I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens today. The movie was, as a piece of action/adventure sci-fi entertainment, solidly mediocre. Maybe I'll say some more about that some other time, but I'm too bored by the thought of writing a review of it to force myself to do so.
However, there were a lot of previews played prior to the feature, and so I'd like to offer some notes on those, even if today I don't want to talk about how unutterably stupid the sun-sucking cannon-planet death star was, or how disjointed and uninformative the plot was, or how they brought in the great Max von Sydow, only to kill him off within the first two minutes. Not talking about all that.
Anyway, here are the previews.
1. Kung Fu Panda 3
Dreamworks Animation is back for round three with one of its two successful film franchises (the other being How to Train Your Dragon). Have you seen Kung Fu Panda? I did not expect to enjoy it, but it was the standard film to show in the Freshman sacramental theology class I taught (...not kidding...) to illustrate a "sacramental understanding" of the Joseph Campbell "Hero's Journey" cycle, which was popularized by Bill Moyers (a long-time aide to Lyndon B. Johnson) in a mini-series he did for PBS in the late 1980s. More things I don't want to talk about. Anyway, Kung Fu Panda is, after you have to watch it four times in a row, a very enjoyable movie. (As I pause, having just written the previous sentence, I'm no longer sure whether the film is actually enjoyable, or whether my love of it was part of some sort of Stockholm Syndrome.) The sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, was not very good. I expect this third installment will be similarly lame. Still, probably better than Mars Needs Moms or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
The people who made the Warcraft computer games (most famous for the extremely addictive MMORPG World of Warcraft) are making a movie. Am I wrong in thinking that there was also a Final Fantasy movie? I'm sure the addicts and former addicts will flock to it. The aesthetics are grotesque and the plot will probably be lame. I'll probably see it anyway, eventually.
3. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Zach Snyder's Man of Steel was imperfect, but it had some excellent elements. The plotline devoted to Clark Kent's mixed identity and childhood was incredible. Really well-directed, well acted, well written. The apocalyptic action plotline was too much too soon, and I think should have been saved for the series' first sequel. Now the first sequel is on its way, and it's a puzzler. Kent is apparently being set up for a major fight against Bruce Wayne through some sort of scheme by Lex Luthor. Wayne is going to be played by Ben Affleck. Despite the huge negative reaction to his casting in the role, I expect he'll do fine with it. Jesse Eisenberg is playing Luthor. I like Eisenberg, and I think he could play the twisted genius well, but the trailer made him out to be a little psychopathic, which I think would be a mistake. Oh, and there was a big monster and some super hero lady who showed up at the last second. I'm guessing the lady is "Justice", though I'm not familiar enough with the DC universe to know.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
Whoever does Laika's trailers is really good. I haven't seen either Coraline or ParaNorman, but they both had good trailers (especially the latter). The studio's latest stop motion film is called Kubo and the Two Strings, and seems to be some sort of magical adventure drama involving a girl on a quest who has a two-stringed guitar-like instrument with magic powers. Will it be good? Who knows. Maybe not. But the trailer has good atmosphere and structure.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
I enjoyed the original Independence Day a lot. FOX used to air it every year on the night of the Academy Awards, and I would watch. It seems to me that the film has good potential for entertainment, but the trailer was poorly constructed (and this may bode ill for the picture as a whole). The main point of the trailer seemed to be to communicate "Oh hey, it's just like Independence Day, but it's a sequel!"
6. X-Men: Apocalypse
This seems to continue the X-Men re-re-boot which took place in the last film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was enjoyable enough. This installment seems to have fallen into the "apocalyptic threat" plot trap that dominates the superhero genre. Also, yes, super-powerful supervillains are cool, but the whole Apocalypse backstory represents a variety of corniness that should be left in the pages of comic books.
7. Captain America: Civil War
The Avengers are fighting each other, because Captain America values friendship. The idea of superheroes fighting is interesting. Also interesting that the Marvel group is putting this film out in the same year that the DC/Legendary group is putting out the Batman vs. Superman movie. Those facts aside, I probably won't see this film, because who cares about Captain America?
Probably this will be a lame movie, but the trailer was very funny. (DMV employees as sloths.)