Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer movie previews: action/adventure

Yes, readers, the summer movie season is already revving up, and if there's anything I like more in the summertime than grilling cholesterol-laden meats, blowing things up, and guaranteeing melanoma later in life, it's a summer blockbuster.

I have yet to read over the summer release schedule, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess only one of the summer offerings is definitely going to be worth checking out (cough cough THE ABOVE POSTER cough cough). Let's see*.

Robin Hood
RELEASE DATE: in theaters

SYNOPSIS: Gladiator star Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott team up to remake Gladiator, only this time he's in the woods instead of the Coliseum and armed with a bow and arrow instead a sword and slave labor.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: As much as I respect the body of work Ridley Scott has amassed over the past few decades, the trailer for Robin Hood didn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. Similarly, the mediocre critical response indicates Robin Hood suffers from the same lack of compelling storytelling that dragged Scott's Kingdom of Heaven down. Pass.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

SYNOPSIS: Jake Gyllenhaal possesses a dagger that can take whomever holds it back through time. Ben Kingsley is a bad guy. Alfred Molina once again appears in a film that is likely not worthy of his talent. I'd say the same for Sir Kingsley but he was in The Love Guru. Unforgivable.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Movies based off of videogames have a great track record, right? Even though the trailer made one of my nerdier buddies wet his pants with excitement (possibly literally), I'm thinking this will be a pass.


SYNOPSIS: Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley are scientists who blend their own DNA with animal specimens, creating something that looks like an alien from Alien mated with one of the precogs from Minority Report. Hilarity, apparently, does not ensue.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: I love a good horror movie, but so far the trailer hasn't sold me entirely - the concept isn't terrible but it looks like the execution could go either way. Wait for the reviews unless you're already geeked up.

The A-Team

SYNOPSIS: A crack squad of military elite are framed for a crime they didn't commit. It's kind of like a television show most of you are not old enough to remember. Pity.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: So long as director Jon Carnahan approaches the material with the appropriate level of chagrin, this could be a decent throw-away action flick. Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper, along with District 9's Sharlto Copley will likely make up for cage fighter Quinton Jackson's lack of dramatic training. If the reviews are decent, might as well check it out. For the record, though, I enjoyed the helicopter snag scene from the trailer a lot more when it was in The Dark Knight.

Jonah Hex

SYNOPSIS: The grizzled Old West bounty hunter from DC Comics takes to the big screen.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: If I hadn't read about this in The AV Club's guide to summer movies, this would have completely passed me by. Despite Josh Brolin in the lead role, likely playing a far grittier version of Llewelyn Moss from No Country For Old Men, I'm going to hold out for critical reception on this one too. Comic book and graphic novel adaptations have a track record only slightly better than videogame adaptations or Dolph Lundgren vehicles.

Twilight: Eclipse

SYNOPSIS: Vampires and werewolves and shit.


The Last Airbender

SYNOPSIS: A young boy finds he is the key to end a world-wide war. No, his name is not Winston Churchill.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a film based off of a popular martial arts cartoon to anyone that was a fan, but they key element here is one Mr. M Night Shyamalan, who has defied all logic and extended his career about three films longer than he was entitled. Be very, very wary. Anyone who thinks otherwise, I dare you to defend The Happening.


SYNOPSIS: A reboot/re-imagining of the original pits Adrian Brody, Lawrence Fishburne, and Danny Trejo against some nasty aliens that are scarier than Javier Bardem.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Prequels and retellings are a mixed bag. So far as pure action thrills, though, the shot of Brody getting lit up by laser sites at the end of the trailer, not to mention that Robert Rodriguez produced the film, makes me think Predators will be worth a look.


SYNOPSIS: Leonardo DiCaprio steals secrets from people's dreams in the latest offering from Christopher Nolan.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Even Christopher Nolan's weakest films (in my opinion, Insomnia and The Prestige) are far more entertaining than the average Hollywood offering. Inception stars Scorcese's go-to man, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, and Ken Watanabe, and the film promises to be a mindbender in every sense of the word. We may be looking at not only one of the best movies of the summer, but possibly one of the best of the year.


SYNOPSIS: Angelina Jolie is not a spy! She may actually be a spy! But she may not be! Who cares, she has sexy black hair!

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Salt seems like a not-as-clever spin on the Bourne franchise. I suppose it could be a fun flick, though, with Jolie in a badass action role. After all, Wanted was good, right? Wait, what? Wanted kind of blew? Oh. Right.

The Expendables
RELEASE DATE: August 13th

SYNOPSIS: Every action star to grace the silver screen for the past thirty-odd years said, "fuck it, let's all make a movie together."

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Sylvester Stallone has had quite the interesting decade, especially with his continued pursuance of his Edgar Allen Poe biopic, and The Expendables continues his run of showing a) Stallone still wants to be in movies, and b) he has a sense of humor about himself. This could be ridiculous fun - personally, though, I'm going to wait for the critical consensus.

Scott Pilgrim Versus The World
RELEASE DATE: August 13th

SYNOPSIS: Michael Cera's new girlfriend has seven ex-boyfriends that apparently leaped from the screens of Street Fighter. He has to fight and defeat them even though he'd be more at home trapped in a game of Rock Band than Mortal Kombat.

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Comic book adaptations are hit and miss at the box office, especially ones that aren't universally known like Batman or The X Men. I would be skeptical of Scott Pilgrim, except it's directed by Edgar Wright. Perhaps you've heard of a few little satires he directed, titled Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? I'll check it out.

Piranha 3D
RELEASE DATE: August 28th

SYNOPSIS: Joe Dante's 1978 Jaws knockoff gets a reboot, because, dammit, 3D blue cats are fine, but wouldn't we rather see them devoured by swarms of toothy fish?

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Piranha 3D will likely be this year's Snakes on a Plane. I hope it proves me wrong and actually delivers on the b-horror movie thrills like last year's superbly entertaining Drag Me To Hell.

TITLES: The Bounty Hunter, Killers, Knight and Day

RELEASE DATES: March 19th, June 4th, June 25th

SYNOPSIS: He's a charming killer! She's kind of awkward! Will love triumph?

IHYFM RECOMMENDATION: Did you see Mr. and Mrs. Smith? No need to see it three more times with Gerard Butler, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Cruise, and Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl, and Cameron Diaz, right? That's what I thought.

Coming soon: family flicks that I would be inevitably dragged to this summer if I had children. I have a feeling fatherhood and film snobbery will not make the best bedfellows when fatherhood comes to pass.

*Okay, two: I'll definitely see Scott Pilgrim too.

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