May marks the start of the summer blockbuster season. Unfortunately, it may be quite a weak one. Many early reviews and screening reports hint that we may need to wait a month or two to get our first great blockbuster. Nonetheless there are enough limited releases and a little spectacle to wet the appetite. Check out the list below.
8. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Newell, May 28th)
Synopsis: Set in medieval Persia, a rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) joins a mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton) in an effort to prevent a dark force from obtaining an ancient dagger that allows its handler to rule the world.
Why You Should See It: Early reports from the first screening at Showest don’t declare this the savior of videogame adaptations we have been anticipating, but it has enough thrills and beautiful production design to warrant a popcorn munching viewing. If you can ignore the reportedly shaky story and performances, check it out.
7. Perrier’s Bounty (Fitzgibbon, May 21st)
Synopsis: A gangster named Perrier looks to exact his revenge on a trio of fugitives responsible for the accidental death of one of his cronies.
Why You Should See It: I had the pleasure of seeing this comedy/crime/drama at TIFF last fall and it resulted in a hell of a good time. Cillian Murphy is one of my favorite actors and paired with Brendan Gleeson and Jim Broadbent, there is never a dull moment.
6. Looking for Eric (Loach, May 14th)
Synopsis: Eric a football fanatic postman whose life is descending in to crisis receives some life coaching from the famously philosophical Eric Cantona.
Why You Should See It: Nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes last year, this sports comedy has been getting great reviews. I would expect nothing else coming from Ken Loach.
5. Robin Hood (Scott, May 14th)
Synopsis: The story of an expert archer (Russell Crowe) who travels to the town of Nottingham toward the end of the 12th century, where the acts of a despotic sheriff and the presence of a beautiful widow (Cate Blanchett) inspire him to assemble a gang of mercenaries bent on raiding the upper class as a way to correct the sheriff’s injustices.
Why You Should See It: Ridley Scott has been terribly hit or miss this last decade and while this unfortunately looks like a big miss, this epic is too big to ignore. Early test screening reports haven’t been too positive. Could it be the Public Enemies of this year?
4. Casino Jack and the United States of Money (Gibney, May 7th)
Synopsis: A probing investigation into the lies, greed and corruption surrounding D.C. super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cronies.
Why You Should See It: Alex Gibney won the academy award in 2008 for Taxi To The Dark Side and after doing a solid Gonzo doc, he is back with Casino Jack. The Abramoff story is also getting narrative treatment later this year with Kevin Spacey, so it will be interesting to see how they stack up.
3. Iron Man 2 (Favreau, May 7th)
Synopsis: With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, must forge new alliances — and confront powerful enemies.
Why You Should See It: Iron Man was very much a one time spectacle and this looks no different. With all the new characters it looks like a bit of a mess, but hopefully Favreau can keep things light and fun in this summer blockbuster kickoff.
2. MacGruber (Taccone, May 23rd)
Synopsis: Ex-special operative MacGruber (Will Forte) is called back into action to take down his archenemy, Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), who’s in possession of a nuclear warhead and bent on destroying Washington, D.C.
Why You Should See It: Who would have thought a SNL film would be the strongest looking wide release of the month? Garnering strong reviews at its SXSW premiere, this ridiculous comedy is currently at 100% on RT.
1. Micmacs (Jeunet, May 28th)
Synopsis: Released from the hospital with a bullet lodged in his brain, Bazil is taken in by a crew of junkyard dealers who help him plot his revenge against weapons manufacturers.
Why You Should See It: Amelie is one of my favorite films of all time. Festival and foreign release buzz surrounding Jeunet’s latest sees his quirky style and master storytelling return. Although it will probably only be in a limited release, run to the closest theater to check it out!
Sex and the City 2 (King, May 27th)
Synopsis: While wrestling with the pressures of life, love, and work in Manhattan, Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte join Samantha for a trip to Morocco, where Samantha’s ex is filming a new movie.
Why You Should Avoid It: The definition of a useless sequel. I know I’m not in the demographic but I have enough faith in the average woman to check out more promising films than this recycled garbage.
Shrek Forever After (Mitchell, May 21st)
Synopsis: A bored and domesticated Shrek (Mike Myers) pacts with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin to get back to feeling like a real ogre again, but when he’s duped and sent to a twisted version of Far Far Away — where Rumpelstiltskin is king, ogres are hunted, and he and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have never met — he sets out to restore his world and reclaim his true love.
Why You Should Rent It: A tired franchise entry that got mixed buzz coming out of Tribeca will likely make a buttload of cash. It’s supposed to be better than the previous film but with How To Train Your Dragon out, there is no reason to watch this unless you are a diehard fan.
Babies (Balmes, May 7th)
Synopsis: A look at one year in the life of four babies living on different continents: Ponijao (Opuwo, Namibia), Bayar (Bayanchandmani, Mongolia), Mari (Tokyo, Japan), and Hattie (San Francisco, California).
Why You Should Rent It: Although this looks better suited for a half hour TV show, I’ve never heard more ooh’s and ahh’s in a theater than when this trailer played. It should be a worthy successor to SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2.
Mother and Child (Garcia, May 7th)
Synopsis: A drama centered around three women: A 50-year-old medical professional (Annette Bening), the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years ago (Naomi Watts), and an African American woman (Kerry Washington) looking to adopt a child of her own.
Why You Should Rent It: A stellar cast of Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson fill up this picture. Unfortunately the story looks a bit bland, but I would advise checking it out down the road if interested.
Holy Rollers (Ash, May 21st)
Synopsis: In Brooklyn, a youth from an Orthodox Jewish community (Jesse Eisenberg) is lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer by his pal who has ties to an Israel drug cartel.
Why You Should Rent It: Jesse Eisenberg is slowly becoming one of the best young actors in Hollywood. Before he hits it big with David Fincher’s The Social Network this October, check him out in this tiny indie flick.
Survival of the Dead (Romero, May 28th)
Synopsis: National Guardsmen, thinking they have found refuge from a zombie army on an island off the coast of Delaware, soon realize they’ve wedged themselves between two warring families who differ on what should become of the undead.
Why You Should Rent It: I’m not the biggest Romero fan and even this has been getting mediocre reviews but his diehard fanbase will definitely want to check it out in its limited run.
What are you watching this month?