Break out the blockbusters
Bob Grimm predicts which will be the ‘gee whiz, neato,’ the ‘hmm, I wonder’ and the ‘I’d rather wax my toes’ summer flicks
There’s something in the neighborhood of 8,762 films coming to multiplexes this summer. Ten percent of them star Ben Stiller, four of them feature happy children with pretzels, and at least one is a sequel to Spider-Man.
For the summer movie preview this year, I offer an abbreviated take on what excites me, what cautiously interests me, and what makes me want to file my toes to the nub with an emery board.
LOOKS REALLY NEAT
The previews for The Day After Tomorrow, in which New York City gets its butt kicked by tidal waves and snowstorms, have me more than intrigued. This is the summer “blockbuster” movie I most look forward to seeing, even if it is directed by the guy who did Godzilla (I actually kind of liked that one). I’m sure this film will waste many a minute on the strong will of humanity to endure, pets surviving over humans and Dennis Quaid’s majestic abdominals, but I still want to see the Statue of Liberty with frozen nips.
Sam Raimi continues to cruelly tease geek fans about Evil Dead 4, but we’ll just have to settle for Spider-Man 2, wherein Spidey faces off against Doc Oc (Alfred Molina) and gets a major case of squashed gonads in those super tights. The other big movie with a 2 after it, Shrek 2, looks to be more of the same, and that’s a very good thing if you like smelly ogres that sound like the dad from So I Married an Axe Murderer (I do!). While I thought the first Harry Potter was for squares, Chamber of Secrets kicked some ass, and part three (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) looks to be the best yet. The end of the preview, where Harry boldly points his wand at the sky and yells something like “Nazboo rectal aluminum!” gives me chills.
For more boom and bang, there’s Alien vs. Predator, which stands as a remarkably dumb idea that just could work. It’s directed by the guy who did Resident Evil, and that one was all right with me, except for that bullshit with the talking girl computer. Tom Cruise will star as a bad guy in Michael Mann’s Collateral. As soon as that one wraps, he’ll start work on his poignant autobiographical film Sometimes I Act with My Hair!
For laughter, Will Ferrell will rule the world with Anchorman, a film that cannot and will not fail ("I love scotch … scotchy scotchy scotch!"). Also on the comic front, I have to root for a film that’s called Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and stars Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. I think my enthusiasm is due to the sentimentality and potential for intellectual stimulation the title implies. For proof that this movie has the potential to rock, visit www.dodgeballmovie.com/balls to see Justin Long go through a rather intense training session.
On the “hey, this didn’t cost us a god-damn thing!” front, there’s Open Water (supposedly based on a true story), in which two divers are left behind by the worst tour guide on the planet and taunted by wily sharks. Zach Braff, the funny guy from Scrubs, writes, directs and stars in Garden State, a movie that has been making people goo about its coolness at various film festivals. Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman and Ian Holm (Bilbo!) costar.
GOLLY … I’M NOT SURE
M. Night Shyamalan won me over with Signs, but his latest, a horror film called The Village, looks like Signs meets The Brady Bunch‘s Thanksgiving-Pilgrim episode. I have faith in the guy ‘cause I’m a trusting sort, but something tells me that this one will have a big-twist ending, often-obscured-from-view monsters and Shyamalan himself in a bland walk-on role.
Brad Pitt abandoned Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain to go the Russell Crowe/Gladiator route in Wolfgang Peterson’s Troy, an adaptation of Homer’s The Iliad. Peterson himself abandoned Batman vs. Superman for this one, so that makes two movies jettisoned for the sake of Pitt in a skirt, or kilt, or whatever the thing he’s wearing is called. It’ll probably be an all-right film. I’m just a bit jaded.
I love Spielberg and Hanks, but previews for The Terminal have me very, very scared. The accent Hanks sports (Balkan? Draculan?) is bizarre, and the story, about a tourist in America being forced to live in an airport terminal for days, just smells like trouble. “Loosely based” on a true story, the film looks to find the nuttiness and charm inherent in a really long layover. Hanks’ character also gets to romance Catherine Zeta-Jones while waiting for his flight. Last time I was held over in an airport, I got tension headaches and was sneezed upon by a homeless guy.
The vampire movie Blade: Trinity causes some trepidation, for it is the third movie in a series, a cursed film number. It also causes trepidation because it stars Wesley Snipes, who typically sucks ass.
THESE MOVIES CAN GO TO HELL!
Is there a single person on the planet, other than Halle Berry, who thinks Catwoman will be any good? Berry looks like a total fool in that outfit, some sort of cheap porno kitty-with-a-whip fixation. Speaking of cats, Bill Murray goes from Oscar nominee to fat-feline voice in Garfield. This one’s potential for cuteness is diminished by the presence of Jennifer Love Hewitt (the kiss of death!) and a director whose previous credits include a film called Thunderpants, about an 11-year-old with spectacular farting abilities. I’m not kidding. It’s a real movie.
I’m of the opinion that Vin Diesel is an abomination and, therefore, have low expectations for The Chronicles of Riddick, a sequel to the OK Pitch Black. In the film, Diesel plays a moody guy who sounds like the Iron Giant and really, truly loves himself. Another guy who seems deeply in love with everything he says would be Will Smith, whose I, Robot is inhabited by artificial persons who look like mischievous icicles. I’m hoping that Smith opts out of singing on this puppy’s soundtrack. His Wild Wild West song still pops into my consciousness from time to time, causing me to go to the bad place.
For potential sap crap, there’s The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and Raising Helen, both directed by Mephistopheles, a.k.a. Garry Marshall. Marshall is the man responsible for such fun times as Runaway Bride and Beaches. Oh great, I’ve reminded myself of Beaches. Now my month is totally ruined, and my cholesterol has shot up 50 points. Richard Gere takes dance lessons from former fly girl J-Lo in Shall We Dance, or, as I like to call it, Shall We Find a Way to Make a Film Critic with the Initials B.G. Have Night Sweats As Our Dreaded Release Date Approaches.
Also not looking so great is The Stepford Wives, which has repulsed test audiences and required reshoots. Whenever I see the preview, people around me always snicker that Nicole Kidman “looks terrible!” with short brown hair (seriously, I’ve heard it twice). This film also has Bette Midler, star of Beaches. Oh geez, I’ve reminded myself of Beaches again. OK, this preview is over.