Summer Movie Preview

by mr sparkle on May 2, 2011

in Film,Media Rack

As I’ve grown older, wiser and handsomer, action films have had a harder time impressing me. Nowadays, I’m more taken with the work of Pedro Almodóvar, Andrei Tarkovsky and other people with weird names. But for all of my blossoming film snobbery (THANKS A LOT, COLLEGE), I still get excited every May for another Summer movie season to begin. Which beloved works of architecture will we lose to the bad guys this year? What super powers will be discovered by unsuspecting awkward teenagers? Does anyone at the Studios understand what character development means?

With that, I present to you some of the movies that have me most intrigued scheduled for release over the next few months. It’s too early to say if these will be the best or even the biggest, but these are the ones I’m hoping can make me feel like I’m a stupid 14-year-old at the movies again. Not that I necessarily want to relive any of horrid nonsense.

I’m not a Comics expert, but even I know the prospect of bringing Marvel’s Thor to film is a tricky one. Somewhere between a superhero and a God, putting together a cinematic Valhalla, and its inhabitants, that toes the line between divine and awesome can’t be an easy task – tipping to far in either direction could hurt the story. But I’ve had faith in this film ever since it was announced that Kenneth Branagh, an actor / director known for his adaptations of Shakespere, would be at the helm. For a guy with tastes this classical to step up to the challenge of a summer superhero story is a ballsy but exciting idea, and one I can’t see Branagh taking on unless he was really committed.

Will it be any good? Early reviews are trickling in and things are looking promising. But even if it disappoints, at least we’ll be able to make awesome M.C. Hammer jokes at its expense. Opens Friday.


Bridesmaids is being marketed on a very fair question – why do “girl” movies suck so often? The genre, defined as of late by Twilight, Sex and the City and Katherine Heigl, makes misogyny seem more reasonable than it is; but there’s zero reason there can’t be a film that caters towards women and is also genuinely good on its own. Kristen Wiig, who wrote and stars in the film following a down-on-her-luck gal stressing out as her best friend prepares for wedlock, has proven funny on six years of SNL, but her characters stray into being irritating. Can she keep it straight in her film debut?

Will it be any good? Yr ol’ pal Senior Sparkle has already seen this one, and he can affirm this is one look forward to. Opens May 13th.

The Tree of Life

If you haven’t heard of The Tree of Life‘s director Terrence Malick, it’s unlikely you’ll be interested in seeing this film. But fans of Malick know how much of a treat it is to get a movie from the auteur at all – since 1973, Malick has only released four films. But what he lacks in quantity Malick makes up with a wistful camera and poetic pacing that makes him one of our finest, if most mysterious, filmmakers. It’s fitting, then, that we know barely anything about this fifth film – about all we can say is that it stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn as a father / son duo shown to us over time, and that there might be dinosuars – that last part is not a joke.

Will it be any good? Even if we don’t get dinosaurs, I’ll never complain about getting another film from Malick. It’s hard to imagine he could deliver anything less than hugely intriguing. Opens May 27th.

X-Men: First Class

Bryan Singer’s first X-Men was the first summer action movie I became obsessed with, so any sequel is going to be of interest to me. But First Class isn’t just an opportunity for nostalgia – with Singer back on in a producing / co-writing capacity, Matthew Vaughn behind the camera and a suave, James Bond 1960s setting, it promises to help make up for X3 and Wolverine. That’s not an impossible task, but it should be an ingratiating effort all the same.

Will it be any good? Matthew Vaughn’s last superhero movie, Kick-Ass, felt a little light, but trailers for First Class have me thinking we’ll get something more substantial here. Opens June 3rd.

Super 8

J.J. Abrams is giving us an alien movie in the vein of early Spielberg.

Will it be any good? I think I’ve already answered that. Opens June 10th.

Cars 2

With the sole exception of Cap’n Carrot, I’m pretty sure everyone in the entire universe was disappointed with Pixar’s Cars. From anyone else it would have been a solid animated film, but it failed the expectations we all have for the best moviemakers. But with marketing that’s pushing the sequel as a totally different kind of film – a globe-trotting adventure with more humor than we’re used to from Pixar – maybe we’ll get something completely different here.

Will it be any good? Pixar’s been on too good a role since the first Cars to ignore. Though they’re bound to disappoint after Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3; I for one have faith that they’re better at what they do now and will be able to improve upon the original. Opens June 24th.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The two Transformers movies have been a couple of the most frustrating movies I’ve seen out of Hollywood. Not because they suck (which should go unsaid,) but because I honestly feel like they’re just a few notches off from being fucking great. Michael Bay knows how to deliver mindlessly awesome material, and the special effects work on Transformers has been astounding (even their overbloated with awful scripts have been an entertaining kind of bad). That’s enough to deliver amazing trailers, trailers that convince me that this time, this time things will be different. But Bay has spoiled the first two installments of his trilogy with editing that would put the ADHD generation to shame, and I don’t think he’ll be changing his ways with Dark of the Moon.

Will it be any good? Probably not. But the trailer is badass. Opens July 1st.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

This Harry Potter dork hasn’t been been thrilled with these movies, but even I have to admit the last two have been solid. But even if they weren’t, this last Harry Potter movie has more promise than any of the other filmic adaptations – after taking care of building all the doom, gloom and stakes in Deathly Hallows Part 1, we’re getting an entire film dedicated to a breathless finale to a seven-year story. In the final hours of the series, we’re getting a heist movie with dragon-napping, death, and an obscenely satisfying amount of fan service. If it’s done right, even non-fans will be exhilarated.

Will it be any good? This will be the fourth film of the series from David Yates, and he’s yet to prove he can do action well. But don’t be surprised if finally pulls it off with this last chapter. Opens July 15th.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel’s other summer tentpole might be the opposite of its first – whereas Thor is an interstellar mix of sci-fi and theology, Captain America looks to do nothing more than be a rambunctious run-through of World War II. And with the heretofore underrated actor Chris Evans as Cap, The First Avenger could be the classic fun summer action movie.

Will it be any good? Alongside DC’s Green Lantern (June 17), Captain America has a lot to pull off with something this rock-’em-sock-’em-ridiculous, but I can see it happening. Opens July 22nd.

Cowboys & Aliens

Like anyone else, I was expecting a movie called Cowboys & Aliens to be a silly genre mashup, but the first trailer shocked us all with a mood of serious action that assured us it was taking its premise as gravely as possible. That could have been a bad thing, but the trailer also showed us both Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford as being totally game – two actors that can justify a movie on their own. But this is untested ground for director Jon Favreau who, despite doing great work on Elf and Iron Man, has yet to make anything that feels this dire or tense.

Will it be any good? After Iron Man 2, I think we all want to see Jon Favreau make a comeback, but it’s too early to say with this one. Opens July 29th.

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