Archive for the ‘Summer Preview’ Category

Summer Movie Preview, Part IV

May 31, 2007

Oh, what the hey, here are some more previews of summer releases. Remember to grab snacks in the lobby, tip your ushers well, and don’t spit if anyone’s watching.

The Invasion (August 17): It’s sort of, but not quite, a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Nicole Kidman plays a shrink who finds out about an alien epidemic and that her son’s somehow connected. Spooky. The movie’s had its share of offscreen troubles, with major rewrites, including a new ending, and maybe that unsettled leadup will be detrimental. Still, it’s Nicole Kidman, whom I like in just about anything. (Am I the only one who liked The Interpreter?) Oh, and Daniel Craig is in it, too. Sounds like a hoot.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday (August 24): Eh, no. I remember watching Bean when it was in theaters ten years ago and openly hooting and booing at the screen. (I may even have thrown something.) I thought it was awful. Oddly enough, though, I’ve enjoyed the Bean shorts I’ve seen. So there you go. This time, Bean (Rowan Atkinson) wins a trip to France, having taken on the USA last time around, and naturally hilarity ensues. Expect a lot of slapstick, certainly, but I wouldn’t expect it to be funny.

The Last Legion (August 24): Did you like 300? That, too, was sort of a historical epic. In this one, a soldier galvanizes a band of legionnaires (watch out for their disease!) to save the Roman emperor. The movie stars Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley and features many manly men. I predict much grunting and sweating.

Wristcutters: A Love Story (August 31): Novel concept here (no, really). It’s set in a strange place where suicides go after they die. Sounds uplifting, right? It’s apparently not as gross or gruesome as the title might imply, focusing instead on relationships. Oh, and there’s a romance. So it’s more than a little offbeat, perhaps too offbeat for mainstream theaters.

Balls of Fury (August 31): Do you like balls in your face? The creators of Reno 911 hope you do. Oh, this one is about ping-pong, you perverts. Or table tennis, whatever. Men who whack little balls and the women who love them. Sounds like it wants to be this year’s Dodgeball. Jumprope: Hanging by a Thread is sure to come next summer.

Death Sentence (August 31): Okay, you can tell we’re long past the Epic Movies of the summer when we get to a loose remake of 1974’s Death Wish. Kevin Bacon plays a guy who systematically kills all the members of a gang that murdered his son. The director of Saw is behind this one, so perhaps we’ll see inventive means of slaughterin’ miscreants. Vigilantism never goes out of style. Still, I don’t believe this one will be all that powerful.

Shoot ‘Em Up (September 7): What the hell kind of title is this? Sounds more like a crappy 1960s spaghetti western to me. But look who’s in it – Clive Owen, Monica Bellucci, and Paul Giamatti. Ok, you had me at Clive Owen. He’s one of those nebulous-morals guys who is good with a gun; Bellucci plays a pregnant prostitute who has a breastfeeding fetish, and Giamatti is the bad guy. Sounds kind of turgid from here. Probably worth seeing for Owen.

Eastern Promises (September 14): Another strange title, but we have us a good director behind it – David Cronenberg. And he has Viggo Mortensen, as a mysterious stranger in London who crosses paths with a saintly midwife, played by Naomi Watts. So can we expect a surprise hit, like A History of Violence? Maybe, if only because Watts is a better actress than Maria Bello. Probably no sex on the stairs with Watts dressed as a cheerleader, though.

The Brave One (September 14): Oh, man, another revenge movie. Jodie Foster is a New York radio talker who seeks revenge for an attack that killed her fiance – and then isn’t sure she’s made the right choice after she’s gone all vigilante on the city. A little late for that, Ms. Foster. Well, for her sake I hope the movie is well received, although we might have reached our revenge quote by September. And it’s too early in the year for a typical Oscar hopeful.

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Summer Movie Preview, Part III

May 22, 2007

Summer Movie Preview, Part III

I think this’ll be the last one. If I missed any important ones, you’ll let me know, right?

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (July 20): Adam Sandler and Kevin James star as NYC firefighters who pretend to be gay lovers so they can get domestic-partner benefits. Sounds enlightening, doesn’t it? Nothing like gaming the system through stereotypes, because you just know one of them will overact as the “female” – actually, it’s more likely they’ll spend the entire movie fighting over who has to be the female. Expect some gay-bashing. Director Dennis Dugan has worked with Sandler before (Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore), so at least you know what’s coming on that front. A deep and whimsical comedy, this ain’t. Why, there might even be protests, which would unfortunately give the movie more pub than it probably deserves.

Hairspray (July 20): Another Broadway musical comes to Hollywood, but don’t expect another Chicago. And in the role of actor-who-dresses-in-drag-to-boost-his-flagging-career, we have John Travolta, who plays Edna, mother to Tracy (Nikki Blonsky). Christopher Walken is the dad. I’m sure Walken’s deadpan delivery will help, unless he decides to mail it in, but I’m skeptical this will be a big hit. I bet it outgrosses I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, though.

The Bourne Ultimatum (August 3): Yet another third in a series. Somehow it’s become conventional Hollywood wisdom that so-called franchises, for the most part, run three movies long, like X-Men, the Star Wars prequels, The Matrix, Spider-Man, and so on. Anyway, Matt Damon’s back as the amnesiac spy, and I think he’s grown a bit in the role over two movies. His Jason Bourne is still trying to track down his past, and I hope he’s not successful. I sort of imagine he won’t be. Joan Allen, Brian Cox, and Julia Stiles return, and we also get David Strathairn and Paddy Considine. Paul Greengrass returns as director. Like I said, Damon seems to be growing into the role somewhat; in the first movie and part of the second, he seemed to be… well, more of a cipher, more wispy than substantive as a Tough Spy Guy. I mean, come on, he’s Matt Damon, not Jason Statham. Still, he has an excellent cast surrounding him, and the movies so far have been pretty well written. Could be a quiet hit.

Rush Hour 3 (August 10): Shameless mugging will take place for approximately two hours beginning August 10. Casual dress expected; watch out for kicking and punching. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker again play mismatched cops. First, they were in the US. Next, China. And now, throwing all logic out the window, they schlep to… Paris! Of course, why not. Well, specifically, California, but it’ll LOOK like Paris, which is almost as good. Makes you wonder why they didn’t shoot this in Quebec, Canada. At any rate, I’m sure hilarity will ensue as wacky coincidences team up with miscommunications both physical and linguical.

Daddy Day Camp (August 8): Double-you. Tee. Eff. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is like the Fernando Tatis of actors. Okay, maybe not. Tatis was famed in baseball for hitting two grand slams in one inning, and then he did nothing else in his career. Gooding, Jr. won an Oscar and has done a whole lotta squat since then. Does his agent own his soul, or something? I can’t imagine someone winning an Oscar and getting/accepting so many pathetic roles. Well, maybe Whoopi Goldberg, post-Color Purple, but still. Will Gooding ever get another decent role? Not only does this look like a terrible, punchless family “comedy,” it’s a sequel to Eddie Murphy’s own terrible, punchless family “comedy,” Daddy Day Care. What, was Major Payne the inspiration here? Yuck.

Ya know what? I bet I can do more of these, but it’s time to call it a day.

Summer Movie Preview, Part II

May 21, 2007

Okay, are we all rested and ready for Part 2? The summer can go by fast, and before you know it these films will be out. And some of them will be gone just as quickly, judging from the previews and such…

Transformers (July 6): I never got into the changing robot craze of the 80s; it was a little after my time. But lots of kids have, and it’s easy to see why – the toys were very well marketed. You could take pretty much any kind of machine and have it transform into a robot of some sort. Who doesn’t love robots? Anyway, unlike myriad fanboys I wasn’t gleefully anticipating this particular Movie Event of the Summer, especially since it’s directed by Michael Bay, which means it’ll be loud, confusing, and chaotic. But then I saw the preview, prior to watching Shrek the Third, and it is So Good. I mean, it might well be loud and obnoxious, but it might still be very entertaining. The plot concerns two races of robots (races of robots??) that crash land on Earth and must fight over some power source. Apparently, if I understood the trailer correctly, they don’t speak Earth. (You know, English.) But somehow they explain their dilemma to a young man, played by Shia LeBeouf. I saw clips of robots turning into trucks and such, and it looked good, plus the iconic “transforming” sound effect is there.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (July 13): Now this is more my cup of butterbeer, if you will, the fifth Harry Potter movie. As the movies (and books) have progressed, the tone has darkened quite a bit. People die in these things, and it’s not always the bad guy. This time, Harry’s discovered (at the end of the fourth movie) that the evil Voldemort is back, but naturally no one, save his headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and his friends Hermione and Ron, believes him; they even blame him for the death of a student. Now there’s a lot of speculation in the wizarding world about whether You Know Who is back, if Harry is balmy, if dementors are coming to kill everyone when they sleep, and so on; the atmosphere is quite a bit like that in the United States following September 11, 2001. Soon Hogwarts must do battle with a new sadistic teacher, played by Imelda Staunton, and Harry and his fellow students find they must rely more on each other than on adults than they have in the past. If you’ve not seen any of the first four films, you’ll be a bit lost. My suggestion: Read the books. No, seriously, right now. I’ll wait until you come back. Or watch the first four movies, which kick greater amounts of ass as they progress.

The Simpsons Movie (July 27): Finally, the yellow people (ahem, they ARE) get a movie. This probably would have made more sense ten years ago, but still – more Homer! Woohoo! The plot isn’t really know, but the trailer I saw with Shrek 3 looked very funny indeed. Everyone’s in it, of course, thus spotlighting a huge problem with big casts on TV shows. (Not enough face time for ’em all.) As with other franchise-type movies, I hope this one doesn’t suck. I mean, what’ll they do if it does? Oh, right, nothing, because the show will continue in perpetuity. Woohoo! Other than it not sucking, the one thing to hope for is some kind of envelope pushing; the movie’s not on TV (a-duh), so maybe there’s something we’ll see that’s too strong for TV but not strong enough for an R rating.

Underdog (August 3): I never watched the cartoon series. I probably won’t watch this one, either; it’s not even a cartoon, just a CGI movie. It looks awful. Underdog, voiced by Jason Lee, is a superhero who loves Polly Purebred (Amy Adams of Junebug) and must fight the evil Simon Barsinister. I can’t imagine this movie being any good – it’s a CGI movie based on a comic book that most haven’t read. Even if the special effects are wonderful, it still will lose a lot of money. Wake me when the Jabberjaw movie comes out.

Whew. Only three movies and I’m pooped. More to come.

Summer Movie Preview, Part I

May 18, 2007

Back when I worked video retail, the big question we got every day was “What’s in that’s new that’s good?” Kind of a vague, open-ended question; how do I know that what I think is good is what you think is good? I don’t. But customers always seem to believe that the doofus behind the counter somehow is an expert. This might make sense in doctor’s offices and auto shops, but the doofus behind the video-store counter doesn’t know any more than you do.

Plus, of course, movies are highly subjective. I didn’t like Gosford Park but maybe you, dear customer, would. And so on. Everyone has different tastes, right?

It’s time to take a look at some upcoming movies (theater division). Now, when I review movies, I really try to target the review to as many people as possible, so I don’t just take the attitude of, “Well, I hate costume dramas, so I’m gonna give this one a bad rating.” That’s not fair, is it? No, it is not. I try to think, “what would most people find appealing about this movie? What would they dislike?”

Anyway. Now you know the motivation and angle. Let’s see what’s coming up.

Shrek the Third (May 18): Finally, the green guy is back. I think they’ve been promising a third Shrek movie for… well, since before the second one, back in 2004. And there’s a rumor that a fourth one is on the way as well. See, I like Shrek. I like the potshots that the movies take at Disney. I like the gross humor. I think the three leads (Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz) are perfectly suited to their roles. So I’m looking forward to this one, even if it’s not as good as the first two.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (May 25): Okay, for this one I’m a little more skittish. Yes, I’m looking forward to it, and yes, I want to see it in the theater, but… is it played out? It’s going to be a bit longer (168 minutes). I wonder if it’ll fall into the trap of having its leads rush from Action Scene to Action Scene, which it kind of sort of did in the last movie in the series. But at least that one had the bonus of a good twist at the end that led to this inevitable third film. So color me skeptical – I hope it’s as good as one of the first two. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, and the emaciated Keira Knightley return. (Knightley is a pretty face and a good actress, but boy does she look too skinny. She looks positively little-boyish.)

Bug (May 25): Ah, finally, a nonblockbuster. Michael Shannon plays a war vet, and Ashley Judd plays an agoraphobe. They’re holed up in a seedy motel, and they have insect issues. Is it all in their minds? Hells, no! Or maybe. Good to see Judd not playing some plucky damsel in distress for a change. William Friedkin is your director; maybe he has another hit here.

Mr. Brooks (June 1): Kevin Costner is a serial killer, and Demi Moore is the dick out to capture him! Why, it’s like they’re playing against type! Cmon, if Moore wasn’t gonna cut it as a stripper, what makes us think she’ll be a good detective? (Hint: only if she gets nekkid.) Costner, though… he might work in this role, because it’s one of those cold, emotionless, no-range-required roles that more or less define him. So yeah, it’s something new for him, but it’s not sea-change new. He’s a bad guy, not a good guy, so that’ll take some acting strength, but I think he’ll be okay. William Hurt’s in it, too. I bet he plays a guy who’s unhinged on the inside but normal on the outside.

Rise: Blood Hunter (June 1): What is it with Lucy Liu and stupid titles (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever)? But this IS Lucy Liu, so I’m already inclined to watch. (Lucy, if you’re reading this, I’m available!) Liu plays a woman who wakes up in a morgue and finds out she’s undead. Man, I hate those kind of mornings. Anyway, she vows revenge on those who hath wronged her. Would most of us go after the people who killed us, or would we just be pissed that we weren’t, you know, actually dead? Liu doesn’t often get good scripts, but when she gets ’em, she’s good. This one’s written by the guy who wrote Snakes on a Plane, though, so..

Surf’s Up (June 8): This looks bad, so it’ll probably make a lot of money. Why wouldn’t it? It’s animated, and it has penguins, and we all know how much people love the penguins. But cmon, surfing penguins? Plus the one guy on the box looks like the guru guy voiced by Robin Williams in Happy Feet. I mean, exactly the same. I don’t think I’ll catch this wave. (See what I did there? I made a bad pun.)

Ocean’s Thirteen (June 8): George Clooney is making this one, he says, to make up for the second one, which was mostly bad. Just about everyone returns, but there’s a lack of estrogen – no Julia Roberts, no Catherine Zeta-Jones. Wait, there’s Ellen Barkin. Like I said, a lack of estrogen, but I kid. Al Pacino’s in it; wonder if he’ll be hammy? There’s also apparently a rumor that Angelina Jolie will be in it. The rumor’s from April 2006. The movie will be released in a few weeks. So I dunno what that means, but if Jolie appears it can only be a good thing. As for the plot, someone doublecrosses Reuben (Elliot Gould), so the gang has to avenge him. The movie has to be better than the uneven second one, but I hope the added cast members aren’t a mere novelty.

Hostel: Part II (June 8): Death and dismemberment are back, baby, only this time it’s three chicks instead of three dudes. Okay, whatever. On the one hand, I’m glad one of them isn’t Paris Hilton (as rumored), but on the other hand it would have been sweet to see her killed. We do get Heather Matarazzo, Lauren German, and Bijou Phillips. (I’m resisting making a Matinee at the Bijou joke, because it’s too easy and younger people wouldn’t get it, anyway.) The three get lured to a hostel, and then bad things happen. With any luck, this will be on par with the first one; expect a lot of gore and torture and creative deaths.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (June 15): Did you see the first F4 movie? No? Did anyone? No, wait, someone must have. I wonder if it was all fanboys trying to see Jessica Alba’s ass. Anyway, the four leads return, which I’m ambivalent about, because really, this isn’t a movie that focuses on character development; it’s really just about blowing crap up. In this one, the Four face off against a new threat, the Silver Surfer, played by a hologram. I’m no comics dude, but I always thought the Surfer was a good guy, but apparently I’m wrong. The movie already feels desperate, as if the studio is just trying really really hard to get some kind of franchise. I mean, hey, other comics movies do well, so let’s flog the F4 horse. My bet is that there’ll be a third movie, but it’ll be about one of the villains, or the Silver Surfer, and perhaps the original cast won’t even be in it.

Nancy Drew (June 15): I’m not in the target audience for this movie, and I don’t intend to see it, but I kind of liked the concept. Nancy Drew is a girl detective, much on the order of the Hardy Boys, but even younger. This movie is set in the present day, but Nancy is a throwback, an anachronism; she dresses and behaves as if it’s 1940. (At least that’s what I gleaned from the trailer.) So there’s that little hook thrown in for flava. Apparently this Nancy is a bit younger than the one in the books, but since most girls of today probably haven’t yet read the books, I don’t think it’s a huge problem. This looks like a cute, quiet hit.

Evan Almighty (June 22): All right! Morgan Freeman as God. This time, he tells now-Congressman Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell) to build an ark. Oh, yeah, like THAT’LL happen. Now, though, we’ll see if a movie of this stripe can survive without the strong personality of a Jim Carrey; Carrell is more of a reactor than a actor at times. In 40 Year Old Virgin, he merely reacted to the chaos around him – which was funny, don’t get me wrong, but here he might find it a little tougher, with less comic support. And the movie apparently cost a lot to make, thus upping the pressure.

1408 (June 22): Another Stephen King adaptation, and it’s been a while since they’ve been any good. Come to think of it, they’re almost never any good, but the ones that are good are choice indeed. Here’s hoping this fits in the latter category, and it should, given that Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack, merely two of the awesomest actors ever, star. It’s about a paranormal investigator who enters the titular hotel room, which is supposed to be totally haunted. I love closed-room mystery horror freakouts, so I’m all for this one.

Live Free or Die Hard (June 27): Everyone loved Die Hard. Everyone loved Die Hard 2. Die Hard 3, not so much, so I dunno what to make of this fourth one, ten YEARS after the last one. John McClane’s way too old for this crap. Still, I like Bruce Willis in most about everything. I just hope it doesn’t really, really suck.

Ratatouille (June 29): Uh, yeah. A Pixar movie about rats. I didn’t see Flushed Away, but I have the same reaction – huh? Wha? Okay, sure, it has the pedigree of Brad Bird directing, and he’s the guy who did The Incredibles (I was one of a few who didn’t think it was awesome), but still… rats. Animated rats. Whoopdedoo.

Okay, this is getting long, and I have actual work to do. (I know!) Therefore I’ll do a part 2 later. Maybe today, maybe next week, maybe next month.