It seems like everyone and their brother feels the need to criticize Hollywood and movies for being unoriginal and sticking to what makes them money – sequels.
Often, though, the flack they receive picks up in the summer months when a large number of big-budget sequels and franchise flicks are released. Despite all this, everyone and their brother flocks to the multiplexes en route to providing these films with huge opening-weekend grosses.
So to provide everyone, and their brother, with movies to either criticize or see, here is a look at the months ahead in terms of what will be hot, and not, in movies.
Hopefully summer movies as a whole got stupidity and cartoonish graphics out of the way with last week’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Now they can focus on a good, in- depth storyline accompanied by great CGI action sequences.
The first of these will likely start tonight at 7 p.m., with the first showings of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek.”. The talented and underrated director appears to have made a great movie that will appeal to both fans of the old franchise and those who aren’t. Its trailers show it to be this summer’s “The Dark Knight” in terms of quality-to-action ratio, as a young Captain Kirk appears to struggle not only with outer space species, but also personal issues such as immaturity, his father’s reputation and love.
Then comes the May 21 release of “Terminator: Salvation,” another movie that appears to greatly benefit from having a passionate director who cares about audiences. The film’s director, McG, managed to be humbled by conversations with James Cameron, the director of the franchise’s first two films, early in production. He then managed to do something Cameron and “Terminator 3″ director Jonathan Mostow couldn’t – get a reputable and actually good actor to play John Connor. Christian Bale will take the reigns from Arnold Schwarzenegger (who reportedly makes an extremely brief appearance in the film) as the film’s main character. And although some were shocked at the tapes of his rant, perhaps it was a sign of actual commitment to a movie, something stars rarely have in a franchise’s fourth movie.
With all those things going for it, it was only natural that people would freak out when the news broke that it would be rated PG-13. The franchise’s previous films all had R-ratings, and many eagerly saw this as a weakness. But with the MPAA consistently loosening their qualifications in terms of violence to receive an R, there should be no worries. McG made the movie he wanted and didn’t compromise for a rating (like was done with “Live Free or Die Hard,” aka “Die Hard 4″). If that doesn’t mean anything though, perhaps a simple reminder that “The Dark Knight” was PG-13 and still had the Joker’s violence.
This month will be about one movie, perhaps the movie of the summer – “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which will be released on June 24. In the sequel, the surviving Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky, still played by Shia LaBeouf, prisoner after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers. Joining the mission to protect humankind is Optimus Prime, who forms an alliance with international armies, and Megan Fox, who once again will rely on her body in order to make a living.
Those who enjoyed the first will likely enjoy the sequel, which appears to take on most of what worked in the original and put it to even better use. And those who hated the first one may just have a good time looking at LaBeouf’s facial reactions during action sequences. He did many of his own stunts with a severely injured left hand that sustained extensive damage in an automobile accident LaBeouf was in while away from the set.
With Michael Bay’s monopoly on June’s action, the rest of the month is strictly focused on comedy. On June 5 Will Ferrell will star in “Land of the Lost,” which will update most of what was on the show with better CGI graphics and better latex costumes. Matt Lauer will also make an appearance.
Then comes “Year One” on June 19, in which Jack Black and Michael Cera play a pair of horrible hunters who leave their village in an effort to see the world. Along the way they meet some pretty famous people, including many of those who appear in the Book of Genesis.
This month will kick off with a bang, literally, as Johnny Depp stars as famous 1930s gangster John Dillinger in “Public Enemies.” This will likely be the only Oscar contender the summer has to offer, as Depp’s performance has been gathering early talk as being one of the year’s best. Additionally, director Michael Mann will look to recreate the magic he conjured up with the heist film “Heat” with this film in which many of the film’s pivotal scenes involve bank heists. And if seeing Depp in 1930s attire while stealing from the rich in a Depression era doesn’t sound like fun, at least the scenery should prove nice; most of the film was shot in Oshkosh.
It was only a matter of time until Sacha Baron Cohen brought one of his quirky characters to the big screen after his feature-film debut “Borat” made a critical and financial smash three years ago. This time he is “Bruno,” a homosexual Austrian fashion reporter, and his adventures of traveling.
Then comes the triumphant return of Harry Potter. After a long delay, one that fans weren’t too happy about, “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” will be released on July 15. Contrary to popular belief, the best thing for the series likely was the delay. It gave the filmmakers involved the best chance to make the best movie they could while also generating buzz for an already dynamite series. Plus, looking down the road, it will help the next movie too.
This month is generally the bottom-of-the-barrel movies that Hollywood likes to whip out in an effort to make some final cash before the kiddies go back to school.
Headlining these will be the Aug. 7 “G.I. Joe,” a film that should not be confused with the effort “Transformers” did a couple years back in adapting a toy to a movie. This film appears to be lacking any real plot and is full of cartoon-like action sequences with a relatively starless cast.
Oh, and then there is the movie with Vanessa Hudgens in which she plays a punk rocker. That one is called “Bandslam” and comes out on Aug. 14 if you care.
But perhaps all the negativity of the month will go away once Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” is released on Aug. 21. Brad Pitt headlines a cast of likely memorable characters as they set out in Nazi-occupied France to strike fear into the Germans by reigning terror on them in brutal ways. Some would argue the film will just be a bunch of Nazi bashing, and they may be correct. But the last couple of times Tarantino has taken on brutality (“Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill,” anyone?) the result has been memorable and extremely good.
Now that you are filled in on what to expect, it is time to either head out to see the above-mentioned movies or to do some more research so you can be one of those people who criticizes Hollywood while everyone else goes and spends their money to keep it doing what it does.
Hansen is a junior print journalism major and chief copy editor for The Spectator.