Super Bowl XLVII: Movie TV Spots

Ah, the Super Bowl, it really does have something for everyone doesn’t it? For sports lovers, there’s the game and the glory (and what a thrilling little drama the game became in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter); for entertainment lovers, there’s the much hyped and scrutinized commercials (though besides the fish singing a Radiohead-like version of “No Diggity” and the Paul Harvey narrated Dodge Ram commercial, none really stood out; no comment on Bar Refaeli making out with a tech nerd); for music lovers, there’s the sensationalized half-time show (and Beyoncé truly tore it up this year with ferocious energy; she continually impresses with a cockiness that’s confidently charismatic); and for movie lovers, there’s the 30-second TV Spots for some of the year’s most highly anticipated films and this year was no exception. In a 30-second Super Bowl spot (or longer if the studio has the big bucks to dish out), a movie can be greatly helped (Super 8’s 2011 teaser jump started anticipation and speculation about the film) or indirectly set back (last year’s John Carter spot only added to that film’s misery), so let’s take a look at the films that tried to make a mark last night during the big game:


Movie: OZ: The Great and the Powerful
Release Date: March 8th
Reaction: Though this short preview for Sam Raimi’s prequel to The Wizard Of Oz failed to show us any new footage from what we’ve already seen in the first two trailers, it still did the film minor justice, and with its enchanting cast (James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michele Williams) and bold visual style (the CGI rendering of Oz looks to be gorgeous and those flying monkeys are still scary as hell after all these years) the TV Spot certainly left its mark the way it needed to. The only question going forth is whether or not Oz is going to be all style over substance and visuals over character; one this is for sure, the visuals look like they will truly, as the film’s tagline reads, “amaze”.


Movie: Iron Man 3
Release Date: May 3rd
Reaction: After The Avengers shattered records left and right this summer and grossed a gargantuan $623 million, the eyes of Hollywood are moving to Marvel’s “Phase Two”, which kicks off with Iron Man 3 in May; the big question: can Marvel’s cinematic success continue? The signs point to yes, especially since Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark were the ones who started Marvel’s movie prosperity back in 2008 with the original Iron Man, and from the signs of this TV spot for the third installment, it looks like this one is going to be the most visually impressive of them all. Unfortunately, the trailer gives us no plot whatsoever and none of Ben Kingsley’s villainous Mandarin and instead focuses on Stark’s Iron Man jumping out of an exploding plane and recuing multiple passengers in free fall. Yes, the footage looks visually stunning (I was wide-eyed the entire time), but I’d be lying if I said this didn’t seem like a wasted opportunity for the film to give us something really juicy to chew on for the next couple of months. Did nobody else think of Superman Returns when they saw a plane spiraling out of control and a hero rescuing passengers on board?


Movie: Fast & Furious 6
Release: May 24th
Reaction: Whether you like it or not, the sixth installment in the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise hits theaters this summer (a friend of mine jokingly compared the franchise to the never ending Now! That’s What I Call Music… albums), and this loud, frantic, bat-shit crazy TV spot did everything it needed to in order to get me psyched all over again for Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and a bevy of sleek cars and seductive women. When it comes to pure escapism, it doesn’t get much better than the Fast & Furious movies (say what you will, but the bank heist in the film’s last installment was absolutely ingenious), and this preview, complete with an army tank speeding down a highway demolishing everything in its path, a car flying in the air doing a sideways somersault, and Ludacris proclaiming it’s “vehicle warfare”, was spot on in turning this film into the badass, high-octane blockbuster it’s trying to be this May. I mean, seriously, was that a car bursting out of an airplane as it explodes on the runway? Damn! How can you not be psyched for this one?


Movie: Snitch
Release: February 22nd
Reaction: Who would have ever thought the Super Bowl would bring two movie TV spots featuring former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Though Fast & Furious 6 certainly left an adrenaline-fueled impression (see above), Johnson’s first film of the year, Snitch, hardly left anything on the table to remember during its 30-second spot. Things start out well in the preview with an introduction to the film’s movie ready story – that of a father (Johnson) who becomes an informant and infiltrates a powerful drug cartel in order to free his convicted son – but take a turn for the worse when the spot transforms into a montage of senseless gun fire and explosions. As we’ve seen multiple times this year, audiences simply are not responding to excessive violence, and while Johnson should do big business with the cartoony action of Fast & Furious 6, it appears the gritty, over-the-top action of Snitch could very well do the film a big disservice


Movie: World War Z
Release: June 21
Reaction: Of all the movies this year, World War Z has to be one of the biggest gambles (one with a reported $200 million budget), and the Super Bowl TV spot seemed to further express the notion that this apocalyptic action drama could either be thrilling or a true disaster. Though this 30-second teaser doesn’t show anything that we haven’t seen from the first trailer, two things still rest in the film’s favor: zombies and Brad Pitt. As we’ve seen with the record breaking success of AMC’s The Walking Dead and the current #1 box office victory for Warm Bodies, zombies are hugely popular right now and World War Z will definitely benefit because of it. The film should also be of value with Brad Pitt in the starring role; whether you like him or not, Pitt is a tremendously gifted actor (see The Tree of Life and Moneyball for proof) and the combination of action with what appears to be family drama is the perfect wheelhouse for Pitt’s two-sided talent (he was an action star back in the day before successfully transitioning into dramatic work). And yet, with all the expensive sets, the fast moving CGI zombies, and the establishing shots of a decimated New York City, the film seems hardly original (I Am Legend anyone?) and hardly a true adaptation of its source material, the bestselling novel by Max Brooks. As a result, World War Z appears to be alienating its fan base as opposed to enticing them, leaving a big question mark around the film that this TV spot couldn’t help fix.


A man standing against a ruined cityscapeMovie: Star Trek Into Darkness
Release Date: May 17th
Reaction: WOW! WOW! WOW! There’s no doubt the prize for best commercial of the night – movie or product – belongs right here with Star Trek Into Darkness, J.J. Abrams’ hugely anticipated sequel to 2009’s successful Star Trek reboot. After watching this 30-second spot, I could only imagine how resident Reel Reactions trekkie Mike Murphy would react, for I’m nowhere near the biggest Star Trek fan yet I was still entranced and jaw dropped by this preview. Whereas the Iron Man 3 trailer failed to give us anything to chew on, this Star Trek Into Darkness promo is juicy as hell, with Benedict Cumberbatch’s much hyped villain proclaiming, “I’m better…at everything”. That line sets off a series of visually spectacular and extremely menacing images of the Star Trek team in despair and the USS Enterprise spiraling out of control and free falling towards what looks to be Earth. If one thing is clear, this Star Trek follow up is going to be big, bold, and extremely dark, continuing the trend of gritty sequels that The Dark Knight and Skyfall have pioneered. While many devout Star Trek fans are picking this TV Spot apart and figuring out whom exactly Cumberbatch is playing, all I know is that this is one bad villain and one big, big movie. As a huge admirer of Abrams’ first Star Trek (that was my first real expierence with the franchise and I loved it), it’s safe to say that this could very well be the movie of the summer; watch out, Iron Man!
Grade: A+


Movie: The Longer Ranger
Release Date: August 2013
Reaction: Similar to World War Z, The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, is one of the year’s biggest gambles with a huge $250 million budget (it’s an insanely huge risk for Disney, whose last gamble, John Carter, turned out to be their biggest cinematic failure ever). The big problem, as exemplified in this TV spot, is that nothing really looks interesting; maybe it’s just me, but nothing in this mini teaser gives me the impression that The Longer Ranger is one of the must-see movies of the year and that’s a problem considering the film’s massive budget. Instead of developing the characters in these ads, The Lone Ranger is, for some reason, taking its marketing advice from John Carter and is bombarding the viewer with nothing but action spectacle, the beauty of the natural landscape, and the pedigree of the film’s talent (both Depp and “from the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean” are heavily promoted). What we’re left with is a weird, expensive looking western that’s like Pirates crossed with John Carter that seems only to be in production so that Disney can have another successful summer franchise; hmmm.. this one doesn’t look too good.


Did you watch the game? Enjoy the trailers as much as I did? Which were your favorites? Any movies suddenly catch your eye? Sound off in the discussion board below…

Article by Zack Sharf



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