Hot Stuff

The 2012 PopMatters Summer Movie Preview (August)

by Bill Gibron

3 May 2012

Bourne and a bunch of ancient action movie icons wrap up the annual popcorn movie march, not with a whimper, but (hopefully) with a box office bang.
 


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The Bourne Legacy

Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach
3 August
The Bourne Legacy

There are several questions surrounding this seemingly “rushed” installment of the prized action franchise. First, why did Matt Damon, perhaps the ultimate thinking man’s spy, suddenly decide to drop out? Why did Paul Greengrass, original praised for this shaky-cam you-are-there approach to thrills, end up directorial persona non grata. Huh? Well, Jeremy Renner is a good replacement and Tony Gilroy—recently responsible for the excellent Michael Clayton and Duplicity—is a good choice for handing things behind the scenes.  Whatever the reasons, we either have the start of another terrific triptych, or an entertainment experiment that didn’t work.

 

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Total Recall 2012

Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy
3 August
Total Recall

Apparently, Arnold’s previous admonishment about getting one’s “ass to Mars” was completely ignored by the makers of this reboot. Instead, Colin Farrell’s version of Doug Quaid will be stuck in a future shock dystopian world where two major reconfigured superpowers battle for corrupt control of the populace. We still get the memory implant, the mistaken spy, the hot wife/assassin (Kate Beckinsale), and Kuato, this time in the person of omnipresent actor Bill Nighy (one imagines no deformed twin attached to Davy Jones’ torso this time around). While the trailer looks promising, this is not really Total Recall. Without Mars, it’s meaningless.

 

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360

Director: Fernando Meirelles
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Ben Foster, Jamel Debbouze
3 August
360

Some are calling it the cousin of Robert Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson—a multilayered, multi-character narrative with intertwining subplots and situations. Others are referring to it as a B-level Babel, or even worse, Crash. Whatever the case, City of God/The Constant Gardener‘s Fernando Meirelles has his work cut out for him, especially if the final result is more of the latter and not the former. In fact, many are complaining about the bland script fashioned by Peter Morgan who seems to do better when he’s dealing with politics (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and not personal issues.

 

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Director: David Bowers
Cast: Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Robert Capron, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Peyton List, Karan Brar
3 August
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Believe it or not, this kid vid series has been pretty successful. The first installment made over $75 million at the box office (on a $15 million budget) while the sequel topped off at $72 million. So, naturally, a third film was mandated, this time covering two of the books in the successful realistic fiction franchise. Of course, our hero will remain wimpy, his older brother will be a major league pest, our their parents will remain clueless, calculated laugh fodder. While inoffensive and often quite affecting, the Diary films represent the most middling of movie material. Strictly for the wee ones.

 

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The Campaign

Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker
10 August
The Campaign

It’s interesting that Jay Roach, the man behind such silly comedies as Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Meet the Fockers has found legitimacy in the arena of political theater. His TV movie take on the 2000 election, Recount, won him an Emmy, and last month, Game Change took on the nomination of Sarah Palin for Vice President. Now, he’s stepping back to the big screen and is bringing Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis along for the ride. The story centers on two Southern gents vying for their small town’s Congressional seat. Hopefully, hilarity ensues.

 

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Hope Springs

Director: David Frankel
Cast: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, Elisabeth Shue, Jean Smart
10 August
Hope Springs

No, this is not a remake of the 2003 RomCom featuring Colin Firth and Minnie Driver. Instead, this sounds like a weird A-list level of TV movie material. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, four Oscars between them, play a couple who need counseling after decades of marriage. They end up in the offices of Dr. Bernie Fields, essayed by Steve Carell. Apparently, his therapy method is “intense” and involves purging both the personal and sexual hang-ups of this ordinary couple. Sounds like an attempt at something a bit more adult, along the lines of Streep’s last major success, It’s Complicated.

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