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Borderlands trailer fails to instill blockbuster confidence

Full disclosure: Throw everything you know about Borderlands out the window if you want to enjoy the film adaptation. I absolutely love the entire cast – just not for this movie. Granted, I only have its first trailer to go on, but unless it’s set some 30+ years in the original game’s future, the casting makes zero sense.

It has been four years since Lionsgate confirmed it was producing a Borderlands movie. It finally released the first trailer on Thursday (above). We’ve known the primary cast for a while. It stars Cate Blanchette as Lilith the Siren, Kevin Hart as Roland the Soldier, and Florian Munteanu as Krieg the Psycho.

Ariana Greenblatt as Tiny Tina rounds out the typical four-person crew even though Tina has never been a vault hunter in any of the games. The group also seems to have picked up another non-hunter traveling companion, Dr. Patricia Tannis, played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Borderlands without CL4P-TP, better known as Claptrap. Lionsgate tapped Jack Black to voice the annoying little robot, but you probably can’t tell with the voice modulation. Black might be the only casting decision I like.

Bringing up support is Gina Gershon as Moxxi, Janina Gavankar as Commander Knoxx, Benjamin Byron Davis (Dutch van der Linde in RDR2) as Marcus, and Steven Boyer as Scooter.

The trailer was well-received. Everyone seems to like it but me.

Polygon said, “The Borderlands movie looks surprisingly good – and a lot like Borderlands.”

“The trailer actually looks and feels like Borderlands,” Engadget raved. “The big and bright color palette recalls the cel-shaded aesthetic from the games.”

@lavabubs this is not hating on the decision btw, I love Jamie Lee Curtis and I could see her playing the role well #borderlands #borderlandsmovie ⬠john mulaney is god – lap stealer

Call me cynical, but Hollywood has a bad record for producing good video game movies, and this trailer did not instill confidence that this one will land on the short list of exceptions. You might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you certainly can judge a movie by its trailer, and I’m not impressed.

I love Blanchette and Curtis as actresses, but both are about 30 years too old for the parts they play. Even Gershon, at 61, is pushing the boundaries playing Mad Moxxi, but I can somewhat make that stretch, considering the number of husbands the voluptuous bartender has had.

I initially liked Greenblatt as Tiny Tina, but the few scenes of her portrayal in the trailer left me shaking my head. It just wasn’t Tiny Tina. Boyer might bring some shine to the dim but extremely lovable mechanic Scooter, but he is absent from the trailer.

We don’t see enough of Hart to tell if he nailed Roland, but a comedian playing a character who is an uber-straightman in the games is counterintuitive. I would have liked to see Shemar Moore (SWAT’s Hondo) in the role. And don’t get me started on Eli Roth as director. A grindhouse filmmaker heading up a lighthearted comedy based on a goofy game would not have been my first pick.

Perhaps I’m too nitpicky. Maybe it will be the best video game movie ever produced. I’d love to be wrong but won’t bet on it. Forbes seems to agree.

“I think only up-and-coming star of Young Gamora and Young Ahsoka fame, Greenblatt, feels right in the part. Blanchett is a strange choice here, aging up Lilith by a significant margin, though obviously her acting chops know no bounds. I’m not sure they will be…tested to their fullest extent here. Her fellow Oscar winner is Jamie Lee-Curtis as Tannis, only glimpsed in the trailer.”

Forbes didn’t even like Jack Black as the voice of Claptrap because it was too different from long-time CL4P-TP voice actor David Eddings. So perhaps I’m not being too nitpicky.

As I said in 2020, when we knew very little about the film, “Video game film adaptations rarely do well, and most of the time, they flop because the writers played with the lore too much.”

Casting actors that don’t fit their characters has just as much potential to ruin the film.

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