The summer blockbuster. It’s become a staple of the film calendar ever since Steven Spielberg unleashed Jaws on unsuspecting audiences way back in 1975. Since then, the four months between May and August have become a battleground, with Hollywood studios vying for box-office supremacy. One big hit, and a studio can breathe easy, raking in the residuals for months to come. One flop, and those same executives could be out on the street. So, with the summer movie season just around the corner, The Reflector takes a look at those films that will be competing for summertime supremacy, along with some alternative options for those cinephiles out there.
May 1 — X-Men Origins: Wolverine
It seems that hardly a month goes by these days without another offering from the folks at Marvel. For Origins, Hugh Jackman dons Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton once again, shedding the less marketable superhero brethren that were apparently to blame for the failure of X-Men: The Last Stand. This time it’s relative newcomer Gavin Hood (Rendition) taking over director duties from the immensely talentless Brett Ratner.
Alternative suggestion: Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control
May 8 — Star Trek
Hypemaster J.J. Abrams, who has managed to become a household name despite having exactly one film (Mission Impossible III) under his directing belt, reboots the nearly 50-year-old Star Trek franchise seven years after the release of Nemesis in 2002. Filling the shoes of William Shatner and Patrick Stewart in the role of Captain James Tiberius Kirk is Chris Pine, who stars alongside a host of other attractive talent.
Alternative Suggestion: Alfonso Cuar—n’s brother Carlos’ directorial debut Rudo y Cursi
May 15 — Angels and Demons
The sequel to 2006’s The Da Vinci Code, which managed to reel in more than $200 million dollars in the U.S alone, Angels and Demons sees Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) doing battle once again with religious zealots as they plot to blow up the Vatican. Along with Hanks, the film stars Ewan MacGregor and Stellan SkarsgŒrd (Mamma Mia). The Vatican is calling for a boycott of the film, much as they did with The Da Vinci Code.
Alternative Suggestion: The Brothers Bloom, director Rian Johnson’s follow up to Brick.
May 22 — Terminator Salvation
With the audio of Christian Bale’s on-set hissy fit making the rounds on computers worldwide (along with a very funny episode of Family Guy), director McG (We Are Marshall) must be praying that the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” rings true. As for the film, it’s some nonsense about a post-apocalyptic future where John Connor is the last hope of humanity in their fight against evil robots.
May 29 — Up
In a world where even names like Scorsese and Spielberg are even capable of the occasional misstep, the good folks at Pixar seem to have the Midas touch. Following up the phenomenal critical and box-office success of WALL-E, which grossed more than $223 million dollars, Up marks Pixar’s first foray into the increasing popular world of 3-D. The film tells the story of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen, who sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America by tying thousand of balloons to his home.
Alternative Suggestion: Sam Raimi’s return to horror, Drag Me to Hell.
June 5 — Land of the Lost
It’s tough to argue the relevance of a film based on a television series from the ’70s that nearly nobody seems to remember, but relevance is not something that enters into the minds of most Will Ferrell fans. Yes, the man who has made a living out of being the biggest buffoon in the room hits the screens once again as a scientist sent back into the time of dinosaurs. If nothing else, the premise should give Ferrell ample opportunity to engage in his particular brand of humour.
Alternative Suggestion: Sam Mendes’ Away We Go.
June 12 — The Taking of Pelham 123
Another in Hollywood’s long line of unnecessary and unwanted remakes, Pelham 123 takes Joseph Sargent’s gritty 1974 original, which told the tale of an armed subway car heist, and transplants it into 2009. The plot follows the same basic premise of the original, replacing criminal mastermind Robert Shaw with John Travolta and transit cop Walter Matthau with Denzel Washington. Director Tony Scott, the man responsible for such films as True Romance and Man on Fire, should at the very least bring some exciting visuals and a decent pace to the story, but it’s unlikely that the end result will justify the sullying of such a classic film. Alternative Suggestion: Dead Snow. Two words — Nazi Zombies.
June 19 – Year One
As if a prehistoric Will Ferrell weren’t enough, moviegoers can look forward to a biblical Jack Black as part of the summer season. Year One, which stars Black along with Michael Cera (Superbad) as a couple of lazy hunter-gatherers banished from their primitive village, marks writer/director Harold Ramis’ (Ghostbusters) first film in four years. As the comedic talents involved weren’t already enough, the film co-stars David Cross (Arrested Development), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), along with the superhuman Paul Rudd.
Alternative Suggestion: Woody Allen’s Whatever Works.
June 26 — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Yes, it simply would not be summer without another offering from Michael Bay — the directorial equivalent of a $500 hot dog, Bay has been giving audiences expensive but soulless eye candy since 1995’s Bad Boys. It cost $200 million to make, and stars Shia Lebouf, which is pretty much the epitome of Hollywood’s originality these days. Still, giant robots. Alternative Suggestion: Anything. The last thing Michael Bay needs is more encouragement.
To view trailers of these upcoming releases click here.