The last few months have been pretty rough here in Film Critic Land. So far this year, we’ve been bombarded with a whole bunch of Mad Moneys and Nim’s Islands. And we’ve been rewarded with just a couple of Run Fat Boy Runs.
But, all that time, while we sat in our theater seats, cringing at the sheer horror of it all, the one thing that kept us going was the knowledge that there was a light at the end of that big, long, dark tunnel. With every bad winter movie, we knew that we were one movie closer to Summer Blockbuster Season.
And now, fanboys and film critics alike can rejoice—because the summer movie season is upon us. While some of you will probably spend the summer running around outside, soaking up the rays and splashing around at the beach, here’s a quick look at what I’ll be watching as I sit in the temperature-controlled theater, munching on popcorn and working on my pasty-white film critic glow:
The summer season speeds into action with the eagerly-anticipated release of fanboy favorite Iron Man on May 2. At first, I was a bit skeptical about Robert Downey, Jr., playing the iron-clad superhero. But after watching the trailer four or five—or perhaps twenty—times (thanks to my favorite fanboy, Neil Miller), I was sold. And I’ll admit it—I’m excited to see how it plays out.
A week later, the Wachowskis (or: The Directors Formerly Known as The Wachowski Brothers) release their first post-Matrix movie, Speed Racer (May 9), starring Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci. Who knows if it’ll be any good—but one thing is for sure: there will be plenty of flash.
On the 16th, Disney releases the second movie in the Narnia series: Prince Caspian. After reading the book, I was pretty excited for the movie—until I discovered that Disney has seriously cut back on press screenings. In fact, even when some of my fellow critics found a theater that was willing to screen the movie for us for free, Disney declined. And that, my friends, is not a good sign.
But, really, I’m already over it—because Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hits theaters on the 23rd. The latest adventure—which has been years and years and years in the making—doesn’t even have to be good. It’s Indiana Jones with a side order of Shia LaBeouf. Who doesn’t love that?
Also in May: McDreamy’s Made of Honor goes head-to-head against Iron Man on the 2nd. Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz get drunk and married in What Happens in Vegas on the 9th. And, on the 30th, Carrie and her Manolos take to the big screen in Sex and the City and Will Farrell’s new comedy trio (writers Danny McBride and Ben Best and director Jody Hill) make their debut in the limited release, The Foot Fist Way.
This year, I’m thinking that June would be a nice month to take some time off and work on my tan. But we all know that that won’t happen. Instead, I’ll keep up my ghostly pale appearances while camping out in the local theater, watching stuff like the Adam Sandler comedy (written with…guess who…Judd Apatow), You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (June 6) and Jack Black’s animated Kung Fu Panda (also on the 6th).
On the 13th, I’ll give the big green guy another chance in Transporter director Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk. But, since I’m still suffering from the trauma of M. Night Shyamalamadingdong’s 2006 monstrosity, Lady in the Water, I intend to skip The Happening (also the 13th) and go bowling instead.
Things start to pick up a bit on the 20th, though, when Steve Carell takes on Maxwell Smart in Get Smart. And on the 27th, Disney and Pixar release their highly-anticipated WALL-E (though, if you ask me, it still looks like a robot Mr. Bean). Also on the 27th, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, and James McAvoy team up as skilled assassins in Wanted.
Also in June: Mike Myers returns for his first non-Austin Powers live action film, The Love Guru (June 20). And, after the screening, I will go home and try to drink away its memory.
While you may expect the 4th of July to bring all kinds of thrilling blockbuster releases, all this year’s holiday weekend has to offer is Hancock, starring Will Smith as a down-and-out superhero. Though I’m not going to pass judgement on this one weeks before I see it, I will say that I’m pretty sure it ain’t no Independence Day.
A week later (the 11th), Guillermo del Toro releases Hellboy II, the sequel to 2004’s Hellboy. But, to be honest, all I really care about is the 18th—the long-awaited release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The release will be a bittersweet one—because the film’s most high-profile cast member won’t be able to enjoy the spotlight—but Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is sure to make for one eerie movie.
Also on the18th comes the release of the summer’s inevitable big-screen musical, Mamma Mia! I know what you’re thinking: Do we really need another musical? The answer: Yes, we do—especially when it’s one that features Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Meryl Streep singing ABBA songs. Mamma Mia! How can you resist that?
And, finally, on the 25th, Mulder and Scully return after ten years in obscurity with The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Apparently, the truth is still out there somewhere. The question, however, is whether anyone still cares.
Also in July: Brendan Fraser goes on a Journey to the Center of the Earth (July 11), and Eddie Murphy goes on a journey into his own brain (Meet Dave—also July 11). And, on the 25th, Will Farrell and John C. Reilly are Step Brothers.
August is typically a month filled with summer cast-offs—mostly stoner comedies and blockbuster rejects—and this August isn’t much different. But, still, I find myself strangely drawn to this month of movie misfits.
The guilty pleasures begin on the first with Vinnie Jones and Bradley Cooper in Midnight Meat Train. Now, it may just be a messed-up thriller, but, come on—it’s Vinnie Jones! And we critics still remember the MMT trailer as the only entertaining moment in Good Luck Chuck. Originally slated for release in May, this one got bumped to the summer movie graveyard. But I don’t care—I still can’t wait to see it.
Though I wasn’t a huge fan of last summer’s Apatow Gang stoner comedy, Superbad, I’m still holding out hope for this summer’s Apatow stoner action comedy, Pineapple Express (August 8). Don’t let me down, Judd.
But, then again, if I don’t like Pineapple Express, it’s only a matter of time until another over-the-top comedy hits theaters—like, perhaps, the next week, with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tropic Thunder (August 15), in which three actors find themselves in the middle of a real war.
Also sneaking in on the 15th is Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer’s The International. Though there isn’t a whole lot of buzz on The International (okay—actually, there isn’t any), it’s a thriller, and it stars Clive Owen—so you can count me in.
Also in August: Brendan Fraser is back (but Rachel Weisz is looking an awful lot like Maria Bello) in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (August 1). Everybody’s favorite tough guy, Vinnie Jones, leads a biker gang in Hell Ride (August 8). Steve Coogan stars as a desperate high school drama teacher in Hamlet 2 (August 22). Anna Faris is a down-and-out Playboy Bunny turned sorority house mother in House Bunny (August 22). And Nicolas Cage plays a hitman in what’s sure to be the delightfully craptastic Bangkok Dangerous (August 22).