R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: The Summer of Rob Continues

The summer season continues, and I checked out Speed Racer last night, and you know what? It’s not that bad. In fact, its an excellent adaptation of the original show and while I know its not for everyone, it definitely doesn’t deserve the critical drubbing its taken. The movie’s got more heart and better visuals than 90% of the blockbusters that came out last year, and its really disappointing to me that its going to flop so badly.

So at any rate, here’s the rest of the summer preview. Man, it sucks we’ve got to wait two more months before The Dark Knight.

Rob’s Summer Preview: Part 2

JULY 4th

Hancock – 2008’s inevitable Will Smith summer blockbuster arrives in time for Independence Day, and I’ve heard some rumblings about whether or not this looks good. I’m usually suspect of any superhero movies that aren’t based on Comic book source material, but then again there is Unbreakable and The Incredibles, both of which could probably go toe to toe with any Superhero movie ever made.

Could this suck? – Well Peter Berg seems to really be coming into his own as a director, but there’s still that nagging part of my mind that keeps reminding me that Berg directed Very Bad Things, which is a film that probably goes somewhere in my list of the worst films of all time. Also, Big Willie summer vehicles don’t exactly have a spotless record either, with Independence Day getting worse every time I see it, Wild Wild West in the running for the worst TV adaptation ever, Bad Boys II being what one critic called “the cinematic equivalent of toxic waste”, and Men in Black II being so forgettable I have to keep reminding myself that it even existed.

Could this be Awesome? – For the record, the movie looks pretty funny, and I’m glad to see Smith in something where he seems to be making fun of himself a bit. I can only hope he’s as good in this as he was in I Am Legend, and the CGI in this seems to be LOADS better than Smith’s 2007 Christmas season hit. Berg also intrigues me as a director. The Rundown is just absolutely solid, and his follow-ups, Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom show Berg to be a director with a terrific knack for pulling out emotional truth from his storylines. Did I mention this movie looks seriously funny?

JULY 11th

Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Frankly, I’m amazed that Hellboy got a sequel after the first film was solid, but not awe-inspiring business. As a fan of the comics, I honestly thought that Guillermo del Toro got about as many things wrong in the movie as he did right. The first film looked cool, but lacked the atmosphere and creepiness of Mike Mignola’s amazing comic book series. I loved Ron Pearlman’s Hellboy, but a lot of the movie he keeps fighting the same monster over and over, and I could have done with less love triangles and David Hyde Pierce. The sequel seems to have given Doug Jones the full reins to the Abe character this time out and some of the ambience of del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth seems to be shining through here.

Could this suck? – Again, its possible the movie could miss the point of some of these characters that I actually care a lot about. The news that Seth McFarlane was now voicing ectoplasmic BPRD member Johann Krauss made my heart sink a little, as I’m hoping the Family Guy creator hasn’t been brought on board to bring a little zaniness to the film. Every time I see a trailer, I keep thinking what a good movie it looks like, but I’m not so sure it looks like a good Hellboy-movie.

Could this be Awesome? – Guillermo del Toro is an amazing director when it comes down to it, and I’m trying really hard to put my faith in him. The monsters in this film look absolutely amazing, and I’m glad they’re expanding the cast a bit with having Johann in the movie. As Comic series, Hellboy and its spinoff B.P.R.D. are two of the smartest, scariest, and emotionally wrenching stories I’ve ever read. They are both incredible visions and I can only hope that the director of this sequel can stick a little closer to those visions on his way to bringing this epic to the screen.

JULY 18th

The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan directs Batman movies the way God meant them to be directed, and The Dark Knight looks to only continue the trend. Heath Ledger’s death puts an inexplicable damper on the entire proceedings, but on the other hand, just seeing him in the trailer, he looks absolutely electrifying. Pound for pound, the Joker may just be the single greatest Comic Book villain, and this big screen performance may finally be a portrayal able to match the character’s manic awesomeness on the page and in Batman: The Animated Series.

Could this suck? – No.

Could this be Awesome? – I don’t think the question is whether The Dark Knight will be awesome, but just how awesome will it be. From top to bottom, everything I’ve seen from this movie looks to be a pitch perfect representation of the world I’ve seen before in Graphic Novels like Batman: Year One and Batman: The Killing Joke. While Nicholson’s Joker may be iconic, this is the representation of the character I’ve been waiting for. There’s got to be some sort of legal precedent to get this movie into theaters sooner than July. The wait is absolutely going to kill me. Maybe we could switch this movie out with Prince Caspian. Anybody?

JULY 25th

Step Brothers – Well, this doesn’t exactly look like the same formula as Will Ferrell’s recent “Let’s stick Will Ferrell in a goofy Sports movie”. Teaming him up with John C. Reilly is 1 for 1 so far though, and I love Ferrell’s movies with Adam McKay.
Could this suck? – Ferrell hasn’t exactly set the world on fire lately. Semi-Pro was an unexpected flop and Bewitched didn’t exactly do a lot for his career either.

Could this be Awesome?Anchorman never seems to lose its appeal for me and there are times when Talladega Nights absolutely floors me, and Adam McKay was the director on both of those movies. Add Judd Apatow as producer on this movie and we’ve got a combination that looks like a sure winner.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe – Mulder and Scully are back for another jam packed season of Cigarette Smoking Man madness and…wait…this is coming out to theaters? Now? Really?

Could this suck? – I remember one website calling this movie “The most anticipated film of 1999″ and I can’t really argue with that. Don’t get me wrong, I was an X-Files fan in high school and college, and curiosity will probably not allow me to stay away from this movie, but the X-Files train has already left the station hasn’t it?

Could this be Awesome? – Maybe one of the most frustrating TV series of all time, but nevertheless one of the most intriguing, The X-Files was never less than entertaining, even if it went on too long. Still, you would think that Chris Carter would have a good reason for bringing these characters back right? Right?


The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – Brendan Fraser returns to the role that sort of made him popular for a while. This time we get Maria Bello instead of Rachel Weisz and Jet Li taking over bad guy duties from Arnold Vosloo, which is all fine and dandy, but the replacement that bothers me is Rob Cohen standing in for Stephen Sommers. This is made all the weirder considering that I pretty much loath Stephen Sommers. Sure, audiences will probably go for a new Indy film, but will they go for a new Indy ripoff?

Could this suck? – Do you think the trailers for this film will have “From the Director of The Skulls and Stealth” in it anywhere? Probably not. Cohen found new fame directing terrible summer movies like The Fast and the Furious and the awful, awful xXx, but his best film may still be Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and that’s really not saying that much. Cohen is a step up from Uwe Boll and Paul W.S. Anderson, but not a big step up.

Could this be Awesome? – I’ll admit to liking the first two Mummy films, but both of those had Stephen Sommers’ goofy passion behind them. Still, this does have Jet Li in it and Michelle Yeoh, both of which I’d probably go see anything with them starring.

The Midnight Meat Train – Based on the short story by Clive Barker, the big news is, is that this is the American directorial debut of Ryuhei Kitamura, the director of the awesome Versus and Azumi and the mediocre Godzilla: Final Wars.

Could this suck? – Japanese directors making their American directorial debuts kind of have a bad track record, plus the premise for this movie is absolutely insane. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of Clive Barker adaptations.

Could this be Awesome? – Did I mention this movie was from the director of Versus and Azumi? God, those movies are awesome. I’m sure this movie won’t have ninjas or undead karate battles, but still I’m sure it’ll have the manic energy that Kitamura almost always brings to the big screen.


Pineapple Express – The Judd Apatow awesome comedy train seems to keep on rolling with this one, and hiring Indie-film Director David Gordon Green is an absolute masterstroke. Also, Apatow’s penchant for giving big screen credits to his Freaks and Geeks alumni continues with Seth Rogen and James Franco looking to become the new Cheech and Chong for this generation.

Could this suck? – I guess it could. Drillbit Taylor wasn’t the best and Dewey Cox didn’t manage to connect with audiences. If Don’t Mess with Zohan doesn’t fly, look for Apatow to need this film to really take off for his street cred to stay good.

Could this be Awesome? – Have you seen the trailer for this movie? Wow, this movie looks funny, and the ad campaign for it has been going for about a year now, and I’m ready for it to come out. I think when all is said and done; this is probably going to end up the Comedy of the summer.

Hell Ride – Does anyone really know what this movie is about? I know it’s presented by Quentin Tarantino, that its got a cool ass poster, and that its directed and stars the guy that played Larry in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

Could this suck? – Larry Bishop, the writer/director/star of Hell Ride, has only directed one other movie, Mad Dog Time, which Roger Ebert described as “the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time.” Lowering your expectations now might be a good idea.

Could this be Awesome? – For those of us that liked Grindhouse (and I did), this looks to be in the exact same vein. Hopefully even if this is bad, its at least a good time, much of the like movies its emulating.


Tropic Thunder – Remember when Ben Stiller was awesome and made a lot of funny movies? Well from the looks of it, its comeback time, as he even crawls back into the director’s chair for the first time since Zoolander. His “Making a War film” spoof looks to be a laugh riot with Robert Downey Jr. ready to steal the entire show.

Could this suck? – Well it’s possible the trailer has completely fooled us and this is actually about as funny Night at the Museum, Meet the Fockers, or The Heartbreak Kid. If that’s the case, this could be the last straw for audiences and Ben Stiller.

Could this be Awesome? – This is turning out to be a banner year for Robert Downey, Jr., and Tropic Thunder could help his explosion bloom further. His Kirk Lazarus has me cracking up every time I see the character and I can only hope that the rest of the cast can keep up.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – This looks to be the big test for Star Wars as a franchise. While the live action movies may be over, this animated jump start to the new TV series will show if the franchise still has some sizable pull, or if the world is still suffering from prequel burnout.

Could this suck? – While I absolutely love everything associated with this franchise, I know that most don’t have the same amount of appreciation. Honestly, this is so up in the air there’s no way to really tell. Plus, Genndy Tartakovsky isn’t associated with this, so who knows.

Could this be Awesome? – I’m always up for more light saber duels, and if this movie manages to have the energy of the Clone Wars series from Cartoon Network, we could be in for an awesome time. I’m really hoping the Force is with this one.

So while there are some other releases the last two weeks of the summer, such as Bangkok Dangerous and Babylon, A.D., Clone Wars is going to effectively end the summer for me. Hopefully, this summer will be so good that the bad taste from last year’s horrible crop will be erased from my memory.