Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Female action-film sweet spot? 'Wonder Woman,' 'Rogue One' latest trailers reviewed

For years, Hollywood directors hadn't found the right mojo to make a successful action film with a female. (At least not very memorable ones or flicks that were mostly comedic whose stars aren't named Angelina Jolie or Sandra Bullock!)

Is it possible Patty Jenkins and Gareth Edwards suddenly have found the sweet spot?

I give you the trailers for "Wonder Woman" (out June 2) and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (Dec. 16). (Go here for the CCC "Badass Beauty" review of the first "Wonder Woman" trailer and the CCC take on the first "Rogue One" footage. You can read them both and even take time to find each trailer; I'll wait. Just make sure you come back...!)

"Rogue One": This footage not only delivers more haunting imagery of ominous Imperial oppression and the promise of great fight scenes, but more importantly it reveals that our heroine, June Erso, is the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson), an Imperial empathizer.

Could he even be a Grand Admiral? And judging from the crisp, white duds, is it possible we might see Grand Admiral Thrawn, the big baddie from novelist Timothy Zahn's must-read, fabulous HEIR TO THE EMPIRE trilogy? After all, he's been retconned into the official Disney-era continuity since he's in the "Star Wars Rebels" animated series. (I haven't seen a lot of those episodes, but the series is extremely well done and a lot of fun watch.)

Speaking of Rebels, Jyn truly is.

What else can you say about a young woman whose father apparently joined the Empire and is "critical to the development of the super weapon" -- yet she joins the Rebel Alliance? That's right; Galen is important in making the Death Star! That means Jyn is literally a "Rogue One."

With all this family tension, does that mean Jyn and her dad will have a fateful confrontation in the climax of this film?

"Star Wars" is about damaged families or at least how children deal with it when they become young adults. From Anakin Skywalker to Luke, Han Solo to Ben Solo/Kyle Ren and now Galen to Jyn, it's an ongoing theme of any great film set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." And "Rogue One" picks up on the saga's ongoing theme quite nicely; I can't wait to see how Edwards delivers this promising installment onscreen.

And who's not excited about seeing Darth Vader on the big screen again?!? I mean, it's Vader, baby! In all his ominous glory. I hear he's again going to be the badass he was in the original "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back."

Having Vader return to his dark roots is a welcome change! A menacing Dark Lord of the Sith is what has made him a pop culture icon -- not to mention one of the greatest villains ever created, not that whiney, angry mama's boy who was so easily manipulated by Palpatine in the prequel trilogy. Anakin's pathetic backstory undercuts Vader's mystery.

Also, am I the only one who thinks Edwards' "Rogue One" has nailed the dirty, "used universe" atmosphere and the visual effects of the original film? Grade: A

"Wonder Woman": Granted, this trailer pretty much features most of what we've seen in the teaser. But yes! Yes! Yes!

I can only hope Jenkins doesn't screw this up. She's no Zack Snyder, so that lessens the chance, but I just had to say that. Wonder Woman is finally getting the chance to be the first superheroine in her own feature film and the world's most recognizable female superhero deserves nothing less than a great film.

The only storyline nugget I picked up here is that Diana Prince witnessed a good friend die in battle, which inspires her to take the good fight to America.

I hope Jenkins uses slow-mo action sparingly because too much of it is nothing but annoying. Not every action/fight sequence needs to get "The Matrix" Effect.

On the other hand, filming such scenes so tightly in the frame that you can't deciper what is happening is equally frustrating. (Russo brothers, I'm looking at you and the African scenes in "Captain America: Civil War"!)

The World War I scenes in "Wonder Woman" look spectacular. I still get a thrill seeing Diana deflecting a bullet with her bracelet. (Bullets and bracelets, baby!)

And I can't wait to see even more good stuff from Wonder Woman's golden lasso! Grade: B+

Unlike the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" trailers, I expect there's much more we haven't seen -- and I really hope Jenkins and Team "Wonder Woman" keep it that way!

(For you completists, there are four "BvS" trailer reviews: analysis of the teaser/first footage; the review of the teaser trailer I titled "False God"; the third review was from the best of the bunch, the trailer I took to calling "She with you?" since the Big Reveal was Wonder Woman; and finally, a nearly second-by-second analysis of the 49 seconds of footage when Batman is held captive and unmasked by Superman.) 

Directors and those who edit film footage into trailers need to know less is more. It's best to tease fans, giving us enough to keep us interested yet still leaving us with questions. That's what "Rogue One" and "Wonder Woman" have done in spectacular fashion! Instead, too many times directors give us so much footage we can figure out the entire storyline. (**Gives Snyder the "I'm watching you" hand motion.**)
And yes, CCCers, I hope to find the time (finally!) to post my review of the so-called "Ultimate Edition" of "Batman v Superman"!

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