Friday, May 21, 2010

Movies to watch when it's hot!

cover story

Summer is upon us, which means it must be that time of the year again when film studios unleash their biggest blockbusters that are bound to make big bucks at the box office. The summer movie season kicked off in style earlier this month with the release of the highly anticipated Iron Man 2, and this year’s offerings are, once again, heavy on franchise fare, with a hefty supply of remakes, adaptations, and sequels lined up for our summer viewing. So ready the popcorn, and take a look at what the Hollywood machine will churn out in summer 2010:

The action genres will, as usual, be heavy on franchise flicks. Other than Iron Man 2, which was the film we were most excited about this summer (and which is busy breaking box office records at the moment), there are still quite a few potential hits lined up for the coming months: Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the role of Dastan in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (May) which is loosely based on the popular video game; Western comic book antihero Jonah Hex (June) gets a big screen adaptation starring Josh Brolin and John Malkovich; and powered by a heavy dose of 80’s nostalgia The A-Team (June) returns with a cast that includes Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper. Also awaiting release is the adaptation of comic book Scott Pilgrim in the adventure comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (August); M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of the television series Avatar: The Last Airbender (July); and the ensemble action flick The Expendables, which stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger...or in short, just about everyone who’s ever been in an action film.
But there are also some films that we’re less than excited about, especially one in particular: all great movies must suffer the insult of a remake, and this year it’s The Karate Kid’s turn. And if that saddens you, then this will probably make it even worse: the new version stars producers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's 11 year old son Jaden Smith in the lead role. Along with Jackie Chan. And it was directed by Harald Zwart; yes, he's the guy who directed The Pink Panther 2. In short, abandon all hope.

The neighbouring (and often disturbingly thrill-free) category of thrillers also offers a variety of flicks: there’s a sci-fi thriller in the form of the Adrien Brody and Topher Grace starring Predator sequel Predators (July); Angelina Jolie’s action thriller Salt (July); the crime thriller Takers (August) which features an ensemble cast that includes Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Chris Brown, Idris Elba, T.I. and Zoe Saldana; and a 3-D remake of the 1978 horror thriller Piranha (August). And then there’s the film that has now taken the place vacated by Iron Man 2 as our most anticipated film of the summer: Inception (July). Inception is a "thriller about the architecture of the mind" (awesome) that stars Leonardo DiCaprio (awesome) and has been directed by Christopher Nolan (awesome). We’re overdosing on awesomeness by just thinking about it.

Two of the films that come to us this summer from the world of animation promise to reunite us with some old friends:
· Shrek Forever After: Milking a cash cow for all it’s worth, DreamWorks unleashes the fourth (and supposedly final) instalment of the Shrek series. The principle voice-cast members reprise their roles to revisit Far Far Away for yet another adventure featuring Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and Puss in Boots, as an over-domesticated Shrek (Mike Myers) yearns for the days he felt like a real ogre, and is tricked into making a deal with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) that leads to consequences he did not expect. Likely to bring in the bucks when it comes out this week, even though the initial reviews so far have been far from stellar.
· Toy Story 3: The third instalment of Disney’s Toy Story series, Toy Story 3 comes out in June, nearly 15 years after the first Toy Story film, and more than 10 years after its sequel. Yet there is little doubt that Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the toy gang – who, in this film, find themselves in new surroundings after Andy (John Morris), now 18, goes off to college – can still be just as lovable as they were a decade ago. Combine that with the fact that Pixar can do no wrong, and you come to the fairly safe conclusion that Toy Story 3 is very likely to be quite good.
· Despicable Me: Featuring the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, and Julie Andrews, the very promising Despicable Me tells the story of the evil Gru (Steve Carell) who plans to steal the moon until three orphan girls make him rethink his plan. The film is set for a July release, and will potentially be worth watching (although we reserve the right to change our mind on this).

There are various summer comedies that will be hoping they can follow in The Hangover’s footsteps and become critically and commercially successful this year. These would include the Steve Carell and Paul Rudd starring Dinner for Schmucks (July), which revisits the 1998 French black comedy The Dinner Game. Also, the 2008 hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall gets a spin-off of sorts in the form of the Russell Brand and Jonah Hill led Get Him To The Greek (June); the SNL powered action parody MacGruber (May) sees Will Forte take the sketch show character to the big screen; Drew Barrymore and Justin Long try to maintain a long-distance relationship in the rom com Going the Distance (August); and the ensemble comedy Grown Ups (June) hopes to be a treat for Adam Sandler fans, presuming they exist.
Family friendly comedies will include the film rendition of comic strip Marmaduke (June) with Owen Wilson providing the voice of the Great Dane; novel-to-screen transformation of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Beezus (July) starring Joey King and Selena Gomez; and the Cats & Dogs sequel The Revenge of Kitty Galore (July).
Also in store are two comedies that follow the “high profile actors + action comedy = $$” formula. One is Knight & Day (June), which stars Tom Cruise (in his first film appearance since 2008’s Valkyrie) and Cameron Diaz. The other is Killers (June), which stars Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, a combination that screams “critical kryptonite”; we are almost excited to see how annoying this movie will inevitably be.
And finally, there’s the buddy cop comedy The Other Guys (August), which will have us trying to reconcile our love for Mark Wahlberg with absolutely no interest in watching another Will Ferrell movie ever again; we are hoping our love for Marky Mark will eventually prevail.

Drama comes to us in many forms this summer, mostly counterprogramming the films of the more high-adrenaline variety. The female demographic will be targeted with the relationship drama Eat Love Pray (August) based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s divisive memoir of the same name and starring Julia Roberts along with Javier Bardem. But before that, the summer will see the return of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha in Sex and The City 2 (May). Everyone with a Y-chromosome – either stay far, far away or be prepared for the movie theatre to transform into your own personal hell.
The fantasy drama category offers a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast in Beastly (July) with Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Neil Patrick Harris; and The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud’s film adaptation Charlie St. Cloud (July), which stars Zac Efron who chose this film over the remake of Footloose. And then of course there’s the much-hyped third offering in the romantic-fantasy Twilight series, Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which will generate massive hysteria from the Twilight fans and grave expressions of disappointed in the entire human race by everyone else.

And that rounds up all that Hollywood will subject us to this summer.
We will now go and developing a time machine just so we can go forward in time to when Inception is released because we’re impatient and are therefore finding the wait quite unbearable. And afterwards, maybe we can even go back in time and stop them from remaking The Karate Kid. Does anyone have a flux capacitor to spare?

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 21st May, 2010

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