You Saw It Coming


When you walk into a blockbuster movie in the present day, I think it is fair to say, we are not going in waiting to be as shocked and surprised like we used to. Most of the time a film’s trailers will give away large amounts of information, sometimes to the extent where the entire plot is revealed. From there each frame from trailers and sneak peaks are speculated about on message boards, blogs and social media until, if we wanted, we could all have a good idea of where the movie is going in a narrative and character sense. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all, in fact, sometimes the anticipation and speculation outweighs the excitement derived from the actual film. What I am saying, that in this day and age the movie has to understand that a large chunk of its audience will have been exposed to its money shots and best lines of dialogue already, so instead of insulting their intelligence it’s all about embracing the predictability.

Predictability is not a bad thing, some would say it is connected with a film being boring. However, the ubiquity of a massive summer blockbuster and the marketing associated with it will not change. Jurassic World has handled this fantastically and is a great example of producing a film with the knowledge that everyone is going to have a good guess at the storyline and will have watched the trailers quite a few times.

In the last month, the marketing team behind Jurassic World has been hitting us hard. Trailers, TV Spots, merchandise, magazine covers and not to mention the app where you can build your own Jurassic World (if you have the money to buy the £40 packs of cards to play the game via in store purchasing) my point is, you know there’s a new Jurassic Park film coming out and you know the basis for the plot and have already seen the dinosaurs. Add this to the fact that a lot of people going to see this film have seen Jurassic Park I-III or at least the first one which Jurassic World mainly derives it ideas from. It all looked set up for a potential disappointment where we’ve seen it all before. But director Colin Trevorrow was probably aware that this would happen which is why he just went all out.


The best case and point would be that of the new park attraction, the hybrid dinosaur Indominus Rex. The early trailers tried to mask the appearance of this creature but with the merchandise coming out many months before in Lego form and as its design was starting to be shown online and on magazines, the cat was out the bag and from that stage you might as well show it as much as you can in the film. The Indominus is shown very early in the movie, unlike Jaws which this movie borrows from in some respects. Trevorrow mentioned in an interview these days you don’t get the luxury of just one trailer like Jaws had 40 years ago so you can keep your best secrets hidden, so, to his credit, he just went all guns blazing and it worked wonderfully. Also, the main reason the suspense was so great in Jaws was down to the mechanical shark not working and so Spielberg had no choice but to keep the shark hidden for the majority of the film.

In Jurassic World we knew the raptors we’re going to be smart and Chris Pratt was going to be their trainer, also the Mosasaur was going to play some part, as we also knew that Bryce Dallas Howard holding a flare in in front of an opening of a door can only mean one thing is coming up. The plot was massively derivative of the first film where two children, who are related to somebody very important in the running of the park are left to alone with carnivorous dinosaurs. However, it does it in a way that is still entertaining and because there isn’t the element of surprise that Jaws or the original Jurassic Park had in 1993, Jurrasic World presents us with huge amounts of action and a well written script from Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.

This isn’t the only franchise in which the movies must up their game to survive at the box office. Although studios know that lots of people like the same thing presented, there has to be some difference, something new to keep us coming back to the cinema. Studios that have become complacent and have churned out the same rubbish all the time have suffered bad financial returns. People are not that easily fooled and many franchises have needed a reboot to survive or been destroyed completely (Terminator Salvation, Speed 2, Batman and Robin, Spiderman 3, etc.)


A studio like Marvel has to keep upping its game to create a sense of something you haven’t seen before with the huge amount of films they have produced in such a short space of time. When we had Phase One with Iron Man, 1 & 2, Thor and Captain America, that all culminated in The Avengers which was ground breaking because of the build-up and the sheer scale of the movie. Now, with Avengers: Age of Ultron, new characters are being established to give the audience something new but through marketing and the previous films we have already seen so much in the last few years. That’s why Guardians of the Galaxy was so great, because it was such an original choice of comic to adapt compared to the normal Marvel universe. Age of Ultron was a well made film but it lacked surprises and didn’t do anything special, besides establishing the vision, to remedy the overused formula.

Jurassic World is a great movie though, whether my opinions are deep seated in nostalgia is one for everyone else to determine but it was so great to go into a movie in which I had seen the trailer to death and not be disappointed with the end product. I can only hope that it is the same with The Force Awakens. Although J.J Abrams does like to keep a lid on his films and not give too much away it’ll be a big ask in the world we live in now. At this moment, we’ll just have to speculate.


Will The Justice League Film Work?


Last year, Marvel’s The Avengers (or Avenger’s Assemble in the U.K) triumphed at the box-office. Making over $1.5 billion worldwide it blew all other movies out the water financially, including Warner Brothers’ The Dark Knight Rises, which was originally suspected to be the king of the superhero film in 2012. Joss Whedon managed to combine the myriad of superheroes and create an exciting, intense and very likeable film all under two and a half hours. Even the most passionate comic book fans had their reservations about how the amount of characters could combine effectively and how the previous films may intertwine without confusing a virgin audience member. However, Whedon quickly quashed all fears in one fell swoop, with style.

Iron Man in The Avengers

Warner Brothers, who own the rights to the D.C comics would obviously have seen the success of Avengers and wanted to do something along those lines. Especially with the end of the hugely successful Dark Knight trilogy and their summer release Man of Steel still being an unknown quantity. The obvious answer was finally to make and release the ill fated Justice League movie that has in recent years suffered delays and all sorts of commotion.

The Justice League of America is a band of heroes in the DC comics that, like The Avengers, unite to fight evil, whether it’s the Legion of Doom of whomever. Their group includes, among many others that are constantly changing, Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman. These are the best known to the average movie goer, although only three have recently appeared on screen, and would most likely be those which the movie centres around. How would this band work together on screen though?

The movie is planned for 2015, colliding head on, not only with The Avengers 2, but competing with Star Wars VII, the most hotly anticipated film of the decade. Currently Justice League has no director, although George Miller, Zack Snyder and more recently Ben Affleck and Christopher Nolan have been linked. There is no knowing if the current Superman (Henry Cavill), Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) and Batman (Christian Bale) have agreed to sign up. There has also been a lack of screen presence from The Flash and Wonder Woman, two of the key members of the league. Also, will Justice League continue with the realistic, worldly tone of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel or change it to something more light hearted? Warner Brothers truly have their work cut out here with a lot to think about.cavill-man-of-steel

With only two years before the prospective release date there really needs to be some progress this year if it’s going to even come close to mirroring the success of The Avengers. Perhaps Warner is waiting for audience response to Man of Steel before deciding on a director. A success will surely catapult Snyder to top of the directing list, with possibly Nolan and writer David S. Goyer added to impose an essence of Dark Knight. Then, the cast needs to be established. If Bale and Cavill are replaced it has to be the right kind of actor that replaces them. This will be a very tricky task, especially because, Bale especially, has already spent the best part of a decade making the Batman character his.

The characters who have yet to appear on screen also have to be great actors because it is these versions of iconic heroes like Wonder Woman and The Flash that are going to be scrutinised by the fans. Most vitally, however, the script needs to be sharp, funny and have a solid plot that the audience can follow, relate to and altogether enjoy.

I don’t know if Justice League will make its deadline of 2015. It seemed something of a knee jerk reaction by Warner to Marvel’s success. However, it will be interesting to watch this space because there is certainly great potential in this series and its heroes.