Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009 Summer Movies

Some famous critic once said something like, 'Springtime at the theatre is where bad movies go to die.' This is certainly true for this year, as it is for most years: our spring films have been mixed with mediocre comedies, lame action pics, and a few weird animated films for kids. Nothing has been truly great and worth seeing.
Well, all that changes on May 1. Thus starts the summer with the opening of the first big film of the season, the Wolverine prequel. Everything from there is big popcorn movies and lots of fun. Not all of the movies will be good, but this is the time of year when people go to the movies, regardless of their tastes. Here is an analysis of what to see this summer, week-by-week.

Friday, May 1
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This film will be the Iron Man of this year: a big, highly anticipated superhero movie to kick the summer off with a bang. It doesn't look very good, but it will attract a large audience despite critical reviews. The most popular character of the X-Men films gets his own movie, complete with unnecessary backstory and a horde of new characters, including Gambit from the comics.

Friday, May 8
Star Trek

My pick for the film to beat this summer: Following in the footsteps of Batman Begins and Casino Royale, this film presses the restart button on an ancient franchise to lure back old fans who got bored and new, young fans who will see sequels and TV shows in the future. This film tells how James T. Kirk got to be the captian of the starship Enterprise. J. J. Abrams directs his first theatrical film since Mission: Impossible III, and it looks amazing.

Friday, May 15
Angels & Demons

The Da Vinci Code was a huge hit, and this sequel has been highly anticipated, but since it's sandwiched in between such heavy competition, this film will probably go largely unnoticed by moviegoers. The reunion of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks should make this film worthwhile, though, and the fact that it's also based on a book by the same author should make it as complex and as intense as the first film.

Thursday, May 21
Terminator: Salvation

The show may get cancelled, but the franchise is still alive and well in the multiplex as the series begins a new trilogy (the studio hopes). A new director and a new setting- McG and an apocalyptic future overrun by bloodthirsty machines- gives this a burst of adrenaline. In place of Arnold Schwarzenegger, we have newcomer Sam Worthington as the human face of the Terminators, and in place of Edward Furlong and Nick Stahl, we have the potty-mouthed Christian Bale as the legendary John Connor. The film shows how Connor got to be so legendary.

Note: This is for adult moviegoers. For kids, go see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the kiddie sequel with Ben Stiller, out Friday, May 22.

Friday, May 29

Everything Pixar touches turns to gold (usually Oscar gold), and audiences are expecting nothing less than an amazing experience from the studio's tenth feature film, and their first in 3-D. This film is about a grumpy old man who escapes from society by lifting his house up off the ground with thousands of balloons and travels to South America. A young, annoying Boy Scout (or the fictional equivalent) tags along, bringing comic relief. They find some kind of adventure there, but as always, Pixar is being very secretive about the specifics of the plot. Can't wait.

Friday, June 5
Land of the Lost

Will Ferrell's new comedy looks better than a lot of the films he's done in the last few years as it also adds a lot of science fiction to the laughs. Ferrell and two others travel back in time (or is it forward in time?) to a lost world with dinosaurs, cavemen, and very slow-moving reptilian creatures. It's based on a TV show that's way too old for anybody in our generation to remember; but I'm sure we won't need any kind of background knowledge. Looks very funny.

Friday, June 12
The Taking of Pelham 123

A remake starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. (Their first film together!) Travolta plays a terrorist who hijacks a subway car and threatens to kill innocent passengers. Washington is the public service workman who is forced to negotiate with him on the radio. Looks like a good old-fashioned action film. You know, the kind without the CGI.

Friday, June 19
Year One

Unlikely comedic duo Jack Black and Michael Cera play lazy cavemen in the year- you guessed it- 1. Not historically accurate in the slightest, this movie follows them on a road trip to supposedly save a girl from slavery. Looks pretty funny, even if it may not make sense. Michael Cera is a really good actor; is he capable of playing other characters besides the awkward shy guy?

Wednesday, June 24
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Story? Nope. Logic? Not in the slightest. Explosions? You better believe it. This sequel from mega-director Michael Bay has really big Decepticons attacking Earth, supposedly taking revenge for all the bad guys that were killed in the first film. The heroic Autobots have to protect Shia LaBeouf and hottie Megan Fox from destruction. The huge success of the first film guarantees that this one will be a hit. Buzz about LaBeouf's broken hand being in the movie will boost its audience.

Wednesday, July 1
Public Enemies

This film takes the spot of the prestige film of the summer. Johnny Depp plays the legendary true-life bank robber John Dillinger and Christian Bale (in his second big film this summer) plays Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who took him down. Michael Mann directs this big action/drama pic that will lure more mature audiences to the theatre and may actually score Oscar nominations for Depp and Bale. Bale needs one; he's a huge star with a lot of talent.

Note: This film will be for the older folks. For kids, go see Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, out the same day. And preferably in 3-D.

Friday, July 10

Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a sort-of spin-off of Borat, based on another character he played on Da Ali G Show. (Expect an Ali G movie to come out in another three years to complete the trilogy.) Bruno is super-gay and super-trendy and makes real people super-uncomfortable. Shot in the same faux-documentary style as its predecessor, this film doesn't look as good as Borat, but it will definitely be worth watching for anybody who was a fan of the movie, or the original show.

Wednesday, July 15
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Finally! This film was set to open by last Thanksgiving and was delayed because of the long-terms effects of the writer's strike and the economy's downfall. This highly-anticipated film is based on the second-to-last book in the series, but it may not be the second-to-last movie. (Deathly Hallows may be split into two films. Nothing is certain yet.) This one has Harry and Dumbledore diving into memories to discover Voldemort's past so they can find out how to defeat him, and also has further adventures of him and his friends dealing with romance, Quidditch, and classes. This one looks very dark but with a breath of fresh air in comic relief, very welcome after the dreary first couple of films. Sure to be a huge hit.

Friday, July 24
The Ugly Truth

Not much opening this week. This romantic comedy is the best pick, starring Gerard Butler as a sexist jerk put on a dating TV show to boost ratings, and Katherine Heigl as the show's unapproving producer. They hate each other at first; something tells me they'll end up falling in love.

Friday, July 31
Funny People

A very fitting title: Adam Sandler joins the Apatow gang, alongside Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, in Judd Apatow's third movie, following the enormous success of The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Sandler's character is very much like himself, an aging comedian who became very famous, except he's dying. No, not like the audience isn't laughing: literally dying. Rogen, a younger fellow comedian, is a big fan and is taken under his wing during his final months. When it turns out he may not be dying after all, he tries to get is ex-wife Mann back. Except she's married to a tough Australian guy played by Eric Bana. (This is Bana's second of three films of the summer, after playing the villain in Star Trek and before playing a time traveler in The Time Traveler's Wife.) Looks like a very funny and a very moving return to the director's chair for Apatow.

I don't really consider August to be a summer month since school starts sometime in that month, but some big films are still coming out at the back end of the biggest season in film. Some highlights: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, based on comic books/animated TV shows/action figures follows an elite team of soldiers headed by Dennis Quaid; Taking Woodstock, a dramatic film by Ang Lee starring Demetri Martin and Emile Hirsch about putting together the legendary music festival; Inglourious Basterds, the latest Quentin Tarantino film about a group of American soldiers during WWII sent into Germany to terrorize and brutally kill Nazi soldiers, headed by Brad Pitt; and The Boat That Rocked, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a music pirate in a boat out in the ocean around the UK illegally broadcasting popular music to thousands of eager listeners, and the officials' attempt to shut them down.

See you at the movies this summer!

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