Ubiquitous Summer movie preview

Hear that?

That is the sound of countless Botox-enhanced faces within the film industry simultaneously stretching to a smile after the opening weekend of ‘Iron Man.’

As everything else in these current economically shaky times, the film industry hobbled into 2008, weakened by a writers strike and sagging returns. Who would have thought Robert Downey Jr. would be the one to save us from this mess?

But in he flew (granted, he was playing a character by the name of Tony Stark, but really, what’s the difference?), cracking $100 million in its first weekend alone. Of course, studio execs are quick to point out all the ‘firsts’ and “biggests’ for the film – the first non-sequel film to reach that benchmark in May; Downey’s biggest opening day ever; the first comic book-inspired film that was released under a waning crescent moon to gross that much; the biggest debut of a character with an incredibly angular goatee… and so on.

It has set the bar high for slate of big releases to follow (and there’s about one a week for the next 17 or so weeks, so hunker down, film fans). So, as we are all pinching pennies, here is a list of what’s in store for the summer of ’08 so that you can budget correctly and maybe eliminate some of those ‘luxuries’ in your life – like dinner – to pack more movies in your calendar.

May 6

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Capsian (PG) — Apparently Narnia is some ‘roided up version of dog years. The Pervensie kids return after only 12 months, but 1,000 years have passed in the magical kingdom and all is not well. Outlook: Even as it arrives in theaters this weekend, there has been such little excitement building over this film, which is truly odd considering the popularity of the first.

May 23

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (PG-13) – That sexagenarian globe-trotter is back under the famed fedora and still looks whipsmart (whereas his other recent action films, where here merely looked whipped). The whole gang is back, both in front of and behind the camera and this time Indy is battling the Russkies (including a “She-Wolf-of the-S.S”.-looking Cate Blanchett) with the help of former flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and a young lad (Shia LaBeouf) who may or may not be his son. Outlook: The anticipation is at fever pitch, but just calm it down a tad because the story is written by George Lucas, after all.

May 30

Sex in the City: The Movie (R) – Carrie (Sara Jessica Parker) and the martini-chugging chicks from HBO strut to the big screen to witness her marriage to Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Outlook: Early screenings have been positive, and it would certainly be a step up from the syrupy-sweet (anything with Julia Roberts) or acidic (“The Sweetest Thing”) rom-coms.

The Strangers (R) – Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are a young couple terrorized by masked assailants while vacationing in a secluded country cottage. Outlook: Go figure a scary (non-Spanish) film that actually looks legitimately scary.

June 6

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (PG-13) – As inevitable as waiting in death-like march on Route 1 in the summertime, Adam Sandler returns to the screen with yet another annoying voice, this time as a Mossad agent who comes to America to realize his dreams of becoming a hairdresser. Outlook: Hmmmm, let’s look at director Dennis Dugan’s resume, shall we? “Problem Child,” “Beverly Hills Ninja,” “The Benchwarmers,” … must I continue?

 Kung Fu Panda (PG) – A wild and crazy group of CGI animals (are there any other kind?), band together to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Outlook: Jack Black is the titular ursine, so your tolerance for this film will pretty much rest on that bit of info right there.

June 13

The Happening (PG-13) – Raj, Dwayne, Rerun and Shirley are all…oh, wait, sorry. Guess we’ll have to wait a little longer for that “What’s Happening!” big-screen treatment. This is the latest from M. Night Shyamalan following a science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) whose family looks for answers after an environmental cataclysm. Outlook: Shyamalan’s typically secretive about this one, but promises no “big twist” ending that have become a staple of his pictures.

The Incredible Hulk (PG-13) – Only three years after its misfired attempt to jumpstart the not-so-jolly green giant’s big-screen stature, filmmakers are back trying to reboot the franchise with Edward Norton as the mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner with severe anger-management issues. Outlook: Norton’s not helping to promote this film, which is never a good sign.

June 20

Get Smart (PG-13) – Steve Carrell answers the call of the shoe phone in this update of the corny Don Adams show from the 60s. Anne Hatthaway costars as Agent 99. Sadly, there’s no “Nude Bomb” in this one, like the device from the 80s film version. Outlook: Carrell has proven solid in television and film (“40-Year-Old Virgin”), but stumbled last summer in the most expensive comedy ever (“Evan Almighty”).

The Love Guru (PG-13) – Mike Myers steps out from behind the computer-generated comforts of “Shrek” to play an American-born, Eastern-bred spiritual advisor who helps a hockey player (played by Baby Mama” scene-stealing doorman Romany Malco) reunite with his wife. Outlook: If, after viewing the trailer, you still are interested in viewing the film, I am sure you will be very happy together. To all others, this looks to put the “sham” in shaman.

June 27

WALL-E (G) – A lonely but spritely little robot is left on Earth after its demise to clean up the mess in this latest picture form Pixar. Outlook: Did you see the last word in the previous sentence?

July 2

Hancock (PG-13) – Mr. July 4 Weekend, Will Smith, must save the world again. But this time, his hero is a boozy, womanizing boor… hey, wait. Didn’t we already have one of them at the box office this year? Wow, tough times for the caped-crusading set. Outlook: While a big-action Will Smith film is reliable as hearing illegal firecrackers go off this particular weekend, early screenings have not been kind.

The Dark Knight (PG-13) – When “Batman Begins” was released three summers ago, many critics called it the single best comic book adaptation to date. The entire creative team is back, with a couple new villains added to the mix. Aaron Eckhart stars as Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face, and, of course, Heath Ledger makes one of his final big-screen appearances as The Joker. Outlook: Perhaps the most anticipated film of the summer, both from an artistic perspective and out of morbid curiosity.

July 11

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (PG-13) — This summer, the big superhero names often bandied about are Iron Man, Batman, Will Smith and Indiana Jones. Hellboy is but a blip on the radar. And this is its second outing. The first film of the blood-red behemoth barely registered at the box office, but a little thing happened between then and now – a film called “Pan’s Labyrinth,” from “Hellboy’s director Guillermo Del Toro. Outlook:  This summer’s market is a little too crowded with crusaders, but, man, have you seen its trailer?

Meet Dave (PG-13) – Eddie Murphy reteams with his “Norbit” director Brian Robbins for more multi-Murphy madness. In “Dave,” Murphy takes on the role of a miniature spaceman who inhabits the body of a full-grown Eddie Murphy. Sigh. Instead of making films with multiple comedic roles, perhaps he should once again focus on just one role that is consistently amusing. Outlook: Even “Norbit,” a film everyone saw and no one liked, made $90 million.

July 18

Mamma Mia! (PG-13) – Another Broadway fave leaps to the big screen. This time it’s the Abba-inspired musical dancing its way into theaters with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. Outlook: Could be this summer’s “Hairspray,” or this summer’s “The Producers.”

July 25

Stepbrothers (R) – Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are two arrested-developing men whose parents get hitched, forcing them to live together. Outlook: OK, the whole stunted man-child in their 30s trend at the movies was getting tired, so now that both leads are in their 40s, it’s feeling a wee bit desperate.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (PG-13) – As guarded as a government conspiracy, there is little filmmakers will reveal about the plot of the film, which reteams David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson with series creator Chris Carter. Outlook: I want to believe that people still care about this long-dead franchise, but I just don’t think they do.

Aug. 1

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire (PG-13) – Brendan Fraser again goes looking for treasure and adventure with his wife (now played by Maria Bello) and a fully grown child.  Outlook: Why the producers decided that the summer that Indiana Jones return from a 20-year absence on screen was a great time to release another one of these Indiana Jones rip-offs is beyond me. But, get used to it, as there are apparently more Mummy’s in the pipeline.

Aug. 8

Pineapple Express (R) – The title is from a purportedly potent blend of weed, which is acquired by a stoner (Seth Rogen) from his dealer (James Franco). While under said substance, Rogan’s character witnesses a murder and must escape getting caught up in it and harshing his buzz. Outlook: Producer Judd Apatow, who was hailed as the next king of comedy after the back-to-back hits of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” has yet to really score since (“Dewey Cox,” “Drillbit Taylor,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”). But that red-band trailer on the internet is high-larious.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (PG) – As “Empire Strikes Back” is to “Star Wars,” the second chapter is the “Pants” saga promises more drama, adventure, romance and two times the pants. Outlook: All the girls from the first film have been quite busy in the past three years (America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn), so … it’s got that going for it.

Aug. 15

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (PG) – Thankfully, Lucas has steered clear of this one, and has passed the lightsaber to the creative team behind the exciting Cartoon Network series. This animated chapter takes place somewhere between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” Outlook: “Clone Wars” features an all-animated cast, which is more than can be said for any of the films that featured Hayden Christiansen.

Tropic Thunder (R) – Ben Stiller’s parody on the movie industry finds a group of nihilistic actors preparing for a war film actually dropped off in the middle of real combat. Jack Black, Nick Nolte and an at-times unnoticeable Robert Downey Jr. lead the cast. Outlook: Downey’s been receiving a lot of press for his role of a method actor that actually undergoes skin pigmentation to portray a black man, which could be bold or embarrassing.

Aug. 22

Bangkok Dangerous (R) – Nicolas Cage is again in full action mode, but without a flaming skull or a copy of the Constitution in his hands. Instead, he’s an assassin who starts to grow a conscience while sniping in Thailand. Outlook: Director-brothers Danny and Oxide Pang have an undoubted knack for visual style, which they’ve demonstrated in the native projects. Unfortunately, their English language pics (“The Messengers,” “The Eye”) have failed to capitalize on them.

~ by usesoapfilm on May 12, 2008.

4 Responses to “Ubiquitous Summer movie preview”

  1. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were at Wondercon this year with Chris Carter. There was a HUGE turnout. The place was packed full of X-files nerds (we call ourselves X-philes…because we’re awesome) who were ridiculously excited for the new movie. So, I’m not sure if Wondercon was just a mecca for geeks, but it seems like the movie might do pretty well.

    Also, I love how much like Al Pacino in 88-minutes Adam Sandler looks in that poster. I hope it’s just as good! (Oh…one can only dream)

    -Whitney

  2. As a marginal X-phile (File-ette?), I can only respond that there was also a HUGE response to a little film called Snakes on a Plane at Comic-con a few years back and, well… 🙂

    As far as ‘Zohan,’ my readers at the paper are well aware of my loathe for all things Sandler, so I think ’88 Minutes’ is a lofty goal indeed.

  3. do you think it’s funny that tony starks is also on of ghostface’s alter-egos?
    and george lucas is a better screen-writer than most people give him credit for. you just got to remember that he’s super funny. so funny you dont even catch how funny he’s being. or it’s all unintentional. either way, all the star wars movies are hilarious.

  4. If I had seen that group of posters a year and a half ago, before hearing about any of these movies in production, I don’t know how many I would have been excited/surprised to see.

    Exactly one half of them are either sequels, remakes, or TV adaptations. Make that more than half with Mama Mia coming from Broadway.

    ScottThoughts: Didn’t they already make a Hulk movie?
    ScottThoughts: An X-Files movie, that’s rad.
    ScottThoughts: Apparently Adam Sandler and Mike Myers are done with making movies. This must be the end.

    Well, as it turns out, my would-be thoughts from 18-months ago are exactly the same as my thoughts now. Hmmm… Either way, I’ll always be excited for a new Batman movie.

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