Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The First Trailer for "Snowden" Promises Disarray Without Any Substance

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
It seems like 2015 will be the year that Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a lot of Oscar-winning figures. Most specifically, people who were the main subjects of Best Documentary winners. With The Walk's first trailer in recent memory, it's time for the other, arguably bigger one. Following this year's Best Documentary winner Citizenfour, director Oliver Stone is back to his old political ways with a film chronicling the life of the notorious Edward Snowden. Is he a patriot? Well, we'll get Stone's impression pretty soon. For now, we have the first trailer that at least suggests some form of patriotism.

It has been awhile since Stone has appeared in the Oscars conversation. With his last major film being the maligned Savages, he has been on a consistent hit and miss ratio. However, the one thing that is interesting about him is that at his best, he is able to make political subject matter come to life in aggressive, sometimes informative manners. While he hasn't had the most success in the past decade, his films like W and World Trade Center address contemporary and relevant topics with a dissenting passion to popular notions. He is, for the most part, a good director with the right material.

It is hard to really determine what's so great about making a Snowden biopic. While the man's work helped to inform the public of some dark NSA secrets, it also caused him to be a pariah who had to flee the nation, only appearing in a documentary and on Last Week Tonight. Very little is known about him personally. The better question here is will Stone make him empathetic, or will he be villainous? The former is more suggestive given the director's depiction of other political figures. Even then, what will he bring to the story that Citizenfour didn't already do?

Check out the trailer:

The shortest answer for all of this is that it's a teaser. It's not even an interesting one at that. Given the director's controversial views, there isn't much that is shocking. He makes the tagline "One nation under surveillance with liberty and justice for all." If that doesn't provide much implication of what's to come, then nothing will. With an exception to facts being rundown over a black screen, there isn't much to dissect at this current moment.

But the better question is if this will be Gordon-Levitt's way into the Oscar race. With this opening on Christmas, it puts him right in the sweet spot for Oscar voters. While it is all indicative on if The Walk or Snowden is better, there's some hope that this will be pretty good. With a cast that includes Shailene Woodley and Nicolas Cage, the cast is rather impressive and provides hope that something interesting will happen. However, due to Stone's very nature, it may end up just being as controversial as American Sniper and skidding most of its chances to a halt based on that alone. 

But still, the trailer is fine, but doesn't leave much to be desired. We already have an idea of who Snowden is because of the rare and special Citizenfour. What we don't get out of this is something promising compared to the other films opening this fall. So who knows how things will go. Is the looming influence of Snowden going to end up helping this film, or will political disagreement take away from the actual film? Nothing is certain, but here's hoping that something valuable comes of this Oscar season. Whether or not this will be included is another question.

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