Trailer roundup: Ninja Assassin, Whiteout, and Alice in Wonderland
I’m not sure if it’s because Comic-Con is underway in San Diego (which got co-opted by Hollywood some years ago as a big movie press event at which some people will also maybe talk about comics), but some new trailers hit the Internets this week. One of these movies I’m pretty excited about seeing, another I’m sort of on the fence about, and the last one I’ll probably pass on (but it will also be the biggest release of the three by far).
First up is Ninja Assassin, the new film by V for Vendetta director James McTeigue and produced by Matrix brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski. It stars Korean pop star Rain (who also had a fairly big role in the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer, which isn’t nearly as bad as everyone says it is) as, well, a ninja assassin. The film is set in the modern day, which I guess is pretty cool; I’ve seen lots of Japanese ninja movies set in the feudal era, so the added element of guns and cars sort of sets it apart. McTeigue’s directorial authority was questioned when V for Vendetta was released – it was his first movie as director after assistant director duties for the Wachowskis on the Matrix movies, and the rumor was that the brothers did some of the directing themselves, and similar surrounds Ninja Assassin – but V was pretty good, and held the pre-Watchmen standard of being the best movie adaptation of an Alan Moore comic up to that point, so if that’s McTeigue’s “formula,” I have no problem with it. Judging a movie by a trailer is always a dubious proposition (remember how cool those Eagle Eye trailers were?), but the trailer for Ninja Assassin looks like it could be a pretty fun time at the movies, at least for a ninja lover like myself. I look forward to seeing more footage from this one before it’s released on November 24.
Next is Whiteout, a movie I’ve been reading about for years. It’s based on a graphic novel that I quite like, about a female U.S. marshal investigating a murder at a research base in Antarctica. My big problem with the movie adaptation is that in the book, author Greg Rucka and artist Steve Lieber make a point of showing that the heroine, Carrie Stetko, is a regular-looking woman (though for the bearded researchers who’ve been toiling alone in the cold for months on end, she’s a stone-cold fox), and that very non-Hollywood approach really works in the book’s favor. But for the movie they cast arguably the most cartoonishly attractive actress on the planet, Kate Beckinsdale, as Stetko. Now certainly I’m a bit naïve if I thought Hollywood would ever miss an opportunity to cast a beautiful woman in something, but part of me just can’t get past Beckinsdale in the lead; it sort of misses the entire point. Anyway, that doesn’t mean that Whiteout won’t be good, but what I recall of the book (I haven’t read it in a few years, but I remember liking it) had more to do with the characters and the writing than the plot twists being mind-blowing. I’m sort of afraid this will just be a generic thriller, with the Antarctica angle just being a gimmick. Who knows though;I guess we'll find out in September.
Finally, there’s finally a trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, which is apparently in 3D (did they pass a law I didn’t hear about mandating that all children’s movies MUST be in 3D from now on?). Burton used to be one of my favorite directors (his original Batman, my favorite movie for many, many years, is still a classic in my estimation, and Michael Keaton will always be the real Batman to me), but it feels like he’s sort of in a place now where his work all feels “quirky” in an unfortunately same-y way, like he’s making movies by checklist. (Goth trappings? Check. Johnny Depp in white makeup? Check. Black-and-white stripes everywhere? Check.) I’ve never been a big Alice In Wonderland fan, and kids’ movies (however “quirky”) aren’t really my bag, so I’m pretty cool on this one. But it’s Disney, and it’s 3D, and it’s Johnny Depp, so I’m sure a lot of people will go to see this. Enjoy. Personally I’d rather wait to see if Burton’s got anything in him isn’t just a visual retread of either Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice or both.