[3 March 2011]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
On 6 May, the adventures of that fallen Valhalla hero Thor will officially kick off the 2011 Summer movie season. Yeah, that soon. Indeed, it does seem right around the corner, and so far, with January and February failing to ignite much motion picture passion, the popcorn overkill of the annual heatwave hype can’t come soon enough…or can it. Actually, in the next few weeks, Hollywood appears to be hedging a few of their box office bets, bringing out niche films that, while perhaps not up to par with the patented mainstream moneymakers, have the possibility of being those most valued of unexpected surprises - the sleeper. It happened with 300. It happened with Alice in Wonderland. With Rango and The Adjustment Bureau this weekend (4 March), the studios are starting to get serious, entertainment wise, with the viewing public.
At SE&L, there are ten films unfurling in the next two months that totally have our attention. Of course, we also thought that Sanctum would soar (it didn’t), that The Green Hornet would beat the current comic book trend (it did so, barely) and that The Mechanic and Drive Angry would mark the return of the Hollywood bad-ass (well…). Indeed, the Spring thaw means very little to Tinseltown. Instead, it’s all about write-offs and tax dodges, deliberate scheduling moves mandated by star contracts, business models, and the post-Oscar, pre-sunstroke malaise. Of course, every year something sneaks out and stuns viewers with its unexpected levels of fun. Perhaps one of the ten films featured here will be that artistic anomaly.
Johnny Depp reteams with Pirates Gore Verbinski for what early reviews has called “an animated spaghetti western…with attitude.” The look of the film is intriguing, and the whole notion of a Leone like homage jerryrigged to a kiddie film has us more than a little curious.
The Adjustment Bureau (3/4)
Okay - we admit it. It does look like Dark City 2.0, and yes, the recent trailers have tended toward the romantic angle instead of sticking with the sci-fi. But just like a certain dreamscape thriller from last year, there is hope that this is more fascinating future shock than something like, say, Surrogates.
Battle: Los Angeles (3/11)
With the stink of Skyline still rising above Cineplexes everywhere, audiences have a right to be wary of another alien invasion film. This time around, however, the set-up seems to be more serious and focused, and the action won’t be situated in a single apartment building. Yea!
First off, it’s got Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who also wrote the script). Secondly, it’s got Greg Adventureland Mottola behind the lens. Lastly, Seth Rogen is the voice of the wisecracking CG extraterrestrial. Still, the jury is out on this one, simply because of the potential on hand.
Sucker Punch (3/25)
Zack Snyder has been here before. He succeeded with 300. Audiences where less than impressed with his masterful take on Watchmen. This time around, he tries an original story centering on a young girl locked in an insane asylum. Looks like another eye-popper from the one time “visionary.”
Source Code (4/1)
Duncan Jones really delivered with his small sci-fi gem Moon. Since then, he’s been poised to break big, and by the looks of this high concept thriller, it might be his time. Still, there is a part of us that thinks this looks a little too much like 12 Monkeys matched with Unbreakable.
We have a soft spot for James Wan. His work is genre-ific, and anyone who started the whole Saw phenomenon deserves some of our geek attention. By all accounts, this is a meaningful return to form, a frightmare reinvention of the haunted house flick that can hopefully deliver on such dread potential.
Last year’s Kick-Ass didn’t set the pre-Summer box office on fire. Perhaps former Troma truant James Gunn can take a similar storyline to more meaningful cinematic success. While we aren’t huge fans of Rainn Wilson, we did love this schlock meisters horror classic Slither - so there’s hope.
Your Highness (4/8)
While his continuing profile in motion pictures can make him a bit much to take (does he EVER turn down a script?), Danny McBride teaming with James Franco and director David Gordon Green for a middle ages stoner comedy seems like genius - or junk.
Apollo 18 (4/22)
It’s another “found footage” film (BOOO!!!), but we can handle the first person POV perspective as long as director Gonzalo López-Gallego delivers on the promised shivers. The space race angle is unique, and it will be interesting to see the strategy taken - shocks…or suspense. Fingers crossed for both.