Friday, 4 May 2012

Superhero Trailer Special: 'The Dark Knight Rises' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

I haven't been updating here a lot recently, for several reasons. I've become slightly addicted to Marvel comics in the wake of 'The Avengers', for a start. Then there's the fact that Football Manager Handheld is now out on Android, which means I spend most of my time glued to my recently acquired tablet pretending to manage Portsmouth (for some reason). I've also been helping to write the programme for a European festival happening within the next two months, so that's taking all the time that isn't spent doing the other two things.

I saw George Lucas' 'Red Tails' yesterday but that's under embargo for the best part of a month. So, in lieu of anything else to talk about, I'll do what I always do when there's nothing left to say: I'll post trailers!

Below are the latest 'The Dark Knight Rises' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man' trailers followed by a bit of shallow chitchat filler. Yes, I'm obsessed with comic book superheroes at the moment, but then so is "the industry" at large. 'The Avengers' looks set to break that billion dollar mark during its run - it opens in the US today having already achieved a significant chunk of that milestone after a week playing internationally - so this summer look set to be dominated by the costumed hero more than any in memory.

Anyway, here's the third trailer for Christopher Nolan's third Batman movie: 'The Dark Knight Rises':

These Nolan Batman trailers - like anything else - lose impact viewed on a computer screen, as I found when I saw the previous trailer projected in IMAX in front of 'The Avengers'. There is an understated quiet to the way they are marketing this movie to date that benefits from the big screen treatment, pulling you into this world the way only a darkened room and a massive screen can. It's with this in mind that I say I'm not exactly over-enthused by this latest peek at the culmination of Nolan's trilogy, viewed at home and in daylight. But I'm not on the whole discouraged.

'The Dark Knight' is one of the best films of the last ten years and - prior to Marvel's latest - the last film to really excite me with its action scenes, so I'm sure 'Rises' will be (at the very least) good. But Bane as the main villain? That's not exactly inspiring, despite the presence of Tom Hardy, though Anne Hathaway is always good value which should make Catwoman interesting.

As for the trailer itself, it's hard to escape the feeling that they're now throwing all the major set pieces at us: the football field sinking into the ground, the mid-air hijack of (presumably) Wayne's plane, and the destruction of a bridge - though each of these moments looks excellent, let's hope there are some surprises left for the final film. Intriguingly, there is still nothing here overtly showing off Liam Neeson reprising his character from 'Batman Begins', so perhaps there's a whole side to this movie we still know nothing about. I hope so.

Also, the flying vehicle at the end of the trailer (as previously glimpsed in fleeting shots of the previous promo) looks decidedly un-Nolan. These Batman films have been all about stripping the series of fantasy elements (in the comics Batman has some truly weird villains) and going "real" and "gritty" with it. Yet this crazy flying car thing is clearly not of our reality. Taken along with rumours of the Lazarus Pit being used as a plot device, along with the possible resurrection of Neeson's Ra's al Ghul, could this mean Nolan's Batman is heading in a slightly less determinedly realistic direction?

Next up, Marc Webb's 'The Amazing Spider-Man' AKA 'The Pointless Reboot Nobody Asked For':

I'll lay my cards on the table from the off: I didn't like Marc Webb's last film, '(500) Days of Summer', at all. Smug, charmless, contrived, high on its own farts. Rubbish. I also don't see why 'Spider-Man', as established so well on the screen by Sam Raimi, needs a "re-boot" when it's so recent. 'Spider-Man 3' wasn't so bad that we all need to start again and find out who Peter Parker is, and see him get bitten by the spider, and see Uncle Ben get killed all over. That said, I do like Andrew Garfield and think he could do great things with the iconic role.

In this trailer we get a glimpse of Garfield as Spidey from the comic books, as the jokey, wise-ass. Him taunting the car thief about his small knife is funny and is the first real indication that this movie could work. However... everything else we've been shown so far is horrible.

Why is this movie all about Peter Parker trying to learn the truth about his parents? Since when was that a major preoccupation of Spider-Man? And his new suit looks so ugly: garish and over-designed. And, worst of all, the film's villain - the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) - looks appalling both in terms of design (where he looks more like a dinosaur than any previous incarnation of the comic book character) and in terms of the shoddy CGI. It's a far cry from the motion captured excellence of the Hulk in 'The Avengers'. And therein lies the film's biggest problem.

Nolan's Batman trilogy is its own thing, and whilst journalists will inevitably measure its success against that of Marvel's team-up monster hit, tonally and in terms of how it handles the subject matter it's likely to appeal to a different audience (albeit with a sizable overlap). Spider-Man, on the other hand, is a colourful Marvel hero and this film will (by the looks of things) suffer from comparison to either film - especially as it aims to take on an amount of Nolan-esque "gritty". It looks as though 'The Amazing Spider-Man' won't equal the escapist thrills and laughs of 'The Avengers' whilst also failing to convince those who hunger for increased realism and "darkness". In short, it'll please nobody. Then again these sub-zero expectations could see it become a very pleasant surprise.

I'll naturally still go and see it, but that's because I'm increasingly a Marvel comics fanboy. But boy do I wish Marvel owned the cinematic rights to this and several other flagship properties (Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil), as they have really lead the way in terms of making book-accurate super hero movies that are neither excessively camp nor po-faced.

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