For pop culture fans in Fresno, yesterday was quite a day for surprises as we got two, yes, two new trailers for some upcoming releases, one that we knew about, and one that we did not.
The first was the first official trailer for Michael Bay's upcoming film Transformers: Age of Extinction. The trailer, which can be viewed here, opens up is a rural, farm community type of environment that exists in the aftermath of the events seen in 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, there are even billboards calling for citizens to report sighting of alien activity with the tagline "Remember Chicago." It should also be noted that there is a phone number printed on the billboard; calling that number will get you a "government message" that will lead you to one of the film's viral marketing sties, TransformersAreDangerous.Com. We are introduced to Cade Yeager (played by Mark Wahlberg), a struggling inventor who spends money on an old semi truck cab that he intends to scrap for parts, to the protest of his daughter Tessa (played by Nicola Peltz). Cade insists that this stuff will put her through college, but as he goes to work on the truck, he finds that it isn't normal steel and many of the usual parts are missing; Cade concludes that they have just found a Transformer. But the family are then attacked by members of the government demanding to know whatever Cade may know about the whereabouts of Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen), before the truck suddenly comes to life and reveals itself to indeed by Optimus Prime. We then see shots of government official Harold Attinger, (played by Kelsey Grammer), who says that a new era has begun and that the age of the Transformers is over. We then see images of human agents systematically taking down the Autobots as they are told outright that the world does not need them anymore. Of course, this is all before the beginning of what appears to be a new Decepticon invasion, led by what appears to be Galvatron, the evolved form of Prime's arch nemesis Megatron. Typical Bay-ham ensues from there as the Transformers never-ending war unfolds on our planet all over again. But the trailer ends with a very interesting sequence of Optimus Prime getting into a fight with Grimlock, giant robotic T-Rex and leader of the Dinobots.
The trailer is certainly exciting and reveals that it is taking the Transformers franchise in some curious new directions, but for the most part, those who were not pleased with any of the previous three films shouldn't expect much different here. The lack of Shia LeBeouf, despite the number of fans who might appreciate it, does make this one like the outsider of the series, but Mark Wahlberg should make for a suitable enough replacement (Besides, lets face it, its not like most of us go to these movies for the human characters, right?). The idea of humans outright rejecting and even hunting down the Transformers is a new idea that does carry on naturally from the events seen in the earlier movies, but still, a Transformers film where the Decepticons may not be the main villains (I say may because we still don't know everything yet) does not sound promising. However, I do like that this new plot angle gives the film's title a double meaning, referring to the possible end of the Transformers time on our planet, and as a not-so-subtle reference to the long-awaited introduction of the Dinobots.
The second, as far more surprising trailer, is for the 2014 video game Batman: Arkham Knight. Developed by Rocksteady Studios, who previous developed the games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, but not he third game Batman: Arkham Origins, this game is reported going to be the last in the hugely successful Arkham series. Taking place one year after the events of Arkham City, the trailer, which can be viewed here, reveals that Gotham City is now under siege from the Scarecrow as he and hoard of supervillains like the Penguin, Two-Face, Harley Quinn and the Riddler. All the while Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy), gears up to take on the threat while hearing the voice of his father, Thomas Wayne, inside his head. Thomas reads his last will and testament that all of his wealth and possessions be left to his son, and asks that Bruce commit himself to making Gotham a better place, telling him to give back to the city and to be strong. He advises Bruce not to frivolous with his wealth by spending it all on fast cars and outrageous clothes (which he says over an images of the Batmobile and Batsuit), and the pursuit of a destructive lifestyle (oh, the irony). He regrets that he will not grow up to see the good man Bruce is destined to become and lastly asks that Bruce not abandon the city to fate. Batman then takes off in the Batmobile to save Gotham from the forces of evil once again.
The trailer looks nothing short of awesome, with excellent next-gen quality graphics. After they passed on developing Arkham Origins, it is excellent to see them back to develop this new game, which apparently they have been working on this whole time. Knowing that Kevin Conroy will be returning for this supposed grand finale fills me with immense satisfaction as well. The game has already been announced as single-player only, not multi-player like Origins was, and it will be released exclusively for the Playstation 4, Xbox One and for the PC. It was also revealed that this gme will finally allow players to drive the Batmobile on missions, with Gotham City itself redesigned to have wider streets in order to accommodate it. Also, the title Arkham Knight actually does not refer to Batman himself, but is the name a new villain created exclusively for the game by Geoff Johns.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is slated for a theatrical release on June 27, 2014, while Batman: Arkham Knight is currently prepping for a reported October 14, 2014 release.