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Friday, 12 December 2014

Jurassic World, Star War Episode VII and Terminator Genisys Trailer First thoughts

Over the last few weeks the trailers for the new film in three of my favorite film franchises have released their new trailers. The Park was Opened in Jurassic World, there was an awakening in Star Wars Episode VII and Arnie kept his promise and came back in Terminator Genisys. With how quickly the three trailers were released in such a short amount of time I have decided to give my thoughts about the three films. Starting with the one that was first released: Jurassic World.

Jurassic World
Ever since I was a child I was hoping that there would be another film in the Jurassic Park franchise and finally it arrived. I must admit I was blown away by the trailer. With the unfortunate passing of Stan Winston of 2008 when I first found out about the official announcement for a fourth film I was hesitant about whether the film would rely on CGI or a mixture of CGI and animatronics. Again I was hesitant when they announced that it would be solely CGI as the previous films had Stan Winston working on it blending the CGI and animatronics to make it actually feel that the dinosaurs were realistic. Some films which created dinosaurs entirely through CGI, such as Land of the Lost and Journey to the Center of the Earth, did not look real and felt that I was watching a Turok cutscene. Then when it was announced that Legendary was working on the film my hopes lifted as Legendary has a good track record with CGI such as with Pacific Rim, Godzilla and Trick 'R Treat it looked realistic. From what we've seen of the trailer it seems that Legendary has kept up this standard although the trailer is hardly five minutes in length so there maybe a dip in quality in the rest of the film but this might unlikely.

In regards to plot I am tied. With the characters I am extremely fearful that the writers could easily go into stereotypes or copying past characters like Chris Pratt becoming a new Robert Muldoon and Bryce Dallas Howard becoming a new Henry Wu, (ironically appearing in the film). With Jurassic World being the first big film that the writers have done it could easily fall into this trap. Also the idea about the park creating a genetically engineered dinosaur that escapes again could quickly descend into a rehash of the original. This does not necessarily mean though that Jurassic World will be exactly Jurassic Park but with more extras. Looking at Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Terminator there a quite a few similarities; both feature Skynet sending a highly advanced Terminator back in time to kill someone important so John Connor has to send someone to stop them where the Terminator meets its demise in an industrial plant. We love both films and many people, (including myself), prefer the sequel. Even looking at Star Wars and Return of the Jedi there are similarities with Luke going to save a main character with Chewbacca, he seeks spiritual advise from a Jedi Master who then dies and as the Rebel Alliance goes to destroy the Death Star Luke faces Darth Vader in combat, (supplementing an X-Wing for lightsabers). The point I'm trying to make is that just because the plots could be similar does not mean that the film will be just repetitive, (i.e. the Friday the 13th films), but of course the film could quickly become repetitive.

Finally I want to talk about the dinosaurs. When the hybrid was first announced, Diablos Rex, I was not looking forward to it but after a while I warmed to it. Tyrannosaurus was the main carnivore in the first two films and Spinosaurus the third and for years I wondered what the dinosaur would be for a possible fourth film. A hybrid carnivore would then be a natural choice with the largest carnivore dinosaur, Spinosaurus, already being used and from the trailer it looks to be a promising predator. What I am not looking forward to is the lack of feathered dinosaurs. Fossil evidence over the last twenty years have provided strong evidence, (and in some cases proof), that the bipedal dinosaurs like Gallimimus, (the flocking dinosaur from Jurassic Park), Velociraptor and even Tyrannosaurus was feathered. This group of dinosaurs, the therapods, evolved into birds as well. The trailer has shown a distinct lack of feathered dinosaurs on the raptors and Gallimimus which has severely disappointed me. I excepted the Tyrannosaurus to still be scaly but I thought it was a missed opportunity to make other dinosaurs feathered and already has created controversy among paleontologists.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
 This is the film that I've wanted to talk about the most. I am a massive Star Wars fan and have been wondering about how episode VII and the following films will fit into the Star Wars universe. From the age of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fischer I guessed that it must be years after events that transpired in the Star Wars comics such as the fledgling New Republic fighting the remains of the Empire led by General Thrawn, (pictured below), the clone of Darth Sidious returning and the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, where an alien race invaded from outside the galaxy and ended up causing the death of Admiral Akbar and Chewbacca.
General Thrawn as depicted in the comics
Although Peter Mayhew is again slated to play Chewbacca so it may be before the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Also I am talking about it as if the movie will ensure that everything will be canon but the new film could easily disregard the entire expanded universe, something that I do not believe will happen seen as how George Lucas regularly classfies everything in the expanded universe in the official canon. With J.J. Abrams Directing and writing the screenplay I feel that he will take into consideration the expanded universe. I also quite like how our heroes are fighting the Empire again which could be a possible way to further connect it to the original trilogy instead of the prequel trilogy. The thing I am most looking forward to though is the new Sith with the cross shaped lightsaber. Before the two other spikes came out I quickly tried to guess who the Sith could be but as soon as the lightsaber was fully revealed it became obvious that this is a new Sith. Whether this new Sith is a Lord or not is something yet to be answered but my friends and I have guessed so far that this is a masterless Sith. I must admit I really like the design of the new lightsaber and actually prefer the aesthetics of the new saber compared to my previous favorite lightsaber, that of Darth Maul's. The mysterious narrator though I believe could be a new Sith Lord, possibly being the clone of Darth Sidious?

The amount of screen time Fischer, Ford and Hamill has garnered controversy over the internet. Some people believing that they should have as much time as they did in the original trilogy while others having around half the film. Personally I would like to see them having half the screen time as it would be seen as handing the baton as it were to the next generation. I grew up watching them in the original trilogy and the only film that I managed to see in the cinema, (due to my age), I was hoping that they would have a small cameo. With them actually being in the new film I want to see them interact with the new actors and see a new generation take up the position as main characters. Of course the new actors will never be able to replace the originals. The new actors, such as John Boyega, do look promising and when watching the trailer I was trying to figure out whether Boyega was a stormtrooper or a spy for the New Republic. I have a feeling that with such a massive legacy to continue they will step up to the mark; saying that though Hayden Christian definitely did not step up and in Episode I Natalie Portman, (by Episode III though her acting had considerable more effort in my own opinion). I am hoping though that the best actor in the prequel trilogy, Ewan McGregor, could have an appearance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in spirit form.

With Episode VII I want to talk about the elephant in the room. It is plain to see that it is CGI heavy. I prefer practical effects and the original trilogy effects are the best if not one of the best until the infusion with CGI in the 1990s, (possibly only the Alien series and The Terminator challenging it). The effects in Episode I and II were like looking at video game cutscenes and it seemed more stale compared to the original trilogy. I like the idea that someone had painstakingly made the Rancor puppet and brought it to life frame-by-frame in stock motion, that someone had made a 6 ft high Taunton that the actors could ride on and that Yoda wasn't pixels on a computer but an actual thing that someone could act with. I feel that the acting of Hamill, Fischer and Ford was better than that of Christianson, Portman and McGregor because they could interact with something. The CGI however looks quite professional and I just love the scene when the Millennium Falcon gets in a dogfight with the TIE Fighters which made me feel like a child again. Even the scene with the X-Wings flying over the water on Tatooine looked impressive. Of course I am sure the people who saw the Episode I trailer felt the same way as I do now and it is an eerie reminder; the film may look exciting an impressive but we might be heavily disappointed.

Terminator Genisys
He's Back. I cannot begin to describe how much I love Terminator and from the look of the film they are definitely trying to distance themselves from the two bad films, Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation, and instead focus on the two good ones, The Terminator and Terminator 2. With Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII it is easier to try and guess some form of plot but the creators have taken a leaf out of the X-Men franchise's book by doing a sequel/reboot. I am looking forward to seeing a battle between the elderly T-800, again played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the new T-1000 played by Byung-hun Lee. From the trailer it seems that he is just as menacing as Robert Patrick as the T-1000 but with how short the trailer is and the brief glimpses we have of the T-1000 may give us a false view of the T-1000. One thing is certain though is Emilia Clarke's performance as Sarah Connor. She is a good actress as shown in Game of Thrones with her playing the headstrong Danaerys Targaryen and she seems to be the perfect person to take over from Linda Hamilton. Jai Courtney could be good as Kyle Reese although we could easily be proved wrong. I am looking forward to see the Doctor himself Matt Smith appearing in the film.

I've tried to grasp the plot so far and they've left some subtle hints. With the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has not dyed his hair showing his age has hinted that possibly this T-800 has been guarding Sarah Connor for a while and the fact that she says 'Come with me if you want to live' could indicate that she may have had to fight. With SkyNet sending a T-1000 could also show that they may have sent Terminators into the past that have failed to assassinate Sarah Connor. John Connor seems to be much more of a leader figure from the trailer compared to Terminator: Salvation. He seems to encourage Kyle Reese and show his optimism which makes sense as he is literally the figure that humanity has rallied behind. In Salvation all that he seemed to do was talk in a gruff voice, get ignored, be thrown around a lab by a CGI Arnie and have an offscreen rant at the lighting controller. He also is visibly scarred which could indicate that he is an actual fighter and actually deserves the moniker of humanity's savior. The film also seems to bypass and ignore the events of 2, 3 and Salvation although it seems that they've blended The Terminator and Terminator 2 into one. To be honest I think we all would like to bypass 3 and Salvation.

For the third time I'm going to talk about CGI. Like with Jurassic Park Stan Winston worked on the special effects in every Terminator film which made the effects seem so much more believable, (Terminator 2 has some of the best CGI in my opinion). With his unfortunate passing the makers seem to have abandoned the practical effects which does disappoint me, despite how bad they are 3 and Salvation do have very good effects. The effects though do look good and to save myself from being repetitive my opinions of the special effects are the same as what I said in Jurassic World and Star Wars.

Final Point- Something that I've noticed about all three movies is how they've: all abandoned practical effects for seemingly good CGI and gone back to their roots. With CGI getting better it makes sense but the going back to their roots seems to make amends for the poorer films. Although easily not the best films in the series I honestly do like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III, Star War Episode I,II and III. With the Jurassic Park films this may be due to nostalgia but I do like the prequel trilogy, definitely not as much as I like the original trilogy, and bar Hayden Christianson and the romance dialogue I can't see much wrong with Episode III, (again this may be through nostalgia being the only one that I saw in cinema at a young age). Episode I and II however has one or two or fifty-eight things which they could have improved on...each. The new films could actually be bad as well. When I saw the Terminator: Salvation trailer I was excited for it: it was dark, gritty, made it seem like a true fight for survival to a song by a band that I like, (Nine Inch Nails), but when I saw it I hated it. The same could be said for The Wolverine where they completely missed the mark of my favorite Wolverine storyline, Iron Man 3 was to bring an action packed film with a gritty re-imagining of one of Marvel's best villains and made a mockery of it and the less said about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the better. People have even refused to watch the Episode VII trailer for this reason. However we must remember: they can be good. When I first saw the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer I thought it would be good and now its one of my favorite comic adaptations and I've looked at films before thinking it would be bad and actually really liked them. I instantly thought The LEGO Movie would be terrible but now its one of my favorite films. We cannot know if they will be good but we can hope that they will be.

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