Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Fourth Row Center Depressing Summer Movie Preview

So I’ve got IMDB’s predictions for the top 15 summer movies (in terms of box office) in front of me, and good God is it a thing of sadness. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the summer movies get worst every year; as Hollywood becomes more and more terrified of spending a dime on a movie that they can’t guarantee a huge audience for, leaning exponentially more on sequels and remakes and “reboots,” the months of May through August have become the place where creativity goes to die; the dearth of new ideas in the balmy multiplex is enough to make one take a stack of DVDs and hibernate in an air conditioned apartment until late September.

But seriously, I’m only interested in seeing two of their top 10, and two more of the top 15. Let’s take a look at their predictions, shall we?

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. IMDB predicts Michael Bay’s latest orgy of nonsensical explosions will gross $400 million, and I’ve lost enough faith in the taste of mainstream American to go along with that prediction. Tranformers was 2007’s worst movie, a big, dumb, loud movie with nary a thought in its big, dumb, loud head. When I’ve expressed my total disinterest in seeing its follow-up (seriously, you couldn’t get me there at gunpoint), people have exclaimed, “Yes, but have you seen the trailer?” I have. But the problem with Michael Bay movies is that they’re all like watching a two-and-a-half hour trailer (you can pull any random 120 seconds from his films, slap a title on the end, and you’re done), and the commercials for them have as much depth and intelligence as the film itself (which is to say, not much). Enjoy your awful movie, America; me, I’m holding out for the Go-Bots movie.
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I just can’t get into these films; people I trust tell me the books are great, but for the most part, the Harry Potter films I’ve seen have been a turgid chore to sit through; of the three I’ve seen, the only one that engaged me was Prisoner of Azkaban, and I’m pretty sure that had more to do with Alfonso Cuarón's skill as a director than anything else.
3. Star Trek. Okay, this is one of the ones I’ll see, but only because it’s getting such great reviews; as far as I’m concerned, the Trek series ran out of gas a long, long time ago. But again, better to resurrect a dead franchise than take a chance on something fresh and new.
4. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The first one was fine, I guess; never bothered to see the second, can’t say I’m amped about the third. I will say this: if, as they predict, it makes more money than the new Pixar movie, then we should all give up.
5. Up. This one, I’m absolutely on board for. At this point, Pixar could make just about any movie they want and I’d pony up for a ticket.
6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Am I the only one who remembers when Brett Ratner came in and fucked up the X-Men movies a couple of years ago? Did that sour anyone else on seeing another X-Men movie, ever?
7. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Never saw the original. You know why? Because Stiller has become unreliable, and director Shawn Levy’s filmography includes Cheaper by the Dozen, Just Married, Big Fat Liar, and that horrible abortion of a Pink Panther remake. Well, good news! He’s back for the sequel!
8. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. For those of you who aren’t getting your 80s-toys-turned-80s-cartoon-turned-bad-action-movie fix from the goddamned Transformers movie. And director Stephen Sommers is a real bellwether of quality cinema: his resumé includes Van Helsing, Deep Rising, and the first two (blech) Mummy movies. Here’s one to skip at all costs.
9. Angels & Demons. I didn’t see The Da Vinci Code either—as much as I like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks (in the right projects, anyway), the indifferent buzz never motivated me to get in front of this one. I would imagine the same for its sequel.
10. Terminator Salvation. Seriously, this series should have died after T2. Terminator 3 stunk, no one is watching the TV show, and now we have another unnecessary sequel, guided by the sure hand of renowned auteur McG, who directed the Charlie’s Angels movies and a bad Matthew McConaughey football drama. Nice catch, Warner Brothers! (Sidebar: the ads for this film also engage in one of my pet peeves: above-title billing for people I’ve never heard of. Who the fuck is Sam Worthington?)

Let’s stop for a quick tally: of their predicted top ten, eight are sequels (and that’s if you don’t count G.I. Joe, which is basically a sequel to Transformers). Originality is dead! On we go.

11. Public Enemies. Okay, here’s a movie I can get legitimately amped about. Michael Mann doing a cat-and-mouse gangster movie with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in some old-timey suits? Yeah, mark me down for yes.
12. Bruno. Yeah, I’m in for one here as well. As far as I’m concerned, Sasha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles can kick one of these bad boys out ever two or three years for as long as they’d like.
13. G-Force. I don’t even know what the hell this is, but the poster’s got guinea pigs dressed like the men in black and IMDB’s description is comparing it to Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Alvin and the Chipmunks so yeah, pass.
14. The Proposal. Aren’t we done with Sandra Bullock yet? So here, she’s like this awful shrew boss, right? And Ryan Reynolds is her assistant, and he hates her, okay? But then like, okay, she’s Canadian, so they like, have to get married or else she get deported and lose her job, right? OMG YOU GUYS WOULDN’T IT BE CRAZY IF THEY TOTALLY FELL IN LOVE FOR REALZ.
15. The Ugly Truth. According to this movie, the ugly truth is that women only want relationships and men only want sex. According to me, the ugly truth is that I won’t be seeing a Katherine Heigl movie that doesn’t have Judd Apatow’s name on it. This one, however, was directed by the guy who did Monster-In-Law. So yeah, good luck with that.

I don’t want to sound like some kind of indie snob who’s all about art for art’s sake. There are some big summer movies I’m actually looking forward to (Funny People, Inglorious Basterds, The Hangover, Drag Me To Hell, Year One, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three), and yes, I’m fully aware that the last one in that list is a remake. Plus, it’s looking like we’ll see some good counterprogramming in the art houses (Whatever Works, Big Fan, Away We Go, (500) Days of Summer, Taking Woodstock, and the brilliant Moon). But in terms of the movies that we’ll be hearing about, that people will be seeing, and that we’re supposed to get all worked up over—ugh. It’s gonna be a long, dull summer.

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