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The 15 Movies and TV Spots of Super Bowl 2018, Ranked

Time for the annual tradition of spending way too much time writing and thinking about a bunch of advertisements.

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Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking — we put way too much thought into the Super Bowl on a year-to-year basis, and that the NFL is corrupt, and that commercials make us slaves to corporate America, and blah blah blah. And, sure, I can feel some of that. But, on the other hand, I like movies and TV shows, and like to watch well edited, well-made teases for them. So the Super Bowl can be a lot of fun for that (among other things) and, considering what was set to come to the game this year, Super Bowl 2018 was no different.

Of course, not all Super Bowl spots are equal. Many TV and film studios come to present their wares on the night of “The Big Game,” but not all of them can be as buzz-worthy and awesome as others. So which ones managed to impress me the most (and the least) at Super Bowl 2018? Well, by my account, there was a total of 15 new ads played at the game, so let’s just jump right into it! Check out the ranking of all the movie and TV spots of Super Bowl 2018 below, starting with…


15. The Voice

Ha ha ha no.

14. Rise

Admittedly not my thing but, hey, it’s the girl who played Moana, but in real life. And Ted Mosby. And singing. So there ya go.

13. Good Girls

Yeah, I just kind of blew through all the NBC commercials here, since clearly they didn’t put much work into them (when your network is playing the game and you don’t have to pay massive money to air them, why would you?), but I’m somewhat interested in this show. The main cast trio of Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, and Rhetta is super inspired, and this could be a fun and interesting series if done well. This is a standard spot (nothing too special), but it still looks more promising than the other NBC shows that got spots, so that counts for something.

12. Red Sparrow

This one obviously wasn’t made to get people super pumped with a buzzy first look, as the film is coming out in about a month, and has had plenty of footage shown off for it already. A purely utilitarian spot, made for people who aren’t following film 24/7, and just need to be told “Hey, this movie is coming out in a few weeks, so mark it on your calendar!” Based on this spot, will they? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

11. Jack Ryan

I don’t have much to say about this one. The multiple president speech thing was kind of neat, and I am still here for John Krasinski: Action Hero (one of the only people who is, it seems.) But there’s a far more impressive John Krasinski vehicle that got a Super Bowl trailer, so stay tuned for that.

10. Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.

I’m probably not going to watch this show, but this was admittedly a neat idea for a Super Bowl spot. In a world where time is literally money (and every second you spend can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars), putting so much emphasis on the seconds that the trailer is taking was a smart move. And contrasting it with how many years the murders of Tupac/B.I.G have gone unsolved was a smart way of presenting your concept too. Clever, marketers.

9. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

As a trailer this was pretty solid, I guess. Certainly better than the first trailer for the film, that’s for sure. The part at the beginning with the girl in the bedroom was pretty great especially (reminded me of the opening of The Lost World quite a bit), but I still can’t muster any enthusiasm for this movie. And going BACK to the “they made a new dinosaur!” well is, like, the worst decision. I’m so tired of that shit, just after the one movie of it.

8. Solo: A Star Wars Story

We’ve waited months for the first look at Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it was mostly…fine. It felt a little too much like Rogue One’s teaser in my mind (similar “main character is with Empire, shocking!” and last minute character reveal), but it had its positives too. I’m all about that Lando as Donald Glover shot (DAT COAT) and Woody Harrelson, as always, looks great, but it’s going to take more to sell me on this film than that. Let’s hope tomorrow’s full trailer manages to do it.

7. Skyscraper

I’ll watch Dwayne Johnson in pretty much anything, and I actually kind of dig this thing as a Super Bowl spot. The end bit with him hanging from the building, and his fake leg in danger of sliding off, is one hell of a tease. I’m not super into how modern and CGI heavy the film looks (especially in the face of its clear inspiration, the practical effects-driven Die Hard), but this was an effective little tease.

6. Castle Rock

I am all for the concept of Castle Rock, and this was a cool little atmospheric spot. As a longtime Stephen King fan, I hope this one will really end up being something special. It has one heck of a strong cast, at the very least. More Terry O’Quinn always, please.

5. A Quiet Place

Huh, I had no idea this movie had an alien invasion angle. That’s cool. Honestly, though, I’ve thought this was a cool concept since I first heard about this, and this is an effective little tease at the film. Not sure it will really grab general audiences but, whatever, I’m down. Bring it on, Jim from The Office! Let this be your Get Out. 

4. Mission: Impossible — Fallout

God guys, I love this series so much. Just this little thing was enough to get my blood pumping, and these short spots are really great at showing Mission: Impossible at its best — namely, by cutting together a bunch of jaw-dropping stunts across the iconic theme music. It was great, and I am absolutely in for this one. The full trailer was released after the spot (and is pretty great too, IMHO), but here’s the spot that was shown during the game:

3. Westworld

Oh man, what a TV spot. I have been psyched for the next season of Westworld since the first ended, and this was a perfect tease. Not only did we get an actual premiere date (April 22!), but we got some excellently atmospheric peeks at what is to come, all perfectly timed with one badass speech from Dolores Abernathy. It’s also great that the spot doesn’t blow its wad too soon — not until the impressive reveal of the cybertronic animal, you couldn’t even tell it was a Westworld tease. An impressive spot all around.

2. Avengers: Infinity War

I mean, obviously. It doesn’t take a lot to get me excited about this movie, but this brief spot still got me super hyped. Spider-Man in space! Iron Man and Doctor Strange combining powers! Cap’s badass new shield! Even at a third of the length, this spot had more impressive moments than the trailer released last year, which I would consider a huge success.

1. The Cloverfield Paradox

Oh, J.J. Abrams, you crazy motherfucker. Finally, we get to see more from this mystery Cloverfield installment after years of waiting and — surprise! — it’s being dropped tonight on Netflix. Nothing’s better than a big surprise with a Super Bowl spot, and this is one of the best ones of all time. The trailer too is also pretty great, what with the excellent shot of the severed arm crawling on the ground, and an authoritative Gugu Mbatha-Raw yelling into the screen. The pre-production of the movie has me a bit worried, but this trailer got me extremely excited, so that’s something. Let’s hope The Cloverfield Paradox can deliver. You can find out right now on Netflix! Right after I’m done posting this, I know I will be.

And that’s that, my rather arbitrary ranking of all the movies and TV spots at Super Bowl 2018. Overall, a surprisingly good set, and a legitimately shocking reveal with The Cloverfield Paradox thing. Now, to watch the actual movie, which is a cool thing to say about one of these things, right?


Also published on Medium.

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Disney Is Rebooting The Muppets (Yes, Again) And A Whole Bunch of Other Dormant Properties For Their New Streaming Service

Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, the concept of time itself. You know, the usual.

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Disney has conquered mainstream Hollywood. That is an undeniable fact, if you ask me — between their Marvel and Star Wars output (not to mention their live action remakes, animated films, and projects from Pixar), Disney seems to be the only big studio thriving in the modern age. But as much as that seems like a compliment to Disney, it’s also something of a dour note for the industry overall — things are rough for theatrical film, for a variety of reasons. But perhaps the most substantial one is competition from the world of cable, Broadcast, and (especially) streaming outlets. When you are routinely getting things of the same (if not better) quality out of TV and streaming, why even go to the theater? The question is baffling to me (because it’s a movie theater, that’s why!), but not for the majority of Americans — ticket sales are the worst they have been in decades, as people would rather get their entertainment fix by staying at home and watching Netflix.

And Disney knows this. They are content with having conquered the ashes of traditional Hollywood, but they aren’t idiots — the media landscape is changing, and they want to be just as viable in the new one as a Netflix or HBO. So they are creating their own streaming service, and taking the battle for entertainment supremacy to Netflix in a big way.

But in building their new streaming outlet, I was rather curious how Disney planned to convince people to subscribe to their service when there were dozens more out there competing for the same eyeballs (and monthly set of dollar bills.) Well, today we got a pretty big hint in how Disney plans to build out their streaming portfolio and, no surprise, it’s taking advantage of their biggest asset: all the well-liked shit they have made and/or acquired over the last century. Brands are king for Disney, and they very much seem to be putting those at the forefront as they dive into this new frontier. Call it a safety blanket if you want (I will: it’s a safety blanket), but it has served Disney well in the last decade, so
…reboot time it is!

Of course, many of Disney’s bigger properties have already been rebooted or remade on the big screen, leading the selections for their streaming stuff to be a bit lower tier. The biggest property announced today for the potential reboot treatment is The Muppets, who Disney acquired from The Jim Henson Company back in 2004, and have since been left scratching their heads at what exactly to do with it. Things seemed great at first when the Jason Segal-led reboot film managed to enliven the love for the franchise, and perform pretty great at the box office to boot. But then Muppets Most Wanted came out and, despite being a whole lotta fun, underwhelmed at the box office. It seemed The Muppets would not be the blockbuster franchise Disney was hoping for.

Rebooting The Muppets

So they transferred the property back to TV, relaunching a new series simply entitled The Muppets. This series had a promising hook (basically The Muppets meets 30 Rock, through the mockumentary lens of The Office) but it failed to get an audience on ABC and, quite frankly, wasn’t even all that good to begin with. Then a whole controversy broke out when longtime puppeteer/Kermit the Frog voice actor Steve Whitmire was fired from working on the property. He argued that Disney’s plans for the character was against what Henson would have stood for. They argued he was a shitty worker who didn’t play well with others, and everyone else was glad to be rid of him. The truth probably rests somewhere in between the two stances, but that didn’t make the controversy anymore crippling for The Muppet brand. They laid low for a year or so, only popping up to make wacky promotional videos and the like for the franchises’ various social media pages.

But apparently, Disney still thinks they can make this thing work in a big way, as The Hollywood Reporter confirms the Mouse House intends to bring the property to their new streaming service. Which, by the way, could use a name pronto. I’m tiring of just calling it “their new streaming service.” Judging by what they seem to want to put on it, maybe simply “Reboot” will do?

Kidding aside, The Muppets isn’t the only reboot Disney plans to anchor the service with. Also in the mix according to THR is film properties like Honey I Shrunk the Kids (you, know the Rick Moranis movie about shrinking kids), Father of the Bride (you know, the Steve Martin movie about being the father of the bride), and The Parent Trap (you know, the Lindsay Lohan movie about trapping parents.) This is in addition to previously announced reboot fodder like High School Musical and The Mighty Ducks which, yeah, were all certainly things at one point in time. They have name value, and that’s all that matters to the house that Micky Mouse built!  At least there will be some top shelve franchise extinctions from brands like Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. And, who knows, maybe an original property might sneak its way in there!

…But no promises.


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Let’s Speculate Wildly: Is Marvel Laying The Groundwork For A Thor Crossover In Black Panther 2?

The endings of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther could open up quite the intriguing storyline for Black Panther 2…if the studio chooses to explore it.

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***This post contains spoilers for the end of both Thor: Ragnarok AND Black Panther. Don’t read this if you haven’t watched either film. You have been warned.***

I had a lot of thoughts floating through my head as I watched Black Panther this weekend. First and foremost was awe — Marvel pulled off another great movie, which is increasingly becoming the norm for that company. Secondly was tremendous respect for Ryan Coogler, who managed to not only deliver an incredibly fun superhero movie, but a blockbuster with something important and fascinating to say. Third was a simple wish to have Letitia Wright as my new best friend which, c’mon, shouldn’t be that hard, right?!

But one thought that was in the back of my mind throughout most of Black Panther was, admittedly, a rather geeky one. And the kind of geeky thought that stems from nothing more than the rather childish instincts of having all my favorite toys playing together. Sure, that is a major part of the fun that the Marvel Cinematic Universe represents, but it doesn’t make the instinct of “oh, what if these two met and became BEST FRIENDS?!” any less of a reductive thought. All that being said…wouldn’t it be super awesome if Thor: Ragnarok’s Valkyrie met the Wakandians?! I mean, she would LOVE it there, right? A warrior culture of advanced lifeforms who are primarily protected by a troop of badass, all-female fighters? She would have SO MUCH fun! And since she was the undeniable MVP of Thor: Ragnarok (next to Korg, at least), it would be a lot of great to see her hang out with the great ensemble that was built up in Black Panther. 

…Which got me thinking.

The way Thor: Ragnarok ended left a huge question mark in that particular area of the MCU. Choosing to literally destroy all of Asgard, leaving its occupants in flight and in search of a new home, was kind of a ballsy choice for the sequel. And then when Thor suggested immigrating to Earth in the final line of the film, I couldn’t help but stifle a chuckle. The world can barely handle the people it has — Thor is in for a rude awakening if he thinks that they will just invite a whole crop of alien refugees to share their resources. In a post Brexit, Syrian refugee crisis world, the idea of the Asgardians just coming to Earth and being welcomed with open arms is (sadly) laughable.

But, regardless, the question still remained: what would become of the Asgardians as they made their way to Earth? Clearly, Marvel has a plan here, as it would be very unlike them to set up this plot point without ever addressing it again in the future. If they had no plan for the ship full of Asgardians, why even save them? Well, I have a theory: they were saved because they will serve an important purpose in a future MCU installment. Namely? Black Panther 2. Or whatever it will end up being called. Marvel doesn’t like numbers anymore.

But that’s beside the point. Let’s now shift focus to the aforementioned Black Panther, which concluded with King T’Challa finally realizing (through the inactions of his ancestors) that Wakanda could no longer be a nation of isolationist. That, in the modern world, Wakanda could just not turn its back on people who need aid. He spoke to the UN about creating “bridges” rather than barriers to outside countries, which made for a rather rousing and uplifting message for the film to conclude on.

But what made Black Panther a great movie is how it didn’t rely on moral absolutism, even for things that seemed obvious (i.e you should help those that need it.) Killmonger was one of Marvel’s best villains because he had a point, and was correct in many of his stances towards how Wakanda was doing a disservice to the world. But opening the doors to the outside world has its fair share of potential issues and problems too, which the film briefly addresses as light rebuttals to Killmonger’s main points. If Wakanda shared its advance knowledge with the world, how much of it would be used for ill? What responsibility does Wakanda even have towards the world at large? Should it take precedence over their well being as a singular culture? The film wisely doesn’t provide clear-cut answers for these issues and, though what T’Challa does is ultimately the “right” thing, the right thing can often lead to consequences of their very own.

Which is what I imagine the potential sequel will tackle. Just like how Iron Man 2 delt with the fallout of Tony revealing his identity to the world, and how Captain America: Winter Soldier dealt with the fallout of Steve Rogers being a man out of time, Black Panther 2 will absolutely have to tackle how the massive change in status quo for Wakanda impacts its people and their king. And what better way to do that then by actually showing Wakanda literally opening its doors to another people? Say another people with an equally strong sense of culture and traditions, who are currently floating through space without a home of their own? If my theory is even slightly correct, than Wakanda would be the perfect place for the Asgardians refuges to settle…and Black Panther 2 would be a perfect place to give such a move its due.

After all, such a migration would lend a Black Panther sequel a ton of interesting, relevant themes to dwell upon, themes that can build upon those of the first Black Panther, and can be just as politically relevant and insightful. What kind of conflicts arises when two ancient, powerful cultures are forced to share the same living space? What becomes of the nation of Wakanda when it actually puts its money where its mouth is and adopts a more multi-cultural approach to its civilization? Would doing so risk diluting the culture of Wakanda as it stands, erasing the identity of the people with it? And how would the Asgardians, previously a nation of conquerors and “protectors” over all others, move into a more submissive position in which they have to rely on another people for support? And how would the two kings caught in the middle (Thor and T’Challa) deal with such a cultural clash? Now normally I wouldn’t predict a superhero blockbuster to so strongly address a real-world issue (in this case, the Syrian refugee crisis), but I sure as hell didn’t expect Black Panther to address the themes it did either. So if any modern blockbuster series would, it would be this one. The themes are already baked into its DNA, after all, and the way the way the overall story is moving in the MCU itself would seem to lead to such a plot turn.

And while I can see certainly see a bit of cynicism to the concept of Black Panther 2 so heavily absorbing another branch of the MCU (“What, does Marvel not think Black Panther is a strong enough series to support itself without a big crossover?), I think the potential of the story outweighs the fear of this becoming a paint-by-numbers superhero team-up film. And recent Marvel history not only shows how open and willing they are to play with their characters in this way, but also gives them the benefit of the doubt to do it. Even if this hypothetical Black Panther includes Thor and his brood of supporting characters (who at this point are only Valkyrie and Heimdall, really — technically Loki is with him too but, let’s be honest, that dude is TOAST come Infinity War), I trust the people at Marvel can find a way to add these characters into the world while still allowing the movie to be a Black Panther sequel. Throwing in Hulk for Thor: Ragnarok never made that one feel like less of a Thor movie. And, despite what could have happened, Spider-Man: Homecoming remained a Spider-Man film, and didn’t ever become “Iron Man and His Amazing Web-Swinging Friend” as initially feared. Hell, Captain America: Civil War included nearly all the Avengers in substantial roles, and I still feel like the center of the story was on Steve Rogers and his overall arc. I see no reason why bringing in Thor, Valkyrie, Heimdall (and, of course, Korg) would take away from the focus of the story being on T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia, Okoye, W’Kabi, M’Baku, et al. And the dramatic potential this story could have on the Black Panther AND Thor characters far outweighs the potential negatives, in my mind.

Of course, I have to end all this blatant fan theorizing by stating the obvious: I have no idea whatsoever what will happen in future Black Panther installments, or the rest of the MCU for that matter. Everything I am writing here is pure conjecture, based on nothing, and I very well could be wrong about where this entire thing is heading. After all, Avengers: Infinity War is going to come and blow all my MCU theories out of the water anyways. What the shape of this universe will be post-Infinity War/Avengers 4 is anyone’s guess. For all I know, Infinity War might go full Alien 3, and begin with Thanos killing off every Asgardian aside from Thor. But, like I said, I have more faith in Marvel’s storytelling abilities than that.

And even if Black Panther 2 doesn’t have anything to do with the universe of Thor and its characters…I have to imagine there will be a grander purpose for the Asguardian refugees. And with the movie directly after Thor: Ragnarok concluding with a separate, powerful group deciding to open their borders and help those in need (including by taking in refugees, as directly stated by Nakia earlier in the film)…well? All I can do as a viewer is try to connect the dots.

…AND fanboy out about my favorite characters meeting some of my other favorite characters. Valkyrie and Okoye need to swap war stories about protecting kings. And share fighting tips. And just be awesome, in general. And since the MCU is built specifically to facilitate such team-ups, I argue: why the hell not? We might end up getting something pretty damn interesting out of it along the way.


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Thanks For The New Incredibles 2 Sneak Peek, Disney, But…Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?

Or just move the release date to tomorrow. You know, whatever works.

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Fourteen years. Fourteen goddamn years. That’s how long we’ve all been waiting for a follow-up to Pixar’s The Incredibles, and I quite frankly can’t wait another second longer. Unfortunately, the film isn’t coming out until this summer, so I’m left waiting many million seconds more. Approximately 10,398,000 of them, in fact. But, ha ha, who’s counting?!

Yes, the wait has been rough but, at this point, we’ve already waited nearly a decade and half…what’s another three months? That’s what I am telling myself, at least. And unlike in the previous years, we’re actually getting to see something from the film, and receiving concrete proof that yes, this sequel is real and coming soon. And though the initial teaser trailer and posters only gave us a quick hint at what was to come for the film, this new “sneak peek” aired last night during the Winter Olympics gives us by far our biggest glimpse yet of the superhero sequel.

Why is it referred to as a “sneak peek,” you ask? Honestly, it beats the hell out of me. At a minute and a half, this more than qualifies as a teaser trailer, even more so than the 55-second one released in November. And this trailer actually delves into the plot of the film, which is once again more than you can say for the first teaser trailer. But, for Disney, this is nothing but a mere “sneak peek.” Let’s just hope the semantics are only to serve the release of a full-length trailer in the not to distant future (maybe with Wrinkle in Time in March? With a final trailer in front of Avengers: Infinity War in May? I certainly hope so!)

But labeling of marketing material aside, let’s talk what actually happens in this “sneak peek.” The footage opens right from where the first one ended (with the attack of the Underminer), which is a nice little bit of continuity between the two films. But though the original Incredibles ended with the promise of the superpowered family being able to fight crime as public heroes, this footage quickly establishes that it wouldn’t be so easy. And considering the impressive world that was built in the first, that’s not too much of a shocker — the golden age of heroes making a comeback seemed like it would be an uphill struggle, and Mr. Incredible makes that quite clear in the opening of this footage.

Of course, it doesn’t take long before the superhero shenanigans commence once more, this time around led by Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible, and bankrolled by new character Winston Deavor, very clearly (and delightfully) voiced by Bob Odenkirk. Of course Deavor will probably turn out to have interior motives in trying to restore the world of super-heroics (and working with Elastigirl to do it.) For now though, Elastigirl gets to have a cool motorcycle and cool grey outfit, which is enough for this sneak peek.

Other than that though, the brunt of the new footage rests with Mr. Incredible in stay at home Dad mode, first teased in the last trailer. As funny as some of this looks to be (I particularly laughed at Mr. Incredible’s rant about how math is different, both very much in character for him AND performer Craig T. Nelson), I will admit, this plotline runs the danger of being somewhat hokey. While I’m all for Elastigirl taking the lead (and essentially upending the status quo of the last film), I do think this story runs the risk of being the standard “ha ha, Dad’s can’t parent, what a buffoon!” storyline we’ve seen time and time again. I mean, do we really need Mr. Mom with superheroes? Eh, maybe. If anyone could make it work, it would be Pixar.

And, besides, fuck reservations — I’m supposed to be excited for this one, and this sneak peek mostly made me plenty. I mean, look, it’s Frozone! And Edna Mode! And the Demon form of Jack-Jack! Come on now, my excitement remains through the roof. And if I’ve learned anything from long in development sequels like The Phantom Menace, Ghostbusters, The Hobbit, and Tron Legacy, it’s that being unreasonably excited for something is a recipe for being completely, 100% satisfied. Always!

Incredibles 2 (no “The,” it’s cleaner) hits theaters June 15.


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