Sumer is icumen in, and bringing with it the usual glut of big damn blockbusters. I learned a very important lesson last year, about not going in with expectations one way after another: looking forward to the best summer season in a decade and getting, instead, the worst summer in at least that same decade will do that to a fella. So let’s just take it one film at a time, and not try to make sweeping proclamations, though if I were going to do that, I would probably err on the side of “boy, does all of that look oppressively safe, or what?”
Having already sucked up a virtually unimaginable amount of money overseas, it’s hard to imagine Iron Man 3 failing to be the big film of the year, or at least the summer, and given that Robert Downey, Jr’s sarcastic man of metal is pretty consistently the best thing about the increasingly musty and corporatised Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ll even cop to being more excited about this than any of the year’s other superhero movies (though goddamn almighty, after the sparkly and bland The Avengers, the shabby and grinding The Amazing Spider-Man, and the insurmountably disappointing The Dark Knight Rises, I have a pretty terminal case of superhero fatigue). Minimally, it’s nearly impossible to conceive of it being any worse than the vanilla-but-not-awful Iron Man 2, and I’d be on-board for Shane Black and Downey re-teaming under pretty much any circumstances whatsoever.
Tentatively, foolishly, and mostly because all the other options have some major crippling limitation in my eyes, I think that The Great Gatsby might be my most-anticipated major release of the summer. This is not because I think that the trailers suggest an appropriate, or even tolerable, marriage of content and style; or because anything has happened since Leonardo DiCaprio was announced as the title character to make me feel that it was a defensible casting choice. It’s because I would follow Baz Luhrmann off a cliff, honestly, and the way this one is shaping up, I won’t be entirely surprised if that’s exactly where we go.
The annual token, yawning attempt to cater to a black audience this summer: Peebles, which is produced and presented by Tyler Perry, but not otherwise created by him, which doesn’t speak entirely well of it being interesting in any particular way.
Long-time readers may recall that I got my first-ever death threats for daring to give Star Treka 6/10 but rotten review back in 2009, being (if I recall correctly) only the fifth negative review on Rotten Tomatoes. Sadly, I have not repeated the trick since then, and I’d had high hopes that Star Trek Into Darkness was going to be the film that put me back on the map, but given the “oh, well it’s okay, but not as exciting as the first” tenor to the very earliest reviews, I don’t think that it’s going to have the same absurdly heightened response as the first. Also, that’s not the kind of tenor that makes me excited about the movie whatsoever, particularly on top of its rousing but somewhat generic action movie trailers.
Anyway, if you all love me, you’ll threaten to take me out back and shove bamboo splints under my fingernails once the review happens. Because I miss feeling like I actually mattered.
If Gatsby is sort of my tentative, not hugely convinced most-anticipated wide release, Fast & Furious 6 is surely my runner-up and maybe more realistic hope, even though I am very, very sad that they didn’t pick a more outré title. After Fast Five did quite a bit, actually, to spice up a franchise that had never managed to rise above crushingly mediocre, I’ve been prepped for two years for a follow-up that I could love unreservedly (in fact, I thought Fast Five already was that movie, but at the time I gave it a negative review, so obviously I had some significant problem with it that I no longer recall). The car stunts in the ads make me feel like we’re in pretty good hands, and despite all the evidence, I do want to like big dumb summer tentpoles.
Over here on what’s essentially pre-ordained to be the most gigantic weekend of the year, we have The Hangover, Part III. Part II lost me enough that I’d be incapable of actively looking forward to this one, but even setting that aside: Christ, those trailers! Those TV spots! Why are they trying to advertise this as not being a comedy?
Other wide release: Epic, a cartoon about a human woman being shrunk and fighting slug armies, or whatever. It’s the new Blue Sky movie, I’m sure I’ll see it but by God, I will not pretend that I’m interested in it beforehand.
Of course, the weekend’s big news is the release of Before Midnight. Limited release only, I am heartbroken to say, but hopefully that will be a big enough limit that I won’t have to wait until June. Because this isn’t just my most-anticipated movie of the summer, after Gravity it’s my #2 of the whole year. And this is as good a point to mention that this blog is a strictly Before Midnight spoiler-free zone, including any production photos or anything else that might accidentally hint at the film’s content in the vaguest sense.
Not a movie release as such, but certainly, the fact that Season 4 of Arrested Development arrives on Netflix the same day that Steven Soderbergh’s last film (or, whatever ends up happening), Behind the Candelabra airs on HBO is obviously worthy of comment, and maybe the clearest proof you’ll get in 2013 that cinema is dead.
The only out-and-out dumping ground weekend until August has seen a lot of shifting scheduling: first it was just The Purge, then Now You See Me came to join it, then After Earth joined them, and then The Purge jumped back to the next weekend. Which is all as much to say, whatever opens, all of it is meant to be hidden from view as much as the budgets permit, though I’m interested in a wholly clinical way to see what M. Night Shyamalan, working with a script he didn’t write, managed in After Earth.