Thursday, May 03, 2012

Summer Movie Preview

As usual, I would say the summer movie season has snuck up on us...if I hadn't been suffering from dire movie withdrawal for the past three months! I used to think starting the season before Memorial Day was just a box office ploy by the studios (which no doubt it is), but damned if it hasn't worked. Now I find myself yearning for that first sip of summer cinemargarita - which is about three parts superheroes, one part non-superhero action/adventure, edged with just a smattering of indie salt. And if there's a hangover, it's nothing some good, hearty fall-slate Oscar bait can't cure.

And now, here are the ten movies I'm most looking forward to this summer, in order of release date:

directed by Joss Whedon
starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston

While I've enjoyed all the precursors to varying degrees, it's all been building up to this...the great blond beefcake showdown of 2012! Er, I mean Captain America vs. Thor. Ok, that's not the only reason I'm seeing the movie, but I admit that the prospect of seeing the two Chrises (both of whom I've found to be engaging screen presences, independent of their hunkiness), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), RDJ and Tom Hiddleston (as the scheming Loki) fighting on a big screen would be a powerful incentive even if the movie sucked. Luckily, early reports are generally positive.

directed by Rupert Sanders
starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron

Whether this serious-minded, proto-feminist reimagining of one of our most twisted fairy tales (think about it, it really is) actually works as a narrative remains to be seen. But as spectacle, it looks dandy, and Charlize Theron makes a fantastic evil queen...even if the idea of Kristen Stewart - an attractive girl, don't get me wrong - being the fairer of the two is laughable.

3. PROMETHEUS (June 8)
directed by Ridley Scott
starring Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce

Ridley Scott can be hit-or-miss, but when he does sci-fi, you best sit up and take notice. Rumored to be a prequel to "Alien," the film looks suitably suspenseful and visually spectacular, and features original-brand Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace as the requisite Ripley-esque strong female character, thinking girl's pinup Michael Fassbender as some kind of super-android, la belle Charlize as...something (another super-android? would make sense, she's too damn perfect), and the always-great Guy Pearce as the head of the sinister Weyland Corporation. This may be the movie I'm anticipating the most this summer...which of course means I should start tamping down my expectations soon. For now, though, I salivate.

directed by Benh Zeitlin

A Sundance favorite, this film is a head-scratcher to describe - something about a 6-year-old girl living in an isolated bayou-like area who tries to survive an apocalyptic flood (complete with sea-monsters!) - but it picked up rapturous early reviews and has already evoked comparisons to Terrence Malick. Which may be a deterrent for some viewers, but at the very least, it should be a welcome indie antidote to the swaggering action heroes surrounding it.

5. MAGIC MIKE (June 29)
directed by Steven Soderbergh
starring Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello

Steven Soderbergh directing a movie about male strippers? Starring actual former stripper Channing Tatum, for whom I've always had a soft spot (and no, not just because he's hot) as the lead? I am so there, and you better believe plenty of other smart ladies of impeccable taste will be right there with me. Side note: this looks like it could be Matthew McConaughey's best role in years.

directed by Marc Webb
starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary

No doubt about it, this is one utterly unnecessary franchise reboot, and a waste of creative talent that would be better deployed elsewhere. But how about that talent?? I'm loving the casting of my boy Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network," "Never Let Me Go") as the webbed hero - in my mind, he's already a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire ever was - and my girl Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. (Please take a moment of silent SQUEE for them as a real-life couple!) Also curious to see what the director of "(500) Days of Summer" does with a multi-million dollar comic book flick. Possibly nothing all that interesting - I'm sure he was given a short leash by the powers that be - but let's not forget his predecessor, Sam Raimi, also came from Indieland, and ended up giving us one of the stronger superhero movie franchises in recent memory.

directed by Christopher Nolan
starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard

I almost didn't put this one on the list because I am one of the very few people who was generally unimpressed by "The Dark Knight," outside of Heath Ledger's performance. On the other hand, I quite liked "Batman Begins" and most of Nolan's other films, and I'd be kidding myself if I thought I'd stay away from this one. Put me in the camp that's skeptical of the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman - but she's surprised me before, in a good way (see, e.g., "Rachel Getting Married"), so I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Much more optimistic about Tom Hardy as villain Bane, though it's a shame we won't really get to see his face or hear his natural voice. Now that's a waste!

directed by Tony Gilroy
starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Ed Norton, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn

Arguably as unnecessary as "The Amazing Spider-Man" as far as franchise reboots go, but at least this one cleverly introduces a wholly new protagonist and leaves open the possibility of a future return by Jason Bourne. It also retains most of the stellar supporting cast. Besides, the trailer looks terrific.

9. 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (August 10)
directed by Julie Delpy
starring Julie Delpy, Chris Rock

I never saw "2 Days in Paris," but I do like Delpy, and I'm curious to see her acting opposite Chris Rock. It's one of those "so odd it just might work" pairings, and if Delpy sprinkles even a soup├žon of her magic "Before Sunrise/Sunset" dust on this one, it should be worth watching.

10. LAWLESS (August 31)
directed by John Hillcoat
starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBoeuf, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska

Based on the critically acclaimed book The Wettest County in the World, about a family of Depression-era bootleggers, this could be Australian director John Hillcoat ("The Proposition")'s entree into Oscars territory. Then again, that's what everyone was saying about "The Road" last year, and we saw how that turned out. And why the studio thought the generic "Lawless" was a better title than, you know, the title of the actual book - you'd think its readers would be a major part of the target audience - is beyond me. Still, based on pedigree, I'm sold.

Finally, I had hoped that the film adaptation of Kerouac's ON THE ROAD (directed by "The Motorcycle Diaries"' Walter Salles, starring Sam Riley, who was so excellent in "Control," Garrett Hedlund, and Kristen Stewart, and also featuring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Amy Adams) would hit theaters this summer - but given that it's premiering at Cannes and therefore has yet to find a U.S. distributor, that's looking pretty unlikely. It's more of a fall movie, anyway - though the breezy nostalgia the book tends to induce in its fans (full disclosure: I am not one of them) would probably translate into a summer-friendly film. Oh well - maybe if we're lucky, it can be our September chaser.


Blogger CMN said...

Re revisionist takes on Snow White: Have you ever read Neil Gaiman's "Snow. Glass. Apples."?

9:50 AM  
Blogger lylee2 said...

I have not. Any good?

11:23 PM  

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