Sony Pictures took a decidedly different approach to their CinemaCon presentation this year than the other studios before them, pretty much leaving all their talent at home, giving attendees cocktails and hor d’oeuvres for an hour before sitting them down for a tight 50-minute presentation of footage from their 2012 film slate. We’re going to go through each of the movies and share some of our thoughts with only a couple cases where we’ll do full play-by-plays of the footage.
Total Recall (August 5)
The presentation began with the most consecutive footage we’ve seen from director Len Wiseman’s remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Paul Verhoeven 1990 sci-fi action movie, this one starring Colin Farrell in the role of a man whose life is turned upside-down when he discovers everything he thought he knew was not real. (There may be some spoilers in the below description if you aren’t familiar with the original movie.)
This one showed a lot of the story set-up, beginning with Farrell as Doug at home with his wife, played by Kate Beckinsale, in a room talking about how things haven’t turned out the way he had hoped, but then he hears about something called Rekall from his friend (Bookem Woodbine), although he tells him not to go there. Doug doesn’t listen and he goes to the city’s seedier area and is propositioned by this movie’s version of the three-breasted hooker! “You’ll wish you had 3 hands,” she tells him before he spots the sign for Rekall and goes in. Then comes the sequence with John Cho in Rekall that was shown at Comic-Con and in the trailer. After that incident, Doug returns home to his wife to tell her what happened but she tells him he didn’t kill anyone and as she hugs him, she sees on TV the shoot-out at Rekall and she starts suffocating him so he smashes her through the window and she comes back and straddles him to take him down. As they fight, he yells, “What are you doing?” he asks and she responds, “My job!” Beckinsale has a really funny line in the interaction where she says, “What can I say? I give good wife,” which works on another level since she is actually Len Wiseman’s wife. He quickly escapes before she can kill him and she gets on the videophone with Bryan Cranston’s character to inform him what’s happening. Meanwhile, Doug finds a videotape of someone who looks like him who says “Whatever you remember is not real,” to which he responds, “If I’m not me, who the hell am I?”
Doug then goes up the China Fall into the richer higher-tech section of the world and he encounters Jessica Biel’s character who tells him to get into her floating car and then a high-speed chase ensues as his “ex-wife” catches up to him and tries to slam them with her car. Biel says “You drive” to Farrell and she does something really cool by sliding the steering wheel from her side of the car to his. He asks if she’s strapped in and he takes the car into a dive. He then sees his friend from earlier who tells him he has to return home and that he should shoot Biel, and then Beckinsale is back and they get into a wicked fight on a descending elevator, joined by a robot police officer, before Beckinsale plants a bomb and leaps to another elevator before it explodes.
That’s probably all we can remember but there’s a lot more footage of what looks like a movie filled to the brim with action. It all really looked fantastic, everything from the production design and world-building to the action scenes, and this footage definitely upped our anticipation for the movie. There was a lot more great stuff than what we saw in the first trailer, which gives us hope that maybe the movie won’t be slaughtered by opening against The Bourne Legacy after all.
That’s My Boy (June 15)
Whatever you want to say about Adam Sandler, he has his fans, and at least the 30-something fans who are fathers may want to see this over Father’s Day weekend. We don’t have too much to say except that it’s definitely R-rated with quite a bit of nudity, especially in a bachelor party strip club scene, and there were some funny scenes with Vanilla Ice (basically playing the Mike Tyson role in the movie) and James Caan as an angry fighting Catholic priest. It’s already being pimped heavilly for its Father’s Day release, although we’d expect that the kids would have to be 15 or over since the movie is so raunchy.
Hope Springs (August 12)
Basically, they showed the new trailer as is, and it looks cute if watching old people talking about sex and intimacy is your thing. Should do fine among older moviegoers based on the cast of Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and that last gag in the trailer is comedy gold!
Premium Rush (August 25)
If you noticed, that’s one movie a week from Sony in August, including Sparkle (below). This one’s been flying under our radar a bit even though it features two of our favorite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon, but also it’s directed by David Koepp, a director we also really like. This is a pretty straight-ahead action thriller in which Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger given a package that Shannon’s character wants and so begins a city-wide chase. What this trailer did really well is that it focused more on the high-speed bicycle chases through the streets of New York City, the footage being cut together to make it look like The Fast and the Furious on bicycles. It was much better than the earlier trailer, which takes way too long to get to the plot and also doesn’t make the film look nearly as exciting.
Looper (September 28)
Rian Johnson’s sci-fi action flick is one of my most anticipated of the year and they showed footage that expanded upon the teaser trailer with a couple more scenes including one where Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as his older self are at a table talking, though I was too busy marveling at how great the whole thing looked on the big screen next to bigger budget action movies like Total Recall that I didn’t write down what was said.
Sparkle (August 17)
Not sure if we have much to add about this one, although it took a very different approach to the recent trailer by focusing more on the musical numbers than the story. From what we’ve seen, this looks like a perfectly decent musical with lots of big numbers. It could be Dreamgirls or it could be Burlesque, but it does have a great cast and we’ll certainly try to see it in hopes of it being something that approaches Baz Luhrmann-dom as far as musical movies.
Here Comes the Boom (October 12)
This looked to be the first footage from the Kevin James comedy, which actually looks like it could show a more serious and dramatic side of James despite being directed by Frank Coraci, who also helmed Zookeeper. From what we gathered, James plays biology teacher Scott Voss who decides to take it upon himself to save his school when the principal (played by Gregg German) announces they have to make cutbacks to some of the arts programs. Scott steps up and suggests that the teachers help, which doesn’t sound like a popular idea. Scott sees a MMA match on television and is told that the loser got $10,000, so he starts training to fight in the ring, and we basically see him going through the circuit with some humor when he gets knocked down by some of his opponents, but it also looks to have more of an underdog sports drama feel than being straight slapstick comedy. The one thing that kept going through our mind as we watched this was, “a school teacher who tries to make money fighting MMA wasn’t that the plot of last year’s Warrior’?” He also has a romantic interest in Salma Hayek, who keeps turning down Scott’s awkward advances, and it’s nice seeing a long-haired Henry Winkler as the school’s music teacher and James’ friend and confidante in a bunch of scenes, as well. It ends with James asking Hayek if he dunks a basketball into the net she’d agree to go to dinner with him, and she concedes but then he pulls a trampoline forward and it ends with one of his patented Kevin James pratfalls that makes us think this may not be that far removed from Zookeeper after all. October’s a strange month to release this, though, and we’re wondering if James’ older fanbase might give this a look during the slower month.
Hotel Transylvania (September 28)
Not sure we have too much to add to this one as they essentially showed the trailer released just yesterday.
Then it came to the 3D content and they started with their first big summer movie
Men in Black 3 (May 25)
Which was a movie that was actually announced at CinemaCon a few years back. We’ve been kind of dubious of this one, just because we’ve learned the hard way more than a few times that the third movie in a film franchise is rarely very good, especially when there’s such a long wait between installments. This one looks like it could be fun, starting out with Will Smith’s J and Tommy Lee Jones’ K in a Chinese restaurant filled with aliens and culminating in a fight with an alien that looks like a giant prehistoric fish, which J keeps from biting him in half by putting a metal tray between his legs. As the fish alien is carted off, J says, “That’s what happens when you flush goldfish down the toilet.”
We see K in a rooftop confrontation with Jemaine Clement’s baddie Boris the Animal and we see how Boris’ hands have spikes coming out of them. Just as he’s about to fire spikes at K, J arrives on the roof and when he opens the door, it stops the flying spikes as Boris advances on them and they both fall of the side of the building, still hanging onto the door. We then see K sitting in a chair and using a device on himself that causes him to disappear. Emma Thompson’s O tells J that K used a time machine to travel to the past, but J doesn’t believe that time travel is possible and that if it was, he should have been told, but apparently, it’s above his paygrade.
Deciding to go after K, J is at the top of the Chrysler Building being told to jump in order to go back in time for 24 hours to find K and when he finally does it, we see him falling down into an era of dinosaurs, but as he keeps falling, the buildings of New York start building themselves up as time starts moving forward and he lands just inches from the ground.
We then see his first encounter with the younger K, played by Josh Brolin, pretty much as has been shown in the earlier trailers, and though it’s the ’50s, the “Men in Black” still have some cool vehicles including a couple of one-wheeled cycles that they sit in and can zoom around on, and some really clunky jetpacks that are larger than the agents themselves. There’s a funny bit where K is using a really large portable phone that J yells “Don’t put that near your head!” (’cause now we know of the radiation in those things) as well as another funny bit where J learns that Andy Warhol, played by Bill Hader, is actually a Men in Black agent, and they get into a bit of a scuffle.
This footage really changed my mind about this movie and I think that it could actually be a great return for Will Smith (who looks like he hasn’t aged since the last “Men in Black” movie) and that it will be just as much fun as the first two movies.
Resident Evil: Retribution (September 14)
This expanded upon some of the stuff we saw with the earlier teaser in January with the same scope and scale and it cut together scenes with drastically different color pallettes, including what appeared to be Alice with a young girl as the original outbreak was taking place, since we got to see more of that suburban scene with all sorts of chaos taking place (a bit like the opening of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead). We also saw quite a bit of Alice fighting and running in the black leather outfit she wore in “Afterlife,” really standing out against an entirely white backdrop. Again, there was a lot of visual information coming at us way too fast to make note of everything, but before the presentation, they announced that like “Afterlife,” the next “Resident Evil” would be released in IMAX 3D as well.
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
They clearly saved the most anticipated movie for last, and though we’d already seen a bunch of the footage shown at the big “Untold Story Begins” event a few months back, there was certainly some new stuff in there, maybe even some that will make it to the new trailer next week.
It opened with a shot of Spider-Man with his mask off looking down over the city with the voice-over saying that it’s not an easy job and that he’s made enemies as he’s put the lives of his loved ones in danger, but the one thing he wants to find out is the truth about his parents. We see brief images like him being chased by the Lizard and burning cars hanging from the Brooklyn Bridge during this narration.
From there, we saw a lot of stuff and a few new things included a brief glimpse of Peter working on his webshooter and webbing exploded in his face, as well as Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker using his skateboard to get around some cars. A couple other new things included a shot of Rhys Ifans’ Dr. Curt Connors first jacking up with the experiment that will help him grow his missing arm back, while also turning him into the Lizard. We also saw a lot more of Spider-Man’s battle with the Lizard on the rooftops of New York, although it was cut up in a way that meant we only saw very quick and brief shots of the Lizard or various appendages.
We have to say that this footage really makes The Amazing Spider-Man look very much like what Chris Nolan did with Batman in Batman Begins and we honestly don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, especially if it maintains some of Spider-Man’s snappy humor amidst the angst, which it does seem to have. Our hopes is that this movie is more of the Romita-era Spider-Man to Sam Raimi’s Steve Ditko.
Tomorrow is the last day of CinemaCon with presentations from 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures, who now have a lot to live up to after the simplicity of Sony merely showing footage from the movies and that being quite effective on its own.