Notwithstanding the good and necessary habit that the cynical filmblogger must practice of regarding all Hollywood franchise fodder as contemptible and inartistic, I will share a dirty secret with all of you, because we are all about trust: I am more excited about this summer movie season than I have been in years: certainly since before I started this blog. Most of the reasons why are coming up later than May (which, truth be told, looks faintly awful), but it needed confessing: I plan to eat the popcorn and cheerfully, readily shut down my brain, and watch things a-splode, and enjoy it. And I’ve been waiting for it for months now.
I will do my absolute best to continue delivering the haughty, withering reviews that you have learned to expect of me.
That admission out of the way, let’s take a quick spin through May, light as it traditionally is on wide releases.
There are only two real candidates for Big Film of the Summer, and the first of them comes right at the start: The Avengers, which once, four years ago, was going to be the grand culmination of Marvel’s multi-year, multi-studio attempt in creating a franchise out of bits and pieces grown in isolation, and now feels more like one more stop along the road to whenever superhero movies burn out: I, for one, had a much easier time being enthusiastic before Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, and, undoubtedly, The Avengers 2 were all in the pipeline. That being said, it’s still been an impressive example of corporate willpower, and love it or find it all somewhat distasteful, there really is no precedent for it in the history of big studio filmmaking. Besides, if even half the hype and enthusiastic reviews are true, it’s going to be well above par for superhero movies, possibly – fingers crossed – up to the still-unsurpassed standard set by the very first movie in this puzzle, 2008’s Iron Man.
Counter-programming having been impossible, there are no other big releases, though of the limited releases, I must admire the perseverance of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which seems to be unaware that it’s no longer 1996, and glib, charming British movies are no longer beloved by audiences nor awards-granting bodies.
The second week in May, traditional home to movies that are going to shrivel up and die. That is clearly not what the studio hopes for Dark Shadows, the latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration, this time with vampires. If it turns out to be the particularly dopey broad culture-clash comedy promised by the trailer, shriveling up and dying is the most it deserves
Sacha Baron Cohen having exhausted the limitations of improvisational assault comedy, The Dictator is fully scripted; it is also, apparently, the second fish-out-of-water comedy in a row, this time with a repressive Muslim dictator stripped of his power and thrown into New York. Hopefully there’s more to it than that, and it’s not like there’s any particular reason to mistrust Cohen, but something about it seems… off?
I have one expectation and one hope for Battleship, and they are the same thing: that Liam Neeson growls “you sunk my battleship!” before shooting an alien in the face. If this does not happen – or worse, if the line is given to Taylor Kitsch – I intend to hate this boardgame-to-movie adaptation even more than I already have pencilled it. Because, seriously, if your only idea for making an exciting action movie about battleships is to put aliens in it, then fuck you.
Speaking of adaptations that shouldn’t be, the second 2012 movie based on a self-help book is going to be What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I expect regressive gender stereotyping and blandly fuzzy “family is best!” themes.
Men in Black III is a thing now. And all the wishing in the world won’t make it not be a thing.
Low-budget horror film about the fallout from Chernobyl: ingenious, or tasteless? Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis instructs us that it is not the former, but that hasn’t kept producer Oren Peli from throwing his weight behind Chernobyl Diaries, and I’ll admit this much: the trailer is a bit atmospheric. Summer horror isn’t usually a good bet, but I will reserve my judgment.
Somehow the new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, isn’t getting a wide release, but it starts its American run here. I sort of wish he’d have stuck with animation for a bit longer, but I’m trying very hard not to pre-judge this one off of the sour flavor his last two live-action films left in my mouth. At least, there seems to be no chance of this one having the same uncertain racial politic as The Darjeeling Limited, so there’s that comfort.