Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Movies 2012: stars, sequels, and superheroes

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It’s an attack of the franchises once again this summer, as the film world gets ready to unleash what will surely be some of the biggest blockbusters of the year. 2012 is set to offer one of the strongest summer line-ups that Hollywood has had in recent years. So ready the popcorn, and prepare to be enthralled by the motion pictures that this summer has in store for you...


We’ve got Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Captain America...all in one summer! The season has already seen a Marvel-ous start with the release of the superhero blockbuster The Avengers, which has been smashing box office records ever since its release earlier this month, while leaving moviegoers with a craving for shawarma. The Amazing Spider-Man (July) arrives soon with Andrew Garfield taking over the lead role in the franchise reboot. And Christopher Nolan will try to live up to the unbridled expectations of fans as his Batman trilogy comes to an end with the series’ final instalment, The Dark Knight Rises (July); one of the most anticipated films of the year, the movie better be exciting enough to justify the months of tizzy that have surrounded the project.

A number of other franchises also continue this summer. Get ready for some time travelling as Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin) team up to battle aliens in Men in Black 3 (May), the third film in the sci-fi comedy MIB series, which comes a decade after its predecessor. The G.I. Joes are back with a sequel and try to overthrow Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June). The Bourne series returns sans Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), as The Bourne Legacy (August) puts Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz in the protagonists’ seat. The ensemble cast of action heroes are back in The Expendables 2 this August, shortly after a remake of 1990’s Total Recall comes to cinemas, with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel taking over the roles previously played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, and Sharon Stone respectively.

Elsewhere, the crew of a spaceship seeks clues to the origins of mankind but instead end up confronting a threat that could destroy the human race in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (June). The second Snow White adaptation of the year, Snow White & the Huntsman (June) puts an action spin on the story and stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth. Premium Rush (August) sees a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) pursue a bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is in possession of an envelope. And in the neighbouring category of crime thrillers, Oliver Stone brings Don Winslow’s novel to the big screen, as Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch set off on a mission to rescue Blake Lively in Savages (July).


If you are looking for scares then there are a couple of films on offer this summer that might interest you. A group of tourists are hunted by beings affected by radiation in Chernobyl Diaries (May); the adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel brings an alternative version of Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) to cinematic life in the action horror film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June); a couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) is haunted by an apparition that feeds on their fears in the supernatural thriller The Apparition (August); and the parents of a child try to find a way to end the curse upon their kid brought on by a malicious ancient spirit in The Possession (August). But if you want to see something really scary, then you could, of course, just look around you and see the general state of the world...


Fans of animation are in luck this summer as two popular animated series are back, and Pixar is ready to reveal its first princess...

- Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June): Still trying to return to New York, Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) make their way to Europe in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the third film in DreamWorks Animation’s financially successful Madagascar series.
- Brave (June): We thought Pixar could do no wrong, but they decided to prove us wrong last year with the critical crash that was Cars 2. The animation powerhouse will now try to redeem itself with the release of Brave, the story of a defiant princess (Kelly Macdonald) who tries to make her own path in life, but by defying a custom, she inadvertently brings chaos to her kingdom, which she must now try to fix.
- Ice Age: Continental Drift (July): Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo), and Diego (Denis Leary) return for another adventure in the fourth film in Blue Sky Studios’ Ice Age series, after the consequences of Scrat’s (Chris Wedge) quest to get that elusive acorn lead them to explore a new world.
- ParaNorman (August): Laika studio’s summer offering sees a young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who can speak with the dead try to save his town that has been taken over by zombies in the comedy thriller ParaNorman.


It’s a busy summer for the comedy genre, and the comedic onslaught has already started, albeit with varied results. Tim Burton’s gothic Dark Shadows (May) has generated a mixed reception; the Miley Cyrus led remake LOL (May) is receiving terrible reviews; The Dictator (May) is busy offending people; while The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is seeing success by sending an ensemble cast of Britain’s finest actors, including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Tom Wilkinson, to India.

But as far as (attempted) humour goes, a lot more is yet to come. Trying to make something new out of something old, Madea returns yet again for some inexplicable reason in the supposed comedy Madea’s Witness Protection (June) by Tyler Perry (who probably enjoys making his movies more than we enjoy watching them). The third Diary of a Wimpy Kid film Dog Days hits cinemas in August.

Also, Moonrise Kingdom (May) follows a search party that is looking for a young couple (Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman); an ad seeking a time travel companion propels the story in Safety Not Guaranteed (June); Peace, Love and Misunderstanding (June) takes us back to Woodstock; That’s My Boy (June) sees a father (Adam Sandler) and son (Andy Samberg) try to reconnect; an asteroid approaches Earth in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (June) which stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley; Woody Allen goes to Italy in To Rome with Love (June); Mark Wahlberg’s teddy bear comes to life in Ted (July); The Watch (July) takes a sci-fi route as a neighbourhood watch group uncovers an alien plot that threatens the world; Hope Springs (August) tells the story of a couple (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) that gets counselling after three decades of marriage; The Campaign (August) stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two politicians vying for a seat in congress; and a couple (Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell) are chased by a gang in Hit and Run (August).


If your life is either devoid of or overburdened with drama, and you feel like escaping into a filmic dramatic landscape for an hour or two, then you have a few options. You could try People Like Us (June), the story of a man (Chris Pine) who must deliver a portion of his late father’s fortune to a sister (Elizabeth Banks) he never knew he had; the fantasy drama The Odd Life of Timothy Green (August), the tale of a childless couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) who meet a special young boy (Cameron C.J. Adams); and Lawless (August), the adaptation of the 2008 historical novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, which tells the tale of three brothers running a bootlegging business.

Fans of music and dance might enjoy the musical drama Step Up Revolution (July), the fourth film in the Step Up series, and they might also want to watch Whitney Houston’s final performance in the remake of Sparkle (August) that follows three sisters who form a singing group and then struggle with the challenges brought on by fame. And if you’ve ever wanted to hear Tom Cruise sing then you’re in luck; coming soon is the much anticipated big screen adaptation of the musical comedy drama Rock of Ages (June), which is powered by an ensemble cast that also includes Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

So enjoy the action, share some laughs, and experience some heartfelt moments this summer courtesy of Hollywood’s latest offerings; they may not all be Oscar contenders, but they’ll certainly try their best to entertain you. Have a great summer!

What Hollywood Did Last Summer

Wizards, pirates, and talking animals... Hollywood used its dependable franchises to make some big bucks with its summer releases last year. The five most successful movies from summer 2011 were:

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (total worldwide gross $1,328 million): The final instalment of the Harry Potter series was not only the highest grossing film of the summer but the entire year. Deathly Hallows - Part 2 became the first film in the franchise to make more than a billion dollars, as fans flocked to cinemas to bid farewell to their favourite wizard.

- Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($1,123 million): Criticise it all you want, but Dark of the Moon was a box office success. Despite everyone’s quibbles about the acting, plot, and script, the third instalment of the Transformers series made over a billion dollars and incentivised Michael Bay to continue working on the franchise; a fourth film is expected in 2014.

- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($1,043 million): Just like Dark of the Moon, On Stranger Tides - Jack Sparrow’s fourth cinematic outing - was a letdown, but that didn’t stop it from raking in some big cash. And yes, there is expected to be a sequel.

- Kung Fu Panda 2 ($665 million): Po’s second venture was both a critical and commercial success, and even earned the film a Best Animated Feature Academy Award nomination.

- The Hangover Part II ($581 million): The sequel to 2009’s The Hangover surpassed its predecessor and became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, despite the fact that it was basically the same film all over again.

- S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 25th May, 2012

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