There are two seasons that a film lover looks forward to every year: late winter when the studios release their “best” films they hope to contend for awards and summer movie season. The latter is all about the fun (or at least it should be). Let’s be honest, last summer was DREADFUL. One disappointment after another from emo Spider-man to Michael Bay managing to make transforming robots smashing each other to pieces boring. There were a few bright spots (John McClane’s return in “Live Free or Die Hard” comes to mind) but overall it was the worst summer for movies that I can recall.
But it’s a new season and therefore a time for fresh optimism. So for you loyal readers, I’ve compiled a list of this summer’s most anticipated releases, complete with an early review!
IRON MAN - EARLY REVIEW!
Who Directed it? Jon Favreau (”Made”, “Zathura”)
Who’s In It? Robert Downey, Jr., Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow
“Iron Man” is perhaps the most faithful comic adaptation to date. Robert Downey Jr. simply IS Tony Stark, a sort of rock star weapons designer who suffers a crisis of conscience when Afghani terrorist use his own weapons against him. Stark is taken prisoner and forced to build them weapons. Defiantly, Stark builds a war machine in order to escape. Upon his return, he vows to use his genius for good and refines his suit design into a sleek red and gold war machine.
RDJ really carries this movie with his wit and charm. As I alluded to earlier, he truly embodies Stark’s boozing, daredevil, playboy charm. Stark’s persona is what Bruce Wayne tries to put forth to make people forget he’s Batman. Terrence Howard has some great moments as Jim Rhodes, an Air Force corporal and perhaps Tony’s only friend. And Gwyneth Paltrow is fantastic as Stark’s Girl Friday, Pepper Potts. Bridges isn’t quite as menacing as he should be as Stark’s business partner/rival Obidiah Stane, but that’s a small quibble (if I have one complaint about the film it’s that Iron Man lacks a worthy adversary).
“Iron Man” certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s undeniably fun and the best part is you don’t have to be a fan of the comic to get it. It’s a great movie to kick off the summer. Should you see it? Abso-frickin’-lutely.
Who directed it? The Wachowski Bros (”The Matrix”)
Who’s in It? Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Richard Roundtree (no I didn’t make that last one up)
What’s it about? A remake of the popular Japanese animated import, Speed Racer is a race car driver (thank God because otherwise that name would be awkward) in a world that appears to be straight out of a meth addict’s nightmare.
Why should you see it? It’s probably going to be the most visually ambitious film of the summer if not the year.
Why should you avoid it? It may also be the dumbest movie of the year.
What Happens in Vegas…
Who Directed it? Tom Vaughan (”Starter For Ten”)
Who’s In It? Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz
What’s it about? Near as I can tell, this is a cautionary tale warning that marriage + alcohol will result in you being married to either Ashton Kutcher or Cameron Diaz and being regretful about it.
Why should you see it? What the previews have only recently let on is that Kutcher’s best friends are played by Rob Cordry and Zach Galifianakis. Those two might just be worth the price of admission on they’re own. Also I really enjoyed Vaughan’s film “Starter for Ten”.
Why should you avoid it? Movies about two attractive people acting vindictive and vicious towards each other rarely work. See: last summer’s “The Break-Up”.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
Who Directed it? Andrew Adamson (”The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”, “Shrek”)
Who’s in it? All the kids who were in the previous film. And Tilda Swinton.
What’s it about? The Pevensie children journey back to Narnia (without the wardrobe) one year later in Earth time (but 1300 years in Narnia time… talk about jet lag) to find that Narnia has basically turned into Iraq on a good day.
Why should you see it? You may be a fan of the books.
Why should you avoid it? Personally, I’m not a fan of the books and the first film bored me to tears. I expect more of the same here.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Who Directed it? Steven Spielberg (duh)
Who’s in it? Harrison Ford (natch), Karen Allen, Shia LeBeouf, Ray Winstone, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt
What’s it about? Indiana Jones goes lookin’ for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, whatever that is. Oh, and Marion Ravenwood returns. And Indy may be a deadbeat dad. I think that’s it. No wait, Cate Blanchett shows up as a sexy Russian villainess.
Why should you see it? It’s freakin’ Indiana Jones! It’s summer! Do I need to draw you a map? Do you need Indiana Jones to help you use it?
Why should you avoid it? Let’s see, George Lucas resurrecting a popular trilogy 20 years after the last film… what could possibly go wrong? I really hope I’m wrong.
SEX AND THE CITY
Who Directed It? Michael Patrick King (the series creator)
Who’s in it? Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis, Chris Noth
What’s it about? Picking up 4 years after the HBO series left off, Carrie (Parker) still hasn’t married Big (Noth). If you can’t decipher that then this movie might not be for you.
Why should you see it? I may be in the minority among most men, but I always enjoyed the series.
Why should you avoid it? If you didn’t like the series then avoid at all costs.
YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN
Who directed it? Dennis Dugan (who previously directed Adam Sandler in “Happy Gilmore”, “Big Daddy”, and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry”)
Who’s in it? Adam Sandler, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and no doubt Rob Schneider will show up to say some variation of “You can doooo eeeet!”
What’s it about? An Israeli secret agent follows his dream to become a hairdresser in New York City.
Why should you see it? The trailer is kinda funny. It’s an interesting concept, co-written by Judd Apatow.
Why should you avoid it? Most of the same things were said about “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry” last summer.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Who directed it? Louis Leterrier (who previously directed the “Transporter” movies and the Jet Li movie “Unleashed”)
Who’s in it? Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson
What’s it about? The Hulk gets a complete revamp (Marvel would prefer you forget the Ang Lee interpretation) as Edward Norton takes over as scientist Bruce Banner, who’s a bit sloppy with gamma rays.
Why should you see it? Edward Norton will no doubt be a nerdier Bruce Banner than Eric Bana. Also, rumor has it Robert Downey, Jr. shows up in a cameo as Tony Stark.
Why should you avoid it? The Hulk still looks like a cartoon to me in the trailers. I’m not convinced.
Who directed it? M. Night Shyamalan
Who’s in it? Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
What’s it about? Not many plot details out there. I’m guessing it that something happens and then there’s a twist ending.
Why should you see it? God, I dunno. I haven’t been a fan of Shyamalan’s for quite some time. I still think “The Sixth Sense” is overrated. But if you need a reason to see it, I’ll go with this: Shyamalan is not listed among the cast credits.
Why should you avoid it? Two reasons (out of what could be several): “Signs” and “Lady In The Water”.
Who directed it? Peter Segal (”50 First Dates”, “The Longest Yard”)
Who’s in it? Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, The Rock, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp
What’s it about? Yet another movie update of a 1960’s TV Show, Carrell plays Maxwell Smart, a bumbling secret agent who will no doubt bumble through the entire movie.
Why should you see it? Carell is usually pretty funny. Anne Hathaway is in it. Bill Murray reportedly makes a cameo. Anne Hathaway is in it.
Why should you avoid it? The TV show was rather campy - expect more of the same from the movie.
THE LOVE GURU
Who directed it? Marco Schnabel (directorial debut)
Who’s in it? Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Romany Malco, Justin Timberlake, Verne Troyer
What’s it about? An American-born but Indian-raised love guru (Myers) journeys to Toronto to help a hockey player reunite with his estranged wife.
Why should you see it? This is the first live action film Myers has made since 2003’s “The Cat In The Hat”.
Why should you avoid it? Looks like a retread of Myers’s previous films, which haven’t really held up over time.
Who directed it? Timur Bekmambetov (director of “Night Watch”, Russia’s highest grossing film of all time)
Who’s in it? Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp
What’s it about? Based on the little-known graphic novel, James McAvoy plays an average joe who is recruited by an elite group of assassins who can make bullets move with their mind.
Why should you see it? The action in the trailer looks pretty amazing. Angelina Jolie is back to her dangerous girl roots (no, that’s not a hair joke).
Why should you avoid it? Oooohhh… bullets doing more than moving fast in a straight line? I miss the good ol’ days when bullets moved at normal speed.
Who directed it? Andrew Stanton (”Finding Nemo”, “A Bug’s Life”)
Who’s in it? Voice talents of Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger, Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin
What’s it about? 700 years into the future, humans have left earth and a cute, pint-sized robot (WALL-E) is left to clean up the mess.
Why should you see it? Pixar bats at an unbelievably high average.
Why should you avoid it? You should only avoid this film if you hate America. And animated robots. And have no heart. Those three tend to go hand in hand, I’m thinking. Then again, maybe this is the first Pixar film that bombs, and wouldn’t you like to be ringside for that?
Who directed it? Peter Berg (”Friday Night Lights”, “The Kingdom”)
Who’s in it? Will Smith, Jason Bateman
What’s it about? Will Smith plays the title role, a superhero with Superman-like powers and Lindsay Lohan-like problems.
Why should you see it? Somewhere in the Patriot Act it was made a law that all citizens were required to see a Will Smith movie if it was released on 4th of July weekend. You don’t want to spend the rest of the summer at Guantanamo do you?
Why should you avoid it? A superhero with no mythology is a risky proposition. I say stay away. Be right back, there’s a knock at my door…
Who directed it? Brian Robbins (”Varsity Blues”, “Norbit”, and yes - he was the rebel on the ’80s sitcom “Head of the Class”)
Who’s in it? Eddie Murphy, Gabrielle Union, Elizabeth Banks
What’s it about? Pint-sized aliens (all Eddie Murphy) land on earth and inhabit a robot who looks suspiciously like Eddie Murphy.
Why should you see it? God, do you really want to?
Why should you avoid it? Too many reasons to list. I miss the old Eddie.
HELLBOY II - THE GOLDEN ARMY
Who directed it? Guillermo Del Toro (”Hellboy” “Pan’s Labyrinth”)
Who’s in it? Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt
What’s it about? Hellboy returns to fight evil from a mythical world.
Why should you see it? The first Hellboy was definitely a guilty pleasure and a lot of fun. Ron Perlman is perfect in the title role.
Why should you avoid it? If you weren’t a fan of the first film, you’re probably not going to like this one.
THE DARK KNIGHT
Who directed it? Christopher Nolan
Who’s in it? Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman
What’s it about? Batman returns to fight his greatest nemesis, the psychotic Joker.
Why should you see it? So many reasons. Nolan’s first Batman film, “Batman Begins” is already considered one of the best comic book adaptations of all time and that’s rather high praise. Nolan doesn’t treat the franchise like it came from a comic book. Heath Ledger’s posthumous performance as The Joker may very well be his best ever.
Why should you avoid it? It has a rumored running time of 170 minutes, so those with short attention spans need not apply.
Who directed it? Phyllida Lloyd (feature film debut)
Who’s in it? Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth
What’s it about? Based on the popular Broadway musical, a bride-to-be invites three men to her wedding, one of whom may be her biological father. And there’s a lot of singing and dancing to ABBA tunes.
Why should you see it? All of “The Dark Knight” screenings may be sold out.
Why should you avoid it? You hate ABBA, musicals, and/or Meryl Streep (though I can’t imagine anyone hating Meryl).
THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE
Who directed it? Chris Carter (creator of the series)
Who’s in it? David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
What’s it about? Not a clue. But I imagine it involves Mulder and Scully investigating something spooky.
Why should you see it? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s chemistry carried the series through nine seasons and one previous feature film. And admit it, we’re all curious to know what they’ve been up to.
Why should you avoid it? It’s been more than 10 years since the last film and almost 10 years since the series ended. Is this show even relevant any more? Do young audiences recognize these characters?
Who directed it? Adam McKay (”Taladega Nights”, “Anchorman”)
Who’s in it? Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins
What’s it about? Two middle aged “boys” are forced to live under one roof when their parents get married.
Why should you see it? The trailer is really funny and Reilly and Ferrell make a good comedy team, particularly when directed by McKay.
Why should you avoid it? Ferrell hasn’t been funny lately.
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR
Who directed it? Rob Cohen (taking over for Stephen Sommers)
Who’s in it? Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello (taking over for Rachel Weisz), John Hannah, Luke Ford
What’s it about? Apparently ancient China had mummies too. Who knew?
Why should you see it? The previous Mummy films were kinda fun.
Why should you avoid it? The previous Mummy films were only kinda fun.
Who directed it? David Gordon Green (Yeah, that guy who made heavy dramas such as “George Washington”, “Undertow”, and recently “Snow Angels”)
What’s it about? Two stoners witness a murder and have to go on the run.
Why should you see it? The trailer is undeniably funny and Seth Rogen is riding a hot streak. Plus a stoner action movie is long overdue (no, every Keanu Reeves action film does not count).
Why should you avoid it? Getting stoned doesn’t make one want to run around much. unless it’s out for munchies. I’m just guessing, I only got stoned once in college.
Who directed it? Ben Stiller
Who’s in it? Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Bill Hader, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Steve Coogan
What’s it about? A bunch of pretentious actors filming a Platoon-like war movie are dumped in the middle of a very real war in Asia. Robert Downey, Jr. plays an Australian method actor who undergoes a surgical procedure to play a black sergeant.
Why should you see it? I’m guessing for Robert Downey, Jr. I like Ben Stiller but I’m not a big fan of his wacky comedies.
Why should you avoid it? End of the summer blues maybe? I hope people don’t avoid this film because of Downey, Jr. donning black face. I like to believe modern audiences aren’t that dumb.
Top 5 movies I’m looking forward to this summer (minus Iron Man as I’ve already seen it):
1. The Dark Knight
2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
3. Pineapple Express
5. X-Files: I Want To Believe
Well there you have it, I’ve laid out your entire summer for you. Try and mix in some sun here and there, I don’t want to see a lot of pale people in the theatres come August.
-Brett Deacon admits he loves summer movies mostly because theaters have air conditioning. And popcorn.
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