Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Fistful of Summer Anticipation 2013! (Matt’s Picks)

    Each year, Brad and I put together our list of most anticipated films for the much lauded Summer season.  Last year was something of a trial.  My number 3 (G.I. Joe) got postponed until the beginning of this year.  And considering last year, might have actually improved my opinion of Summer 2012.  My number 2 (Brave), while not being a bad film, turned out to be one of the most bland and lackluster Pixar movies to date, squandering what could have been a truly inspiring character for young girls with a story that makes her little more than an observer.  My number 1 most anticipated film (Prometheus) turned out to be one of the three most painfully disappointing films I’ve seen in theaters (2000’s Planet of the Apes and Hellboy 2 rounding out that list).  Now, the other two choices ended up being fine.  The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t amazing, but it was good and didn’t suffer from the problems I had with The Dark Knight.  And Moonrise Kingdom turned out to be my favorite film of last year.  I haven’t been getting out to see too many movies this year, but what I have seen hasn’t been impressive.  I haven’t seen anything I really disliked, but I just saw the first film I really liked a few hours before writing this post (Oblivion).  And while there are a lot of movies with potential on their way, I don’t know that I have a great deal of actual anticipation.  Last year was (until near the end) such a bloody bad stretch, especially after 2011’s absolute awesomeness, that I still feel a bit down.

Wait...Why am I doing this?

    I want to be excited about some of the upcoming Summer fare, but can’t quite work up to it.  Star Trek: Into Darkness appears to be taking the new franchise in exactly the direction I was hoping they’d avoid (darker, darker, darker…plus fistfights and lots’a ‘splosions).  I want to look forward to it, and I’m guessing it’ll be a solid film.  But I don’t think it’s what I want.  At all.  At first Epic looked like it might be a fun CG adventure movie until the jive-talking slug showed up.  When a filmmaker feels the need to add comic relief it’s a red flag.  When that comic relief talks jive…I’m out.  The trailer for The Colony looked pretty cool, until the zombie/cannibals showed up (it went from Time of the Great Freeze to Time of the Great Snooze).  Sigh.  I really liked Kick-Ass, but part 2 does not get the blood pumping, especially after trying to read the crap-salad Hit-Girl spin-off comic.  It feels like the joke was told, and now they’re gonna Jay Leno it until you forget that time you found it funny.  After Earth intrigued me in spite of my general dislike for Will Smith and his clan.  Then I found out it was a Shyamalan movie.  Interest gone.  Man of Steel looks impressive, and I desperately want Snyder to redeem himself for the Lovecraftian horror he birthed with Sucker Punch.  But I couldn’t possibly care less about Superman.  I only mildly enjoyed some of the movies and don’t like the comics, so blah.  I think Saoirse Ronan is one of the real rising stars of this new generation and Gemma Arterton needs a new good movie under her belt, but Byzantium sounds lame.  The Lone Ranger could do for Westerns what Pirates of the Caribbean did for Pirate films…Oh wait, that was nothing at all.  Pacific Rim?  Guillermo has a LOT of work to do in the winning me back department (I came to the startling discovery/realization that I only really like a couple of his movies and actively dislike several, in spite of thinking I was a big fan), and in spite of my Godzilla love, I just can’t get my heart into the build up to Pacific Rim.  The trailers haven’t wet my appetite at all.  Though if it lives up to a fraction of what it could be, I’ll be happily wrong.  Don’t get me started on Wolverine.  Just don’t.  I’m sure Iron Man 3 will be perfectly watchable, but I’m very lukewarm on the first two and don’t expect that to change.  300: Rise of an Empire looks dumb as all get-out, but I’m a sucker for its particular brand of trash.  Still, I’m not all that worked up to see it.

    Don’t let this previous bit of sad-sackness bum you out, though.  I’m going into all the above movies with hope they’ll surprise me, be mildly enjoyable, and maybe kick me out of my 2012 funk.  In fact, all those I mentioned are movies I look forward to giving a chance, just not movies I’m too awful hopeful about…if that makes sense.  Except After Earth.  I’m 99.999% sure that’ll be on my ‘worst of 2013’ list.  (I mean, Shyamalan has made two good movies [three if you count the Village], the most recent of which was thirteen years ago…and his last two movies have both made my Year’s Worst lists).  So, what follows are the five films I’m most looking forward to.

5.  Red 2:  OK, I’m quite sure this movie will not be one of the best movies of the year.  But I enjoyed the heck out of Red, and I’m glad to see the cast back together for another round of has-beens kicking ass.  If it’s half as goofy and charming as the first one, I’ll leave the theater with a smile on my face.  Others seem to be getting sick of old man Willis, but I’m still having all kinds of fun with him.

4.  The World’s End:  I feel like I should be more excited about this than I am, especially as Brad keeps on about it.  I’ve liked this group’s previous films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  There are hints at some super-wacky stuff, and I’m jazzed to take the ride.  I know virtually nothing about the movie beyond the folk who are involved.  But the names attached are enough to make me expect something good.  This is, in a way, this year’s Moonrise Kingdom.  A director and cast I like which I know nothing about.  Cool.

3: Fast & Furious 6:  I think you have to have known me for quite some time to understand just how crazy this movie being on this list is.  One- I don’t care about cars.  Two- I care even less about street racing.  Three- I saw the last ten minutes of the first film and thought it was one of the worst things I’d ever seen.  Four- I really don’t care about cars.  But then Fast Five happened.  I don’t quite know why I love The Rock as much as I do (‘cause he’s awesome! -Matt’s Subconscious), but somehow adding him to any franchise makes it better.  I went in to Fast Five totally expecting to hate it…but I LOVED it.  It’s so flippin’ big, dumb, and fun.  The Rock and Vin staring at each other all the time.  Vin loves Jesus; The Rock loves sweating.  It’s easily as much homoerotic staring as Alexander, but somehow it’s magic here.  Maybe it’s Dwayne Johnson’s years of experience in softcore gay entertainment (professional wrestling).  But Fast Five was one of the most entertainingly dumb movies I’ve ever seen.  Where the Transformers movies left me bored and confused, Avatar left me bored and angry, and Spiderman left me bored and…well, even more bored, Fast Five had me laughing and giggling and riding a muscle-bound, turbo-charged wave of stupid glee that I don’t think ever quite crested.  Thus, in spite of the fact that I doubt lightning will strike twice, I’m putting my eggs in Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel’s meaty basket (even I’m grossing myself out with this description…but I’m not cutting it!).  How are they bringing back a character I’m told was shot in the head a couple movies ago?  I don’t know.  Does it really matter?  If people explained things to me right, one of the guys in Fast Five died in the third film, too.  So obviously the Fast/Furious universe is like Marvel and DC comics.

2:  Only God Forgives:  Right up until I started writing this entry, I thought this would be my number one most anticipated film.  Drive was my favorite movie of 2011, and in spite of my not being able to get on the Ryan Gosling train with nearly everyone else (my reptile brain still wants to exclude him from the tribe because his eyes are too close together and I don’t trust him), I’m pretty excited to see this re-team with its director.  I’m expecting plenty of long quiet bits, peppered with shocking and gory violence.  And hopefully another good soundtrack.

1:  Elysium:  I think this just jumped to the top of my list because I’m so hungry for cool, big science fiction.  District 9 was pretty much just a remake of Alien Nation with a South African bent.  But it was a very good one.  And this too looks like it draws heavily on previous sources, and is going to end up being fairly heavy-handed social commentary.  OK.  I can deal with that.  Matt Damon looks pretty cool, and it looks like we could see some very interesting action.  There is a lot of science fiction coming in the next year or so (some already here), and sad as it is, I am actually at the point now where I’d rather it be successful financially than be good.  How sick is that?  But if a bunch of this new science fiction is actually successful, instead of going largely unnoticed like so many (Tron: Legacy, John Carter, Titan A.E., Solaris, Moon, even Serenity), then maybe we’ll get more, and just by virtue of the odds, get more good stuff.  So while I’m looking forward to Elysium, I’m really anticipating its success at the box office.  I need these movies to do well so that they’re not the rare jewel they’ve become.


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