ShoWest: Sony Pictures’ Summer Line-Up Preview

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At Sony Pictures’ special ShoWest presentation of their summer line-up, ComingSoon.net had a chance to view some all-new footage from the studios’ planned summer releases, which span a fairly diverse variety of genres. (You can read our initial write-up of the first footage shown from Neil Bomkamp’s District 9 here.)

The reel started with a lengthy compilation of footage from Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons (May 15), which covered the main plot for the movie which seems to adhere very closely to the novel. The footage opens with an impressive aerial shot of the tens of thousands of people who’ve gathered at the Vatican for the choosing of a new Pope among the four cardinals, who have mysteriously disappeared. Among the onlookers is a little girl who screams when she sees blood on the cobblestones and we follow her gaze to find one of the cardinals dead. A representative of the Vatican contacts Hanks’ Dr. Robert Langdon as he casually swims, and he’s told that they’ve been kidnapped by the Illuminati, a group of scientists who were obliterated by the Catholic Church for speaking out against the existence of God. For this movie, Langdon is paired with Vittoria Vetra, played by Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer, and the footage generally followed Langdon and Vetra as they look for clues in the Vatican archives and search the churches in the surrounding area for the missing cardinals. (It was shown fairly chronologically.)

We got to see a lot more of Ewan McGregor as Father Carlo Ventresca, the Vatican representative who has to help the duo in their mission to find the missing cardinals and find the missing explosive planted under the Vatican. In one scene, he asks Langdon if he believes in God, to which he gets the response that Langdon “will never understand God but that his heart tells him he’s not meant to.” We won’t get into too much detail for those who haven’t read the novel yet, but if the movie remains as faithful as it looks, there’s a good chance this movie will surpass The Da Vinci Code in every respect. (And yes, Hanks has short hair in the movie, as promised!)

Later in the presentation, there was an extended trailer for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12), Tony Scott’s remake of the 1974 classic, this time starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. It opened with the same strains of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” as the newest trailer, although it actually used the explicit lyrics instead of just the music track. It’s similar to the trailer in many ways, showing John Travolta’s character boarding the 6 train and taking passengers hostage, contacting the transit control center and building a rapport with Denzel Washington’s dispatcher, Walter Garber.

The footage shown included a lot more screen time with James Gandolfini as the city’s mayor and John Turturro as Denzel’s superior, who thinks that his dispatcher might have already had a relationship with the kidnapper since they have such a friendly rapport. Some of the scenes from earlier trailers were included, although all of them were generally extended slightly, and there was one scene before the first murder, where we see an obscenity-filled tirade by Travolta, clearly in Malkovich/Dafoe villain mode for the movie. We see a scene where Walter arrives at the train and Travolta’s character asks, “Did you ever think this would happen when you got up this morning?” (or something like that) The footage ended wth the same scene of Denzel pointing a gun at Travolta, who is on the opposite side of a fence, and Travolta asks him if he thinks it will make him feel okay or make it better, to which Denzel responds: “No, but it’s a start.”

The romantic comedy The Ugly Truth (July 24), starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, certainly seems like a fairly broad meet-cute comedy from the short clips that were added to the current theatrical trailer. The general premise is that Heigl plays Abby Richter, a television producer overseeing Butler’s character, Mike Chadaway, a chauvinistic answer man who has all the answers for the ladies who watch his show.

Obviously, the two of them immediately come to blows, but Abby agrees to allow him to give her advice on attracting the good-looking surgeon she’s into, of which Mike claims, “I’m going to make him your bitch.” In one scene, they’re sitting in a coffee shop and Mike’s giving Abby advice to win him over, saying that she needs to act like a cross between a librarian and a stripper and come up with a fake laugh she can use to laugh at all jokes, no matter how unfunny. This leads to a bit of back-and-forth banter regarding fake laughs vs. fake orgasms, etc. The next clip shows her at a baseball game with the surgeon, and Mike is telling her what to do over an earpiece she’s wearing. When he makes a lewd comment about the ballpark hot dog she’s eating, saying how she should eat it more seductively, she’s so grossed out by his remark that she spills her soda on her date. What the trailer doesn’t show is what happens afterwards as she leans down to wipe off the soda she spilled, rubbing briskly at it as if… well, we don’t have to spell it out, do we? Regardless, that’s the exact moment that the stadium’s “Kiss Cam” decides to capture the embarrassing moment for everyone to see. The last scene involved a pair of vibrating panties that Mike suggests Abby wears and that leads to a similarly broad situation where she slips them on before her date, but then ends up having to attend a corporate dinner with Mike and the surgeon. After she drops the remote, a young boy picks it up and starts playing with it, sending Abby into spasms of delight, just as she has to give a pitch to the corporate financiers, made even more exciting thanks to the vibrating panties; it’s a very When Harry Met Sally… moment for sure. Butler’s American accent is somewhat dicey, but the duo seem to have enough of a rom-com chemistry that the movie should certainly appeal to a certain female demographic ala Sex and the City or Heigl’s last movie 27 Dresses.

They also showed the first trailer for Julie & Julia (August 7), starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, which essentially showed the plot of how Amy Adams’ character, unsatisfied with her life and career, decides to start a blog where she cooks her way through Julia Childs’ “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 365 Days. Based on Julie Powell’s book, it tells the story of the two women, acting as a biopic for Julia Childs, who we see making her way into the French culinary circles, as well as an inspirational story about Adams’ character. There’s a nice moment between Streep and Stanley Tucci, who plays Julia Childs’ husband. (We actually had a chance to see this trailer a few weeks ago, and it looks like a sweet movie.)

Lastly, there was an extended trailer for Harold Ramis’ Year One with Jack Black and Michael Cera, which included a bunch of new clips not in the recently released trailer. For instance, Cera’s love interest Ima is suggestively stroking the spears of the two men she’s talking to, and we see a bit more of Black’s exit from his tribe as he accidentally sets a hut on fire then says “Nobody panic!” The village medicine man, played by Bill Hader, pretty much freaks out until he realizes it’s not his house on fire. We also see them first spotting the Roman Centurions (“Nice hats,” Black quips) and take their first ride on a wagon. (The tagline suggests that moviegoers prepare for “the very first road trip.”) The footage included a longer scene between David Cross’ Cain and Paul Rudd’s Abel where the former repeatedly hits the latter in the head with a stone, cries “What have I done?” when he thinks he’s killed his brother, but when Abel awakes, he gives him one more blow and yells out, “What have I continued to do?” We see more footage of their characters interacting within the city, including Black first seeing Cera painted completely in gold, asking if it was done by someone with no genitals. “He was quite thorough,” Cera opines. One of the final scenes has the two of them being warned to stay away from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which are full of whores, and they respond with something like, “Which one has more whores?… so we can make sure to stay further away from that one.” Having seen this footage a couple weeks ago, I was somewhat surprised how little of it made it into the final theatrical trailer, but surely, there’ll be an online Red Band trailer or some clips on the way, which might show some of these great gags. (ComingSoon.net visited the set of Ramis’ film and we hope to be able to run some interviews from it soon.)

Look for more on all of these movies as the summer gets nearer.