Friday, May 02, 2008

SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW '08




The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 5%
Didn't see the first one, didn't read the books, vaguely remember seeing a church theatre performance of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe in St. Thomas when I was seven, but that's it. I'm looking more forward to the inevitable SNL rehashing of the Chronic-What?-cles of Narnia.

The Dark Knight
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 150%
Can I make it 200? It's comforting knowing that a movie will be released this summer that will automatically take a place in my all-time top 10. There is not even a shred of doubt that Dark Knight will fail to live up to expectations. There's also a better than 50 percent chance that Heath Ledger wins a posthumous supporting actor Oscar. The Joker is truly the Hamlet of crazy comic villain roles.

Get Smart
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 66%
Do people even remember the original Get Smart series? I vaguely recall seeing a few episodes on YTV back when I was a kid. I can see Carell and the Rock making this pretty amusing, but remember, Carell in movies isn't a sure thing. I think industry types out in L.A. are still cutting wrists over Evan Almighty. Couldn't Buck Henry have at least been brought in as a co-writer? Surely he has time to do more than just play Liz Lemon's father. The constant 'lemon party' references in that episode are probably the slyest and grossest jokes in 30 Rock history, by the way. That almost caused as big a spit take as that episode of Corner Gas when the female cop is cutting Brent's hair, and Brent says "I'm getting a little trim from Karen. I mean, Karen's cutting my hair." God bless subversive comedy.

Hamlet 2
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
Steve Coogan plays a high school drama teacher who wants to make a musical sequel to Hamlet. Sold. Steve Coogan, btw, is better known as Alan Partridge to old-school BBC fans...so, uh, I guess that's nobody who's reading this. This will probably be one of those sleeper comedies that gains a cult following, sort of like how the Riddler is a cult fave of Batman fans. I guess you could say the Riddler is truly the Hamlet 2 of crazy comic villain roles.

Hancock
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 80%
I enjoy this newish trend of superhero movies based around the concept of what would happen if someone actually applied superpowers to real-life situations. For example, there was that underrated flick where Luke Wilson dumped Uma Thurman, who ended up being basically Supergirl. Then there was Patrick Stewart's movie about a James Bond-type who would actually control things with his mind like Professor X, which I think was titled I've Seen Everything. Now there's Hancock, about a superhero who's a drunken screw-up and has to rebuild his image. These are the kind of tongue-in-cheek, genre-bending superhero stories that Heroes should be doing, that is, if Heroes wasn't a completely bullshit show.

The Happening
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 33%
M. Night Shymalan is basically Barry Zito by this point. He'll need more than one good movie/quality start to convince people that he's back to normal. Here's something to chew on: even if Zito ends up being a complete bust and thus making the Giants' $126-million contract a total waste, there will be lots of movies on this list that cost way more than $126 million and will be even bigger failures. So unless you're a movie producer with both Giants season tickets and a stake in Speed Racer, it's not a total lose-lose. Is M. Night over the twist endings yet? Did Lady in the Water have a surprise ending aside from the audience realizing that no, this movie isn't going to get better?

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 60%
The first Hellboy was pretty decent, and in the interim Guillermo Del Toro went and became a massive directing superstar. It's kind of amusing that his first film since Pan's Labyrinth is the sequel to a little-seen comic book movie but hey, maybe Hellboy can suddenly become a top-tier comics franchise like Spidey or Batman. One thing that really, really took me out of the first Hellboy was the fact that Hellboy's fishman sidekick was voiced by David Hyde Pierce. It's hard to buy into the fantasy world when one of the main characters sounds like Niles Crane. Fortunately, Pierce isn't on board this time around, but the main villain is voiced by...Seth Macfarlane. So, I guess now it'll be Brian the Dog that ruins the movie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
I have high, high hopes for this one, and it would really let me down if it's anything less than awesome. I find it amusing that Spielberg is in a no-lose situation here. If it's great, people will praise him. If it's poor, people will put the blame on George Lucas, who's still swimming in the wake of the debacle that was the Star Wars prequels. Senor Spielbergo is in the clear. But I have faith in Steve and George. This movie has been in the works for too long, and Indy is too dear to theirs and Harrison Ford's hearts, to let the franchise die. I refuse to believe, by the way, that Sean Connery isn't involved. He'll make a cameo, I'd guarantee it. Normally this is the point where you'd hear complaints about Shia LaBeouf, but after Transformers, he's earned a bit of street cred.

Iron Man
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 75%
Marvel seems like it's tired of making crappy movies of their franchise characters. Of all the Marvel movies, how many have been legitimately good? You've got the classic Spider-Man II, the excellent X-Men 2, the pretty good Blade, Punisher, X-Men 1, Spidey 1 and Spidey III (which I'm putting on the list because it wasn't THAT bad, come on). All the rest have been total abominations. Even worse, its flagship characters (Spider-Man and the X-Men) are in semi-limbo film-wise due to various issues with directors and actors being attached to the project. So, Marvel decided to suck it up and try to elevate one of the b-list heroes, namely Iron Man, into a top-tier movie franchise. I like the talent involved in the film, and it really seemed like Jon Favreau went out of his way to cast people who seem to really fit the role. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is such picture-perfect casting that I'm demanding that if Sam Raimi steps aside on Spider-Man, I want Favreau on Spidey IV. Maybe then we'll see an upgrade from friggin' Eric Foreman as Venom and Lowell from Wings as Sandman.

Also, Jon Favreau?! This guy has quietly had one of the most interesting careers of anyone in the last 15 years. He's directed one of the great kids movies in Elf, wrote and starred in one of the all-time great guy movies in Swingers, and now he seems to be dipping his toe into the comic-book adaptation world. Plus, let's not forget his guest appearance on Friends as the billionaire-turned-UFC fighter. Given the rise in popularity of the UFC in the last couple of years, man does that episode seem ahead of its time. How weird is it to see the likes of Big John McCarthy, Bruce Buffer, Tank Abbott, etc. on a mainstream show like Friends back in 1996?

The Incredible Hulk
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 25%
I'm breaking my alphabetical order since it just seems fitting to have this entry follow the Iron Man entry. So yeah, Ed Norton is playing the Hulk and unlike the first film, this one will just be balls-out action. The first Hulk movie was unfortunate on many levels. On the one hand, I really liked the idea of Ang Lee bringing some gravitas to a comic-book story. And really, the middle third of Hulk was pretty good. But it's just a shame that the other two thirds were atrociously bad. No truth to the rumour that Lee got the idea to direct Brokeback after boning Hulk fans up the pooper with that first movie. N.B. I referred to most of Marvel's films as abominations in the Iron Man entry. The villain in Incredible Hulk is, in fact, The Abomination. Good thing I didn't refer to the movies as abortions.

The Longshots
Chances I'll Enjoy It: -20%
I'm including this one on the list just because it's a kids' movie about a little girl wanting to play Pop Warner football with the boys. Fun and heartwarming, right? It's directed by FRED DURST. That's right, straight from 90's retro night, Durst is back! In pog form! For some of you younger folks, once upon a time Fred Durst was the most universally-loathed human being on planet earth. I'm being completely serious. Like, even Osama Bin Laden has some supporters. But not Durst.

The Love Guru
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 25%
Is it fair to re-evaluate Mike Myers as someone who is, by and large, actually not very funny? The only joke in Austin Powers that doesn't seem horribly dated is the 'trying to back the golf cart out from between the walls' bit, which is shocking given that the first Powers movie came out just over a decade ago. Is it possibly that Myers was just a creation of Bonnie and Terry Turner all along? Two things can potentially save this film. A) the fact that Myers apparently improvised most of his dialogue, so this will be a true litmus test of whether he still has his comic fastball. And B) the fact that Jessica Alba plays the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm not joking. Would Leafs fans be more forgiving of MLSE if they ditched Richard Peddie and installed a hot chick as the figurehead? Hopefully this doesn't give Peddie any ideas. I don't want the new Leafs GM to be one of the Raptors' dance troupe.

Made of Honor
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 0%
I should also amend this to zero percent chance I'll see it. First of all, no self-respecting man would ever be the maid of honor for a female friend, not even if he's in love with her or whatever the fucking premise of this yawner is. The rules are, if your close female friend is getting married, she makes the groom anoint you a groomsman. He gets to add a female friend or sister of his to her bridal party. I'm pretty sure this is outlined in the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms.

Mamma Mia
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 60%
Yeah, I own ABBA Gold. Wanna make something of it? The trailer amuses me since, in case you don't know the plot, a girl invites three men to her wedding, one of whom is her long-lost father. The trailer cites Meryl Streep (the mother), Pierce Brosnan (potential dad #1), Colin Firth (potential dad #2), Amanda Seyfried (the daughter) and Some Guy (the guy she's marrying and no I've never heard of the actor). The third potential dad is totally ignored, which is even funnier to me since it's not some yokel playing him --- it's Stellan Skarsgard. I guess playing Gregor in Ronin doesn't get you top billing with James Bond and Mr. Darcy. Also, whoa, Amanda Seyfried? Lily Kane from Veronica Mars! The fourth wheel (or the Stellan Skarsgard, if you will) of the Mean Girls! She's moving up in the world. Mamma Mia opens on the same day as Dark Knight, so if your girlfriend wants to go see this instead, break up with her.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 5%
Jesus, they're still making Mummy movies?! Does Brendan Fraser have gambling debts he needs to pay off?

Pineapple Express
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
The trailer looks amazing. This could well turn James Franco from being regarded as more or less one of the worst actors in Hollywood into a comic superstar. We might look back at his wooden work as Harry Osborn in the same way we remember Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates in the Psycho remake. I still can't believe that happened --- a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. That has to have been the most pointless vanity project since...four of Gus Van Sant's other movies.

Redbelt
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 50%
Ok, this one isn't a "summer movie" per se, though it opens today. It's a David Mamet film about mixed martial arts, which immediately piques my interest. Mamet's films wildly vary in quality, so who knows, but the cast (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Emily Mortimer, Tim Allen and Mamet regulars Ricky Jay, David Paymer, Rebecca Pidgeon, Joe Mantegna) seems strong. In short, this seems like the greatest Hollywood MMA project since Jon Favreau on Friends. No, I didn't think that random episode would come up twice in this article either. Fun question: who do you think is the actor best suited for Mamet's work? The obvious choices are Alec Baldwin or William H. Macy, but I'd like to nominate Mantegna. House of Games is really, really good.

Sex and the City
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 10%
Spoiler alert: Mr. Big is right about everything since Carrie is an idiot. Sex and the City was basically like I Love Lucy, except Mr. Big isn't a Hispanic stereotype and Lucille Ball was endearing and likable. Whose face would you rather see on the big screen, Sarah Jessica Parker or Lucille Ball? Keep in mind that Lucy's been dead for 20 years. Just so I don't sound totally mean here, I'll note that it's too bad Kristin Davis became a star relatively late in life, since she would've been just an unbelievable beauty around age 25.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 0%
To quote Homer, don't you hate pants? I don't think I could develop a deep enough relationship with a woman that would make me see this movie. At least not in the three months until it opens. I mean, maybe if I was married to a woman for 30 years, we'd had a few kids, and were comfortably settling into our twilight years, and she suggested going to see Traveling Pants, then I MIGHT consider it. But I'd probably have to take a mistress just to reinforce my manhood afterwards, so it wouldn't be worth it in the long run. I would go see the Judd Apatow version, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Diaphragm.

Speed Racer
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 15%
Is it film student-snobby of me to nominate Bound as the Wachowski Brothers' best movie? Or, is it actually counter-snobby, given the popularity of the Matrix among film geeks? When I write my post about the worst movies I've ever seen, Matrix III will hold a high place on the list. That movie was just horrific. I'm writing about things other than Speed Racer here since I never saw the original cartoon and thus have no interest at all in the film. Christina Ricci is in it, which reminds me of the time a friend of mine told me he was dating a girl who looked like, and I quote, "an ugly Christina Ricci." I have no idea what this means. He seemed okay about it. Maybe she was just a butterface? It was confusing.

Step Brothers
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 100%
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as stepbrothers competing for their parents' love. Sold. If you transport John C. Reilly back in time 13 years and put him on the SNL cast, he becomes Will Ferrell. He could take over his life completely. If you transport Will Ferrell back 13 years and put him in Reilly's roles, he just can't do it (though Ferrell could totally knock Reed Rothschild out of the park). Reilly > Ferrell.

Swing Vote
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 20%
Here's the premise: the presidential election comes down to the vote of one person. And that person is played by Kevin Costner. Have you set your phasers to laugh yet? What if I told you that the two presidential candidates were played by (of all people) Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper? Just in case you haven't already sold your house to pay for a theatre-full of tickets out of anticipation, IMDB lists one of writer/director Joshua Michael Stern's past writing credits as Survivor. So, if you want to see a movie written by the guy who had Jeff Probst say "I've got nothing for you" after reward challenges, Swing Vote is for you.

Tropic Thunder
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 75%
Ben Stiller is just about due for another good comedy. This one also stars Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., and the concept sounds pretty funny --- they're actors filming a war movie who get caught in an actual war zone after the director becomes fed up with their bullshit and just leaves them there. Even better, Downey plays a character actor who gets so into his role that he's wearing blackface the whole time. This is the kind of edgy, borderline tasteless stuff that Stiller really excels in, so maybe this is just the movie to wash the stank of Heartbreak Kid off of his tiny frame.

Wall*E
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 90%
PIXAR movies are money in the bank. I'm heavily looking forward to this story of a robot who plays first base for the Angels. Problems arise when he then signs with Kansas City.

What Happens In Vegas
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 5%
Another romantic comedy I won't see, and if I did happen to see, I'd hate. I have never met anyone who's an Ashton Kutcher fan. Not a soul. And I don't mean a major fan, as in someone who goes and sees all his movies, obsessively watches That 70's show reruns, etc. I mean even someone who has any opinion of him higher than "meh, he's nothing special." This movie may only be notable for charting just how close Cameron Diaz is to the Meg Ryan memorial Oh That's A Shame, She Used To Be So Hot zone.

X-Files: I Want To Believe
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 10%
The original subtitle, 'Beating A Dead Horse' was already taken by the next Mummy sequel. Seriously, another X-Files movie? Why bother? I never watched the original show, so this flick has limited appeal for me, and it probably won't be a tenth as good as the legendary X-Files episode of the Simpsons (probably one of the 10 best Simpsons episodes ever, which is saying something).

You Don't Mess With The Zohan
Chances I'll Enjoy It: 40%
The trailer looks horrible, but I'm intrigued by the fact that it was co-written by Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow. Sandler's got to be due for another good movie soon, doesn't he? What's his batting average, about .250? So Spanglish, Longest Yard, Click, Chuck & Larry, Reign Over Me...boy, he's overdue by now. By the way, poker announcers need to stop citing Eli Elezra's time in the Israeli military as a fun fact. It sounds impressive until you realize that everyone in Israel is in the military at one time or another. Isn't it a law? Now I can end this post with the satisfaction of knowing I've ruined Eli Elezra's top pickup line. Now he'll have to settle for, "I'm rich."

3 comments:

Emmett Macfarlane said...

X-Files rules. Otherwise, good stuff.

Anonymous said...

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Dallas said...

Though I have a weakness for rom coms, Made of Honour looks so terrible that even McDreamy couldn't bring it back to life...zing!

No seriously, it looks truly awful, and the reviews are scathing.

I'm with you on The Dark Knight, and I am happy you admitted to probably enjoying Mamma Mia! It takes a real man to enjoy musical theatre. I'm going to see Iron Man tonight, so I will let you know what I think of it.