“Charlie’s Angels” Trailer Review!

Months ago, when we got our first look at Charlie’s Angels, as reimagined for modern audiences by director Elizabeth Banks, I had no idea what to expect, no idea what to critique, and what to compliment. I had never watched a single second of footage from the two previous Charlie’s Angels movies, or the 1970’s TV show that started it all. Well, I’m proud to say today that that has changed, and that, thanks to Netflix, who always seem to conveniently release older movies just when they’re relevant again, I have watched both of the original films. They’re bad movies: they’re cheesy, ridiculous, and laughable – they’ve got sexist and racist overtones, and are unabashedly and sometimes even uncomfortably intended for the male gaze: so it comes as no surprise that, unburdened by a male director, the modern Charlie’s Angels is quite the opposite of the two films that precede it.

I completely agree with what Banks is trying to do with the franchise, bringing in more diversity, focusing significantly more on the women themselves rather than their relationships with men, and shaking things up in the general premise of the plot.

Now, on the flip-side, Banks also seems to have gotten rid of one of the more unproblematic elements of the first two films: the crazy, over-the-top action that made those movies actually watchable – there were some iconic and clever fight scenes in those films, made possible through CGI wizardry and a lot of wire-work: the Angels repeatedly verged on becoming superhero ninjas, even defying the laws of gravity – the fact that there are not one, but two scenes in those films where the Angels successfully climb onto a helicopter in mid-air, is proof of that. And yes, it’s so hilariously implausible that it’s hard not to laugh, but isn’t that what made the series fun? But Banks has chosen to focus less on cool action-sequences than on “party vibes”, which is an okay route to go, I guess, but doesn’t compare to the sword-fights, race-car duels and motorbike murder from the first two films. And with actresses like Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott in this movie, is Banks seriously going to rob us of any cool fight sequences with the two?

And at the same time that the film is straying dangerously far from its roots into uncharted territory, the trailers are also extremely confusing: for one thing, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey all show up in this new trailer – except, their footage appears to be taken straight from the music video they did for the film’s hit song, “Don’t Call Me Angel”. So, um, are they in the movie…or not? I mean, I guess it makes sense, since the song is pretty much the only thing that has so far captured the public’s attention, so capitalizing on that is a surefire win…but also kind of perplexing, since audiences who haven’t watched the music video are now going to think that those three, popular singers are in the movie – or maybe they are! Who knows?

So, the trailers are almost definitely going to be a miss for many people, and long-range box-office tracking predicts that Charlie’s Angels itself will be a miss: I mean, honestly, it looks decent. What it lacks is brand recognition, action, and cohesion. What do you think? Are you going to see the film, or will this angel’s wings be broken at the box-office?

Trailer Rating: 5.9/10

“Charlie’s Angels” Trailer Review!

My first thought while watching this trailer was that Sir Patrick Stewart clearly didn’t want to be left out of all the wickedly charming fun that his good friend, Sir Ian McKellen, is having in The Good Liar. Yes, the first trailer for the upcoming spy-thriller Charlie’s Angels has dropped, giving us our first look at a fun, diverse cast of all-female heroines – and a cameo from Stewart, who strolls into the scene grinning from ear to ear. Interestingly, the two films will probably have to go up against each other in the busy November scene. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d predict that Charlie’s Angels will have the slight advantage at the box-office, due to its more light-hearted, comedic tone. But both films will likely be swallowed up in Frozen 2 fever, which leaves The Good Liar with the last laugh, as it can at least stick around long enough for an awards-season bonus round, whereas Charlie’s Angels…probably can’t.

But this film has something that too few films can boast: the aforementioned all-female lead cast. Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska – and Naomi Scott, still fresh off her own magic carpet-ride: here, though, Disney’s newest princess is a government whistle-blower, trying to prevent the creation of a dangerous new weapon that could lead to global catastrophe. These three talented women come together under the direction of Elizabeth Banks from The Hunger Games, who also stars in the movie as the leader of the team.

The action and adventure elements showcased in the trailer do tend to verge on the over-the-top and ridiculous – not so much because the stunts and situations themselves are humorous, but because the actresses are: even Scott, who was actually rather dramatic in Aladdin, but plays wide-eyed naivete very well here. If you’re looking for a Mission: Impossible movie, you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. But if you’re looking for Project Runway meets Mission: Impossible, well…that’s a little more like it. The actresses are perfect paragons of modern fashion.

And, the other notable thing to mention: the song. I feel like I’d be guilty of a crime if I didn’t mention it, considering the way this film is pushing it as if it’s one of the main marketing attractions. A collaboration of three talented musicians like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey is never a bad idea, and it sounds pretty good from what we hear of it in the trailer, but seriously, the film shouldn’t have to rely on its soundtrack to sell tickets. The cast pretty much sells itself.

One last thing: the trailer ends with the women answering, almost as if brainwashed, to the commands of some robotic voice called “Charlie”, which presumably explains the film’s title, but I (casual viewer that I am) have no idea what I’m supposed to make of that: a hint of suspense in an otherwise upbeat trailer? Just a fun nod to the 1970s TV series this film is based on?

Trailer Rating: 7.5/10

So…A “Hunger Games” Prequel Is Happening…

Ever since the Hunger Games franchise left theaters back in 2015, Lionsgate Studios has been trying to find a replacement for what was, along with the Twilight Saga, their largest film property: their top three highest-grossing movies are still The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and The Hunger Games. Sadly, the studio has not had much luck doing that: stand-alone films such as Robin Hood (remember that? No?) flopped, and the Divergent series fizzled out. John Wick has recently begun to fill the role that Hunger Games once held, thanks to the sudden frenzy of interest surrounding star Keanu Reeves, but now it looks like Lionsgate doesn’t need to move on from its young-adult dystopian thriller roots at all.

That’s right: today, accompanying news that Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins will be releasing a prequel to her best-selling book series in May 2020, Lionsgate Studios wasted no time announcing that they are communicating with CollinsĀ  about “the movie”. Apparently there’s not even any doubt or hesitation about this project – there will be a movie prequel to The Hunger Games, whether you want it or not.

Don’t expect Jennifer Lawrence to be reprising the role of Katniss, however, and don’t expect many (or possibly any) familiar faces. The prequel novel will be set 64 years before the first book in the original trilogy, and will probably explore the origins or early days of the Games themselves, in a time when the world of Panem was still recovering from the scars of war; what Collins calls “the Dark Days”. Setting it so long ago in her world’s past will presumably give the prequel some freedom to breathe: traditionally, with prequels, they’re set in the time period directly before their successors, so that they can include hundreds of unnecessary cameos from, for instance, the parents of our original protagonists, or the backstories of recognizable antagonists. This is almost always a bad idea: rather than selling us on the premise of the novel that we’re currently reading, these types of prequels instead get bogged down while trying to remind us that we’re actually not getting the full story – to understand that, you’d have to stop by your local Barnes & Noble and pick up an expensive hardcover copy of the book you should be reading.

This, of course, extends to movies as well: Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy fell into this trap, by wasting time on tie-ins and unsubtle nods to his original Lord of the Rings trilogy (for instance, making The Hobbit into a trilogy to begin with, and then throwing in Legolas, and trying to make the characters at his disposal into carbon-copies of existing ones from Lord of the Rings).

Now, simply setting it 64 years in the past doesn’t necessarily mean the Hunger Games prequel won’t do the same thing: The Hobbit was set 60 years before the Lord of the Rings (though, that particular story also deals with extremely long-lived and in some cases immortal characters, so I’ll let that slide). J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts prequels to the modern world of Harry Potter, however, while great movies (yeah, I said it), are set in the 1920s and still manage to include an inordinate amount of inexplicable cameos from characters who really shouldn’t be alive yet in her timeline, most notably Professor McGonagall. Let’s not even get started on that, though.

Anyway, we will be getting both a novel and a movie set long before Hunger Games, and presumably Lionsgate will try to turn this into a huge franchise, just as it was back in 2013, when Catching Fire grossed 865 million dollars worldwide and became the 18th highest-grossing movie of all time in North America. Will they be able to do it? More importantly, will they be able to do it and also make a good movie in the process? They have it in them: all four of the movies in the franchise received Fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, with the first two even reaching Certified Fresh status. Setting the prequel long before the events of the original trilogy also helps, since we can assume (for now) that it will have its own distinct atmosphere and story, rather than leaning too heavily on the books that came before.

Let the Games begin.