While I was laying around sick the other week, I decided to watch some fun and easy movies. I settled on Spectre first, since it was right there when I opened the Amazon app to see what was available. And the entire time, I kind of just wished I’d watched the new Kingsman instead. So I did that once Spectre was over.
Watching the two films back-to-back really illustrated for me part of, at least, why some of the recent Bond films have fallen flat. Spectre, in particular, takes itself so incredibly seriously but never bothers to see if we’re all in agreement on how dark and serious these events really are. We wind up in a twisted, meaningless plot, without any investment in what happens next. (Spoiler: they travel to another European vista, fight, and repeat the process when it’s over.)
Kingsman, on the other hand, knows how ridiculous and tired the spy genre is, and so it immediately brings matters way over the top. Two things really make it work: it uses comedy to disarm the audience and draw us in, and despite its comedic tone, the film has characters and villains with actual personalities and goals. The villain of a spy satire shouldn’t have a darker scheme than the villain of a real spy movie, but it does. And it makes a huge difference in getting us invested.
Check out seven trailers from this week below.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Marvel put out a first trailer this week for its second Ant-Man installment, Ant-Man and the Wasp. After all the drama that preceded the first Ant-Man’s production, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that we’d have a sequel three years later, but director Peyton Reed is back and the new movie looks like it’s sticking with the same comedic beats and ridiculous shrinking action that made the original work out despite those hurdles. Also, as an undying Lost fan, I’m super down with Evangeline Lilly getting equal billing here. It comes out July 6th.
After a few years of working on an enormous fantasy epic, Duncan Jones has returned to sci-fi with Mute, which takes place in a Blade Runner-esque world but with much more colorful characters. I’m not totally clear on what’s happening here — the film’s synopsis says it’s about a man who’s mute searching for a missing woman — but the colorful visuals and strange world ought to be enough to catch sci-fi fans’ attention, especially with Jones behind it all. The film comes out this month on February 23rd.
Steven Soderbergh, who “retired” from moviemaking five years and one film ago, is back with another movie — this one shot entirely on an iPhone. And while the film certainly has a look to it that comes from shooting on less than tens of thousands of dollars of camera equipment, it still looks superb overall thanks to a lot of smart choices that play to the iPhone’s strength. Most importantly, the look plays a tone the film is trying to set: an off-kilter feeling of knowing that something’s wrong, but not quite what. It comes out March 23rd.
Hulu put out a brief new trailer for Castle Rock this week, and while there’s not a lot to see here, the 30 seconds of creepy footage is a good reminder that it has a big new Stephen King-infused show on the way. It’s still not totally clear what the series is about — it’s based on King’s “themes and worlds,” rather than any one story. It starts sometime this summer.
On My Block
While On My Block is very much a high school / coming-of-age story and is very much hitting that genre’s familiar beats, it seems to be doing so with way more energy and style than a TV series has any right to. The show will stream on Netflix, and its first season premieres March 16th.
2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films
One of my favorite things to see in theaters every year is the annual roundup of Oscar-nominated short films. I always go to see the animated selection, but ShortsHD puts together separate screenings for the live action and documentary shorts, too; they’re usually capped off with a few others from the year, to pad out the running time. The films aren’t always all amazing — there are definitely some bad ones in the mix — but it’s fun getting to see what’s always an eclectic collection back-to-back. They all come to theaters February 9th.
Another year, another immensely creepy horror movie coming from A24. Hereditary was apparently the buzz of Sundance, and so far, there’s been plenty of good things said about it. This one actually looks a lot more unsettling than its horror siblings, The Witch and It Comes at Night (which were released by A24 in 2016 and 2017), in a way that is maybe good if you want really scary things but maybe not good if you’re me. The film comes out June 28th.