Cinemacon 2015: Fox unveils first looks at The Martian and The Revenant
Fox's presentation at Cinemcon today kicked off with some heavy beats from DJ Enferno and a dance performance from The Academy of Villains, all set to the PEANUTS theme song, waking up the audience a bit before diving into their 2015 slate. Lots of films were shown, but there were definitely some true standouts, most notably Alejandro González Iñárritu's THE REVERENT and Ridley Scott's THE MARTIAN. Both films impressed well above all others, leaving the audience with plenty to be excited for this fall. Additionally, I included some impressions of other new looks from Fox's presentation, so scan below to check 'em out.
Based on the novel by Michael Punke, THE REVENANT stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a frontiersman/fur trader who is mauled by a bear during an expedition and then abandoned by the two men assigned to watch over him; Tom Hardy's John Fitzgerals and Will Poulter's Jim Bridger. Based on the true life account of the real Hugh Glass, the novel is an amazing and intricate journey of survival and revenge that sets a tone and atmosphere that puts you right in the middle of the wilderness and into a very dangerous and uncharted world. Having just finished reading the book a few weeks ago, watching the teaser today was like watching the pages come to life. Capturing the raw beauty and peril of nature, Iñárritu has thus far assembled a film that takes you right into the heart of the story.
DiCaprio, bearded and decked out in fur, looking as rugged as one would expect, is seen fighting for his life in various situations, from fending off attacks from local Indian tribes to simply navigating the untamed environment, we see shots that capture the light and world unlike any film we've seen before. There's a rich density to the surroundings, as if you're seeing the scope of the environment as if you're really there, the light refecting it that looks completely natural, which makes sense as they are shooting using ONLY natural light.
Many of the shots feel similar to Iñárritu's POV style of shooting with BIRDMAN, but it works wonderfully and takes you right there. There's a number of quiet, steady shots, and a bundle of great action moments, including one where DiCaprio shoots a man out of a tree and another off of his horse. It sounds simple, but the way these moments are composed feel so organic and real that it's hard to describe in words. The teaser builds with a kind of breathless pulse that puts you right into the race to survive, already displaying a smart and engaging marketing angle. Seeing is truly believing and with this bit of footage it looks like we are in for a hell of a treat this December and it looks like Iñárritu will be standing on an Oscar stage again in 2016, possibly flanked by his lead, DiCaprio.
Note: I highly recommend reading the book to get a real feel for the material. It's a short, but powerful read and short of spoilers for the film, it will likely only serve to enhance the film experience as it looks like the really put the page on the screen.
Ironically, THE MARTIAN is another book I recently finished reading and enjoyed very much, so it was kind of cool to see a tease of the visual companion for both it and THE REVENANT. Where THE REVENANT is a deep and often violent tale of survival, THE MARTIAN is more of an intense and rousing one. Andy Weir's novel puts astronaut engineer Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) in a very unforgiving environment and traps him there; Mars. However, as he is portrayed in the book, Whatney is smart as a whip and lets you know that right off the bat. After an aborted mission on Mars leaves Whatney stranded and thought dead, the astronaut has to find a way to survive before a manned mission can return to save him. "I'm going to science the shit out of this."
And, from that moment we see that director Ridley Scott has embraced the most important aspect of Weir's book; the voice. Whatney may be a scientist, but he's just as snarky and funny as he is smart and innovative. As in the novel, we see Whatney securing the HAB (the housing on Mars) and doing everything from building/modifying needed parts to planting potatoes to grow in an environment that doesn't grow plants. We see the people surrounding Whatney, including the folks at NASA (William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Kristin Wiig) to the fellow astronauts that inadvertently stranded him (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena, Aksel Hennie) as they toil over how to save Whatney once they discover he's still alive.
It's a Ridley Scott film, so you know it looks amazing and this is no different. From the Mars landscape to headquarters at NASA, everything looks sharp, clean, and distinct. However, this feels like the most commercial film he's done in years as it's fairly contemporary and is, in essence, a space thriller. This isn't a deep, metaphoric journey per se, but an intense, smart, race-against-the-clock thriller and the trailer brings that to life splendidly. For those who thought Christopher Nolan's INTERSTELLER was more deep and confusing than it needed to be, I think THE MARTIAN will renew that faith in the space thriller genre. It's truly about one man's ingenuity to survive and that of the support he has from millions of miles away. No black holes. No dimensional travel. Just good old fashioned intense adventure, which is a welcome respite for both fans of Ridley Scott and the space genre hoping for a more inviting film. I can't wait to see this one.
Here are some other quick highlights:
This was a brief teaser that showed the creation of Frankenstein's monster by James McAvoy's Victor Von Frankenstein and his assistant, Daniel Radcliffe's Igor. We see the body of Frankenstein's monster being lowered into a circular elevated pit of some type with stormy weather and electricity all around. Shots of Igor cowering and McAvoy screaming and yelling like a maniac as he works are shown, with all characters wearing goggles. The entire setting felt more like dark, edgy sci-fi rather than straight horror and there was a brief, ominous tease of Frankenstein's monster that looks to be more frightening and mostrous than we've see of his incarnations of late. Overall, I'm intrigued and it looks to have it's own vision, which is likely influenced by Max Landis' script.
HITMAN: AGENT 47:
I wasn't blown away by the initial stuff I saw for this film and felt that it's appeal would fall mostly to genre fans, but the extended trailer shown today had me seeing it in a very different light. For one, it seems to really be exploring the origins and history of the agents and it shows that we won't only be seeing one agent, but another as well, only this one a female. There's some added action sequences in here that had me giving my "Hey, that's pretty damn cool" look (upturned mouth and slow nod, usually) and I felt like we got more into the actual story than just a series of shoot outs and explosions, although those were abundant as well. I hope they release this trailer to the public, because I think it will really win over some of those who weren't so impressed initially, such as myself.
We saw a ton of footage in an extended trailer for this and if you loved all the old TV specials then this is definitely for you. I love Charlie Brown and the gang and seeing them come to life in this 2D/3D hybrid film looks just amazing. It's obvious that a lot of care and attention has gone into this to make it feel like the original works, just with slightly better graphics. Kids voices, awkward situations, and a number of storylines interlacing with the action, PEANUTS looks great and I hope it spawns a bunch more if they pull it off. Can't wait to take my own kid to it.
THE MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS:
The runaway hit made some big waves upon its release and the sequel looks to take things even further. Much further, it seems, as the survivors of the first film are now outside of the maze and into the desert world (aka The Scorch) just outside of it. It's a much more sprawling journey, rather than the clausterphobic one in the first, with a lot more action and sci-fi elements to it. I got the feeling that this was much like CATCHING FIRE to the first HUNGER GAMES, which elevated the material to a new level beyond the intial set-up. I think fans of the YA series will be happy with the way this looks and it seems like it may be more appealing to non-fans. Plus it has Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen as a bad guy and that's one hell of a selling point right there.
GAMBIT and WOLVERINE 3:
Fox talked about their upcoming superhero slate only in brief, although they did show the recent FANTASTIC FOUR trailer, but there was mention of X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, DEADPOOL, and another confirmation that both a sequel to THE WOLVERINE and a solo GAMBIT film are coming. GAMBIT showed an official looking on-screen title, which was cool enough just to know that it's happening. So, not much there, but at least a confirmation that both are on the agenda.
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