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If, like me, you’re experiencing a bizarrely mild winter and would rather frolic in the white stuff, our featured clip this week has you covered. Our rag-tag group of assorted prehistoric animals are back for a fourth outing in Ice Age: Continental Drift, in which the separation of Pangaea quite literally causes a rift in the group. Next up are two sci-fi, stop-motion efforts, the Laika (Coraline)-developed ParaNorman and the Tim Burton-directed Frankenweenie, which is based off his own short film.
Prepping for its May 25 release, Men in Black III brings us its first full-length trailer, which begins to reveal more about its time-travel plot. Finally, we have the rather original indie sci-fi outing Womb starring Eva Green as a woman who clones her dead boyfriend and raises him as her son. Certainly gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “who’s your daddy?” We’ve quite the diverse slate of clips for you this week – it’s Trailer Tracker.
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Back in 2002, upstart production studio Blue Sky Animation (along with 20th Century Fox) brought us a fairly low-budget film with recognizable names and a lovable saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat. That film was Ice Age and it turned into a sizeable hit, grossing nearly $400 million worldwide. For whatever reason, this brand caught on like the plague overseas and its sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown collected a huge $655 million and the third, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, grossed a colossal $886 million. Seeing as that was good enough to break the top 25 worldwide grossers of all time, another installment was all but guaranteed.
So here we have it, the oddly named Ice Age: Continental Drift which reunites its principle voice cast of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and Queen Latifah. Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Nick Frost and Aziz Ansari will also lend their pipes to the story of the breaking up of Pangaea (the former super-continent that formed Earth’s landmass), which sends the gang on an adventure. The original Ice Age was inconsequential but an utter delight, whereas its descendents were simply quite dull. “Ice Age 4” looks to be scraping the bottom of the barrel with the group using an iceberg as a ship and battling pirates on an ice ship (or something like that). The plots of these films have grown increasingly outlandish and slapstick-laden and “Continental Drift” does not seem to be bucking that trend.
The first of two stop-motion offerings to hit theaters this year, the studio that brought us the dark fable Coraline now presents ParaNorman, a sci-fi coming-of-age tale about an odd young boy named Norman who can see the dead. When dark forces conspire to verge on the living world, it is up to him and a few friends to stop the apocalypse. Stop-motion animation inherently carries with it a distinctly unique look, but somehow ParaNorman just seems to have a little something different on display (perhaps it’s simply the atypical subject matter). Although it could be too creepy for younger kids, 7-year-olds (and above) should lap this up and the trailer itself promises some genre in-jokes that should please accompanying parents. This second look has me marking my calendar on Aug. 17.
From Tim Burton comes a vision that he has been trying to get to audiences since before 1984. The original Frankenweenie was a live-action short starring Shelly Duvall and was supposed to debut before the re-release of Disney classic Pinocchio but was scrapped having been deemed to scary for children. They may have had a point. Now, having become one of the world’s biggest directors, Burton has switched his project to stop-motion and chose to shoot in black and white. As the trailer clearly sets up, Frankenweenie finds a young Victor Frankenstein successfully reanimating his dead dog Sparky (to the repulsion of others I’d imagine). As I said, the story of a boy and his deceased pooch could scar children on premise alone, however this is Burton we’re talking about and his films tend to be for older children, if not full-fledged adults. Regardless of what demographic it ultimately reaches, Frankenweenie looks to be a very unique offering that could rank up there with Burton’s best.
Men in Black III
After a distressingly bland (and rather brief) look at what this long-awaited (time-wise, not excitement-wise) three-quel would deliver, my hesitation has ebbed ever so slightly with this feature-length peek, but it still has a long way to go if they want me in a theater seat. The good news is we get more Josh Brolin doing his Tommy Lee Jones impression and it’s just as bang-on as it was in the teaser. We also get a little bit more of an idea about the time-travel plot, a look at some of the creatures on display and at the 1960s when the majority of this film will presumably be taking place. For those still unaware, Men in Black 3 finds Will Smith’s Agent J heading back in time to find out how his partner had been killed some decades earlier, which has created an alternate reality. Oh, and I think there is some alien invasion stuff too.
Presenting some touchy themes such as human cloning and pseudo-incest, German-made film Womb finds a woman (Eva Green) who decides to clone (and carry) her lost love to bring him back to life. She opts to raise the boy as her son, but expectedly struggles with the ramifications as he reaches the age she remembers. This is an audacious premise to be sure, and what makes this even more unnerving is that as medical breakthroughs continue, and moral stances loosen, this type of circumstance (or ones like it) could be very real in 20 years. The polar opposite of mainstream, Womb is absolutely a film that will slip under the radar (or would that be ultrasound?). Womb will have an as-of-yet unspecified limited release some time this year.