I emerged from last night’s Sony Pictures Cinemacon presentation with two positive impressions — one, Denis Villeneuve‘s Blade Runner 2049 (10.6) is going to be a wowser noir sink-in and a serious visual knockout, and two, Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman knows from catchy punchlines — “Netflix, my ass” and “cool as shit.”
Rothman was referring to the Blade Runner 2049 footage, which is cool as shit, but also his presumedly fervent belief that Sony/Columbia/Tristar is in the real audience-pleasing, whoo-whoo movie business — delivering that rock ’em, knock ’em flat stuff like the greatest show on earth. Well, yeah, to some extent it is, okay, but in other ways, it isn’t. At all. But more of that in my “Letter to Mitch” piece that follows.
The rest of the presentation…ehhh, not bad, “diverting”, yeah yeah, whatever.
Wait, I take that partly back: the promo for Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver (Sony, 6.28), which kicked things off, got me going also to some extent. The sardonic action comedy fared pretty well at South by Southwest, as we all know. Director Edgar Wright (who is really short — I hadn’t realized that until last night) and costars Ansel Elgort and Jon Hamm showed up on the Collisseum stage. Good stuff.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony, 7.7)….please. We’re supposed to be excited because 20 year-old Tom Holland, the third and latest Spider-Man, is front and center? That’s what Marvel president Kevin Feige was saying last night. Holland is the keeper of the golden fleece because he stole Captain America: Civil War, or words to that effect. On top of which Homecoming is set entirely within Peter Parker’s high-school realm, Feige added. It looked like the same old Marvel jazz to me. The endlessly glib Robert Downey, Jr.…again. We saw the first footage of Michael Keaton’s Vulture villain….meh.
Footage of Nikolaj Arcel, Stephen King and Akiva Goldsman‘s The Dark Tower persuaded me that it’s basically another simplistic, CG-driven dreamscape action fantasy…more big-delivery jizz-whizz with Idris Elba as the heroic, gun-blasting Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as bad-guy sorcerer Walter Padick and Tom Taylor as an 11 year-old kid who bonds with Deschain as they face various dangers…zzzzz.
Before showing the Blade Runner 2049 footage, Rothman asked, “Where were you on June 25, 1982?” I’ll tell you where I was a week earlier. I was catching a Blade Runner all-media screening at the Criterion Center (B’way and 44th) and asking myself, “What’s with Harrison Ford‘s stupid-sounding narration? His delivery should sound noirish — raspy, cranky and gunky like Martin Sheen‘s in Apocalypse Now. Instead he sounds like he’s announcing the winners of a Bingo game in Markesan, Wisconsin. Ford later explained that he deliberately read the narration without any edge or coolness so they wouldn’t use it — they used it anyway.
Blade Runner 2049 star Ryan Gosling, sharing the stage with Rothman, mentioned that Las Vegas of 2049 is one of the settings, and that walking around the set of this realm in Budapest was a trip. “It was so surreal to be walking around in the Blade Runner universe,” he said. “It was a fully functioning, living and breathing world.”
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony, 12.22) looks like a lot of silly CG fun, but the fact that it was directed by Jake Kasdan (Sex Tape, Bad Teacher, Walk Hard) tells you that’s all it’s going to be. On top of which I’ve come to believe that anything starring Dwayne Johnson is going to be shallow as shit. The Jumanji costars are Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas (another short guy…pick him to say hello) and Karen Gillian.
Black sang a lampoonish version of what the movie’s title song might be — it sounded exactly like the satirical anthem that he sang in Cannes a few years ago for Shark Tale.
Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Emoji Movie, The Star, Peter Rabbit…don’t show me this stuff. A horror flick called Cadaver, a Taraji P. Henson action vehicle called Proud Mary in which she plays a sexy, cool-as-shit assassin, and a Flatliners remake with Ellen Page and Diego Luna…no thanks!