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2014 Super Bowl liveblog

Another Super Bowl, another year of movie-related commercials. But this year, there’s an unrelated matter that casts a dreary pall over today for movie-lovers everywhere.

This morning, it was announced that the great Philip Seymour Hoffman had died from an apparent heroin overdose. He was unquestionably one of the most talented actors currently working, still in the prime of his career at the age of 46. His presence was enough to make any good film great and any bad film tolerable. He will be sorely missed.

All due recognition to Mr. Hoffman aside, let’s get to the big game, this year’s big new releases, and the millions being spent by Hollywood for 30-second spots.

(Side note: For the record, my cousin is calling it Broncos, 24-21. EDIT: I’m so glad I thought to put this down for the record.)

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

So Marvel shows 30 seconds of visual effects shots — all in flashes too brief to actually see anything — and the 30-second spot turned out to be an advertisement for a new full trailer. Well played, Marvel. Using trailers for trailers is nothing new, of course (especially for the Super Bowl), but this is strategy is just diabolical.

…Except that I actually went to FoxSports.Com to find the full trailer, and found nothing but this same 30-second TV spot. No me gusta, Marvel. Here’s hoping that the film itself turns out to be worth the wait when April 4th rolls around.

EDIT: Finally tracked down the new trailer. THIS has me impressed. It does a decent job of introducing the Falcon, and a far better job of establishing the eponymous Winter Soldier. Some nice shades of SHIELD and the overarching theme of freedom/liberty. Good stuff.

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Noah

See? This is how it’s done. The spot is only 30 seconds long, but it shows us so much about the story and characters between stunning shots of CGI. Of course, it helps that this is a universally-known story, but still. This one comes to us from Darren Aronofsky, directing a sterling cast, so you know this is gonna be one to watch when it comes out on March 28th.

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Need for Speed

I had absolutely no interest in this paper-thin video game adaptation, but the editing in this trailer had me captivated. I love how the film cuts between multiple instances of similar shots to show as much as possible while keeping everything coherent. Very nicely done. Yet somehow, the extended trailer is much less impressive. I don’t see a lot here that the Fast and Furious franchise hasn’t already done better, but that franchise is out of commission for the time being, so we’ll see what happens on March 14th.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

…Yeah, that’s a Bayformer film, all right. Despite all the talk about a “soft reboot” and a complete swap-out of the original live-action cast, that’s pretty much exactly how I expected the fourth Transformers film to look like. But this one apparently has Optimus Prime riding a robotic dinosaur, so that’s something. Hasbro will be rolling new toys off the line in time for June 27th.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Not much here that we haven’t already seen before, but the extended “Enemies Unite” reel has some great stuff. There’s a lot of new footage about the villains here, especially regarding Electro. I’m also glad to see more of Aunt May and Spider-Man’s trademark wit, since the previous film could have used more of both. Peter’s excuses to Aunt May are almost flimsy enough to kill the jokes, but still.

This is going to be Sony’s big answer to The Avengers, so get ready for May 2nd.

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The Monuments Men

I don’t really know what to say to this. The ad’s nothing special, but it never had to be. If you’re not interested in seeing George Clooney direct a cast this damn good, I’m not sure there’s anything more to say. Here’s hoping this will be the film to deliver us from New Year’s Cinema Tedium when it comes out later this week.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West

I admit that I’m a little late on this one, since the trailer debuted in the pre-game. That said, what’s the point in releasing a green-band of a Seth MacFarlane movie?! MacFarlane is a shock comic who’s only funny when he’s allowed to be as crass, juvenile, and irreverent as possible. That’s what made him a great Comedy Central Roastmaster, that’s what made Ted and Family Guy so popular with audiences, and that’s what made him such a godawful Oscars host. The red band is much funnier, though of course it won’t be enough to convert any of MacFarlane’s many detractors. Not that MacFarlane himself would care, of course.

Expect this one to be a surprise box office hit when it debuts on May 30th.

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Muppets: Most Wanted

This is admittedly the extended cut, but I’m going by the online recaps of the Super Bowl commercials now, because the game’s more or less over by now.

Anyway, so this spot included a lot of good-natured ribbing on the audience and some cheeky internet humor. Ha ha, very cute. Now how about some Muppet humor?! What, we can’t get any jokes? Something from the soundtrack? Anything? Wow, what a tone-deaf way to sell this movie.

Not that it matters, of course. This is another movie that doesn’t need much selling, since everyone with a proper childhood is going to see it on March 21st anyway.

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Pompeii

I notice a recent worldwide interest in Pompeii recently, and this intrigues me. I suspect that given all the natural catastrophes we’ve seen all over the world these past few years, it’s expected that we should take a look back at what’s arguably the most disastrous natural catastrophe in all of recorded history.

Anyway, Paul W.S. Anderson is dramatizing the event, because only Anderson could make a cinematic bomb big enough to do the subject justice. Given his crappy track record, I’m not exactly holding my breath for this story of a gladiator dodging CG effects. Still, if he ever had a chance to prove the haters wrong, this is it.

Pompeii comes out on February 21st, so we won’t have long to see how it shakes out.

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3 Days to Kill

I love me some Amber Heard, but her presence is hardly enough to salvage a bad movie (see: Machete Kills and Paranoia from last year). Ditto for Hailee Steinfeld, a talented up-and-comer who already has some stinkers to her name (looking at you, Romeo & Juliet (2013)). Also, Kevin Costner is trying to play in the “aging action badass” league? Given the lukewarm domestic returns on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, this could go either way.

I’m tempted to think that this movie will come and go without anyone noticing, but the Super Bowl spot suggests a huge marketing push. I’ll be very interested to see what kind of a splash this makes on February 21st.

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Congratulations to the Seahawks on their win tonight. Such a shame the Broncos couldn’t show up.

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