have been completely acceptable…if Disney and everyone involved didn’t try to hype up the damn thing so much — it’s not a
Now, the trailer itself? Actually pretty great, if you ask me. Though some might be mad about the lack of real clarity on anything within the trailer, I view that far more as a positive than a negative. What this trailer does well is build atmosphere, from the moment we open on Tony Stark alone on the Milano, all the way until the end. That opening monologue from Stark paints a grim portrait of the fate that our heroes have found themselves in and, although it’s pretty damn obvious this whole thing will be reversed within the course of the film, I still think there are some incredible opportunities to play in this post-apocalyptic sandbox before we’re back to the status quo. This trailer does a good job of presenting those opportunities, and truly setting up how screwed our heroes seem to be.
Of course, this isn’t Children of Men — this trailer is certainly starting to lay the groundwork for our heroes prevailing, even if the path ahead is a fraught one. Cap’s line about not knowing “what to do” if their plan goes south is a telling one — this is a latch ditch effort for the Avengers, and I hope desperation is a through-line for the entire film. They don’t know if their plan will work, but they have to try
Now on the subject of that plan? Who knows what the hell it is!
But, ah, that is only one of many questions this trailer presents! Other’s include:
- How did Tony Stark end up alone in space, about to lose all oxygen?
- Who the hell is going to save him? Captain Marvel?
- How did Scott get out of the Quantum Realm?
- Who the hell saved him? Captain Marvel? She can’t save everyone…right?
- Where the hell did Nebula go? Did she abandon him? I mean girl, yeah, I get it, but still: cold.
- Where is Rocket? Did he stick around on Earth with his new pal Thor?
- Speaking of which…where the hell is Thor at? Is that the Raft? Did he put himself in exile after his failure to do the damn job?
- And speaking of
saidjob: how long has it been here? Are we talking weeks? Months? Years? The trailer is extremely vague on that.
- Shuri disappeared? SHURI?! That blows.
- Hawkeye’s a badass now? I mean, thank god (Team #HawkeyeIsTheBestAvenger), but what caused this? I mean, you can fill in the blanks on that one, but still!
But, until then: can we just, like, chill internet? You got
Avengers: Endgame arrives in theaters everywhere April 26, 2019.
Also published on Medium.
The 6 Segments of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Ranked, Because That’s How Film Criticism Works Now (Sorry)
No, really: I’m truly sorry that the only way you’ll read my thoughts on the Coen Brother’s latest is through listicle form, but…nature of the beast, folks.
Having run a marginally successful movie blog in the past (a razor-thin margin, but still), I learned a few things when it comes to crafting things people will actually read on the internet. One of the things I learned? Reviews, for the most part, are not typically something people click on. Yeah, sometimes a fiery enough subhead might get people’s attention for a moment (this one certainly did the trick for me!), but it is usually a rare thing. A run-of-the-mill, standard film review will only gain traction if it’s A) one of the first reviews to be released for the pop culture in question (hard to do when everyone in the bigger markets gets to see things days if not weeks in advanced) or B) it’s from a notable critic with a major following. I am not that, so I (and hundreds like me) have to turn to another avenue to get eyeballs on these things: the tried-and-true listicle! Does a project of such magnificence and craft like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs deserve to be broken down into its base parts and dissected into a silly, arbitrary “rank” system? No, probably not. Will you and many others probably find yourself reading a list like that, solely in the pursuit of getting angry at the rankings I provide? I dunno, you’re still here, so you tell me.
Here’s the six segments of The Coen Brother’s grand Western anthology (formerly believed to be a television series, until it turned out it wasn’t), ranked for your instant disapproval. The assumption here is that you are reading this AFTER watching the film so, be warned, from here on out, we are in FULL SPOILER TOWN FOR EVERY SEGMENT IN The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Anyways, enjoy…?
6. “Near Algodones”
This is by far the worst segment in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which is to say it’s really good, just not great. It has a lot of things going for it though, namely in the technical category — there are some stunning shots from cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel here, and the production design of the sparse prairie is stunning, even watching it at home. I also have to fully admit to guffawing at the second-to-last line, which is a prime example of gallows humor at its finest.
But, unfortunately, where this segment falls flat is in its simplicity — it felt like the entire thing was just leading up to that one dark joke and that, ultimately, there just wasn’t a lot more for this segment to do or say. It’s just fifteen minutes of a cowboy getting caught, lucking out of his execution…then two minutes later randomly getting caught again, and getting executed for real this time. Yes, there’s definitely humor to be had in that set up and, once again, I did laugh at the misfortune of it all. But I can’t help but feel like this one was too abbreviated for its on good, and that the irony of its conclusion couldn’t have been better felt if it didn’t arrive so suddenly after what had just happened. If the segment had a little bit more room to breath after James Franco’s cowboy was initially rescued by the secret rustler, the tragedy of what had happened would have hit me a whole lot harder. Also, the last line is a bit nonsensical and unnecessary, while also somewhat deflating the fantastic “First time, huh?” gag before it.
But, hey: this segment does have a crazed Stephen Root wearing armor entirely comprised of kitchen cookware, screaming out “PANSHOT!” as he bum rushes a perplexed James Franco. So clearly anything with a scene like that can’t truly be bad, right?
5. “Meal Ticket”
My god, Meal Ticket is so fucked up, and I love it. It’s one of the slowest segments in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, sure (second only to the my next pick, really), but it’s all worth it for that absolutely haunting conclusion. How the Coen’s so subtly set up what’s about to go down (pretty much wordlessly — the Impresario and the artist never really talk to each other, at least directly) is masterful, and well there’s an angle of dark comedy to the whole proceedings, it’s mostly just a sad and depressing rumination on how artist’s get used and discarded, and that no one will really care about what happens to them once they’ve outstayed their value. It’s basically a little Western-set short version of Inside Llewyn Davis, and since that one is an all-timer amongst the Coen’s oeuvre (for me at least), I was prone to love it. Which I pretty much did.
So why is it my second to last pick for this list? Because I also loved the rest of the segments. Maybe even a smidge more. Or maybe even a smidge less. Who cares, the ranking is unimportant, the fundamental foundation of this very article is a lie, here simply to trap you into my ramblings about my two favorite filmmakers and their new, glorious film.
Let’s press on, shall we?
4. “All Gold Canyon”
“All Gold Canyon” and “Meal Ticket” were basically fighting neck-and-neck for these two spots, and I had a hard time at first deciding which one would outrank the other. But then I realized “Oh, ranking art is pretty much a bankrupt institution, there are no real rules to any of this, and nothing at all about how I decide to organize these segments really, effectively matters.” So that realization certainly moved things along, a bit.
Anyways, “All Gold Canyon”: I love the shit out of this thing. If “Meal Ticket” was the Coen’s playing in their Inside Llewyn Davis mindset, than “All Gold Canyon” is the brother’s back in the saddle of their No Country for Old Men/Blood Simple style. Sparse, procedural, nearly dialogue empty. Just watching one man do his job for like 20 minutes, only breaking away to tell an actual story in its final moments. And well the segment could have easily ended with the bandit killing the old man, rendering everything we saw absolutely pointless (in a cynical, darkly funny matter that is no stranger to the Coens), I love how it chooses to take the more “optimistic” approach, with the old man getting the upper hand, and getting to keep the entirety of Mr. Pocket. Character actor/musician Tom Waits absolutely makes the most of his old prospector character, creating a character you actually root for, in the face of the harshness that comes with life in the West. To give that guy a happy ending is a rare act of mercy for the Coen Brothers, but it left me absolutely beaming as the story concluded. The prospector got the gold he worked so damn hard for, and got to ride off on his little donkey, singing into the sunset. Good for him, I say.
If I have one complaint about “All Gold Canyon” and, hell, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs overall, it’s that it leans a little bit too heavy on the CGI. Frankly, I was surprised how much of that was in this movie, considering the Coen’s usual aversion to it, but there was a good amount here that was, well…rough. I mean, for the love of god Hollywood: STOP PUTTING CGI DEER IN EVERYTHING. It almost never works, and it takes me out of movies completely when they pop up. I’m sure deer, the little bastards they are, probably suck to get correctly in a film, so it’s far easier to either create it with CGI, or pop the dear into place with god awful green screen afterwards (looking at you, Deer from Three Billboards). Either way…please. Stop doing it. Now.
Anyways, onto #3, the titular…
3. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
This segment is just god-damn delightful and, really, there’s nothing more to it than that. Tim Blake Nelson is pitch perfect as the fourth wall breaking, surprisingly violent Buster Scruggs, and well there’s little more to this short than watching his antics as he tears apart a small Western town…really, what more could you want? It’s like Deadpool, but with a singing cowboy. And Tim Blake Nelson. What more do you need in life, really? And the fact that it climaxes with an angel version of Buster Scruggs playing a harp as he duets with the man who just gunned him down in battle (a surprisingly beautiful rendition of “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings”) is just absurdist icing on the cake.
The fact that the Coen’s decided to open the film with this segment was honestly a ballsy move, as its cartoonish, irreverent tone comes in stark contrast to pretty much every other segment. I could definitely see a subset of people being absolutely turned off by the entire thing, just based on the wackiness of “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” But I certainly wasn’t! As a huge fan of the Coen’s comedic sensibility (The Big Lebowski is probably my favorite comedy of all time), it was just the right note to remind me “Hey, you’re about to watch a Coen Brothers film — bask in it, buddy.” And boy did I.
2. “The Mortal Remains”
As I said on Twitter shortly after seeing the film, what I loved about The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is how much it captures everything that makes the Coen Brothers the Coen Brothers. How it manages to take their entire filmography, and shorten it down to a half-dozen segments that perfectly illustrate the kind of movies the pair make. That’s not a simple task, either: these are the guys who made Intolerable Cruelty AND No Country for Old Men. Back to back, even! They strike a wide gamut of genres, that’s for damn sure. But if “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” was there comedy piece, and “Meal Ticket” was their tragedy, and “All Gold Canyon” there slow-paced thriller, than “The Mortal Remains” is their strange, disconcerting drama. Think Barton Fink, or A Serious Man. The kinds of films that are kind of funny, but also strange, and dark, and even slightly mythical in a unique, Coen Brothers way. It’s not a tone they don’t very often strike (once in like every decade or so, it seems), but it certainly makes an impact.
But what makes “The Mortal Remains” so fantastic is the way that it slowly conveys just what’s happening, keeping its cards close to the chest until almost the very end of the segment (and, in effect, the movie itself.) Watching these characters go on long Coen Brothers speeches about the nature of humanity is in and of itself is a delight to watch, and I was enraptured the whole way through. But when things turn to the (vaguely) supernatural, the entire thing becomes even more delicious. “The Mortal Remains” goes from an expertly crafted piece of character interaction into this weird, ethereal thing that doesn’t take a lot of energy to explain itself…and never, ever even needs to. It’s kind of like a Ray Bradbury short story I would have read in middle school, mixed with the insanely well crafted dialogue that the Coen’s bring to every single one of their projects. The kind that’s so fucking good, it gives me an inferiority complex just listening to it. But, you know…in a good way.
1. “The Gal Who Got Rattled”
“The Gal Who Got Rattled” is, unequivocally, the best segment in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. Even the Coen’s themselves seem to know it, as its by far the segment that takes up the most time in the entire film (based purely on my gut feeling and not, you know, actual research or journalistic work.) But every moment spent in “The Gal Who Got Rattled” is time well spent, as the segment perfectly lays out a nice little slice of Western romance and, because it’s the Coen Brothers, absolute heartbreak.
Admittedly I’m a sucker for a well-told romance, especially one with as much heart as this one. It’s also a bit of a sneaky romance, as what “The Gal Who Got Rattled” is actually going for isn’t really revealed into a large way into the segment. But it goes to show how good the Coen’s are at just painting an atmosphere that I was just totally okay watching the exploits of this traveling caravan along the Oregon Trail, and the journey of main character Alice Longabaugh. She really is what anchors the segment, with Zoe Kazan doing a fantastic job of painting this quiet, introverted woman alone on her own for the first time in her life. Equally compelling is her screen partner, Billy Knapp, played with gusto by Bill Heck (who I’ve never really seen as a lead in anything, but makes a hell of an impression here.) They make a fantastic pairing, their awkward chemistry thankfully ending up on the more charming than annoying side of the spectrum. The Coen’s usually don’t do straight romance (well, unless you really want to count Intolerable Cruelty), but they pulled it off with warmth and serenity here. Only a few quick scenes between the pair, and I was instantly routing for the two love birds.
…So of course it all has to end so damn tragically, in a way that is so simple in its irony, but a punch in the gut all the same. The sequence that leads to Alice’s suicide is a Coen’s all-timer, though, a perfectly paced bit of action that recalls The Hurt Locker more than anything else (and, like “All Gold Canyon,” shows off how good the duo are at presenting the performance of procedural activity.) Although, on that note, since I expanded the whole “every segment has a Coen Brothers movie parallel” thing, I’m now obligated to stick to it, so this one is most like…True Grit, probably? Has the same forlorn, mournful tone. And both feature a female protagonist, a surprisingly rare thing for a Coen Brothers film. Either way, this segment is going to stick with me for a long time. Damn you Coens, for making me feel something. I hate that!
But I don’t hate The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, that’s for sure. In fact, when added together, I loved the hell out of this anthology. Which is great, since I was not too hot on the Coen’s last one, also an anthology of sorts (in a way that, IMHO, did not serve Hail Caesar! nearly as well.) But I shouldn’t have doubted my favorite filmmakers. Because, believe it or not, they know how to make good movies. Or, in this case — how to make six of them.
Also published on Medium.
The Captain Marvel Teaser Trailer Is Here, And…It’s The First Trailer for A New Marvel Movie, All Right
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The release of the Captain Marvel teaser trailer has been pretty hotly anticipated, arguably more so than many of the other Marvel movie trailers that have come before it. The primary reason for the excitement is of course due to the conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War, which I’m going to spoil because come on now, you’re reading this article, I know where your interests lie. Suffice to say, the downer ending of Inifinty War, in which seemingly all of Marvel’s newest characters up and fade away into nothing, has fans buzzing to see what is coming next. And with the trailer for Avengers 4: Titles Are Dumb still many months away, Captain Marvel represents our best shot yet at seeing just what Marvel intends to do with this universe going forward, and how the titular character will ultimately factor into it.
But even removing the snap from the equation, there’s plenty of reason to be eager about Captain Marvel on its own merits. This has been one of those MCU movies that was seemingly announced forever ago, and to paraphrase Marvel’s other big female superhero with her name in the title, it’s about damn time we actually get to see Marvel Studio’s first female-fronted superhero project. It might come as a shock to no one that the trailer shows the answer to that being, well…a Marvel superhero movie. Whether or not that excites you largely depends on your attachment to the brand overall.
Myself? I’m already in the bag for this cinematic universe so, really, this trailer could have been two minutes of Kevin Feige jet-skiing on his bag of money while smoking a very well put together Dollar Bill Blunt™, and I still would have had the movie on my list of most anticipated films of 2019. And with the MCU on a hot streak of, like, ten good-to-great movies in row, I would feel no regrets at all about doing so. As I have written many times in the past, Marvel Studios has earned my trust, in pretty much everything they do.
But to dive into the nitty-gritty of the trailer itself? It’s perfectly fine. It follows the modern blockbuster teaser trailer to a T, with the loud symphonic music playing over a bunch of vague money shots of CGI and action moments, paired with an equally vague but well-delivered monologue about, well, anything really. The fact that said monologue is coming out of the mouth of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury (as they so often do in the MCU) is extra points, though. Paired on top of that is the fact that said Nick Fury is looking all young and two-eyed, with disturbingly little uncanny effect to speak of in digitally recreating a mid-90’s Samuel L. Jackson. Which I’m aware is ironic, considering that the Uncanny Effect in and of itself speaks to the idea of something being so photo-realistic that the human mind, in turn, perceives it as unnatural. This is so photo-realistic and natural in the moment that, only upon true reflection, do I get really creeped out. Call it the Uncanny Uncanny Valley Effect Effect.
Oh right, the Captain Marvel trailer! So yeah, it’s one of those things where the most noteworthy aspect of the trailer lies in how unnoteworthy it is. Really it’s hard for me to gauge what exactly this movie will be, with the two-minute teaser doing little to fill in the tone or mood of the piece outside of “new superhero movie.” There’s some weird stuff going on timeline wise which, in the movie, might be really cool and unique. In the trailer, however, it’s kind of so jumbled up in editing that I’m not entirely sure what’s going down (so Carol Danvers has amnesia, or…?) Even more disappointing is the lack of a real “trailer moment,” something big and memorable ala Thor’s reaction to Hulk’s arrival in the Thor: Ragnarok tease, or Black Panther’s car flip, or even the lie that was the Avengers running together in the Infinity War trailer. The closest this trailer comes to a noteworthy shot is Carol Danvers sucker punching an old lady which, really, is only memorable for the “WTFness?” alone. I did like the brief image of Captain Marvel running up the side of the train, though, and some of the rotation shots at least point to an interesting style that directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden could be employing. That’s really the only hint of a unique approach or style in this trailer, though.
Lack of style isn’t exaclty bad, really, but not exactly fodder for overwhelming excitement either. Compared to something like Guardians of the Galaxy’s first trailer (where the “Hooked on a Feeling” scored edit made clear just exactly what kind of film we were dealing with) or Avengers: Age of Ultron’s first trailer (which wowed through pure mood and imagery alone), Captain Marvel falls short. Not bad, just short.
All that being said, it’s not like being merely “good” puts Captain Marvel significantly behind the first looks of other MCU films. In fact, I would say the majority of first trailers for Marvel Studios films have only been good, with only a few really strong ones being truly excellent in my mind. And with all but a handful of those films being great at the end of the day, I have no doubt Captain Marvel has the goods to keep Marvel’s winning streak going. We’ll find out when the film hits theaters March 8, 2019.
Also published on Medium.
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