On May first, the Summer movie season officially kicks off with the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. From then, we’re off and running on a roller-coaster of over-bloated popcorn fare that lasts through July.
Virtually every weekend has a big-budget Summer movie. Some are comedies, some are dramas, but most are big-budget action films. And those are the ones I love this time of year, because that’s what “summer movies” are all about.
With this in mind, let’s take a walk down release date road to highlight those films we geeks are most looking forward to. And by “we,” I mean me.
So let’s get started.
Okay, this one is honestly not a huge deal to me. But because it is the first big blockbuster–the official start to the season–it gets put on the list. Nothing says “it has begun” like a whole slew of mutants ripping each other to shreds.
Plus this one has Liev Schreiber, and I love Liev Schreiber. All eyes will be on Wolverine’s gross, not just because it is the first major release, but also because of the well-publicized workprint leak from a month back. Don’t be fooled, though. If the movie bombs, it’s not because of pirates. It’s because X-Men 3 destroyed every fanboy’s faith in the franchise.
If X-Men is the appetizer, Star Trek is every geek’s main dish. The J.J. Abrams led “reboot” has gone out of its way to reach out to series fans by including Leonard Nimoy and even figuring out a way to work this new Captain Kirk origin story into the continuity of the original series.
And if there is one thing Trekkies/Trekkers insist on, it’s continuity.
But this movie has more action, more adventure, and more money up on screen than ever before. The hope for studios is to pull in the Star Wars crowd (and what a ridiculously huge fanbase it is) while still satisfying old-school Trek fanatics.
It’s a tall order, but the trailers have looked great. I really think J.J Abrams can pull it off, so this is one of my three most anticipated movies of the summer.
Tom Hanks tries to sneak in to grab box-office gold, but this is a tricky spot for this film. First, it’s released on the same day as The Brothers Bloom, a movie that looks like a fun alternative to all the action-adventure madness. Second, it’s sandwiched between two of the biggest releases of the summer in Star Trek and Terminator Salvation. If the former has good word of mouth, it will take away from A&D. If the second has a big open, the fall-off for this film might be huge.
I guess they’re banking on an older crowd, people not interested in sci-fi, but I get the feeling that this one might be the surprise flop of the summer. And besides…the geeks really kind of revolted against Dan Brown after the abysmal The DaVinci Code.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, not after giving McG so much crap, but Terminator Salvation has become quite possibly the most anticipated big-budget movie of the summer for me. The trailers look great, the prospect of watching a future war with machines gets me jazzed, and Christian Bale being in the lead role of John Connor doesn’t hurt, either.
I expect this one to clean up, numbers wise, but if McG has fooled us all, and this one turns out to be the turkey we all thought it might be originally, then the geek backlash will be enormous. Fingers crossed this one is as good as the movie I am making up in my head.
After all this sci-fi madness, it’s time for a little change of pace. Pixar’s Up is perfectly poised to get the geek traffic leftovers from Trek and Salvation. I mean, we’re opening weekend guys and gals, and Up is the only major release of this weekend. Not to mention the fact that it’s Pixar, and Pixar is almost always amazing.
This isn’t just kids stuff, and we movie obsessed people know that. Wall-E was an epic masterpiece and The Incredibles moved beyond the world of “kiddie spoof” to become a compelling superhero movie in its own rite. I’m expecting Up to break beyond its genre stereotype to become a good old-fashioned adventure flick.
The action spectacle front dies down, and the only real geek movie to be released in the first part of June is the Will Ferrell vehicle Land of the Lost. This was kind of off the radar until the trailer revealed it to be more twisted, random and old-school than anyone thought possible. This one might not open huge, but after an entire month of crazy sci-fi movies, a sci-fi spoof is exactly what the doctor ordered.
What bodes best for the film, though, is that it has a few weeks to amass a small fortune. The next two weeks give us movies like The Proposal, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and My Life in Ruins. A couple of them look kind of fun, and I’m sure they’ll do well, but none of them scream “competition.” We spend most of June, then, seeing our favorite may releases.
Then comes the poster-boy of big-budget summer filmmaking, Michael Bay’s over-bloated Transformers 2. Geeks are somewhat split on the original. Very few people will call it “good,” but the argument can (and has) been made that these movies are a ton and a half of dumb fun. The kind of movie you watch with your brain turned off, enjoy, and then forget a few minutes later.
I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of cheering against this one. Simply because I don’t think Michael Bay should have any more power in Hollywood. While good directors like J.J Abrams and Peter Jackson are going out of their way to make big movies that also work for thoughtful audiences, Michael Bay always aims for the lowest common denominator. But it always works, and the movies make ridiculous amounts of money.
Well, except for Pearl Harbor and The Island. But Hollywood has a short memory.
The next few weeks are kind of dead. We have movies like The Hurt Locker, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and the terribly looking Chris “How did I ever get a career directing” Columbus film I Love You, Beth Cooper. Within this frame, though, there is one shining light of hopeful filmmaking in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. While released in the summer, this John Dillinger biopic looks like it could probably have pushed itself to Oscar season and done well. It’s a much-needed injection of character-driven quality (we hope) in an effects-driven summer.
The film stars Johnny Depp, but it’s a cops and robbers period piece. How the hell did this get the usually coveted July 4 weekend spot?
Oh yeah, everyone is terrified of Transformers, which moved itself back a week to capitalize on both weekends. So July fourth I will be seeing Public Enemies. Most of the rest of the world will be seeing Ice Age or catching up with Transformers.
The last super-duper-huge release of the summer comes in the form of the sixth installment in the Harry Potter series. I am a huge fanboy when it comes to Harry Potter, and once I’ve seen this, regardless of whether it is good or bad, I will be sad. The summer season will be over (ish), and there will be only one more Harry Potter movie to look forward to.
Wait, they split the seventh movie into two parts? Sweet! A cheap ploy to make more money and stretch this wildly long-running series even further, but sweet nonetheless.
I’ve heard bad things from test screenings about this one, but the trailers have been fantastic. And with the incomparable David Yates at the helm, I’m still a believer that this one will rock my socks off.
Okay, it might not be a traditional summer film, but Funny People has the potential to be a damn good movie. It could even revive the career of one Mr. Adam Sandler.
I love Judd Apatow. I love his sense of timing and his comedic style, but most of all I love the amount of heart he puts into all his movies. After going into summer movie withdrawal post Harry Potter, I’ll take solace in the fact that I still have this one to look forward to.
So there you have it. The most anticipated summery summer movies coming out this year. I’ll be seeing most of them, but if I had to see just three it would be Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Terminator Salvation.
Please don’t make me narrow it down any further. That might cause physical pain. This summer is shaping up to be a lot of fun. One question, though. Where is the logic behind the release dates? Why start this season May 1 and end it at the end of July (with a bunch of holdovers limping into August)?
Well, maybe that question is best saved for another article. Stay tuned.