Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Jane Alexander, Helena Bonham Carter
(Warner Bros.; US theatrical: 22 May 2009 (General release); 2009)
The battle for box office supremacy this particular May weekend will come down to a clash between the future and the past. In this corner is single named McG’s entry into James Cameron’s fabled robot warrior franchise (the first in a proposed trilogy, believe it or not). Featuring everyone’s favorite F-bomb dropping Method ham Christian Bale as the iconic John Conner and a wealth of CG inspired firepower, the story of how humanity fell to the evil machines of Skynet and the people’s decision to fight back has the potential of putting the rather banal Terminator 3 out of everyone’s minds. There’s even rumors that computer technology will be used to bring a certain sitting Governor “back” to the series. Clearly McG can do action. The trailer speaks for his way with spectacle. But there better be more to this man vs. machine thriller than things blowing up. Without any depth, this could be the last stop on this mythos’ big screen journey.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Alain Chabat
(Fox; US theatrical: 22 May 2009 (General release); 2009)
Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian
The other contender for turnstile twisting champ (and the film that will probably win in the end) is the sequel to Ben Stiller’s surprise family hit from 2006. It follows a similar formula (our star winds up working at the fabled Washington museum, and all manner of historic hijinx ensue) and brings back many of the original cast. New this time around are Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart, Jon Bernthal as Al Capone, Eugene Levy as Albert Einstein, and Bill Hader as General Custer, among many others. With original screenwriters Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant back for another narrative go-round, expect lots of slapstick and simplistic grade school comedy. And with a built in demographic eager for another cinematic babysitter, this should be the perfect alternative for parents concerned about a competing film’s grim, future shock imagery.
Damien Dante Wayans
Shoshana Bush, Damon Wayans, Jr., Chelsea Makela, Brennan Hillard, Amy Sedaris, Chris Elliott, David Alan Grier
(Paramount Pictures; US theatrical: 22 May 2009; 2009)
Oh no, the Wayans are back and they’ve decided to revisit the stunted spoof style that made them a semi-successful Scary Movie dynasty. This time around, it’s those empowering ‘me against the world’ dance films that have turned wannabe hoofers into gangsters battling for turf, respect, and the honor of their family/friends/fathers/self. Here’s a few things we already know. It won’t be clever. It won’t be funny. And it will probably make a whole coffer full of should-have-known-better cash.
The Girlfriend Experience
Sasha Grey, Chris Santos, Peter Zizzo
(Magnolia Pictures; US theatrical: 22 May 2009 (Limited release); 2009)
The Girlfriend Experience
Steven Soderbergh has been stirring up controversy with his latest film ever since a rough cut appeared at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Telling the story of a high priced call girl and her encounters with random people while on the job, this micro-budgeted experiment is said to recall Godard and Bergman. That’s some pretty high minded company, especially when you consider that real life porn star Sasha Grey was handpicked to take on the lead. Here’s hoping Soderbergh pulls this off. Even his failures are fun to watch—sometimes.
Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas
(Sony Pictures Classics; Very limited release: 22 May 2009; 2008)
It’s a period piece based on Noël Coward’s play of the same name. The last time it was adapted was in 1928 by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. It features a fine cast including Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, and Ben Barnes. And the story is very familiar, even to modern audiences—an impetuous American widow marries a shy English boy and his parents do not approve… well, at least the mother doesn’t. It’s all seems very light and pithy.