The first trailer is out for “Lincoln,” a Steven Spielberg movie with a Tony Kushner script about President Lincoln (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) that also stars Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Jared Harris, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Lee Pace, John Hawkes, Adam Driver and Hal Holbrook.
Based on the trailer, this…looks like medicine. Well-shot, beautifully constructed, artfully acted, soulless-seeming medicine to be prescribed in the event of dangerously low levels of prestige in movie theaters. That’s just my view from the trailer, of course. I’m sure Day-Lewis will be astonishing, because QED, and I’m sure the movie will really look wonderful, and I’m sure the rest of the cast will be great. This is a must-see because of the people involved. I’m not sure if it’s also a “I want to see that” kind of movie.
Here’s the trailer for “Super 8,” this summer’s super-mysterious J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg joint. I’m hesitant to get too amped over this one, despite the people involved, because Abrams’s mysteries/riddles/vague hints shtick can get very, very wearying if you pay too much attention to it. So I’ll watch the trailers, and otherwise mostly ignore the thing until it comes out. But there is one other thing that gives me pause: It’s weird that Spielberg is producing an homage to Spielberg, no? It’s essentially an ode to 1970s-era Señor Spielbergo, most visibly “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which I can understand for Abrams (who obviously worships the guy), yet it’s a weird facet of this project.
Anyway, the trailer is pretty solid. You’ve got your vague outline of the plot, which matches what we’ve heard before: Small town, train derails, something mysterious (alien?) arrives, kids are filming things with their Super 8 cameras (just like Spielberg/Abrams used to!). It seems to be a pretty standard, unremarkable plot, though there’s obviously a lot we’re not seeing. And: Kyle Chandler! COACH! Anyway, yes, obviously I’ll be seeing this one, but I’m curious if it’s just a nostalgia trip (albeit a very well-crafted one) or something more.
(For some reason, the trailer went up late last night and has temporarily vanished from sites that posted it. Dark Horizons still has their stream, so I’ll link to that until I can embed the actual trailer.)
Here’s your first look at the third “Transformers” movie, titled “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
First impression: That was…surprisingly not awful. I mean, it was a teaser trailer, and it actually gave us zero idea what the actual movie would be like, since we were given no indication of the film’s pacing, dialogue, overall story or editing. It was just a very nice little atmosphere-building clip that involved a Transformer. Michael Bay’s “Transformers: The Short Film,” if you will. But it was easy to follow, it didn’t cut every 0.03 seconds, it didn’t involve robot racism or any stupid plot devices, so we’ll take what we can get.
Some background. The first “Transformers,” in 2007, was also surprisingly not bad. It wasn’t a great piece of art or anything, by any means, but it was certainly miles ahead of what it could have been. What it could have been was on display in 2009’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” a blisteringly loud, maddeningly stupid mess of a movie without a coherent plot or any semblance of intelligent storytelling. The worst crime of all was that this piece of pop entertainment just wasn’t entertaining. The action scenes were catastrophically shot and edited and it was Bay at his absolute cynical worst.
This might be a stupid theory, but: The first “Transformers” seemed to show Steven Spielberg’s presence as executive producer. A lot of Michael Bay’s Bay-ness seemed toned down and reined in. The director, remember, was coming off of “The Island,” a very expensive misfire that flopped in 2005. Spielberg’s involvement seemed the only logical explanation for why the movie took its time before getting to the big ol’ robot brawls. And when the movie was filmed, Spielberg was between directorial projects (he had yet to start filming the fourth “Indiana Jones”). When the second “Transformers” was being written, Spielberg was likely editing the fourth Indy movie; when Bay was filming, Spielberg was likely promoting his movie. And Bay wasn’t the guy coming off of a flop. He was the guy coming off the biggest hit of his career, perhaps able to exert more control over the story of the second film. This time around, for the third movie, Spielberg is working on his next project (“Tintin”), but he and everybody involved seemed to know the second installment was a muddled mess. A hugely profitable one, sure, but when Shia LaBeouf admits the second movie wasn’t so great, you don’t think Spielberg and others involved share that opinion? Anyway, so that’s my theory: This time around, maybe the story has more of a Spielberg feel, and maybe he reined Bay in again. (Or not, at least not fully. The guy is coming off of a monster hit, so his ego is obviously not abated.)
Anyway, check out the “announcement trailer,” as it’s being called, at Apple.
Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating Lincoln movie has found its Abraham: Daniel Day-Lewis, rightly regarded as the greatest living actor. That’s a hell of a casting choice right there. Day-Lewis is obviously, and famously, choosy when it comes to his projects; after “The Boxier” in 1997, he was off the big screen until 2002’s “Gangs of New York,” after which he didn’t make a major movie until 2007’s “There Will Be Blood” (no, I don’t count “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” as a major movie for him). And since we can all forget “Nine” happened last year, we can pretend that this movie continues his streak, since it will come out in 2012.
Liam Neeson had long been linked to the role of our 16th president, and while he has the physical build and look to pull it off, he has never seemed as comfortable with an American accent. Daniel Day-Lewis could play a lamp and I have faith he’d show up on set packed with wires and with his head replaced with a bulb. (The dude’s good, what else can be said? Also, this.) Tony Kushner is scripting this movie, and it officially jumps to the top of every super-duper-early short list for the Academy Awards in 2013.
“Hereafter” is this big glitzy Clint Eastwood Prestige Pic, starring Matt Damon as a Soulful Psychic and Bryce Dallas Howard as someone far too good looking to have genetically sprung from Ron Howard. (Watch the trailer here.) You’d think that, like basically every major Hollywood project, the script was pored over and tweaked and revised and generally dissected and sewn back together with a squad of highly-paid script doctors ready and waiting to spring into action.
Except not so much! Apparently scribe Peter Morgan (he wrote “The Queen” and, apparently, parts of Tony Blair’s book) wrote this thing, which he called “spare and skeletal” and generally very unfinished. His agent gave it to mega-producer Kathleen Kennedy, she talked it up to M. Night Shyamalan and in the course of doing so Steven Spielberg learned about it and was interested. He asked for extensive revisions and Morgan obliged. Then Spielberg decided the revisions ruined the original script and asked if he could show it to Eastwood.
Months later, Morgan learned Eastwood was already filming the original, unrevised, unpolished script. “What you see on the screen is this thing I wrote very sketchily in the mountains of Austria,” says Morgan. And that is how that particular bit of cinematic sausage was made. [NYT]