Monday, April 1, 2013

Trailers: World War Z, 7500, Fast & Furious 6, White House Down, The Wolverine

I hope you enjoyed GI Joe Retaliation as much as I did! There is a lot to discuss on this film, I am so grateful they invested in a good scribe to create the script, and a director who could realize how to make the most of it because those two elements propel the film from being mere action entertainment to a political "drama" and the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow I was so anticipating did not let me down in the least!
But, speaking of political dramas,...
Official plot line: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself.  It has been released today that changes have been made to the film to appease the Chinese censors so it can be released in the growing China market only lately allowing a growing number of foreign films to be released. The primary change being reported is, in the discussion of where the "pandemic" of zombie-ism began, one person points to China on a map, and that upset Chinese authorities so it's been removed, at least from the version which will be shown for Chinese audiences. When China opened its markets to Hollywood films in 1994, it only allowed in ten a year; that has now increased to 34, mostly in 3D or IMAX, but there is so much money to be made in China, even films such as Iron Man 3 are willing to make numerous changes to access that market.
...there are a few issues we need to discuss,... one of which is the second trailer for Brad Pitt's newest, World War Z, to be released  June 21. When I saw the first trailer, I wasn't impressed, but seeing this second trailer, I did something I rarely do: I looked up the book, which intrigued me enough to buy it (World War Z by Max Brooks) so I can have it read in plenty of time before the film comes out:
For one thing, it looks like we are going back to Russia, again. From The Chernobyl Diaries to Phantom, to A Good Day to Die Hard, Arbitrage, The Expendables 2, The Darkest Hour and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and others I can't recall off the top of my head, we keep re-visiting a land oozing with,.... nuclear waste, warheads and zombies. Each film makes its own contribution to the dialogue, but Russia and China being primed as the "nucleus" of where the epidemic starts--caused by governments brainwashing their citizens, compels us to ask, especially seeing the Constitution of the United States being carried out, what has happened to us?
When starting a decoding of any work of art, regardless of the medium (film, painting, literature, etc.) ask yourself two questions: one, what images/situations are invoked which I have seen before and where have I seen them, what was the context of the repeated images? People generally assume that originality is a great thing in art, but "originality" is a great myth, because if something was really original, we wouldn't be able to engage with it, there has to be basis that lacks originality so we can step up to the plate and make contact with the message contained therein. For this reason, and others, I don't like commenting on "originality," rather, the virtue of the "greater articulation," the art that has best targeted the issue at hand (whatever is going on in culture at the time) and found the best, most succinct way to say its message, to engage other works of art, to argue its point, the most persuasive argument for its side of the story and why the artist(s) believe what they believe and why they want you, the audience, to believe the same thing. The second question to ask yourself is, why is this film being made now? Now, generally speaking, zombies are villains; this political dichotomy (yes, zombies are political because they encapsulate a sense of "bad," i.e., it's bad to be a zombie and exhibit the qualities of being a zombie, or the lack of qualities that make a zombie, therefore, whatever main-stream society considers to be bad is/can/will be projected onto the zombie villain, hence, they become politicized) has now been undermined by zombies becoming "good" in the romantic horror story Warm Bodies when a zombie falls in love and becomes human again, the same has happened in the vampire phenomena with Twilight that (arguably) started in Interview With the Vampire.  So, saying something once-so-obvious as "zombies are bad and it's bad to let them take over the world," is now a rather conservative statement because of Warm Bodies (which, regrettably, I missed and will have to catch on Instant View or something). This change-over, this make-over of zombies and vampires revealing the trend of what-was-evil-is-now-good has a characteristic of our culture has become a characteristic for a reason, and this intense debate--where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to both make the film and spent to watch the film (not to mention the added cost of the popcorn) reveals how important this discussion is to society now, here, today, and we need to be aware and a part of it because not only is our life and quality of life at issue in this debate, but our own individuality and our values, our sense of morality and direction.
There are several images in this trailer we have seen before: for example, people being sucked out of an airplane (Iron Man 3), a helicopter spinning out of control (Zero Dark Thirty, A Good Day to Die Hard and Olympus Has Fallen), a large number of films have mentioned "the end of humanity" like Contagion and Melancholia, and, surprisingly, at 1:57, a single human (I guess, not a zombie?) crouches down and is passed over by a running group; we saw that in The Hobbit, when the goblins have taken the adventurers and Bilbo kneels down and is missed by his captors (when he ends up meeting Gollum). Pre-identifying images is like knowing the meaning of words before you start talking to someone, and increases the chances of your ability to enter the conversation yourself. 
It's probably not a great film, but that doesn't mean 7500 isn't important. With people getting sucked out of an airplane becoming a recurring image, we have to ask, has the "life" been sucked out of the airplane industry? Who enjoys traveling nowadays and having your perfume confiscated, or taking off your shoes? Has the attacks of 9/11 "haunted us" to where the freedom and dominance of the skies won against Tokyo (the destination of the flight in 7500) during World War II has been lost to the high-jackers of 9/11 in a way never conceived? While these might not be the questions the film asks, that doesn't mean other films aren't asking these questions. Another way of looking at 7500 is that the plane is the "ship of state," and something menacing has possessed the American government just as something possess the plane.
With the last scene of the trailer taking place on an airplane opening up and passengers getting sucked out, and the same incident happening in Iron Man 3, and dramatic crashes in The Grey and Flight, and a huge military fight taking place in an airport in Expendables 2, we have to ask, what's going on? Originally scheduled for release way back last year, 7500--which I just learned is code for a high-jacked flight--is now going to have limited release April 19; it doesn't appear at this time that I will get to see it, but I am interested in it:
If you asked me how many Fast and Furious films had been made, I would guess, two; so don't be surprised that I haven't seen the previous five installments, or really know what is going on in this trailer, however, two particular points that have caught my attention:
First, "vehicular warfare," seems important for two reasons: one, cars aren't used as weapons in warfare, so that denotes a change that has taken place; why? Take another look at the poster for World War Z; what are the zombies climbing on? A car. In the trailer below for White House Down, a car is driven into a swimming pool, and we saw that first in Project X. It can't be denied that the auto-bailout is still with us, but so are rising gas prices. The battle for "freedom of transportation" in America is very similar to the issues we discussed above with the freedom of air travel that has been limited by the attacks on the airline industry in 9/11 (remember the scene in Expendables 2 when Arnold gets in that tiny car being driven by Bruce Willis and he says, "My shoe is bigger than this car?"  The feet symbolize the will and the fight taking place in the airport when he says this summarizes the "crunch" Americans have felt in the limitations created on our freedom of travel by rising gas prices forcing us to get smaller cars and security issues in flying). So, the scene towards the end of the trailer with the cars bringing down the plane will be interesting. But there is another interesting issue,...
The part where the group asks for full pardons reminds me of Armageddon, when Bruce Willis' team has been asked to go blow up a earth-threatening meteor and they ask not to ever pay taxes again. More importantly, however, this group of criminals might reflect the reason Duke Hauser (Channing Tatum) dies in GI Joe Retaliation: he's too good. We'll discuss this concept more later. In FF6, an interesting "gulf" is introduced: the group led by Dominic (Diesel) is wealthy, but their criminal records mean they can't return to the US, hence why they want their records cleaned, so money doesn't solve all your problems. We saw this same need in The Dark Knight Rises with Cat Woman (Anne Hathaway) needing her record cleaned so she could make a new start and it will be interesting to see where this goes.
"The code you live by, makes you predictable," and "You don't turn your back on family," even when they do. Ethics and relationships is always a part of the moral fiber of a culture, and how deeply the "code" is tested, and how much strain is put on Dom's relationship with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) will reflect us as a culture, not necessarily where we are but what we value and what we should strive for. Morals and ethics in a film are imperative because it gives a film that might be mediocre--like a Fast and Furious--a heart, a metaphysical platform of life-blood that can bond with a viewer.
Now, the trailers for White House Down, similar to Olympus Has Fallen, have been released. This first trailer is the international version:
Now watch this US trailer; didn't I tell you Abraham Lincoln was important in films this year?
What do we not see?
The enemy.
Who attacks the White House? We aren't told. Well, why not? Creating conflict is the primary aim of a art because it's conflict that we turn to art for catharsis. Granted, I am apt to strongly dislike this film, so reader beware, but it looks like it's going to serve me up plenty of reasons. After doing some research, I have discovered that Jason Clarke (Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty and The Great Gatsby) plays the lead of a group of mercenaries attacking the White House. This leads us to question the quote from Abraham Lincoln: who are the ones "tearing us apart," and what "freedoms" are we at risk for losing? You know I am ultra-conservative, and "gay marriage" or the right to kill a child in the womb are not rights or freedoms as far as I am concerned, but will it try to make it an issue? Abraham Lincoln has figured extensively in films lately and it's not surprising he's in this as well, we'll just need to be on our toes.
Now for Hugh Jackman's newest film:
We know that, typically, men symbolize the economy because they are the active principle against the passive principle causing females to symbolize the motherland. That Wolverine experiences weakness for the first time probably, once again, reflects the American economy and what we as a country have gone through. This isn't definite, but it's something to keep in mind as more information is released about the film, which you will be able to find right here.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner