Analyzing the First Trailer for Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

In 2014, Disney fans were caught by surprise when “Maleficent” premiered. This alternate telling of the “Sleeping Beauty” story, but with the titular witch as the protagonist was a hit. The fact that Angelina Jolie owned and mastered her role as Maleficent was a bonus. Now the “evil” fairy returns.

Joachim Rønning takes over from Robert Stromberg in directing “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” due later this year. It follows up sometime after the first film. Maleficent and Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) are unofficial co-leaders of the combined kingdom of men and fairy creatures. When diplomacy with a neighboring realm threatens the inhabitants of the Moors, fairy and queen might yet see themselves on opposite sides.

Walt Disney Pictures has already brought out the first trailer. Let’s look over the scenes:

  1. Voiceover by Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) telling the story between Maleficent and Aurora. Only this time, it’s the traditional “Sleeping Beauty” narrative instead of what actually happened in-film.
  2. Some human hunters find their way into the Moors. Then they run into Maleficent. Guess what happens.
  3. Prince Philip (now played by Harris Dickinson) seems to have proposed to Aurora.
  4. Aurora, Philip and Maleficent engage in diplomacy with Queen Ingrith and King John (Robert Lindsay). A heated exchange between Ingrith and Maleficent leads to trouble.
  5. Maleficent attacks Ingrith’s soldiers and flees, leaving Aurora aghast. Why did she do that?
  6. A giant flock of birds fly towards Ingrith’s castle.
  7. Cue magical red explosions and Maleficent in the midst of them.
  8. This time, Maleficent laughs as the titles rolls.

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” premieres in cinemas on October 18.

Advertisements

Music Video for New Pop Version of “A Whole New World” of “Aladdin Remake” Out Now

There are only two weeks left before Disney releases its live-action remake for their 1992 animated classic “Aladdin.” By now most of the sticking issues for fans have been resolved. The Genie has gone past its bad blue CGI. Its actor Will Smith has also made the role his own.

Aside from “improvements” in past trailers and TV spots, it’s also time for Disney to intensify the promotion for “Aladdin.” What bigger way to drum up more interest and support than to unveil the theme song? The pop version of “A Whole New World” is now up for viewing online.

One of the things fans didn’t like about the “Beauty and the Beast” promotion in 2017 was its pop theme. Performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend, audiences thought the sweeping percussion-filled version in the trailer was it. Hearing the actual, more poppy song number came across as a letdown.

Disney doesn’t appear to have made that mistake for “Aladdin.” Only the in-movie version of “A Whole New World” by stars Mena Massoud and Naomi Scot is heard in the trailers. The pop version is all its own. Former One Direction member and Pakistani-British singer ZAYN (Malik) sounds awesome alongside Zhavia Ward in this number.

ZAYN and Zhavia’s duet synergy is also helped by the instrumentation for this version of “A Whole New World.” Middle Eastern acoustics introduce and end the song. Disney’s sure going for as much cultural accuracy as they could. Comments on YouTube have praised the music video, alongside some light-hearted grousing that ZAYN should’ve been cast as Aladdin instead of Massoud.

“Aladdin” premieres on May 24.

Tom Holland Introduces Spoilery “Spider-Man: Far from Home” Trailer, with Points of Discussion

When Marvel Studios released their first trailer for “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” fans tended to assume it was a prequel. Their opinion was that it took place before 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” where Peter Parker ultimately got “Thanos-snapped.” Such speculation died down with the release of this new movie trailer.

This fact was pretty much reinforced by current Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, who introduced the second “Far from Home” trailer. In his signature “bad secret-keeper” style, he confirms that the film happens after “Avengers: Endgame,” which premiered last month. With that, let’s do a list of major plot points revealed:

  1. Peter Parker (Holland) is mourning the death of his mentor figure, Tony Stark/Iron Man as depicted in “Endgame.”
  2. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) notes to Peter that if Tony hadn’t known that Peter would return after the Thanos snap was undone, he might not have done his heroic sacrifice.
  3. Even NYPD cops see Spidey as possibly trying to fill the void by becoming the “new” Iron Man. Peter denies this (“I’m too busy doing your work.”)
  4. Apparently Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been trying to contact Peter. He just puts the director of SHIELD on voicemail.
  5. Peter’s high-school class goes on a summer vacation field trip to Europe. Cue Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) posing with historical re-enactors at the San Marco in Venice (and getting a groin attack from a passerby).
  6. Peter seems to be getting closer with Michelle “MJ” Jones (Zendaya), with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) as the snarky side witness.
  7. We get to see a follow-up on Fury recruiting Peter/Spider-Man for a mission. Here he meets Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a costumed figure from Earth, “but not ours” according to Fury.
  8. Apparently the various uses of the Infinity Stones on Earth tore a hole between dimensions, dumping Beck and several dangerous elemental-based beings on their doorstep.
  9. Peter learns the other Avengers are busy elsewhere, and all SHIELD has left to turn to is the “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man. Fury lampshades his “veteran hero” reputation by reminding Pete he’s gone to space already.
  10. Apparently Michelle has already figured out that Peter is Spider-Man.
  11. Peter discusses the points of heroism with Beck. The latter says that while he understands Pete wanting to keep a normal life outside of costume, “saving the world requires sacrifice” and that “sometimes people die.”
  12. Seeing the damage the Elementals do spurs Peter to embrace his possible legacy as the next Iron Man. Cue him taking on the Elementals in his new black covert-ups suit.
  13. The classic 1966 “Spider-Man” animated intro (rescored by Mark Giacchino) returns from “Homecoming” as possibly the default theme for for MCU Spidey.
  14. Happy tries to evacuate Peter’s friends in a Stark jet during an Elemental attack. He gets distracted when his explanation of “working with Spider-Man” is misheard as “working for Spider-Man.” Cue exploding jet.

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” also stars Cobie Smoulders, JB Smoove, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Angourie Rice and Hemky Madera. The film premieres on July 2.

A Few More “Aladdin” TV Spots to Look Over

Guess what, it’s May! And three weeks from now Disney’s second live-action adaptation of their Renaissance-phase classic will hit cinemas worldwide. The “Aladdin” remake’s promised us a whole new world for its storyline. We can believe that with the plot tweaks we’ve seen so far in the trailer and TV-spots.

Speaking of which, two more TV spots for “Aladdin” have come out since our last update. They’re remarkably short compared to what’s already come before. Still, they pack some more new scenes, new dialogue, and new fragments of the song number that would establish the Genie’s character for the audience.

These will be short lists, but vital for those who want to dissect every preview before the actual movie premieres:

  • Basics
  1. New scene of Genie (Will Smith) teaching Aladdin how to use his lamp to make wishes on: there are three wishes, and they must each begin with Al rubbing the lamp and starting his request with “I wish”
  2. We got snippets of “A Friend Like Me” from two previous TV spots; now we hear Smith singing the refrain portion (“Mister Aladdin sir, one wish or two or three”)
  3. I supposed it’s obvious now that rather than the straight Broadway-esque treatment by Robin Williams, Smith will be rap-singing his way through “A Friend Like Me”
  4. Genie’s instructions on the limits of his power, though we only catch the second and third; rather than channeling Peter Lorre like Williams!Genie did, Smith!Genie does something else to illustrate “Can’t bring back the dead”
  5. Mena Massoud’s Aladdin apparently has a short attention span; apparently after the song number he again asks how wish-making works; an exasperated Genie exclaims “The whole song was the instructions!”
  • Confident
  1. Remix of earlier scenes that we’ve already experienced in the trailer and other TV spots; some diamonds in the rough/unseen footage is there however
  2. More shots of Aladdin’s entrance into Agrabah as Prince Ali
  3. On what appears to be the welcome banquet for Prince Ali at the palace (we saw him briefly dancing with Jasmine in the trailer), Aladdin impresses the assembly with his parkour-influenced dancing style: even Jasmine can’t help herself but smile
  4. Another snippet from the Cave of Wonders has Abu with a drum rig on his back, cymbals and a kazoo in his mouth; apparently the “A Friend Like Me” sequence just finished and he retains his instruments; interestingly, he somewhat resembles his form as a toy after Jafar zapped him in the original animated film
  5. Genie: We’re gonna need to talk about that monkey later

“Aladdin” premieres on May 24.

Our Two Cents on the Disney “Aladdin” Remake TV Spots

A month ago we finally got a good-length trailer for the newest live-action adaptation of a Disney Renaissance animated classic. Said trailer for “Aladdin” did a lot to restore some confidence in this remake by showing a better CGI rendition of Genie, plus live-action performance by Will Smith. The snippets of “A Whole New World” didn’t hurt the presentation either.

Since then, a number of short TV spots have been released to continue hyping Disney’s “Aladdin” for its premier next month. Here’s an outline list of the storyline-relevant ones, with points of discussion for each:

  • Within
  1. As the original 1992 animated film had a narrator (Robin Williams doubling as Genie and the peddler), so it seems this remake does too (Will Smith?)
  2. New sequences involving the “A Friend Like Me” segment…
  3. The parade from the “Prince Ali” segment (flower camel statue)
  4. Rajah attacking Iago (Alan Tudyk)
  • Connection
  1. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) talks to Genie (Will Smith) about his love, a Princess (“Aren’t they all?”)
  2. Genie tells our hero, “Prince Ali got you through the door. But Aladdin has to open it.”
  3. Will Smith makes the Genie role his own by channeling his character in “Hitch.”
  4. More details from “A Whole New World”
  5. Aladdin and Jasmine on the carpet are being pursued by (a giant?) Iago
  6. Aladdin tells Jasmine (Naomi Scott), “Sometime Princess, you just have to take a risk.”

Rags to Wishes

  1. Original scene of Aladdin sneaking into the palace of Agrabah and into Jasmine’s room, pretending to be a servant
  2. Jasmine: “You cannot just break into a palace like you own the place.”
  3. Aladdin: “If you don’t have anything, you have to act like you own everything.”
  4. Possible “A Friend Like Me” segment where Genie beats up the Forty Thieves (lyrics “A brand of magic never fails…”)
  5. Genie showing off his human form; Aladdin asks, “Do we need the topknot?” to which Genie replies, “That’s my little cherry on top!”

Aladdin premieres on May 24.

Scar, and Other Talking Points of New “Lion King” Remake Trailer

About one month and a half ago, we saw what had been the recent teasers for Disney’s remake of the 1994 animated classic “The Lion King.” Thus far all previews of the CGI-laden live-action movie centered on the original opening sequence. For those who tire of hearing “Circle of Life,” this new trailer’s for you.

We finally get to see more of the lush and vibrant African wilderness setting that “The Lion King” is known for. This time the focus is on the antagonist, the lean and hungry Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his plot to remove his brother Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and nephew Simba (JD McCrary) to become King.

But to make things concise, we’ll talk about everything in this new trailer for “The Lion King,” in list form:

  1. First scene is Simba and Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph) as cubs, exploring the Elephant Graveyard. Scar is heard in voiceover, with a paraphrasing of his speech to the hyenas.
  2. First shot of Scar; he is slim but with an almost similar mane color to Mufasa.
  3. Hyenas appear to confront Simba and Nala, intercut with a probable later scene where they appear at Scar’s side.
  4. Redone scene of Mufasa talking to Simba atop Pride Rock, where this time he goes into further detail about how the Circle of Life works. Cut to Simba exploring the animals of the Pridelands and meeting Zazu (John Oliver, see above).
  5. Comparative scenes are shown, of Scar and the Hyenas (possible “Be Prepared” sequence), and of Mufasa continuing his discourse while Simba measures his paw in his father’s pawprint.
  6. Redone scene shows the wildebeest stampede, plus the aftermath with Scar “banishing” Simba who is chased by the hyenas.
  7. The exiled Simba hangs with his new friends Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen) in the “Hakuna Matata” time-skip sequence.
  8. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” sequence involves adult Simba (Donald Glover) and Nala (Beyoncé).
  9. Rafiki (John Kani) adding a mane marking to the symbol of Simba on his tree.
  10. Last scene shows Timon and Pumba wandering the forest while singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

“The Lion King” premieres July 19.

“Toy Story 4” Trailer: Points to Discuss

When Disney and Pixar released “Toy Story 3” in 2010, critics and audiences felt it concluded an awesome animated trilogy. The departure of a key character after entrusting the rest of the cast to another seemed a definitive end to the story. Nobody expected a “Toy Story 4,” but here it is coming this year.

Any doubts regarding a fourth “Toy Story” disappeared November last year with the first teaser. A follow-up preview showcased two new toy characters. But it was a full trailer released this week that finally shed light to the cast and the plot. Here’s a quick rundown of what we learned:

  1. Woody (Tom Hanks) true to form has become a leadership figure among his friends and the toys of their new person, Bonnie. He specializes himself in helping toys be the best children’s companions they can be.
  2. Bonnie turns a spork into a doll she calls Forky (Tony Hale) for a class project. Bringing her home, she becomes her favorite toy. But the act of turning a non-toy into a toy is traumatizing for Forky, who doesn’t like his new “alive” state and wants nothing to do with being a toy despite Woody’s encouragement.
  3. In his obsession to escape his toy-hood, Forky escapes from the Anderson Family’s camper while Bonnie and her parents are on a road trip. Woody follows him without hesitation to bring him back.
  4. Forced to go on foot, Woody and Forky arrive at the town of Grand Basin, where in an antique shop they run afoul of an old talking doll named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her army of non-talking “Benson” ventriloquist dummies.
  5. Woody and Forky are rescued by a figure from Woody’s past: Bo Peep (Annie Potts), former “toy” of Andy’s sister Molly that was sold in a yard sale before “Toy Story 3.” Having spent years passing hands without real owners has made her an independent spirit who thinks toys can exist outside of being children’s playthings, a notion that Woody is conflicted with.
  6. Bo tries to sway Woody from returning to Bonnie with Forky by showing him her current hangout: the Grand Basin fairgrounds. Woody seems affected, to Forky’s concern.
  7. With Jessie (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the toys wondering what to do about the missing Woody and Bonnie, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) decides to copy his old buddy and jump from the camper, finding his way to the fair (where he gets picked up as a stall prize)
  8. Bonnie wasn’t going to not notice her toys disappearing. Her emotional hurt is something everybody with a favored toy – past and present – feels.
  9. Bo Peep introduces Woody to the fairground toys (including a cameo from Pixar’s “Tin Toy” from 1988). She tries to argue that children frequently lose toys anyway, to further dissuade Woody from going back “home.”
  10. During his time as a carnival prize, Buzz antagonizes fellow prizes Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele).
  11. On the road of life, there are old friends, new friends and stories that change you.”
  12. Woody starts feeling an existential crisis towards the end when he muses, amid memories of Andy and Bonnie, “I was made to help a child. I don’t remember it being this hard.”

Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” premieres on June 21.

Points of Discussion for Latest “Avengers: Endgame Trailer”

The Disney umbrella is busting out cinematic trailers like nobody’s business this week. Mere days after Disney Pictures itself sort of “redeemed” scary blue-skinned Will Smith by releasing a longer trailer for “Aladdin,” now we have another for their next Marvel Studios blockbuster, “Avengers: Endgame.”

While the previous teasers have focused on the current events of the MCU following “Avengers: Infinity War,” this trailer decides to dip in the past. In doing so it reminds viewers that “Endgame” is going to resolve myth elements of the first ten years of the saga, and the 21 films that came before. Let’s go list some trailer stuff that makes for good discussion.

  1. Reminders of the past: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in his last recording to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) talks of his origin story. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) recalls his “Winter Soldier” conversation with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) remembers his father Odin and his home Asgard.
  2. How did Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) go from secret agent archer to samurai-like vigilante? A seeming flashback with his daughter from “Age of Ultron” seems to be a hint; said daughter even visually resembles the second/female Hawkeye (named Kate Bishop) from the source comic books. And vigilante-Clint has a Mohawk.
  3. Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) does get out of the Quantum Realm (from “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) as seen in one of the previous teasers. He’s seeing a lot of missing posters in his neighborhood. Did something happen to his family?
  4. Steve’s recently meme-worthy line: “I keep telling everybody they should move on. Some do; but not us.” To this, Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) adds the following, “Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to anyone who’s not in this room to try.”
  5. The surviving Avengers and other heroes prepare for their rematch against Thanos (Josh Brolin) in their own way; at least the ones on Earth are.
  6. Eventually, Tony’s own group of stranded space survivors makes it to Earth. And they go off to find Thanos wearing identical uniform spacesuits. These were spoiled in official LEGO sets.
  7. Post-titles, Thor tests Carol Danvers/Captan Marvel (Brie Larson) by summoning his Stormbreaker axe close to her head. She doesn’t react; he approves of her nerve.

“Avengers: Endgame” premieres April 26.

Points of Interest in New “Aladdin” Remake Trailer

Of the three big Disney live-action remakes of their Animated Canon coming out this year (two if you discount the photorealistic CGI of “The Lion King”), “Aladdin” seems to come across as the weakest link. Its first teaser was minimalistic, and a later follow-up sort of “scarred” viewers who criticized the SFX work for Will Smith as the blue-hued Genie.

While “Dumbo” and “The Lion King” worked interest consistently with their previews, “Aladdin” was considered to be flubbing its own promotion. But when Disney finally released a full trailer for the movie on Tuesday, a vocal part of the criticism shut up; it was beautiful.

Let’s list some talking points:

  1. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) evading the palace guards (surely leading to the “One Jump Ahead” number) was pretty frenetic, with parkour choreography that would recall videogames like “Prince of Persia” (also adapted by Disney) or “Assassin’s Creed”
  2. Jafar’s (Marwan Kenzari) recruitment of Aladdin for the Cave of Wonders; rather than disguising himself thoroughly he appears to play himself in pitching the lamp-fetching to our hero; he still sounds kind of squeaky, but he doesn’t look overly sinister, which might explain why he’s trusted in Agrabah
  3. The first appearance of Genie (Will Smith) sees him act like the classic Arabian Night archetype rather than Robin Williams’ manic standup comedian…at first, then he gets to the funny dazzle
  4. “A Friend Like Me,” nuff said
  5. Aladdin discussing his Prince wish to Genie has the latter point out the vagaries of it – between “Make ME a Prince” and “MAKE me a PRINCE” – by conjuring a Prince that talks like he came from Bel-Air
  6. Genie giving “Prince Ali” wooing advice for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) calls to mind Smith’s role in 2005’s “Hitch,” but with magic powers
  7. “A Whole New World” would like to point out to viewers that Scott is a singer
  8. Short snippets like a(n apparently authentic) Middle Eastern dance with Ali and Jasmine, and Ali being tossed into the sea while bound to a chair, show that this movie will not carbon-copy scenes from the 1993 original animation
  9. More action sequences like Aladdin doing parkour on an icy chasm, plus being chased by an apparently enlarged Iago the parrot help add an epic live-action scale to the narrative
  10. On an aside that’s not included on the trailer, Iago in this film will be voiced by Alan Tudyk rather than Gilbert Gottfried; whether he’s fitting or not remains to be heard

Disney’s “Aladdin” arrives in theaters this May 24.

New Character List for Disney Channel’s “Descendants 3”

Two years after their last TV movie-length grand adventure, the Villain Kids and their friends at Auradon High are ready for another round of Good – and Bad – versus Evil in Disney Channel’s “Descendants 3.” Having somehow proven twice over that the children of fairy-tale baddies need not follow in their parents’ footsteps, Mal and her fellow VK’s are ready to invite new students to Auradon.

But Evil never rests and never forgets. While Ursula’s daughter Uma may have been thwarted back in “Descendants 2,” she’s been bitterly biding her time to resume the invasion of Auradon. And this time she’s got some heavy grown-villain backup in Dr. Facilier and Hades.

In between helping a new batch of VK’s to fit in with life at Auradon High, and the looming threat of another villain attack, Mal, Carlos, Evie and Jay will be facing perhaps their most epic battle for goodness yet.

Here’s a list of the new cast additions for “Descendants 3” on the Disney Channel, directed as usual by D-Channel Original Movie master Kenny Ortega:

  • New Villain Kids
  1. Celia – daughter of Dr. Facilier, played by Jadah Marie; if the “Wicked World” animated miniseries holds, then she’s also the sister of Freddie
  2. Squeaky – one of the twin sons of Mr. Smee, bosun to Captain Hook; he’s played by Christian Convrey
  3. Squirmy – the other twin son of Smee; he’s played by Luke Roessler
  • New Villain Parents
  1. Dr. Facilier – witch doctor antagonist of “The Princess and the Frog”; also father to Freddie (in “Wicked World”) and Celia in this film; he’s played by Jamal Sims
  2. Hades – Greek God of the Underworld and big bad to “Hercules;” he’s played by Cheyenne Jackson
  • Others
  1. Queen Leah – mother to Queen Aurora and grandmother to Princess Audrey; she’s played by Judith Maxie

“Descendants 3” brings back Dove Cameron as Mal, Cameron Boyce, as Carlos, Sofia Carson as Evie, Booboo Stewart as Jay, Mitchell Hope as Prince Ben, China Ann McCain as Uma, and much more from the previous two installments. It will premiere mid-year on Disney Channel.