Gods, Mutants, and Robots, Oh My!: The 2011 PopMatters Summer Movie Preview
The familiarity of the films coming out between May and August scream of a sure fire mentality that moderates art for the sake of a stack of cash. Sure, there is fun to be had and a few surprises along the way.
We apparently worship false gods. We adore sitting, enraptured, as mutants and other mysteries of nature battle it out for symbolic superiority (and no, we aren't talking about an overly buff Vin Diesel taking on an equally muscled Dwayne Johnson for Brazilian back alley bragging rights). Robots rule our lazy, hazy summer days, their transformative powers perking up an otherwise aggressive assault on our senses, and every once in a while, a comedy/drama/kids film will walk by, gaining our interest before another caped crusader comes in to claim its territory. That's right, it's blockbuster time again, the annual cinematic assumption regarding what a majority of the mainstream movie-going public will enjoy come the next four months. Sure, it's a gamble, and sometimes, the lows are more famous than the highs. One thing's for sure, however, we won't be seeing another Inception any time soon.
Indeed, with Tinseltown paying their debt to Nolan and the crew for wrapping up their Dark Knight dynasty properly (and just before Batman goes back for that by-now post-millennial makeover, the reboot), it's back to the same old cinematic shtick. May alone promises famed pen and ink icons, ditzy RomComs, gross out laughers (from both the male and female perspective) and enough 3D CG spectacle to make one pine for the days of 'no' dimension. June is just as bad (or good, depending on how you see your recreational dollar being divvied up) with only a Spielberg/Abrams collaboration and a perplexing ploy by Pixar promising anything unusual. As the US celebrates its latest anniversary of declared independent, the studios will supply us with mechanized mayhem, talking animals, spaghetti spacemen, smurfs, and the climactic clash between a boy wizard and his enduring box office legacy. By August, we are stuck with a few scary movies and a bunch of intellectualized apes. Oh joy.
Of course, such cynicism seems a tad misplaced, especially when you consider that the season is just starting up. But the familiarity of the films coming out between May and August scream of a sure fire mentality that moderates art for the sake of a stack of cash. It would be nice to argue that the 70 some films that come out in the next few weeks are all aimed at the heart and the head (and not the wallet), but the bullish business model employed by Hollywood precludes such a conclusion. Sure, there is fun to be had and a few surprises along the way. A couple of guaranteed winners will die a Happening/Jonah Hex death with a slumbering sleeper or two will awaken to stunned public acceptance. If you're under a certain age, Summer is a time of magic, memories... and movies. Sadly, for some of us, the only symbols we see are dollar signs -- even with a bevy of gods, mutants and robots ready to overwhelm us... once again.
-- Bill Gibron