For most cinephiles that look for substance and signs of life in movies, summer is not the ideal movie season. It is a movie season filled with bombastic, popcorn entertainment aimed at horny, action-loving teenagers -and quite a few adults too. You want proof? Adam Sandler and his gang are back for a second round with “Grown-Ups 2”, a sixth “Fast and The Furious” movie is coming out, Hugh Jackman is suiting up again for another “Wolverine” movie, and a third “Hangover” is about to attack your local movie theatre. Sequel upon sequel, remake after remake, That’s the summer movie season for you. However, don’t be discouraged fellow Awardsdaily readers for I have come here with very good news. There are signs of hope, directors trying to break the mold and movies from the studio system that actually look promising. These movies might just make our trips to the theatre a little bit more interesting. They have something most of the other movies don’t have; buzz.
The Man Of Steel (June 14th)
Listen to clips by Hans Zimmer
Zack Snyder’s track record isn’t very good. His films -“The Watchmen” “300”- have done very well at the box office but have failed to ignite critics. I still have hope. Judging by the new 3 minute trailer of his upcoming Superman epic “Man Of Steel, producer Christopher Nolan’s style has rubbed off on Snyder. This does not look like the sunny, picturesque Superman we saw in 2006’s “Superman Returns”. Instead, just like in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, we have a flawed hero battling more than just the bad guys. The trailer gives hope that this might just be the darkest Superman movie we’ve ever encountered. I’m crossing my fingers, even with Snyder at the helm.
Only God Forgives (July 19th)
Director Nicolas Winding Refn is one of the hottest directors around. All thanks to his teaming with Ryan Gosling in 2011’s retro-noir Drive. That was a great movie filled with luscious, irresistible style. In “Only God Forgives” Refn teams up again with Gosling in a crime-thriller set in Bangkok. Details are very hush hush about the whole thing but how can anyone resist this one. The trailer and newly unveiled neon bright movie poster makes it seem like this will be right up any “Drive” fan’s alley. I cannot wait.
Elysium (August 9th)
Neil Blomkamp made one of the best science fiction movies of recent years with 2009’s “District 9”. This hotly anticipated sophomore effort, “Elysium”, stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and just like his previous film it explores political themes such as immigration, health care and class issues. Right on. This is the film that might just make or break Blomkamp as a director and show us if “District 9” wasn’t a one off hit. It has the potential to be something spectacular. With this kind of ambition and this kind of cast expect a popcorn movie with brains and an abundance of ideas.
The Great Gatsby (May 10th)
So Baz Luhrmann decided to take one of the great literary works of the last 100 years and turn it over its head by adding his trademark mix of glitz and excess. I’ll take that over any sequel or remake coming out this summer. Add a great cast that includes the always remarkable Leonardo Dicaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire and you have a film that might just be remembered come Oscar time. Will this be the Luhrmann that popped our eyes with colorful visuals in 2001’s “Moulin Rouge”? or will it be the director that completely bombed with his failed epic “Australia”? I’m not sure but I’m excited to see what he has in store for us.
Before Midnight (May 24th)
This might be the most anticipated sequel for any true movie fan this summer. And guess what? 95% of the general public have no idea that this is even coming out. Amen to that. Director Richard Linklater is a true American maverick and with this movie trilogy he has explored some of the greatest questions we have had about love and relationships. 2004’s “Before Sunset” was a great movie but left us with a few questions unanswered. The filmmaking was incredible and the acting solid. In “Before Midnight” our couple is back but this time they are mired in married life and struggle to find the unity they once had.
Fruitvale (July 26th)
Coming off one of the greater Sundance showings in recent memory, in which it won both the Jury Prize and Audience Award, Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale” is bound for greatness. Taking place on the last day of 2008, the film expores a day in the life of Oscar, a 22 year old Bay resident who crosses paths with family and friends. An air of doom is the ambience here and director Coogler has gotten tremendous praise for this small indie film. It might just be this year’s “Precious” or “Beasts Of
The Southern Wild” and we all know how well those movies turned out when it was nomination time.
The Bling Ring (June 14th)
Director Sofia Coppola has not really had an Oscar contender since 2003 when she made the masterful Bill Murray/Scarlett Johanssen love story “Lost In Translation”. “Marie Antoinette” and “Somewhere” both garnered mixed reviews and were quickly forgotten come awards time. Inspired by the true story of a group of celeb obsessed teenagers that would track down celebrity homes and rob them, Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” promises to be a return of sorts to the teen angst of her very impressive 2000 debut “The Virgin Suicides”. With a cast of mostly unknowns -safe for the very reliable Emma Watson- Coppola will surely try to garner back the acclaim that she once had as a very promising filmmaker. I still think she is.
Frances Ha (May 17th)
Noah Baumbach has never been big with Oscar but his films are more than just that. “The Squid And The Whale” director is a talent that doesn’t play by Hollywood’s rules. His latest is called “Frances Ha” and it has garnered plenty of solid buzz at film festivals. I have seen it and it is great. A return to form from a director who’s last few efforts lacked a little something something. Going back to New york and shooting in beautiful black and white, Baumbach casts his “Greenberg” star Greta Gerwig as a woman in her late 20’s looking for herself post college-life. It’s a film that greatly describes the dilemma many young women face once college life is over and responsibility kicks in.
Monsters University (June 21st)
What would summer be without a new release from our favourite film animation company. Pixar has been in a rut as of late. As much as I liked “Brave”it didn’t reach the heights of previous Pixar classics such as “WALL-E”, “UP” and “Ratatouille”. Their penchant for making sequels as of late is also rubbing off on me the wrong way. A “Finding Nemo” sequel is in the works for next year and their dreaded sequel to “Cars” constituted a new low for the film company. Their latest is a sequel to Monsters Inc, a solid film from 13 years ago that didn’t really need the back to school treatment. Nevertheless, I’m hoping this doesn’t turn out to be a cash grab like “Cars 2” and turns out to be as witty and smart as the first film.
Pacific Rim (July 12th)
Here’s one that could either suck or kick ass. Since director Guillermo Del Toro is a visual wizard -watch “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Hellboy” or “The Devil’s Backbone”- I’m betting this one will kick ass. Judging by the trailer the plot is all over the place and involves aliens taking over earth and human-controlled robots trying to destroy them. It’s not masterpiece theatre nor is it likely an awards contenders but sometimes all need to check your brain at the door and just enjoy the ride. This might just be the ticket. Movie geeks all around the world will be drooling.
World War Z (June 21st)
Zombies are all the rage these days. In “World War Z” Brad Pitt teams up with director Marc Foster for an apocalyptic Zombie film that is more “28 Days Later” than “Warm Bodies”. It has the ingredients to be one hell of a film and if the trailer is any indication we probably won’t have much time to catch our breath in this film. I trust Pitt’s film choices -safe for “The Mexican” what was that all about?!- and director Marc Foster has proven himself to be a pretty damn competent mainstream filmmaker -Watch “Monster’s Ball”.
Star Trek – Into Darkness (May 17th)
Who are we kidding here?! The first Star Trek of this newly rebooted franchise was fresh and fun to watch. It even made a bunch of critics’ top ten lists. JJ Abrams is back as director of the second film and it looks like we might be in for one hell of a ride. Abrams really seems to be coming in on his own as a filmmaker and the trailer makes it look like he’s going to be playing with a lot of different colours and images. Expect lots of surprises with this one.