Investigating "Civil War II": Which Hero Will Fall?
There were no stars present at Sony’s Wednesday-night presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, but the studio compensated by premiering 30 minutes of footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, following a highlight reel of some of their other upcoming 2014 releases. Rory Bruer, the company’s president of worldwide theatrical distribution, introduced the reel, which began with the comedy sequel 22 Jump Street. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return as the bumbling undercover detectives from 21 Jump Street, and the first part of the clip showed them dealing with couples therapy together. They’re then sent undercover to college (after having infiltrated high school in the previous movie), and they end up on spring break. There’s an extended gag featuring a grenade down Hill’s shorts, and the revelation that his character has slept with the boss’ daughter.
Next up was an extended trailer for the horror movie Deliver Us From Evil, directed by Sinister‘s Scott Derrickson and starring Eric Bana as an NYPD detective who encounters the supernatural. The clip prominently featured reliable horror standby the creepy jack-in-the-box, and claimed that the movie is based on a true story. Also based on a true story is the football drama When the Game Stands Tall, about a high school football team that ends the longest winning streak in sports history and has to rebuild its confidence.
The raunchy comedy Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as a married couple who accidentally send their erotic home movie to everyone they know, was up next, with plenty of slapstick as the pair try to retrieve all of the tablet computers that have inadvertently downloaded the explicit video.
Following that came an extended look at the TV adaptation The Equalizer, which Bruer said “takes visceral to a new level.” The centerpiece of the clip featured Denzel Washington as the title character, attempting to protect an underage prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz, taking out an entire room of Russian gangsters with a pre-planned attack reminiscent of the fight scenes in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies.
Moving back to comedy, the next preview showcased the sequel Think Like a Man Too, with the entire cast reunited for a bachelor party in Vegas, and back to the same battle-of-the-sexes setup. After that came The Interview, starring James Franco as a vapid celebrity journalist who gets the chance to interview North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Seth Rogen as his hapless producer. With the CIA hiring the pair to take Kim out, the film looks to bring the same balance of comedy and action as Rogen and Franco’s previous work on Pineapple Express.
Looking ahead to the end of the year, next came an extended preview of the World War II drama Fury, written and directed by David Ayer and starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Jon Bernthal as the crew of a tank whose nickname gives the movie its title. “History is violent,” Pitt says in one scene, and the preview showcased plenty of explosions and other wartime violence, along with a little romance.
The final clip in the reel came from the musical remake Annie, with the title character (played by Quvenzhané Wallis of Beasts of the Southern Wild) and her fellow orphans singing an updated version of “A Hard Knock Life” along with glimpses of characters played by Jamie Foxx (as Annie’s rich benefactor) and Cameron Diaz (as her demanding foster mother).
Bruer returned to the stage with an innocent “Wasn’t there supposed to be some Spider-Man footage?” and touted a few of Sony’s 2015 releases (including Hotel Transylvania 2, a new all-animated Smurfs movie, the Dan Brown adaptation Inferno, the Adam Sandler sci-fi comedy Pixels and the next James Bond movie) before talking about the expanding Spider-Man franchise. He mentioned the spin-off movies being developed for Venom and the Sinister Six. “The idea is to bring more of these rich stories and characters from the Spider-Man universe to audiences everywhere,” he said.
Then came the main event: 30 minutes of footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, delivered in four chunks. The first, the opening scene of the movie, is an extended flashback to the final days of Peter Parker’s parents, played by Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz. Scott’s Richard Parker frantically copies some mysterious files at Oscorp, recording a cryptic video message (“People will say I’m a monster for what I’ve done”) before fleeing with his wife Mary, after they leave young Peter behind. Their escape is cut short when their private plane is hijacked, and after an extended fight scene, the plane goes down.
The second scene is a kinetic action sequence featuring Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) trying to stop Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), before he becomes the Rhino, from stealing an Oscorp truck full of volatile chemicals. He encounters the pre-villainous Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who’ll eventually become Electro, and delivers plenty of familiar Spidey wisecracks. In the middle of the battle, Peter gets a call from Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who’s giving the valedictory speech at their high school graduation. Peter catches the bad guys (though not before imagining he sees Gwen’s late father), whistles the old Spider-Man theme song and makes it to graduation just in time to grab his diploma, kiss Gwen and witness a Stan Lee cameo.
In the third scene, Peter and Gwen are tentatively reuniting after having spent some time apart, trying to shift their relationship to a platonic one. After some awkward interactions and an almost kiss, Peter disappears to aid the police in confronting Electro, newly powered up and confused about his new abilities. With his face under a hood and electricity shooting from his fingers, Electro looks a bit like Emperor Palpatine, and Foxx plays him as scared and volatile. Although Spider-Man seems to calm Electro down at first, a misunderstanding soon leads to the villain unleashing destruction in Times Square. He recovers enough from his anxiety to even deliver a one-liner (“It’s my birthday — now it’s time for me to light my candles”) as he attacks. Eventually, Spider-Man is able to defeat him with the obvious antidote to electricity: water.
In the final scene of the preview, Electro is restrained in a high-tech prison, and young Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), ousted from Oscorp, breaks in to set the villain free. After he agrees to team up with Harry, Electro escapes his bonds by turning into pure electricity, and the two set out to take down Spider-Man. “Let’s go catch a spider,” Electro said as the clip ended.