With the release of Iron Man, the summer movie season is in full swing. Summer is my favorite time of the year for movies. It’s also the time where the most movies disappoint.
I can’t tell you how many years I’ve said “this will be the best summer ever for movies.” And then been let down… pretty much every summer for the past 10 years.
Yet here I am again… This will be the best summer ever for movies.
I love “event” movies. I love big tentpole action adventure popcorn movies. Ever since Spielberg & Lucas ushered in the “blockbuster” in the late 70’s, the world of cinema has changed. Star Wars, E.T., Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones… these are the movies I loved as a kid. There’s magic in these films.
But somewhere along the way the blockbuster lost it’s luster. Movies began being put together by executives, and not filmmakers. So, year after year, you have these films that sound great on paper (Hugh Jackman fights Dracula, Wolf-man & Frankensteins monster), but lack that magic.
However, I feel like this time around I have more than just hype and excitement to back up my “best summer ever” theory. There is a pedigree of filmmakers behind this summer’s crop of films. We’re seeing a return to the auteur-driven blockbusters of the early 80’s.
1) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Director Steven Spielberg, Producer George Lucas, & Screenwriter David Koepp. All legends in their fields. They have brought us some of the highest quality blockbusters of all time. No one creates magic like these three men do. Can they do it again here? Well, there’s a lot to live up to. Indiana Jones is one of the most successful franchises in movie history.
Am I expecting this to be better than the original trilogy? No. I’m expecting it to be different. Am I expecting this to be a good movie? Absolutely. If you can leave your expectations at the door, you will enjoy this movie. You don’t get three powerhouse filmmakers like that together and make a bad film. When Spielberg & Lucas make a film, for good or bad, it’s going to be the film they want to make. And while they’ve made some questionable movies over the years… this is their sweet spot.
2) The Happening
M. Night Shyamalan is my favorite filmmaker. His movies speak to me in a way no other filmmaker’s movies do. M. Night Shyamalan is another filmmaker who knows exactly what he’s doing. When he makes a movie, it’s going to be the movie he wants to make. Lot’s of people think he dropped off with the Village and went out of his mind with Lady in the Water. I disagree.
While the Lady in the Water is my least favorite of his films, he knew exactly what he was doing with it – pushing the boundaries of what a film can and should be. He knew going into it that people wouldn’t get it… although I know he hoped they would.
Even if you didn’t like Lady in the Water, you should give the Happening a chance. One thing the failure of Lady in the Water did was put Shyamalan’s ego in check. The Happening will be the movie Shyamalan set out to make, but it will also be a movie for the masses.
Does anyone have a better track record than Pixar? Nearly everything they’ve done has been a masterpiece. I felt like Cars was a sidestep, but Ratatouille made up for it. And after seeing the trailer for Wall•E, I have no doubt that this will be a great film. It might even unseat the Incredibles as my favorite Pixar film of all time… but I imagine it will come in a close second.
Pixar is the definition of auteur-driven filmmaking. If a creator at Pixar has a vision, they will see that vision through to the end, sending it along the way through a process that ensures that vision will be realized perfectly.
Wall•E is the vision of Andrew Stanton, who also brought us A Bug’s Life & Finding Nemo. These two movies were not my favorite, but I think it was more the subject matter than the stories. Wall•E however has a delicious sci-fi world, which we haven’t seen explored in a Pixar movie before, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it.
4) The Dark Knight
I’ll be honest… I’m not the biggest Batman Begins fan. I thought it was really well done, but I don’t think it broke any new ground. I guess I just felt that this is what they should’ve been doing with Batman all along.
Chris Nolan, is a great filmmaker and Batman is a great character. WB seems to have really let Nolan run with the character and do what he wants. Even more so this time around. Success buys power. If the first film was establishing the tone and the character, then this movie should get to just run free and play. And that’s why I’m looking forward to this film so much. This is how you make great films – find filmmakers that know what they are doing, and let them do what they do best.
Great marketing, great cast, great filmmakers… it just looks like a lot of quality fun.
5) Pineapple Express
There was a big fight for this number 5 spot… Hancock, Prince Caspian, Get Smart, Hellboy II, Tropic Thunder… all of which I’m very much looking forward to. All with a great pedigree of filmmakers behind them.
However, Pineapple Express wins out for three reasons:
A) All the Real Girls is one of my favorite movies.
David Gordon Green is the director of Pineapple Express. He also directed All the Real Girls, one of the most honest looks at love and small town life I’ve ever seen. It’s also very funny, but it’s not a comedy. David Gordon Green makes the type of films that engulf you. Every time I watch All the Real Girls, I just feel like I went through the ups and downs of a year-long relationship in the span of two hours. He’s a young filmmaker, but already a master of tone and pacing.
B) Freaks & Geeks is one of my favorite TV shows.
Pineapple Express is starring Seth Rogen & James Franco, written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg and produced by Judd Apatow. Everyone knows who Judd Apatow & Seth Rogen are now. They are the faces of modern comedy. And while I think their movies are hit & miss, they’ve do make very original & honest comedies, including the amazing TV show, Freaks & Geeks (produced by Apatow, and starring Rogen & Franco). When I heard that they were making a “pot” action-comedy, I shrugged. Not my thing… then David Gordon Green got attached and my ears perked up… then they released the trailer and well…
C) Best trailer of the year.
I LOVE this trailer. It blends comedy, drama, & action into something as cool as it is emotional. It had me laughing out loud and really wanting to know what was going to happen to the characters. We got a look at Franco, Rogen & the supporting cast (including Darryl from the Office & the very funny Danny McBride from Hotrod, Heartbreak Kid, Drillbit Tailor, & All the Real Girls). We got a hint at the tone with the brilliant music choice of M.I.A.’s Paper Planes. Just a perfect, fun little trailer.