The 2013 Completely Biased, At-First-Glance, Jump-To-Conclusions Look at the Summer Blockbusters.
Well Ironman 3 finally hit theaters which means one thing: it is time for our annual Completely Biased, At-First-Glance, Jump to Conclusions look at the coming Summer Blockbusters. It's going to be a money driven action-fest of a Summer and I, for one, can't wait. For the rest of the year we can drone on and on about the art house schlock that gets churned out daily by one of any number of self proclaimed "next David Lynch's" that are being vomited out of film school. These next three months are for those of us who seek escapism and overblown effects.
Okay, maybe that is overdoing it a little, but behind all of the CGI and the studio executive editing and the horrid writing there is a refreshingly unpretentious streak running through the big box office films of the Summer months. They are the dessert of the film industry and they are designed to be enjoyed by the masses. They can be "pooh-poohed", but the financial reality is that without The Avengers, there is no Silver Linings Playbook. That is to say, without the safety net of the billions of dollars brought in by the Summer Blockbuster Season, studios would be unwilling to take a risk on a character driven look at mental illness like Silver Linings Playbook. This "trash that Hollywood shovels out" is what makes it all happen.
Luckily for us, times are changing. Respectable and accomplished directors are now taking on these blockbusters. As if the Hollywood art community finally shrugged its shoulders and said, "Hey, we obviously can't fight the blockbuster, but can we somehow change it for the better?" Suddenly the short list of blockbuster directors expanded from Michael Bay, James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to a laundry list of the most talented directors who have ever lived. From Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) to Kenneth Brannaugh (Thor) to Darren Aronofsky (the forthcoming Robocop) the list of talented artists joining the ranks continues to expand. Not to mention the new generation of blockbuster directors. Filmmakers who are born to make effects driven mega pictures. Filmmakers who love their art and aren't ashamed of it. Now the CGI laden, script-less action films that dominated the early 2000's thanks to men like Cameron and Bay are going extinct. Joss Wheadon, J.J. Abrams and Zack Snyder are the new wave and they prefer heart and style to the George Lucas-esque financial free-for-all.
It is with this surprisingly positive take on the film industry that we tackle our annual look at "the shit Hollywood shovels out". Baaa...Give me more popcorn.
1.) Star Trek II : Into Darkness
Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto
Writer: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindeloff, Gene Rodenberry (Star Trek creator)
Release Date: May 16th, 2013
J.J. Abrams returns with the sequel to his acclaimed
Star Trekreboot. Yes, the reboot and the sequel are two of the most overdone elements of Summer films today, but if we restrict ourselves to movies that aren't prequels, sequels, reboots, remakes or adaptations, then we really won't have anything to talk about. Not mention that we could not be more excited about this one. This particular reboot gave new life to one of the most important things that science fiction has ever done, the Star Trek series.
We do have some concerns. Despite the new look and the reworked story universe, there is a small fear that this film won't be "fresh" enough. Look at Quantum of Solace, the dreadful follow-up to the acclaimed James Bond reboot, Casino Royale. Too much of the same can crash a films momentum, leaving it completely forgettable. The trick is to have something new to talk about, the way Nolan used his villains in the Dark Knight Trilogy. Abrams is tremendously talented and quite the visionary, so we wouldn't put it past him to create something incredible here. However, considering this is technically Star Trek II, and the last Star Trek II was The Wrath of Kahn, he may have some impossible standards to live up to.
2.) Man of Steel
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Russell Crow, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburn
Writer: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, Jerry Siegel (Superman creator), Joe Shuster (Superman creator)
Release Date: June 14th, 2013
This may be the most anticipated film of the Summer, nay, the year. And that is saying a lot considering Baz Luhrman took on The Great Gatsby recently. But throughout the course of America's new obsession with superheroes, one name has continued to stay well away from the public heart. The Man of Steel, the Caped crusader, the "original" superhero, Superman. For a time, it seemed that Clark Kent was off limits in Hollywood. Christopher Reeves tragic accident placed a dark cloud around the image and memory of the Son of Jor-el. But then, out of the darkness came revered director Bryan Singer. He abandoned his beloved X-Men franchise to take on the greatest of superheroes. The result was a film so mediocre that it killed both Superman and the X-Men (okay so Brett Ratner may have been the one who killed the X-Men... which is why he is the Jar Jar Binx of directors.)
But now, Zack Snyder, a man born from comic books and Christopher Nolan, arguable the most visionary director in the superhero business are raiding the fortress of solitude in an attempt to return Superman to the forefront of our cultural love. They've got a veritable who's who of talent behind them and a script that promises to be both personal and hold mass appeal. Of course, anticipation nearly always brings disappointment, but for now, we will watch the trailer over and over and hope that the Man of Steel can be reborn.
3.) World War Z
Director: Marc Foster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, David Morse
Writer: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Damon Lindeloff, Drew Goddard, Max Brooks (novel)
Release Date: June 21st, 2013
Holy cow. This might win the best preview of the year award. We are sure this is going to be a good flick but it does have a few problems. One is that the book on which it is based is a loose conglomeration of stories. This seems to follow one man through a series of events that defined the Great Zombie War. Oh well, adaptation is not just expected in a book to film conversion, it is often encouraged, at least to a degree. Our big worry has less to do with the execution of this film than it does with the content.
Yes, everybody loves to love zombies these days. You can't throw a rock anymore without hitting some dope gushing about The Walking Dead (hell, half the time I AM that dope) but things weren't always that way. George Romero was laughed at after the first screening of Night of the Living Dead. For years after, it was lumped with other cheesy horror films of that era. It wasn't until a series of incredibly well made zombie flicks came out decades later that people started to get on the trolley. When Danny Boyle reinvented zombie horror with 28 Days Later, he was ridiculed for the lack of rigamortis in his zombies. But then Zack Snyder came along and remade Dawn of the Dead and all of the sudden the people who were too cool to like 28 Days Later were "all about the zombie"... in much the same way that Twi-Hards want to tell you about Dracula. And hey, we really do love the attention our undead friends are getting these days, but the problem with band wagon jumpers is that they always jump off. We're sure World War Z will make tons of money, the attachment of Brad Pitt nearly guarantees that, but in the larger scheme of things, we fear this may be the last great gasp for the zombie.
But hey, in the meantime, enjoy what promises to be an action-packed thrill ride. Max Brooks is a unique and talented writer (like his father before him) and despite its massive overuse, shaky hand held horror is nearly always effective.
4.) Pacific Rim
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Ron Pearlman, Idris Elba, Charlie Day
Writer: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro, Drew Pearce
Release Date: July 12th, 2013
Pacific Rim is, surprisingly, one of the less talked about Summer Blockbuster and for that reason alone, it may be doomed to fail. We decided to include it because it falls perfectly into our formula for this year. It has big effects, a big budget and a talented filmmaker behind it. In this case it's Guillermo del Toro.
At first glance, we thought we may have actually found an original science fiction movie. But closer viewing of the preview showed it to be little more than Godzilla meets Robot Jox... wait a minute... did I just say "little more than Godzilla meets Robot Jox"? What I meant to say was, THIS MOVIE IS GODZILLA MEETS ROBOT JOX, HELL FUCKIN' YEAH! Pardon my French. Monsters erupt from deep in the ocean and it is up to mankind and their gigantic robot suits to stop them. If you look up "badass" in the dictionary, it'll be a picture of a dinosaur getting his ass kicked by a robot. ...that clunk is the sound of me dropping the mic.
Something tells us that this flick will be absolutely awful but Guillermo del Toro's dark, yet whimsical style may be just the thing to pull this whole story together. One thing is for sure, this is a "see it on the big screen or else..." sort of Summer Blockbuster.
5.) Lone Ranger
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Writer: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Ted Rossio
Release Date: July 3rd, 2013
We want to start by saying that remaking this slightly racist 1950's TV show in 2013 is a really bad idea. Not only is it based on outdated racial stereotypes but it also perpetuates the false narrative of the Great White Savior. And to make matters worse, they cast Johnny Depp as TONTO! How is this not just Johnny Depp in blackface? Just because it's red-face? Is that why nobody cares? This is the no bullshit, real life version of Robert Downey Jr.'s character from Tropic Thunder. Gore Verbinski and his hack goons didn't go find a talented Native American actor. No, they went for Johnny Depp... because Verbinski is incapable of making a film without him. Even the openly repulsive and outrageously insane Mel Gibson had enough sense to cast a Native American in the lead role of Apocolypto. For shame.
To be fair, Johnny Depp does have Native American blood in him. In a May 8th, 2011 edition of Entertainment Weekly, Depp stated, "I guess I have some Native American somewhere down the line." Which of course makes everything okay. According to ethnicelebs.com, Johnny does in fact have "some Native American". He is 1/2048 Powhatan. Not even enough to own a casino.
So do we even need to dive into the black hole of talent that is Gore Verbinski, or the overexposed, monotonous Johnny Depp, or the warmed over Captain Jack…a.k.a. Tonto, or the fact that the filmmakers are pretending that Armie Hammer is an actual movie star? Or is it enough to ask what's worse, the fact that this movie is completely racist, or that it was always doomed to be so and they made it anyway?
So that's it. While we can't cover all of the Summer Blockbusters, these are the ones that are on our radar for one reason or another. Still, if these don't grab your interest, we encourage you to check out any of the amazing films being offered this year. With The Great Gatsby, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Monster University and Ender's Game all scheduled for 2013 releases, it is possible that this might be the best year for movies in the last decade. As usual, we also encourage you to bootleg wherever and whenever you can, and remember to Stay Safe, Stay Inside.
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