Will These Even Come Out...
Summer 2020 New Movie Preview
Well, the Coronavirus really threw a hitch into all our movie watching plans. For the last four months (since the start of March in some areas), movie theaters have been completely shut down and, because of that, a number of movies that were supposed to come out after that were all pushed back. Even now, with theaters tentatively opening back up, it's still hard to know what movies will come out when or if they'll just get pushed back again.
As such, this article is going to be a little different from normal. Instead of listing each film in the order of when they're going to come out in the next two months (since all of these films have very soft release dates), we're just going to list them alphabetically. They may come out, soon; they may not. We're just gonna preview them and see how the chip fall for the rest of this season.
Oh, and yes, one of these is a repeat from the Winter 2020 Movie Preview. We're pulling for you, Mulan, and hope we don't have to list you for a third time in the "Fall 2020 New Movie Preview".
Bill and Ted Face the Music
For a long while Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves, the lead actors from the 1989 comedy classic Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (and it's less stellar sequel Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey) talked about getting the band back together for a third film. Of course, the question was whether the series even needed a third film and, if the guys could get it off the ground, would they be able to find the same charm for the third outing that powered the previous two.
If the first trailer is any indication, the actors still have the magic to sell the characters. The setup for this third movie is pretty similar to the first: Bill and Ted are supposed to write a song that unites the world and spreads peace and joy everywhere. Only, even now, 30 years later, the dudes still haven't done it, and at this point the leaders of the future (the quite literal future) are more than a little upset with the guys. So, to find their mojo and figure out what song they're going to write, Bill and Ted hop into the time traveling phone booth for another crazy adventure.
And that's literally all we know. The movie will feature the guys meeting alternate versions of themselves (in a bit of a nod towards Bogus Journey), and they'll have help from their daughters (continuing the story of their makeshift family), but where exactly they'll go and what they'll do is still a mystery. I don't that's a bad thing, mind you, as I hate it when trailers give away the whole story, but I do wonder just what is going to happen here. Whether they film can recapture the magic of the original is an open question.
It may not be a fair comparison but when I heard a trailer was out for the third movie I was really hoping it would be something fun and zippy like the trailer for the original film. There's a spark in the new trailer but it's not as funny, or subversive, as the original trailer. I'm hoping that's just because all the best stuff is hidden in the movie itself, but it makes me wary. Call me cautiously optimistic, at the very least.
So, my big confession is that I've never seen the original Mulan. It came out at a time where, growing up, I could pick and choose the movies I saw and didn't have to get dragged to whatever the rest of my family was watching (just the right age to stay at home and see what I wanted to see). As such, I skipped out on Mulan and never got around to seeing it over the years. That means that, watching the first trailer, I have no clue how accurate a remake this new version of the film may be. I know some of the recent Disney remakes have been shot-for-shot while others have been willing to deviate some, but how far off the beaten path is this new Mulan going to go and will it make watching this new version better than starting with the old one?
It's a question I'll likely answer by skipping the original and starting here just to see how well this movie stands on its own. From the trailer, though, it looks like it could be a gorgeous movie. The filming and style of the movie looks really lush, something to compete with the painted scenes of the original movie. Plus this one doesn't look to be a musical (thank gods) but something much closer to a wuxia-inspired action movie, which I could be totally down for.
It does seem weird that Disney is co-opting this storytelling style, something intrinsically Chinese, to make an American movie. I mean, it's fitting since this is a story about China, but even still, this smacks of the Disney brand of Imperialism, borrowing characters and cultures the studio doesn't really understand so it can make big money at the Box Office. That's been Disney's way for years, really, so while it's not surprising it still seems... off. Most audiences probably won't care, though, and it's Disney so this film will likely make Billions.
Still, it's something to think about while watching Disney churn through yet another story as it makes hollow retreads of its entire back catalog. Hurray for capitalism!
Here's a film that has suffered from constantly delays, not all of which were the fault of the Coronavirus. This film has been bumping around 20th Century Studios (formerly 20th Century Fox) since before the studio was bought out by Disney. Put on the release schedule, pushed back, retooled, re-filmed, rescheduled, over and over, it's seemed like New Mutants was never going to come out. Hell, for a time it was thought the movie was just going to get dumped on Hulu, but it looks like the film will at least get a (short) release in theaters, at a minimum.
I can sort of understand why the studio has struggled to get this film out. Not only was the last film in the Fox X-MenLaunched in 1963 and written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the X-Men featured heroes distinctly different from those featured in the pages of DC Comics. Mutants who didn't ask for their powers (and very often didn't want them), these heroes, who constantly fought against humans who didn't want "muties" around, served as metaphors for oppression and racism. Their powerful stories would form this group into one of the most recognizable superhero teams in comics (and a successful series of movies as well). franchise a complete disaster (Dark Phoenix, which itself followed the little loved X-Men: Apocalypse), but New Mutants wasn't a classic-style superhero film, instead a kind of horror thriller that just so happened to feature mutants. The studio had hopes for it as a new trilogy, but too much meddling behind the scenes, followed by the Disney buy-out, as all but put the kibosh on that plan.
So what about the movie itself, how good can it be after all this time? Well, if the first (and probably only) trailer is any indication, the film does at least have a perspective on its story. A group of teenage mutants, all with scary superpowers, are brought to a hospital ostensibly to get better. But, from what they can tell (and I'm sure there will be a few twists along the way), they aren't there to get better or to learn to harness and subdue their powers. No, instead, the hospital is more of a prison, a place designed to torture to teens potentially to turn them into weapons the wardens can control. It's hard to say what the exact story of the film is -- are the in a haunted hospital, is it all just mind games, and how much of it is actually real? -- but there's a solid vibe to the trailer that makes it seem like this could at least be one of the better efforts from the franchise.
Ironic, then, that it's also likely to be the last.
Christopher Nolan likes to make twisty, obtuse movies. He might have become famous directing the BatmanOne of the longest running, consistently in-print superheroes ever (matched only by Superman and Wonder Woman), Batman has been a force in entertainment for nearly as long as there's been an entertainment industry. It only makes sense, then that he is also the most regularly adapted, and consistently successful, superhero to grace the Silver Screen. Dark Knight Trilogy, but when you look at the rest of his works -- Memento, The Prestige, Inception -- you see the kinds of movies he really likes to make.
Tenet (which has already been pushed back twice so far due to COVID-19), is right in the director's normal wheelhouse. He director himself is, of course, mum on the details, and all the actors will say is that the film "doesn't involve time travel." But what is actually going on, and what it all means is up in the air. The first and second trailers so far don't really give away much detail about, well, anything... Yes, we learn about some kind of "reversing the flow of time", but how it happens, why, and whether it means most of the film happens in the future or the past... well, that's all up for debate.
See, I've watched enough of Nolan's films to know that nothing is what it seems. If the film tells you that the flow of time is being reversed then I'm sure that's not the big twist. Whatever is going on is deeper, and there will be some big twist that will recontextualize everything you just saw. Nolan is like M. Night Shyamalan in that regard as they both like big twists and writing their stories towards those endings. Arguably, though, Nolan has vastly more skill and talent which is why he's still hailed as a "visionary director" (while Shyamalan is a hack).
The trick is, though, that you can only pull this twisty trick so many times (as Shyamalan learned). You have to keep delivering big stories and bigger twists, time and again, and if you start to lose the thread audiences will tune out. Tenet seems to play to Nolan's strengths, and looks like another big, blockbuster thriller, but whether this is the card that causes his whole house to come tumbling down remains to be seen.
And That's It...
As we noted above, who knows if any of these films will come out in the next two months; for all we know we could be listing all of these again at the start of September (with a bunch of other hopefuls). Only time will tell...