Summer Movies – August 2012

The final gasps of summer 2012 hopefully will have a few treats left for movie fans. No superheroes to speak of, but there’s some old school action stars, perhaps too-soon reboots and the inevitable remakes that fill the month, along with some oddities sprinkled throughout. There’s gotta be something good here, let’s check out some titles.

Total Recall- August 3

Total Recall Colin Farrell remake
Farrel must be thinking – “Haven’t I seen this movie before?”

Colin Farrell stars as a seemingly mild-mannered factory worker who one day visits Rekall, this nifty sci-fi company that implants fake memories into their client’s noggins. However, Farrell has a strange experience when he gets out of the chair – a lot of bad guys try to kill him, he believes he is actually a futuristic spy and he’s on the run trying to save his life and uncover the truth about his identity.

This was a trailer when I first saw it that made me move to the edge of my seat and think to myself….”they remade this one too!”

Biel & Farrell

Yes, this story was made before by Paul Verhoven in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Everyone knows that film. It’s loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”. Immediately when seeing the trailer I had flashbacks with the famous Arnie film. Mainly because….this looks exactly the same to me! Even the chair Farrell sits in at Rekall looks pretty much like the same exact design.

I’m not sure why, but I started to suspect the Bourne Identity was a major catalyst to retell this story. The scene of Farrell beating up all these bad guys not knowing why they’re trying to kill him or how he knows all these awesome fight moves just made me think of Jason Bourne.

I don’t know what to make of this film. Obviously there’s going to be some changes from the original. I’ve heard there’s no traveling to Mars, but based on the trailer it looks pretty much the same film to me. Even the sci-fi action with chases in flying cars all seems like we’ve seen it before in other movies and it doesn’t look anything special here.

Beckinsale in her flying car with a
…..stormtrooper riding shotgun

I love Kate Beckinsale. I’ve sat through some pretty lousy movies just to look at her. I feel somewhat ashamed of renting Whiteout just to check her out – pretty bad movie). I don’t know why she doesn’t do better films. Enough with the Underworld stuff. It doesn’t look like a good sign that her husband and frequent Underworld director Len Wiseman is directing this one too. But she looks great, and her along with Jessica Biel will certainly be some nice eye candy to gaze at in this.

I get very worried whenever I read interviews with Beckinsale and Biel about the film and all they ever talk about is their fight scene and their outfits…..that really doesn’t make it sound like there’s much else for them to talk about regarding the film.

Will the film itself be worthwhile and do something new and interesting with this story? There’s definitely elements that can be improved upon, but I don’t know, my gut instinct is probably not. It looks to be a pretty standard retelling of Total Recall with amped up special effects and very little reason to exist other than to capitalize on the popular name. Same with Farrell’s other recent remake of Fright Night he starred in. But maybe I’ll be proved wrong.

ParaNorman

He sees animated dead people

Add The Sixth Sense to A Nightmare Before Christmas, use some stop-motion to tell the story and it would probably look like ParaNorman. A little boy who can speak with dead folks  is forced to use his gift to lift a curse from his town and save everyone. Start lining up kids!

This definitely looks like a a Tim Burton-ish kind of project – a little creepy, morbid humor, an overall bizarre story. But Burton didn’t have anything to do with it. The trailer had some chuckles, but nothing really blew me away. If I had to guess it looks to be one of those animated films that might be good and could get attention from a niche audience, but won’t be attracting large crowds of families to it. It just looks a little too dark for the Disney crowd.

Soldiers of Fortune

Slater and crew

A wealthy group of adrenaline thrill-seekers pay for the privilege to play G.I. Joe alongside real life soldiers in some harmless wargames. But the newest batch of clients find themselves actually fighting for their lives!

I doubt we’ll be seeing this film in many theaters. It’s a low-budget, ($8 million budget), action film with a surprisingly recognizable cast – Christian Slater, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Dominic Monaghan, James Cromwell, Colm Meany.

The trailer makes it look like a satire on our thirst for violence and guns and all that stuff. However, the film has already gotten awful reviews. Some describing it as on par with SyFy movies (come on, am I the only one who liked Piranhaconda???). I was hoping this could be a fun low-budget film with some interesting and funny things to say, but it basically sounds like it’s a badly done action film trying to get in before Expendables 2.

This is going to get a limited release in the U.S. and my feeling already is it’s going to come and go pretty friggin quick. In fact, if I didn’t even mention it here probably most of you would never have even known about it.

The Bourne Legacy – August 10

Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross

After Matt Damon thrilled us as amnesiac spy Jason Bourne in his trilogy of hit films, well no one wanted it to end. But without Damon or director Paul Greengrass coming back the only thing left to do was create a new Bourne-kind of spy. So let’s meet Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross.

Somehow the events in the Bourne trilogy gave rise to Cross’ story. Cross is described as “Treadstone, without the inconsistency”. So we can expect him to run, fight and kill a lot of people in hopefully that cool Bourne way that we’ve come to expect from the series. But a Bourne movie without Matt Damon…..is this a good idea?

The cast really looks great. Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Stacy Keach, along with returning Bourne-alumni Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn. And Jeremy Renner picking up the Bourne mantle. Directed by Tony Gilroy screenwriter of the three previous Bourne films.

It all sounds pretty promising with this talent they got in this, but I can’t help but think this may be a feeble attempt to recapture that lightning in the bottle effect that Damon’s films had.

The Bourne films felt fresh when they first arrived. They were exciting and somewhat surprising. Matt Damon wasn’t really looked at as action star at the time, so when we saw him beating up assassins with newspapers and pens it was a rush. Plus, Paul Greengrass’ directing style in the second and third films was an added adrenaline jolt. The quick editing techniques that the films employed became the norm for action films.

Renner and Norton

Now that the Bourne trilogy is done, maybe it should of just stayed done. But not surprisingly movie studios can’t leave a popular title alone. With or without the star and director they had to do something with it I guess. Hence the Bourne Legacy.

I’m on the fence with this one. It does look like it could be a smart, exciting addition to the Bourne series, but it also blatantly looks like another attempted ‘reboot’ that Hollywood loves to do lately. They’re clearly not shying away from the connection of Bourne and Damon, so maybe they can pull off a decent flick. I get very cynical though when I hear dialogue like, “Jason Bourne was just tip of the iceberg….”. That stuff just sounds so hokey to me.

Still it could be good. It would be nice if I wasn’t thinking ‘Jason Bourne’ the whole time (I mean, they use the guys name in the title!). Can Aaron Cross be an interesting enough character by himself and be able to step out of Bourne’s shadow? It’s probably worth a look to find out.

The Campaign

The Campaign Will Ferrel Zach Galifianakis
Will audiences vote the film into a hit comedy?

Will Ferrel and Zach Galifianakis go head to head trying to win a seat in Congress – hilarity ensues.

I am not a huge Ferrel fan. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a Will Ferrel comedy. The ones I’ve liked the most I thought were ok and never went back to watch again. I thought Anchorman was alright, but I’m not as excited as most people seem to be for the sequel to it.

Galifianakis is an actor I’m not that familiar with. Yes, I saw The Hangover, which I thought was the most overrated comedy in recent times – I just didn’t get that movie. After the setup which looked to be very promising, for the rest of the movie I kept thinking, “well, when is this going to get funny?”. I suppose that’s where he really got popular, but I don’t think I’ve watched anything with him since.

This is a funny sounding premise, it’s directed by Jay Roach who seems to be fully aware of how pleasing it is to have funny quotable lines in your comedy that audiences will repeat for years ala the Austin Power flicks and if you’re a fan of the two stars it should be a hit.

I don’t think it’s going to have very highbrow political humor, but Ferrel fans would probably prefer to just see him get bitten by snakes and punch babies. Actually has there been a big blockbuster comedy this summer?  I can’t recall any. Maybe this will be it. I’m not very interested in it though.

Hope Springs

Streep browsing books in Hope Springs

For the last couple years Meryl Streep finally started to balance her heavy, serious Oscar-winning performances with more mainstream, general audience pleasing films. I think this started with The Devil Wears Prada and it turned out to be a hit. Then Mamma Mia was even more popular and it ended up being her biggest hit of her career.

Since then she seems to have adopted this pattern of choices. For every Doubt, she’ll follow it up with a Julie & Julia and It’s Complicated. With Iron Lady finished it’s time to do Hope Springs. I bet if she did The River Wild now, it would have been a much bigger hit than it was back in 1994.

Streep wants to re-energize her thirty-year marriage with Tommy Lee Jones by convincing him to attend a week-long counseling course led by Steve Carrell.

Tommy Lee Jones Meryl Streep Hope Springs

Already you see the scenes. Carrell with strange marriage saving techniques, Streep excited to try them and Jones staring grimly at both of them. The trailer actually looks pretty funny and potentially could be an entertaining heart warming comedy with the Streep and Jones characters rekindling their marriage, so we would get some added emotion between the laughs.

It could be another hit for Streep and a nice selection for the female audience, who we always hear don’t have movies targeted for them nowadays. If I hear some good word of mouth on it, I would be more than willing to check it out. And I’m not a woman!

The Expendables 2 – August 17

Arnold, Sly & Bruce

Back in the summer of 2010 I was away on vacation when The Expendables got released. Having down time during one slow summer night I checked it out hoping for a good old-fashioned kick-ass time with a cast of action stars of yesteryear shooting bad guys, blowing up large structures and delivering cheesy dialogue. It wasn’t much to ask for.

Unfortunately, I thought The Expendables was disappointing. It wasn’t as much fun as I hoped. Yes, it was cool to see all these muscled up movie heroes in one movie, but that novelty wore off pretty fast and the rest of the time it all simply felt like a poorly done B-movie, not anywhere as great as I had hoped the film would be. Afterwards I thought I should of just spent the evening doing something else and had waited for the DVD of it.

The famous 80’s trio opening fire!

Now two years later we have The Expendables 2. And it’s the same setup as the original. Well, the story might be different, but the goal is the same. Get a lot of the same action stars, along with some new ones and lets watch them blow stuff up and kill bad guys!

Again it’s very simple.  I really hope this second delivers on this joining of actors and gives a more satisfying flick to nostalgic action fans who yearn to see brawn, sweat and guns cause destruction, rather than the CGI that has replaced it today in films.

So let’s go through the cast because that’s a real fun thing to with this movie – it’s much more exciting than talking about the actual plot! Probably bad set up the good guys and threaten their loved ones so the good guys have to kill the bad guys. I’m just guessing on that.

Sylvester Stallone again returns as the lead, but this time hands over the directing duties to Simon West, which I think is a good thing. Although, West isn’t exactly the best action director out there, Stallone’s direction in the first one was one of the major problems.

Thinking about the first one, I can’t recall one great action sequence in it. I think Stallone is better off just staying in front of the camera and leaving the directing to someone else. This could be an improvement in the sequel.

Chuck still looks cool!

hen we have the cast behind Stallone. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and jumping onboard Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Liam Hemsworth.

Of course I don’t expect all these guys to get equal screen time, but at least they’re going to be showing up and hopefully each get a short showcase to remind us why fans fell in love with them all those years ago.

The film has a little bigger budget this time around. A bit more screen time for Arnold and Bruce. Chuck and Jean-Claude get in on the fun. Again it all sounds like it could be an entertaining popcorn action flick to end the summer on. I really hope it will be. The fans deserve it and the fact so many action stars came together again to make a movie….well it shouldn’t just be an average one.

The Apparition – August 24

The Apparition horror movie 2012
This ghost picked the right house to haunt!

Where are all the horror movies this summer??? Oh here’s one. A young couple is haunted by an evil apparition that was conjured out of a parapsychology experiment. Feeding on their fear the apparition makes their lives a living hell. They’re forced to hire an expert to get rid of it before it kills them!

This doesn’t really sound that original. It almost kind of sounds like every ghost story ever made. Eh, maybe it will be good. At least it’s not a remake!

The whole science angle in the creation of the apparition and the rule of once you believe in it you will die could be a unique spin if the filmmakers get creative enough with it. The film is Todd Lincoln’s directorial debut and based on the trailer there looks to be some spooky images, along with the video camera fad that seems the popular thing to do with these flicks nowadays.

It’s got a story supposedly ‘based’ on real events, a young attractive looking cast (how can you have a ghost story without a hot young chick in bedwear – in this case Ashley Greene), along with classic horror movie cliches we’ve grown to love. Why do ghosts always have to turn the lights out on people before attacking them? So this could attract the young crowd who just love going to scary movies no matter what the quality of them are.

Premium Rush 

Gordon-Levitt on wheels

Remember when Kevin Bacon made bike messengers cool back in 1986 in Quick Silver? He did make them cool in that film didn’t he…? Well, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the new generation of bike messenger who gets embroiled in a life and death chase in the New York City streets.

The way this flick is being advertised it makes it look like Speed on a bicycle. It looks like it can be awfully silly flick. After watching the trailer…..like, how many times can this guy get hit by a car???  When Gordon-Levitt’s boss asks him if he needs back up and there’s an army of bike messengers answering the call…..uhhh…. I don’t know what to make of it. I’m much more interested in seeing Gordon-Levitt’s next film Looper, due out in September.

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