With The Avengers bursting into theatres (as well as scorching box-office records) a couple of weeks ago, the 2012 Summer Movie Season has officially begun. This summer’s line-up is chock full of the typical assortment of mainstream big-budget fare (Battleship) and a veritable gaggle of sequels (Men in Black III, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Expendables 2) There are still gems on the horizon such as Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises that are looking to attack the theatres with heady, intellectual action thrillers. Such as every year, it could anyone’s game at the box-office.
So I felt it was my duty as your resident film reviewer to at least give you my two cents on the 2012 Summer Movie line-up. Navigating the waters of your local movie theatre can be no small feat, so before you do, take a look the following to see if any of these are worth two hours of your summer.
The Pitch: Independence Day on the high seas
The Buzz: I have not heard many people talking about the film and I have yet to hear one person say that they’re dying to see it.
The Pros: Maybe Liam Neeson can add some cred to this blatant throwaway popcorn flick? (However, he couldn’t save The A-Team) The director Peter Berg (The Rundown, Hancock) is no stranger to action flicks but can his skills and about a bazillion dollars in special effects keep this bloated ship from sinking?
The Cons: Just about everything else. Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) in the lead doesn’t inspire swells of confidence and neither does Pop/R&B chanteuse Rihanna in her big-screen debut role.
The Forecast: In spite of boatloads of advertising and the 90210 pretty cast (Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgård), the odds of this movie (based off of the popular 80’s board game) blowing The Avengers out of the water is pretty flimsy. However, five years ago, the experts said the same thing about Transformers.
Box Office Prediction: While it looks like the film is shooting for Transformers territory, I have a feeling that it’ll end up closer to John Carter.
2) Men in Black III
The Pitch: Men in Black goes Back to the Future
The Buzz: After a decade since the last installment, the buzz on MIB3 feels more like nostalgia than genuine excitement.
The Pros: Josh Brolin looks spot on as a younger Agent K and Jones and Smith are one of geekdom’s favorite odd couples.
The Cons: In spite of that chemistry, it is uncertain how much screen time Tommy Lee Jones truly has. The details of the story aside from the time travel remain pretty sketchy. So is this a justified sequel or yet another last ditch cash grab for a beloved franchise?
The Forecast: MIB3 desperately wants to be a franchise again. The jury is still out for me if I really want to catch this one in the theatres or wait three months for the DVD?
Box Office Prediction: There were definitely times during MIB II (which was ten years ago) when I felt like the leads were phoning in their performances. So it’s anybody’s guess as to how fresh the story can be this time around. And being sandwiched in between big summer releases such Battleship and Snow White and the Huntsman, I doubt the film will have enough of the same magic to attract stellar box office.
3) Snow White and the Huntsman
The Pitch: Snow White by way Lord of the Rings
The Buzz: Two words…Charlize Theron. Seeing that it’s been four years since her last big studio film (2008’s Hancock), fans are anxious to see her in just about anything.
The Pros: Two more words. Chris Hemsworth. This time rocking brunette locks as the titular Huntsman. Hemsworth’s status as a sex appeal has rapidly been on the rise since last summer’s surprise hit, Thor. A fact the studio has been playing up tremendously in the trailers.
The Cons: Two final words. Kristen Stewart. The female lead not known for much else aside from staring blankly at WASP-y vampires.
The Forecast: Fractured fairy tales are big right now however, that did not stop Red Riding Hood or Mirror Mirror from fizzling at the box office. While Stewart is no Chloe Moretz or even Dakota Fanning, her tepid acting may not even register in the wake of Hurricane Theron.
Box Office Prediction: Seeing that the decade-long reign of Harry Potter has come finally to an end. SWATH seems perfectly poised to fill the action/fantasy gap left the Boy Who Lived.
The Pitch: The ‘unofficial’ Alien prequel (but you didn’t hear that from me.)
The Buzz: Astronomical. (pun intended)
The Pros: The sci-fi auteur himself, Ridley Scott, returning to the genre he helped create after nearly 30 years. Excited yet?
The Cons: Why can’t we call this a prequel to Alien?
The Forecast: The cast is phenomenal. The trailers are both awesome and creepy. Not to mention those uber-slick grassroots YouTube ads. Color me impressed. Ripley and the studio are being very tight-lipped about the story and any lineage Prometheus may share with the Alien franchise. Guess we’ll have to wait until opening day for the ‘baby daddy’ test results.
Box Office Prediction: Prequel or not, Prometheus stands out as one of the very few films this summer, that’s not an adaptation/remake/sequel or reboot. A rare thing to come by these days in a summer film. The same unique quality that helped a little film called Inception become of the highest grossing movies of that summer.
5) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Pitch: The Great Emancipator had a killer night job.
The Buzz: Aside from those that actually read the novel that the film’s adapted from, not much word of mouth.
The Pros: It never hurts to come to the table with built-in audience. The makers of The Hunger Games learned that earlier this year. Russian wunderkind Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) also knows a thing or two about making a vampire action movie. Just ax anyone.
The Cons: Genre mashups can be a tricky bit of cinematic alchemy. When it’s good, we get Shaun of the Dead but when it’s bad we get Cowboys & Aliens. That and there are no recognizable stars to be found in the cast.
The Forecast: Bekmambetov’s previous outing Wanted found relative success despite the fact the story deviated greatly from its graphic novel source material. However, I’m sure Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy has something to do with that as well. The concept, however wacky, is cool. And I cannot say that I’ve heard that version of Lincoln history.
Box Office Prediction: While Wanted found box office success, other recent graphic novel adaptations have not fared so well. Kick-Ass failed to reach $50 million despite strong word of mouth among its target audience. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World also struggled to top $30 million. It may benefit from those filmgoers looking for something alternative to The Amazing Spider-Man and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
6) G.I. Joe: Retaliation
The Pitch: G.I.Joe: 2.0. Hold the cheese.
The Buzz: The Bigger, Stronger, Faster theme to the trailers marks a distinct departure from the first film. Which could be a great sign that the overall approach to the sequel is moving in the right direction.
The Pros: All right…adding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the cast as fan favorite, Roadblock was a stroke of genius. The Rock has been on the action fast track since Fast Five and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, something that will only give the film some much-needed testosterone.
The Cons: Sequels to mediocre originals haven’t been doing so well lately—Wrath of the Titans and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance both petered out at the box-office this year. Also the huge change from the very kid-friendly tone of the first film could backfire since the target audience for the sequel probably never saw the first one.
The Forecast: The shift in tone from the first film might widen the demographic appeal, attracting older action fans as well as embiggen box office receipts.
Box Office Prediction: Channing Tatum is a bigger draw now than he was for the first film back in 2009, having starred in two of the top five films of 2012 (21 Jump Street and The Vow.) Opening before The Amazing Spider-Man on the July 4th holiday could help give it some extra traction with viewers.