Five Genre Movies to Look Forward to This Summer
Summer is almost here, and the time is almost right, for dancing in the streets. Or sitting your butt down in a movie theater to watch a big green thing in purple pants beat up aliens.
As I more and more become “The Black Gate Movie Guy,” I’ve grown aware of my responsibilities regarding upcoming films of interest to our readership. This summer I promise to post reviews of all the major genre releases, which means that, yes, you will get to hear my thoughts on Snow White and Huntsman. Because you didn’t demand it.
This is also a transparent bid to get officially recognized as a movie critic so that I will be invited to press screenings here in Los Angeles and thus be able to post up reviews of films in the days before they are released.
Looking over the summer roster (posted below — yes, all shall be reviewed), aside from a few groans of anticipatory pain, there are five films that really have my geek adrenal glands turned up to the danger zone. Here are the films I hope will make summer worthwhile.
In 2008, if you asked me what movie I looked forward to the most in 2012, there was no way I wouldn’t have said, “the next Christopher Nolan Batman film.” And yet here it is, the very year of the Mayan Prophecy, and The Dark Knight Rises isn’t at the #1 anticipation slot. It isn’t even at #2!
What happened in the intervening years was that Ridley Scott decided to return to science fiction. Not only that, but return to the universe of Alien and do something unexpected and unpredictable with a franchise dropped six-feet under because of AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem.
What gets my thrill glands pumping about Prometheus aside from the obvious (the Alien connection, the two jaw-hanging trailers, Scott’s involvement) is that I have no idea what the movie is actually about. It’s a kinda-sorta-not-really-prequel to Alien, but Scott’s comments regarding it are so cagey that I still don’t know what to expect from the final product.
How closely will Prometheus connect to Alien, and what role will the “xenomorphs” and the Space Jockey play in it? Is this horror, or something darkly cosmic? Is Noomi Rapace about to become Hollywood royalty?
It’s rare that I can go into a film that is part of a tentpole franchise and have no notion of what I’m going to see beyond the broad plot outline — and I’m damned excited about that. If Prometheus lives up the growing anticipation, it will be the film of the Summer of ’12.
I’ve waited for this movie since I was twelve, when I was a fanatic, dedicated reader of the comic book featuring the team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And Marvel Studios has masterfully built up to this moment, producing a line of fine solo films to introduce the heroes who will band together to defeat the foes too tough for only one hero. (Okay, Iron Man 2 was lame, but the rest of the films were good.)
Critics have already seen The Avengers, and although there is still an embargo on reviews, that hasn’t stopped the social media whispering that the film more than lives up to expectations.
Captain America: The First Avenger fulfilled my dreams of seeing my favorite comic book hero of all time in a great feature film, and now I get to see Cap sling his shield again, this time at the side of a heavy-hitting cast of all my other childhood buddies. And it’s coming out next weekend. I can’t believe that we finally got here.
#3: The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th)
Prometheus may win the critical popularity contest, but unless the 2012 doom predictions take place before July, The Dark Knight Rises will be the highest grossing film of the summer and of the year.
The success of The Dark Knight in 2008 ($1 billion and change worldwide) guarantees the sequel will be enormous, and director Christopher Nolan’s stock has only risen higher during the in-between years with the blockbuster win of his original piece Inception. His third Bat-film will cart away more money than the Riddler ever dreamed of electronically embezzling.
And it’s this fait accompli attitude that has somewhat undercut my enthusiasm. Will it be a good/great film? No doubt. But I already know what Nolan can do, I’ve gotten the appropriate Bat-high from The Dark Knight, and this summer it’s another comic book franchise that plucks at my nostalgia heart-strings.
Finally, I’ve never cared for Bane as a villain, and even with Tom Hardy under the mask I can’t get that excited about seeing him as the head heavy. I was hoping to see Chris Nolan’s take on Dead Shot, Black Mask, the Riddler, Mad Hatter, or even the Penguin (now that would’ve been interesting). Anne Hathaway in catsuit does balance this out, admittedly.
Pixar owes us… big time. Their last two films were both sequels, and while Toy Story 3 was good, Cars 2 was mortally embarrassing. The wish to sell toys and nothing else was smeared all over that hideous thing. But here comes Pixar with a fresh property. A medieval Scottish fantasy property with a Jirel of Joiry-style heroine with an affinity for the bow. And big bears!
If Pixar were trying to directly placate me, they have picked the right property. Come on, Pixar, hit the bulls-eye! We’re all counting on you.
#5: The Bourne Legacy (August 3rd)
Jeremy Renner is looking to have a good summer. The Avengers will clean up around the globe, and that will position Renner, who plays the hot-headed bowman Hawkeye, to seize audience attention in this late season re-working of the Jason Bourne franchise without Jason Bourne.
Normally, trying to continue a franchise without its main character — hell, its title character — would count as box-office suicide. But Jason Bourne isn’t what viewers love about this series; they love the fast-paced, globe-trotting, gritty espionage flavor and the spectacular stuntwork that emphasizes suspense over CGI antics.
Besides, how much more stuff can Jason Bourne remember? His story is over. Continuing the franchise with other characters who’ve gone through the same conditioning as Bourne is a perfect continuation, and Renner is the man to handle it.
After his turn in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, I have no doubt that he as the action chops. And the trailer is magnificent.
Dishonorable Mention: Dark Shadows (May 11th)
Looking over the list of this summer’s releases, nothing reeks more of “disaster waiting to happen” than Tim Burton’s entry in the ongoing attempt to resurrect the 1966–1971 Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. (I’m not old enough to have seen the show first run, but am old enough to remember the Ben Cross prime time TV revival in the early 1990s.)
Although Burton is coming off his biggest financial success ever with Alice in Wonderland, he’s floating in critical purgatory. Warner Bros. waited until very late to even release a trailer, indicating they don’t have much hope in the project. Burton’s decision to make Dark Shadows an outright comedy in the “fish-out-of-water” mold has sent fans of the original show into lycanthropic fits.
But I have this morbid fascination to see how this plays out. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is Burton getting back to Beetlejuice territory. I used to love the man’s films, but a long time has passed since I enjoyed anything he’s done; maybe, against all expectations, this will turn out to be the weird geek property that turns things around.
Well, I can hope. Either way, I’m eager to see exactly what the hell he’s done to Dark Shadows.
Here’s the schedule of all the other big genre properties this summer, and a few comments on what I’m anticipating less than the above:
May 4: The Avengers
May 11: Dark Shadows
May 18: Battleship
May 25: Men in Black 3
June 1: Snow White and the Huntsman
June 8: Prometheus
June 22: Brave
June 29: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Banished to March! Ouch!
July 3: The Amazing Spider-Man
July 20: The Dark Knight Rises
August 3: The Bourne Legacy
August 3: Total Recall (2012)
August 17: The Expendables II
I don’t know if there’s anyone who begged for a Men in Black 3, but there you go. I thought the first movie was one of those perfect entertainment pictures that needed no sequel, and the second one proved it. The Spider-Man re-boot doesn’t interest me at all, especially since I think the Raimi films already got it right, and this film looks too desperate to sell to the Twilight crowd (or are they the Hunger Games crowd now?) and they already have Snow White and the Huntsman to take care of them. (Now, if that ends up good — shock of the season.)
The Bourne Legacy looks as if it will be the sleeper hit of late summer, and that doesn’t augur well for Expendables II, which aims for a similar market. The re-make of Total Recall falls in between them, and after watching the first trailer for it, I think it will get soundly squashed. Re-making Total Recall is a terrible decision, and the “going back to the short story!” excuse is ludicrous on the face of it. Anyone who’s read Dick’s story know there’s no way to duplicate its ending, and everything else has already been done.
Battleship has already made $150 million in overseas money, which makes me as a U.S. viewer feel very powerless. Bets on whether Liam Neeson will at some point shout “You sunk my battleship!” are the only interesting thing about this release.
Oh, there’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation. [Update: Well, not anymore.] There’s a chance this might be a decent time-waster right before the big superheroes hit us in a one-two punch. (The fall on G.I. Joe’s second week numbers will be epic.) The director promises this will be closer to the comic book than the first movie was, and it does have Bruce Willis as the original ’12 G. I. Joe, but — Prometheus!
Ryan Harvey is a veteran blogger for Black Gate and an award-winning science-fiction and fantasy author. He received the Writers of the Future Award in 2011 for his short story “An Acolyte of Black Spires,” and has two stories forthcoming in Black Gate, as well as a currently available e-book in the same setting. He also knows Godzilla personally. You can keep up with him at his website, www.RyanHarveyWriter.com, and follow him on Twitter.
Some great picks! And I agree completely — Prometheus is at the top of the list for me too, chiefly because of Scott’s involvement, and the highly enigmatic trailer.
Plus, I would love for it to jump-start the dead Alien franchise. The first two films are two of the finest SF movies ever made, and there are still plenty of great stories to be told.
I do hope this a re-animator for Alien, something I couldn’t imagine would happen after Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. That film was horrible, and it made me realize that the aliens were just standard boring monsters, killing wayward teens in swimming pools, and all the majesty and terror and inscrutability and beauty of the original was gone. I think Prometheus is the right approach: go epic, go cosmic, and don’t focus on “alien stalks people” as the core of the plot.
Ryan: Awesome promo! Oh, and Iron Man is better than Captain America 😉
The Red Skull paid you to say that, didn’t he, Scott?
You forgot Looper!!!!!!! Check out the trailer and the talent behind it!!!! I’d put it high in the top 5 films I’m looking forward to all year! Time travel!
Heck I can’t watch the avengers until I’ve seen Thor and captain America.
I’m still trying to get over losing Edward Norton as the hulk….
I love the Bourne trilogy. When I heard there was another in the works, my heart sank. When I saw Renner had the lead, my heart lifted a little. He might be able to pull it off.
I never saw AVP or AVPR. I thought the series jumped the shark with Alien: Resurrection, which was bad and offensive on many levels. I have high hopes for Prometheus, and I hope it will escape the by-now stale facehugger / chestburster / giant multijawed monster with acid for blood jumping out at you themes.
I’m very curious about Prometheus but I can’t help having some nagging doubts because of its prequel status. I’m worried that it will end up like most prequels and try to answer questions to which I wasn’t really dying to hear answers (the origins of the “space jockey” and wrecked ship are amusing to ponder but I didn’t need a movie about them).
My interest in the new Bourne movie depends entirely on whether the filmmakers remember the virtues of the tripod. The second and third Bourne movies are almost guaranteed migraine-inducers to me. I’m looking forward to Expendables 2 much more since I do have a lot of affection for the cast and I thought the first movie was cool.
Don’t have much enthusiasm for the next Batman movie because the second one didn’t do much for me. I saw it once in the theater and have yet to sustain enough interest to last through a second viewing.
Moose, Looper is coming out on September 28, so it belongs with a “Fall Movies I’m Looking Forward To” list, if I should do one.
Lugo, I agree with you on the quality of Alien: Resurrection, but I still think the series could’ve rebounded after that. But . . . wow, it’s hard to describe to someone who hasn’t seen AVP:R what a colossal franchise killer that thing is. I felt certain the alien series would never return after the scene of the aliens trying to kill skinny-dipping teens.
Good list… I’d like to hear your thoughts on The Raven with John Cusack…
I’ll review Raven next week, sort of the “last film before summer.” And since I’ve seen both other famous “Raven” films (the Lugosi-Karloff one and the Price-Corman one), it will make a nice trilogy.
Andy, too late. They’ve already answered that one in AVP. (Gave me the best laugh in the movie, although I suspect that wasn’t the reaction they were going for.)
I thought Alien:Resurrection had enough tongue in cheek to make it worth watching. I might even watch it a second time one of these decades.
Brad Dourif, Dan Hedaya and Ron Perlman added some enjoyment to Alien Resurrection… they pushed it up from “complete waste” to “had a few enjoyably bad moments”. On the whole, though, suspension of disbelief was excessively challenged.
Although in the grand Venn diagram of cinema fandom, there’s some overlap between the Twilight Crowd and the Hunger Games crowd, I think they’re pretty distinct. The Hunger Games is a kickass-chick-kicking-ass movie that does several things brilliantly, one of which is examining characters who are before pictures and after pictures for combat-induced PTSD. Twilight…okay, I didn’t actually see or read Twilight, but everyone I know who’s seen those films has lamented about the main character’s near-total passivity.
Prometheus and Brave are high on my list, too.
[…] getting into Men in Black Part the Third, I must retract a promise made in an earlier post, where I vowed to review eighteen of this summer’s genre movie releases. But the blame rest with Paramount, not with me. In a move that can best be described as a vote of […]