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CinemaCon 2017: Paramount - Transformers, Annihilation, Downsizing & more!

03.30.2017

BAYWATCH - At this point you pretty much know whether or not you're going to see BAYWATCH and I'd wager that most of you are. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra and Ilfenesh Hadera lead the cast and the trailers thus far have done enough to either sell you a ticket or grab hold of your wallet. For my money, I'm all in, as this just looks like a big, dumb, raunchy fun movie and nobody is championing it more than Johnson, who took the stage at CinemaCon and balanced the onstage awkwardness with some well-timed profanity and crudeness before showing us an all new FUschia-band trailer (Fucking Unbelievable) for the film, that is bascially and extended version of the stuff we've already seen. For the majority of the crowd, there wasn't anyone that didn't at least have a smile on their face (I laughed out loud numerous times) and while I'm not sure it will meet Johnson's goal of being "the biggest R-rated comedy ever" I have no doubt it will be a brisk, fun and silly time at the movies.

ANNIHILATION - Okay, so I'd heard of this one a while back and took note due to writer/director Alex Garland's involvement (SUNSHINE, 28 DAYS LATER, EX MACHINA) and the cast of Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac. However, I was not prepared to be so immersively intrigued by what they showed us. If you're a fan of Garland's work, that often gets deep into the human psyche, while under duress in an intense environment, then ANNIHILATION is absolutely a film to put on your radar. We saw an extended sequence of Portman crying at her home, then getting herself together to start painting, then being interrupted by Oscar Isaac walking into the room. She stops immediately, shocked, and loses it in the way only Portman can and embraces him. It's obvious that she thought him dead and now here he is. But, is he really?

They sit in the kitchen and talk about how none of his unit "made it back" and that he's been gone for 12 months. He says he doesn't know where he was and seems genuinely out of it and almost alien or robotic. Portman grows concerned and as he takes a drink of water, we see there's blood in it. Cut to an ambulance as Isaac is hacking up blood and Portman is freaking out. Suddenly, the ambulance is cut off and a group of government soldiers take Isaac and Portman.

We then see Portman awake wearing an orange jump suit and locked up. Jennifer Jason Leigh walks in, all business and cold. Portman demands a lawyer. "You're not going to get a lawyer." Portman sees that Isaac is in the next room, hooked up to machines on life support. Portman demands to know what happened. Leigh explains that there is a zone on the planet that can't be explained. They don't know if it's religious, alien or what. All they know is that anyone who enters it, doesn't come back; until Isaac. Portman seems deeply invested. Leigh says "You want to come with us?"

Next we launch into several images from the film that are absolutely awesome and surreal. Portman and a team (along with Leigh) entering this zone, geared up. It's looks strange and twisted, colorful, vibrant, dangerous. We see a shot of Portman taking a knee and shooting fiercely at something. We see someone's arm with a green, plantlike growth on it. It was very reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky's THE FOUNTAIN mixed in with some even trippier visuals and it left we completely and utterly invested in the film. I NEED to know more about this and can't wait to see it. Out of everything we've seen at CinemaCon so far, this is absolutely in the top tier of most exciting projects on the horizon.

SUBURBICON - This is the latest flick from George Clooney, but watching the trailer it feels like it's the lastest flick from The Coen Brothers; and with good reason, as they wrote it. Starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac and Josh Brolin, SUBURBICON looks to be another dark, violent and comedic venture that feels like a mash-up of the Fargo TV series and a Coen Brothers period film. So, yeah, it looks damn good. Everyone looks to be having a lot of fun in this serious-yet-odd performances and it should scratch the Coen Brothers itch, even if it's Clooney behind the lens.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 6 - Obviously, we didn't see any footage for this as it starts filming next month, but we did get some really cool confirmations with onscreen revelations, notably the returning cast, which includes Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Sian Brooke and, oh yeah, Tom Cruise. Some of that we've already known, but having Harris return is of note as he was captured in the last film and it's the first time we've had a villain return in an M:I film. The other notables were Alec Baldwin being back and Jeremy Renner's name surprisingly absent. Does that mean he's out? Uncertain, but he was notably absent in the onscreen billing. The film will be shooting in locales like London, Paris, India, etc. and will shoot in IMAX 3D, releasing on July 27th, 2018.

ACTION POINT - Johnny Knoxville is back in Jackass form, but not in a new Jackass movie, but rather a film called ACTION POINT. Knoxville shot an intro for the film, which had him standing in an amusement park that had all kinds of ridiculous stunts happening around him (think a Jackass theme park). Eventually he gets smashed to the ground by someone skating down a hill and is apparently knocked out FOR REAL for about two minutes before he gets up and hobbles back to the camera. And that's about it. No details on what the film will be (although it will likely be a BAD GRANDPA type narrative based on the "real stunts" thing, so we'll see.

THE AMUSEMENT PARK - The latest animated feature from Paramount/Nickelodeon actually looks rather refreshing and fun, compared the usual fare that studios pump out for kids on a regular basis. It features a young girl who dreams of making her own amusement park with her mother at a young age. However, tragedy strikes and she loses the desire, only to be led to a real-world version of the amusement park she created with her mom years later and is stuck there with all the creations they made. It's clever, cute and heartfelt and something that looks to tap into more than your simple "kids lessons" that are abound in so many of these films, going deeper into the Pixar-style level of emotions. The movie will be followed by a regular series on Nickelodeon in 2019.

DOWNSIZING - Man, this is the second most amazing thing I've seen at CinemaCon so far. From director Alexander Payne (ELECTION, ABOUT SCHMIDT, THE DESCENDENTS) comes this odd sci-fi-ish tale about a husband (Matt Damon) and wife (Kristen Wiig) who have decided to make their lives better by downsizing; literally. Set sometime in the future, the ability to shrink people is possible, which allows them to live well above their "full-size" means with bigger homes, wealth, etc. as they consume much less. Now, the concept may sounds kind of fun and cute, but it's the execution that sells the whole thing.

Told in the same, almost "aw shucks" way that most of his film's characters are portrayed, we see the entire process of how this couple is shrunk down and then transported into their new lives and it's simply...fascinating. From being sedated and shaved of ALL hair on their bodies, teeth plucked, fluids "sucked out" and then put in a machine that shrinks them to being picked up with spatulas and transported to their new "small" world, the process of their "downsizing" is simply a marvel to watch and one of the most intriguing things I think I've ever seen on film. It's new territory for Payne as it blends this strange sci-fi element to the usual blend of quirky and odd characters that inhabit his world and I can't wait to see how the rest of the film plays out. Put this one on your radar, folks. It shrinks into theaters on December 22nd.

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT - All right, here we go. Now, look, let me be clear about a few things before I get into this. 1) I love Michael Bay's work. 2) I love the first TRANSFORMERS film 3) That's where I stop being nice. Looks, if you love the Michael Bay TRANSFORMERS films then guess what? You'll be right at home here. You should stop reading now and just buy your advance ticket and enjoy the film. Nothing I say beyond this will detract you.

Okay, for everyone else, here's the deal: Nothing has changed. Michael Bay constantly said the word "refresh" with this entry in the series (his fifth) and that seems sorta true, but really, it's just the deletion of some characters and the introduction of some new ones in yet another overblown, silly and woefully scripted films in the series. We saw a number of scenes (that were just so oddly chopped together), which confirm that what we have is yet another BAYFORMERS with all the Boom, Pop, Facepalm, Techicological Wow, and Odd humor that's propogated the series since day one. Just less Megan Fox and that's actually something I miss at this point (Shia can stay away, though). It's the only film where they somehow have Sir Anthony Hopkins uttering lines like "Dude" and "Bitchin' Ride" while featuring a ragtag bunch of kids and a comedian tossed into a scenario of utter goofiness.

Now, I have to be fair to Bay and the film in that what we saw was completely out of context, but everything we DID see was indicative of more of the same. So, ultimately, if you expect a real "refresh" or something that goes in a new direction, I'm sad to say that's not the case. However, on the flip side, if that's exactly what you want, then you are the big winner.

And that's it for the Paramount Presentation, which has thus far shown off two of the most compelling films coming this year (ANNIHILATION and DOWNSIZING), which will hopefully live up their potential and a stream of others that fit varying degrees of good and bad. Check out more of our coverage at the link below and stay tuned for more!

Source: JoBlo.com

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