Holy Heartbreak, Miss Kitka, but summer’s almost here and the time is almost right for dancin’ in the movie theater aisles. In a few short months “Snowpocalypsemageddon 2010” will be a vague memory and you’ll be buying sunblock at your local apothecary. Yes, this is just an excuse to look at a slew of this summer’s movies and do some crystal balling.
Over the last few years studios have had great success releasing summer blockbuster-type movies in the Spring before the traditional May dates, so we’re gonna start “summer” this year in April. Any complaints?
And no, this isn't all the summer releases for 2010, just ones that caught my eye.
Clash of the Titans / April 2
It’s the remake that no one was really asking for but since studios were remaking every property at least 20 years old, this one’s number came up. It’s a re-boot of the 1981 fantasy film that was most notable as the final work of visual effects master Ray Harryhausen (trivia: the original Clash was also the first film where Harryhausen hired assistants to work with him on the effects).
This new Clash is directed by Louis Leterrier, who we last saw helm the re-boot movie The Incredible Hulk (before that he directed Transporter 1 & 2). Liam Neeson, as Zeus, heads a cast of British actors who couldn’t get a spot in the Harry Potter series, people like Pete Postlewaite, Jason Flemyng and Gemma Arterton. Ralph Fiennes plays Hades, hopefully with the nose that he is missing as He Who Must Not Be Named in the Potter films. And the so-bland-it’s-hard-to-believe-he-has-a-career Sam Worthington stars as hero Perseus.
The trailer was appropriately loud and bombastic, filled with quick cuts of battles and skirmishes, but nothing that made you say, “I gotta see this.” I could be fun; let’s hope so.
Kick-Ass / April 16
A teenager decides to don a homemade costume and become a real superhero. He gets his ass handed to him at least once, but he keeps at it and gets better. And he inspires others.
Based on a Marvel comic written by Mark “Wanted” Millar and drawn by John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass has had tremendous buzz on the webs and, better than that, a “red band” clip and full trailer that shows this is one wild ride from director Matthew “Layer Cake” Vaughn.
Brit Aaron Johnson plays Kick-Ass aka Dave Liszewski with a convincing American accent (and a lot of bruises). Nicolas Cage, who disappointed in Ghost Rider, looks to redeem himself as Big Daddy, the doting, but screw-loose father of 12 year old Hit Girl, played by Chloe Grace Moritz (they are inspired by Kick-Ass enough to don costumes themselves and take on the mob). McLovin’ also pops up (okay, it’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist). This one looks good.
The Losers (April 23)
Another comic book adaptation, this time from DC’s Vertigo line and based on a series by writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock. No superheroes this time, but a group of covert operations folks who are betrayed by their superiors and seek revenge.
It’s got a good cast with Zoe “Star Trek, Avatar” Saldana, Chris “Fantastic Four” Evans, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan from “Watchmen.” Peter Berg of “Friday Night Lights” and “Hancock” fame is a co-writer while the director of Stomp the Yard, Sylvain White, is calling action and cut.
MacGruber / April 23
When is the last time a movie inspired by a Saturday Night Live sketch was any good? "Wayne’s World" back in 1992? Seriously.
A Nightmare on Elm Street / April 30
Freddy Krueger dusts off his ginsu knife-gloves and puts on the tattered red-striped sweater to harass and kill some more kids.
Buzz seems to be divided on this - there’s even a shot for shot comparison of the newest trailer against footage from the Wes Craven original that makes it look visually faithful. Jackie Earle Haley, continuing his wonderful career resurgence, plays Freddy for director Samuel Bayer (making the leap from music video to his first feature) and producer Michael Bay. Yup, this is from Bay’s Platinum Dunes company which remade the “Texas Chainsaw,” “Hills Have Eyes,” “Amityville Horror” and “Friday the 13th” franchises for today’s horror audiences. Read that last sentence again, slowly.
Iron Man 2 / May 2
Good lord but this looks AWESOME from the trailer. The same great mix of character-based humor ("You complete me!") and drama, solid storytelling and cool action scenes. Oh, and a lot of ARMOR WARS! The one to beat this summer.
Robin Hood / May 14
Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe do Robin of Locksley. I love the Robin Hood story, but good grief this one has been done to death, and it doesn’t appear that they’re tackling it from a different angle, like say, from the Sheriff of Nottingham’s perspective.
Shrek Forever After / May 21
Kill me now. The original Shrek was mildly amusing at best. The sequels were exponentially deficient on the quality/quantity of jokes (that new Old Spice commercial with the former NFL player in a bathroom, then a boat, then on a horse is 100 times funnier and more clever than any of the Shrek sequels). This is a fact (I checked with the facts people).
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time / May 28
Jake Gyllenhaal worked out A LOT, almost to Vin Diesel levels. Based on a video game series that started in 1989 (pre-Internet – No way!) and directed by Mike Newell (“Donnie Brasco” and “HP and the Goblet of Fire”) and produced by hit-maker Jerry Bruckheimer (half of everything you watch on TV and the movies).
It’s set in Persia (I got that from the title) in the 6th century so we’ll probably have a lot of rugs to go along with Jake’s muscles and co-star/superbabe Gemma Arterton’s “artertons” knowhutI’msayin’? The trailer has a buttload of exposition: Arterton’s character explains the whole plot to Gyllenhaal. I wonder why that is?
One thing that bothers me is that as this is set in locations with a lot of desert, sand and dry rugged mountains, there is a slight sepia look that registers as “fake” to me. Is that deliberate to give it a “fairy tale” quality or does CGI have a hard time with convincing dry arid locations?
Survival of the Dead / May 28
George A. Romero is PUMPING out the zombie movies – this is his third one since 2005! Set on an island off the coast of Delaware, and starring a cast of unknowns, the story concerns a group of people trying to find a medical cure to change the dead back into their former selves. I wonder if Romero will be commenting about our current health care debate and issues like stem cell research. I’m betting he will, and that is awesome.
Sex and the City 2 / May 28
Insert finger into throat and blow chunks on those Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks.
Marmaduke / June 4
WTF? (That’s What The Fudge – it’s a kids movie after all.) Starring Owen Wilson as the voice of the AT-AT-sized dog.
The A-Team / June 11
The trailer was EXCEPTIONALLY generic – whoever put it together should be shot by the A-Team. But Liam Neeson looks and feels like George Peppard from the tv original. And "District 9’s" versatile Sharlto Copley is playing Murdock. Don’t know about Rampage Jackson as B.A. – he just doesn’t seem to be the outsize personality needed for the role (like The Rock was in his wrestling prime). Will director Joe Carnahan pull it off?
The Karate Kid / June 11
Wax off this one. Jackie Chan is no Mr. Miyagi (the character is named something else) and Jadan Smith just grates on me. Plus Chan is Chinese so shouldn’t that be The Kung Fu Kid?
Jonah Hex / June 18
DC Comics scarred post-Civil War bounty hunter (he fought for the Confederates) comes to the big screen with Josh Brolin in the deformed make up and Megan Fox as the girl in the corset with the teeny tiny waist.
This new story has supernatural overtones which are more in line with the more recent Hex tales than the majority of the early comic book stories of this anti-hero who is more in the mold of Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” than the traditional John Wayne cowboy. Brolin has been doing some interesting work lately so I’m curious. But one possible caveat is that the producers are Neveldine/Taylor, my sworn nemeses after being subjected to their last directing effort “Gamer.” I hope they let director Jimmy Hayward do it his way, and that his way is not the non-stop frenzy, chaos, anarchy and futility of N/T.
Toy Story 3 / June 18
Yay! Pixar returns to their enchanting Toy Story universe. This company knows that STORY AND CHARACTERS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. If you have that, you will get the huge box office grosses you want AND the merchandizing and product synergy to go with it.
Michael Keaton is the voice of Ken and his scenes with Barbie are supposed to be hilarious. Hopefully this will lead to a career jump start for Mr. Keaton, who hasn’t gotten the acting recognition he deserves.
Knight & Day / July 2
Tom Cruise decides to lighten up for the first time in his leading man career. But I’m just not getting a good vibe from the trailer and his scenes with Cameron Diaz.
The Last Airbender / July 2
M. Night Shyamalan is hoping for a hit with this movie, his first directing effort based on someone else’s script, and good golly he needs one after the ridiculous "The Happening." I’m not familiar with the Nickelodeon cartoon this is based on, and I don’t believe there is a lot of positive buzz about this one on the web. Plus there is some backlash surrounding casting non-Asian actors to play Asian characters, so this will likely tank in Asian markets.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse / July 2
Polish up your sparkly diamond boyfriend and get a case of ab polish, here comes the latest "Twilight" movie. If I were a 12 year old girl I'd be getting in line now.
Predators / July 9
Robert Rodriguez produces this kick in the pants to the "Predator" movie series. I can’t call it a franchise as there were only two "Predator" films, and those gawdawful "AvP" movies just don’t count. Nimrod Antal (last year’s “Armored”) directs. Can they make the Predators cool mit out Arnold?
Inception / July 16
From co-writer/director Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. What is it about? Hard to say, but the trailer has the world around DiCaprio moving and changing a bit like "Dark City," so it’s a mind-f--- of some sort. Nolan is always interesting, so there’s serious anticipation for this film.
The Sorceror’s Apprentice / July 16
Nicholas Cage again! This time he’s the Sorceror Balthazar to Jay Baruchel’s college student apprentice in this film inspired by the Disney cartoon. It’s produced by…wait for it…Jerry Bruckheimer. I told you Mr. Bruckheimer is responsible for half of everything produced in Hollywood today. This is directed by Jon Turteltaub who put Cage through his paces in the "National Treasure" movies, but the story comes from Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal who scripted the stupid "Superman IV" and the stupider "Planet of the Apes" remake. But to be fair the screenplay was written by the team behind "The Uninvited" and one of the writers for "Race to Witch Mountain." That's a whole lot of not good right there.
Salt / July 23
Angelina Jolie plays wrongly accused super-spy Evelyn Salt, on the run to clear her name, for director Phillip Noyce (the two Harrison Ford “Jack Ryan” movies and “Rabbit Proof Fence”). I love Angelina and Noyce is a solid director, and with clever writers Kurt Wimmer and Brian Helgeland behind it, here’s hoping this is a winner.
The Adjustment Bureau / July 30
Matt Damon and the beguiling Emily Blunt star in a film based on a Philip K. Dick sci fi short story. He’s a congressman and she’s a mysterious ballerina caught up with him as his world comes apart. Hollywood seems determined to bring every PKD story to the screen, and that’s fine by me.
The Expendables / August 13
Sylvester Stallone continues his action come back by co-writing, directing and leading this tale involving a who’s who of today’s action stars - Jet Li, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews and action greats Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger – as a team of Special Forces assassins out to bring down a South American dictator. Watch it in a theater with a solid foundation because this one will bring the roof down.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World / August 13
Director Edgar Wright, of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" fame, helms this adaptation of the Oni Press comic book by Bryan Lee O'Malley. It’s got an awesome premise: slacker/garage band member Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) falls in love with Ramona (the beautiful Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends who are out to kill him before he can win her heart. I've loved every thing Wright has helmed, including "Spaced" his British series with Simon Pegg. "Pilgrim" sounds like a crazy fun time.
Nanny McPhee 2 / August 20
(insert cricket sound)
Piranha 3D / August 27
Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan who wrote the fun horror movie and final Project: Greenlight winner "Feast" scripted this one, so I expect lots of laughs.
No Joe Dante, this time you get director Alexander Aja (“Haute Tension”/“High Tension” and “The Hills Have Eyes” remake), stars Elizabeth Shue and Ving Rhames, and most likely LOTS of blood, gore and entrails. Sushi, anyone?