It’s early yet to break out the post-mortem for Summer Movie Season ’11, but somehow, I think it’s probably okay in this case, unless you think that any of the below-mentioned films threaten to disprove what I’m about to say. To wit: 2011 has been quite possibly the most ungodly fucking dull blockbuster movie season I’ve ever witnessed. Not the worst, 2009 looks to have that title all locked up for the next couple of years, anyway. But looking back over all those superhero movies and sequels and R-rated comedies, and barely a one of them managed to wedge itself into my head in any sort of meaningful way. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway, just one month stands between us and the arrival of, hopefully, decently entertaining movies. Actually, I don’t believe there’s a wide-release film that I’m personally looking forward to until November [scratch that; since writing this, I’ve been reminded of Contagion, but my greater point remains], but at least the boring shit between August 31st and then will be a different breed of boring shit.
There is something about a prequel to a movie that already had three prequels that amuses me in the totality of its desperation, though truth be told, if there’s one release all month that I’m actually kind of excited about it’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Partially this is because I have an unjustified affection for all of the previous movies in the frequently ridiculous Planet of the Apes franchise, up to and including the absolutely terrible Tim Burton remake. Part of it is also because the visual effects, to judge from the ads, are going to be god-damned amazing. Now, none of this solves the issues of the film being transparently devoid of creativity, or its dubious attempt to sell James Franco as a tentpole movie hero. But at least it should be easy on the way down.
Speaking of films transparently devoid of creativity: you want to see Freaky Friday as a filthy bro comedy? Because The Change-Up is all ready to set you up, and with the scintillating comic stylings of Ryan Reynolds, at that. Jason Bateman is on hand to be, if you can believe it, a sarcastic straight man.
Apparently Emma Stone’s agent has decided it’s time for her to make a decades out-of-date social message picture to get her in the Oscar conversation. If there is any other reason for The Help to exist, I don’t know what it could possibly be.
I was far more excited for Final Destination 5 during that brief period of time that it was being called 5nal Destination, which was, I imagine, changed on the grounds that everybody in the world would take to calling it Anal Destination. At any rate, the sight of a bunch of interchangeable teens dying in messy ways has offered nothing new for, oh, about 30 years, but at least it continues the franchise’s 3-D run, and I’m clearly not in a position to act like the gaudiness of these movies doesn’t do something for me.
In lighter fare, star Jesse Eisenberg and director Ruben Fleischer, two people who were not as important to the success of Zombieland as were Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone, team back up for 30 Minutes or Less, an action comedy whose primary merit appears to be that it will unquestionably be better than The Change-Up. In the lightest of all fare, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie is, I imagine, exactly what it sounds like, and probably will snap up all the fans of Glee who were not turned off by what I am given to understand was an extremely inconsistent second season.
One of the surest signs of August is that stuff starts to get dumped: instead of a big release and some cunningly-positioned counter-programming, a bunch of movies that are all too dumb for the nominal prestige season but too high-profile for March or September just show up. Hence I have no idea which of the four wide release films this weekend will be the biggest, though my money is on Conan the Barbarian, a remake of a movie remembered and liked solely for the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in it, which is not likely to be a characteristic of the new picture, unless the trailers are doing a phenomenal job of leading us on.
It’s not the only ’80s remake: there’s also a new Fright Night, which has somehow managed to snag Colin Farrell to play a vampire. Then there’s a gimmick-driven romantic comedy, One Day, that follows 20 consecutive July 15s in the lives of Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess; and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, which manages to do the “Part 3D” title trick for a fourth film, though I suspect that the fact that the fourth dimension is held to be time is not what they filmmakers were intending (the actual 4th “D” is a scratch-and-sniff card; yes, it’s smellovision). Incidentally, if you had any question as to which was the most unnecessary sequel of the year, I hope you don’t anymore.
Taking a break from the ’80s horror remakes, here comes a ’70s horror remake, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark; the trailer ain’t half creepy, but what I love most about it, is that it’s an R-rated version of a story that premiered in 1973 on television. And was, in that form, already pretty awesome. But, you know, kids. They like the blood and guts.
Wrapping things up: a Paul Rudd comedy called Our Idiot Brother that looks to be exactly the kind of thing that gets shuffled off into a black hole because nobody can figure out which of a solid half-dozen possible audiences will actually want to see it, and Colombiana, the latest Luc Besson-produced tale of a hot woman who kills the fuck out of people.