[Update 11pm: I was in such a rush to get to the Blinded by the Light screening that, naturally, I forgot to mention Blinded by the Light! The trailer was good, but the movie was great! Can’t say much more, and besides, you knew that already. Keep reading!]
Warner Bros. doesn’t call its own annual CinemaCon presentation “The Big Picture” for nothing. Perhaps feeling the heat from box office behemoth Disney, the studio brought out the big guns this year, from DC movies like Joker, Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 to Godzilla: King of the Monsters. But some would say the studio saved the best for last when director Andy Muschietti took the stage carrying a raft of red balloons to introduce the first footage from It: Chapter Two.
The footage opens with Jessica Chastain‘s adult Beverly visiting her old childhood home, where its new resident, an old woman named Mrs. Kersh, warns her that “no one who dies here [in Derry] ever really dies.” In case you’ve never seen a movie before, spoiler alert — she’s another form of Pennywise, and as The Shining taught us, there’s nothing scarier than a naked old lady who wants to kill you. It’s a pretty effective sequence overall, but more for everything it hints at but doesn’t actually show you, knowing full well that nothing on screen can possibly compete with the horror brewing within our own imaginations.
After that we got our first look at The Losers Club, which is all grown up in the sequel. Bill Hader and James McAvoy are the most prominently featured members, though at this point, those creepy red balloons should get an agent, because they deserve residuals given their abundance of screen time. We caught a quick glimpse of the scene Muschietti has been teasing in interviews, one that features the most fake blood ever used on a movie before. The trailer ends with one, final word from Bill Skarsgård‘s demonic clown: “Hello.” I have to say, I wanted a little more from the Chapter Two presentation, as I thought the initial trailer for the first film was far more memorable. And remember that I wasn’t a huge fan of Chapter One, so I approached the sequel with a more skeptical eye. We’ll see if It: Chapter Two surpasses its record-setting predecessor when it hits theaters on Sept. 6. Bring a raincoat and maybe you’ll float too!
What looked even better, in my humble opinion, was Doctor Sleep, which is based on Stephen King‘s sequel to The Shining. Ewan McGregor stars as an adult Danny Torrance, and the film will explore how he deals with his ability to “shine.” Director Mike Flanagan said that when he “found out that Stephen King was going to be publishing a sequel to The Shining, I lost my mind. Doctor Sleep is the continuation of the story of Danny Torrance, and if Danny is going to be back on a movie screen, then I’ve got to be there.” We only saw a few snippets of footage, but they included some creepy moments, including a girl walking with a syringe behind her back and the iconic word “Redrum” scratched into a mirror. The trailer ends with the music from The Shining playing as the title card is revealed.
Of course, Warner Bros. has far more horror to offer beyond Stephen King adaptations. The studio also screened footage from The Curse of La Llorona and Annabelle Comes Home, the latter of which is part of the blockbuster Conjuring franchise. This time around, Annabelle is a beacon for other spirits, and the latest trailer features a killer ending in which a young girl looks under her covers, only to find the creepy doll — and perhaps something else — staring back at her. The moment earned a loud reaction from the crowd, but to be honest, I’m not a big fan of these jump-scare horror movies, so the footage didn’t do much for me. But I’ll tell you what did…
Godzilla: King of the Monsters! I didn’t care much for Gareth Edwards‘ 2014 creature feature but this sequel from Michael Dougherty lays it all on the line, introducing classic monsters like Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla’s ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. The film is the first feature for Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, who says the sequel is “bigger, more fun and more action-packed than before.” The trailer opens with David Strathairn explaining that “everyone continent on this planet is getting hit by creatures we’ve never seen before. Their behavior has become erratic. We’re running out of options… and time.” Then we see a duplicitous Vera Farmiga release King Ghidorah, and the shit hits the fan as all hell breaks loose. It’s all very majestic, and there’s an awesome shot where a pilot ejects him/herself right into the mouth of one of the monsters.
Warner Bros. also gave us our first look at a pair of Melissa McCarthy movies, The Kitchen and Superintelligence. The Kitchen pairs McCarthy with Tiffany Haddish, but it is not a comedy. Instead, the two of them, along with Elisabeth Moss, play three badass women who make a play to rule the criminal underworld, which means taking on a crime boss played by Bill Camp. They’re out to prove they can do a whole lot more than just “make babies.” Writer-director Andrea Berloff seems to be going for a Scorsese-like vibe here, which explains why the trailer is set to a Rolling Stones song. The film is based on a DC-Vertigo comic and it looks pretty damn good, though it’s lit like a romantic comedy at times, and could stand to employ a more gritty visual palette. I’ll give Berloff the benefit of the doubt on that one, though.
However, I can’t in good conscience give Superintelligence director Ben Falcone the benefit of the doubt, because he has directed three of McCarthy’s worst starring vehicles — Tammy, The Boss and Life of the Party. Last week, I wrote up the news of yet another project the husband-and-wife team are working on together, the superhero movie Thunder Force at Netflix, and I said I was holding out hope for Superintelligence, but based on the trailer we saw, I have to say that hope has diminished. This movie looks pretty disappointing. Basically, James Corden plays an artificial intelligence who must decide whether to save or destroy humanity after he observes McCarthy’s character for a certain period of time. The film co-stars the great Bobby Cannavale and Brian Tyree Henry, but I’m not sure they’ll be enough to save this one.