Every summer sees the rise of the blockbuster mega-hit movies, which, in more recent years, has meant big-budget sequels and comic book adaptations.
By now, every movie lover has seen the trailers, clips, and posters for most of the summer’s hottest movies, so it’s not so hard to pick out which are the most anticipated films of this summer’s fifty or so offerings. What’s harder is determining which summer movies will live up to the hype.
For our second annual Summer Movie Mayhem feature, here’s a look at the Top 30 highly anticipated movies of this summer, along with some observations as to why they just might disappoint.
Iron Man (May 2) — You probably know the story already: Tony Stark gets captured by terrorists who want him to make them a bomb. Instead, he creates a suit of armor to aid in his escape, and returns to his regular life, except now he’s the super-hero Iron Man. Aided by his friend James Rhodes, and his secretary Virginia “Pepper” Potts, it looks like he’ll be taking on long-time nemesis Obadiah Stane, otherwise known as the Iron Monger.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Have you seen those commercials yet? Everyone looks better than the previous. You’ve got a nice look for the actual suit, the Iron Monger fight looks bad-ass, and then there’s the cast. Of course we know that Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark, but Terrance Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges are no slouches. What could go wrong?
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: If Fantastic Four 2 taught us anything, it’s that a trailer does not a movie make. Will the movie be paced well? Will the humor be funny or groan-inducing? Is Jon Favreau ready to direct a movie this big? These are all important questions which we won’t know until we see the movie. It doesn’t appear that the movie can go wrong, but that’s what we though about Superman Returns, and a lot of people hated that movie.
Speed Racer (May 9) — The cult classic cartoon hits the big screen as a live-action movie. Emile Hirsch stars as the title character Speed, whose goal in life is to win The Crucible, a cross-country car race. When Speed discovers a plot by corporate investors to fix The Crucible, it is up to Speed and his mysterious rival Racer X to stop them.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Long-time fans of the cartoon can rest easy knowing the film is left in capable hands. The adaptation was written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers, the duo responsible for the Matrix trilogy. Fan favorites Christina Ricci and Matthew Fox are also along for the ride, playing Trixie and the always enigmatic, Racer X, respectively. If the film is half as good as the trailer that was released in December, this movie has what it takes to be the summer blockbuster of 2008.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Can the Wachowski Brothers deliver big once again? Their last film, V for Vendetta, was only a moderate success and Warner Bros.’ mandate for a “family friendly” adaptation could inhibit the dynamic duo’s creative juices (all their previous films have been geared toward a more adult crowd). Also, for every fan that enjoyed the trailer, there are some that called it cheesy and too reliant on CGI.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (May 16) — Picking up one year after the events of the first movie, Prince Caspian finds the Pevensie children returning to a very changed Narnia. The evil King Miraz is trying to keep the rightful ruler, the titular Prince Caspian, from taking the throne. So the kids have to go back and help save Narnia one more time.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It’s good to see that the whole team that made the first movie a success has returned for the sequel, so you know that the movie is going to look nice and have some great action. The child actors have more experience now, which is never a bad thing. Plus, the return of talking Jesus lion, and who can resist that?
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first movie, as I thought it was a bit too much of a kid’s movie for me to really enjoy. I don’t know if this film will keep the same tone or if it’s going to be different this time. To be fair, the books are designed for a younger audience, and the first film was successful in keeping the fun of the books, it just wasn’t for me. And I know a lot of people will still be turned away by the heavy Christian themes of the books.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22) — Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), who has quietly resumed his teaching in the 19 years since the events of the last movie, is thrust back into adventure, this time against Spalko (Cate Blanchett) and agents of the Soviet Union, who are both after the crystal skull.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It’s the first Indy movie in almost two decades with (almost) all the original players. Director Steven Spielberg has elected to remain consistent with the previous films by keeping stunts traditional and the CGI to a bare minimum. And it’s the first Indy movie in almost two decades.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Co-writer and producer George Lucas saying, “It’s just a movie. Just like the other movies. You probably have fond memories of the other movies. But if you went back and looked at them, they might not hold up the same way your memory holds up.” He may well have said two words that meant the same thing: Phantom Menace.
— The Rub
Sex and the City (May 30) — Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her oversexed Manhattanite friends make the much anticipated jump to the theaters, after their series went off of HBO in 2004.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: While big-screen adaptations of small-screen shows don’t have the best track record, the ones involving the original cast and creators (like Serenity, The X-Files, and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut) actually do.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: The juvenile thrill of hearing your favorite characters swear and screw is gone here, as Sex and the City aired on HBO. And after the Kristin Davis sex photos, Kim Cattrall being naked in everything, and Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker looking like an ungodly circus act where they can crack glass just by looking at it, I’d actually pay to see them keep their clothes on.
— Dr. Royce Clemens
The Strangers (May 30) — A couple spending the night in an isolated house are terrorized by three strangers wearing masks. As the night progresses, and the strangers’ antics become more violent, and the couple realize that they must find an inner strength they never knew they had if they are to survive.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Debut writer/director Bryan Bertino looks to be tapping into true emotional terror with this shadow-filled, dread-drenched tale inspired by true events. If the trailer is any indication, this is going to be a satisfying white-knuckled ride from start to finish, with a churning tension that will leave the audience breathless. Seeing Liv Tyler scared out of her wits after frightening audiences with her performance in Armageddon is simply the icing on the bloody cake.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: The success of the film, and how it will be regarding and remembered by fans or naysayers, will all boil down to the ending. This could very well be the horror film of 2008, but if Bertino can’t deliver the goods in the final reel, then all will surely be lost.
– Movies at Midnight
Kungfu Panda (June 6) — It’s Jack Black in a CGI kung fu movie. He stars as Po, a kung fu fanatic who, as with any good kung fu movie, becomes the chosen one of prophesy and must take down the evil Tai Lung. Po must learn the ways of kung fu in order to defeat the evil and restore order. He’s aided by a wide range of other animals who each have their own style, tied in to whatever animal they are (the crane uses crane style, the snake uses snake style, yes, very clever).
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It’s Jack Black in a CGI kung fu movie. If you enjoy his brand of comedy you’re probably going to enjoy this. Plus, the film has a lot of other great voice talent, including Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Seth Rogen, and Michael Clarke Duncan. Then you’ve got James Hong, friggin’ Lo Pan himself, and you just try to name me a bad movie he’s in. And it should be a good movie to take the kids to.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: It’s Jack Black in a CGI kung fu movie. If you don’t enjoy his brand of humor, I don’t imagine this will change your mind. In fact it will probably be nails against the chalkboard for you. I like Jack Black, yet his shtick is getting old for me. Plus, this may just be another of the more lackluster animated films that have come out since the rise of Pixar. You get the feeling this is just another “me too” film without the heart that makes for truly great animated films.
Mongol (June 6) — The story of how a slave named Ghenghis Khan overcame his status to conquer and rule half the world in the 13th century.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: This movie will be awesome because 1) It’s an independent film. Everyone please start to admit that independent films are our last line of defense against the major corporations stealing all of the artistry out of movie making; 2) It’s based on historical fact. Being a history nerd, any movie that is biographical I will line up to see; 3) It’s going to be violent. True movie junkies like a bit of violence now and again. I think this movie will give good violence; and 4) It’s going to have great cinematography. Shot in Russia, I can’t wait for the landscapes the location managers found and the camera angles the director, Sergei Bodrov, filmed.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Subititles!!! Ok, subtitles are not always bad, but I would like to be able to see the carnage fully. Also, my eyes get tired after reading the subtitles. But, then again, this could be an anticipation factor because Russian is a hard enough language (no offense everyone but it is not considered a romance language for a reason), so it will fit perfectly with the rough nature of the movie.
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (June 6) — Adam Sandler stars as a former Israeli commando who gives up his action-packed lifestyle in order to pursue his dream of becoming a hair stylist. He quickly becomes great at his new career, until his past catches up to him. Co-starring are the regular Adam Sandler players: Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson, John Turtorro, and Kevin James. And in the role of the woman Adam Sandler is too hot to get with, we get Emmanuelle Chriqui.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It’s an Adam Sandler movie, and if you enjoy his comedy, you know you’ll find a few laughs. It should help that the script was co-written by Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel, so even people who don’t usually enjoy Sandler’s style of comedy, may find something to like. I may be one of the few people who enjoyed I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, so I can say that Sandler’s humor is still enjoyable to me.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: That said, there are a lot of people who have never enjoyed Sandler’s comedy or have grown tired of it. I have to admit that he hasn’t changed his schtick much in two decades, and there’s only so many times you can reuse the same jokes. After this much time, you probably know whether you want to see this or not, from Sandler’s name above the title alone.
The Happening (June 13) — Described as a “paranoid thriller” in which a family attempts to survive a global environmental crisis as a mystery substance kills everything with which it comes into contact.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: M. Night Shyamalan has the ability to make a good thiller (the second half of The Sixth Sense, all of Unbreakable, and the first half of Signs), and this being his first foray into R-rated territory gives him the breathing room he needs to out run his previous bombs.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: His “weak movie with a twist” shtick may have jumped the shark after The Village.
— The Rub
The Incredible Hulk (June 13) — Sing it with me: Dr. Banner, exposed to gamma rays, turns into the Hulk.. the ever-loving Hulk, Hulk… Hulk. … and fights Abomination. Yeah, that’s about the size of it.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: There’s a lot to be said for second chances. If the trailer is to be believed, it looks like they’re going for two very distinct Hulk elements that were missing from Ang Lee’s EPIC FAIL that was The Hulk: #1) Ed Norton seems to be playing it very Bill Bixby and is all but begging for a piano outro as he huffs it down some lonely road looking for solace and a warm meal, and #2) Hulk fucking SMASHING! Last time we got Hulk fighting an absorbing cloud. A FUCKING CLOUD!!! Oh yeah and a dark forest full of indistinct Hulk-dogs. Thanks for that, Ang. Really. Anyhow, this time we get Abomination… and yeah, even though both Hulk and Abomination still look a bit Gumby-ish in the trailer, I’m counting on the fact that the movie studio see that too and are going to continue to render the shit out of those models until an hour before the first showing to put a nice Hulky sheen on ‘em. In addition to that, huge cast: Tim Roth, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson… um, Robert Downey Jr *cough* Wait, what?
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: The suckage potential for this movie is legion. First off, it is a do-over, and as kids we all hated that wussie who would shout do-over after every wiffle ball pitch because he was too busy picking the underwear out of his ass. Second, Edward Norton’s ego… need I go on? Third, CGI. As I mentioned in the anticipation section so far in every clip I’ve seen until this point the Hulk still looks like Gumby, and the abomination kinda looks like one of my G.I. Joe figures that melted after I shoved a firecracker up it’s ass. If they still look like that when June 13th rolls around the only person I’ll blame is Edward Norton. What? As far as I know he’s usurped every other aspect of the film. If it winds up looking like shit, I’m blaming him for doing a bad job rendering his big, green alter ego.
Get Smart (June 20) — In this big-screen revamp of the 1960s spy genre spoof, Steve Carell stars as the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart with Anne Hathaway as his more proficient partner Agent 99. In this origin tale, we see Smart’s first assignment for CONTROL, which involves him going up against the formidable Siegfried, an operative for the evil organization KAOS. The film also stars Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, Alan Arkin, Masi Oka, Nate Torrence, and Kenneth Davitian.
Of all the classic 1960′s television shows, Get Smart — created by comedic legends Mel Brooks and Buck Henry — is the perfect one to revive. The filmmakers took care to include classic elements from the show, like the Cone of Silence and Smart’s shoe phone, as well as Smart’s catchphrases (“Miss it by that much”). Steve Carell is comedy gold and seems to be a perfect fit for Smart. Judging from the trailers, this story seems to be filled with cool action sequences and lots of laughter-inducing bits. I definitely have high hopes for this one.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR:
Remaking classic TV for the big screen is risky, and as with many 1960s TV shows, there’s the issue of sexism to overcome. To overcompensate for this, the film has Smart be the novice with 99 as the experienced agent, which completely changes the dynamic and chemistry of this pair. Hathaway is much younger than Carell, so if they keep the romantic subplot in, they have to try harder to make us believe 99 would fall for Smart.
— Empress Eve
The Love Guru (June 20) — When the child of American missionaries raised by spiritual advisors in India decides to travel the world, his new career as a self-help guru is put to the test when he’s hired to help a star hockey player overcome his romantic troubles.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It’s Mike Myers! Could this be another of his carefully crafted original character in the vein of Wayne Campbell and Austin Powers? Since Myers took over two years to write and refine the film, one would certainly hope so. Given the performance of many of his big-screen endeavors (hey, even The Cat in the Hat cleared 100 million!), expectations for another success run high.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Hindus are already raising concerns that Love Guru ridicules their religion, and when you’ve got supporting guru characters with names like “Tugginmypudha” and “Satchabigknoba” it’s easy to see where this film’s humor is going to be coming from. Hopefully Myers manages to pack more substance into the film than cheap laughs from yet another wig and funny accent, because karma can be a real bitch at the local multiplex.
— Bad Monkey
WALL-E (June 27) — A small, lonely robot tasked with cleaning the garbage dump that has become the entire Earth in the year 2700 finds a new friend and a new purpose when an unexpected visitor arrives.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It’s Pixar! Furthermore, it’s Andrew Stanton’s follow-up to Finding Nemo. These two factors alone practically guarantee another home-run in Disney-Pixar’s impressive catalog of films. And can anybody ever really get enough robots in movies?
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Cuddly robot WALL-E, which looks like a cross between Johnny 5 and E.T., doesn’t speak. This may not be a problem for a supporting character like R2-D2, but is quite a risk for a lead character in a full-length “kids” film. As if that weren’t enough, all of humanity has degraded into lazy, wasteful, absurdly obese blobs that need floating chairs to move (think Baron Harkonen or Mojo). Hopefully Pixar can find humor and fun in a depressing future like this, or WALL-E is going to end up an even lonelier robot at the box office.
— Bad Monkey
Wanted (June 27) — Wes (James McAvoy) is a mistreated office drone, recruited into a secret society of assassins called The Fraternity. Wes discovers he has dormant abilities that make him an ideal killer. His talents are unlocked by Fox, a beautiful female assassin (Angelina Jolie) and he’s tutored by the Fraternity leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman) to avenge the death of his estranged father. However, when Wes discovers The Fraternity’s hidden agenda, he takes control of his own destiny. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and based on the Top Cow comic book miniseries by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: This movie has a lot going for it visually (the trailer features some amazing stunts) and it’s always fun to see uberbabe Angelina Jolie opening fire on unsuspecting targets with big guns. James McAvoy already proved in The Last King Of Scotland that he’s good at playing an average person thrust into uncomfortable situations.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Director Timur Bekmambetov received high praise for his films Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch but is still unknown to most American movie fans. With all the other blockbuster comic book-based movies out this summer, this could easily get overlooked as just another comic book based movie adaptation. Also, isn’t it getting kind of weird to see Angelina Jolie, who spends so much off-screen time trying to help the world, ONLY play untrustworthy, ruthless women in her movies? Having Jolie show up in every film as a completely unsavory character is like discovering that Mother Teresa took time out from her humanitarian efforts to play a masked villain on a TV wrestling series.
– T.E. Pouncey
Hancock (July 2) — Mr. versatility Peter Berg directs yet another movie that’s out of his stratosphere as he teams up with icon Will Smith to collaborate for this unorthodox superhero movie. This may just turn out to be the anecdote that we’ll all soon need due to the recent tidal wave that’s slated to hit this summer possessing a chalk full of superhero movies. It’s a daring task but with Berg and Smith leading way we should be in good hands.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: A hero who has the characteristics of a bum (sleeps on the streets and is an alcoholic) rather than a superhero has problems of his own. He goes about trying to rid the world of its problems only to find himself making the mess more messy. Lending a helping hand to reshape his image is a public relations professional (Jason Bateman). It turns out that he has a beautiful wife (Charlize Theron), which Hancock takes a specific interest in.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Do we really want to see a superhero in a state of distress? Box-office records show that audiences love their heroes on the good side of society with strong characteristics and a colorful personality. Hancock is everything but that.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (July 11) — A group of creatures from a mythical world and led by a very power being breaks into our own world and tries to take over. Hellboy and The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense naturally can’t let this happen and the battle begins.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Guillermo Del Toro is quickly becoming a very well-known and very popular director. People crave to enter his worlds and this will not be any different. I’ll go wherever that man leads me — except maybe a My Best Friend’s Wedding remake? Nah, I’d still totally go.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Hellboy wasn’t the most popular movie as it was before Guillermo Del Toro was so renowned, so some may just not be open to giving this one a chance. From the trailer, there seems to be some similar looks to what we saw in Pan’s Labyrinth as well, which may halt a few souls.
— The Movie God
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (July 11) — The latest film adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1864 classic novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth set in present day and presented in 3D.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: 3D technology has come a long way since those flimsy red and blue lenses of old. There is potential to make a visually brilliant version of some classic material, but…
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: …while the quality of the technology has improved, the quality of the product has not. With the exception of The Nightmare Before Christmas (previously released material), there hasn’t been much along the line of ‘amazing’ that you couldn’t have found on the back of a Cap’n Crunch cereal box. Oh, and Brandan Fraser couldn’t act his way out of paper sack with a map and the trailer has “made for TV” written all over it.
— The Rub
The Dark Knight (July 18) — Seriously, after the last Christopher Nolan Batman film, how much does one really have to write about why the next one is the most anticipated comic book films of all time? By many accounts, The Dark Knight is supposed to be based on two of the best DC graphic novels ever written about the character. I’m referring to The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb. The Joker character has probably never been as deliciously defined as he was in The Killing Joke. Here The Joker reflects on his origin, as having been a hack comedian/petty thief whose life was drastically altered by “one bad day.” We see the Joker violently celebrating his new vicious sense of purpose, while at the same time committing one of the most heinous crimes to have ever happened in the DC Universe. Loeb’s The Long Halloween is Harvey Dent’s story, which takes place in Frank Miller’s Gotham City of Year One. This is also Nolan’s Gotham, where the Falcone family runs the streets, while a new flamboyantly costumed age of crime and justice is suddenly emerging. Nolan has already laid the ground work to tell that amazing story.
Heath Ledger as The Joker. From what I’ve seen so far, he’s amazing. Also, I have a feeling Two-Face may show up.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR:
Heath Ledger as The Joker. I’m afraid the fact that this was his last performance may overshadow the film. I hope that doesn’t bum me out because I get sensitive sometimes. Also, some of the fancier Batman costumes I’ve seen in photographs give me the Shumacher jitters. I want the experience of the first film. You know, a movie where you see a lunatic millionaire running around dressed as a bat.
— Disco Volante
Mamma Mia (July 18) — Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting married, and decides to invite her dad… although she can’t figure out who her dad is. She steals her mom’s (Meryl Streep) journal, and finds three men that she… schplotzed… before she got pregnant with her. She invites the three men to the wedding, Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth), and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), and she has to make up her mind on which of the three men is her real father.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: One of the best things you can do in the summer time is watch a musical in theaters. Call me any name you want, but I discovered this watching Hairspray in theaters and thought I would absolutely hate it. It turned out to be one of the best times I had in the theater, and I can’t see why Mamma Mia will be any different. The film is based on a British musical of the same name… and the music, you ask, is all ABBA songs. Add that with an all-star cast, and Mamma Mia is sure to be the sleeper hit of the summer.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Or is it? There will be people that will either compare Mamma Mia to the original ABBA songs or to the original musical. I won’t be one of either of them, since I’m not the biggest fans of ABBA and I never seen the original musical, so it will mean that I will probably like it.
— Tony D
X-Files 2: I Want To Believe (July 25) — What we know so far: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return as Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The film is a stand alone story and not part of the ongoing “mythology” storyline. From what we do know, the film is a supernatural thriller that takes place in the present — six years after the end of the groundbreaking series. Mitch Pileggi will reprise his role as Walter Skinner. Amanda Peet, Xzibit, Billy Connolly, Adam Godley, and Callum Keith Rennie will star in the film as well. Chris Carter is directing from a sceenplay written by him and Frank Spotnitz.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Mulder and Scully together again!! We miss them! July 25th, 2008 cannot get here soon enough. If ever there was a demand for an X-Files film, this is the right time. Six years is too long to be without Mulder and Scully.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: A stand-alone story may turn off some of the hardcore fan base. The absence of the “mythology” storyline has the potential for a run of the mill film. Regardless, I think people are hungry for new adventures featuring Mulder and Scully.
— Cinema Junkie
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Aug 1) — Rick O’Connell is back and this time he has to fight a resurrected Chinese Emperor Han (Jet Li), an evil sorceress (Michelle Yeoh), and an army of re-animated, murderous, clay-encrusted warriors. Brendon Fraser returns as Rick O’Connell with Alex O’Connell (son of Rick and Evelyn O’Connell — introduced in the second film) playing a pivotal role. This sequel features a script written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of TV’s Smallville.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: It has been far too long since we’ve had a Brendon Fraser Mummy movie (I will go to my grave wondering why Brendon Fraser never got decent movie roles and why Owen Wilson DID). Dedicated Jet Li fans (and I’m one of them) will watch anything he’s in and Michelle Yeoh is never less than delightful.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Stephen Sommers, who directed the first two Mummy movies didn’t return for this one and neither did Rachel Weisz (who was Evelyn in the previous films). Sommers has been replaced by director Rob Cohen, whose last film, Stealth (2005), could be charitably described as “unimpressive.” Universal may have waited too long for this newest installment and lost the fan base the first two movies established.
– T.E. Pouncey
The Rocker (Aug 1) — Robert “Fish” Fishman (Rainn Wilson) was living the rock ‘n roll dream as the drummer for 80′s rock heroes Vesuvius. But his dreams are short-lived when his bandmates callously kick him out. 20 years later, desperate to relive those days, Fish convinces A.D.D. — his nephew’s (Josh Gad) high school band — to take him on and introduces them to a world of rock ‘n roll mayhem.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: With Wilson currently riding high on the success of The Office and a strong supporting cast of Jane Lynch, Emma Stone, Christina Applegate, and Jeff Garlin, this might be the beat that the current drum solo of comedy needs. Coming in largely under the radar, this could easily shuffle its way to the fore and may prove to be the comedy film of the summer.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Some may dismiss this as the B-side to School of Rock, but the biggest snare (yeah, I said it) could be director Peter Cattaneo. He has been relatively quiet since he made The Full Monty over 11-years ago and The Rocker will be his first foray into comedy in 7 years. Let’s hope he has no plans for the male cast to display their gentleman’s area this time.
Midnight Meat Train (Aug 1) — A photographer tracks a serial killer in Manhattan’s subway system in this film based on Clive Barker’s short story.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: The director of Godzilla: Final Wars makes his American film debut. If there’s no cameo by Jet Jaguar in this movie, then BY GOD, I WILL RIOT!
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Wow… Got me there. I’m certain that I, Dr. Royce Clemens, have never had anything negative whatsoever to say about Clive Barker…
— Dr. Royce Clemens
Pineapple Express (Aug 8) — An office worker visits his weed dealer during his normal shopping routine. On this visit, he tries a brand new kind that surpasses all others. While high, he witnesses a murder involving a dirty cop and a drug lord and now he and his dealer must run for their lives!
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: This is Judd Apatow produced, Seth Rogen starring, ladies and gentlemen; how could we not anticipate with great impatience? And it’s got James Franco as a silly stoner!
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Is there really any at all? I guess the Apatow craze will have to die down eventually, but c’mon! This one doesn’t even cover the normal sex/love sub-genre of comedy he usually does — it’s a full-on action/stoner/cop buddy comedy! Genius.
— The Movie God
The International (Aug 15) — An Interpol agent (Clive Owen) investigates a global banking institution for corruption and murder with the help of a Manhattan assistant district attorney (Naomi Watts).
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) may be exactly what is needed to inject a semi-boring plot concept into a high action thriller. And for anyone who thought Clive Owen should have been cast as James Bond ahead of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, this may be your best chance to see if you would have been right.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Little buzz and a ho-hum plot outline could spell trouble if Owen and Tykwer don’t live up to their potential.
— The Rub
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Aug 15) — Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a new animated series brought to us by George Lucas and Lucas Animation that will begin with a movie scheduled to hit theaters August 15. George Lucas says that he has been working on this project since the end of Revenge of The Sith. The Clone Wars will take place somewhere between Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith. The relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin at this point is now more of a partnership and Anakin will now have his own padawan. The new padawan is a feisty female character who will ironically resemble Anakin in her independent and outgoing ways. What goes around comes around — even in the Star Wars universe!
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: The thought of seeing a new Star Wars movie in the theater makes me extremely excited. New characters will be introduced and the fact that George Lucas is at the helm makes me feel at ease, since the Star Wars universe is his creation, after all. It will also open up the Star Wars universe to a whole new generation of kids.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: I remain confident that this project will be a positive addition to the saga, but there is always the chance for suckage. Although new Star Wars fans will come about as a result of the Clone Wars, it would be a shame for kids to only think of this project as Star Wars and not get a chance to experience and appreciate the magic of the entire Star Wars saga. Though this scenario could easily be blamed on irresponsible parenting, it would be a shame nonetheless. Also, there is always a slight chance that the Clone Wars can become corny in relationship to the Star Wars movies and make a dent in the saga’s legacy. Hopefully the “roger-roger” and “whosa are yousa” factors will be kept to a minimum.
— The EnviroGeek
Tropic Thunder (Aug 15) — A band of prima donna actors set out to shoot a movie about jungle warfare. Ridiculous costs and selfish actors force the cost of the flick way past budget. Defeated and desperate, the director enlists an army veteran to lead the actors on a mission of real warfare. Somehow, hilarity ensues.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Five years ago, as of yet underrated and underappreciated, Johnny Depp took on a big budget action/comedy that finally provided him the esteem he deserved. This summer, Robert Downey Jr. is anticipating two very large pay days, but this pure character part is the one that acting enthusiasts should be anticipating. The action, big names, and cameos (Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Tobey Maguire) will sell the movie, but everyone is going to be leaving the theater talking about Downey Jr.’s performance – for better or worse.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Huge. Like a 9 out of 10. Jack Black and Ben Stiller are both on a career downturn. The plot is almost completely contrived and obvious, and if the comedy isn’t perfectly executed, this flick will suck hard. Stiller as the director and Downey Jr. will walk the racial tightrope. Fall one way, and the movie becomes racist. Fall the other way by pulling too many punches, and there will be no humor in the racial humor. Risks will have to be taken to make it work. With Paramount as the backing studio, don’t expect those risks to be great.
Bangkok Dangerous (Aug 22) — Internationally renowned hitman Joe (Nicolas Cage) is in Bangkok to pull off his latest kill. When he learns it is a political assassination, things turn sour very quickly, though he still has the time to find romance with a local woman and bond with an errand boy.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Cage has previously shown he can go over the top with Hong Kong inspired action like Face/Off, and the preview trailers that have been released promise plenty of chances for Cage to get down and dirty. With the Pang Brothers (The Eye) behind this remake project of their own debut film, there should at least be some respect for the original material and the Thailand natives should be able to squeeze every drop of cool from the Bangkok cityscape.
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: The trailers already out prove that the deaf/mute disabilities of the hitman in the original film have been dropped, and it is only a matter of time before we learn if the original downbeat ending has been watered down or simply replaced. Plus if this does good, the Hollywood “suits” might remember there are plenty of other movies from Southeast Asia that could potentially be remade.
— Movies at Midnight
Hamlet 2 (Aug 22) — Dana (Steve Coogan) is a drama teacher who can’t even make a decent play, not taking into an account that his life has literally gone to shit. In order to save the school’s drama department, he decides to create a sequel to Hamlet. Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler, David Arquette, and Elizabeth Shue also star.
ANTICIPATION ELEMENT: Hamlet 2, ever since making its debut at Sundance 2008, has been given some great reviews, not to mention that it was purchased by Focus Features for ten million. The cast, of course, is definitely one to look out for, but the man that will make a name for himself here is the very underrated Steve Coogan. Supposedly, Hamlet 2 is offensive… but that’s fine by me!
POTENTIAL SUCKAGE FACTOR: Because you don’t like Hamlet … or because I think Jack Black and Mos Def did something like this with videotapes a while back.
— Tony D