At Texas Frightmare last month, I attended a rather informal Q&A hosted by Blumhouse producer and Shock Waves co-host Ryan Turek. We were all free to ask any questions we wanted about Blumhouse’s past and future films, but there was one thing he let us know right away: despite expectations, he would not be debuting the Halloween trailer for us. His reason: three trailers had already debuted that past week, one blending into another and confusing the conversation. With Halloween, he wanted to find a date where they could dominate the news cycle, if only for a day.
At the time, there was understandable disappointment, but I get it. Especially now. We’ve just been hit in the face by the new trailers for Bumblebee, Wreck-It Ralph 2, LEGO Movie 2, Suspiria, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. On top of that, Halloween’s trailer is now set to debut on Friday, meaning Turek did his best to pick a date they could own but landed at the end of a very busy week.
So, before any more trailers come along allow me to briefly respond to what we’ve seen so far this week.
Short version: I’m meh on Wreck-It Ralph 2, intrigued by the inherent weirdness of Bumblebee and Suspiria, need to see more from LEGO Movie 2, and still figuring out what to make of Spider-Man’s unique animation.
You think you know the answer to the following question since we are talking about a family friendly blockbuster here, but is Hailee Steinfeld going to fuck a robot in this movie? Obviously not, but Bumblebee, the first official spin-off but at least second or third attempted reboot of the Transformers franchise, has enough Shape of Water-aping imagery to inspire such jokes. In reality, Bumblebee, hailing from Kubo and the Two Strings director and stop-motion expert Travis Knight, is a 1980s-set prequel which plays in this trailer like a mixture of Iron Giant and Monster Trucks. I have never given two shits about this franchise before, but the presence of Knight behind the camera, Steinfeld in the lead role, and John Cena as the apparent bad guys at least earns some “this might not suck” points.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
I love the first film, and have been very optimistic about updating the franchise for the internet era. This new trailer, though, has dampened that enthusiasm considerably, giving Wreck-It Ralph 2 more of a direct-to-video-sequel feel. There’s no real movie or plot here. Instead, it’s just a giant Disney victory lap, oddly playing a lot like a movie version of the Disney Infinity universe even though Bob Iger canceled those video games for cost-control reasons. Moreover, I didn’t expect to look at Wreck-It Ralph 2’s Disney-centric visualization of cyberspace and wonder why it looks so similar to The Emoji Movie, which is a comparison no one should ever want. That said, the Disney princess scene is fun, and as we’ve yet to really get a sense of the film’s actual story beyond its one-line premise Wreck-It Ralph 2 still has much to show us.
LEGO Movie 2
It was 4 years and 2 spin-off movies ago that LEGO Movie arrived. As such, I’d almost forgotten we were still getting a direct sequel. The obvious concern here is how do you revisit a universe we now know to be the mere farout product of a child’s imagination. LEGO Batman and Ninjago ignored it entirely, but the actual LEGO Movie can’t do that. Emmitt saw the real world. Like fellow Chosen One Neo at the end of The Matrix, he’s seen through the code and can reject his own reality or embrace the artifice of it all.
Yeah, forget all of that. As we see in the trailer, LEGO Movie 2 is using all of that as subtext to guide the surface level story of a dystopian world overrun by alien invaders. We are supposed to inuit that the invaders represent the little sister who joined the kid at the end of the first movie, and that this is all going to turn into a gender commentary on the differences between the way boys and girls play. Could be fun, but I need to see more, especially since most of the first movie was actually a reaffirmation parody of Hollywood blockbusters.
We have new directors this time – Mike Mitchell and Trisha Gum – but Phil Lord and Chris Miller are back as producers and screenwriters, joined by BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Michelle Morgan. Frankly, learning the BoJack Horseman guy is involved is more exciting to me than anything I saw in the actual trailer.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Speaking of Lord and Miller, the ousted Solo directors kept busy on the animation side of things, producing not just LEGO Movie 2 but also Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Directing duties fell to Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey.
But if you’ve watched the trailer you probably don’t care about any of that. No, the big takeaway is the trailer’s final reveal: Spider-Gwen is in this!
Comic book logic. Alternate universes. In one of them, Gwen Stacey got big by that damn spider and became Spider-Gwen. She’s awesome and super popular among comic book readers.
There. We’re caught up.
This is actually consistent with Sony’s marketing so far. The one-minute teaser released late last year saved the reveal that this film will focus on Miles Morales, not Peter Parker, until the very end. This first full trailer does the same with Spider-Gwen, assuming she’s an actual character and not just a cameo.
That’s not my biggest takeaway from the trailer, though. Instead, I keep looking at the visuals and thinking how much it looks like a higher budget version of a cell-shaded animated videogame, like The Wolf Among Us. It’s often quite gorgeous, but I feel like my eyes are still adjusting to it.
That being said, I love the addition of Jake Johnson as the voice of Peter Parker, and, yes, that is Bumblebee’s Steinfeld voicing Gwen. Also, not heard in the trailer but now officially confirmed (via AVClub) to be in the movie are “Mahershala Ali as Miles’ uncle Aaron, Luna Lauren Velez as his mom Rio, Lily Tomlin as Peter’s Aunt May, and Liev Schreiber as the villainous Kingpin.”
A Suspiria remake isn’t exactly the follow-up project I would have expected from Luca Guadagnino, the man who directed Call Me By Your Name, but much like Guillermo Del Toro with The Shape of Water it’s a project he’s plotted since he was a kid. As Guadagnino told Total Film last November, “I was 14 when I first saw Suspiria. I was in my parents’ living room and I was alone. I saw the movie. I was shocked. I was trembling and I said to myself, ‘One day I’m going to make again this movie!’”
He’s not the only one to think that. David Gordon Green had a remake setup and ready to go a couple of years ago, but it ultimately feel through, opening the way for Guadagnino to hopefully do his fellow Italian filmmaker Dario Argento proud.
Guadagnino’s version, which has actually been in the can since March 2017, stars Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Jessica Harper, Argento’s lead actress from the original film. Not much is known about the film other than its setting (1977 Berlin instead of the original’s 1800s Freiberg). The plot – an American ballerina ends up at a dance school secretly run by witches – will presumably be the same, but in some ways different.
As Tilda Swinton told Allocine, the cast prefers not to think of their Suspiria as a remake:
QUOTE “[Suspiria] is inspired by the same story, but it goes in different directions, it explores other reasons…I think people really have to understand that this is not a remake, because the word “remake” gives the impression that we want to erase the original, and the opposite is what we try to do.”QUOTE
The first footage premiered at CinemaCon last month. Amazon earned plenty of headlines from those members of the press who found the footage horrifying, stomach-churning, and “the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen at CinemaCon,” as Collider’s Steven Weintraub tweeted. To be clear: Weintraub actually liked what he saw, as did various others, but they were also shocked by the brutality of it. Now, Amazon has plenty of time to build up that mystique about the film, and this new teaser is a good start. It’s a remarkably eerie minute and 30 seconds of disconnected footage set to a haunting musical score.
Domestic release dates for all:
Wreck-It Ralph 2 (11/21/18)
Lego Movie 2 (2/8/19)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (12/14/18)