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We've been seeing a steady influx of trailers for the summer movie season, and a couple of oddball outliers for pictures coming up later in the year and beyond. So here's a quick rundown of some of the notable trailers and teasers that have popped up since January. All links below lead to Trailer Addict.

Annie - The reactions to the new "Annie" coming up for the holiday season have been decidedly mixed, especially Cameron Diaz's new take on Miss Hannigan. Still, Quvenzhané Wallis looks like she's going to make a great Annie, and Jamie Foxx is in rare form as Will Stacks, the new Daddy Warbucks figure. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't hear more of the music, though, and that the trailer decided to emphasize the humor instead.

Hercules - So much cheese on display. I'm getting flashbacks to "Conan: The Barbarian" here. Best case scenario is that we get a completely pulpy, silly B-movie Hercules and Duane Johnson's considerable charms don't get buried under too many CGI effects. I'm not sold based on the action and the spectacle alone, and this trailer really could have used a little more spark and personality. Unfortunately this comes off as pretty generic-looking.

Chef - It's nice to see Jon Favreau taking a break from big summer blockbusters and trying his hand at a foodie comedy. And it doesn't hurt that he apparently decided to have an "Iron Man 2" cast reunion at the same time. Being released in the middle of May, "Chef" is clearly a personal project being served up as counterprogramming, and looks like a perfectly sweet, feel-good alternative to the superheroes and Adam Sandler. They don't make enough of them like this anymore.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - A very brief look at the new designs for the Ninja Turtles confirms that they're way too humanized, to the point of being a little off-putting. The rest of the trailer is following the exact same template as the "Transformers" films, especially with the presence of Megan Fox as April O'Neil. I don't have high hopes for this, but I've learned not to underestimate Michael Bay and toy aisle nostalgia. Proceed at your own risk.

Tammy - Melissa McCarthy has worked her way up the ranks over the past few years to the rare position of female comedy headliner - and when was the last time we legitimately had one of those? The trailer for "Tammy" makes it very clear that this is a major starring vehicle for her. I've found McCarthy's previous efforts very hit-or-miss, and I don't know how well she's going to work as a lead, but this teaser with her stumbling through a robbery routine did make me smile. I wish her all the best.

The Giver - Confession time. Despite being recommended the book by every English teacher in junior high, I've never read Lois Lowry's beloved dystopian YA novel, "The Giver." I figured this could be a plus, allowing me a different perspective on the film version than I've had with other, similar adaptations. So far, the trailer is pretty bland, trying too hard to make itself look like every other teen action franchise out there. The appearance of Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges is intriguing though.

Peanuts - This isn't coming out until November of 2015, but it provides a crucial first look at the visual style that's going to be used for the new "Peanuts" movie from 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios, best known for the "Ice Age" movies but steadily getting more ambitious with recent features like "Epic." It looks like they've done a good job of capturing the iconic look of the Charles Schultz drawings with CGI. However, getting the story and humor right will also be crucial.

Edge of Tomorrow - I thought this was a spring release, but apparently the latest Tom Cruise science-fiction action film is coming in June. Cruise has proven to be a good fit for this kind of material, and I'll watch Emily Blunt in just about anything. Based on a Japanese novel and manga called "All You Need is Kill," this looks to have a lot in common with "Source Code," except much more action-oriented. Also, having Doug Liman and Christopher McQuarrie onboard doesn't hurt.

Guardians of the Galaxy - And finally, we come to my favorite trailer of the batch, which introduces us to the motley crew who will be starring in the next Marvel Universe film. I think what makes this work is really John C. Reilly as the audience surrogate, providing the introductions and setting the tone for how we're meant to view these characters. Frankly, I have my doubts about how the concept is going to play, but the trailer goes a long way in convincing me that they've got the tone right and the humor right, and we're in good hands.
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I've sidestepped talking about a lot of major media-related news items that have been circulating lately. For instance, I didn't bother writing a Superbowl post this year because I didn't see the game. I did go online afterwards and watch all the ads, but I didn't see much that was worth writing about. The movie spots in particular were lackluster, and none of them were for films I had much interest in seeing. Not many big summer films made an appearance. The biggest exceptions were "The Amazing Spider-man 2," which gave us a two-part look at one of the action sequences and "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which confirmed that Mark Wahlberg is indeed taking over hero duties from Shia LaBeouf. Neither were all that interesting.

So may bigger titles failed to make appearances, there's no point listing them all. Most of the movie ads were for spring releases like the new "Robocop" and "Captain America," and smaller action films like "Need for Speed," "3 Days to Kill," and "Pompeii." The most successful of them was for "Muppets Most Wanted," which had some funny digs at quote mining and Twitter users. Nobody was really using the Superbowl to launch a campaign or to show off anything really new. As a result there wasn't much buzz about any of these spots online after the game, the way there was about the 360 shot in the Superbowl ad for "The Avengers," for instance, or that one for "Independence Day" back in 1996 where Roland Emmerich sent a UFO to blow up the White House. Still remember that, don't you?

So why didn't Hollywood come out to play this year? Well, you just have to look at the premier of the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer yesterday on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Within an hour of broadcast it was all over the internet and the buzz for the movie went through the roof. Consider that the asking price for a 30 second Superbowl spot this year was $4 million. Consider that the new "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer ran well over two minutes and likely didn't cost anything to air, because Marvel and ABC, which airs Kimmel's late night show, are both owned by Disney. Consider that though Kimmel's audience is only a fraction of the audience for the Superbowl, the trailer has since been seen by exponentially larger numbers since it has gone viral on the internet.

Many marketers have decided that instead of piggybacking off of a bigger media event like the Superbowl or an awards show, they are better off being an event all by themselves. The internet has opened up marketing possibilities in recent years, and many film enthusiasts are more likely to see a new trailer online before they see it in theaters or before the ads appear on television. Not all films have the clout to do this, but when you're highly anticipated tentpole like a new Marvel movie, then the benefits of reaching the Superbowl audience may not be worth paying a premium for, especially as the price tag continues to climb higher every year.

Also when you're a movie with unfamiliar characters, a high concept premise, and a very particular sensibility like "Guardians," you need more than 30 seconds, or even a full minute to sell it to a broad audience. if you look at the new trailer, it spends the bulk of the time having John C. Reilly carefully introduce the five main characters. I suspect this is also why upcoming May releases "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" sat out this year's Superbowl. They're franchise films, but potentially too narratively complicated to get their pitches across so quickly. With "Spider-man" and "Transformers," all you really need is action shots and explosions.

A few weeks ago I wrote about movie theaters cracking down on lengthy trailers, where guidelines were put forward that suggest trailers shouldn't run longer than two minutes. I don't think there are many previews that need to be longer, but you could make a case for some of them. Despite its length, the "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer is all intro and has no spoilers to speak of. However, you could edit it down to two minutes easily enough and keep the longer version online for those who are curious to see more. Extended internet-only previews are already fairly common. "Cloud Atlas," for example, released one that was nearly six minutes.

In short, the internet has had a big effect on the way movies are releasing new footage, and I expect that it will continue to. As marketing costs go up, television and theatrical previews will still be important, but they're being supplemented in a big way by internet previews, which may end up overtaking them in the long run. We'll always see some movies willing to pay for Superbowl ad space, but there are other ways to make a similarly big splash these days.

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Have you become annoyed by the abundance of lengthy movie trailers that seem to spoil all the good stuff and marketing campaigns pushing movies so far ahead of their release dates that you lose track of when they're actually going to show up in theaters? Well, your complaints have not fallen on deaf ears. Well, sort of.

This week the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), a trade organization for movie theater owners, released a series of guidelines for the marketing materials for upcoming movies. The voluntary standards specify that trailers run no longer than two minutes, and run no more than 150 days before a movie actually opens, and other advertising such as aposters and standees displayed no more than 120 days prior. Potential loopholes involving third parties advertisers are also addressed. There would be some exceptions for special content such as behind-the-scenes featurettes, and each distributor gets two films a year that wouldn't be subject to these restrictions.

This would mean some drastic changes in the way marketing campaigns are run, which often release their earliest teasers over a year in advance of a film's release date. The date restrictions would mean that a summer tentpole opening on Memorial Day would have to wait until Christmas to start campaigning. Remember that great teaser for the upcoming Christopher Nolan movie "Interstellar" that was released back in December? Under the new rules, it would have to be kept under wraps until June. The "X-men: Days of Future Past" standees that have been in the front window of my local theater since mid-December would have had to be kept under wraps for another month at least.

Teasers are usually two minutes or less, but the later full-length trailers usually run at least two and a half minutes. Most of the reports I've seen about the guidelines make the assumption that the shorter length is meant to discourage spoilers, which there have been increased complaints about recently. However, I don't think that's the case. Thirty second television commercials are often the most spoiler-laden bits of advertising, and it would be as easy to divulge third act secrets in two minutes as it is in two-and-a-half. And while everyone seems to agree that the spoilers are annoying, they haven't really been affecting the theaters' bottom lines. However, shorter trailers mean that theaters can play more trailers or more pre-show advertisements, which they've become increasingly reliant on for revenue.

A year ago, we were getting reports that larger exhibitors were regularly charging studios to play certain trailers, because the advertising space in front of the features was becoming more and more valuable. Most theaters now run one or two trailers attached to a film for free, but the rest have to be paid for. And because more trailers bring in more revenue, over the past decade we've seen a steady rise in the number of trailers that play in front of a film. You'll notice that the new NATO guidelines don't address a common complaint of moviegoers these days, which is that there are too many ads and coming attractions in front of a film. It's not rare to find films that actually start twenty minutes after they've been scheduled because of all the previews.

The new guidelines would go into effect for movies opening after October 1st. They're voluntary, remember, but it's the theaters that decide which trailers play in front of which movies, and where to place the posters and standees, so if they're all onboard with the new rules, the studios may be out of luck. Sure, print, television, and online advertising are major alternatives to consider, but the trailers that play in theaters are special. It's an audience that the studios know will be the most receptive, that is paying attention, and can't change the channel. Trailers are considered part of the normal moviegoing experience, and some viewers still take pains to arrive early so they won't miss any.

And lest you think the theaters are being too stingy about this, remember that the studios have been the ones who have been cutting into theater owners' ticket revenues by shortening the amount of time that movies play in theaters exclusively. It's not uncommon to find new studio movies on disc a mere 90 days after their initial release dates, and there was talk recently of premium VOD cutting that number in half. The way that the theaters and studios split ticket sales, the longer the run of a film, the more money goes to the theaters. So you can hardly blame the theaters for pushing back and exercising their leverage over the studios' marketing campaigns.

As for us consumers, nothing much changes. Even if we get shorter trailers, we'll probably sit through more of them, and longer versions will still be released online. They'll be easier to avoid, at least. The fight is really between the theaters and the studios over money, and the preferences of the viewers make for good P.R., but they're really a secondary concern for both sides.
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It's high time I caught up with the influx of new trailers for next year's biggest box office hopefuls, which have been showing up regularly throughout the fall. I've chosen to highlight a mix of mainstream spring and summer titles in this post, though by far the best trailer I've seen in recent months has been the one for Wes Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's so delightfully Wes Anderson-y, I really have little else to say about it. But the trailers linked below leave bigger question marks, so let's get started. All links below lead to Trailer Addict.

The Amazing Spider-man 2 - I didn't see the first "Amazing Spider-man" back in 2012, but the new teaser for the sequel is making a great sales pitch. It's got Emma Stone! And Dane DeHaan as a much more interesting-looking Harry Osborne! New villains Rhino and Electro are on screen far too briefly to make much of an impression, but the further delving into Peter Parker's family legacy looks very promising. I might just skip the previous movie and watch this one next.

X-Men Days of Future Past - Dark, somber, and hardly shows anything, but it does nicely present the fundamentals of the premise: time travel, different versions of familiar characters meeting, and hints of the apocalyptic future they're all trying to avoid. Also, there's the fun viral video The Bent Bullet currently in circulation, which suggests Magneto killed JFK in the films' alternate history. Fox's marketing has certainly improved this time out. Let's hope they deliver on the movie too.

Boxtrolls - This one doesn't reach theaters until September, but the marketing has been well underway for months. I love the approach here, showing off LAIKA's painstaking behind-the-scenes efforts to create an animated stop-motion world inhabited by friendly, funny trolls who live in boxes, and have adopted the film's human hero into their ranks. LAIKA's track record has been fantastic so far, with "Coraline" and "Paranorman," so "Boxtrolls" has a spot very high on my to-see list.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Humorous banter establishes that we're in the Marvel universe, but it quickly gives way to a more coldly militaristic thriller narrative where Robert Redford makes sinister, morally complicated pronouncements. It'll be interesting to see the patriotic Cap grapple with the dark side of the modern military industrial complex. I have some serious doubts about the villain though, who just looks silly in the more realistic environs.

Noah - The Biblical epic is back! Well, at least that's what Paramount is hoping for with Darren Aronofsky's latest, an ambitious, big-budget take on the Noah's Ark story that promises lots of IMAX-worthy spectacle. There have been reports of the filmmaker and studio battling over final cut of the film, and it's easy to see why. With the caliber of the talent involved," Noah" looks like it could be a big crowd-pleasing event picture, but Aronofsky's work tends to skew more challenging and unorthodox.

Maleficent - It's far too early to say if Disney's attempt to tell "Sleeping Beauty" from the villain's point of view is going to be successful, but the teaser sells us on two key points. One, that Elle Fanning makes for a lovely Disney princess, and two, that Angelina Jolie is picture perfect as Maleficent. Now, if those two are going to get a move that actually makes use of that potential is the real question. The first time director gives me pause, but hey! Paul Dini co-wrote the script!

Jupiter Ascending - The Wachowskis are back with another ambitious-looking science fiction parable, this time about some kind of interstellar soldier played by Channing Tatum in elf ears protecting Mila Kunis, who is some kind of secret royal MacGuffin. It's hard to work out the details from the trailer, but the whole thing looks spectacularly campy and weird and full of good possibilities. This one may turn out to be a mess, but I expect that it'll at least be an interesting mess.

Godzilla - Yep, the big guy is back for more monster mayhem. This teaser was just released today, and while it doesn't show much of Godzilla himself (Herself? Itself?), the movie already looks considerably better than the last attempt to revive the "Godzilla" franchise back in 1998. I think this is going to be a lot of silly fun, but then I'm a fan of kaiju and giant monsters. I don't know how well the new "Godzilla" is going to go over with mainstream audiences, especially after the performance of "Pacific Rim" last year.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - And finally, a brief reminder of this teaser, which premiered over the summer. I like that it doesn't say a thing about story or plot, but just gives you a glimpse of Hiccup and Toothless doing what they do best. It's only at the very end that they clue you in that there have been some changes since we saw the pair last. This is going to be the film to beat this summer, and I can't wait to see it.

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It's that time of year again. September brings the major film festivals that lead into Oscar season, and things are already heating up with a lot of big titles from big talents. Here are some of the more interesting ones that have put out recent trailers. All links below lead to Trailer Addict.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Everything I've seen of the ad campaign so far has been excellent, and the trailer is no exception, laying out the premise of a man who escapes his mundane life by indulging in elaborate flights of fancy. This trailer has even been singled out as an example of how to make an engrossing trailer that doesn't give away the whole story, just through the use of strong imagery and emotionally resonant music. I find Ben Stiller very hit-or-miss as a director, but this promo gives me a good feeling that this could be one of the hits.

Dallas Buyers Club - Will Matthew McConaughey finally get that Oscar nomination he's been due for a while now? The trailer for "Dallas Buyers Club" certainly makes a good case for it. McConaughey will be playing AIDS patient and activist Ron Woodruff, who smuggled alternative AIDS drugs into the United States to keep himself and other AIDS patients alive during the early days of the pandemic in the 1980s. The trailer also offers a few intriguing glimpses of Jared Leto, who is practically unrecognizable playing a transgendered woman, Rayon.

12 Years a Slave - Getting huge buzz out of early screenings is the latest film from British director Steve McQueen. The cast is jammed with familair names, including Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, and Paul Giamatti. However, the two actors I'm looking forward to the most are Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing the protagonist Solomon Northup, and Michael Fassbender as the villain of the piece. Ejiofor is one of those actors who hasn't been very high profile, but has been consistently excellent in everything I've seen him in for years. It's high time he had a turn in the spotlight.

The Counselor - Speaking of Mr. Fassbender, I'm still not quite sure what to make of "The Counselor," an original script from the great Cormac McCarthy being directed by the occasionally great Ridley Scott. It's a thriller about drug trafficking with a lot of colorful characters, but I can't tell if it's doing anything differently from all the other thrillers about drug trafficking with a lot of colorful characters that have come before it. The cast is fantastic and all the core creative talent looks good, but I'm a little wary of getting too excited too fast for this one.

The Monuments Men - On paper the movie sounds great. George Clooney and Matt Damon lead a stellar cast, playing untried new members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, that in real life helped to secure and safeguard many of Europe's historic and cultural treasures during WWII. The trailer focuses too heavily on the comedy, and on the bumbling nature of the older recruits, played by Bill Murray and Bob Balaban. Might just be a marketing thing, but I'm a little worried. George Clooney never had the best directing record - though his projects are always interesting.

Saving Mr. Banks - This is sure to be utterly a feel good movie that is just dripping with Disney revisionism. It's well known to any Disney fan that P.L. Travers detested the "Mary Poppins" film. "Saving Mr. Banks" is pushing the idea that old Walt managed to turn that frown upside down with trips to Disneyland and by listening carefully to her concerns about adapting her beloved novels. Even with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson involved here, I expect I'll end up cringing through this movie. I mean, it's being directed by the guy who did "The Blind Side," for heaven's sake!

American Hustle - I'm glad that David O. Russell has managed to turn his career around in recent years and assemble a semi-regular troupe of great actors that he gets along with. Returning for this round are Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro to play a variety of scam artists and special agents in a dramatization of the 70s ABSCAM sting operation. Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. are along for the ride too. From the set photos that have been circulating around the internet, this one will be worth seeing for the wigs alone.

Diana - Poor Naomi Watts has the unenviable task of playing one of the most famous women of the twentieth century, and trying to justify a biopic that appears awfully thin on story and way too heavy on melodrama. It doesn't help that the film looks like made-for-TV-movie fodder, and so much has obviously been invented or diluted to pander to the tastes of the gossip-hungry mainstream audience. It's going to be up against the similar "Grace of Monaco" with Nicole Kidman, and with the Weinsteins behind that one, I don't think "Diana" or Watts stand a chance this awards season.

Her - Spike Jonze returns after a too-long hiatus to bring us a strange science-fiction romance between a man and his new computer operating system. The man is played by Joaquin Phoenix, in his first outing since "The Master," and the computer is voiced by Scarlett Johanssen. The trailer makes the film look offbeat and idiosyncratic, which is exactly what I expect from Spike Jonze, whose last film was "Where the Wild Things Are" In a season full of so many big movies, it's nice to see that there are a couple of smaller, weirder, unassuming titles in the mix too.

The Fifth Estate - Let's all take a moment to acknowledge that Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't look a thing like Julian Assange, but he does look odd and striking enough in his own way that we can let that slide. "The Fifth Estate," the Wikileaks movie, has patterned itself after a political thriller, and will likely be loads of fun to watch, and not remotely constrained by any actual facts. And that's okay. There will be plenty of dissections and debates surrounding the movie to let the various sides air whatever grievances they need to. The movie just needs to entertain us.

The Wolf of Wall Street - And finally, Martin Scorsese returns in his sixth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio to take a stab at making the spiritual sequel to "Wall Street" that Oliver Stone couldn't. I love how stylishly in-your-face this trailer is, with the Kanye West track, bright colors, and the gleeful bad-boy antics. I never would have guessed that this was for a Scorsese picture if I hadn't known about the project long in advance. And I happily anticipate getting to watch DiCaprio play another slimy villain - he's proven to be pretty good at those.
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I can't believe this. I thought I was being smart waiting for the "Ender's Game" trailer to debut before I wrote up my latest trailer post. But now I'm behind again, because we've had a flood of other major trailers released since. Usually I would space these trailer posts much further apart, but screw it. I want to talk about some of these now, especially since there are a couple of awards contenders in the mix. And I'll toss in a few for the upcoming summer indie pictures I left out previously. Here we go. All links below lead to Trailer Addict.

The Butler - A star-studded cast, an inspirational true story, and a director who has never dealt with this kind of obvious Oscar-bait prestige material before. Oh boy. This is either going to be a must-see event film or it's going to be a disaster. There's sure to be controversy with some of the casting choices, including Robin Williams as Eisenhower, John Cusack as Nixon, and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. However, "The Butler" may hit that sweet spot and become a feel-good crowd-pleaser the same way that "42" did this earlier this year.

Inside Llewyn Davis - There was an earlier trailer released back in January, but this international one gives us a better look at what the Coen brothers have been up to with their latest film, about the journey of a 1960s folk singer named Llewyn Davis, played by up-and-comer Oscar Isaac. The movie is already getting some buzz for its soundtrack, which features contributions by T Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, Mumford & Sons, and others. It will be in competition at Cannes this month, but we won't be seeing it in theaters until late December.

Captain Phillips - Directed by Paul Greengrass of "United 93" and two of the "Bourne" films, this is one of the action films I've been looking forward to the most this year. With this kind of true-life material, using the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, plus the involvement of Academy favorite Tom Hanks, this could have become a typically schmaltzy Hollywood dramatization very easily. However, Greengrass's stark style and penchant for realism, as evidenced in this promo, should keep his take lean and mean.

Gravity - This is the by far the best trailer I've seen all year. It presents the film's premise very quickly and very well: two astronauts played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney fall victim to a terrible accident that turns a spacewalk into a terrifying, desperate struggle to avoid being lost to the endless void of outer space. The special effects look great, and the thrills are already palpable. The final shot is one of those great little jolts of nightmare fuel that makes me suspect this is going to be a far more visceral film than I was expecting.

The World's End - I'm not thrilled with this honestly, because the trailer seems to reveal that the apocalypse involved here is some kind of monster invasion, which makes it look a little too much like "Shaun of the Dead." Sure, seeing Simon Pegg and Nick Frost running around and fighting creepers again is sure to be fun, especially since they have Martin Freeman along for the ride, but I was hoping for their take on a different genre, like their buddy cop antics in "Hot Fuzz." Oh well. To early to say much more about this one yet.

August: Osage County - I've been warned that this trailer is misleading. "August: Osage County" looks like a "Steel Magnolia" style women's picture here, the better to draw in Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts fans, I'm guessing. However the story is actually very dark, based on a play by Tracy Letts, whose last script was for "Killer Joe." I wouldn't have minded so much if the trailer as an accurate reflection of the film, because the cast is so high-powered, and we really don't get enough solid character dramas like this anymore.

Fruitvale Station - A big indie contender that came out of the Sundance Film Festival this year, this is a dramatization of the final hours of Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Williams, before his shooting death by the police at the Fruitvale BART Station in 2009. The trailer plays up the final acts of violence, as expected, but it's the glimpses of Williams' and Octavia Spencer's performances that are the most intriguing. I hope this one lives up to the hype, though I can also see where it might fall short. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Before Midnight - Celine and Jesse are back again in the third chapter of the "Before" series directed by Richard Linklater. Now our fateful lovers have finally gotten together, had a couple of kids, and are approaching middle age together, but it seems that their relationship issues haven't gone away. This time the action is set on a picturesque Greek island, but it looks like it's following the same structure of the last two movies: more long conversations about life and love with two familiar characters it's very nice to see again.

Only God Forgives - This trailer debuted a while ago, but it definitely deserves a mention. It's saying one thing loud and clear: if you liked Ryan Gosling and Nicholas Winding Refn's last movie, "Drive," you're probably going to like this one too. Lots of atmosphere, lots of violence, and a welcome appearance by Kristin Scott Thomas, who we don't see enough of anymore. Apparently the plot involves the murky world of organized crime and boxing matches in Thailand, but all you really need to know is that it's a movie that is just oozing cool.
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It's the first week of May, and we've already got several full trailers for some of the big November movies in circulation. I haven't done a trailer post in a while, so we'll be talking about these, plus some of the notable later summer films where the first trailers were only released in the last few months. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started. As usual, all links below lead to Trailer Addict.

Thor: The Dark World - Of all the individual Marvel movies, I'd put "Thor" near the bottom of the list. I like the character, but his appearances on screen have felt the most slapdash and lacking in substance. I expect the filmmakers know this, which is why they make sure to show us part of a scene that likely happens a good ways into the second act: Thor seeking help from Loki, who is easily the most memorable villain in Marvel's film universe so far. We don't see anything of the film's actual villains, or really much of the threat they pose, but Loki's involvement is enough.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - I've already been spoiled regarding a lot of what happens in this movie, so I was impressed with how well this trailer kept some of the biggest plot points under wraps, at least for now. I wouldn't be surprised if future trailers go on to reveal more. However, this one nicely sets up the rising tensions between Katniss and the Capitol, giving a lot of screen time to Donald Sutherland, who plays the major antagonist President Snow. And the sight of Philip Seymour Hoffman getting in on the fun makes me indescribably happy.

R.I.P.D. - The trailer spends most of its time setting up the concept of Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as part of an undead police force, but what it's really doing is selling you on a certain mood and tone. This is going to be a supernatural action movie with a lot of CGI effects, but it's also going to be a broad comedy. I can definitely see why people are suggesting that this is going to be "MIB" with the undead. Even the poster looks pretty similar. But will "R.I.P.D." be any good? I can't tell from what we've seen so far, but I do like everybody involved here.

2 Guns - Here's Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg playing a pair of cops, who are both working undercover at cross purposes, get betrayed, and have to join forces to win the day. Pretty standard buddy movie setup. So you sell the movie the way you always do. Car chases! Gun battles! One liners! The big question is whether Washington and Wahlberg are going to work well together onscreen, and I think the clips make a decent case for it. The banter flows, and the antagonism feels genuine. It's not very original, but who sees a movie like this for originality?

RED 2 - The retirees are back for more mayhem, and this time they're joined by new villains Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lee Byung-hun. However, the highlight of this installment is almost certainly going to be Anthony Hopkins, who is acting a great deal sillier than I've seen him on the screen in some time. Will he and John Malkovitch have a ham-off at some point? I can only hope. Otherwise, you have your typical spies and renegades story and most of the cast of the previous film back for more fun - including Helen Mirren and all her dangerous toys.

The Wolverine - The problems of "The Wolverine" trailer are twofold. On the one hand, it's relying way too much on previously established imagery from the "X-men" franchise. And on the other hand, the new material looks pretty weak. The bulk of this movie will be set in Japan, but the visuals are generic, the action and effects look underwhelming, and the whole thing is just so much smaller scale than anything else in the franchise. These are major problems that the marketing for "X-men: First Class" had too, and I hope "The Wolverine" is similarly better than its ads.

Elysium - Director Neil Blomkamp is back, and he's brought more "Halo"- like visuals and some big stars for his latest science-fiction film. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in the tale of a dystopian future society where an extreme split has developed between the haves and the have-nots. I'm expecting more social commentary, more crazy action scenes, and more deeply flawed characters. And I'm intrigued that the story appears to have many similarities to the manga "Battle Angel Alita," the one James Cameron's been trying to turn into a film for a decade now.

Ender's Game - And here's the movie that I'm the most curious about, out of everything else listed here. How do you turn Orson Scott Card's science-fiction classic into a Hollywood effects extravaganza? From the new trailer I recognize the characters and the concepts, but how faithful is this adaptation going to be? The trailer is provocative, but it's hardly very informative, more concerned with making sure we see every award-winning actor who will appear in the film than introducing us to Ender Wiggins or his universe. The glimpses of Battle School and the Formics are encouraging though.

Turbo - I know, I know, but the little snails are frickin' adorable!
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It's December again, so that means another round of teasers and trailers for next year's would-be summer blockbusters have been deployed. Since it's been a while since I've had a proper trailer post, I'm putting down thoughts on everything relevant since the beginning of November. There are some interesting titles in the works, and the trailer releases have been so haphazard, you might have missed some of them. So, this is a good chance to catch up. All links below lead to Trailer Addict.

Iron Man 3 - Spends the bulk of its time establishing the grim threat of the new villain, the Mandarin, who will be played by Ben Kingsley. This one isn't nearly as much fun as the teasers for "Iron Man 2," which were all about Tony Stark's ego. No cutting quips or backup dancers to lighten the mood this time around. The message here is that the time for fun and games is over. However, we do get some intriguing glimpses of new suits, new powers, and lots of creative destruction. And does the ending ping as a Frankenstein reference to anybody else?

Star Trek: Into Darkness - Why do we have to wait so long for the third series of "Sherlock"? Because the actors keep running off to do movie projects like the "Hobbit" movies and "Star Trek." Benedict Cumberbatch is revealed here as a potentially familiar villain, and it's still going to be a few frustrating months until we figure out exactly which villain he's supposed to be playing, or maybe it's just a red herring and the bad guy is somebody totally new. Personally, I'm just happy to see the "Star Trek" cast reunited and the Enterprise ready for another round of boldly goings.

After Earth – Could this movie be M. Night Shyamalan's resurrection? After the infamous "Last Airbender," he's got nowhere to go but up. His new science fiction film, "After Earth," stars the increasingly scarce Will Smith and his son Jaden. People may complain about the nepotism, but I really enjoyed Jaden in the "Karate Kid" remake. The "After Earth" trailer promises an abundance of action in what looks like a fun father-son survival adventure flick. Let's just hope the little twist at the end of the preview is the biggest twist that Shyalaman has planned for us.

Man of Steel – The new trailer is all about making Superman's origin story feel as epic as possible, laying on the hero shots and the choral music pretty thick. What interests me most is the focus on Superman's moral quandaries and relationship with his adopted father. We also get our first glimpses of many of the other major players, including Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as General Zod. I'm really hoping that Zack Snyder can turn out something that lives up to the promises that these trailers are making. Everything looks right so far, and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Pacific Rim - The marketing team behind Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim" have been hard at work these past few weeks, putting out a countdown website, several viral clips, shiny preview images, and blueprints of some of the mecha armor that will be featured in the film. Looks like lots of sci-fi imagery to drool over. However, when you get down to it, "Pacific Rim" is a monster movie, being made by one of our best monster movie directors. The teaser doesn't show a lot, but it shows enough to assure me that this is definitely Del Toro's work, and worth anticipating.

The Lone Ranger - Disney's newest attempt at launching another big action franchise has Gore Verbinski directing and Johnny Depp playing a major role, so it looks like "Pirates of the Caribbean" in the Old West. No surprise there. The teaser was selling the spectacle pretty hard, so I'm glad to see the full trailer giving us a good look at the Lone Ranger and Tonto interacting. The funny bits with the horse didn't hurt anything either. I think this one could go either way, but for now I'm just glad that Johnny Depp's Tonto getup looks marginally less ridiculous in context. Marginally.

Now You See Me - Now this looks like a lot of fun. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine are headlining a new heist film with the twist that the bank vault is robbed while the perpetrators are performing in a magic act on the other side of the globe. I can't help feeling that "Now You See Me" is cribbing heavily from "The Prestige," with Michael Caine's involvement and Morgan Freeman's narration about magic acts. However, this looks a lot slicker, and more action-oriented, and it's not taking itself seriously at all. And not in a bad way.

Epic - Sony Animation's next big feature recently released a second trailer, which is very similar to the first. We get a few seconds of gorgeous visuals, introducing us to the miniature world of the Leaf Men. And then we meet the characters up close, and it becomes obvious very quickly that this is going to be like all the other Sony Animation films, full of quippy animal sidekicks and loads of slapstick. Between this and Dreamworks' upcoming "Turbo," it looks like we're going to get a lot of snail-related humor in next year's kids' movies. I think I'll stick with Monsters University.

World War Z - And finally, we come to the zombie movie that nobody seems to want. The teaser revealed that massive liberties have been taken with the source material, notably the introduction of swarming zombies. Fans are not happy that this appears to be a prequel to the events of the book, focusing on the initial outbreak of the zombie apocalypse instead of the more complicated aftermath. The movie could still be decent, but at the same time it's taking an awfully familiar approach - especially compared to another 2013 zombie film with a fantastic trailer: Warm Bodies.

Happy watching!
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Well, somebody finally did it. An enterprising Spider-man fan named Louis Plamondon edited together all the footage from all the different trailers and commercials and other previews for "The Amazing Spider-man" into a 25-minute short version of the movie. This was to prove the point that marketing for blockbusters has gotten out of hand, and the studios are releasing way too much spoiler-laden footage in advance that ends up negatively impacting the actual experience of watching the film. I haven't seen the video myself, as Sony was quick to quash most of the copies online, and I actually would like to be able to watch "The Amazing Spider-man" with some of the mystery intact.

However, as reported by Variety, Plamodon's mini-epic contained about ten minutes of the finished film according to Sony (Note that only ten minutes or ten percent of the running time of a film, whichever is shorter, is the maximum allowed to be shown in a nontheatrical medium prior to the film’s theatrical release under Academy Award eligibility rules). The rest is a mix of unfinished scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, b-roll, repeated footage, and padding. Still, the fact that you could piece together a coherent narrative out of all the released clips is pretty telling. It's not just not the amount of footage that we're seeing, but so many of the best shots and sequences, repeated ad nauseum in so many different bits of promotional material. This is going to be a great discussion piece for copyright law classes for years, as the message of the video is inextricably tied to its length and the amount and variety of footage it contains.

Of course spoilerific trailers detailing exactly what happens in a movie have been around forever, and I understand why the marketers frequently want to oversell movies so zealously. I've mentioned before that my significant other responded very poorly to the first "Amazing Spider-Man" trailer from last year, but after seeing a couple of the subsequent ones and the commercials, he's slowly come around. A Spider-man reboot has been a very hard sell for many viewers, me included, who think that Sony should have waited a couple more years for the memory of the Sam Raimi "Spider-man" films with Toby Maguire to fade a little more. In such cases, showing off the good parts can make a difference in the mind of a doubtful moviegoer. However, when you've already been convinced to see a movie, and you're actually anticipating it, oversaturation can have very negative effects.

It was only after I saw "Prometheus" that I finally went and watched some of those later trailers. I'm glad I kept my distance, because they do show a little too much. A lot of the film's best shots and sequences work so much better if you don't have any foreknowledge of them, and I can see how some elements may have misled viewers to expect something different from what the movie actually delivered. Of course all advertisements deal in false hype to some extent, but "Prometheus" was one of those cases where I think they went too far. Some "Alien" fanboys got worked up into such a lather, and were then so disappointed when they got to the theaters, it "Prometheus" helped become one of the most divisive and polarizing films of the summer. Good grief, does anyone else remember when the "Alien" movies were just big dumb action/horror flicks?

And then of course, there's "The Dark Knight Rises" coming up. I have this growing dread that the film is not going to live up to these crazy expectations that some fans have for it, and the fallout is going to get ugly, maybe even worse than saw for "Prometheus." "Dark Knight Rises" doesn't even need all the trailers and the marketing, which there's plenty of, in order to reach saturation levels. The fans are doing it by themselves. I've come across multiple articles making the case that one of the new characters is secretly Robin, even though director Christopher Nolan has stated repeatedly that Robin won't appear in his Batman universe. Like with "Prometheus," there are fans who are doggedly trying to piece all the details of the plot together from previews and interviews. Reams of analysis are being written about bits of footage totally without context. It's getting a little scary, to be honest.

It's nice to know that there are other fans out there who have had enough, who don't want to be inundated by all this information, and are getting fed up with the over-aggressive sales pitches and having to hide from marketing campaigns. The irony is that I love trailers. I thought the first "Prometheus" teaser was brilliant, but I didn't watch any of the others for fear of ruining the movie for myself. And I've been sitting through many previews lately with my eyes screwed shut, thinking back to the days when I used to look forward to the coming attractions.
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It's been a while since I've done a real trailer post, since most of the big ones in recent months have been for the summer blockbusters, and I've been avoiding those. A lot of marketers have proven that they're perfectly happy to ruin a movie experience in the process of selling it to you this year. However, this week has been all about Cannes, and studios have been previewing some of their more serious films, due in theaters later in the fall and winter, which could turn out to be awards contenders. The marketing in this area tends to exhibit more self-control, so I've taken in a few of the coming attractions. "The Hobbit" was already covered in a previous post, and alas, I have not seen that seven-minute preview of "Django Unchained" out there. Links lead to Trailer Addict and Youtube.

The Master - This is my favorite kind of trailer, something simple and direct that gives you actual substance, something to whet your appetite for what's to come. Without telling you what the film is about, the preview for "The Master" offers up a brief snippet of conversation between Joaquin Phoenix's character and someone who appears to be law enforcement, rife with tension and hidden implications. The minimal, but quietly ominous music sets the mood and the tone. Bad things are a afoot, and I can't wait to see what they are.

The Great Gatsby - This is pinging as more "Moulin Rouge!" than "Australia," though with Baz Luhrman involved, it was never going to be a sedate adaptation. The trailer's emphasis on visual spectacle (3D? Really?) means we don't get much of the actual performances that are going to make or break this. So far, Joel Edgerton is looking way too much like Richard Roxburgh's Evil Duke, Carey Mulligan makes an adorable flapper, and Leo hasn't got a thing on Robert Redford. But it's too early to draw any conclusions.

The We and the I - Michel Gondry returns to indies after his "Green Hornet" misadventures. There are apparently some fantasy elements that creep their way into the movie, but all the trailer shows is a multiracial cast of teenagers taking the bus home on the last day of school, and the various dramas and intrigues playing out among them. Early reports suggest that "The We and the I" may be a little too raw, with its non-professional actors and unconventional bent, but it's still nice to see Gondry striking out in new directions.

Hyde Park on Hudson - This could be mistaken as a sequel to "The King's Speech," as "Hyde Park" is chiefly concerned with a visit by King George VI and his wife Elizabeth to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Hyde Park estate in 1939, for hijinks and talk of war. The trailer is pure Oscar bait, and selling the film as more lighthearted and sentimental than it may actually be. But the glimpses of Bill Murray as FDR, Olivia Williams as Eleanor, and Laura Linney as family confidante Margaret Suckly, have sold me already.

Argo - This is Ben Affleck's most ambitious directing job yet, and so far so good. I wish he had cast someone else as the lead, as Affleck has proven to be a stronger director than he is a performer, but I won't begrudge him the chance to rehabilitate his leading man status. At least he's gotten himself out of Boston at last, and into the middle of a covert operation to help rescue six Americans during the Iran Hostage crisis. There's plenty of material here for a good caper film, but I'm a little worried about the more dramatic bits.

Cosmopolis - I wasn't sure what to make of David Cronenberg's last film, "A Dangerous Method," and so far I have no idea what's going on in "Cosmopolis." However, I think that whoever is in charge of marketing here may be getting a little carried away calling this "the first film about our new millennium.” That said, I like the science-fiction elements, I like the bizarreness, and Robert Pattinson is not giving me any reason to think he can't pull this off. And good grief, have you seen the rest of the cast for this thing?

Amour - This one probably won't make much impact Stateside, but cinephiles ignore Michael Haneke at their own peril. End of life narratives tend to very upsetting for me, and I expect Haneke's take is going to be even more so. But at the same time, there are few who makes films as powerful and terrifying as he does anymore. It's probably going to take me a while to work up to it, but "Amour" looks to be one of those films I simply have to see.
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I'm a little late, but I wanted to mark the occasion.

Ten years ago, on April 27, 2000, the first preview trailer for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was released online and promptly broke all download records for the time. It was only a quick peek, a minute forty-four consisting mostly of behind-the-scenes footage of practical and CGI effects being created, makeup, concept art, models, and quick interview clips from director Peter Jackson and our newly minted Frodo, Elijah Wood. There were only a few finished shots, almost all from the Weathertop scenes from "The Fellowship of the Rings," but there's no way to convey how amazing they were to see. After months of speculation, it was our first look at the cast in costume, the first proof that the long-anticipated project was actually going to happen. That one quick preview set out the scope of Peter Jackson's ambitions - at the end of it, the titles of the three films of the trilogy were flashed on screen, one after another, along with their projected release dates.

I think of that moment as the beginning of the modern age of mainstream blockbusters, the point at which the Internet truly became a marketing tool for the movie studios and online fandom took off. There were earlier cases like "The Blair Witch Project" in 1999, where online marketing campaigns helped to spur interest in smaller films that had otherwise limited avenues for promotion, but never anything on the level of "Lord of the Rings." For the first time we were getting extensive set reports from sites like AintitCool News, and even whole websites devoted to covering the film's ongoing production like TheOneRing.net, all months and years in advance of the films' theatrical releases. The technology had caught up to the point where it was feasible to consume a lot of information in an online setting, though only up to a point - a medium-sized two-minute trailer in the pre-broadband era could easily take an hour to stream.

From a cultural standpoint, the idea of faithfully, respectfully adapting such hopelessly geeky source material was still a novel one. This was back when the fanboy film milieu was still in the nascent stages of its ascendancy. To put it into cinematic historical context, this was before the first "Harry Potter" film, before the first "Spider-man" or "X-Men," before the Wachowski brothers broke our hearts with the "Matrix" sequels and "Star Wars" fanboys were still holding out hope that "Attack of the Clones" could salvage the prequels. At the time, the idea of New Line Cinema putting up money for a largely unknown New Zealand director to mount a fantasy film trilogy with no major stars was viewed as a risky, potentially disastrous proposition. The conventional wisdom was that fantasy didn't sell, and one only has to look at the typically campy fantasy projects of the era like "Dungeons and Dragons" and "Kull the Conqueror" to understand why. I'd love to say that "The Lord of the Rings" changed all that, but it didn't. The stigma still persists to this day - though now at least we know what's possible.

And personally, "The Lord of the Rings" was my first online film fandom, as I'm sure it was for many others, and the first time I really got consumed by the online hype. I remember that first internet preview in particular, not only because of its impact, but also because it became almost completely inaccessible in later years. The original website stopped streaming content correctly after a few Quicktime player upgrades, and the preview never showed up in any of the DVD sets. I suspect this was because of the neat little trick of the aspect ratio changing from full-screen to wide-screen midway through, which was probably too much for the DVD technology of the time to handle. Or equally likely, the creative types simply forgot about it or thought it was too dated to bother with. I had a copy of a converted file saved on my hard drive for a while, but lost it in a crash. It was only after periodically sifting through Youtube that I stumbled across a working version again a few months ago.

Watching it now, there's no question that this was a very, very preliminary preview where the direction of the marketing strategy hadn't quite been worked out yet. This was the only promo to use the lines of the One Ring inscription - the "One Ring to Rule Them All" bit Gandalf recites for Frodo. It also featured a CGI-heavy visual scheme that incorporated the forging of the One Ring and a stylized Eye of Sauron, never seen again in later promotional materials. A year after the preview's release, New Line's more broadly-aimed marketing of "The Fellowship of the Rings" shied away from such geeky touches, preferring a more horror-tinged approach that downplayed the fantasy elements. You can even spot glimpses of special effects that were later abandoned for other methods, including the giant legs that were supposed to stand in for regular-sized humans when the smaller-scale hobbits were onscreen. Yet the promise was there, in every shot. It wasn't the effects that caught me, but the style and approach to the material that was already evident from those few seconds of finished footage.

And it still makes me excited to watch the movies after all this time.
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You've got to love Robert Rodriguez. Today, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, a sort of de facto Mexican pride day in the U.S. that's pretty much used as an excuse to drink margaritas, he debuted the new red-band trailer for his upcoming action film "Machete" with a special holiday message for the state of Arizona. The hero, a Mexican-American badass who shares the same name as his favorite weapon, has learned about the new immigration law and he's not happy. Cue over-the-top violence, choice profanity, and machismo by the metric ton, as we're treated to a glimpse of the coming retaliation. The message couldn't be clearer, but Rodriguez lays it out for us anyway: "We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!"

Before we go any further, I fully appreciate that the immigration issue is difficult and complicated, and both sides have valid concerns. The implications of the new law's effects are no laughing matter, and I understand why some audience members might be sensitive to the portrayals of the various players in "Machete." But at the same time, who could resist such a shameless exploitation movie where a man of dubious immigration status has been pushed to the edge, and is ready to unleash his machete-wielding fury upon those who have wronged him, including a couple of casually racist anti-immigration extremists? I imagine anyone who's had to endure dirty looks and extra scrutiny at a border checkpoint or airport screening should get a lot of catharsis out of this one. And it puts me a rare state of glee to see Rodriguez, really our only major Latino filmmaker, tackle the issue head-on with all the subtlety of, well, a machete.

The film has actually been finished for a while, and wasn't picked up for distribution by FOX until January, when Rodriguez also clinched a production deal with them. It's purely lucky timing that the controversy over the Arizona immigration law should have erupted now. The first "Machete" trailer, you may remember, was the fake one that played with the "Grindhouse" double-feature that Rodriguez did with Quentin Tarantino a few years back. Thus, we may consider "Machete" a semi-sequel of sorts, with the same gritty B-movie sensibility and taste for wild extremes. The cast includes Danny Trejo as Machete, Cheech Marin as a shotgun-wielding Catholic priest, Steven Seagal as a sneering drug lord, Robert DeNiro as a political fat cat, Don Johnson and Jessica Alba as immigration agents, and Lindsay Lohan in a nun's habit.

I have no doubt that this movie will clean up at the box office and spark plenty of controversy in the process. One should keep in mind that Latinos are by far the most underrepresented ethnic group in the American media. According to the statistics on Latino Review, a Latino-run film website, despite having 12% of the United States population (and growing rapidly), Latinos make up only 2% of all the characters that appear in films and on television. Yet they also disproportionately account for 15% of theater admissions. I think Hollywood could use a little reminder of this more often.

The new Arizona law is due to go into effect in August. "Machete" sees general release in September.

On "TRON"

Mar. 9th, 2010 11:43 pm
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I was a little too young for the original "TRON" when it was released in 1982. It was only a few years ago that I finally sat down and watched it, but I was definitely aware of the film throughout my childhood. I always remembered the imagery, especially the circuit-patterned bodysuits - a wonderful product of the neon-fixated early '80s. As a kid from Southern California with a serious Disney habit, it was hard to avoid "TRON." Stills and clips from the film regularly showed up in the Disney literature and TV retrospectives. The toys and merchandise were floating around, and the fanboys were already spreading the word and solidifying future cult status.

But my best memory of "TRON" comes from the now defunct PeopleMover ride at Disneyland. Up until it closed in '95, it had a TRON-themed section, where some of the CGI segments of the film were projected on giant screens decorating two tunnel segments. My mother was a big fan of the PeopleMover, since it was a long ride where we got to sit down, and it didn't move too fast. Unfortunately, it also had a habit of breaking down as it got old and creaky in the 90s, usually only for a few minutes at a time before lurching back on its merry way. Having been stuck in the TRON tunnels during a few of these breakdowns, listening to the blaring soundtrack of the lightcycle sequence, I would know the sound of those pixels anywhere.

It's odd to feel nostalgic toward a movie that I didn't actually see until I was well into my adult years, but that was part of the fun. The film's visuals were so strong and so iconic, I didn't need the story to feel the impact of "TRON." In fact, knowing the plot probably would have ruined the film's mystique for me. I did enjoy "TRON" when I finally saw it, but the best parts were the bits I'd already experienced - the visual effects sequences and the sound design.

I'll readily admit that "TRON" is still mighty impressive to this day, and holds up better than films half its age. It's pure popcorn, though, and I have no illusions that it's anything else. And that's all I really expect the new "TRON Legacy" to be - a big, loud, shiny, crowd-pleasing action movie. From the new trailer that was released last week and the Comic-Con test footage that left the fanboys euphoric, it looks like Disney is going to deliver. The updated visuals look gorgeous and the leaked plot details suggest the story will be solid, if not very ambitious.

But mostly, it's good to hear those lightcycles again after all these years. I can't wait for December.

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