I’m moving this weekend and didn’t have a lot of spare time to spend doing activities that weren’t packing so we have something a little different for you this week. Here’s a review of a much shorter cinematic experience and a TV show based on a comic that once had a movie based on it. It all comes back to movies, it all still counts.
Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer
Making a trailer for a movie like Avengers: Age of Ultron is a tricky proposition but one with absolutely no stakes. Everyone is going to see the film practically no matter what. This trailer would have had to be crudely drawn stick figures instead of CGI effects to have a negative impact on the gross and that’s probably underrating the drawing power of Robert Downey Jr.
Unfortunately, none of the stuff in this trailer is going to be what makes this movie special. Any major superhero franchise could produce a trailer with most of these shots. Massive destruction, iconic symbols shattered, big explosions. None of that is what makes The Avengers franchise special. What separates The Avengers is the wonderful character work and the exceptional dialogue. None of that makes for a particularly compelling trailer. If they are going to give me nothing but snippets of action shots and brief shots of people looking anguished or menacing I would have appreciated much more Hulk.
Everything they gave us looked great. I want to see more Ultron, I want to hear more James Spader doing Ultron, and I’m especially enthusiastic to hear Ultron dialogue that doesn’t feel like Marvel is using these movies as a backdoor plug for their old animation catalogue. I’m excited to see more from the characters that get the short end of the stick in the Marvel movies that have come since the first Avengers flick. It’ll be refreshing to see more from Hawkeye and Nick Fury. Black Widow got the closest thing to a punch line in this trailer and as long as Marvel stubbornly refuses to give Johansson her own movie I’ll have to take what I can get.
The characters I was surprised to see get so much screen time, probably as much as any Avenger not named Stark, were Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I guess you need to energize the geek base without showing too much of your big Ultron effect but is this connecting with anyone else? Those are fringe characters at best and they eat up a ton of this preview. It almost felt like they were putting as much footage out as possible as leverage is Fox decides those are X-Men after all and want to sue closer to the film’s release. It was a fine trailer but those parts felt a little more like notes from a future deposition.
I’m so glad that DC/Warner Bros. finally decided to make a TV show starring John Constantine. Sure it was easier to just keep collecting those payments that Grimm, Once Upon a Time and Hemlock Grove kept forking over for taking the basic concept from the Hellblazer books but it’s so noble of them to give that money up and compete on their own. What’s that? No one was paying Warner any money for those? They just let one of their established franchises sit on the shelf while other people ate their lunch using a strikingly similar idea? How very latter-day Warner of them.
Constantine is a good pilot with a big problem: they do a ton of work establishing a character they wrote out of the series. Liv Aberdeen is the focal point of the entire episode, the lens through which we view the fantastic world of John Constantine, and she seems to be riding the beginning of a long narrative arc. Somewhere between pilot and series they decided they had no use for the character and hastily wrote her out in the last two scenes. I’m still very much interested in watching the show, they’ve hooked me that much, but unless every week they plan to introduce and overdevelop another temporary character they’ve given me no clear perspective on what I’ll be watching every week. I appreciate that it’s very expensive to reshoot an entire pilot but it feels weird.
I do like the bits of the show they plan to keep. Matt Ryan makes for an excellent John Constantine and I liked the way they did Chas although I’m sure they plan to take a lot of liberties with the source material there. The score seems a bit like they’re aping the sound of BBC’s Sherlock and while it stood out like a sore thumb the first time they used on of those cues by the end I rather liked it like that. Both shows benefit from that bit of musical whimsy. The show feels a smidge too Catholic for my tastes but that might just be the way shows about angels, demons, and magic have to feel and I should just get over it.
I don’t watch a lot of network dramas but I am a dyed-in-the-wool Hannibal partisan so know that it means something when I say this show impressed me with both its disturbing imagery and its slickness. The cockroach scene at the asylum kicks things off especially well being unsettling without going too far. Constantine is painting with a brush of the grotesque and rather than coat the walls the way a CSI or a Criminal Minds does it instead uses it just around the edges and that’s so much more compelling to me. I’m not entirely sure this is going to make for an exceptional TV show over a 22 episode season because I find those too long in general but I’m excited to give this one a shot and am thankful I was forced to sample it for this review.