Billy Soistmann

Summer Movie Preview ’09

In Coming Soon, Features, The Forum on April 21, 2009 at 9:37 AM

As the end of the year approaches, one’s mind turns to only one thing – summer. Summer is a wonderful time: no school, warm weather, and movies. Summer is when Hollywood sends out the big guns, and this year is no exception. From familiar series (Harry Potter, Transformers, X-Men, Terminator, Star Trek) to new ideas (UpDistrict 9); from book adaptations (My Sister’s Keeper, Angels and Demons) to TV adaptations (Land of the Lost); from familiar directors (Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee, Tony Scott) to familiar stars (Jack Black, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, Johnny Depp) – all in all, this summer’s movies should be great.

With all of the movies coming out soon, it will be virtually impossible to see all of them. Film-going teens must narrow down which movies to see and which ones to skip, especially with ever-increasing ticket prices (’08 ticket costs were, on average, 30 cents more than ’07). High-schoolers have to take this much more into account than ever before because they will have a much harder time finding work due to the shaky economy.

This list is an overview which includes most of the major films (with some hidden gems), a short synopsis, and whether or not they will be worth the cost.

Lights, camera. Action!


May:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1) is Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) backstory and takes place before he becomes a key member of the X-Men. Don’t expect a Dark Knight. This should be a good action movie, but go into the theater expecting anything more, and you’ll be in for a disappointment.

Star Trek (May 8) is the reboot of the familiar franchise. The movie goes back to the beginning and reexamines the origins of the main cast of characters of the original TV series, and stars Chris Pine (Just My Luck) as James Kirk and Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as Spock. This is a must-see for any fan of science fiction, but may also appeal to the uninitiated because it reintroduces the characters and doesn’t require any foreknowledge of the series.

Angels and Demons (May 15), the follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon who investigates the Illuminati’s scheme to gain revenge against the Vatican. The story should be excellent considering it is an adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel. Just like The Da Vinci Code, the movie has met with some resistance from Christian groups, most significantly the Catholic Church. These people claim that the novel and movie are represented as fact, not fiction, which even the author denies himself. He says that the book is based on historical fact, but ultimately is fiction. Just because an idea is represented in a movie doesn’t mean it is being endorsed as fact by the creators. In any case, fans of adventure or mystery should definitely see this.

Terminator Salvation (May 21), the fourth installment in the Terminator series, is sure to be one of this summer’s box-office hits. Set in 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale), encounters a resistance soldier (Sam Worthington) who has only vague memories of his past life, which leads to a shocking discovery. When it was first announced, this new Terminator movie was not met with optimism by all, but the trailers have been getting better and better, causing confidence and excitement to rise.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (May 22), the sequel to Night at the Museum (2006), has the Museum of Natural History closed for renovation, which causes the pieces to be moved into storage in Washington. While the first was funny, and this one is sure to have its moments, there is absolutely no reason for a second film. The first movie was an original, self-contained story that doesn’t need to be expanded upon. The biggest advantage the sequel has, however, is that even more historical figures come to life such as Einstein (Eugene Levy) and Amelia Earheart (Amy Adams). Also, most of the original cast is back, including Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, and Dick Van Dyke. In any case, “Smithsonian” should be a very fun comedy, but may not live up to the original.

Up (May 29), Pixar’s tenth feature film, is the story of Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a retired balloon salesman, who sets out to fulfill his dream by using balloons to lift his house. His plan is to fly to South America, but he is interrupted when he realizes that an eight-year-old has lifted up with him. Considering that most of Pixar’s films have been fantastic, expectations are high and Up should meet the challenge.

June:

Land of the Lost (June 5) is the first film adaptation of the 1970’s TV series of the same name about a family trapped in a prehistoric world of dinosaurs and other fearsome creatures. Will Ferrell stars as Dr. Rick Marshall in what is looking to be a great family comedy.

Tetro (June 11), set in Argentina, is about “the rivalries born out of creative differences passed down through generations of an artistic Italian immigrant family.” This sounds insignificant, but it is writer/director Francis Ford Coppola’s (The Godfather) first original screen play since The Conversation. Although the premise seems bland, movie fans should not miss this one.

Dead Snow (June 12) is the thrilling story of a group of students who stumble across Nazi zombies during their vacation. This Norwegian flick should be a welcome addition to the zombie genre and also provide some fun action.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12) is director Tony Scott’s (Top GunEnemy of the State) remake of Morton Freedgood’s 1973 novel of the same name. The film features Denzel Washington as Zachary Garber, a subway dispatcher negotiating with a group of hijackers, led by Bernard Ryder (John Travolta), who is holding a subway train and its passengers hostage. While John Travolta’s 70’s era mustache is a little worrisome, hopefully “Pelham” will be a good hostage film.

Whatever Works (June 19) marks Woody Allen’s first film set in his hometown, New York, since Melinda and Melinda (2005). It stars Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) as an eccentric man who “abandons his upper class New York lifestyle to live a more bohemian existence.” Hopefully Woody Allen gets out of his recent slump with this quirky comedy.

Year One (June 19) stars Jack Black (Nacho LibreSchool of Rock) and Michael Cera (Superbad) as lazy hunter-gatherers who, when exiled from their village, encounter numerous biblical figures including Adam and Eve and Abraham. I was very unenthusiastic when I saw the first commercial (during the Superbowl), but my interest was sparked when Black compared the style of the movie to Monty Python, specifically Life of Brian. If Year One is anywhere as funny as Monty Python, then it will surely be the best comedy of the summer.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24) is the second live-action installment in the “Transformers” series. While plot details are scarce, all one needs to know is that the Decepticons are, yet again, at war with the Autobots and that both Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are back. With the success of the original, a sequel was inevitable, so all we can hope for is another exciting, action-packed robot slam-down.

My Sister’s Keeper (June 26) is the story of Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin), who was conceived only to be a match for her sister, Kate, who is suffering from leukemia. For her entire life, she has been used as an organ donor for her sister, but when she is thirteen, she sues her parents for the right to choose whether to give her sister a kidney or not. The movie looks very intriguing as it contains challenging moral questions, most importantly the parents’ choice to bring a child into the world simply to harvest her organs for another.

July:

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (July 1) is the third installment of the franchise. After “the meltdown,” dinosaurs start to appear, leading to more looney adventures with Manny (Ray Ramano), Sid (John Leguizamo), Ellie (Queen Latifah), Eddie (Josh Peck), and Crash (Seann William Scott). Of course, Scrat (Chris Wedge) continues his seeming never-ending quest for acorns. As one of the few kid’s movies this summer, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” should perform well at the box office.

Public Enemies (July 1) is the story of an FBI agent’s (Christian Bale) quest to apprehend John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and other Depression-era gangsters. “Enemies” has the potential to be fantastic considering the all-star cast and its director, Michael Mann.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17) is the sixth movie in the Harry Potter realm and once again stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson. Set during Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts, Voldemort is becoming more and more powerful, so Dumbledore is intent on preparing Harry for the coming battle. Meanwhile, Harry also learns more about Voldemort’s dark past. Originally set for release on November 21, 2008, the movie was delayed until the summer, sparking a huge uproar among the fans. In any case, a new Harry Potter film is something worth anticipating.

In the Loop (July 17) is a British satire that focuses behind-the-scenes when the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom want to declare war (a thin guise of the War on Terror). The movie shows the battle between those who support the war and those who oppose it and should have a interesting comedic view on a current event.

The Cove (July 31) is a documentary that shows a cave in Taiji, Japan, in which over 2,000 dolphins are killed annually. The meat is then sold throughout Japan even though it is toxic. During filming, the crew had to secretly infiltrate the cove to avoid being arrested or possibly killed. As one of few documentaries being released this summer, this should be enlightening. In January, it won the documentary Audience Award at Sundance.

Funny People (July 31), writer/producer/director Judd Apatow’s latest project, stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen as stand-up comedians. The film is interesting because it includes more dramatic elements than seen in Apatow’s previous comedies. Surprisingly, the movie has encountered extremely positive reactions from test screenings, even leading to some very early Oscar buzz. Can it live up to the hype?

August:

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (August 7) is the long-awaited live-action adaptation of the extremely popular toy franchise. As the title implies, the movie portrays the origin of Cobra, the G.I. Joe team’s nemesis, and the entry of two new members, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans). The film also stars Dennis Quaid as General Hawk and Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1) as Snake Eyes. Other than long-term fans, there is little anticipation for this action flick, but kids should boost it to at least moderate box-office success.

Julie & Julia (August 7) features two true stories. The first is Julie Powell’s (Amy Adams) quest to cook all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and is based on her book Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The second shows Child’s time in Paris during the 40’s and 50’s and is based on her memoir, My Life in France.

District 9 (August 14) is the interesting story of a group of aliens who land in Africa, only to be forced into labor by MNU (Multi National United). Told in a documentary style, 9 explores the relationship between the humans and aliens in the region and is a social commentary on the racial prejudices in many parts of South Africa. It is director Neill Blomkamp’s first feature and is based on his fantastic short film, Alive in Joburg9 is one of the most original movies of the summer and a must-see.

Taking Woodstock (August 14) is the true story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) who volunteered his parents’ motel and a music festival permit to the organizers of the now-infamous Woodstock Festival. This is director Ang Lee’s first movie since 2007’s Lust, Caution.

The Time Traveler’s Wife (August 14) stars Eric Bana (MunichTroy) as a librarian who, due to a genetic disorder, involuntarily time travels. This obviously causes some serious problems and especially disturbs his marriage. The concept is a new take on time travel because it is uncontrollable, rather than a time machine that the creator can use whenever he chooses. Like District 9, TTTW should give a unique spin on a familiar sci-fi element.

This summer has a bit of everything: Comedy (Year One), Sci-Fi (Star TrekTerminator Salvation), Action (X-Men Origins: WolverineTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Family (Land of the Lost), Horror (Dead Snow), even Documentary (The Cove) plus many more too numerous to note here. Clearly, the summer of ’09 is bound to be a time of great films. See you at the movies!

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