Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Symbologist" Isn't Even A Real Word: Your Summer Movie Preview (May/June) 2006

There are some seasons that I love more than any others. Football season, both professional and college. Spring, for the beauty of college basketball, warm weather and baseball opening day. But up there with the best of them is my complete and total admiration for the summer movie season, because it is a difficult landscape to navigate. There is a bevy of overhyped, over-CGIed crap that you simply cannot avoid, be it the magazine ads, the television commercials or the movie trailers. Think Fantastic Four or War of the Worlds. Granted sometimes these movies turn out to be pretty good – I thought the first hour or so of Worlds was as good as movies can get – and sometimes, they live up to the incredibly low expectations (If you saw the trailer for Fantastic Four, you saw the movie.)

The trick of it is to make sure you don’t shun any movies because they seem too blockbustery – don’t forget, Batman Begins should have been a Best Picture nominee – but also to keep your eyes open for the Sundance favorites and independent, or at least less-hyped, darlings that slip in under the radar. (Think Collateral, Crash, Layer Cake…) Granted, you’ll eventually hear of those great movies as they gain buzz, but don’t you want to be the first to know? Isn’t there something about attending opening night, when there’s just a little bit of buzz in the theater not caused by the incessant bugs flocking to the marquee lights outside?

Probably not, you’re right. There’s little difference between seeing a movie on opening night or seeing it in the dollar theater two months later, but call me a stickler for being slightly ahead of the cinematic curve. I think we can say that the summer movie season officially starts with the opening of Mission: Impossible III next Friday, so it makes sense to at least start looking at some of the flicks coming up. I think we’ll only cover May and June in this, just to leave me more time to search for some more sleepers in July and August.

(As noted by Cinematical months ago – aren’t you glad you have me around to worry about this stuff while you learn, evolve mature relationships and prepare yourself for productive adulthoods? – there will be a dearth of movies in the usual spots because of World Cup Soccer. It’s disheartening, but I guess the rest of the entertainment world should stop and give soccer its moment in the sun every four years, just like figure skating. Maybe someday it will be a real sport in America. I just hope I’m long gone by that day.)

Mission: Impossible III

The first MI film is vaguely comprehendible. The second turns into a sort of half-noir, half-action movie with a lot of people tearing off faces and that terrible scene with the cigar cutter. I like the idea of this one because A) Phillip Seymour Hoffman is playing the villain and B) It appears Tom Cruise is going to get battered into all sorts of automobiles. JJ Abrams, the Alias guy, is in charge of it, so it’ll probably be more spy-y and less John Woo, kung fu-y. Plus, it opens next Friday, and everyone should see it just as a cleansing experience before Finals Week.

Anticipation Rating: (out of ten) 8

X-Men: The Last Stand

I’m not the big X-Men guy in the room – that’s Sean – but I feel there’s a certain redeeming quality to Kelsey Grammer dressed up in blue body hair. Still, I go with the expert, and Sean is not pleased with how things are looking. Also, Brett Ratner is involved, so this could seem more like a Jessica Simpson music video then solid action movie.

Anticipation Rating: 4


I love cheesy as much as the next guy, but this is an interesting gamble. I’m not sure how many people my age that didn’t major in I Love the 70’s/80’s know about the original Poseidon Adventure, but they threw enough decently recognizable names – Emmy Rossum, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Josh Lucas (just kidding, nobody knows who the fuck Josh Lucas is) – that somebody might bite. Plus, this film supposedly has the awesome plus of being the first to have a real Snakes on a Plane trailer. That alone makes it worth seeing.

Anticipation Rating (of just the movie): 5
Anticipation Rating (of movie and attached trailer): 17

The Da Vinci Code

I’m not going to talk about this. It’s only going to make me angry. This is going to make a lot of money, a lot of people I know are going to see it and I’m going to have to hear about it. I don’t want to talk about it. The book is an overly dramatic travelogue that attempts to be “completely accurate”, and no, I could care less about any sort of defaming of the Catholic religion it does. It’s a freakin’ book, just like the Vagina Monologues is a play, and only uber-conservative crazies could get all caught up with what it says. I just didn’t enjoy it, I think Dan Brown is a hack and he, like Mel Gibson with The Passion, stirred up the controversy just to sell books.

And since Tom Hanks is in it, even with that terrible hair, it’ll be a smashing success.

Anticipation Rating: 2

Superman Returns

Two big problems with this:

1) They should have either gotten Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher to play the roles or the kid from Smallville. Dean Cain deserves this. The guy graduated from Princeton, captained its men’s volleyball team, dated Brooke Shields, had a kid with a Playmate and set the NCAA DI-AA record for interceptions in a season, and somehow, he’s not qualified to play Superman on the big screen? Come on.

2) They’re just conveniently choosing to start this after Superman II, neglecting that third Christopher Reeves film even happened. If you want to start at the beginning, that’s perfectly fine, but you can’t just pick and choose where you pick up the mythology at.

If it’s reviewed the way Spiderman 2 and Batman Begins were, I’ll go see it. If it’s reviewed anything below that, I have zero interest.

Anticipation Rating: 4

Nacho Libre

Jack Black wrestling Mexicans in order to give his prize money to orphans. Mike White, the guy behind Orange County and School of Rock wrote it. You’re not slightly interested b this?

Anticipation Rating: 7


I was just going to skip over this new Adam Sandler vehicle when I perused the supporting cast: Kate Beckinsale, Sean Astin, David Hasselhoff and Christopher Walken. It’s scientifically proven that just having Christopher Walken in your movie makes it 15% better, and it’s from the guys who wrote Bruce Almighty, a quality summer comedy in its own right, if only for Steve Carrell’s bomb-diggity performance. I was skeptical, but now I just might be in.

Anticipation Rating: 6.5

A Prairie Home Companion

I could try to explain this, but just giving you a link to the trailer and listing the cast will be much more effective: Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Blog Favorite Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reily, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen….

Anticipation Rating: 8.5

The Break-Up

I linked to this trailer a few months back, and there hasn’t been a lot of buzz since then. It’s a chance for Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston to both show that they’re movie-opening, consistent-blockbuster type actors. (Or in Aniston’s case, just capable of a blockbuster.) Honestly, it looks hilarious. I’ll declare it the 40-Year Old Virgin -- the comedy with heart – of this summer, as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of David Ricky Bobby will definitely be the Wedding Crashers.

Anticipation Rating: 9


This probably won’t open anywhere I can see it, but a documentary about Will Shortz, the guy who makes up the New York Times crossword seems absolutely awesome. Like Spellbound, but more mature.

Anticipation Rating: 7

Coming in July/August: The new Pirates of the Caribbean, You, Me and Dupree, Little Miss Sunshine, the crappy Miami Vice remake, Talladega Nights, another awkward 9/11 movie and Snakes on a Plane.


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