Searching

Similar to last week’s Unfriended sequel, this is another film that takes place entirely using screens (computer, phone, etc.) It looks a bit like Gone Girl as well, with a missing person case being blamed on the character that we spend the most time with and who seems the most concerned with finding the person. This trailer seems to focus more on how eerie this scenario could be, with images and words repeating across the screen while a discordant sound plays. I think the story would be more interesting as a mystery than a thriller (which is what the first trailer seemed to suggest). That said, Cho appears to be doing good work here and it has a fair amount of good buzz attached to it, so we’ll have to see what becomes of this one.

Creed II

I loved the first Creed. It was a movie that got me out of my seat on two occasions in the final boxing match, and the creative force of Ryan Coogler’s script and his work behind the camera made it a worthy addition to a storied franchise. Coogler was busy with Black Panther during the production of this film, so he’s out as director (relative newcomer Steven Caple Jr. takes over there) and writer (Luke Cage‘s Cheo Hodari Coker and Sylvester Stallone take over there) and Coogler’s absence is felt here. Almost every line of dialogue feels trite and the imagery, which at times can be striking (Michael B. Jordan channeling Muhammad Ali in the pool stands out) doesn’t feel like anything news. Even the reveal of the fact that Creed is fighting Ivan Drago’s kid is handled somewhat clumsily, with him just kind of turning around and the name being somewhat off-center. The use of Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” is really the only thing that feels truly awesome here, and after the wonder of Coogler’s original, is a disappointment.

Welcome to Marwen

This certainly looks memorable. Based on a true story (which has a documentary), the movie follows Steve Carell’s Mark Hogancamp, who, after being attacked outside of a bar, processes his pain and amnesia by building a model of a World War II village. Carrel has shown himself to be a very good dramatic performance, and the cast around him is a bunch of strong actresses (This IS 40’s Leslie Mann, Emmy-Winner Merrit Wever, Moonlight/Hidden Figures/music’s Janelle Monae, Baby Driver‘s Eliza Gonzalez, Game of Thrones‘ Gwendoline Christie), and with Robert Zemeckis handling the story and direction, it has a lot going for it. But it also has some really weird Uncanny Valley (let Judah Friedlander tell it to you in Star Wars, I’m sorry it’s just a transcript I can’t find the video) stuff going on with the figurines, and it’ll be a tricky balance to strike. But this trailer certainly grabbed my attention.

Blaze

The trailer for Ethan Hawke’s directorial debut does very little for me. This appears to be a run of the mill music biopic about a musician I know nothing about with a lead performer I also know nothing about. The story they sell here doesn’t seem to suggest anything of particular interest either. I don’t know. I really just don’t have much to say about this one.

The Equalizer 2

I never saw the first one of these movies, but from what I understand, it’s stylishly shot by Antoine Fuqua, focuses more on exciting violence than having anything meaningful to say, and its anchored by a strong and entertaining lead performance by Denzel Washington. That appears to be exactly what this movie is. Which honestly might be just enough to make it a worthwhile watch.

The Hate U Give

Based on the award-winning book of the same name, George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr Carter (played by The Hunger Games’ Amandla Stenberg), a high schooler who balances her life in a poor, black neighborhood alongside the rich, white prep school that she attends, as we see that balance come under fire after she witnesses the death of her friend, who is fatally shot by a police officer. This is an important story that needs to be told and I hope that Tillman’s direction and Audrey Wells’s adaptation of Angie Thomas’s book can tell the story in an effective way. Stenberg did some really good work as a pre-teen during The Hunger Games, and even though I have not seen her in any of her other films since, she looks to be delivering a very strong performance in this movie. This doesn’t look like it will be an easy watch, with the tension between protesters and police calling back to images we’ve seen in our country over the last several years, but if done right, that difficult can lead to some important meaningful conversation, one that has gone away in the face of many other important conversations.

Ranking and Summaries

  1. The Hate U Give- An important story that deserves to be told, this film looks anchored by a strong lead performance that is hopefully further supported through strong direction and a worthy adaptation of an award-winning book.
  2. Creed II- Saved by an incredible soundtrack and the promise of another strong performance from Michael B. Jordan, the follow-up to one of my favorite films from 2015 seems to really be feeling the loss of Ryan Coogler’s script and direction.
  3. Welcome To Marwen- If the film can recover from a rather staggering case of Uncanny Valley, this could end up being a fun movie that still takes a serious look at the ways that people handle trauma.
  4. The Equalizer 2- It sells what it wants to sell, which is Denzel Washington taking out bad guys while giving a Denzel Washington performance, which should be enough to keep a bland story watchable.
  5. Searching- Focusing more on the eerieness instead of the mystery, the second trailer for this John Cho-led, technology-based story ratchets up the tension from the first trailer, which may have been a bad choice.
  6. Blaze- I already kind of forgot about this movie, so that’s hardly inspiring.
Photo Credit
Cover Photo https://ewedit.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/the-hate-u-give.jpg

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