It’s on to Warner Bros. Pictures and their presentation, “The Big Picture.” Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Dan Fellman and international distribution president Veronkia Kwan Vanderberg were on hand to run through the company’s 90 years of success, giving extra attention to its beloved big Best Picture winner, “Argo,” after which Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov took the stage to unveil footage and trailers for films on the studio’s 2013 lineup.
First up was “The Great Gatsby.” Director Baz Luhrmann couldn’t be on hand to introduce the latest extended look at the film himself, but sent along a video message in which he called the production one of the greatest privileges of his career thanks to the opportunity to work with such an exceptional cast.
The piece began with a narrated description of New York during the 1920s and then narrowed the focus to the party scene and specifically Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) himself. It’s all fun, booze, and high class living at first, but, towards the tail end of the footage, things turn dark courtesy of Tom Buchanan’s (Joel Edgerton) intense interest in exposing Gatsby.
While every single promotional item for the film released thus far is an undeniable visual achievement, this marks the first trailer to deliver a solid presentation of the narrative and, in turn, deeper access to the characters and their emotions.
The Hangover Part III
Todd Phillips took the stage next, offering up an amusing story about his mother’s distaste for film. At the time of the release of his very first big movie, “Road Trip,” his mother had never left New York. In an effort to indulge her, Phillips whisked her away on a trip to Los Angeles for the premiere, town car to the screening, red carpet, and all. When the night came to a close, Phillips asked his mother what she thought of the experience to which she replied, “Your sister’s a doctor.” However, fortunately for Phillips, his mother’s opinion of his work doesn’t really matter in the eyes of the industry and he got to enjoy his fourth year at CinemaCon (formerly ShoWest) by screening a trailer for his next film, “The Hangover Part III.” But sadly there’s no update to report on this one, as it was this same trailer that already made its debut a week ago.
Man of Steel
“Man of Steel,” on the other hand, showed off loads of fresh footage in a notably ominous yet hopeful new trailer. Zack Snyder was also there in the flesh to introduce the piece himself. He took the stage and noted his apprehension about making a new Superman movie, as he didn’t know if he had anything poignant to say about the iconic character. However, after reading Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer’s script, he emerged from a meeting determined to do their work justice and, based on this trailer and the ones that preceded it, he might really have done it.
This one kicks off by showing Russell Crowe’s Jor-El and Superman’s mother readying a baby Man of Steel for his escape to Earth. She’s apprehensive about the decision, concerned he’ll be branded an outcast, but Jor-El confidently insists he’ll be received as a god. Back on Earth we get a picturesque series of shots of a young boy donning a cape before jumping into the bus crash material. After that, in comes Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent to assure a young Clark Kent he’s on this planet for a reason.
Then it’s back to the familiar shots of Superman trekking across an icy terrain before taking off into the sky. We also get some snippets of Michael Shannon as General Zod, furiously threatening Superman’s safety. From there we’re off on a montage of destruction, flying and alien aircrafts before concluding with a quieter moment of Superman being interrogated by Amy Adams’ Lois Lane. She asks about the “S” on his suit and he explains that it means hope back on his home planet. Just before she can suggest having it stand for Superman, she’s cut off by a sound glitch to which Superman gracefully replies, “Excuse me.”
You can either catch this trailer for yourself when it hits theaters ahead of “Oblivion” this weekend or take a peek at it right here via the Warner Bros. YouTube page.
Guillermo del Toro was next in line, ready to celebrate the world premiere of a brand new “Pacific Rim” trailer. But before letting the footage roll, del Toro delivered a particularly heartfelt introduction, insisting that summer isn’t a time for big and loud movies, rather ones that’ll make you consider who you are and who you can be. For del Toro, that means recognizing that he’s still a kid at heart, as “Pacific Rim” brought out the 12-year-old within him, leaving him “smiling like a god damn moron” on a regular basis.
Similar to “The Great Gatsby,” this “Pacific Rim” trailer benefits from a story driven format. It opens with a person suiting up and stepping into a Jaeger robot, after which some narration chimes in to detail the state of the planet. After recalling how the monsters first rose from the sea, Charlie Day’s character, Dr. Newton Geiszler, points out that the only way to defeat the enemy is to understand them. The Jaeger program was formed and initially, it was highly successful, but when things took a turn for the worse, the aliens counted on the human race to fail and hide, not fight back
Apparently they weren’t aware that Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost gives quite the inspirational speech because after he announces that they’re “canceling the apocalypse,” the trailer launches into a montage of wild and devastating battle sequences of Jaeger robots taking on invaders. While the material does look impressive, as presented in the trailer, so much action is hurled at you so fast that one shot becomes indistinguishable from the rest with the exception for the very last clip of trailer, a shot of a Jaeger robot squashing an invader’s head between his fists. However, for one last powerful punch, even after the brutal blow, that alien catches you off guard by opening up its eyes.
The presentation then focused on James Wan’s “The Conjuring,” but merely screened the trailer that dropped two weeks ago.
300: Rise of an Empire
Next came a nice surprise – Noam Murro, the director of “300: Rise of an Empire.” He explained he’s still hard at work on the film so couldn’t be there in person, but he did unveil plans to screen a series of unfinished footage to convey the tone and scale of the film.
The montage opened with a clip from the original of Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas proclaiming, “For tonight, we dine in hell,” before cutting to a grave, suggesting his death. From there the footage attempted to deliver a handful of plot details, but it all piled up so quickly, it was nearly impossible to digest. Without being able to get a strong grasp on the narrative, it became all about the visuals, which, much like the original, showed off a mesmerizing blend of live action performances amidst a heavily digital landscape. There were an abundance of stormy seas that transitioned into more intimate moments, revealing crews of haggard men rowing the massive ships onward.
Eva Green was also a stand out as an exceptionally effective villainous force, even out of context. Her effortless threatening presence combined with a menacing costume adorned with spikes down her spine suggest the ultimate threat.
It was a solid start, but hopefully a finished trailer will designate more time to building the story and characters, allowing viewers to go a step beyond watching the footage and actually feel the impact of the events taking place.
We’re the Millers
Rawson Marshall Thurber’s “We’re the Millers” came in next, rolling an amusing first trailer that excelled at delivering both story deals and solid jokes. The piece kicked off with Jennifer Aniston’s Rose working hard as a stripper. Then in came Jason Sudeikis’ David Burke who’s approached by a sleazy Ed Helms with the task of smuggling pot across the boarder in exchange for $100,000. Sudeikis accepts and takes off to hatch a plan.
Concerned he’ll be checked at the border, he comes up with the bright idea to pose as one big happy family to seem less suspicious. Trouble is, he has no wife or kids. Back to Rose for the ultimate pitch – swap the heels and dancing for a more wholesome appearance to play Sudeikis’ wife. Next for the kiddies. Local dork Kenny (Will Poulter) accepts the role of the son while local “gutter punk,” Emma Roberts’ Casey, is named Sudeikis’ darling little girl.
The makeshift family heads off to pick up the “smidge of pot,” but apparently some folks’ definition of smidge is different than others, and Sudeikis is faced with mounds and mounds of green goods. Along the way, the foursome must camp out with another family, the Fitzgerald’s, played by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, the end result of which is a naughty game of Pictionary during which Rose thinks Kenny’s drawing of a skateboard looks more like a “black cock.”
Then there’s a vicious encounter with a tarantula that forces Kenny to drop his pants and show off the horrendous spider-bitten deformity that was his penis. While it’s safe and sound in the RV from there, the laughs at Kenny’s expense aren’t over. Sudeikis turns on the radio, blasting TLC’s “Waterfalls,” and Kenny just can’t help but to burst out in his own way-too-accurate rendition of the rap portion of the song to which Sudeikis responds by mouthing “what the f***” before cutting to the title card.
And now for the pinnacle of the presentation, a trailer for the Alfonso Cuarón-directed “Gravity.” This one begins with a series of pristine shots of Earth from space and a pair of astronauts floating around a nearby space shuttle. Their somewhat heavenly state is devastated by incoming debris that rains down on them and their shuttle. Naturally, Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Ryan Stone is reeling from the close encounter. George Clooney’s Matt Kowalsky bears a calming presence and tries to talk her through it, but thanks to a new ominous tone, that former state of bliss gives way to an overwhelming sense of isolation, culminating with one of the two floating out into space.
From there we jumped into a string of clips from Denis Villeneuve’s September 20th release, “Prisoners.” The material opened with Keller and Grace Dover (Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello) and their young daughter arriving at the Birch’s (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) home for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s all fun-loving holiday cheer until they realize both of their daughters are missing. The fathers run out into the rain to look for them outside, but they’re nowhere to be found.
Next we meet Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki. Bello weeps to him as she discusses the disappearance after which Jackman has his own one-on-one with Gyllenhaal during which his character appears even more unhinged than Bello’s. There’s some talk of Keller being a suspect himself, which absolutely sets him off. From there Loki criticizes him for essentially abandoning his wife, opting to drive around aimlessly rather than head home and get through this together. Even as Keller grows increasingly belligerent Loki continues to try to reason with him, but when Keller spits out missing children statistics that are so clearly not in his daughter’s favor, it’s impossible to overlook the severity of the situation.
It’s a gut-wrenching scenario, but the big takeaway from the “Prisoners” footage is Jackman’s performance. Even while suggesting a degree of hysterical numbness, he manages to take Keller from concerned father to hopeless misery to a place where he almost seems jealous that Loki is the one with the power and capabilities to track down his daughter.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The final slot goes to “The Hobbit,” which attempted to make a mark without new footage, but with an appeal from Peter Jackson. Jackson explained the new trailer is on its way, but that it’s just too early to share any of the film. After thanking the convention guests for their dedication to the theatergoing experience, he further teased his trilogy by highlighting that “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” will see the return of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and introduce Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, Luke Evans’ Bard the Bowman and Benedict Cumberbatch as one of Middle-Earth’s last remaining dragons, Smaug himself.
Before coming to a close, the studio launched a full slate sizzle reel featuring footage of Ethan Hawke in the crime film “Getaway,” shots of monsters, Kit Harington, and Julianne Moore dressed a lot like Charlize Theron in “Snow White and the Huntsman” in snippets from the October 18th release, “The Seventh Son,” and then finally zipped through bits of every film highlighted that evening.