To celebrate their 200th episode, Jakob and Mandi return to the halcyon days of Jakob’s previous podcast (P)reviews where he’d review movies based on their trailers. This episode they take a look at the four big upcoming franchise reboot/sequels—Jurassic World; Terminator: Genisys; Mad Max: Fury Road; and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
As mentioned on the episode, fan art by Audrey (Whipstitch on French Girls)
Recently trailers dropped for new films in the Star Wars, Mad Max, Jurassic Park and The Terminator franchises. I’m trying to get excited but, informed by experience, I expect sequels to suck—and to say prequels and reboots suck is an insult to the very concept of sucking. It’s common knowledge there are few sequels which equal or out-do the seminal films in their series. I can happen. Popular opinion is that with Star Wars, Mad Max and The Terminator, it’s actually the second film that’s far superior. I only concede the point when it comes to The Road Warrior but everyone agrees the third films for all three are pretty dismal disappointments. In the case of Jurassic Park the third film is actually theoretically unwatchable (I say “theoretically” because no one actually watched it). Most franchises don’t even produce a passable second film.
So it was a bit of a surprise just how excited everyone appears to be at the prospect of seeing another Star Wars film after the heartbreak of Episode I, another Mad Max after the lunacy of Thunderdome, another Terminator after the drudgery of Salvation and another Jurassic Park after whatever the hell that third one was. Yet all four franchises recently released trailers and the internet has caught fire with salivating expectation.
I remain, at best, cautiously pessimistic. After all what can you really tell from a trailer. Consider this trailer for Frozen…
I mean, man… That movie turned out to be nothing like that at all. So keeping in mind trailers are basically exercises in false advertising, let’s try to suss out what the truth of the matter is in each.
Mad Max Fury Road
A listener named Darryll said to me on this episode’s Facebook thread: “Jakob, I suggest letting go of the Road Warrior comparisons. I know where you’re coming from but that road leads to disappointment.” (I hope the pun was intentional).
After a bit of back and forth (wherein I refused to accept jettisoning my love of Road Warrior to open myself up to the possibility of enjoying Fury Road) I eventually agree to watch Fury Road with an open mind and try to enjoy it as its own entity. After all, Aliens is completely different than Alien but has always been one of my favourite sequels—perhaps because it took its own road.
But there’s a few things in the trailer I have qualms about, completely irrespective of my beloved Road Warrior.
- Tom Hardy is boring. Let’s pretend for a moment he’s not Mad Max and not to be directly compared to Mel Gibson’s performance. Instead of being a mysterious, enigmatic high-plains drfiter like a Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, this new character just seems like a lifeless, ineffectual boob who doesn’t speak with his full, pouty lips.
- Everyone (except the “What a lovely day” guy) seems really emo. Especially Charlize Theron’s character. Like she’s Bruce Wayne or something. Since Tom Hardy’s wearing a Bane mask in several shots, I guess they figured they should Dark Knight this shit up proper. They seem to be trying to stay current with the tone of action movies from three years ago.
- Are those four captive beauty queens? Is this a Mad Max sequel or a reboot of Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone? I hope the plot isn’t going to be rescuing those damsels in distress from a wasteland warlord. That’s what it’s going to be, isn’t it?
- “Maybe it’s just because post-production puked all over every shot to the point of making the trailer look like a surrealistic dream sequence, but the “stunts” look like they’ve all been created entirely within a computer. I bet there was zero chance of any stunt people being harmed in the making of this film because no human beings actually got within a mile of a steering wheel.
For the moment let’s just ignore the bonkers spelling of the word Genisys. No, sorry, I can’t. What the hell? Anyway…
- Is this a reboot or a sequel or a prequel? Since Arnie’s in it, I guess it’s a sequel. But everyone else is played by new actors. A prequelboot? Is that a term?
- Does this retcon Salvation? Actually, does every Terminator movie retcon every previous Terminator movie? How is that a way to run a series?
- Prequelboots aside, the real question is: Why does this even exist? Does this story need to be retold? Are there loose-ends in the series that need tying up? Are there questions that still need answers? No, somebody needs a new pair of shoes. That’s clearly why they’ve brought this cash-cow back in from the pasture again.
- They appear to have just taken the first two films and put them in a blender. Stick with what you know, I guess. Salvation made it clear they had no (good) new ideas to breathe life into the franchise, so haul out the old chestnuts. At least they seem to have realized that Dark Knight-ing it was a mistake and Genisys looks more like one of Arnie’s action-comedies from the ’80s. So that’s something.
- Likewise, is this a sequel or a reboot? Why did this need to be made? Is this adding anything new to the story? Is this going to nicely cap-off an over-arching theme of the dangers of tinkering with genetics? Is that why it seems to be shot-for-shot exactly the same as the original film? It clearly just exists to (hopefully) make someone a butt-load of cash.
- Those globe cars look like they wouldn’t be believably functional. Why can’t they ride in jeeps?
- They created a brand new hybrid dinosaur. Because the movie-going public just wouldn’t be scared by giant goddamn blood-thirsty dinosaurs anymore? Are audiences that jaded? Uh-kay.
- I hope Bryce Dallas Howard’s character is supposed to be the girl from Jurassic Park all grown up. Without even going to IMDb, I’m guessing she’s not.
Star Wars VII The Force Awakens
Too much has been written about this already but I can’t help myself.
- Stormtrooper with his helmet off? Pretty awesome. If he turns out to be a rebel spy in disguise? Boring.
- That soccer ball droid. Too cutesy? This movie’s version of Jar-Jar? Only exists to be a toy? I don’t care. It’s just an absurdly non-functional looking design. The design of the R2 units was impractical when they weren’t on a starship with perfectly flat floors, but the design was believable in it’s own way. Probably practical from a manufacturing standpoint since the R2s were basically just self-motivated portable computer-banks. And the silly Gonk droid was just a walking battery. A little absurd, but okay, fair enough. But what the hell could possibly be the point of this soccer-ball droid’s design? Unless it’s literally a soccer ball. That’d explain why he seems to be rolling away in terror. Terror of being kicked.
- The Popsicle speeder. There’s part of the design I like. The front half is clearly reminiscent of something like a classic John Deere tractor. Cool. Bringing it back to the Uncle Owen’s farm idea. But why does it have the seat of a street-racing motorcyle? Obviously because when you’re towing stuff across the desert for hours you want to be leaning over as uncomfortably as possible. And why does it have a windscreen so small that even leaning over nearly horizontal your face still wouldn’t be covered?
- The contentious light saber cross-guard. I don’t care about the mechanics of it. Exhaust ports on an amateur job? Fine. Stephen Colbert‘s take on light saber engineering? Sure, I’ll buy it. My issue is it just looks silly. Too silly. It’s like something a 13 year old boy would doodle in his math binder. I know because I was a 13 year old boy and I doodled that shit and eventually grew out of it. When Obi-Wan described the light saber to Luke as an “elegant” weapon, he certainly wasn’t talking about this thing. If this character is supposed to be a new Sith, there’s more subtle, richer, ways of making them seem bad-ass than a flaming D&D sword. Even more than Darth Maul’s stupid-looking double-ender, this just ignores everything that was actually cool about light sabers.