Turn down the lights and stare at the screen. New imagery appears, promising a positive movie experience. Over the past few weeks, Disney has released a bunch of trailers for forthcoming projects from Brad Bird, Marvel, Disney Channel, Lucasfilm and, yes, even Disneynature.
The time has come to break down these trailers and determine their worth through rating them in a Disney-like manner. I am assigning the best type of trailer an “E-ticket,” akin to the most popular Disney attractions, whereas the most unappealing trailer receives an “A-ticket,” much like the rides and shows people could enter for free.
Play up the allure and mystique, Disney publicity! Tomorrowland, the highly-anticipated and highly-questionable production from the director of The Incredibles, has revealed little of the plot and action until now. Much has still remained tightly secret – quite a feat in this day and age – though this trailer demonstrates some of the cool special effects. Once again, Britt Robertson‘s Casey discovers touching the Tomorrowland pin “takes her” to the wondrous world, quite a long way from the fields and swamps. That field vision had defined much of the content thus far, but finally we see George Clooney‘s curmudgeon Frank in action. This trailer was a smart choice, for it showcases predictably one of the film’s key scenes without spoiling the plot. Though the snippet plays like an enhanced version of Race to Witch Mountain, the skyrocketing bathtub, battling robots and plummeting spacecraft – set to the pumping music – add for a wild ride. Clooney’s last line in the trailer is perfectly timed to the release date: May 22. I’m all in for the trip to Tomorrowland!
I wonder how Edgar Wrightfeels about departing Marvel’s insect superhero production after watching this trailer. An improvement from the previous one, this trailer sacrifices more of the storyline in favor of viewers having a generally entertaining 150-second experience. Every superhero origin story begins in much the same way, which Ant-Man seems to follow. There’s the doubtful soon-to-be protagonist, exposition on the potential abilities, and some wild action sequences, often with an insert of humor. This trailer has it all covered. Yet despite checking all of the typical boxes, Paul Rudd‘s charisma, Michael Douglas‘ straight man attitude and the unique bug-sized set pieces excite me. “Heroes don’t get any bigger” signifies a monumental tagline for a film that hopefully does not experience minimal box office revenue when it hits this July.
Here embodies where branding may have gotten the best of the Mouse House. Descendants, premiering this summer on Disney Channel, takes the idea of ABC’s Once Upon a Time one step further by imagining key Disney protagonists and villains with kids. I can already see an animated Disney Junior series centered on the baddies as toddlers, much like Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, emerging next. But back to the trailer, which unfortunately appears to give away much of the storyline. Cruella, Jafar, Evil Queen, and Maleficent, all of whom apparently had the time to raise children, must watch their kiddos move away and attend a prep school in the kingdom. Guess who gives them that opportunity? Belle and Beast’s son. Is this Disney fan-fiction come to life? Kristin Chenoweth and Kathy Najimy seem to ham up their roles as Maleficent and Evil Queen, though the rest of the trailer seems as standard as a, well, modern Disney Channel Original Movie. High School Musical‘s Kenny Ortega helms this project, which seems destined for a sequel. Hopefully the end product is less corny than the trailer.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
The reaction to the next Star Wars film is overwhelmingly positive for a reason. This truly is one of the most moving and smartly-crafted trailers I have seen in years, and this comes from a guy extremely critical of trailers involving familiar properties. Sometimes they show too much footage or, on the other hand, revel in the vagueness. During some instances, trailers distort the actual film content. Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ second teaser trailer achieves that golden mean in sensational style. Mark Hamill‘s narration, following the Luke Skywalker theme and set against visuals that Star Wars fans can recognize, indicates brilliant decisions from the marketing team. Stormtroopers and neat spacecraft aside, this trailer has garnered countless dozens of millions of views for three main reasons: gripping visuals; awesome orchestration by John Williams; and that final shot of Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo and Peter Mayhew‘s Chewbacca. The overwhelming amount of magnetic content packed into those roughly 100 seconds speaks to the amazing movie we are to receive from J.J. Abrams this December.
BORN IN CHINA
Not to be forgotten among the mix of sci-fi and heroic fare is Disneynature’s next feature. Born in China, depicted as the film label’s biggest undertaking, combines cuteness with grandness in just over one minute. “Experience a family adventure unlike any you’ve seen before in a land far from human reach, but closer than ever to your heart,” the narrator says as a baby panda bear rolls down a hill full of leaves. It’s too early to judge if that notion holds true, as I found watching the stars of Bears traversing over a treacherous environment to be pretty miraculous and touching. But I guess we will know if that is the case when it premieres in theaters, likely sometime in 2016. Nevertheless, I am excited about the potential of the film, even if the trailer does not show much, nor indicate which animals specifically will serve as the focuses (other than the pandas, of course).
Which film are you anticipating most and, just as significantly, which trailer do you think is the most awesome and why? Share your thoughts!
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom.