Film

Hot Stuff: The 2012 PopMatters Summer Movie Preview

Abstract Colorful photographic background. Image via Shutterstock.

With a summer as hot as this, something's going to sizzle and something is always gonna get burned. Hopefully, this time around, it's not the audience.

It promises to be one of the most explosive summers on record and not just because of the pyrotechnics used in the various blockbuster tentpoles that Hollywood plans on handing out this season. Indeed, with one major action packed (or star studded) spectacle coming out each week between now and August, Cineplexes will be full of dynamite commercial content. Just the known names alone are enough to send fanboys -- and their less familiar cousins, the casual viewers -- into fits of franchise mirth. Sure, sure, in the past, we've had Hulk, Spider-man, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man to contend with. In 2012, however, they come together to anchor one of the biggest bags of motion picture popcorn ever.

Just look at the overall schedule. Ridley Scott is returning to his "roots", so to speak with his not-prequel prequel to Alien, Prometheus. Similarly, Christopher Nolan has promised to wrap his take on Batman in a manner as amazing as his previous two Dark Knight films. Johnny Depp has Tim Burton taking on Dark Shadows, while Russian director buddy Timur Bekmambetov is unleashing the anarchic looking Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. From Battleship to Men in Black III, Tom Cruise as an '80s rocker to Bruce Willis as both a small town sheriff and the original real American Hero, it promises to be one wild time at your favorite multiplex... and we haven't even mentioned the aging action man majesty of August's Expendables 2, complete with Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and the return of Ah-nold!

Of course, this could mean that many little movies will be overlooked, counterprogrammed prepared for those who aren't moved by comic book crusaders and the various reinterpretations/reboots of same... and that would be a shame. Something like Safety Not Guaranteed (a small indie about time travel) or Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh riffing on male stripping?) shouldn't suffer just because AMC wants to make room for another Ice Age offering. Similarly, something like Ted, the feature film debut of Family Guy's Seth McFarlane, should not be scuttled because it happens to fall in between the return of Peter Parker and the final installment in Bruce Wayne's fall from grace. Yet that's basically what the summer is like and, when you consider the megaton competition out there, something is bound to get lost in the fall out.

Still, things are shaping up to be very interesting indeed. Will Neighborhood Watch suffer from the association with one of the most controversial media stories in decades? Can Woody Allen wow the Italians as he did the French (early reviews suggest absolutely not). Can Jeremy Renner really replace Matt Damon as Bourne, and how much hype will we hear regarding the late Whitney Houston's final onscreen turn in Sparkle? As we enter into the annual fray, it's important to remember that mainstream appreciation will always trump artistry, and some of the most anticipated titles are bound to be humongous duds. Still, with a summer as hot as this, something's going to sizzle and something is always gonna get burned. Hopefully, this time around, it's not the audience.

-- Bill Gibron

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image