Saturday, April 22, 2006

Summer Movie Preview

I pride myself as someone who likes to sees a broad range of movies and I take seriously their quality and the respect they show audiences though the pretension ends there as I expect nothing more than to be entertained well. When it comes to previewing the summer, any summer since a Great White Shark made its first appearance you can expect nothing more than films that allow us be kids so my list is unapologetically of Hollywood fare. Harry Knowles concluding a preview of Mission Impossible III has said he has a good feeling about this summer. I too am hopeful that amongst the money-grabbing and hopes to reverse the box-office slump stateside at the moment someone has taken a bit of time to putting some magic into my selection below. There is no particular ranking, they are listed in the order of release:

May will see the release of ‘Mission Impossible III’- Tom Cruise’s first movie since he developed verbal diarrohea and became tabloid fodder and a PR nightmare. Nevertheless, this man surrounds himself with quality and every undertaking of his is worth the effort. He has taken a serious risk employing first time movie director J.J. Abrams, he of the best programme on televison- ‘Alias’ and the most frustrating- ‘Lost’. The trailer gives hope, the scripting and directing ability of Abrams is undoubted so lets hope the 3rd time’s a charm. Either way, the Summer starts here.

Next is ‘The Sentinel’, which based on its eclectic cast alone is a banker for me. Michael Douglas is another man needing to escape tabloid ridicule and remind us of his calibre as an actor, Kiefer Sutherland now of TV fame used to be a movie star while Kim Bassinger and Eva Longoria represent women at polar ends of the career a actress can enjoy in Hollywood but are welcome on my screen anytime. As for the plot its something to do with a Neo-Nazi Aryan Disciple infiltrating the White House, murder, blackmail and an affair with the First Lady.

Thirdly, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ certainly doesn’t have any pre-publicity concerns. Discussion will merely surround its faithfullness to its source, the focus of which to date has primarily been the selection of Tom Hanks to play Robert Langdon. Realistically though an ‘everyman’ that the public could empathise with was essential, they have chosen well with Hanks for such a role. My concern is have they chosen too safely and how this will bode for the movie itself. With Ron Howard at the helm, and Hanks, the gorgeous Audrey Tatou, Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany filling out the universally known roles it seems nothing can go wrong, I worry.

4. ‘X-Men 3’ (‘X3’) sees the mutants of the biggest selling comic book series in the world return for the third and alleged final instalment in the series. ‘X2’ has recently been accorded the greatest comic book adaptation ever so there are high expectations. Hurdles for the movie are a change of director (Brett Ratner responsible for the strange mix of ‘Red Dragon’ and ‘Rush Hour 1 and 2’ takes over!) an ever expanding cast (gracious welcomes to Vinne Jones and Kelsey ‘Frasier’ Grammer) and a number of plots threads to treat respectfully. The original X-Men is credited with setting the standard for recent comic book movies, lets hope it does not undermine this legacy.

Up fifth is yet another remake, that of ‘The Omen’ and I’m sure someone got paid very well for coming up with the bright idea of releasing the movie on 6.06.06. Beyond this gimmick its going to be very faithful to the original, literally replicating scenes and the structure of the original. We all know by now that kids are evil, the unsettling element of the original is it took away that security blanket for the 1st time. However, we’ve since seen Jake Lloyd in ‘Episode I’ so I fear audiences have reaches their quota on how much kids can scare the beejesus out of us. The film opens with a sequence portraying the bad state of affairs the planet currently finds itself in, suggesting its apt for the anti-christ to make an appearance. Starring Live Schreiber (Cotton Weary in the ‘Scream’ series) and Julia Stiles the end result will hopefully not justify an apocalypse.

6. ‘Nacho Libre’ is the next deployment in Jack Black’s ploy for world domination. Only a picture could do justice to the premise - suffice it to say Black plays a priest, part time wrestler looking to raise some badly needed funds for his school.

Number 7 is another caped wonder: ‘Superman Returns’, a movie I’m equally excited and worried about. The clue is in the title. Directed by Bryan Singer he of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and just departed from ‘X3’, the film ignores the lesser 3rd and 4th films in the Christopher Reeve series and sees the Man of Steel return from Krypton to a world that has learned to survive without him. Every element of this film is the subject of debate online, the selection of Brandon Routh, a nobody for now to play the man himself, changes to the suit and Kate Bosworth an unproven actress in my view has been chosen to play Lois Lane. There are safety nets in the form of Singer’s credibility and the great Kevin Spacey filling out the role of Lex Luthor. Warner Brothers are claiming 2006 to be the Year of Superman, lets hope the movie doesn’t tarnish the iconography of the originals and adds to the character so that he can reassume his status among the young pretenders we’ve been recently been subjected to.

8. I watched the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ not knowing much about it and was blown away. A movie inspired by amusement ride in Disneyland done good, who knew! Once the inevitable sequel, ‘Dead Mans Chest’ maintains the charm and humour of the original balancing story and effects we can be assured of a winner. The third in the series was shot simultaneously so expect the movie to end on a cliff-hanger ala ‘Back to the Future’, hopefully not ala ‘The Matrix Reloaded’. Hopefully the appearance of Keith Richards, the inspiration for how Johnny Depp portrays Jack Sparrow is not mere speculation.

9. Any movie from Michael Mann is highly anticipated. This summer the man behind ‘Heat’, ‘Collateral’ and ‘Ali’ adapts 80s TV Show ‘Miami Vice’, a show he was a producer on, for the big screen. Starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, it seems the character’s names and flash cars are the only element of the kitsch source material retained. As Farrell said a while back on ‘The Late Late Show’ they will be wearing socks with their shoes! Expect crime gangs, drugs and shoot outs courtesy of the only man who can make LA look like more than a concrete block.

If I were to rank these films I think no. 10, Oliver Stone’s ‘World Trade Centre’ would stay at this position. The thought of Stone directing Nicholas Cage as a fire-fighter caught up in the events of 9/11 does not appeal to me. Maybe I am alone but I am burnout from coverage of the terrorist attacks and the events that followed. The film makes my list purely because of the column inches it will undoubtedly garner and whether Stone suggests a novel theory behind the attack.


Simon said...

excellent review. MI3 has 2 of my favourite actors Simon pegg and philip seymor hoffman so it might be a good film despite tom cruise

Eamonn said...

Harry knowles? That guy loved Hostel and Running Scared.

"this man surrounds himself with quality and every undertaking of his is worth the effort."

Em..Far and Away, War of the Worlds, Interview with a Vampire and the Last Samurai?