Monday, 7 June 2010

Summer of Jan Brady

Poor, poor summer of 2010. You’re like the Jan Brady of summers; a complete disappointment to everyone. You don’t yet have a Marcia’s-nose-sized box office explosion like Dark Knight, Finding Nemo, or Transformers 2, nor do you have an adorable Cindy-indie (500) Days of Summer or Little Miss Sunshine. Even your two biggest hits so far, Iron Man 2 and Shrek Forever After, did not perform nearly as well as was hoped and were not met all too favorably by critics. Sex in the City 2 has people questioning if the sequel is dying, Robin Hood was considered a success because it didn’t bomb, and I feel like finishing the title MacGr___ would be like rubbing salt and vinegar chips in a wound.

Though, to be fair, I personally am not all too disappointed. Of the five successful summer films I listed, one of them is my whipping boy, one is a backup for the first, one I would hate if I could muster the energy, and two I’m lukewarm on (for those of you who don’t know and clearly this is your first entry, first off, hi, and secondly, in order, Dark Knight, (500) Days of Summer, Transformers 2, and Finding Nemo and Little Miss Sunshine). Last summer delivered hits like Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. One was good, one wasn’t so good, neither were great, and I’d probably place Iron Man 2 in their ball park. Whether or not they grossed more does not mean that I had a better or worse summer. If millions of people saw Terminator Salvation but I didn’t, then it really has not effect on my film experience of the season.

Sure, last summer delivered some amazing films such as Inglourious Basterds, Up, and The Hurt Locker (I still contend that 2009 was a tremendously underrated year for film, especially within the last decade), but only Up would have been seen as characterizing the summer before Oscar season hit.

But I digress. The summer has just stared. Actually, despite the fact that former students of mine are posting “Done with high school” as their statuses and it is a sweltering, humid 95 degrees outside (or was when I started writing this entry), it is not even summer yet. So let’s take a look as I weigh in on some big films that the summer still has in store for us. NOTE: I’ll only be looking at bigger “summer” pictures. I also left out any I just had nothing interesting to say or that were too much of shooting fish in a barrel (see: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore)

The Karate Kid (6/11)
– starting off on a low note: I don’t care. It’s a remake of a movie for which I have no nostalgia anyway. I somehow do not see people who know or have seen the original being all that interested, nor do I think the karate/ninja craze holds this generation like it did for kids of the 90s. It will flop, and good thing because my hatred of Will Smith extends to his entire family’s acting career.

WILL I SEE IT: Take a guess

The A-Team (6/11)AKA SWAT: Part Deux. Oh, by the way, I liked SWAT. It completely satisfied everything I needed from a blow-em-all-up film. Is it classic cinema? No, but it’s unfairly maligned. This film will probably be very similar and get similar critical/fan reception. And I forget how SWAT did at the box office, but it will do that.

WILL I SEE IT: Probably, but on a Tuesday, so it’s free.

Toy Story 3 (6/18) – I like the fact that Pixar is really starting to sell themselves on the fact that they will make grown men weep at their films. Is there anybody out there who thinks his or her eyes will stay dry throughout the film? Hell, do you think most people will make it past the opening few minutes? The only potential pitfall this film can make is that it will open just as Up did, but for some reason, I trust Pixar enough that they will do it so well that it will just work.

Now people are complaining that they fear this movie is a sign of a Pixar getting lazy. In most cases of sequels I would agree, but here I am not so sure. The Toy Story sequels seem to be pushing the envelope on the ideas of “The End” and “Happily Ever After.” The first film opened up the concept of being forgotten, only to shut it up again quickly and assure us everything would be okay. The second film reopens the box, and while it shuts it, we know that the box cannot stay closed forever and the best we can do is enjoy the time we have. This film seems to be going the next step. Andy is leaving the toys behind. Sure, they are going to find him, and sure Andy is a bit out of touch with reality (talking about how Woody is a brave toy), but ultimately, if I may echo Stinky Pete, can Andy really take all his toys to college?

A semi-happy solution may be found, but I feel it will be bittersweet. And with that, it adds a more foreboding “For Now” at the end of those prior ideas than any horror movie ever could.

WILL I SEE IT: Yes. And I’ll bring tissues.

Knight and Day (6/25) – What’s the appeal of this movie? Can someone let me know? Because people I respect keep talking about wanting to see this film, and personally, I think rewatching Letters to Juliet would be a better investment of my time.

WILL I SEE IT: Take a guess, part deux.

Twilight: Eclipse (7/2)
– the marketing for this film is pretty brilliant actually, or it is if they are doing what I think they are doing. If you haven’t seen the theatrical trailer, it essentially is selling this movie as a Lord of the Rings-esque vampires vs. warewolves fight, instead of as another 2 hours of Bella-Edward-Jacob angst with a side of sparkles and shirtlessness. Why? Either A) the book is actually like that, B) they severely changed the story for the film, or, my guess, C) they already know that (generalization and gender stereotyping time!) every teenage girl is already going to see the movie even were the trailer a shot of a jar of mayonnaise for two and a half minutes. They therefore are trying to entice some guys to see it as well, by showing “Hey! It’s an awesome action movie!” It may not completely destroy the already-existing stigma, but it may work at least in turning it into a compromise for a date movie.

WILL I SEE IT: I see through your ploy marketers. Nope.

The Last Airbender (7/2) – originally, Avatar, then Avatar: The Last Airbender, then it lost the invitation to comparison all-together. The film looks incredibly average, but almost charmingly so, like an incredibly average film that was made in 2002 after The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon craze and then got lost in the sands of Egypt for 8 years before being discovered by Heinrich Schliemann. Oh, and it’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who is clearly making an action, kid-orientated film as part of his penance for the past 10 years of his career, particularly The Happening. Zach Snyder is doing the same currently with the film where the owls fly around and shout “Oh no!” and that’s basically the 90 minutes.

WILL I SEE IT: Most likely not. The aforementioned charm can get me through 5 minutes. Then I have a movie to watch.

Despicable Me (7/9) – I am upset that “supervillainy jokes” are becoming passé. Thanks Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog (aka yet another reason NPH bugs me)! I fear that this movie may be the nail in the coffin of those jokes. And, unlike Zombieland with humor of the undead, the final note will not even be a deliciously triumphant one.


Predators (7/9) – yet another entry in the rebooted horror film genre. It joins the proud ranks of Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and now I’m even more excited to see what Scream 4 has to say about this trend. However, the really interesting aspect of this film is how I have heard nothing about it until glossing over summer movies on IMDB. I am always amazed how some seemingly big films have so little buzz around them.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (7/16)
– this movie may win my “dumb but I gotta see it” prize. Plot looks standard and driven by special effects. Dialogue is probably exposition interspersed with typical summer movie attempts at wit. And, er, is there anything else in the film? No. But I gotta see it.

WILL I SEE IT: Yes, but again, on a Tuesday. I will not pay for this.

Inception (7/16) – A lot of people seem to think this movie will be the savior of cinema this summer. Of course, I think there will be a tug of war over people wanting Nolan to be the next great director and the fact that this film does not have a dead actor in it. At least not yet. Leo, I’d watch out if I were you. Hire a bodyguard and don't linger in front of exposed windows too much.

But, my typical thoughts on Dark Knight aside, let me talk about this film as impartially as I can. The trailer seems to present an interesting concept, even if it is not exactly clear as to what the concept is. But I think the film may have the wrong director, and not just because the last work I liked by him was Memento. I adore Quentin Tarantino, but I would never have picked him to direct Requiem for a Dream. Certain styles do not fit certain contents. Nolan goes for a more realistic, stark tone. This film is one about dreams. I fear that Nolan will cop out with dreams, and only go so far as to have water fill up a house or something hang in midair. The necessary surrealism will be forgotten and a phoned-in replacement will take the job for the purposes of story. Perhaps I have been watching too much Luis Bunuel, but I would prefer to see a director more attune to indulging in the unreal.

WILL I SEE IT: Ultimately, this film falls into Star Trek/Terminator Salvation status. If I’m bored on a Tuesday or if some friends are seeing it, I’ll go. But I can’t see myself in most cases going to the movies to buy a ticket. So it’s 50/50. I saw Star Trek, never saw Terminator Salvation.

The Expendables (8/13) – whereas A-Team is SWAT: Part Deux, I fear this blow-em-up may be Snakes on a Plane: Part Deux. It has a lot of hype and a lot of internet geek buzz, but ultimately, it is selling itself on being ridiculous. Just like Snakes on a Plane. And many people like to think that they enjoy bad or ridiculous films, when in fact, they really do not. And they certainly do not want to pay $12 for one when they could just download it or wait for DVD. It will deliver exactly what it promises (as did SoaP), but people will still be disappointed (because they never really wanted to see what was promised anyway) and it will flop.

WILL I SEE IT: Probably. Though I will have just relocated to LA, so that will be an issue. It’s a movie I would like to see, but will not rearrange my life to see.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (8/13) – Michael Cera backlash is so 2008. Seriously, you might as well be cheering for Hilary Clinton in the primaries whenever you unleash a Cera complaint. I'm officially declaring myself post Cera backlash. Which is very good since this movie looks hilarious and fun and even the trailers excite me and puts me in a good mood. It probably is actually the summer movie for which I’m most excited. Sure, it has a QuirkyIndieGirl but the film seems to really not care that much about her aside from being a MacGuffin and she actually seems relatively unquirky aside from her hair. Furthermore, in the anime-video-game setting of this world, that trait may actually be quite normal. Nobody thinks Sailor Mercury is actually punk, despite rocking her blue locks.


Okay, so the summer doesn’t look all that promising, but hey, there’s always beach reading. And summer beers. I think I’ll be okay.