The PopMatters Summer 2008 Movie Preview

Stay tuned each day through Friday as we preview the coming summer films month by month and conclude with a historic look back at 40 years of summer blockbusters.

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something celluloid this way comes.”

Like the carnival at the center of Ray Bradbury’s classic 1962 novel, the annual arrival of the Summer Movie season is like a decidedly deceptive big top temptress. Every year, Hollywood unveils a carefully planned cavalcade of thrills, spills, laughs, and gaffs, and lemming-like we accept. They lure us with cleverly conceived pitches, the shrillness of the shill aimed to remove any doubt in our frequently burned brain. No matter how many underperforming sequels they toss at you, no matter how rigged the big screen games seem to be, they use a trailer’s tempting siren song to alleviate any chance of resistance. It’s all about the pitch, the barker’s cry that calls you into a surreal world of cinematic sawdust and purposely outrageous blockbuster geeks.

And as stated before, we fall for it, hook, line, and routine CGI stinker. We can’t pass up the sweet, almost sickening scent of the comic book cotton candy or the stomach stretching fattiness of an overdone franchise feast. The entertainment elephant ears are either fried to perfection or greasy and grotesque, and somewhere, studio clowns laugh at us, wondering how we can be so gleefully gullible. It’s a circus of strange proportions, three or more weekly rings stuffed with astounding — and subpar — acts. On occasion, we come across a sleeper, something destined for the smaller tents surrounding the main stage that ends up being more memorable than the marquee performer. There are also the heavily hyped treats that turn out to be as tired and trite as any amateur.

As we prepare to walk the high-wire one more time, to look down below at the unreasonable ramble as they demand more of the same and complain every staid step along the way, PopMatters is here to play top hatted and tuxedoed master of ceremonies. We will look at each month that makes up this yearly caravan, picking out the possible winners and the apparent wastes of time. There will be disagreements over what deserves primary attention, and some smaller efforts may suffer as a result. Still, with nearly 70 individual motion picture artistes lined up to woo us and win us over, there will be choices a’plenty. And who knows — maybe one of these talented attractions will shine so brightly that it will stand among the year’s best come 31 December. Until then, let the show begin!

Bill Gibron