Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ben's Super Happy Fun '09 Summer Movie Preview

The summer movie season is nigh, and with it comes an eclectic crop of films from which to choose, ranging from big-budget prequels & sequels to blockbusters about comic books & action figures to smaller/indie flicks of all kinds. There's something worth seeing pretty much every week, and I am excited -- so without further ado, here's a look at a slew of the titles that are on my radar:

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (May 1) -- The first two X-MEN films were very good; the third one was not; so what should we expect from this prequel/origin story of everyone's favorite iron-clawed mutant/Broadway star? Um, probably not much, especially if early buzz is any indication. That said, Hugh is cool, so let's hope that low expectations will reap greater rewards!

ADORATION (May 8) -- All I know about this one is that it's the latest from Atom Egoyan, director of such films as THE SWEET HEREAFTER (dealing with incest & child death), WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (dealing with murder, deception & kinky sex) and ARARAT (dealing with the Armenian genocide). I'm sure this will be another crowd-pleaser!

STAR TREK (May 8) -- Anyone who knows me knows that I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be a Star Trek fan. It just doesn't do it for me, sorry. That said, I'll probably check out this reboot from J.J. Abrams, just to see how it goes. I've actually never seen a Trek movie on the big screen... and I gotta admit that the latest trailer looks pretty cool....

ANGELS & DEMONS (May 15) -- The problem with THE DA VINCI CODE movie was that it was so serious and sucked every last bit of fun and excitement out of the story, which is what made the book so entertaining in the first place. Hopefully Ron Howard, Tom Hanks & Co. will get their shit together this time, because I actually liked this book a lot more. (Plus it taught me everything I needed to know about the Pope selection process!)

TERMINATOR SALVATION (May 21) -- In theory, finally having the inevitable Future War presented on screen, with human freedom fighters going toe-to-toe with legions of Terminators, is mouth-wateringly awesome. However, Christian Bale has proven to be such a huge douche, which is a strike against this film, because who can possibly watch it and NOT think about his big on-set explosion? That said, if Arnold's face makes a cameo appearance, I will geek out BIGTIME.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN (May 22) -- The first NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM was fun popcorn fluff which somehow made a ton of money, thus spawning this big-budget sequel. Last time that happened with a Ben Stiller movie, we got the giant turd that was MEET THE FOCKERS. But I'll give this one the benefit of the doubt, mainly because my girl Amy Adams is along for the ride as Amelia Earhart!

UP (May 29) -- The latest slice of brilliance from the geniuses at Pixar, and I say that with full, undying confidence that it will, indeed, be brilliant. I know practically nothing about the plot, other than what we've seen in trailers -- but from what I understand, there are twists that are astounding and it may even be better than WALL-E. That remains to be seen, but if anyone can top one work of genius with another, it's Pixar. This is their 10th film and so far they are 9-for-9, so why stop now?

DRAG ME TO HELL (May 29) -- A horror movie for the current economic situation, as Alison Lohman inherits a dreadful curse after denying an old woman's bank loan and putting her on the street. Sounds cheesy... until you realize it's written & directed by the great Sam Raimi, taking a break from the SPIDER-MAN series to return to his roots and show today's horror amateurs how it's done!

AWAY WE GO (June 5) -- Intriguing dramedy from Sam Mendes, hot off the heels of one of last year's most underrated films, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD... this one stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as an expectant couple who travels around the country in search of the perfect place to raise their family. Krasinski is awesome on THE OFFICE, of course... but it'll be interesting to see how he does in a character study such as this.

THE HANGOVER (June 5) -- The latest from Todd Phillips, starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifiankis as three guys who wake up the morning after a Vegas bachelor party with no memory of what happened the night before. Looks & sounds like it could be another OLD SCHOOL... though, it just occurred to me that the plot is weirdly similar to DUDE WHERE'S MY CAR. Dunno what to make of that, though I DO love that Chinese drive-thru scene... "And then?" "NO AND THEN!"

LAND OF THE LOST (June 5) -- Will Ferrell vs. Sleestaks and dinosaurs in a big-budget remake of the '70s camp classic? In a word..... um, well, sure! Though, really, I'll go see anything with dinosaurs in it....

MOON (June 12) -- Just saw this trailer the other day and was instantly intrigued. Sam Rockwell stars as an astronaut who spends three years on the moon working on a project, in complete isolation save for a HAL-esque, emoticon-flashing computer. After a while, he starts to go stir crazy, and that's when things get interesting. Looks pretty cool.

WHATEVER WORKS (June 19) -- Ever wonder what would happen if two of Judaism's finest, Woody Allen and Larry David, combined their talents? Well, we're about to find out. I find the presence of Evan Rachel Wood a little disturbing, though -- who knows what kind of freaky shit she pulled to divert Woody's attention from Scarlett and snag this role! The horror....

YEAR ONE (June 19) -- Produced by Judd Apatow, directed by Harold Ramis, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera as bumbling cavemen who are exiled into the unknown world and embark on a journey through the Book of Genesis? If that's not the very defintion of AWESOME, well, I don't know what is!

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (June 24) -- People had lots of mixed feelings over Michael Bay's first TRANSFORMERS film, but all the haters can kiss my ass because I LOVED it. It was my #1 guilty pleasure/pure entertainment movie of '07 and I expect nothing less from this sequel, which promises to be bigger, crazier, louder, and more chock full of Autobots and Decepticons wrecking shit! Plus, that Megan Fox is one piece of ayshe... I know from experience, dude.

PUBLIC ENEMIES (July 1) -- Johnny Depp stars as John Dillinger and Christian Bale as the FBI agent who pursues him. That right there would be enough to get me into the theatre, but the fact that it's directed by Michael Mann is icing on the cake. Also stars the achingly gorgeous & sexy (and French!) Marion Cotillard... nice.

ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS (July 1) -- Waaaait a minute... how can it be the dawn of the dinosaurs when the dinosaurs died out BEFORE the Ice Age? I call shenanigans on this whole series! Nah, it's cool, they've been fun and I'll give'em another shot, especially if Skrat keeps trying in vain for that acorn....

BRUNO (July 10) -- I would rank BORAT among the top three movies that have made me laugh the hardest, along with the SOUTH PARK movie and BILLY MADISON... dear lord in heaven, just thinking about the "shape-shifting Jews" still cracks me up. Bruno is arguably even more rife for insanity, and I expect nothing less than gut-busting hilarity from the Sacha Baron Cohen's mad genius.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (July 17) -- FINALLY! This is not only my most anticipated movie of the year, but possibly my most anticipated since STAR WARS: EPISODE III, four years ago. HP6 is my favorite of the books, and I have no doubt that the movie is going to be beyond awesome. Only thing that sucks is that I will be in St. Louis on my annual Baseball Road Trip the weekend it opens, so I won't get to see it (in IMAX 3D glory) until I get back to NYC! ARGH!

FUNNY PEOPLE (July 31) -- By now, you'd think we'd be sick of Judd Apatow. But no -- if anything, having his name attached to a movie now generates Spielbergian levels of excitement. This is Apatow's third directorial effort, about an aging comedian played by Adam Sandler who befriends a younger comic played by Seth Rogen. The trailer features Apatow's trademark wacky sweetness that we've come to know and love -- it'll be tough to surpass the greatness of THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN or even KNOCKED UP, but this one has tremendous potential.

G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (August 7) -- Eh, I was never big into G.I. Joe figures as a kid -- I was a Star Wars figure kind of guy. So this live-action big-screen adaptation does not sends spasms of childhood joy and nostalgia down my spine. However, I DO love the G.I. Joe PSA parodies, so if they ever make a movie of those, I'll be bouncing off the walls! PORK CHOP SANDWICHES!

JULIE & JULIA (August 7) -- Nora Ephron directs Meryl Streep as Julia Child and my girl Amy Adams as Julie, a woman on a mission to prepare all 500+ recipes in one of Julia's cookbooks in a single year. It's also a biopic of sorts, as Julie daydreams about Julia's life and rise to culinary fame while she cooks. Ephron can be hit-or-miss, but Streep + Adams = pure gold!

PAPER HEART (August 7) -- Interesting concept in which Charlyne Yi (aka, the stoner chick from KNOCKED UP) legitimately attempts to make a documentary about the search for love, only to find, as the project progresses, that it isn't going anywhere... so it morphs into a sort of fictional/autobiographical narrative involving the courtship of Charlyne and her real-life boyfriend Michael Cera, playing a version of himself. Could be cheesy, but I'm sure I'll eat it up like so many hot buffalo wing pretzel bites.

PONYO (August 14) -- Clearly this is going to be an awesome summer for animation, because not only do we get a new Pixar film, but we get a new Miyazaki film, too!! Let the debate begin (but leave me out of it) as to who is better -- not sure it's even possible to compare -- but there can be no doubt as to Miyazaki's genius.

TAKING WOODSTOCK (August 14) -- The story of the guy who became known as the hero of Woodstock, featuring a solid cast... this one looks pretty good. Nice to see Ang Lee branch out a bit and do a comedy, as opposed to movies about dysfunctional families, gay cowboys, Chinese debauchery and, um, the Hulk.

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (August 21) -- I still think Quentin Tarantino is massively overrated and has never had an original idea in his life. But this one may have potential because it falls into that awesome "Jews Kicking Ass" sub-genre, along with such films as MUNICH and DEFIANCE. Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, B.J. Novak & Co. play a squadron of Jewish soliders whose mission is to torture, kill and basically terrorize the Germans in Nazi-occupied France. Good times!

WORLD'S GREATEST DAD (August 21) -- No idea what the deal is with this other than that it's a black comedy starring Robin Williams and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Some of Williams' best work in recent years has been of the dark variety (see: DEATH TO SMOOCHY and ONE HOUR PHOTO); combine that with Goldthwait's usual f'd-up-ness, and color me intrigued.

FINAL DESTINATION: DEATH TRIP 3D (August 28) -- Really, another FINAL DESTINATION film? Has the world been crying out for this? Well, even though the series has gotten progressively dumber as it's gone on, I'll be there to see these gruesomely ironic deaths in glorious 3D!

H2 (August 28) -- Just had to include this one because it is the one movie this summer that I will most definitely NOT see under any circumstances. Seriously, a sequel to Rob Zombie's abomination of a HALLOWEEN remake? DEAR GOD, NO! I fucking hate Rob Zombie as a filmmaker and he needs to be stopped -- can someone please take him out back and shoot him before he does any more damage??

All in all, this ought to be an entertaining summer and I am psyched to get back into the movie-watching swing of things in a big way. How about you, dear readers -- what's at the top of your must-see lists? Let's talk, why not!


  1. I agree with some of your selections of the summer movies to come. Although, there are a few that I wouldn't even watch if someone paid me to.

    However, I do strongly disagree with your point of view towards Rob Zombie. I'll leave it at that. At least his movies are more original (not including the Halloweens) than some of these rehashed movies that are coming out year, and have been for past several years.

    I'm begining to lose more faith in the big box office films and find more talent in the indies the more I am watching in my old age.

  2. Seriously? Christian Bale is an amazing actor and it's going to ruin your movie going experience because he lost his temper at some incredibly unprofessional lighting guy who is clearly egging him on in the fight, but knows that he can get away with it cause he isn't wearing a mic.

    I don't care if he stabbed the stupid lighting guy, he's still a better actor than 99% of the rest of them.