Summer’s almost here and that means that Hollywood’s stable of Summer Movie Blockbusters is about to invade your commercial airspace. Aside from the screwball comedies, sequels and reboots that we’re accustomed to, from the whimsy of Men in Black 3 to the crowd-pleasing super hero ensemble vehicle The Avengers, there are five capital “F” Films that break the mold of the usual Hollywood fare. As clichéd as they may sound on paper—a sequel, a prequel and a reboot among them—these Films feature the end of a trilogy, a new take on a classic, the return of two of the best directors of our time and the special genius of Sacha Baron Cohen. Without further ado…
1. The Dark Knight Rises
Over the course of two Batman films, Christopher Nolan has distinguished himself from other big superhero franchise directors with dark, gritty, nuanced character studies depicting the birth and rise of a street vigilante in a way that felt more like a good gangster film than previous efforts which sensationalized and caricatured the “hero’s” comic book origins. In this third installment we’ll finally see the fall of the Dark Knight at the hands of a mysterious criminal known as Bane. Early footage reveals a plane hijacking, multiple large scale terrorist attacks, a prison break and some kind of city-wide battle royal. Nolan’s recent success comes as a result of an intense attention to detail and his decision to shoot over an hour of the film in IMAX means he has every intention of finishing strong.
Release Date: July 20
Sir Ridley Scott is no joke. His 1982 film Bladerunner presented a definitive vision of the landscape of the future and influenced generations of writers and filmmakers. 1979’s Alien is a masterpiece of suspense which spawned a franchise and mythology that remain profitable to this day. It’s no mistake that Scott is revisiting both films in the near future. They represent some of his most visionary work and at age 74 maybe he has new insights to breathe into the genre. Little is known about Prometheus except that it occurs in the Alien universe and is a prequel of sorts. Co-writer Damon Lindelof has said that “The characters in this movie are preoccupied by the idea: what are our origins?" In the trailer we learn that a team has been sent to the far reaches of the universe to investigate a message. Charlize Theron plays the cold-hearted Weyland Corporation employee sent to monitor the mission which goes catastrophically wrong. The trailer’s chilling final scenes depict an alien spacecraft bound for Earth.
Release Date: June 8
3. Moonrise Kingdom
Any Wes Anderson film is an event but this particular one is his return to live action after the animated high jinks of 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anderson’s previous live action film, 2007’s Darjeeling Limited was a touching spiritual journey which featured Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson as brothers in search of their mother. In Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson tackles true love. In the words of author Tom Robbins: “Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.” In the film the accomplices in question make a break from summer camp and are pursued by a sheriff played by Bruce Willis and a gang of deputies in a manhunt, Wes Anderson-style, complete with an awesome soundtrack, phenomenal casting, wardrobe, set design and epic, slow motion walking.
Release Date: May 25
4. The Amazing Spider-Man
When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man came out in 2002 it was a breath of fresh air to super hero event flics. Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker was refreshingly normal and the air of comedy in the film dove-tailed pleasantly with its state-of-the-art special effects creating a new kind of action hero. In this franchise reboot, 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb is taking yet another turn, recasting Parker as a lone wolf outsider. The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield is taking the reins and presenting Parker’s teen angst in a new darker light. Where before Spider-Man gave off an air of bungling do-gooder, now he seethes as a streetwise masked hoodlum with superpowers. I personally thought 500 Days was a load of drivel but maybe Webb can make something happen with the chemistry between Garfield and co-star/real-life girlfriend Emma Stone.
Release Date: July 3
5. The Dictator
While watching the hotel scene in Borat it occurred to me that Sacha Baron Cohen just doesn’t give a sh*t. From Ali G to Borat to Bruno, Cohen takes risks that other comedians in his position choose not to. In his latest satire, Cohen plays Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, a dictator loosely based on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. In a pitch -perfect spot of advertising for the film, Cohen showed up in character at the 84th Academy Awards and spilled the ashes of Kim Jong-Il all over Ryan Seacrest before being hustled away by security. It’s this kind of fearless parody that makes Cohen such an exciting figure and I’m sure we can expect more of the insane from his portrayal of Aladeen.
Release Date: May 16