Those long, hot Summer days are upon us. We've crossed the solstice and now it's time to go headlong into one of the year's busiest seasons for movies. We've had a so-so start. X-Men Origins: Wolverine left a lot to be desired, but Star Trek delivered in spades. Angels and Demons was a bit boring, though the family fare has ranged from decent (Night At The Museum) to excellent (Up). Now let's take a look at what's set to hit theaters in the coming two months.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
There are two kinds of people in this world- those who have the good sense and taste to completely avoid this sequel to Michael Bay's insufferable adaptation and those who will literally see anything if it's got lotsa 'splosions. Normally I would advise movie-goers to just sit back, relax and enjoy a thoroughly popcorn-ready action flick with nothing much to say. But considering how over-stuffed with annoying pop culture references and horrible, eye-cramping editing the first Transformers was, I can't even suggest this one for some mindless entertainment.
I'm not quite going to posit that Johnny Depp has never been in a bad movie. Actively offensive? No. Bad? Yeah, I'd say that he's taken part in some not-so-stellar works of cinema. Even then, he's usually the best part, so I don't fault him for playing a pirate one too many times. Michael Mann directs (a good thing) Depp and Christian Bale, among others, in this high-budget bio-pic about some of the most famous gangsters in American history. This one is definitely worth seeing.
Sacha Baron Cohen has basically run out of Ali G characters now, but that doesn't really mean his anarchic approach to comedy has gotten stale. This movie couldn't have come at a better time, really. With LGBT rights taking up some major headlines, it's almost certainly a good thing that Cohen has unleashed a character who is basically designed to put unsuspecting folks into an old-fashioned gay panic. Borat is an instant classic, as far as I'm concerned. Let's hope Bruno delivers in kind.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
It's that time again. I can't say I've ever jumped into J.K. Rowling's novels (I prefer my high fantasy in small doses), but I do believe that the Harry Potter movie series has been consistently entertaining and generally well-done, more so with each successive film. I like the darker tone and the upped ante suggested in the previews, and I think the franchise struck gold when it cast a team of kids who grew up to be talented actors in their own right. All the principles are back and I'm sure there will be special effects aplenty. Please do go enjoy this one.
Soulless computer animation depicting wise-cracking, world-saving guinea pigs. If this sounds good to you, I don't think mommy should let you use the Internet anymore.
Quentin Tarantino has a pretty smooth track record, though I think Grindhouse could have been better. Some people may not enjoy his highly stylized, pop-culture-infused approach to film making, but this one doesn't exactly look like it's ready for a funk and surf soundtrack. I have faith in QT, though this one seems more than a little shaky. The premise, a special detachment of Jewish American WWII soldiers getting medieval on some Nazis, will have to walk a fine line between offensiveness and shallowness. Also, Brad Pitt has been forced to take on yet another accent he'll almost certainly mangle (we love you, Brad, but you ain't perfect). I think this one could land anywhere on the map and I wouldn't be surprised. If it's awesome, yippee. If it's a horrible miscalculation, also understandable. If it's a resounding "meh", it would only stand to reason. Time will tell.
There are many more movies slated for release between now and the end of August. It's a mixed bag, though nothing yet seems to stand out as "the great movie of 2009". Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.