Heroes, Scoundrels and an Earful of Abba
Posted December 31, 2017 5:03 p.m. EST
A look at new and notable trailers that recently hit screens.
— ‘Ready Player One’
Several times in Steven Spielberg’s prolific career, he’s released two films within a few months, like “Jurassic Park” in June 1993 and “Schindler’s List” that December. Up to this point, the less weighty movie (“War of the Worlds,” “The Adventures of Tintin”) has always come out first, followed by a more serious Oscar contender (“Munich,” “War Horse”).
Now he’s reversing the pattern: His Pentagon Papers docudrama, “The Post,” is seeking awards consideration with a Dec. 25 release, and his follow-up, “Ready Player One,” caters to the video game crowd three months later.
After putting out a teaser in July that was short on plot details, Warner Bros. has released a second trailer for “Ready Player One,” an adaptation of the Ernest Cline novel, and this promo spells out the storyline more clearly. In a dystopian future, an Ohio gamer, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), searches a virtual-reality universe known as the Oasis for an Easter egg left by the realm’s late creator (Mark Rylance, who also worked with Spielberg on “Bridge of Spies” and “The BFG”). The person who finds it wins $500 billion and control of the Oasis. The villain-for-hire Ben Mendelsohn (“Rogue One”) plays a corporate overlord determined to stop Wade.
Though the story is futuristic, the trailer has a retro feel, with Van Halen’s 1984 anthem “Jump” playing under images that seemingly pay homage to pop-culture relics like “Back to the Future,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Tron.”
“Ready Player One” opens on March 30.
— ‘The 15:17 to Paris’
In 2016, director Clint Eastwood dramatized the story of an airline pilot who saved a planeload of passengers in “Sully,” and now he’s recreating another real-life onboard rescue in “The 15:17 to Paris.” But while he cast one of the world’s biggest movie stars, Tom Hanks, as the pilot, this time the filmmaker enlisted the actual Americans who thwarted a 2015 terrorist attack on a European train to play themselves: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone.
The newly released trailer for the drama, based on the book by the three men (with Jeffrey E. Stern), features scenes of their friendship, their childhood and the European trip that brought them international renown. While the men had no professional acting experience, Skarlatos did make it to the finals of “Dancing With the Stars” shortly after the incident.
Eastwood has surrounded the neophytes with seasoned pros, and the trailer includes Jenna Fischer (“The Office”) and Judy Greer (“The Descendants”) as the mothers of Skarlatos and Stone. The major draw is the director, who scored the biggest hit of his career with “American Sniper” (2014), which grossed $350 million in North America alone.
“The 15:17 to Paris” targets a similarly broad audience with the populist tagline “In the face of fear, ordinary people can do the extraordinary.” Warner Bros. will release the film in theaters on Feb. 9.
— ‘Ocean’s 8’
Who needs George Clooney? The heist-thriller franchise he started with “Ocean’s Eleven” in 2001 gets a new face with “Ocean’s 8,” starring Sandra Bullock and seven other women.
She plays Debbie Ocean, the freshly paroled sister of Danny Ocean, Clooney’s thief from the earlier films. Continuing in the family business, she assembles a team of criminals to steal a necklace worth more than $100 million from a celebrity (Anne Hathaway) at the annual Met Gala in New York.
The trailer introduces her crew, including a jewelry expert (Mindy Kaling) who lives with her mother; a pickpocket (Awkwafina); a suburban mom (Sarah Paulson); and a pool shark named Nine Ball (Rihanna), whose real name is Eight Ball. Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter play other accomplices.
While Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy’s update of “Ghostbusters” met with a sexist online backlash in 2016, the current climate could be more favorable for a female-empowerment reboot of the “Ocean’s” movies. The trailer is underscored with a remix of Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 feminist anthem “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”
Bullock’s last nonanimated hit was the 2013 outer-space drama “Gravity,” co-starring Clooney. The new movie, written by its director, Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games”) with Olivia Milch, opens on June 8.
— ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’
“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.” Some critics may be saying the same thing, but the original “Mamma Mia,” despite mixed reviews, became the highest-grossing movie musical ever when it was released in 2008, pulling in more than $600 million worldwide. A decade later, along comes a sequel, and the first trailer has just been released.
Or should we say prequel? The new film, again set on a Greek island and featuring hits by Swedish pop group Abba, flashes back to the early days of Donna, now played by both Meryl Streep (reprising her original role) and “Cinderella” and “Downton Abbey” star Lily James as the younger version. Other returning cast members include Amanda Seyfried as Donna’s daughter, Sophie; and Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard as Sophie’s possible fathers.
The most famous newcomer is Cher, who plays Donna’s mother and makes a typically dramatic entrance at the end of the trailer. That pop diva also co-starred with Streep in the 1983 drama “Silkwood,” but don’t expect them to share many scenes together this time: Cher (who is three years older than Streep) apparently appears only in the flashbacks.
Dancing queens, take note: “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” hits theaters on July 20.