Welcome back to The Morning Read.
Man, did I need that vacation. I needed it to spend time with my sons and my wife after their long trip to South America. I needed it after the wild ride that is Sundance each year. But more than anything, I just plain needed to step away from movies for a week and shut everything down so I could clear my mind, reset my palette, and prepare myself for the rest of 2011.
I did not watch the Super Bowl yesterday. Nothing against the big game, but if I don’t watch during the season, I don’t see much point in pretending that I’m invested one day out of the year. I enjoy football, but I don’t really have time to devote to it, and that’s the sort of thing that I feel like you need to make room for as a fan. I have caught up on the movie ads that premiered during yesterday’s game, though, and so I thought we’d kick off this Morning Read with some quick reactions to the way these specific campaigns are being managed. Obviously I put up a piece about the “Super 8” piece by itself, but there were a number of other big ads that premiered as well.
It’s especially appropriate that there was a “Fast Five” trailer during the game, because I’ve got some “Fast Five” set visit coverage coming up this week. I’m not a big fan of this series, but I like the way they’ve managed it, and I think it’s a pretty amazing example of turning a very modest little hit into an ongoing concern that is one of the most significant franchises for Universal these days. Who would have ever guessed back before the first Rob Cohen film hit theaters?
The Marvel one-two punch of “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” worked for me. There’s not a lot of new footage in the “Thor” spot, but there’s some, and I have to admit I’m mystified by the extreme negativity I’m seeing from some people regarding the film. Maybe it’s a good thing if people walk in electing to be underwhelmed. It puts “Thor” in an underdog position, and when it turns out to be as groovy as I think it’s going to be, it’ll end up being a great surprise.
With “Captain America,” I’d say that first footage more than did the trick to get people interested. The instant transformation from Steve Rogers to super-soldier is an easy visual explanation of where Captain America came from, and I love the quick glimpse of Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. If Joe Johnston really does tap into a “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”/”The Rocketeer” vibe with the film, it’s going to be preposterous fun.
The “Transformers 3” spot works because of its minimal approach and because of that image of Optimus Prime raining havoc on some other giant robots with his sword. The thing they have to overcome is the lingering horror of the last film’s non-screenplay, the result of the last writer’s strike and a set-in-stone release date, and as long as the script is just fun this time, they should have another monster hit.
It’s funny how similar some of the spots were this year. It’s like the same exact people cut the “Battle: Los Angeles” ad that cut “Transformers 3,” with the same sort of minimal aesthetic to emphasize the scale of the eye candy.
“Rango” looks so weird and so great.
“Rio” appears to be the reason Pixar pulled the plug on “Newt,” because the story similarities are so close it would have been uncomfortable releasing both films in the same year.
Two different ads for “Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and I still haven’t seen an image that jumps out and grabs me. I’m almost surprised how there’s no “oh my god!” moments in these trailers. Yes, Captain Jack Sparrow is back, and yes, Penelope Cruz makes the cutest li’l pirate in the world, but is that enough?
Meanwhile, “Cowboys and Aliens” is looking more and more confident to me, and I get the feeling there’s a whole lot of this movie that they’re not even hinting at yet. Most of what we’ve seen is from the first half of the picture, and if they’ve got that many money shots up front, what do you think they’ve got planned for the big finish?