By Jack Giroux
2008 was a great summer for the movies. Good entertainment was had, and not just dumb popcorn movies for once. We got The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, and Pineapple Express. This summer is even going to be better. Although the start was a bit shaky with Wolverine, Star Trek kicks it off right this weekend. Here are the top 15 stand out films this summer:
15- Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen
Release Date- June 24th
Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen will inevitably offer no more then a lot of explosions and CGI, but with robots. While the first film wasn’t a landmark of any kind, and mostly dumb, it was fun none-the-less. The 147 minute running time for the new one is a bit bothersome, but long running times are fine when the story calls for it. My only question is do we really need to see robots fighting for that long? Its a Michael Bay movie, there will only be good action, nothing more. Even the length of the first movie was a problem, the last thirty minutes turned into nothing but repetitive action. Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen will without a doubt be a fun action movie, even if it extends its welcome.
14- Terminator Salvation
Release Date- May 21st
The first two Terminator films are classics, wildly fun movies that are equally smart. Unfortunately the disappointment of Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines is still in people’s heads. McG’s Terminator Salvation is looking to bring the series back. The McG factor is still the most troubling part of Terminator Salvation. The director of Charlie’s Angels is taking over Terminator and he has been known to not quite tell the truth when it comes to this film.
13- 500 Days of Summer
Release Date- July 17th
It seems that most films dealing with romance today get turned into unfunny comedies or just another sappy Matthew McConaughey movie. From the looks of it, 500 Days of Summer looks like one of those exceptions. It doesn’t feel generic and it looks like it will cover new ground in the genre, which doesn’t happen as often as it should. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick) and Zoeey Deschanel (Yes Man), one can tell they will get interesting characters and not just the run-0f-the-mill romantic comedy with annoying leads, which we see too often.
12- Drag Me to Hell
Release Date- May 29th
Drag Me to Hell is Sam Raimi’s return to classic horror fun. Alison Lohman plays a banking clerk who gets a curse put on her after turning down a loan to a mysterious old lady, just so she could get a promotion. If that doesn’t sound like comic gold, especially with today’s economy, you don’t know comedy. The buzz has been great for this, most who has seen it, have raved about it. If you are familiar with Raimi’s Evil Dead series then you know he’s not all horror. If you know that going into the theater then you’ll probably have quite a fun time. While the trailer was nothing special and the idea of Justin Long being a college professor doesn’t sound quite right, its sure to be a funny horror movie.
11- Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
Release Date- July 15th
Harry Potter is a great franchise. The first two films while a little too kiddy, were still a worthy kick off for the series. The best came from the third installment, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, a great film that took the series to a new level of much needed darkness. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire was also excellent, a good follow up to the third film that carried over many of the themes from the third film. While Harry Potter and The Order of the Pheonix was more of a formulaic action movie, it was still a fun ride. As the series grows, it feels as if we are growing with these characters. Its been almost eight years since the franchise started, and its not slowing down anytime soon.
10- The Hangover
Release Date- June 5th
The Hangover’s trailer is probably the funniest trailer we’ve seen in a long time. While the story does sound generic with the whole crazy road trip story gone bad, it looks like this crew will save it. Todd Phillips directed the film, with only one real misfire with School for Scoundrels. Everyone loves Old School and even Starsky and Hutch turned out to be a lot of fun. It will be definite fun to see Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper going through hell. They are all uniquely hilarious and will be a lot of fun to watch. Plus, that Mike Tyson scene in the trailer is worth admission alone.
9- District 9
Release Date- August 14th
With a great concept, a fantastic trailer, and Peter Jackson producing, this film cant go wrong. While the film is being kept very under wrap, the trailer certainly sold me. Whether or not it will be documentary style, it shows great promise. It comes across as a thinking man’s Cloverfield. While a fun film, this looks more in the vein a serious sci-fi drama. Neill Blomkamp was originally going to direct the Halo adaptation, which didn’t fall through, but now you can understand why he was attached to direct it. Its doubtful that this will find an audience outside the science fiction fan realm, but it looks like one original film.
Release Date- July 10th
In 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen offended, disgusted, and made one of the funniest comedies of the year with Borat. Borat wasn’t just a one joke movie about a guy who sounds funny. It had ideas and messages that dealt with discrimination and stereotypes, and didn’t divulge into just another dumb comedy. It looks like the same case with Bruno. Seeing people being pushed is always engaging and Sacha Baron Cohen has a gift for just that. His character Bruno, may not be as funny as Borat, but he’s still has a certain charm. In a world filled with many homophobics, it will be a spectacle to see how some people will react to Bruno’s unique personality.
7- The Hurt Locker
Release Date- June 26th
The Hurt Locker succeeds on every level that all the other films about today’s war have failed. Its compelling, dramatic, and suspenseful. It is a film that is not interested in hammering the audience with political messages. The Hurt Locker is more concerned with showing the life of a soldier. Its filled with nail-biting suspense, that always makes one question the outcome of the characters. You feel for the all characters, always invested in them, and caring about what they do next. It may be a hard movie to sell to general audiences because of its subject matter, but if you skip it for that reason, then you are missing out on an excellent film.
6- The Brothers Bloom
Release Date- May 22nd
The Brothers Bloom is Rian Johnson’s follow up to his fantastic debut, Brick. It’s a con-man guessing game with a heart. It is filled with outstanding performances, sly humor, and fantastic story-telling with great ambiguity. While there is nothing here that shouts “summer movie”, those looking for a Oscar-quality film this summer can find it here. Some may be turned off by its mild quirkiness, but if you are into that, you’ll love every minute of The Brothers Bloom.
Release Date- May 29th
It is as if every summer Pixar only delivers greatness. If you don’t believe that, then go back and watch last year’s Wall-E, and 2007’s Ratatouille. Their films are always fun, smart, and yes, even touching. Always delivering surprises, and not settling for generic storytelling Pixar films are a step above everything else. Up doesn’t look like it will break the trend.
Release Date- June 12th
Moon is a classic return to science fiction, one of the best of its kind in years. This isn’t a sci-fi action movie like Terminator Salvation, it is a smart mind-game. Its Also Duncan Jones spectacular directorial debut, he is someone to look out for. It stars Sam Rockwell (Choke) who is at his best. Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea) also co-stars as a computer named Gerty, who is Sam Rockwell’s character Sam Bell’s only friend, he’s a non-Hal cliche. Clint Mansell (The Fountain) also provides his best score yet.
3- Inglorious Basterds
Release Date- August 21st
A top summer movie list would not be a real list without this movie on it. Why? Because its Quentin Tarantino. He makes homage films, while putting his modern day spin on them. It sounds promsing that he didn’t go for stereotypical mach0 guys for his band of soldiers, he went for B.J. Novak (The Office) and Eli Roth (Hostel). He got a cast full of what soldiers should look like. Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) also looks to be great in this. I not only think that this will end up being one of the best movies of the summer, but one of the best movies of the year.
2- Star Trek
Release Date- May 8th
This re-boot of Star Trek looks nothing like Star Trek, and that is a good thing. A lot of fans have been complaining about all the explosions in the trailer and even the site of Kirk getting with a girl made them complain, but can the series get any worse after Star Trek: Nemesis? No. J.J. Abrams directed Mission Impossible: III which was good popcorn fun, and it also showed he can make good entertainment. Star Trek needs to be more then just dumb fun. There needs to be characters to care for and a story that’s actually worthwhile, which were elements that Mission Impossible: III lacked. Star Trek shouldn’t be considered just another typical dumb action movie, like most summer extravaganzas. I have confidence that Abrams will deliver one of the best films of the summer.
1- Public Enemies
Release Date- July 1st
Michael Mann is one of the best filmmakers working today. This looks like Heat but set in the 1930’s, and I have no problem with that at all. Johnny Depp stars as the infamous bank robber John Dillinger, while Christian Bale co-stars as a CIA operative trying to hunt him down. Nothing sounds better then a cat and mouse game between Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, who always are at the top of their game. A lot of people seem to be complaining about the look of Public Enemies, but Michael Mann’s use of HD cameras brings a sense of realism to his films, as seen with Miami Vice and Collateral. HD cameras create a great depth of field, which Michael Mann can’t get from using film. No other filmmaker’s night scenes look so great, and his shoot-out scenes are always classic.
What are you looking forward to the most this summer?