Must-sees, maybes and movies to avoid this summer
This summer marks the 30th anniversary of Jaws, the movie that essentially started the summer-movie-season phenomenon. Besides causing widespread anxiety involving sharks, Jaws was the first film to pass the $100 million mark, telling the studios that summer was the time to release “the big ones.”
This summer has already gotten off to a big start with Star Wars: Episode III–Revenge of the Sith, a great movie that is on track to make something like five trillion dollars. The quality of this film alone assures that this summer will be better than last year’s pitiful offerings.
Looks really neat
In 1989, Tim Burton released his decent Batman, turning the hitherto campy Caped Crusader into a brooding, barely audible malcontent with a taste for rubber and blue lighting. In 1997, Joel Schumacher, aka Satan’s Butt, delivered Batman and Robin, which desecrated all the good Burton had accomplished with the franchise, making Bat fans long for the days of Adam West and Burgess Meredith.
Now comes Batman Begins with a respectable director (Christopher Nolan of Memento) and perfect casting (Christian Bale could be the best Batman yet), so hopes run high again. No more Batman’s-ass shots!
When I was a kid, I had a cassette tape of the Mercury Theatre radio production of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds starring Orson Welles, and that bastard freaked me out. Tom Cruise gets his chance to do the same with Steven Spielberg’s epic take on the alien tripods. The commercials look great, and there’s a good chance this movie will make us forget Tom Hanks sucking on condiments in Spielberg’s terrible The Terminal.
Batman‘s Burton will try to make us forget Gene Wilder (for one night anyway) with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a film in which Johnny Depp looks to be hilarious—and just a little frightening.
There’s been a lot of zombie action lately, with the modernized turbo zombie running everybody down. In Land of the Dead, the walking deceased go back to lurching as maestro George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) revisits the genre he owned before somebody came up with the idea of making zombies run at full-bore speed whilst screeching like cheetahs. It was cool and everything, but zombies are supposed to lurch and moan.
After a characteristically long delay Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm starring Matt Damon will get a release date. Long delays for Gilliam usually don’t mean bad movies. Studios just wouldn’t feel right unless they screwed with this genius on every movie he makes.
Golly … I’m not sure
Thou shalt not screw with legendary films starring Tatum O’Neal, and this deems The Bad News Bears as off-limits. Director Richard Linklater (School of Rock) breaks this law with his remake of Bears, a film that was perfect to start. But Billy Bob Thornton in the role of Little League Coach Buttermaker (once played by Walter Matthau) seems semi-promising.
I haven’t lost faith in Will Ferrell yet, but in Melinda and Melinda (awful, with him to blame) and Kicking and Screaming (bad, but not his fault) have me worried the downward trend has begun. The trailer makes me laugh ("I cannot get pregnant right now!"), but I’m skeptical about a big-screen redo of Bewitched.
The downward trend started a long time ago for Angelina Jolie, but her Mr. and Mrs. Smith (from Swingers director Doug Liman) with Brad Pitt might bea good time and an ample showcase for her super-freakout lips.
As a casual comic book fan, I should be getting all worked up about Fantastic Four. After all, it does feature big rock character named Ben Grimm (love that name). Something tells me that this one might go a little overboard.
The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D is the latest kids’ movie from director Robert Rodriguez, and I fear it will be headache inducing. While his adult fare like Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City has been spectacular, Spy Kids 3-D marked a bad direction for the franchise, and early previews for this one make it look like a carbon copy of that mess.
These movies can go to hell!
More TV shows get questionable remakes this summer, and The Honeymooners looks like the most nightmarish of the lot. Cedric the Entertainer replaces Jackie Gleason (in his dreams), and Gabrielle Union steps in for Audrey Meadows (OK, I can live with that) for a modernization of a series that needed to be left alone.
Having never been a big Dukes of Hazzard fan, I fully embrace the opportunity to watch Jessica Simpson in cutoffs, but Johnny Knoxville is no Tom Wopat.
In what amounted to a movie-going miracle, I actually liked the last Michael Bay movie (Bad Boys 2). It was probably the worst-reviewed Bay film of all time (it got skewered worse than Pearl Harbor), but I’ve never been one to ride with the masses. His clone thriller The Island, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, actually looks like it could be OK, but since it is Michael Bay, it could suck.
Two recent horror film successes have left me baffled. The first is the warm public reception to Saw, one of the dumbest horror movies of recent years. The other is the cult following picked up by Rob Zombie’s House of a Thousand Corpses, which is the dumbest horror movie of recent years. The reception was so positive to Zombie’s crapfest that a sequel, The Devil’s Rejects: House of a Thousand Corpses 2 got the green light. Saw 2 is on its way as well, but we get a little more time to prepare our livers for the shock. Also beware of Herbie: Fully Loaded, starring Lindsay Lohan (There should never be a Herbie movie without Don Knotts or Ken Berry in it) and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, for reasons best left unsaid. Overall, this looks to be the best summer for movies in a long time, even though it allows for a movie starring Rob Schneider.Of course, this year’s greatest summer movie would’ve been Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong, but Universal Studios gave it a December release date, so we’ll have to wait.