Normally Bob Cashill does a top-ten list of films he’s looking forward to each summer and fall. As he’s “out of town” this week (which, in the writing industry, is code for “on a bender and can’t be found”), I’ve been asked to step up to the plate and cover for him while he’s “away.”
I’ve chosen ten summer films — well, nine as far as Hollywood’s definition of summer goes (the beginning of May all the way to Labor Day weekend), so forgive me for cheating with my first choice.Á‚ I willÁ‚ now give my reasons as to why I’m either looking forward to these films or hope they die miserable, lonely deaths at the box office. Please be aware that while the majority ofÁ‚ release dates have been locked down, film studios are sometimes fickle, and some later dates may be subject to change.
1. The Soloist (April 24), starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr., directed by Joe Wright.
I’ve been looking forward to thisÁ‚ film, based on the true story of celloist-violinist Nathaniel Ayers, an extremely talented musician who suffers from schizophrenia, for quite some time in spite of the semi-mediocrity of its trailer. While I’m certain the film will deliver the expected highs and lows of the friendship between Foxx’s Ayers and Downey Jr. as theÁ‚ reporter who befriends him, allÁ‚ replete with the expected script beats (pg. 50: “Have characters realize they’re more alike than different in spite of their dissimilar backgrounds”), the real reason to see this movie is for the act-off between two great thesps, and to begin the debate about which one will deserve to walk home with a statue come next year’s Oscars.
2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1), starring Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber, directed by Gavin Hood.
Yes, this film’s already hit the Internet, so most of you have probably already seen it.Á‚ I’m waiting till it actually hits theaters, though, because I’d prefer to see the completed effects, thank you very much. Although I don’t understand the fascination with Schreiber (overrated in my book), the realÁ‚ reason for me to see Wolverine is that it’ll be cool to see Jackman as the title character once again. Fanboys and fangirls who vowed to boycott this Fox film due to the studio’s lawsuit brought against Warner Bros. forÁ‚ partial rights to Watchmen profitsÁ‚ will more than likelyÁ‚ shut the hell up and see it regardless; it could very well be one of the biggest actioners at the box office this year despite its illegal release on the Web. I’m borderline on the story and characters, but I’m looking forward to Jackman’s Wolvie taking a long list of names while he kicks ass.
3. Star Trek (May 8), starring Chris Pine and Eric Bana, directed by J.J. Abrams.
I’m a die-hard Trek fan from back in the day. Even if Abrams had never admitted to “not really liking” old-school Trek, there’s still nothing aboutÁ‚ any of the trailers that makes me want to see the 11th film in the series, no matter how many times I watch them or try to get myself enthused. The crew’s tooÁ‚ 90210 (old-school 90210!), I don’t like Bana as the villain, and the history of the characters is already screwed up. And don’t give me Abrams’s nonsense about “Well, it’s an altered history once Spock (Nimoy — old-school Spock!) goes back in time” when the original crew — old-school Kirk’s crew, not to mention Picard’s, Archer’s, etc.–went back in time ad nauseam and never managed to make anyÁ‚ permanent divergent branches of history that screwed up continuity.
WhatÁ‚ seems to be missing most from the trailers, amid all the golly-gee,Á‚ whiz-bang, look-at-me effects shots, is the heart of Trek: the interaction of the characters, and the respect for each other and camaraderie that they had. Yes, it’s an origin story, but isn’t there some wayÁ‚ Abrams could have “updated” it and still gotten the characters right? (Since when is Kirk such a whiny punk?) Yeah, I know, I’m an old fuddy-duddy, but this isn’t true Trek — it’s Trek for the ADD crowd, and I’m not looking forward to it in the slightest.
By the way, nothing would make me happier than if Abrams proved me wrong and I could fall inÁ‚ love with Star Trek all over again.Á‚ We’ll see.
4. Angels and Demons (May 15), starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, directed by Ron Howard.
Based on the sequel (technically the prequel)Á‚ to Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons allowsÁ‚ Hanks to reprise the role of Robert Langdon, who investigatesÁ‚ an insidious plot by the legendary Illuminati, which could bring ruination to the Catholic Church.Á‚ While I enjoyed The Da VinciÁ‚ Code, da 2006 movie (also directed by Ron Howard), to a degree, I have to say that Angels and Demons looks to be a cut above in the action, the pacing, and theÁ‚ accessibility of the narrative. I’ve always been a fan of Hanks, and he usually chooses solid projects to work on. I hope this will be one of them.
5. Terminator: Salvation (May 22), starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington, directed by McG.
At first, the only reason I wanted to see this film was for Bale — no matter how good or bad the project is, he always turns in a solid performance. My reservations had to do with the fourth Terminator film’s director, McG. Really, how can you trust anybody whose name sounds like it belongs on McDonald’s dollar menu? But then as word trickled out how seriously the Charlie’s Angels director was taking the project — including honoring Bale’sÁ‚ request to rewrite theÁ‚ entire script, and locking down Linda Hamilton to do a voice-over and Schwarzenegger to let his face be used for the T-800 model — I officially became enthused about Terminator: Salvation.Á‚ While I hope and pray the so-called “leaked ending” of this first film in a new trilogy isn’t true, IÁ‚ have to say that this is definitely one of the films I’m looking forward to most this summer.
6. Up (May 29), starring the voices of Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer, directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson.
An old man off on one final adventure accidentally takes a young Boy Scout with him, as his house lifts off into the sky with the aid of dozens ofÁ‚ balloons. I usually love Pixar’s stuff, but on this one I’m so “meh” it’s not even funny by accident.
7. Public Enemies (July 1), starring and Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, directed by Michael Mann.
One thing about Michael Mann is that he knows how to populate his films with powerful actors. In spite of a so-so initial trailer (the second one is definitely better), it should be amazing to watch Depp as Dillinger and Bale as intrepid FBI agent Purvis face off. Can’t wait until this comes out.
8.Á‚ Á‚ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17), starring Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, directed by David Yates.
As Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) army of darkness grows stronger, Harry and friends realize that it’s finally do-or-(literally)-die time, as they must prepare to face off against the most powerful dark wizard of them all or lose everything they love. The youthful cast (Radcliffe, Watson, and Rupert Grint) have matured very well in their roles in terms of thespian skill and confidence. It might be difficult for Radcliffe to return to what many still consider to be a “kiddie” role when he’s coming off a run in such dark adult fare as Equus on Broadway, yet Harry Potter is the role that made him famous, andÁ‚ there must be a certain gratitude and respect paid on his part for it.
Radcliffe and company have become asÁ‚ identified with their roles in this series — which gets better withÁ‚ each film — as Connery is with Bond, or Reeve was with Superman. I’m not just looking forward to this movie, I’m looking forward to the two-part conclusion, The Deathly Hallows, as well.
9. Inglourious Basterds (August 21) starring Brad Pitt and Eli Roth, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Pulp Fiction is the gospel according to Quentin. I loved volume one of Kill Bill more than volume two. I couldn’t stand Death Proof, his half of Grindhouse. But I simply can’t wait for Inglourious Basterds. From everything I’ve seen thus far, it seems to be a true return to Tarantino’s roots as a master storyteller, and the cast is pretty much kick-ass all the way. For the love of God, Q.T., please don’t let us all down.
10. Halloween 2 (August 28), starring Scout Taylor-Compton and Tyler Mane, “directed by” Rob Zombie.
Do we have to?! Do we really need a sequel to Zombie’s absolute suckfestÁ‚ remake of John Carpenter’s classic film (1978)? Do we really need to have hisÁ‚ internalized trailer-trash issues spread-eagled on movie screens across the country?Á‚ Yes, there was a ton of curiosity about his 2007 “re-imagining” (I so hate that term!) of Carpenter’s original work, which is why it made such anÁ‚ obscene amount of profitÁ‚ in relation to its measly budget. ButÁ‚ fans (hopefully) can’t be fooled twice, and the admittance that Michael Meyers will go through 70 percent of the movie without his legendary mask has already gotten folks in an uproar on message boards across the planet.
Hey, here’s an idea while we’re on the subject of pissing all over a legend (the original Meyers is directly responsible for the invention of both Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, after all): why doesn’t Warner Bros. make the next Batman movie and have the title character not appear in it for the first 110 minutes? In the next Bond film, let’s have 70 percent of the movie focus on the villain and what he does on his day off from trying to conquer the world. It’s not like we need to have coherence in a story anymore, right, Rob?
Dammit, I hope this one tanks hard. But I’m not bitter.