And so we come to the start of another summer movie season! A peculiarly modest one too, if I don’t miss my guess; doesn’t it seem like there are fewer big tentpole movies that everyone is chattering about than most years? Is it just me?
Of course, part of the problem is that one of the likeliest blockbusters of the season is from that fucking vampire franchise, but it’s a month in the future still, so let’s not allow it to ruin May.
I, like just about every one else, thought Iron Man two years ago was a real pip of a superhero picture. So you’ll not catch me saying nasty, cynical things about Iron Man 2, which certainly ought to be pretty much the best popcorn movie of the year, even if there are a few specific problems with the trailer, and even if the best parts of the first movie mostly came before Robert Downey, Jr. got himself hidden by that Iron Man suit. The point being, there’s still bound to be plenty of RDJ goodness, and Terrence Howard has been replaced by Don Cheadle (one of the best trades-up ever), and the new screenwriter was responsible for the cracking good Tropic Thunder, so I am keeping the faith about this one right up until midnight Thursday, and if it ends up sucking you’re not going to want to be here for the tirade Friday.
The only other wide release is Babies, which combines my two least-favorite things in the entire world: ethnographic documentaries and human infants. There might not be a film in all of history for which I am less the target audience.
Apparently, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe enjoyed making Gladiator so much that they decided to do it again, with bows instead of swords, and it’s the umpteenth adaptation of Robin Hood. Every second of the preview looks like the most unbearably vanilla sort of action epic; more power to you if you’re actually excited, but for me, I’m just praying that the Crow/Cate Blanchett banter doesn’t prove to be as obnoxiously forced as it seems from the ads.
On the other hand, Amanda Seyfried in a film that tells appalling lies about love (chiefly that anyone on Earth is more desirable than Gael García Bernal), Letters from Juliet. Should we expect sensitive gender issues from the director of Bride Wars? No, but we might wonder why he hasn’t been torn apart by a mob.
Man, when the most appealing movie of the weekend is a Queen Latifah vehicle about a physical therapist who falls in love with a basketball player, you know the summer’s off to a rough start.
Shrek Forever After goddamn well better be the last Shrek, that’s all I have to say on the matter.
Elsewhere:there’s this intensely weird-looking action comedy called MacGruber, which I learned literally about 14 hours ago – after having seen the trailer in theaters a good half-dozen times – is an SNL spin-off. And in fact, it probably makes sense for them to avoid making mention of that in the ads, given how shitty almost every single SNL movie has been. Still, Kristen Wiig.
They’re eking out a wee extra bit of cash for Sex and the City 2 by opening it on a Thursday. Good for them. I can’t really scrape up any more of an opinion than that – haven’t seen the first film, have barely seen the show, and I am very much not the franchise’s target audience.
I have, though, played the Prince of Persia video games all the way back to the start, which is why I know that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is going to be staggeringly bad, though only by real movie standards, and not by video game adaptations standards (hell, it might even be good by those standards). Even in the trailer, it’s painfully obvious that the Dagger of Time is a gaming mechanic, and not an actual plot device; but with Jerry Bruckheimer behind it, everybody is going to feel compelled to see it anyhow.
One of the few limited releases of the summer to have a set national release date, & not a platform release starting in NY/LA is Micmacs, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film about quirky homeless people. Or something like that. The point being, it looks like pretty unfiltered Jeunet, so you’ll want to handle it carefully.
Box Office Predictions
Two years running, I’ve done so badly that I haven’t even wanted to go back and revisit my predictions at the end of the summer. But third time’s the charm, right? I kind of hope not, for what follows is almost too depressing for words.
1. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($340 million)
2. Iron Man 2 ($330 million)
3. Toy Story 3 ($320 million)
4. Shrek Forever After ($300 million)
5. Robin Hood ($245 million)
6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($230 million)
7. Sex and the City 2 ($220 million)
8. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ($210 million)
9. The Last Airbender ($180 million)
10. The A-Team ($165 million)