Three trailers for highly anticipated 2012 films were released this week. All three of them are likely to have considerable cultural impact, in addition to (hopefully) being fun movies.
Well, I don’t know if Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is going to be “fun,” exactly. The trailer is enough to cause a fully formed clone made of goosebumps to roll off your back. That might actually be what the movie is about, come to think of it. Nobody really knows. In an age of Internet spy reports and spoilers, Scott has somehow managed to keep the details largely under wraps.
One thing is abundantly clear from the trailer: this is a prequel to Scott’s genre-redefining masterpiece, Alien, and not in a subtle nudge-and-wink way. Familiar images abound, right down to the same piece-by-piece reveal of the film’s title. Scott has lately been saying that the “Aliens” themselves don’t appear in this movie. I get the impression we’re going to learn that the long-dead pilot of that weird horseshoe-shaped extraterrestrial cargo ship was something much worse.
We’ve also had our first long look at The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Given the cultural row over the astonishing second film, and its provocative ruminations on terrorism, the new movie is awaited with keen interest by students of the intersection between politics and pop culture.
Judging from the trailer, The Dark Knight Rises will have something to say about “Occupy Wall Street” and its class warfare obsessions. A snippet of dialogue from Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (Catwoman) has already been much discussed: “Do you think this is gonna last? There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”
There’s no way to deduce the entire theme of the movie from a trailer, especially not from someone who forges plots as intricately as Nolan, but it should be noted that the class-warfare stuff is coming from the villains, who are extremely violent – and apparently not big football fans – while Batman couldn’t be Batman without Bruce Wayne’s gigantic bankroll. Also, the visual motif of the film and its posters involve Gotham City literally crumbling to pieces. It doesn’t sound like a celebration of the joys of wealth redistribution.
Finally, we’ve got The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first film in a two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic. It’s Tolkien, it’s made by the same people who did The Lord of the Rings, and the song of the dwarves will send chills down your spine. Everything here is delightful, and next Christmas can’t come fast enough.
I generally dislike prequels, and wonder if Prometheus might dispel too much of the mystery that made Alien so perfect, but The Hobbit is a rare example of a story that actually works better when experienced as a prequel. It stands just fine on its own, but the thrill will be enhanced for movie audiences in 2012 because they will understand – as the characters do not – the significance of a little item of jewelry our hero picks up along the way.
Infusing more Tolkien into the popular culture is sure to create some shockwaves. In particular, it could make a complete waste of the $130,987 the federal government spent last year purchasing robot dragons to teach language skills to preschoolers. No small child who watches The Hobbit will want to go anywhere near a dragon.