“Summer lovin’, had me a blast.” – Danny Zuko, Grease
The purpose of this post is to give you a quick reference for the big films that are coming out this summer movie season. I will be writing separate reviews of the movies I see that are good enough to recommend, and I will put the links to those here. If the movie is not good enough to recommend I will add a short review to this post. Either way you may want to save this post for future reference.
[By the way, you can see my 2011 Big Summer Movies post here.]
Note – so many movies come out every summer, and so many of the smaller ones get moved around or even postponed, that I am going to concentrate on the “big” movies. These are the ones that are heavily advertised, expensive to make, have big names in them, and/or have had their opening dates scheduled for a long time.
First, the list, then a little more about each movie:
Too flawed to recommend (see below)
Too flawed to recommend (see below)
Men in Black 3
Nice ending doesn't quite redeem the rest of the movie (see below)
Snow White and the Huntsman
Marginally entertaining movie doomed by shakycam (see below)
Rock of Ages
The Amazing Spider-Man
Poorly written story weakens film too much (see below)
????? (nothing looks big)
The Dark Knight Rises
????? (nothing looks big)
The Bourne Legacy
The Expendables 2
Title: The Avengers
Stars: Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johannson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders
Summary: Based on the movies and comic books. Marvel brings together its characters of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain
, Black Widow, and Hawkeye to oppose Loki. It’s the movie that they have been building towards for years – and it’s written and directed by Joss Whedon. America
Title: Dark Shadows
Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Chloe Grace Moretz
Summary: Based on the 1960s daytime soap opera. Depp plays a man cursed to be a vampire who is woken up hundreds of years later in the 1970s. He has trouble adjusting.
Review: Tim Burton continues his "every other movie is bad" streak. All of the funny lines are already in the trailer. There's not really any tension or suspense, either. There's an obvious "twist" reveal at the end that doesn't even end up adding anything to the movie. This isn't a horrible film, but it's not a good one either. I never watched the original show, so I can't tell you how close or far away this movie is. I can tell you that the original show's stars cameo in this film, as do Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper.
Stars: Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch,
Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna
Summary: Based on the board game. Aliens attack and only one battleship stands in their way of taking over the Earth.
Review: Don't go see this for Neeson; he has maybe 6-8 minutes total screen time. A screwup and felon (Kitsch) gets into the Navy. Apparently he goes to the James T. Kirk Star Trek Reboot School of Career Advancement because in no time at all he is third in command of a destroyer, even though he is just as much of a screwup as before. After an alien attack, he is in charge of the ship. Luckily, he brings with him his own personal laws of physics which allows the ship he is on to instantaneously reverse course and manuever away from enemy attack, unlike every other ship attacked by them. Later he takes these physics with him to a battleship (see the title of the film) which allows him to make a ship weighing tens of thousands of tons skid on the water through the use of a single anchor. Finally, he uses his personal physics to take on an alien ship that was tough enough to withstand interstellar travel, entry into Earth's atmosphere, and a crash landing in the ocean, but that cannot stand up to a couple of rounds from a sniper rifle. If you see this movie, check your brain at the door.
Title: Men in Black 3
Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson
Summary: Based on the prior movies and comic books. Agents J and K once more try to keep aliens in line. This time J has to go back in time to prevent K's murder in 1969.
Review: Don't see this for Jones or Thompson; they are barely in the film. There is also no Rip Torn, talking dog, or other familiar aliens that have provided some humor in the first two films. What this movie has is Will Smith front and center. That would be fine, if he got some funny jokes written for him, but he didn't. Brolin does a great impression of Jones, but after the newness of it wears off, we are left with a film that's not that funny, and is kind of flat action-wise. There is a nice reveal at the end (no spoiler), that made me reconsider recommending this film. I decided that it didn't pass the "waitaminnit" test any more than the rest of the film did. (That's when you see a scene and a few minutes, or even a few seconds, later you say to yourself, "Wait a minute. Why didn't he just [fill in the blank]?") This isn't a horrible film, but it's not a very good one, either. It is strictly for big fans of the first two movies.
Title: Snow White and the Huntsman
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Summary: Based on the fairytale. This is an attempt to make Snow White over into a badass for the Twilight crowd.
Review: Theron seriously overacts, then disappears for long stretches. Apparently when you are evil, you yell everything. Stewart is okay, as well as Hemsworth. There is zero chemistry between them. Don't watch this movie for romance; that was obviously saved for the inevitable sequel. Some action scenes were good, especially the riding horses in the surf, but most were obscured by shakycam cinematography. They sounded exciting; too bad we couldn't actually see them. The dwarves provide what humor there is. These are extended cameos by Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, and Brian Gleeson. Yes, that's eight. To get to the traditional seven, one dies to show the teens the film is aimed at that things just got, like, totally serious.
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron
Summary: Based on the Alien movies. Original Alien director Ridley Scott returns with a prequel to the first movie. You know the drill: facehuggers, aliens, artificial beings, and corrupt company people.
Title: Rock of Ages
Stars: Tom Cruise
Summary: Based on the Broadway musical. Nostalgia for the 1980s in the guise of a musical filled with covers of hair metal songs. Cruise plays an aging rocker.
Stars: Voices of Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters
Summary: Based on, hmmm, you know what? We actually have something here that’s not copying a prior success. A teenage girl in medieval
doesn’t fit in with the role her parents want for her. It’s from Pixar. Scotland
Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Summary: Based on the movies that were just in the theaters a few years ago (and on the comic book.) This is an attempted reboot of the franchise for people with short memories. The opponent this time is the Lizard.
Review: Andrew Garfield plays mid-teens Peter Parker and doesn't look a day over 30. Emma Stone is the best thing about the movie, but she is just a supporting character. The action scenes are decent, but nothing spectacular. Plot just drops any number of things while the movie proceeds (i.e. bad guy last seen hanging in car off bridge; Spider-Man rescues one kid from hanging car just before it explodes, but leaves everyone else hanging; someone records a video of Spider-Man but then no one in the city has a phone to ever record him again, even when a reward is offered; a lab is closed, but Dr. Connors keeps coming back to it; in fact, pretty much everyone can get in, even by taking a badge off a table - security really sucks there; Dr. Connors needed a state of the art lab to create his formula, but to re-create it all he needs are a test tube and flask, and apparently no contamination block because he sets up shop in the sewers; computers apparently have no problem runnning in sewers, either; the villain's entire plan is pointless because everything would have been back to normal by the morning even if he would have succeeded). Because this is a reboot of a movie that barely just came out, it needs to have something new or unique to say to justify its existence and it does not. There's a scene with cranes being moved that is just bad, bad, bad. It's obviously intended to tug at our heartstrings, maybe even make us cry, but it is completely pointless because the entire movie they've shown Spider-Man swinging from buildings, but now he can't swing unless there are cranes hanging off the buildings? Finally, the first part of the movie meanders some, then it is as if the filmmakers realized they better get going with the villain and they just sped past Spider-Man building his webshooters, costume, etc. - one of the few sequences that would have been original. This isn't a horrible movie, but it's not a very good one, either.
Title: The Dark Knight Rises
Stars: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman
Summary: Based on the prior movies and the comic books. Director Christopher Nolan returns to resolve the manufactured ending to the prior film that left Batman a fugitive. The opponents this time around are Catwoman and Bane.
Title: Total Recall
Stars: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, John Cho, Bryan Cranston
Summary: Based on the Schwarzenegger movie. This is a remake with better special effects, but no trip to Mars. Color me disappointed. The expected fight between Beckinsale and
might make up for it. Biel
Title: The Bourne Legacy
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
Summary: Based on the prior Bourne movies. This is an attempted reboot with Renner as another agent in a similar situation as Bourne.
Title: The Expendables 2
Stars: Sylvester Stallone,
Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Randy Couture Arnold
Summary: Based on the prior movie. This is a sequel with the addition of the action stars that were stupid enough to pass on doing the first one. There will be so much testosterone coming off the screen that you will leave the theater with a chest covered in hair. (Ladies, you’ve been warned.)