Straight Down the Middle: The 2010 PopMatters Summer Movie Preview
More than likely, this will not be the best Summer season in recent memory. Nor will it be the worst. Unfortunately, it looks like the final assessment will be somewhere straight down the middle. Today: May films, including Iron Man 2 and Sex and the City 2.
It's just about to begin. With every warm breeze in the air and every longer lasting day, Summer is slowly making itself known. While other parts of the country are still suffering through the remnants of old man Winter, the Spring thaw has brought with it a renewed sense of comfort -- and the anticipation of another four-month sprawl at your local Cineplex.
That's right, the return of the heat also means healthy box office returns as Tinseltown once again offers up its prepackaged, fully focused grouped goodies in easy to digest one or two a week increments. No longer do titles volley back and forth for first run turnstile bragging rights. Instead, the Hollywood heavyweights stake out their territory years in advance, amp up their marketing machine, and try to win a seven-day battle for ultimate popcorn bragging rights before the next oversized entertainment rolls in. When they win, it's wonderful. When they fail, it's like waking up one day to realize that the first day of school is a mere 24 hours away.
2010 promises to be a little different, however. As with the first third of the year, the studios have been showing up with substantially less than their "A" Game intact. January through April saw few sure things, with supposed champions like Kick-Ass and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 playing to only part of the demo the bean counters had hoped for. A quick glance over the next 120 days suggests a lot more of the same. Sure, we start out with one of the season's biggest bangs, but after Tony Stark drops out of the picture, what's left. Russell Crowe as a pre-robbin' Hood? Another dimwitted dose of Shrek? Lesser known comic book characters and yet another helping of hackneyed vampire romance?
Let's face it, when the vast majority of your movies have little advanced name value (when was the last time you heard anyone name check 2001's Cats and Dogs -- or Marmaduke for that matter), you can't be banking on solid cinematic returns. Instead, it looks like those in charge are hoping that their mediocre makings lead to some slightly above average earnings. They're not aiming for the moon. Most are simply hoping to survive.
More than likely, this will not be the best Summer season in recent memory. Nor will it be the worst. Unfortunately, it looks like the final assessment will be somewhere straight down the middle. While there are always wild cards in every wannabe blockbuster parade (our money's on The A-Team, Scott Pilgrim, and Piranha 3D) there are the also the usual boring celluloid suspects, this time dragged out and dressed up the latest industry gimmick -- just ask those aforementioned killer fish. There will be bombast and irrationality. There will be stupidity and seriousness. There will be genre-jumping and that other overdone artistic approach -- the "reinvention".
It will be interesting to look back four months from now and see how right/wrong we were about such a judgment. Who knows -- maybe all the films this time around will defy expectation. Something suggests, however, that a more middling view will prevail.
-- Bill Gibron