Though the repercussions of Will Smith’s Oscar slap are still being discussed months later, the actor has also been in the news for another reason. With the upcoming movie Emancipation making its way to theaters and streaming, director Antoine Fuqua’s historical epic of slavery and abolition has Smith in the limelight for another emotional and action-packed performance. Now that the full trailer has been revealed, we’ve gotten to see more of what that role entails for the Academy Award winner.
Our latest look at the project came from Apple, which recently released a brand new look at Emancipation. Telling the story of Peter (Will Smith), an escaped slave who then joins the North’s efforts to fight the Civil War, we see the inhumanities visited upon him in great detail. However, we also see moments of Smith’s character in battle, as well as espousing his deep belief to never be broken by his enemies.
It’s a film that looks to have the hallmarks of a conversation piece that could see itself up for awards consideration. Initial reactions to Emancipation seem to back at least that first claim, as early screenings have highlighted the finished product in a favorable light. Whether that holds during a potential awards season campaign is something that’s going to be very interesting to watch out for.
Separating those events from the movie at hand, this definitely looks like a richly made portrayal of history. It also helps that actor Ben Foster looks like he’s once again flexing his muscles of villainy, acting as an antagonist to Will Smith’s Peter. Menacing the lead character of Emancipation, Foster’s forcefulness doesn’t tip over into full blown theatrics.
Of course, current events are still going to weigh some what on the minds of those looking to promote this stirring drama to the masses. Antoine Fuqua has even acknowledged potential connections to Will Smith’s slap, hoping that Emancipation’s audience can focus on the film’s portrayal of history. Perhaps that’s why such early screenings were planned, with a more recent event seeing Smith posing with several celebrities in support.
As the impending limited theatrical release is going to grab the interest of moviegoers far and wide, the current tide of support has only been bolstered by the polished look of these intense trailers. Apple’s awards play has been in the frame even before Emancipation’s first trailer dropped, and it’s easy to see why when it looks like the film has an intensity that matches previous Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave.
Whether it’s a viable contender for top honors or not, Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua look to have put together a story that will reach past such concerns, and illuminate history in its bleakest and most promising moments. Emancipation premieres in theaters on December 2nd, with those holding an Apple TV+ subscription being able to stream the film starting December 9th.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.