Welcome back to The Morning Read.

Man, did I need that vacation.  I needed it to spend time with my sons and my wife after their long trip to South America.  I needed it after the wild ride that is Sundance each year.  But more than anything, I just plain needed to step away from movies for a week and shut everything down so I could clear my mind, reset my palette, and prepare myself for the rest of 2011.

I did not watch the Super Bowl yesterday.  Nothing against the big game, but if I don't watch during the season, I don't see much point in pretending that I'm invested one day out of the year.  I enjoy football, but I don't really have time to devote to it, and that's the sort of thing that I feel like you need to make room for as a fan.  I have caught up on the movie ads that premiered during yesterday's game, though, and so I thought we'd kick off this Morning Read with some quick reactions to the way these specific campaigns are being managed.  Obviously I put up a piece about the "Super 8" piece by itself, but there were a number of other big ads that premiered as well.

It's especially appropriate that there was a "Fast Five" trailer during the game, because I've got some "Fast Five" set visit coverage coming up this week.  I'm not a big fan of this series, but I like the way they've managed it, and I think it's a pretty amazing example of turning a very modest little hit into an ongoing concern that is one of the most significant franchises for Universal these days.  Who would have ever guessed back before the first Rob Cohen film hit theaters?


 


The Marvel one-two punch of "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" worked for me.  There's not a lot of new footage in the "Thor" spot, but there's some, and I have to admit I'm mystified by the extreme negativity I'm seeing from some people regarding the film.  Maybe it's a good thing if people walk in electing to be underwhelmed.  It puts "Thor" in an underdog position, and when it turns out to be as groovy as I think it's going to be, it'll end up being a great surprise.  

 


With "Captain America," I'd say that first footage more than did the trick to get people interested.  The instant transformation from Steve Rogers to super-soldier is an easy visual explanation of where Captain America came from, and I love the quick glimpse of Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull.  If Joe Johnston really does tap into a "Raiders Of The Lost Ark"/"The Rocketeer" vibe with the film, it's going to be preposterous fun.

 


The "Transformers 3" spot works because of its minimal approach and because of that image of Optimus Prime raining havoc on some other giant robots with his sword.  The thing they have to overcome is the lingering horror of the last film's non-screenplay, the result of the last writer's strike and a set-in-stone release date, and as long as the script is just fun this time, they should have another monster hit.

 


It's funny how similar some of the spots were this year.  It's like the same exact people cut the "Battle: Los Angeles" ad that cut "Transformers 3," with the same sort of minimal aesthetic to emphasize the scale of the eye candy.


"Rango" looks so weird and so great.

 


"Rio" appears to be the reason Pixar pulled the plug on "Newt," because the story similarities are so close it would have been uncomfortable releasing both films in the same year.

 


Two different ads for "Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," and I still haven't seen an image that jumps out and grabs me.  I'm almost surprised how there's no "oh my god!" moments in these trailers.  Yes, Captain Jack Sparrow is back, and yes, Penelope Cruz makes the cutest li'l pirate in the world, but is that enough?


And another:

 

 

Meanwhile, "Cowboys and Aliens" is looking more and more confident to me, and I get the feeling there's a whole lot of this movie that they're not even hinting at yet.  Most of what we've seen is from the first half of the picture, and if they've got that many money shots up front, what do you think they've got planned for the big finish?

 


And now, moving from the giant-budget Super Bowl spots to the opposite end of things, have you seen the teaser that premiered this morning over at Twitch for "Frankenstein's Army"?  Basically, what if Hitler got his hands on the work of Victor Von Frankenstein?  What if he planned to use that work to win WWII?  Well, Richard Raaphorst's got answers to those questions for you:

 


Phil Mocek, I salute you.


I have seen more of these films than the average film fan, I'd wager, but not nearly enough of them to feel like I'm in a position to comment on the list as a whole.  No matter what sort of film viewer you are, just realize that there is always more you could see.  That's what keeps it exciting, don't you think?

I dig this look at Terence Young and his influence on the way we think of James Bond as a character, and I came across it as I was listening to John Barry Bond scores last week while mourning Barry's passing.  James Bond has many fathers, and there's no denying that Young was one of them.

Andy Wright, I also salute you.

There has been a major outpouring of affection for a huge "Star Wars" documentary put together by Jamie Benning, and deservedly so.  I haven't made it through all 14 parts of it yet, but I think it's a fascinating statement on the continued hold that this fictional world has on fans everywhere, and Cinematical just chatted with Benning to give you an idea of what to expect from his film.

It's interesting to see how the characters from the prequel trilogy are making their way into pop culture, and how fans seem to genuinely want more of these characters.  I think the definition of what is "really" Star Wars has changed, no matter how much OT fans wish it hadn't.

Just because you're actually working in the industry doesn't mean you can't be considered a fan, and a great example of that is the story reel that Disney animator Heidi Gilbert just put together for "Defying Gravity," one of the big numbers from "Wicked," as a way of showing how she feels the film would work if animated, and it's a beautiful pitch.  I have no idea what form "Wicked" will end up taking on the bigscreen, and it's been in so many different hands in development for so long that it's little wonder you've got fans daydreaming like this.  It's not many of them that can bring those daydreams to life this well, but the passion is the same:



Bill O'Reilly, Eugene Mirman salutes you.

Tura Satana died last week, and leave it to Lars Nilsen to pay proper tribute to one of the greatest Russ Meyer women ever.

Todd Gilchrist, the hardest working man in rock'n'roll, wrote a very measured response to Walter Murch's recent comments on 3D, and it's strange when you find yourself standing in firm opposition to guys you respect like Murch and Roger Ebert.  I think 3D has become a real sticking point for many film artists, and we're watching battle lines evolve, when there's no point in that.  If you don't want to work in 3D, don't.  And if you don't have the clout to make that decision, then there are larger issues at play, and being angry at 3D or dismissive of it as a tool is pointless.  I know when I spoke to Roger Deakins recently, he's not a fan, and I had to laugh when my buddy Damon, who writes over at CHUD, tweeted this last night:

RT @houx Me: Recently, Walter Murch wrote an article about how he hates 3-D... Roger Deakins: (Laughs) Good for him.

And another recent high point for Gilchrist?  Interviewing Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Julia Marchese, who I consider one of the epicenters of film fandom in Los Angeles, pretty much is the New Beverly Cinema in my mind.  I know there are a number of people who make that place work, and I think they all do great work, but Julia has become the face of the theater in many ways.  And now she's written a gorgeous love letter to the theater and the culture around it that speaks to the importance of a thriving revival cinema scene in any city.

Oh, god, I want one.

Okay, seriously, can we stop staring into the displays of these devices we all seem to be surgically attached to?  This is getting dangerous.

ObsessedWithFilm.com more than lives up to its name with this piece about "Groundhog Day" that only underscores just how wonderful and strange that film's script really is.

And speaking of obsession, this is just plain crazy.  Amazing.  And totally crazy.

Do you love "The Room"?  If so, you'll enjoy this.  I'm guessing there is no end to Wiseau-mania, considering how deeply strange he seems to be.

And while we're on the subject of shameless hams, Bacon, I think it's safe to say that we all salute you.  Now get in my belly.

It's great to be back at work, and there's plenty more to come today and this week, including a new Film Nerd 2.0, the return of the Basics and the Motion/Captured Podcast, and much more.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn't.