Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer Movie Preview (part one)

With 'Iron Man 2' now in theatres, the summer movie season has officially begun. Not a bad movie overall --- not up to the level of the original, but certainly worth a slot in the 'pretty good' section of my best comic book movies ever list from a couple of years back. One minor quibble was that it seemed just a tad bit too much of an informercial for the upcoming 'Avengers' movie, coming out in 2012 and starring Chris Evans as Captain America (first, an ? to the casting, and the Cap movie is out next year), some no-name as Thor (the Thor movie is out next year too), Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, theoretically Ed Norton as the Hulk, and probably Downey and ScarJo in cameos and so forth. Not that I'm complaining about Scarlett Johansson being in a movie, but was Black Widow really necessary here? Did she serve a purpose to the film aside from making Gwyneth Paltrow look like an old lady by comparison? (They even put Scarlett and Gwyneth together in a bunch of scenes to really drive the point home. Poor Gwyneth.) But really, I can take some Avengers hype given that the movie is being directed by none other than Joss Whedon. The odds of Summer Glau playing the Wasp and Nathan Fillion playing Hawkeye just skyrocketed.

So with IM2 out of the way, what else is on the schedule for the summer? Here's a look at some of the big upcoming pictures, combined with the odds of my actually going to go see the movie and the odds of the movie actually being worthwhile.

Letters To Juliet
Odds Of Seeing It: 1%
Odds Of It Being Good: 9%
Put it this way: unless I pick up a serious girlfriend very quickly, there is not a chance in hell I'm seeing this capital-C Chick Flick. Though, judging from the trailer, Amanda Seyfried apparently finds the love of life within the span of a week, so it's not impossible. The only interest I have in this flick is my minor delight at seeing another Veronica Mars alumnus (Seyfried) continue to get work.

Robin Hood
Odds Of Seeing It: 60%
Odds Of It Being Good: 70%
Ridley Scott has Alien, Blade Runner and Black Hawk Down on his resume, but by and large, when I think of a Ridley Scott action movie, all I think of is the word 'slog.' Too much mud and rain and darkness and gloomy cinematography. And now, here's a movie that looks like it's nothing but action scenes in the gloomy English countryside. I liked the original concept of this project much more --- a drama called 'Nottingham' that was focused on the Sheriff, with Robin Hood himself being basically a glorified cameo character who'd pop in from time to time. The catch is that Russell Crowe would've played both Robin AND the Sheriff in that one. See that movie sounded interesting, but the idea apparently got all summer blockbuster-ized by the studio and now we're left with Gladiator in the woods. Maybe the studio didn't want to call attention to the real-life duality of Cate "Maid Marian" Blanchett, whose performances seem to jump from 'fantastic' to 'eye-splittingly terrible' from film to film. It looks like the Disney animated version will retain its title as the best version of 'Robin Hood' ever put to screen. Sir Hiss kicked ass.

MAY 21
Odds Of Seeing It: 100%
Odds Of It Being Good: 66%
I've got a real soft spot for Will Forte, who I think is one of the funnier and more oddball cast members that SNL has ever had. (I had a similar soft spot for Kristen Wiig before SNL drove basically of her characters into the ground.) While I have doubts about how this sketch can be stretched over 90 minutes, hell, I'll give it a chance. The 'R' rating is a positive sign that Forte has just decided to stick all the subversive stuff he can into it.

Shrek Forever After
Odds Of Seeing It: 20%
Odds Of It Being Good: 20%
The Shrek films have been getting progressively worse with every outing, or at least more progressively aimed at children (basically the same thing). Unless it happens to be airing on a plane, I'll give this one a skip. This will presumably be the end of the Shrek franchise, but even though I'm not a fan, I'm fully in favour of it continuing indefinitely. You see, the more Shrek movies they make, the less time Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy have to film more terrible comedies. It's a public service.

MAY 28
Odds Of Seeing It: 100%
Odds Of It Being Good: 95%
Jean-Pierre Jeunet (the director of 'Amelie')'s new movie that looks about as quirky as 'Amelie' was. Sold.

The Prince Of Persia
Odds Of Seeing It: 40%
Odds Of It Being Good: 60%
Because when you want to cast a Middle-Eastern character, you go to Jake Gyllenhaal! I actually have semi-confidence in Mike Newell's ability to direct a semi-interesting action movie, but this one looks pretty generic from the outset. It'll take some strong word of mouth to actually get me into the theatre. If you offered me a ticket to the movie or the old 'Prince Of Persia' game, I'd take the game hands-down.

Sex And The City 2
Odds Of Seeing It: 0%
Odds Of It Being Good: NA
Again, the "not unless I'm suddenly in a serious relationship" card comes into play. And even if I am, I can still pitch the "hey baby, wouldn't you rather go see with with your girlfriends, maybe have dinner and martinis afterwards, and make a girls' night out of it?" plan. It's foolproof. God bless the marketing executive who thought that concept up. He saved countless boyfriends hours of awkwardness in either making up an excuse or having to actually sit through the movie. My friend Joanne took her boyfriend to see the first one, and when he was telling me about the experience, it was like listening to a veteran talk about Vietnam. By the way, the NA stems from the fact that SATC2 clearly isn't aimed at me, so why be a hater and dismiss a movie that isn't targeting me? I'll save my snark for the movie's poster, a.k.a. the most photoshopped image of all time.

(Also, more bad news for Gyllenhaal's casting. Putting this ultimate chick flick against an action movie is common summer movie counter-programming, but 'Prince Of Persia' is clearly counting on bringing some ladies out to see Gyllenhaal in a tunic. But, the SATC2 folks clearly have no fear that Jake The Persian will do anything to siphon off their audience. Again, bad casting from the POP producers. They should've just cast some unknown Middle Eastern actor to play the role at a tenth of Gyllenhall's asking price and they would've achieved the same result.)

Get Him To The Greek
Odds Of Seeing It: 89%
Odds Of It Being Good: 70%
I could see this being pretty entertaining, given that Russell Brand's character was hilarious in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall.' But again, in that one Aldous Snow was just in a supporting role. I'm not sure what he'll be like over an entire movie. Once you take away his comic acrobatic sex with Kristen Bell, what else is there?

Odds Of Seeing It: 0%
Odds Of It Being Good: 0%
This is the one where Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl are....wait, do I even need to continue? Their presence should be enough to explain my disinterest. Anyway, they get married but he ends up being a hitman or something and they end up on the run and blergh. The trailer actually elicited groans of displeasure in one theatre audience I was part of. I'd rather see a two-hour long movie with the same title that's just a camera shot of my face as I'm listening to "Hot Fuss" and "Sam's Town" and gradually realizing that the former isn't as good as I once thought and the latter is way better than I originally thought.

Odds Of Seeing It: 0%
Odds Of It Being Good: 0%
Well, Owen Wilson has already tried real suicide once, so I guess now he's just gunning for career suicide. The cast list of this movie is painful to read. It is literally stocked with actors I enjoy lending their voices to this pile --- Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Steve Coogan, Emma Stone, Sam Elliott, McLovin, William H. Macy and even Thomas "Biff From Back To The Future" F. Wilson. Even worse, the beloved Judy Greer and Lee Pace will have their faces on camera as they're playing Marmaduke's owners. WTF? This is like finding a bathroom stall wall smeared with feces, then finding out that it was done by Picasso. Could it be possible that this film could be some kind of hidden subversive masterpiece? Am I judging it too harshly? Let's ask guest critic Blueby the Talking Pie. Hey Blueby, could 'Marmaduke' end up being pretty good?

Blueby: FUCK NO.

Huh. Pretty definitive. If you can't trust an anthromorphic blueberry pie, who can you trust?

Odds Of Seeing It: 15%
Odds Of It Being Good: 30%
'Splice' seems like a pretty by-the-numbers sci-fi horror movie. Two scientists tinker with genetic experimentation and (surprise surprise!) problems ensue. But I'm obliged to note that childhood crush Sarah Polley is playing one of the scientists, so if she has to star in the occasional turd to continue to fund her directorial projects, so be it.

The A-Team
Odds Of Seeing It: 90%
Odds Of It Being Good: 80%
I actually have somewhat high hopes for this. The original A-team show was a bit before my time, but there's no reason this couldn't be a perfectly acceptable team action movie. Sure, it delayed Rampage Jackson's fight with Rashad Evans by six months, but meh, small price to pay. If nothing else, the movie will raise the odds of one of the stars presenting an award with Charlize Theron.

The Karate Kid
Odds Of Seeing It: 0%
Odds Of It Being Good: 20%
Speaking of remakes of 80's classics, there's this misfire. I'm not looking forward to seeing the Jaden Smith/Jackie Chan Karate Kid, but I'm very interested in reading my pal Mario (maybe the biggest Karate Kid fan around) inevitably writing a review that just tears this movie to shreds. The chances of Mario being shushed by an usher for shouting profanities at the screen are surprisingly high, given that theatres don't even really have ushers anymore.

Jonah Hex
Odds Of Seeing It: 66%
Odds Of It Being Good: 66%
This is ostensibly a 'comic book movie,' but even a former comic geek like myself has never heard of Jonah Hex. That could be a sign that I'm not as big a geek as I seem (which couldn't possibly be true), or a sign that they're really running out of characters to build a franchise around. This one might be good for a $4 Tuesday afternoon screening at the Rainbow, but not much else. No idea about the quality. So, basically, this summary was worthless. Glad to help, everyone!

Toy Story 3
Odds Of Seeing It: 100%
Odds Of It Being Good: 100%
No-brainer. Though I really should get around to seeing Toy Story 2 at some point, eh? (Fun fact: it's been over two years since I wrote the Shame List, yet I've seen just two of the movies on that list since. Breakfast Club and Rocky II, for the record. So clearly, the trick is to make a sequel and I'll have to see the first one to catch up. English Patient 2: Revenge Of Fiennes must be green-lit.)

Odds Of Seeing It: 10%
Odds Of It Being Good: 20%
Adam Sandler going Adam Sandler things. Meh. The concept is literally "The old pals from early 90's SNL get back together to hang out, except Chris Farley is dead so we brought in Kevin James." It's a real slap in the face to Victoria Jackson, who has spent the last 15 years working her way up to being Farley-sized.

Knight And Day
Odds Of Seeing It: 25%
Odds Of It Being Good: 50%
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Together. Since apparently the world didn't get enough of their chemistry in Vanilla Sky? I think the hook here is basically just a souped-up version of 'Killers,' except with bigger stars and a bigger budget. Still not very interesting, but I'm giving it better quality odds since Cruise movies are usually at least watchable, if not always good. Also, whoever came up with that title needs to be fired, and this is coming from someone who loves cheesy puns. It doesn't look like I'll be at the movies on the weekend of June 25.

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