The Countdown

The Week In Movies

It’s been a week of anatomical anomalies in movie marketing. First came the poster for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. Depicting the hero Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, standing on a ladder surveying his future in a sci-fi trailer park called The Stacks, the image gave the hero a freakishly long right leg which the internet instantly jumped on.


The noise surrounding it rather detracted from the trailer which was another treasure trove of ‘80s references — we’re sure we spotted Chorlton And The Wheelies in there somewhere — but also added more meat to the film’s treasure hunt plot.


The next day, the first look at Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel, a long-time James Cameron project who remains a producer on the film, revealed the manga character, played by Rosa Salazar, with eyes the size of saucers. It seems a strange artistic choice in these representation sensitive times but Rodriguez defended the decision.


“It was always Jim’s intention to create a photo-realistic version of the manga eyes that we’re so accustomed to seeing,” Rodriguez told Empire. “We really wanted to honour that tradition and see that look standing next to any human character…If the eyes are the windows to the soul, we have some pretty big windows. You can see a lot going on in there! When it gets to the emotional scenes it’s really uncanny and striking. And captivating!”


Perhaps the most surprising trailer of the week was for Annihilation. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, writer-director Alex Garland’s follow up to Ex Machina sees a bunch of scientists (Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson) investigate an environmental disaster zone known as Area X.


Portman’s military biologist — apparently that’s a thing — leads the expedition to discover what happened to her husband (Oscar Isaac) who came back from Area X gravely ill. The trailer suggests Garland’s now trademark brand of smart sci-fi, with hints of horror, yet the director is wary of giving anything away.


“I find it strange how much studios reveal sometimes,” he told Indiewire. “You want it to be like when you’re watching television late at night, and suddenly something comes on you had no idea was about to and you’re hooked. You’re like, ‘Wow, what is this?’ That’s what I want Annihilation to feel like.”


Deadpool 2 continued its ‘quirky paintings’ poster campaign. Following last month’s Thanksgiving image, which riffed on a cosy Norman Rockwell scene, the new image plays on Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation Of Adam’ with Deadpool sitting in for Adam and Josh Brolin’s Cable standing in for God. Fun quirky, possibly blasphemous, it will be interesting to see if any of this artistic influence plays out in the actual movie.


The National Film Registry has unveiled its annual list of “culturally important” films. This year’s films include 2 Richard Donner films (Superman The Movie, The Goonies), Field Of Dreams, Titanic and Memento, which coming out in 2000 is the youngest film in the registry’s history. Die Hard also made the list, which for the record, has never been and never will be a Christmas film.


It’s been a huge week for Disney. The company has acquired big parts of 21st Century Fox in a deal reputedly worth $52.4 billion, The deal includes 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000 and many of the studio’s television arms. For film fans this means the likes of Deadpool, Fantastic Four and X-Men could more likely enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avatar will also join the studio. It still remains unclear if the original Star Wars trilogy (which belongs to Fox) will be included in this deal. Fingers crossed the Fox fanfare will return to the start of the films. We can dream, right?


In a bizarre act of clairvoyance, The Simpsons predicted the Disney-Fox takeover in the Season 10 episode ‘When You Dish Upon A Star’ in 1998. At one point, the episode features the 20th Century Fox logo with “A division of Walt Disney Co” underneath it. Like a cheaply animated yellow-skinned Nostradamus, the show also predicted Donald Trump becoming President. People, pay closer attention to The Simpsons.


And, finally, after what feels like an eternity waiting for it, The Last Jedi rolled out like a globetrotting BB-8. The film is currently sitting on a 95% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and soared to a near record $45 million in US Thursday night previews (The Force Awakens is the current champ with $57 million). Even George Lucas has been effusive, complimenting Last Jedi director Rian Johnson by saying it was “beautifully made.” Thank the Maker!