Trailers to upcoming films: Jan-Apr 2015

I usually avoid watching trailers for summer blockbusters as they reveal too much, especially the ‘money shots’ that one would rather see on the big screen for the first time; I still remember the slight letdown seeing the White House blow up in Independence Day because I’d already seen it dozens of times in the trailer. However, I occasionally stumble across a trailer for a movie I hadn’t heard about before or watch the ones for for movies where I know the characters already, but am not too highly invested in the film. I recently came across a bunch of such trailers that did their jobs and got me interested enough to put the movies on my watchlist. Here’s a rundown of 6 trailers to upcoming 2015 films.

Let’s begin with 2 fantasy films.

Cinderella. Releases in March 2015: Disney has started producing big-budget live-action versions of its animated classics and had a pretty good run with Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie earlier this year. Next up is Cinderella, with an A-list cast including Cate Blanchett as the evil step-mother, Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother and 3 actors who are now getting big-screen exposure after appearing on hit TV shows – Lily James plays Cinders, Sophie McShera is the evil step-sister Drizella (Lady Rose and the kitchen maid Daisy respectively from Downton Abbey) and Richard Madden (Robb Stark from Game of Thrones) is Prince Charming. The trailer runs through practically the entire story in 2 minutes! Directed by Shakespearean actor-turned-director Kenneth Brannagh (Thor, 1994’s Frankenstein, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, etc.), the set design and production values are top-class as expected and this promises to be a formulaic but enjoyable movie experience for the whole family.

The Age of Adaline. Releases in April 2015: This movie went through a revolving door of directors before settling on young American Lee Toland Krieger. It’s based on an original screenplay and the movie synopsis reads like this:

“A young woman, born at the turn of 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After years of a solitary life, she meets a man who might be worth losing her immortality”.

The title character Adaline is played by Blake Lively who most people know from TV’s Gossip Girl and some know as the love interest in the flop comic-book adaptation Green Lantern. Adaline falls into the ‘epic romance’ category (which I do not have much interest in) with an immortality spin  (which I am certainly interested in); with veteran thesps Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn adding some dramatic heft and a rich, textured look from cinematographer David Lanzenberg, this Lionsgate release is a movie I think I’ll make time to watch.

This now brings me to 2 period pieces.

Testament of Youth. Releases in early 2015: This film is based on 1933 book of the same name, published by writer and pacifist Vera Brittain detailing her experiences and personal struggles during the early part of the century, including World War I. The movie version has fast-rising Swedish actress Alicia Vikander playing Vera with Kit Harrington (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones) as her fiancée. The trailer does a pretty good job of showcasing Vera’s personal struggles during a time of great national loss and social upheaval. There is a powerhouse supporting cast including Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, Hayley Attwell (Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel movies and TV show) and Dominic West. Watching the trailer, I was reminded me a bit of Richard Attenborough’s 1996 film In Love and War, the story of Ernest Hemingway’s experiences during World War I.

Miss Julie. Festival releases only so far: Here’s another literary adaptation, this time based on an acclaimed 1888 play by famed Swedish playwright August Strindberg. The play has been adapted to film a couple of times before, but this latest version is directed by no less a personage than acting legend Liv Ullmann. It stars Jessica Chastain as the strong-willed count’s daughter and Colin Farrell as the count’s manservant with whom she has a flirtatious but potentially destructive relationship. The film looks stark and beautiful, it’s a rare opportunity to see the outcome when one of the great European actresses gets behind the camera, so although the ending is guaranteed to be tragic (isn’t that true of all Scandinavian stories?), I guess I’ll give this film a go if it ever finds its way here (perhaps at a future European film festival).

And lastly, 2 films on the light-hearted side, based on British literary characters.

Paddington. Releases in Jan 2015: The marmalade-loving, unfailingly polite bear from British children’s literature gets the big-screen CGI treatment in this live-action filming starring Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey) and a virtual who’s who of British acting royalty – Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Sally Hawkins and Imelda Staunton – in either character or voice roles. On top of that, you have Nicole Kidman playing the main baddie Millicent. I suspect the film will be Americanized to pull in dollars from across the Atlantic, but hopefully they will retain the charm of the original material.

Mortdecai. Releases in January 2015: In the 1970s, British author Kyril Bonfiglioli wrote a series of 4 crime thrillers about an art dealer named Charlie Mortdecai who gets into all sorts of interesting adventures along with his manservant Jock. The books have been likened to the works of P.G. Wodehouse in terms of tone and style. Now Johnny Depp is set to add Mortdecai to his long list of quirky on-screen personas. The big budget adventure is directed by David Koepp, the man who has written the screenplays for iconic action films like Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man; actually he is a strange choice for a film that requires significant skill in comedy. Nevertheless, one can assume that Mr. Depp will produce yet another memorable performance and Lionsgate will be hoping that they can churn out a trilogy of these movies if this one clicks.

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