A few hours ago I published my recap of the Bourne Legacy footage shown today during the Universal Pictures presentation at CinemaCon, but that was far from the only movie that the studio had on display at the convention. Over the course of two hours they showed off footage from every single film that remains on their 2012 calendar and beyond, including outrageous comedies and Oscar-hopeful dramas. And I’m here to tell you about them.
Below you will find my recaps and reactions to just about every movie that Universal showed off this afternoon*. It should be noted that not all of the footage was 100% done, but I’ve made sure to point out which ones those are. Check it out!
*NOTE: I say “just about” because they also showed footage from Battleship and Snow White and the Huntsman, but because so much is already available online for those projects I figured that it would be best to leave them off. If you have any questions about what I saw, please just let me know in the comments section and I’ll be happy to respond.
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Ted, the new comedy from writer/director Seth MacFarlane, was actually the biggest hit of the Universal presentation. Every single joke hit with a huge laugh, even though most of what was featured in either the green band or red band trailers. What was new, however, was actually quite funny. The footage began with an extended look at the opening of the film, featuring Mark Wahlberg’s character, John, as a child. The voice-over narration (by, I believe, Patrick Stewart) begins by setting the time and place by announcing that it’s 1985 on Christmas Eve, a time when “Boston children gather together and beat up the Jewish kids.” The scene continued, showing John as an outcast who wishes that his Christmas present, a big teddy bear, would come to life. The next morning, John shows his parents (played by Ralph Garman and Alex Borstein) and while they start off terrified, they eventually look at the birth of Ted as a Christmas miracle. The scene ends with the narrator saying that there’s nothing more powerful than a young boy’s wish ”except an Apache helicopter [which is] an absolute death machine.” The footage ended with an extended version of the hotel fight scene featured in the trailer, and included the fun image of Ted whipping Mark Wahlberg’s bare ass with a television antenna.
Like Ted, the footage for Savages, the new film from director Oliver Stone, was mostly extended versions of scenes that we already saw in the trailer. That said, there was a lot to take away from it. For starters, John Travolta, who plays a DEA agent, seems to be playing both sides, having involvement both with our heroes (played by Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) and the Mexican drug cartel (represented largely by Benicio Del Toro). On that note, Del Toro may be the actor looking ready to shine brightest in the film as the sadistic, evil right-hand man of Salma Hayek’s character. He came across as being intense and menacing in his scenes and I look forward to seeing more of him. Overall, the material simply reaffirmed what I’ve been thinking about the project, which is that it looks like Stone is returning to the style of movies that he made during the 90s. And in no way is that a bad thing.
Because the new Tom Hooper film is still in production, Universal didn’t have much to show from the new Victor Hugo adaptation, but what I did see was pretty fantastic. Most of the footage consisted of single shots of characters in costume and out of context, but what really stuck with me was the music. Playing over the entire trailer was a rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” sung by Anne Hathaway, and it was spectacular. As previously reported, most of the singing in the film is being done on screen rather than in a studio, and it added a certain raw quality to the sound that fit in perfectly with the tone and look of the movie.
The Is 40
I’m actually going to be fairly brief talking about this one, as the trailer I saw will actually be in theaters starting tomorrow, playing in front of The Five-Year Engagement. As much as I like Judd Apatow’s style, I will say that I was a touch underwhelmed by the trailer, though it does have some very funny parts (particularly the end, which involves Paul Rudd being spread eagle with only a mirror covering his taint). As soon as the teaser arrives online we’ll be sure to post it for you guys.
Unlike many of the other studios, Universal actually took a gamble in showing material not just from their 2012 slate, but their 2013 slate as well. As reported yesterday, 47 Ronin, the new film from Carl Rinsch starring Keanu Reeves, was pushed back to February of next year as to allow more time for visual effects to be completed. After watching the footage, it was clear why they made the decision. Based on a legend of revenge from 18th century Japan, the movie is very much set in the world of fantasy and magic, with multiple creatures and action sequences. The movie looks stylish and cool and I look forward to seeing more from it when the time comes.
The second film from Universal’s 2013 plans, Oblivion is director Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to Tron Legacy and stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko and Melissa Leo. Because the film is literally only days into production, most of what they showed during the presentation was previsualization, but it did have some cool stuff. There was one standout sequence in particular that featured Cruise’s character lowering himself into a destroyed building through a hole in the ceiling. While looking around he notices a strange device on the ground, says “Uh oh,” and then is dragged across the ground into the next room. He is then shown chained to a chair sitting in the dark and then we see Freeman, wearing circular, goggle-like sunglasses, striking a match and illuminating the room, showing that Cruise is actually surrounded by people. Freeman then says, “We’ve been watching you, Jack.”
The final movie of the presentation was the Robert Schwentke –directed R.I.P.D.. The footage began with Ryan Reynold’s character, a cop named Nick Walker, taking part in a raid and getting shot to death. He then finds himself sucked into the sky and then sitting in an office in front of a woman named Procter (Mary-Louise Parker) who informs him that he has died and that he has been enlisted as part of the R.I.P.D. – the Rest In Peace Department. We are then introduced to his partner, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), an off-kilter cowboy, who charges at Nick and slams him through a window. When they land on the ground unharmed, Roy says, “You might notice you’re pretty durable.” The footage ended with the two discussing their appearance, as Nick learns that he looks like James Hong to the casual observer, while Marisa Miller serves as Roy’s avatar. The whole thing had a very odd and goofy tone, but came across as a bit slap-dash. Considering the movie isn’t set to arrive until June of next year, we can likely assume that they are still very much hard at work on it.
To see more of my coverage from CinemaCon 2012, head over HERE