Posted by: Jeff | May 6, 2010

Summer Movies 2010 – Jeff’s Slate

You’ve seen Joe’s picks for what summer movies he’s looking forward to. Now, at long last, here are mine. (Aren’t you excited?)

We’ll go in reverse order, and begin with the list of movies whose very existence sort of makes me sad and depressed, and which I will thus be avoiding like the plague: Sex and the City 2, Get Him to the Greek, Grown Ups, and Twilight. Then there are the movies that most everyone seems to think will be bad, and I understand why they think they’ll be bad, but I’m probably gonna go see anyway: Prince of Persia, Jonah Hex, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Expendables, and Knight and Day. The latter was directed by James Mangold, who certainly doesn’t have a perfect track record, but still strikes me as a filmmaker worth watching. We’ll see if that holds up. Salt I am completely indifferent to.

Finally, there are the honorable mentions – what appear to be genuinely good movies that didn’t quite make my top five: Robin Hood, Despicable Me, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and The Last Airbender. On to the main event…

5) Predators (7/9) – First things first: Both Predator and Predator 2 were major parts of my childhood. I still remember sneaking over to my friend’s house to see Predator for the first time, and everybody excitedly discussing all the gory bits and one-liners. And I whiled away a lot of time in middle school sketching battles between the Predator and the creatures from Aliens. (How I avoided getting sent to the psychotherapist, I don’t know.) So my attendance for this film is a foregone conclusion.

Beyond that, I think the trailer is actually pretty good. And the cast – Danny Trejo, Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne, and Walton Goggins – is just great.

4) Iron Man 2 (5/7) – Comes out tomorrow. As far as my personal excitement goes, you could probably interchange this with Robin Hood or The Last Airbender. But Joe already did Robin Hood, and I don’t know a thing about Airbender other than it appears to have some spectacular visuals and it’s written/directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (That second bit of information could bode a lot of things, both good and bad.)

Iron Man, on the other hand, was a solid and enjoyable flick, so its sequel has a good pedigree. I don’t understand why a lot of other people went as batshit crazy for it as they did – you’d think it was on par with The Dark Knight, given all the kudos it received – but it was ably directed by Favreau, and Robert Downey Jr.’s performance really was a great bit of character work. Comic book heroes are usually the straight men; a role Downey beautifully subverted.

I’m also intrigued by the trailer’s suggestion of a darker and more compromised morality; Stark’s privilege and past sins coming back to haunt him, and the possibility that Rourke’s villain is nursing some legitimate grievances. We’ll see if that pans out in the movie.

3) The A-Team (6/11) – Astute readers will remember my praise of last year’s G.I Joe. “If you and your friends can somehow commandeer a theater for yourselves, free to make as much noise and snarky commentary as you like while keeping a hefty supply of alcohol on hand, it’ll probably be one of the best cinematic experiences you’ve had in quite a while.” I’m hoping The A-Team will carry on that tradition this year. (Jonah Hex, The Expendables, and Prince of Persia are other contenders for the title, but I’m worried some may turn out like Transformers 2 – not dumb and fun, just dumb and ugly.)

Seriously though, any movie involving an action sequence in which the heroes get shot out of the sky in a cargo plan, jump into a tank in the cargo hold as the plane disintegrates around them, ride said tank down as its parachutes open, and then blast the enemy fighter out of the sky with the tank’s guns while still in midair… well, that alone earns the filmmakers the cost of my ticket as far as I’m concerned.

2) Toy Story 3 (6/18) – I think Joe did an able job of summing up the reasons to see this movie. Essentially: it’s a Pixar film, it’s also a Pixar film and, oh yeah, by the way, it’s a Pixar film.

1) Inception (7/16) – Even after seeing the trailer, I don’t have the first clue what this movie is about. All I know is it involves a pretty cool cast, some great creative visuals, trippy narration about the power of ideas, and a locomotive barreling through downtown Los Angeles for some reason. The trailer’s soundtrack also features a phenomenally ominous repeating bass roar, and if that’s not in the movie I’m going to be very upset.

Primarily, though, I know Inception is the brainchild of Chris Nolan, who I think I can safely say is my favorite writer/director at this point. Momento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight is a pretty spectacular run of films. And it’s a run that shows a consistent upward trend in both quality and ambition. Also encouraging is that Inception seems to be closest in spirit to The Prestige, which I found to be an extremely impressive thriller; visually top-notch, thematically dense, well written, and able to rattle you at a deep and quiet level. (And a film with what may be the best editing I’ve ever seen in my life.) So I’m very interested to see Nolan’s latest offering.

And I don’t actually want to know anything more about it. I’m going to avoid reading articles or reviews, and hopefully any further trailers will be equally enigmatic. And then I’ll be there front row for the 12:01 a.m. showing opening day, going in cold and hoping to have my socks knocked off.

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