Hot Stuff: The 2012 PopMatters Summer Movie Preview (August)

[3 May 2012]

By Bill Gibron

PopMatters Contributing Editor


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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.

17 August


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Paranorman

Director: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Cast: Casey Affleck, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Bernard Hill, Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kodi Smit-McPhee
17 August
Paranorman

The title character lives in a small town where everyone thinks he’s “weird”. When a long dormant witch’s curse revives the local corpses, turning the village into something akin to a Norman Rockwell version of Night of the Living Dead, only oddball Norman can help. See, he’s a “ghoul whisperer”, able to speak to the zombies and prevent them from taking over. The trailer looks terrific, but the pedigree behind the scenes is a bit shaky. Co-director Sam Fell didn’t necessarily set the kid vid world on fire with either of his major directing gigs, Flushed Away or The Tale of Desperaux. Perhaps the mostly macabre material will help.

 


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The Expendables 2

Director: Simon West
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger
17 August
The Expendables 2

For its amazing cast alone, the original Expendables holds a special place in many action genre fans’ hearts. The bringing together of so many major icons was an amazing accomplishment. The fact that the film was actually pretty good was icing on the cake. Now, with a bunch of new/old idols on board and Simon West taking on the directing chores (Stallone nixed a return behind the lens), this looks even better than the last. Up front, any film that has Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the company is just asking for our ‘80s direct to video geek to go ape. The rest? Pure adrenalin. 

 


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The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Director: Peter Hedges
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Ron Livingston, Dianne Wiest, Odeya Rush, Rosemarie DeWitt
17 August
The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Where do babies come from? Well, if you’re the childless couple in this film, you simply bury all your dreams in the backyard and wait for a good rain. The results: a weird little boy who seems to be made up of plants… or something like that. Sprung from the brain of Ahmet Zappa (the balder son of the late experimental musician Frank) and helmed by Dan in Real Life‘s Peter Hedges, this could go either one of two ways. We are either looking at another Penelope here (Christina Ricci in a pig nose) or something more along the lines of Edward Scissorhands. Here’s hoping for the latter.

 


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Sparkle

Director: Salim Akil
Cast: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Tamela Mann, Brely Evans, Cee Lo Green
17 August
Sparkle

Originally, this movie was marketed as the arrival of former American Idol participant Jordan Sparks to the ranks of movie musical greatness (ala her sister in singing, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson). Then co-star Whitney Houston died from an overdose, and now all anyway can focus on is the troubled chanteuse’s final appearance on film. Sad fact is, she could have starred in this remake back in the ‘80s. The fictional story of a Supremes like girl group struggling in Detroit during the ‘60s would have been perfect for Houston’s driven diva personality. Now, her passing renders almost everything else here a filmmaking footnote.

24 and 31 August


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Premium Rush

Director: David Koepp
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Jamie Chung, Dania Ramirez, Aaron Tveit
24 August
Premium Rush

Who knew being a bicycle messenger was so dangerous or controversial. Indeed, this thriller has an equally interesting backstory on top of the already known narrative involving a courier and the dirty cop chasing him around NYC. Apparently, author Joe Quirk wrote a book called The Ultimate Rush which features a rollerblading hero who finds himself pursued by some bad elements of the Big Apple. Naturally, he sued the studio, claiming copyright infringement, able to site similarities in character names, places, and plot points to the script he himself adapted from the tome. The resolution is still pending. The film, apparently, is still being released.

 


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The Apparition

Director: Todd Lincoln
Cast: Ashley Greene, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, Sebastian Stan, Luke Pasqualino
24 August
The Apparition

For some reason, August seems to be the resting place for Hollywood’s annual foray into fear. Horror films like The Last Exorcism and the Final Destination franchise love to call the end of Summer home, even when they are less than successful, scare wise. This effort takes a more Paranormal State approach, offering a couple who seek the help of a group of scientists when the title entity infiltrates their home, ruining their lives. And it’s supposedly based on a true story. Whatever the case, we’ll hold off judgment until the official trailer arrives.

 


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Hit & Run

Director: David Palmer, Dax Shepard
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Kristen Bell, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Rosenbaum, Dax Shepard, Beau Bridges
24 August
Hit & Run

Dax Shepard is a slacker named Charles Bronson (are you laughing yet?) who is in the Witness Protection Program. When his girlfriend asks for a ride to LA, he agrees, unleashing both the US government and the baddies he turned State’s evidence against. The chase is on! Yes, it’s a road movie, made even more ridiculous by the insane premise presented. Shepard is also playing both sides of the camera, starring as the lead and lending his talents (?) to both the writing and directing of the film. There is little word on the final result… or much buzz for the project, actually. Could be a solid sleeper. It could also be as bad as it sounds.

 


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Lawless

Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman
31 August
Lawless

Director John Hillcoat made an major impression on audiences worldwide when his revisionist Western, The Proposition, became one of 2005’s unsung treasures. Four years later, he was tackling Cormac McCarthy’s epic The Road... and reducing it to a gritty, grim mess. So now he gets to make up for such mismanagement by tackling the tale of bootleggers in Virginia. The script is also by the Proposition‘s Nick Cave (yes, the cult musician) and stars several excellent actors (Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Guy Pearce). The only downside? The lead is Shia LaBeouf who has yet to prove himself outside a mechanical menace.

 


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The Possession

Director: Ole Bornedal
Cast: Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport, Grant Show
31 August
The Possession

The last time the Hebrew evil known as a Dibbick was used in a horror movie, the results were the awful The Unborn. Now, we get a combination of that terrible terror tale and last year’s hit Insidious... sort of. Apparently, a little girl buys a cigar box at a yard sale, unleashing the aforementioned demon. She becomes… well, the title says it all and her parents must battle to win her back. Sounds so familiar that it should feature a campground and a masked killer named Jason Voorhees. Anyway, with August being both a last chance and a dumping ground, we’re betting on legitimate landfill.

 


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7500

Director: Takashi Shimizu
Cast: Jamie Chung, Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, Nicky Whelan, Scout Taylor-Compton, Leslie Bibb, Jerry Ferrara
31 August
7500

The last time we saw Japanese filmmaker Takashi Shimizu, he was jumpstarting a whole new wave of terror with his terrific The Grudge. Now that J-Horror has gone the way of torture porn and the last girl, he’s back bringing shivers to a group of airplane passengers. No, there are no motherf***ing snakes on the motherf***ing craft, just a ghost or something supernatural. Some are even suggesting this is a remake of the classic ‘70s ABC Movie of the Week The Horror at 37000 Feet. The credits are quiet on that account. The trailer tells a different story, actually.

Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/157684-hot-stuff-the-2012-popmatters-summer-movie-preview-august/