Summer movie preview
Welcome to summer, post-Blart. Excited? Hollywood is, primed by the momentum of an already booming box office.
As 2009ís first smash (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) showed, in times of crisis moviegoers just want to escape ó and theyíre not terribly discerning about where they escape to. Thus, such lunkheaded hits as Fast & Furious, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Knowing and Race to Witch Mountain.
Thatís good news for studios, but bad news for discriminating film goers. Compare last yearís summer line-up ó packed with such cross-demo offerings as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, WallïE and Sex and the City ó to this summerís slate. Can
X-Men Origins: Wolverine really duplicate the dazzling heights of Iron Man? Does anyone think the new Transformers will resonate beyond clang-bang-metal mayhem?
Sure, there may be the odd surprise ó J.J. Abramsí Star Trek or Michael Mannís Public Enemies ó but by and large this is a summer made by the Blarts for the Blarts. Oh well.
So what will hit, and what will miss? Here are 10 we suspect will come up aces with audiences:
In 25 words or less: A vengeful Romulan screws with the space-time continuum so that the early adventures of Kirk and Spock arenít exactly what fans remember.
Whoís in it: Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (McCoy), Eric Bana and some old dude named Leonard Nimoy.
Whoís directing: Geek god J.J. Abrams, who co-created Lost.
Why do we care? If Abrams can convince kids Trek is cool ó thus why the Enterprise looks like an Apple store ó then the franchise may well live long and prosper (at least for the already-announced sequel).
Weíd pay to see … William Shatner beam up to shoulder-flip Pine.
Angels & Demons
In 25 words or less: Symbologist Robert Langdon races to foil a plot against the Vatican by a secret society called the Illuminati.
Whoís in it: Tom Hanks, along with Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgaard.
Whoís directing: Ron Howard. One of these pays for a dozen Frost/Nixons.
Why do we care? The Da Vinci Code was a sanctimonious bore, so why make a sequel? Because it still grossed $700 million worldwide, people.
Weíd pay to see … the Fonz turn up as Pope.
In 25 words or less: Grown-up John Connor (Christian Bale) leads resistance fighters in a post-apocalyptic landscape overrun by terminators.
Whoís in it: Aside from Bale, newcomer Sam Worthington (whose character, Marcus, offers a potential link between man and machine), Bryce Dallas Howard and Helena Bonham Carter.
Whoís directing: The reviled McG (Charlieís Angels) looking for a little street cred.
Why do we care? Bale. The script was rewritten by Jonah Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento). And if audiences embrace a Terminator flick without creator James Cameron and star Arnold Schwarzenegger, it will mean new life for the series.
Weíd pay to see … a cameo by Californiaís governor. (And thanks to digital wizardry, weíll get our wish.)
In 25 words or less: Grumpy old man Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) ties thousands of balloons to his house and soars away, seeking adventure.
Whoís in it: The voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer and John Ratzenberger.
Whoís directing: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson.
Why do we care? Pixar hasnít misfired yet, which makes this a canít-miss proposition.
Weíd pay to see … whatever Pixar makes.
In 25 words or less: Three groomsmen lose the groom after a night of debauchery in Vegas.
Whoís in it: Up-and-comers Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and still-hot Heather Graham.
Whoís directing: Todd Phillips (Old School).
Why do we care? Could be the sleeper comedy of the summer ó which explains why the studio is already plotting a sequel.
Weíd pay to see … Rollergirl back in her skates.
In 25 words or less: Two Old Testament bumblers wander through Biblical times.
Whoís in it: Jack Black and Michael Cera, basically playing themselves. Along the way, they encounter such old favourites as Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd) and Abraham and Isaac (Hank Azaria and Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
Whoís directing: Ghostbuster Harold Ramis.
Why do we care? Judd Apatow ó he of the Midas touch ó is the producer.
Weíd pay to see … this turn out to be more Superbad than Walk Hard.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
In 25 words or less: The Decepticons exact their revenge on Optimus Prime after the exhaust-pipe whipping they got in 2007.
Whoís in it: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and robots. Lots and lots of robots.
Whoís directing: Michael Bay, who never met an explosion he didnít think was ìAwesome!î
Why do we care? The original earned $700 million worldwide and imprinted the small of Foxís back on the minds of heterosexual men and bi-curious women everywhere.
Weíd pay to see … Shia get squashed.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
In 25 words or less: The boy wizard faces the gathering forces of evil. And his hormones.
Whoís in it: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and the rest of Britain.
Whoís directing: David Yates (The Order of the Phoenix), who will follow this with a two-part adaptation of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Why do we care? You have to ask?
Weíd pay to see … them condense this thing to a brisk two hours.
The Rise of Cobra
In 25 words or less: An elite military unit clashes with a nefarious organization known as Cobra. Based on the 1980s cartoon and toyline.
Whoís in it: Dennis Quaid (Gen. Hawk), Channing Tatum (Duke), Rachel Nichols (Scarlet), Cobra Commander (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Destro (Christopher Eccleston) and the Baroness (Sienna Miller).
Whoís directing: Stephen Sommers, architect of craptaculars The Mummy and Van Helsing.
Why do we care? Aside from Nichols and Miller in dueling skintight body-armour, we donít. But if this rakes in nearly as much cash as Transformers, look for sequels for years to come.
Weíd pay to see … the Baroness finding ways of making us talk.
In 25 words or less: Pulp Fiction meets Valkyrie? We can hope.
Whoís in it: Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, B.J. Novak, Diane Kruger, Samuel L. Jackson and ó as an Allied general ó Mike Myers.
Whoís directing: Quentin Tarantino, hoping to show heís relevant even though itís not 1994.
Why do we care? Because it sounds bloody and outrageous. Set in the Second World War, a band of Jewish-American soldiers enter German-occupied France looking to collect Nazi scalps.
Weíd pay to see … someone teach Tarantino how to spell.
Summer movie preview