With names like Tarantino, Lee, and Zombie, the final month of the season pulls out all the film geek stops. Still, the only guarantee is familiarity, not freshness.
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
It reads like a match made in '80s cartoon nerd heaven -- the animated action adventures of a real American hero and the mind behind the excessively guilty pleasures of The Mummy and Van Helsing. Together, something spectacular should result. But if director Stephen Sommers is guilty of anything (and his filmic rap sheet is rather large), it's allowing his oversized imagination - and desire to depict every fragment of it onscreen -- to run rough shot over elements like character, story, and believability. So far, aside from an action fueled teaser trailer and some impressive high tech warrior pics, little else is known about where the filmmaker will take this potential franchise. If it's like his take on the classic Egyptian icon, it could be a lot of mindless fun. If it's more like his attempted reboot of the masterful Universal monsters, on the other hand, we could be in for one of Summer 2009's biggest disappointments. There's really no middle ground with Sommers.
Julie and Julia
Reteaming after the terrific Doubt, Amy Adams is a wannabe chef who decides to make every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking -- and Meryl Streep is the legendary culinary queen herself. While we have yet to see her acting the part of America's favorite TV show cook, he's betting the talented actress pulls it off with her usual skilled aplomb. The big question mark here is writer/director Nora Ephron. While she did helm a pair of the best RomComs ever -- When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle -- her recent track record is enough to give even decided fans cause for concern. Here's hoping this is more Michael than Mixed Nuts.
Robert Rodriguez has been playing Hollywood outsider for so long that it's important to remember his continuing creative output. He's one of the few filmmakers that balances kid-oriented fare with more adult oriented efforts. For every Sin City, there's a Spy Kids, for each Planet Terror, there's an Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Now comes another potential underage classic -- the story of a magic rock that grants wishes, and the tiny community that goes crazy trying to get their hands on it. Some dislike the From Dusk 'Til Dawn director reverting back to his childhood every few films, and Rodriguez does overflow the screen with CG eye candy. Still, he's always inventive, which is more than you can say for most Hollywood children's programming.
When in Rome
Mark Steven Johnson steps back from the comic book genre (he's made Ghost Rider and Daredevil) to return to his more dramatic roots (Simon Birch). This time around, he guides Kristen Bell through an Italian travelogue about a desperate career gal and the lovers whose romances she ruins. It all involves a cockamamie scheme to steal some coins from a famed fountain and…well, you get the idea. The rest of the cast shows promise. Still, this sounds a little cloying for its own good.