Episode 176: 2019 SDCC Reactions

It’s a non-traditional episode this week for us as we forego a film discussion in favor of sharing our reactions to movie and television trailers as well as news that came out of last week’s 2019 San Diego Comic-Con International. Learn about what’s coming and what will be worth our time and why.

Movie Trailers – 0:04:20

TV Trailers -0:24:36

Other News – 0:55:01

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What We Learned This Week: July 14-20

LESSON #1: WE NEED TO REMEMBER TO THANK THE SPACE AGE FOR THE SCIENCE FICTION WE ENJOY TODAY— I’ll lead with the recommendations instead of end with them this week.  July 20th marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, causing many of us to nostalgically appreciate the wonder of that monumental history.  It was actualized science fiction that has only gone on the inspire even more since. We owe those pioneers a little thank you every time we watch a space movie made after 1969.  First, educate yourself with the sharp documentary chronicle Apollo 11 from earlier this year.  After that, go dreamy with more movies made before and after 1969 that gaze upon or point towards our celestial neighbor.  These lists from Vox and DVD.com are perfect.  

LESSON #2: YOUR BUZZ REFILL COMES THIS WEEKEND— Speaking of this third weekend of July, San Diego hosts its annual Comic-Con.  Expect some outstanding trailers like the ones that have already dropped for Top Gun: Maverick, Cats, and It: Chapter 2Disney/Marvel returns to Hall H after a year of radio silence to sell the post-Infinity War dire straits.  Be ready for a windfall of announcements in many directions between Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the quickly-approaching trilogy caper Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, new previews and details on the Disney+ service, and likely a whole bunch more.  Expect ballsy surprises and the other studios (WB and more) trying to resume their own chase of Mouse House.

LESSON #3: THE MOVIE OF THE SUMMER THAT WILL MAINTAIN A 100% ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE ISN’T RUN BY DISNEY— You all know I’ve seen the vitriol possible when something big and popular gets criticized.  Folks, you can keep all the supposed and righteous universal love due for Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, and The Lion King.  The most endearing and impenetrable movie this summer is going to be The Farewell.  Whoever writes that excellent movie a negative review (and it wasn’t me this time) is going to have more explaining to do than some “douche nozzle” from Chicago who gave a low grade to Buzz and Woody.  Lulu Wang’s bracing dramedy of love and loss within family circles is the movie that deserves a three-digit crown of vine-ripened internet fruit.

LESSON #4: HAVING THE RIGHT DOESN’T MAKE YOU RIGHT— Somebody needs to offer their superior publicist and image consultant services to Scarlett Johansson.  A year ago, she wisely backed out of playing a transgender character after pushback and course correction from the studio.  It didn’t sink in. Scarlett doubled-down recently in an interview saying “As an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.” Yes and no, Ms. Johansson and it might be as easy as swapping “should” with “could” instead.  A hard maybe is all she, or any star, should get. We have reached a societal marketplace in entertainment where the strives for fair representation matter and a big star isn’t getting it. It’s ugly when this news has to follow and sour good news like Lashana Lynch gaining a callsign title for Bond 25.

LESSON #5: ONE MORE TIME, WITH FEELING, IT’S TIME FOR CONSUMERS TO BE REFLECTIVE AND FAIR— This final lesson of the week is a callback to a January “Soapbox Special” edition of “What We Learned This Week” and it goes back even deeper. The person of interest (or elephant in the room) that brings this one back is Kevin Spacey.  News broke this week that the felony sexual assault charges against the Academy Award-winning actor were dropped this week after some nefarious measures with evidence came to light from the accuser’s side.  We all know “not guilty” in the court of public opinion is different than the same label in the court of law.  More wrongs or truths may still hover, but Kevin Spacey has a clearer name than he did last week.  That said, I bring back the bullet points of that Soapbox lesson and ask that those be applied to Spacey:

1) What’s the proper waiting period between allegations and actual guilt?  MY ANSWER REMAINS: When it gets its day in court and no less that that.  The gavel has sounded the man is free to go.  That’s the judgment that matters.

2) What amount of contrition or correction is necessary in order for people to continue their careers?  MY ANSWER REMAINS: That’s up to each case and each consumer, but the amount can’t be zero.  Spacey has made statements of contrition and, other than an odd YouTube video which probably went a little overboard, he has stayed respectfully away from spotlights.

3) What are these people allowed to do with their rest of their careers? MY ANSWER REMAINS: Anything they want or anything a boss wants to hire to run their business.  Simply put, Kevin Spacey, for the moment, is clear and deserves a chance to be a professional again.  He comes with risk, certainly, but I’ve never been a boycott list-maker (that’s a whole other “Soapbox” from days past) and I will welcome seeing him work again.  Kevin will be an interesting reclamation case to follow in the coming years.

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. His movie review work is also published on 25YL (25 Years Later) and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over two years, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the previous “Connecting with Classics” podcasts.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.  (#108)

What We Learned This Week: July 16-22

LESSON #1:  WALT DISNEY DISNEY STUDIOS IS GOING TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY— I’ve mentioned in this column in the past about how Disney’s multibillion dollar purchases of Marvel Comics and LucasFilm look like bargains.  Throw in their cushy partnership of Pixar and Disney is stocked like Tom Brady’s mansion.  Their 2017-2019 release calendar (see image below) is absolutely loaded with popular content and a wealth of merchandising tie-ins.  Just move Fort Knox to Orlando or Anaheim already.

LESSON #2: DISNEY IS MISSING OUT ON ORIGINAL CONTENT— Looking at that slate of future cash cows, there is one “BUT” or one orange flag.  Where is the original content that used to make Disney great?  Where are the live-action works like Queen of Katwe?  Seventeen of the 21 films on that list are sequels, reboots, or parts of existing franchises.  That number goes up to 18-of-22 you include Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin.   I get that they sell, but sequels can bomb and even the perfection that is Pixar has been burned by them.  Other than Coco and A Wrinkle in Time, I don’t see Disney learning that lesson.

LESSON #3: DISNEY’S D23 FAN CLUB CONVENTION WILL REPLACE THEIR SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON PARTICIPATION— Speaking of making waves and making money, this lesson is more a prediction of something I think will come to pass very soon.  With their annual D23 convention, Disney has their own stage to showcase their own products without the competition or sharing that comes from Hall H in San Diego.  They also have full control and get every dime that comes from that event.  To quote Field of Dreams, “if you build it, he will come.”  Disney has the products people want to see and, thanks to their theme parks, they know people will pay to travel across the country to interact with them.  They have their own thing with 100% profit.  They don’t need San Diego anymore.

LESSON #4: REMOVE THE RACE LABELS FROM MOVIES— A film with predominantly black performers isn’t a “black film.”  It’s “a film” the same way you, I, or we would say for a film with white performers.  The caveat is when the film is in another language than English.  Then you can use the adjective “foreign” or “foreign language” film.  To use a race label in 2017 is embarrassing and more than borderline cultural segregation.  For a side-by-side comparison on this point, look at this summer’s earlier Rough Night and the new Girls Trip opening this weekend and how they are perceived and ultimately marketed.  My favorite line from the linked article from The Outline is “if it feels unfairly reductive to categorize movies as ‘white’ or ‘black,’ that’s because it is.”  Start removing these labels from your vernacular.

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.