I love it when movie screens go crash-and-boom for four months during the summer movie going season. There are more than just these below on the docket for this summer, but my goal with this preview is to highlight the movies that I am most excited to check out (hence the lack of rom-coms and kid-pic mentions). Anyways, here’s a peek at my most anticipated flicks.
The summer movie season officially kicks off on May 1st with franchise spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman as the titular character. Directed by Gavin Hood (Rendition), the film has a sturdy cast (Danny Houston, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch) and the trailer is looking pretty sweet. I was a big fan of the first two X-Men features; the third installment not as much. I hope that Hood is able to bring a bit of dark edginess to this film, as the character of Wolverine definitely qualifies as “dark” and “edgy”.
On May 8th, the J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek reboot hits theaters. I am not a trekkie by any stretch but the trailer for this new outing looks incredible, at least visually. I am a big sci-fi fan in general and I have been pleased with Abrams’ recent cinematic output (Mission: Impossible 3, Cloverfield). This should be a lot of fun.
May 15th brings the release of the new Sascha Baron Cohen comedy Bruno, which hopes do for gay Austrian fashion designers what Borat did for awkward Kazakh journalists. Ha-ha. But seriously, even without having seen any footage, this is easily one of my most anticipated films for the summer. Also on May 15th, Ron Howard’s DaVinci Code prequel Angels & Demons hits theaters. I barely remember the first one, so I am not too excited for this one. We’ll see…maybe a matinee…
For the Memorial Day weekend, we’ll have Terminator: Salvation hitting theaters on 5/22. Surprisingly, the recently released full trailer kicks all sorts of ass. I have detested director McG’s resume thus far (the two Charlie’s Angels movies, We Are Marshall) but something tells me that this film will be his big coming-out. We’ll see. Having Christian Bale as the lead gives me some hope and confidence about the overall quality of the script – Bale wouldn’t phone one in at this point in his career, would he?
On May 29th, the Pixar juggernaut rolls along with their latest creation, Up, a film I know very little about other than that it involves a little old man and his house being lifted off the ground by lots of balloons. Oh, and it’s in 3-D. The most recent Pixar tale, Wall*E, was a landmark movie. If Up is only half-as-good as Wall*E than we’ll all be in for a treat. Also of note on May 29th is director Sam Raimi’s return to horror, Drag Me to Hell. I am not a big horror fan, but I do love me some Raimi, so this’ll be one horror thriller I make an effort to see on the big screen.
On June 5th, we get a little film in the midst of all of the explosions: Away We Go, a new comedy from director Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, American Beauty), who is taking his first stab at an out-right laugher. Starring Jon Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a married couple expecting their first child, the film is apparently all about the process of finding a house in America to call your own. I don’t know much about the film, but at this point, anything coming from Mendes seems to be worthy of your time. I still think his adaptation of Jarhead was one of the most incisive Iraq war movies made yet. Also on June 5th is the Will Ferrell-Danny McBride sci-fi comedy Land of the Lost, which looks like, well, lots of berserk fun. I love McBride, so he could be starring in a movie version of The Phone Book and I’d be there opening day. Also, a small tidbit, but the cinematographer on Land of the Lost is the amazing Dion Beebe, who shot the shit out of both Collateral and Miami Vice for Michael Mann. The film should at least look amazing…
The big-gun release for June 12th is Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123, his remake of Alvin Sargent’s 1970’s actioner about a subway worker (Denzel Washington) who has to contend with a nasty hijacker (John Travolta). Let's look at some of the films on Tony Scott's resume: Top Gun. Enemy of the State. Man on Fire. Domino. True Romance. This guy just doesn't fuck around. This is easily one of my most anticipated films of the summer. Scott is one of my movie-Gods, so I couldn’t be happier to see his latest get a choice summer release date. Add in the fact that the film will be rated R and I’m even more excited.
On June 19th, the horrendous looking Year One hits theaters. On paper, it’s got a funny premise: a caveman comedy about the invention of mankind with Jack Black, Michael Cera, and tons of familiar faces, written by a team of The Office scribes, and directed by comedy veteran Harold Ramis. Then why does the film’s trailer look so abysmal? I really hope the gears start changing on this movie, because I want to want to see it.
But make way for June 26th, because it’s on this day that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen blasts its way onto movie screens across the globe. This mega-budgeted sequel from shock-and-awe action maestro Michael Bay is my pick for “biggest grossing movie of the summer” status, and it’s also one of the top two films of the season for me personally. I flat-out loved the first Transformers movie; it wasn’t rocket-scientist shit, but for what it wanted to be, it was exactly that – incredibly entertaining. Bay has been talking a lot of shit the last few weeks about how massive his new film will be in scope – I can only imagine. But judging from the film's recently released trailer, I'd say that Bay is really upping the ante. I expect the CGI bar that Bay set with the first installment to be utterly destroyed with this new film. I cannot wait.
The 4th of July holiday weekend typically involves Will Smith, aliens, or superheroes. Not this year. Instead, the big movie for the holiday weekend is decidedly adult in tone – Public Enemies, from master filmmaker Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral, The Insider, Ali, Miami Vice). This is my #1 film for the entire summer movie season (Transformers takes a back seat to this one). With an R-rating, a cast which includes Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, and a slew of great supporting actors, and extremely appealing subject matter (John Dillinger’s crime spree through 1930’s Chicago), Public Enemies could be that rare summer blockbuster (like Gladiator) that finds both critical acclaim and audience acceptance, making this an early Oscar contender. Should be a sensational film. Mann working again with his Heat and The Insider cinematographer Dante Spinotti is yet another reason to be pumped for this new film.
On July 19th, Woody Allen’s latest tale of dysfunction, Whatever Works, hits theaters. I have really been digging Allen’s latest work (Melinda & Melinda, Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona were all aces), but the pairing of Allen behind the camera with the super-neurotic Larry David in the lead role should be a match made in nebbish heaven. My only issue: the involvement of Evan Rachel Wood, an actress who I cannot stand. Fine, she was very good in her brief scenes in The Wrestler, but everything about that film was phenomenal, so all she had to do was not suck. Whatever Works is some sort of May-December romance involving David and Wood, so this should be an appropriately weird little flick.
The Hurt Locker, from director kinetic filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break), made a huge splash at various film festivals late last year, and finally hits theaters on July 24th. If you’ve seen the live-wire trailer, you know what it’s about: a team of bomb disposal soldiers in Iraq who are tasked with defusing (or detonating) all of the IED’s that line the roadways and city streets. The film looks powerful and explosive, and while not necessarily a winking-at-you demolition derby like the ones that Bay has become known for, The Hurt Locker could be a serious stand-out amongst all of the other, more juvenile offerings. Also on July 24th, there’s a relatively good sounding (and looking) rom-com called The Ugly Truth coming out, which stars Katherine Heigel and Gerard Butler. Hey, if I gotta see one chick-flick this summer as penance for taking my soon-to-be-wife to see boy-toy-movies like Transformers 2, this one at least looks funny. And risqué. The R-rating helps a lot. But have you seen the trailer? It actually looks cute and funny. And it’s got a nice, clever poster. It could be a fun change of pace.
Then, on July 31st, one day after my birthday, comes the latest Judd Apatow directed laugher, Funny People, which stars Apatow regulars Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, along with newcomers Adam Sandler and Eric Bana. The film, judging from its trailer, seems to be more serious than previous Apatow fare, which could be a good thing. Or a bad thing. I believe the film revolves around the professional stand-up comedy circuit, and I’d wager a guess that it’ll be R-rated like all of Apatow’s other movies. On paper, it’s got lots going for it, but I need to see a bit more. The trailer was interesting because it wasn’t necessarily laugh-out-loud the way the trailers have been for Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and The 40 Year Old Virgin. But, it’d be silly to bet against Apatow at this point.
The biggest question mark of the summer movie season belongs to the big August 7th title, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Now, I am of two minds with this film. On one hand, you’ve got the real potential for a fun, goofy action flick with all sorts of great opportunity for wanton destruction and mayhem. But on the other hand, you’ve got the involvement of craptastic director Stephen Sommers, who was responsible for The Mummy (a solid movie, fine), The Mummy Returns (pretty cheesy), and Van Helsing (amazingly cheesy). The cast is jam-packed: Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Christopher Eccelston. That Super Bowl trailer was decent – the film will at least look nice and it should deliver some decent thrills. But something tells me that this film will go wrong at exactly the same place that the similarly themed Transformers movies have gone so right: overall execution. Sommers a’int Bay. So we’ll see what develops…
Then, to close out the summer, is Quentin Tarantino’s latest romp, Inglorious Basterds, which hits theaters on August 21st. I am a Tarantino disciple from way back. He’s only let me down once (see Death Proof) but I consider him to be one of the most original and eclectic voices in American cinema. True, he borrows a lot from the various masters that he so obviously worships, but you just know that when the lights are dimming in the theater and the latest Tarantino is splashed over the screen, you’re in for something daring, crazy, and at the very least, viscerally exciting. Inglorious Basterds is some sort of Nazi-hunting, WWII spaghetti Western, with lots of graphic violence, irreverent humor, and Brad Pitt sporting a sleazy moustache and an even sleazier Southern drawl. The film sounds and looks like more fun that a barrel of monkeys.
So, there you have it – an in depth look at some of the titles that I’m most interested in over the summer movie season. I’m sure I’ve missed some titles – if you can think of any major movies left off the list, please let me know. And if I was forced to rank the titles in order of personal anticipation, here’s what it would look like:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Taking of Pelham 123
The Hurt Locker
Land of the Lost
Away We Go
Drag Me To Hell
The Ugly Truth
Angels and Demons