Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Summer Movie Preview (part one)

The month of May isn't just an above-average Arcade Fire song, it's also what I consider the start of the summer movie season.  Here's a glance at some of the big films coming up over the next four months and whether or not you should see them….in most cases, probably not.

May 4
The Avengers
Chance Of Being Good: 95%
Chance I'll See It: 100%

As both a general comic-movie fan, a specific fan of the Captain America/Thor/Iron Man (at least the first one) movies and a big Joss Whedon fan, SURELY this can't disappoint, right?  Needless to say, there's a bit of pressure on this film.  Marvel has essentially been putting all of its eggs into the Avengers basket for the last several years, so if it's a flop, it's not just this franchise, but several franchises that could be threatened.  Early buzz --- Avengers has already been released internationally --- has been terrific so let's hope this can live up to expectations.  I'm also on a renewed Whedon high thanks to Cabin In The Woods, and just from looking at the cast list, there will be at least a few familiar Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse faces making cameos.  The downside of this picture finally coming out is that I'll have to end my long-running "oh, we've got to wait until the end of the credits so Sam Jackson can ask them to join the Avengers" joke that I've been saying for, oh, more or less every movie for the last three years.  Law of diminishing returns, sure, but it's still a good gag when it's for a movie like, A Separation.


May 11
Dark Shadows 
Chance Of Being Good: 70%
Chance I'll See It: 60%

Speaking of diminishing returns, Johnny Depp is starring in yet another Tim Burton film.  The film is based on an older TV series that I've personally barely heard of, but is apparently a cult favourite.  Looks like a lighter goth-comedy along the lines of Beetlejuice, but as fond of that film as I am, I can't ignore that it would've been pretty unmemorable were it not for Michael Keaton's ball of energy performance.  Can Depp or Eva Green deliver a performance of that ilk to carry this thing?  Meh. 


May 18
What To Expect When You're Expecting
Chance Of Being Good: 18%
Chance I'll See It: 0%

The marketing for this film is really pushing the "Dudes Club" aspect, i.e. the group of no-judging dads who've formed a clique and indoctrinate expectant fathers about what to, well, expect.  I think this marketing is known as Try To Get Some Guys Whatsoever Into The Theatres To See This Thing.  Chris Rock is one of the dads, which is already strike one since few movie stars have appeared in fewer good movies while still being respected than Chris Rock.  Unless I suddenly find myself in a relationship by May 18 or end up becoming an expectant father (anti-knock on wood), there is zero chance I see this unless Anna Kendrick personally invites me as her date to the premiere.  And that odds of that happening are really no better than 50-50.

Hysteria
Chance Of Being Good: 75%
Chance I'll See It: 69% (tee hee)

So yeah, it's about the invention of the vibrator.  Huh.  Since I'm mentally 10 years old, this won't stop me from giggling at everything about this film, including Maggie Gyllenhaal's expression on the poster.  This is definitely not your summer blockbuster type but rather the kind of pleasant British comedy you could take your mom to….er, possibly except for the fact that it's about vibrators.  Bit of a disappointment the film isn't called Hyzzzzzteria.

The Dictator
Chance Of Being Good: 78%
Chance I'll See It: 88%

I'm of two minds about this film.  The trailers look really weak, almost unusually weak.  Then again, Sasha Baron Cohen's trailers are somewhat handicapped by the fact that he can't really reveal several of the major jokes in his movies since they're too raunchy to be trailerable.  SBC has a strong enough track record that I'll presume this is still going to have a lot of laughs, even if the concept is a bit vaguely late-career Mike Myersish.   

Battleship
Chance Of Being Good: 32%
Chance I'll See It: 19%

You may be curious about the very modest but still oddly high chance I'm giving this film of being good, and that's only as a nod to Peter Berg, who's a decent director.  That said, man, does this look like a generic piece of action junk.  Liam Neeson has signed up for some pretty weak projects in his attempt to emulate Harrison Ford's 1995-2005 career but c'mon Liam, you've sunk so low as to seriously have to deliver the line, "You've sunk my battleship"?  At least, I presume Neeson will be the one who says it.  I guess Rihanna could do it, no doubt in a delivery worth of Meryl Streep herself.  I may be giving Peter Berg too much credit, he ain't a miracle worker --- this movie will suck.  


May 25
Men In Black III
Chance Of Being Good: 67%
Chance I'll See It: 40%

THEY WERE WRITING THIS MOVIE AS THEY WERE FILMING IT!  Like, not just making rewrites during shooting like every film does, but shooting on MIB3 began before even an initial script was completed.  That is a straight-up terrible omen.  I'm sure the end result will be a decent sci-fi comedy like the other two MIB movies but really, is there anything here that you really feel the need to plunk down $12 for a ticket?   

Moonrise Kingdom
Chance Of Being Good: 100%*
Chance I'll See It: 95%

I'll get right to the asterisk on the 100%.  Notice, I'm just saying, "chances a film will be GOOD."  Not great, just good.  All of Wes Anderson's movies are good, so unless the man has underwent an unexpected drop in form, I'm going to be as entertained as I always am from an Anderson film.  Now, this being said, I've only found a couple of Anderson's movies -- Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox -- to be anything more than just 'good,' so I'm certainly not predicting a masterpiece from Moonrise Kingdom or anything.  Basically, all we need to say here is that this is a Wes Anderson film and that's what you're going to get.  If it involves Bill Murray doing Bill Murray things, I'm sold.


June 1
Snow White and the Huntsman
Chance Of Being Good: 59%
Chance I'll See It: 33%

This year's version of the Armageddon/Deep Impact phenomenon is that we've somehow gotten two "action-packed versions of Snow White" hitting screens.  The first one (Mirror Mirror) has already bombed and now we're faced with this film, which may or may not have confused Snow White with Joan of Arc, judging from the trailer.  The fantastic casting of the dwarves -- Ian McShane!  Ray Winstone!  Toby Jones!  Eddie Marsan!  Nick Frost!  Bob Hoskins!  Johnny Harris!  I like all of these guys! -- has me on the fence about seeing this but geez, I dunno.  You're telling me that we're supposed to believe some mirror who says that Kristen Stewart is fairer than Charlize freakin' Theron?  Keep dreaming, mirror.   

Piranha 3DD
Chance Of Being Good: 1%
Chance I'll See It: 0%

Make no mistake, this movie will be very, very bad.  That said, you have to somewhat admire a film that releases a trailer as brazenly shameless as this.  And good lord, that title.  It'd be like if Hysteria had actually called itself Hyzzzzzteria.


June 8
Prometheus
Chance Of Being Good: 84%
Chance I'll See It: 100%

Either Noomi Rapace or Charlize Theron (I guess whomever survives) are excellent, excellent choices to continue Sigourney Weaver's legacy in this Alien prequel.  No doubt this film will start a new Alien series if and when it becomes a hit, so we've got to be looking long-term here.  Of course, these new movies could zig where the originals zagged and, rather than a female protagonist, they could have Stringer Bell do it.  That would be fucking great.  Idris Elba needs a big movie franchise, STAT.  Ridley Scott isn't a *great* director but he is a competent, Peter Berg-ian type who is good for one really great movie per decade --- Alien in the 70's, Blade Runner in the 80's, Thelma & Louise in the 90's, Black Hawk Down in the 00's.  Let's hope Prometheus is his answer to the 2010's.

Safety Not Guaranteed
Chance Of Being Good: 83%
Chance I'll See It: 100%

A guy places a newspaper ad asking for someone to accompany him on a time-travel mission.  Some magazine writers investigate this, since it's so weird.  This has 'quirky indie comedy' written all over it, and since Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson play the magazine writers, I'm sold.


June 15
Rock Of Ages
Chance Of Being Good: 70%
Chance I'll See It: 64%

I'm admittedly a sucker for musicals, and a sucker for musicals that incorporate modern pop music in clever ways (Moulin Rouge, Across the Universe, etc.).  That said, I'm not really a fan of 80's pop rock, so Rock Of Ages will have to really crank up the clever factor to make it work for me.  This is a pure word-of-mouther for me; if it's getting good buzz, I'll check it out, but if not, it sounds like a picture I can easily skip.  Also, "word-of-mouther" sounds way dirtier than it has any right to be.

That's My Boy
Chance Of Being Good: 66%
Chance I'll See It: 66%

Okay, bear with me here.  It's an Adam Sandler comedy….wait, wait!  Don't run out of the room screaming, throwing salt over your shoulder so nothing can grow behind you.  It's a Sandler comedy BUT, it's not from the usual Sandler creative team.  In fact, the script is from David Caspe, the man behind "Happy Endings," one of my favourite sitcoms.  If Caspe can make Elisha Cuthbert legitimately funny, surely he can do the same with Sandler, right?  Right?  Should I be worried that on the IMDB page, after Sandler, Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester, the next highest-billed star is….Vanilla Ice?  Uh oh.  Come on Caspe, bail me out here!


June 22
Brave
Chance Of Being Good: 100%
Chance I'll See It: 100%

It's a Pixar film that doesn't involve talking cars.  Nuff said.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
Chance Of Being Good: 85%
Chance I'll See It: 95%

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley go on a road trip as an asteroid is headed towards Earth.  Not to write off a movie without actually seeing it or even knowing much of anything about the story, but if this film ends with the asteroid missing Earth, it'll automatically be 15 percent worse.  Come on, filmmakers!  Have the balls for doomsday!

To Rome With Love
Chance Of Being Good: 70%
Chance I'll See It: 92%

It's Woody Allen's latest and it's set in (spoiler alert) Rome.  So, expect witty dialogue and an unquenchable desire to visit Rome if you see this one.  Woody's riding a high after Midnight In Paris but it's been a while since Allen has made back-to-back good movies.  I guess this depends on personal taste, of course, but the last time Allen made consecutive films that were generally regarded as really good was in 1993-94 (Manhattan Murder Mystery and Bullets Over Broadway).  So, if you're expecting another Midnight In Paris, lower your expectations.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Chance Of Being Good: 50%
Chance I'll See It: 25%

The IMDB description page refers to the original novel as "wildly revisionist."  Aw, I don't know.  I mean, do you know for a FACT that Lincoln didn't also slay a few vamps in his spare time?  Lincoln is already considered to be the greatest American president by several learned scholars but man, imagine if we discovered that not only were vampires real, but that Lincoln went all Giles on them back in the day?  I think the US would sandblast over Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt's faces and just give Mount Rushmore to Abe all by himself.  Anyway, this movie is going to be some straight-up nonsense and, depending on how tongue-in-cheek things get, could be entertaining.  Remember how I cited the two Snow White films as another case of Hollywood releasing two films on the same topic within the same year?  Between ALVH and Lincoln, this is the loosest possible application of that rule.  If Benjamin Walker has a sense of humour, he should release a few "For Your Consideration" ads for himself around Oscar season and just totally slag off Day-Lewis.


June 29
Take This Waltz
Chance Of Being Good: 91%
Chance I'll See It: 89%

Sarah Polley movie!  A Sarah Polley-directed movie, I should specify.  Rising best-actress-in-the-world contender Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen fall in love yet it is NOT a comedy [/McBain voice].  Taking a page from Benjamin Walker's book, Christoph Waltz should release his own series of FYC ads promoting his performance in this movie, despite his having nothing to do with it. 

Magic Mike
Chance Of Being Good: 61%
Chance I'll See It: 50%

Steven Soderbergh has always been a pretty prolific filmmaker but man, he's taking it to a new level.  This is his third picture to be released within the span of a year, so, take that, Malick.  "Magic Mike" is a comedy about male stripping starring Channing Tatum, who, if you saw his SNL hosting appearance and the subsequent 52 jokes about it, used to actually be a male stripper.  I've got to say, Tatum is starting to get on my good side.  Whereas I'd just assumed he was a non-wrestling version of John Cena, Tatum was funny on SNL and in "21 Jump Street," playing his wooden personality as a deadpan.  Tatum is an amiable lunkhead of an actor; sort of a rich man's Chris Klein.  (As we speak, Webster's is updating its entry for the saying 'damning with faint praise.') 

GI Joe: Retaliation
Chance Of Being Good: 38%
Chance I'll See It: 19%

Hey, speaking of Tatum, he's one of the only survivors of the GI Joe bloodbath.  Here's an odd take on a sequel; apparently in "Retaliation," everyone from the first movie gets killed except for Duke (Tatum) and Snake Eyes (Ray "Darth Maul" Park).  Now joining the mix are more established action stars like the Rock and Bruce Willis, the latter of whom is playing the actual GI Joe himself.  If the producers had a sense of humour, they'd cast Demi Moore as Malibu Stacy.  Having not seen the original GI Joe movie, and still firm in my belief that nothing will ever top the old animated GI Joe movie that featured Cobra Commander turned into an actual snake, I think I'll be skipping this one too.

1 comment:

Luis V. said...

Good stuff. July may be more promising. But that's OK because I can't afford to go to the movies more than once a month and that's even at matinee prices.