Wednesday, April 1, 2009

FotM: Wishing It Were Somehow Fall Again

Boo hoo, boo hoo, the summer movie season is almost upon us. While fanboys and fangirls across the country are getting their pup tents ready for the sidewalk in front of the theater playing the big movie and people everywhere are already loading up on enough caffeine to power a small country to stay awake through midnight screenings of new summer movies, I’m wishing that it was fall again. I used to get into the summer movie season, I really did. But, after the disappointment of the last few years, there’s just not much to be excited about.

I know, I know. My compatriots and fellow contributors to this blog will no doubt talk to you quite effusively about the number of upcoming summer films that they simply cannot wait for.
To be honest with you, I’m only looking forward to a few films this summer. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be awesome. However, I don’t have very high hopes for the remainder of the summer movie season. Let’s take a stroll through a few of big up-and-comers and I’ll give you my rundown.

X: Men Origins: Wolverine - This looks like it could be a very good addition to the franchise. This is encouraging, due in no small part to the fact that Brett Ratner had taken the X-Men series for a drag in the mud with the awful X-Men: The Last Stand. I understand that Bryan Singer’s heart was set on doing Superman Returns, but you’re telling me that BRETT RATNER was the best choice that they had? BRETT RATNER? Mr. Rush Hour? Really? Hopefully, X-Men Origins: Wolverine will result in a rebound for the franchise. We’ll see.

Star Trek – BLASPHEMY. Pure and simple. Star Trek, at its heart, has always been about ideas. It’s never been about blowing things up or seeing skin or whatever, it’s about ideas. I agree that the franchise needs a kick in the pants. This just ain’t the way to do it. By giving control of the franchise to J.J. Abrams, a non-fan, the powers that be have committed a gargantuan blunder. He might think that there’s something exciting about rewinding everything and going back and seeing Kirk and Spock’s first mission together. I do not. I could care less about their first mission together. I would very much like to see what happens NEXT in the Star Trek universe. There are a multitude of characters and storylines that could be combined to make a great Star Trek film. J.J. Abrams might think that there’s something exhilarating about seeing Spock struggle with human emotions. Well, J.J., you might not know this, being a non-fan and all, but we’ve been there and done that. TONS of times. He might think that there’s something cool about seeing Uhura in various stages of undress. I’m revolted. Uhura is an icon. I think of her on a similar plane as my mother . . . I don’t need to see that. I don’t want to see that. J.J. might think that seeing everything blowing up all over the place is cool and exciting. Dude, those movies have already been made. They’re called Star Wars films. That’s why Star Trek doesn’t have the wide appeal that Star Wars does. Where Star Wars had the Saturday morning matinee feel down pat, Star Trek has always been about ideas. A great Star Trek movie like Star Trek: First Contact isn’t just a great film because of how exciting and visually dynamic it is. It’s also great because it delves into what it’s like for a man to face the deepest, darkest part of himself and what he’ll do to save the life of one of his closest friends. J.J. doesn’t get that. I do. As if all of this wasn’t enough, J.J. has supposedly decided that he needs to mess with the Star Trek timeline too. For the love of god, can you not leave me with ANYTHING, J.J.? This movie will probably make a ton of money and a sequel will probably get greenlit in the second week of release, but I won’t be there. Abrams, how would you like it if I went and took something that meant a ton to you and screwed with it until it was almost unrecognizable? Would you? That’s what you’re doing, and I can speak from this side of it. It’s awful. I hope you’re not happy.

Angels and Demons – I’m kind of up in the air on this one. I never saw The Da Vinci Code, and this one does look interesting. Still though, sometimes seeing movies that set high energy storylines in established institutions is a bit of a turn off. You wake up the next morning and everything’s the same in the world and end up feeling let down. Or you spend the whole time in the theater thinking about how fake it is and how you’ll wake up the next morning with nothing changed. Get what I mean?

Terminator: Salvation – Has a summer movie ever looked more uninteresting? I’m not exactly a Terminator fan, but what’s supposed to be compelling about a guy who’s supposed to hold the fate of mankind in his hand having to work with a compassionate killer robot while trying to keep his relationship with a pretty girl afloat? It’s not like we haven’t seen this before. What’s more, what I’ve seen of the film’s color palette from the trailer is nasty. How many different shades of grayish brown can there be? In addition, is there some good reason that Christian Bale is the new face of the franchise? He’s already not very compelling as Batman, and I’m not thoroughly convinced that he’s capable of carrying the Terminator franchise from here on out. I understand that Arnold can’t do the films anymore since he’s busy trying to govern the state of California and all, but he sort of IS the franchise.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – Are you kidding me? I have 4,003 better ways to spend an hour and a half.

Up - With Up, I’m hoping that Pixar can rebound after WALL-E, a lovely but unlively public service announcement. The trailer looks good, so hopefully this is a harbinger of good things to come.

The Taking of Pelham 123 – This looks like it could be either really good or really bad. I’m hoping for the former. Denzel Washington vs. John Travolta? Now that’s got possibilities!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: I had no interest in watching a bunch of machines beat up a bunch of other machines the first time around. My feelings have not changed.

Public Enemies – This feels like a fall movie trying to sneak its way into the summer marquee. I’m quite looking forward to this one. The combination of Michael Mann, Johnny Depp, and the story of John Dillinger makes this one a must-see for me. Heck, just Mann and Depp together would make this a must-see. I’m also pleased that Marion Cotillard has a major role. She’s a terrific actress that deserves more work. There might not have been a ton of folks that saw La Vie En Rose, but, oh man, are they missing out! Now, THAT is a great movie. Sorry, getting sidetracked . . . Unfortunately, when I saw the trailer for Public Enemies, the sound mix was terrible and I had a really hard time understanding Depp’s dialogue. I hope that it’s not indicative of the mix that’ll be used in the final film. Here’s hoping Public Enemies lives up to its potential. It’s got LOADS.

Bruno – No thanks.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – I’m not going to watch any of the films until I’ve read all of the books, so that rules this one out for me.

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra – I couldn’t care less.

Inglorious Basterds – Tarantino is back!!! This one looks very interesting. Now, I’m concerned that it might be too violent for my sometimes delicate sensibilities, but I definitely want to see this. The question is, will this be one of QT’s talky, loopy, violent movies a la Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, Vol. 2 or a straightforward bloodbath a la Kill Bill, Vol. 1? The casting of Brad Pitt is really bizarre too. When I think of people that QT would want to work with, Pitt’s not the guy that comes to mind. However, knowing his track record, it’s probably a really good idea. Tarantino’s one of those filmmakers that, unless you absolutely can’t handle the subject, when he makes a new film, you don't ask a ton of questions. You just pack up and go.

So that’s what I think of the summer movie season. After having my hopes dashed year after year, I just think it’s better to keep ‘em at a minimum. I’m always willing (and hoping) to be surprised. We’ll see.

Let the hate mail begin . . .


Christina said...

No hate here, just an observation. :) I certainly agree that Star Trek is primarily about ideas. But, as I've noticed while consecutively going through the whole Next Generation series, there are definitely moments of, how shall I put it, "sexual indescretion" in Star Trek. And I'm not just talking about Riker! There's a random, pretty hot affair between Crusher and this dude who becomes a women, there's a one night stand between Picard and a girl from his past (Q takes him to his past), and even Data gets some action (as he said to Tasha, "I'm fully functional"). So I'm not so sure that what J.J. Abrams is doing in this department is that different than what's already been there, only he's giving you more of it visually. On every other count, though, I heartily agree. :)

Adam said...

I completely agree that, on a ton of occasions, characters were portrayed living it up on all fronts. (wink, wink) However, the thing about it is that, with traditional Star Trek, out of a whole season's worth of episodes, stuff like that would occur what? Once or twice a season? So, even though it did occur, on the whole, it was a fairly small portion of the thematic content.

In some of these cases, the focus was still on the ideas. In the episode you mentioned, "The Host," the question becomes one of the nature of love and attraction and whether or not Crusher can still feel the same way about the man she loves being in a woman's body.

The biggest and best example of sexiness supported by ideas comes with Seven of Nine. Let's be honest, her character was brought in because Voyager was suffering in the male 18-24 demographic, and putting a character in a catsuit and high heels was supposed to get more testosterone in the seats. What makes her so special is that, despite how wonderfully she wore both, she did what Star Trek does best. Seven of Nine superseded the surface and went deeper. Her character became one of the show's best, and, I'd argue, one of the all-time best Star Trek character. Instead of keeping the focus on her physicality, it shifted to her adaptation to a completely new environment and her own evolution as she became more and more human.

Even in the Trek film that tries to be sexiest, "Star Trek: First Contact," the focus is still on the ideas. Data's seduction by the Borg Queen proves to be an elaborate ruse put on so that he could save the Enterprise and, later, Picard from assimilation/death.

So, I get and what you're saying, but think that, when you put it in context, it comes out slightly different.

Adam said...

Sorry, I forgot to put the "s" in "character." I meant to say that I thought Seven was one of the best all-time Star Trek characters. The way it came out, it looked like I might be saying that she was THE best, which was not what I meant.

Christina said...

Thanks, Adam. I understand what you're saying. I think the only way to really know is to wait until it comes out and see how it ends up. Trailers and pre-opening talks have been misleading every so often. ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't expect Wolverine to be much better than X3 to be honest. As long as it is better though, I'll be happy. As far as I know they just got some journeyman director to do it, which is sad because there is such a wealth of material in the comic that could make for a great film if execs weren't so greedy and lazy.

Same with video game inspired ones, there's never been an A-list cast/director/crew which is why all of them have been largely forgetable and then the studios go "well, I guess no one wants to see these types films".