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CinemaCon 2017: Universal & Focus Features - The Mummy, Fate of the Furious

03.30.2017

DESPICABLE ME 3 - Universal kicked things off pretty low-key, with Steve Carell taking the stage to talk a little bit on the process of becoming Gru (and his twin brother, Dru, for DESPICABLE ME 3). The discussion ran a little long given the content, but then paved the way for an extended trailer for the film. There's really not much to say, except that if you dig DESPICABLE ME and its brand of humor, then you'll most likely have a good time with the third installment. On the other hand, if you those little, yellow Minions grate your nerves, your best bet to is to steer clear.

THE MUMMY - Universal then jumped into one of their bigger pictures of the year, THE MUMMY. Director Alex Kurtzman was joined on-stage by Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson and Annabelle Wallis, to talk about making the film. Tom Cruise couldn't attend because he's training for some impossible mission...but he did record a video intro for a brand-new trailer. The new trailer really helped to sell the scope of the film, which is epic. Then again, you probably wouldn't expect less from a Tom Cruise film. It opens with Cruise and Johnson on some sort of mission, running across the rooftops in a middle-eastern town as explosions fire off around them. Through chance, they discover a giant cavern and scale down it to discover a sarcophagus. The scene itself looked like something ripped right from the Uncharted games, and really helped to sell the adventure aspect of it all. We then see the plane sequence from the previous trailer, followed by a little more information on Tom Cruise's character, Nick. It seems that Ahmanet, the titular mummy, needs Nick for some unknown purpose. The two are linked and she's keeping him alive while she regains her powers. Very mysterious. The trailer then delivers a ton of action set to the Rolling Stones' Paint it Black. Horror fans might be a little disappointed that this movie is much more action-oriented. Make no mistake, this is very much a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE version of The Mummy. With that said, Cruise is no stranger to delivering blockbusters, and the film looks like it could be as much fun as the Brendan Frasier vehicle.

GIRLS TRIP - Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and director Malcolm D. Lee took to the stage to talk a little about their picture, GIRLS TRIP. The story follows 4 women looking for an escape from their daily routines and decide to head out to Mardi Gras for some debauchery. If you've seen Lee's other films (BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT, BEST MAN HOLIDAY), you have a good idea of what you can expect to see here. Nothing more or less.

ATOMIC BLONDE - Now that director David Leitch is taking on DEADPOOL 2, all eyes are on him and his next picture, ATOMIC BLONDE. He took to the stage with the stars of the film, Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella, to talk about making the film. While it is evident in the trailer, there's no question that Theron worked her ass off or this role! The short discussion was followed by a new trailer for the film, set to Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus. Believe it or not, there was even MORE action packed in this trailer than the last one! Much like JOHN WICK, all of the action is visceral, easy to make out and gripping. You can tell that Theron really threw herself into the role and every punch throw, and I'd be wildly surprised if audiences don't take to it.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS - Universal pulled out a big one for the finale, and that's FATE OF THE FURIOUS. Vin Diesel took the stage alongside Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron, Ludicrous, Tyrese Gibson and director F. Gary Gray. It's obvious this group has worked together for quite some time now and get along well enough. Diesel took a minute to get a little sentimental, stating that Paul Walker was the one who was championing a Fast and Furious 8, and that's ultimately why Diesel chose to do the film. He also confirmed that Fast and Furious 9 and 10 are in the works. After that, he surprised the audience by screening THE ENTIRE FILM.

I'll keep my thoughts about the film brief and spoiler free, but it's safe to say that if you like the Fast and Furious series, especially where it's been for the past 3 films, you're going to love this one. There are a lot of people who are going to walk out of THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS and say it's the best of the series, and I'd have a hard time disagreeing with them. It makes no qualms about embracing the ridiculousness of its story, as well as the archetypes of its characters. The stakes are higher in this installment, which I think gives it a slight edge over its predecessors. For those of you worried that the entire movie is in the trailer, rest assured that there are plenty of surprises left to discover in its inventive action sequences and connections to previous installments and characters. Simply put, it's the perfect summer popcorn flick that fans of the series will embrace, and a hell of a way to end Universal's presentation!

FOCUS FEATURES presentation

VICTORIA AND ABDUL - From director Stephen Frears comes another period drama starring Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria. Judi Dench presented the trailer herself, through a video intro, and the story follows her dealings with an Indian clerk (the titular Abdul) and the exploration of their relationship. There isn't much to it outside of that, except to say that if you enjoyed the likes of Florence Foster Jenkins or Philomena, then you'll probably enjoy this too.

THE BOOK OF HENRY - Before he travels to a galaxy far, far away to direct Episode IX, Colin Trevorrow has a more intimate tale to tell in THE BOOK OF HENRY. Trevorrow took the stage to talk a bit about the film, quipping that this would make, "As much as JURASSIC WORLD did in its third Tuesday." At the very least, Trevorrow knows his film isn't for the masses. Soon after he presented a trailer for the film, which follows Susan (Naomi Watts) and her two sons, one of which is a boy genius (Henry). She then discovers Henry's book, which contains a plan to help out a young girl next door who seems to be under the oppression of a police chief. Frankly, even after watching the new trailer, this is hard film to pin down. It's not as quirky as SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, and obviously doesn't have the mass appeal that JURASSIC WORLD did. I'll be curious to see what the reception is once it hits theaters.

THE BEGUILED - Sofia Coppola, Colin Farrell and Kirsten Dunst took to the stage to talk about THE BEGUILED, which follows John, a wounded Union soldier, as he comes under the care and eventual torture at a girls' school. Colin quipped that he found the ratio "favorable", when asked about working with mostly females. While the teaser hit a little while ago, Coppola presented the full-length trailer for the crowd, which showed off more of the same, but in a good way. The cinematography is modest, but also gorgeous. The performances by Farrell, Kidman, Dunst, and Elle Fanning look fantastic. The film definitely feels more driven by the plot than previous Coppola efforts. Plus, the trailer ends in one of the best lines I've heard in some time - "What have you done to me? You vengeful bitches!"

DARKEST HOUR - Next on the docket was Joe Wright's latest picture, DARKEST HOUR. Gary Oldman walked on-stage to answer a few questions, talking about the 2 and a half-hour process it took to get his prosthetics and make-up on to look like Winston Churchill, and he did this for 48 straight days (the shooting schedule). Focus then premiered the trailer, which showcased a nearly unrecognizable Gary Oldman. Coming from someone who's very critical of heavy make-up to make stars look like real-life figures, this was done VERY well. The story itself takes place during the early days of World War II and follows Churchill's struggle to lead a charge against Hitler's armies. As per usual with Joe Wright pictures, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. If I was a betting man, I'd say an Oscar nomination is in-store for Gary Oldman come awards season.

ATOMIC BLONDE - Focus Features ended their presentation with a bang, bringing director David Leitch, Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella on-stage to talk about ATOMIC BLONDE. Much like the previous presentation at Universal, the three quipped on how hard they worked to ensure that they made one kick-ass picture, and they put their money where their mouth was when they screened a 10-minute, uninterrupted action sequence from the film. If I wasn't sold before (which I was), this single sequence ensured my ass in a theater seat come opening day. While the "single take" is becoming more and more common, Leitch shows a technical proficiency in the way he stages fights, and how the heroes and villains show fatigue over the course of the sequence. Make no mistake, Charlize Theron's Lorraine feels like a very grounded character, reminiscent of John McClaine in DIE HARD. We watch her give and take some brutal hits, and the whole experience is very visceral. If I was a betting man, I'd say this sequence was better than anything I've seen in JOHN WICK. I wouldn't be surprised to see this film become an even bigger hit.

That was it for the Focus Feature presentation, and while the list of movies showcased wasn't long, they knew how to end things with a bang in that ATOMIC BLONDE clip. As per usual, the studio looks like they're releasing films that may be lesser known, but of no lesser quality.

Source: JoBlo

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