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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.



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.


Disney Celebrates International Women’s Day By Giving Its Favorite Man, Jon Favreau, A Live-Action Star Wars TV Show




It’s no big secret that Disney is going in gung-ho on bringing new people into the Star Wars franchise. In the last year, we have seen over half a dozen people be given new movies and projects set within the series, as Lucasfilm slowly starts to build up what the future of this franchise will be following next year’s Star Wars: Episode IX. But while I say “people”, I probably should be more clear — white men. Disney has given the keys to the franchise solely to a bunch of middle-aged, white men.

Is this in and of itself some type of hiring sin? Eh, no, not really. And I don’t even blame Disney/Lucasfilm entirely for the situation — it’s clear that Kennedy and her cohorts are running scared a bit here, with a string of high profile, low experience collaborators causing headaches behind the scenes (Josh Trank, Gareth Edwards, and Lord & Miller.) For that reason, they have been turning to experienced “sure things” to take the reigns of Star Wars, namely in the form of J.J. Abrams (who already did it in The Force Awakens!) Rian Johnson (who already did it in The Last Jedi!), Stephen Daldry (a prestige journeyman with twenty years of experience!), and Weiss/Benioff (they show-ran the most complicated series ever made, THEY ARE PROS!) And you know what the paradox is here? All the filmmakers with decades of experience and a reputation of being professionals are almost entirely — you guessed it! — white dudes.

Enter Jon Favreau. Disney is clearly a fan of the man ever since he gave them the first Iron Man (which in and of itself was a bit of a risky decision to give to him at the time…but I digress), and has worked with him again on massive hits like The Jungle Book and future GARGANTUAN hit The Lion King. They appear to like him, he appears to like them, and there are billions of dollars that prove the relationship works. So now Favreau is being given a pretty big role in Disney’s current crown jewel franchise — Star Wars.

Not the Star Wars project you might think, though. Rather than diving head first into the crowded realm of future Star Wars movies (occupied by at least one more saga film, two competing trilogies, and a whole bunch of individual “story” films), Favreau will apparently be helming the previously announced live-action TV series on Disney’s forthcoming streaming service. This was announced just earlier today on, alongside the expected statement from Kathleen Kennedy:

“I couldn’t be more excited about Jon coming on board to produce and write for the new direct-to-consumer platform. Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe. This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base.”

And the expected outburst of excitement from Favreau:

“If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe, I wouldn’t have believed you. I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure.”

Putting aside the pure exhaustion I have to new Star Wars projects right now (TOO MANY), who the fucks idea was it to announce this news today of all days? It’s no big secret that the critical community at large (or Film Twitter, at the very least) has been giving Lucasfilm crap for their seeming dismissal of having more diverse voices behind the scenes. Warranted or not, the complaints about the lack of anyone but straight men being a creative force of the series is extremely prevalent. And if you’re facing backlash over not hiring women to do things…adding yet another man to your company on the damn day of appreciatiating woman just reads as a back slap at worse, and tone deaf at best. READ THE FUCKING ROOM, LUCASFILM.

Ignoring the exact date of the hiring, though, Favreau being announced for this is…fine, I guess. I am not nearly as enthusiastic on the guy’s filmography as some (or Disney, especially) seem to be, but his films are usually pretty good at least (unless they are Iron Man 2.) So this certainly isn’t the worst pick for a Star Wars project. That being said, choosing a guy with zero experience writing a TV series to write a TV series of this scale is a bit disappointing. There are plenty of fine, experienced showrunners out there — why give Jon Favreau, who has already cultivated success in his career a dozen times, yet another big project? Hiring Jon Favreau to do this Star Wars series is ignoring TV showrunners who are perhaps more suitable for the part, which puts his hiring as a “double whammy” of ignoring potentially better candidates, if you ask me.

Anyways, whatever — I’m just hoping that the next announcement of someone getting a Star Wars project is a little more unique, a little more interesting, and a little more diverse. Or, second option…don’t announce another Star Wars project for a while. I think we have plenty to mull around already, Lucasfilm.

Also published on Medium.

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Why Marvel Moved Up The Avengers: Infinity War Release Date

It was a win-win-win-win decision for the company, really.



The first weekend of May is considered the “start” of the summer movie season…but, in recent years, that has pretty much evolved to become the “Marvel movie” slot. Barring one exception in 2009 (the only year Marvel didn’t release a movie in the past decade), every year since 2007 has given us the release of a new film featuring a Marvel superhero in the first weekend of May. It’s become something of a tradition, one that wasn’t entirely surprising to see Marvel keep intact as it approached its tenth anniversary as a film studio. And with Avengers: Infinity War by far representing their largest and grandest project, the Marvel May slot seemed perfect for the film to have its grand debut. And for years, we’ve all been working off that assumption. Disney set a May 4, 2018 release date for the film some time ago, and there was no way they were going to change that.

Well, they just changed that.

But unlike most sudden release date changes, this one is A) minor and B) mostly a good thing. Instead of launching on May 4, Avengers: Infinity War will now hit theaters everywhere on April 27, abandoning the May month completely. Two months before the film’s release, it’s a bit of a shocking development, although Marvel had fun with it on Twitter, by way of (who else?) Robert Downey Jr.

Now obviously this was planned (Robert Downey Jr. didn’t just push Marvel to massively move the release date of its biggest film out of the blue — come on now), but what was the reasoning for Disney’s decision here? Well, a few things.

Number one? The film was already going to release on April 27 overseas, which is typical for a Marvel release (they almost always open internationally before coming to the States). So moving the release date for America only puts the film in line with the rest of the world, which is ultimately pretty smart: now Marvel and Disney can brag on April 30 about how the film made approximately $67 billion worldwide in its first weekend of release. It will look great, vanity wise.

And this also moves Infinity War away from Disney’s own Solo: A Star Wars Story, opening at the end of May. That’s not even to mention the recently moved Deadpool 2 on May 18, which was a surprisingly big threat to Infinity War’s legs. With a three week gap between the two, however, Infinity War is now in the clear in terms of maximum, immediate revenue (all that really matters in Hollywood in this day and age.)

And as for first-weekend competetion, neither weekend poised much of a threat: nothing was playing on May 4, sure, but the only thing on April 27 was a Paula Patton thriller entitled Traffik, a horror movie called Bad Samaritan starring David Tennant, and comedy I Feel Pretty from Amy Schumer. The latter film already moved back a week to April 20, and neither of the others will make much of a dent on pop culture, so Marvel had nothing to fear with placing Infinity War against them.

Finally, the move will also cut off the threat of spoilers reaching America before the majority of the country gets to see the film. That hasn’t been too much of a threat for other Marvel releases like Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok (both opened overseas a week earlier)…but Infinity War is different. It’s rumored to make some massive changes to the state of the MCU and the characters in it, and I’m sure Kevin Feige would prefer people witnessed such developments in the theater, rather than on Twitter.

Ultimately, there’s nothing all that fishy here about the move. It’s only a week, but it could end up helping the film quite a bit in the long run. And if it means we get to see this movie seven days earlier than expected, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will take this offering with little reservations.

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.



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.

Also published on Medium.

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