R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: The Rob Days of Summer Pt. 1

I’d kind of been in a funk lately when it came to movies. After a surprisingly promising start to the year with Rambo and Cloverfield bringing in the most entertaining January in years, months February and March were kind of a wasteland for the most part. While past years often gave us an early start to the summer fun with Comic Book epics like 300 and Sin City giving us a type of weigh station before the big league popcorn flicks, this year we only got craptastic voyages like 10,000 B.C. and Jumper to guide us through.

It wasn’t until The Forbidden Kingdom and Forgetting Sarah Marshall hit theaters in April that I started to feel some sort of relief for my cinematic blues. Then finally, on Friday night I got to see Iron Man and the summer had finally arrived, and not a moment too soon. Iron Man kicks off one of the most jam-packed summer movie season in a long time. From May to August, I’m interested in checking out at least one of most weeks’ offerings, and I’m positively about to explode when it comes to seeing the return of some of my favorite movie heroes ever when Indiana Jones and Batman return to the big screen.

So while I’m saving a big look at Iron Man until I’m able to see it again, here’s the run down of the rest of the summer.

Rob’s Summer Movie Preview!

MAY 9th

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Speed Racer – I’d already forgiven the Wachowskis for dropping the ball on The Matrix Trilogy when they helped bring one of my favorite Graphic Novels to the screen with V for Vendetta in 2006, and I hope they’re able to keep their momentum going when Speed Racer shows up at the end of the week.

Could this suck? – Well, when you’re working with nearly an entire CGI world, anything could go wrong, especially if your direction isn’t always the strongest, which the brothers Wachowski have fallen prey to before. For all the whiz-bang of psychedelic explosions and furious Kung Fu, if the performances are wooden and they can’t make us care about these characters, it won’t matter at all. Plus, if you’re looking for tons of logic and well thought out storylines, Speed Racer isn’t exactly a rock solid foundation of source material.

Could this be Awesome? – Have you seen those trailers? This looks like it could be the craziest single film of the summer. This movie features Kung Fu, gun fights, ninjas, and car chases. If I don’t see this movie then who will? I know this is a kid’s movie going in, but so was Star Wars. A lot of times with Fantasy and Sci Fi movies, all you really want to do is see something you’ve never been able to experience on the screen before, and I think Speed Racer promises that in spades.

MAY 16th

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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – The first Narnia movie made a boat load of cash and introduced a whole new generation to C.S. Lewis’ religious themed Fantasy stories. Hopefully this new one brings a little more meat to this story and doesn’t feel so much like a kid’s movie.

Could this suck? – I’ve had no desire to see the first film again after I saw it in the theater the first time. It wasn’t an abomination or anything, it was just highly forgettable. There’s a very high chance that Prince Caspian could suffer the same fate. May 16th could just end up being a great chance to see Iron Man again.

Could this be Awesome? – I guess anything’s possible. The trailer does certainly look more appealing than its predecessor, with its darker tone and maybe this could have impressive sword work.

MAY 22nd

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – I don’t think I could be any more excited for this. Rambo, Rocky, and John McClane were all triumphant in their returns, but none of those films had Steven Spielberg at the helm. Sure Harrison Ford is getting up there, but if the movie is able to really work that into the fabric of its story, then that could end up making the movie that much more charming. There was a time when I thought this movie would be nearly impossible, now it may end up being the crown jewel of an amazing summer.

Could this suck? – No. No, I don’t think that it will.

Could this be Awesome? – I’m already full steam into my Indiana Jones prep, and frankly I’m absolutely loving it. As much as I love Star Wars, Superman, and 007, there’s a special place for the Indy Trilogy in my own personal pantheon of geek love. I think Raiders is perfect, Temple of Doom may just be the most underrated film of all time, and Last Crusade is a joyous nostalgic celebration, and I hope somehow this movie is able to measure up. There’s a “lighter than air” type experience that only a few films in history have ever been able produce, and none do it like the Indiana Jones movies do.

MAY 30th

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The Strangers – Like a little Slasher in your summer? When you drop your ladies off so they can go see Sex and the City and you’re not sure whether you want to see Iron Man or Indiana Jones for the 5th time, maybe this Horror flick is just what the doctor ordered.

Could this suck? – Well, what was the last really great Horror movie to come out in the summer? Blair Witch Project? Land of the Dead maybe? At any rate, as much as I like the trailers for this, they don’t really show that much.

Could this be Awesome? – I tell you what intrigues me, the trailer for this film makes it look more like John Carpenter’s Halloween than Rob Zombie’s. The way shadow and light are used, and how the film makers seem to be trying to scare on a base level, not just use gore to try and disgust us. I haven’t seen just a good, old-fashioned Slasher in some time, and hopefully The Strangers is able to break that streak.

Foot Fist Way – Gentleman, your other Sex and the City alternative comes in the form of Danny R. McBride and his Taekwondo epic. Wait? This is a comedy? Well, it still looks pretty funny.

Could this suck? – McBride’s been funny before in smaller parts of so-so films like Hot Rod and Drillbit Taylor, but its not like he’s been able to prove himself as a leading man or anything yet, and will audiences flock to a comedy that isn’t somehow associated with Judd Apatow?

Could this be Awesome? -“Derek, have you got your cup on? Because I will hit you there.” “Dentistry? I can’t even believe that’s something that’s real.” Yeah, this could be pretty good.

JUNE 6th

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You Don’t Mess with the Zohan – Sandler’s shtick may be wearing thin. It’s been a long time since Punch Drunk Love and an even longer time since Happy Gilmore.

Could this suck? – Rob Schneider isn’t exactly the modern day Peter Lorre, and his presence in this movie doesn’t exactly instill confidence. I’m just not sure if this movie’s going to be able to fly, and making light of the Middle East situation isn’t exactly classy comedy. This movie is also directed by Dennis Dugan, the auteur behind I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, The Benchwarmers, National Security, and Saving Silverman. Yeah the “suck” quotient on this could be pretty high.

Could this be Awesome? – The movie’s co-written by Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow, both of whom I’ve called comedy geniuses at one point or another. Smigel has made some of the funniest crass comedy I’ve ever seen before, and Apatow seems to have the ability to turn any crap premise into something charming and even heart warming.
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Mongol – I don’t know anything about this movie other than it’s about Genghis Khan and it was nominated for Best Foreign Language film.

Could this suck? – Yeah, I suppose this could end up one of those long stuffy foreign language films that goes on too long or something.

Could this be Awesome? – Did I mention this movie was about Genghis Khan and could have tons of battle scenes?
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Kung Fu Panda – This CGI Animated Kung Fu flick stars a panda (Jack Black) getting trained by a Monkey, Mantis, Snake, Tiger, and Crane in the arts of Kung Fu. This could end up a terrific gateway for kids to learn about Kung Fu and Kung Fu cinema, or it could be an insulting mix of clichés and cartoon tomfoolery.

Could this suck? – It’s easy to be suspect of any CGI animated film that is not produced by Pixar, and again this could be just a big mix of terrible clichés. Also, I love Jack Black, but his comedies haven’t exactly been gold lately.

Could this be Awesome? – With Jack Black aside, the cast includes the actors behind Lo Pan, Al Swearengen, Ben Stone, The Keymaker, Grendell’s Mother, O-Ren Ishii, John Coffey, and Jackie Chan, who in most of his Hong Kong movies portrayed a character with either the name Jackie or Chan. All of these actors will be portraying characters that represent a specific art of Kung Fu, and I’ve always been a sucker for movies featuring different types of Martial Arts styles and characters training in them Five Deadly Venoms– style.

JUNE 13th

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The Incredible Hulk – For all its problems, I was one of the few who could really appreciate a lot of the things that Ang Lee was able to do with his version of the Hulk story. Yes, I understand that the movie didn’t have enough action, but Lee was actually trying to make a real movie, not just a comic book movie. With that said, the trailers for this new film have gotten me pretty much hooked. For some reason, I’m getting a bit of Bill Bixby vibe from the movie, and that nostalgia can only help the movie.

Could this suck? – The public feud between Edward Norton and Marvel doesn’t exactly instill confidence and Director Louis Leterrier has stated that they’re still tweaking the effects, which is pretty late in the game don’t you think?

Could this be Awesome? – Marvel went out and wanted to make a hardcore popcorn flick, so they went out and got the man behind the camera of The Transporter movies and Unleashed to get this done. Rumors of a 26 minute fight scene to end this movie only peak my interest even further. In my mind, the movie could just be a remake of The Transporter, with the Hulk in place of Jason Statham in every shot and I’d go see it.
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The Happening – There was a time when I thought M. Night Shyamalan could do no wrong. I think each of his first three movies are pop masterpieces, especially Unbreakable, which is one of the best Superhero movies ever made. Then again, if you’ve ever heard Shyamalan speak on his DVD’s he sounds like the most egotistical guy ever, and then in Lady in the Water he cast himself in a role where he plays a writer that will save the world. But perhaps, Lady’s box office failure has made the director rein it in a bit and just make a solid movie.

Could this suck? – I just don’t know what to think about Shyamalan anymore. I’m sure after enough people tell you you’re the new Spielberg it starts to sink in a little, but I’d really like to see a movie without a twist ending for a change. The trailer also makes this movie look like every other M. Night Shyamalan movie and I’ve yet to be convinced that Mark Walberg can carry a film by himself.

Could this be Awesome? – It just all depends if the director can get it back together. His first few movies felt fresh and took chances. His last two felt tired and needlessly overcomplicated. He’s got to find a way to genuinely surprise again, and if he’s able to do that, I’m in.

JUNE 20th

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Get Smart – TV remakes are always good right? Well I do think if you’re going to bring Get Smart to the screen, at least have impeccable casting, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, and Alan Arkin are all pitch perfect for this movie, and the trailer looks damn funny.

Could this suck? – Director Peter Segal’s best movie is a toss up, probably being either Tommy Boy or the third Naked Gun movie, which really isn’t saying that much, but TV remakes are always good right?

Could this be Awesome? – Again, I really like the cast, and Carell needs a hit after the disaster of last summer’s Evan Almighty. The guy is solid gold on TV, and I love The 40 Year-Old Virgin, but he needs this if he really wants to make it big on the big screen. Kudos also have to go to casting The Rock (or Dwayne Johnson or whatever he’s going by now) and Terrance Stamp in this, because they’re both awesome.

JUNE 27th

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WALL·E – So nearly everything Pixar has ever done is mind-bogglingly amazing (Cars’ mediocrity notwithstanding), and now they’re introducing their first Sci-Fi movie? Anyone else think they’ve already put WALL·E’s name on the Best Animated Film Oscar for next year’s ceremony?

Could this suck? – My room mate told me he thought the movie didn’t look good because he thought the robot looked too much like the robot from Short Circuit. Did I mention my room mate might be retarded?

Could this be Awesome? – When all is said and done, if this ended up being the best movie of the summer, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Everything I’ve seen of this movie looks ridiculously awesome, and I’m sure once it comes out that’s exactly what I’ll get.
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Wanted – If you’re looking for a fun, edgy read, and you’re tired of Marvel and DC’s offerings, then I’d suggest Mark Millar’s absolutely sick supervillain-coming-of-age tale Wanted. The movie version has dropped the villains for assassins, which honestly may make the film more visually palatable, and if you’re looking for Matrix-style action this summer, this will probably be your best bet.

Could this suck?Wanted’s source material is no holds barred dark, and if its been watered down here, the movie could end up a disaster. Plus, I don’t mind slow motion bullets, but it’s not necessarily a new thing. Also, Angelina Jolie is hot and all, but I hope she’s closer to Mr. and Mrs. Smith here than Tomb Raider.

Could this be Awesome? – The movie looks absolutely insane in places, and if that is the energy the movie is able to produce, then we’re in for a good time. Again, I love the graphic novel too, and if they’re to bring across even half of the craziness of its pages then this could be the surprise of the summer. Too bad the movie’s going up against WALL·E.

Well, that’s half the summer, so next week we’ll finish up with July’s awesome lineup and hope that August can give us some good ones before it’s all over.