We have arrived at the end of my 2011 Summer Movie Preview as I look at a couple of categories that are pretty much the absolute opposites of one another as I have five family films that haven’t necessarily fit into prior categories and a batch of eight genre films that either didn’t fit in previous installments or I held over just to ensure this final part had enough films to discuss. Either way, this isn’t garbage time, there are a few films I’m sure you’ll be interested in seeing in this batch so without further delay let’s dig in…
We’ll begin with a few family films and we’ll start with a film I am very curious to see how it performs, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh (7/15). I’ve been quite surprised at how interested people seem to be in this film, and not because I’m some kind of demented Winnie the Pooh hater, but because I didn’t know there was that large an audience for Pooh. I was trying to think back and I don’t think I have ever seen a single movie or Disney cartoon featuring Pooh so I am pretty much ignorant of the little bear’s appeal. Yet, the audience interest in this one intrigues me.
Sticking with cartoon characters from yesteryear, The Smurfs (8/3) is finally coming to the big screen and in 3D no less. I imagine Sony is hoping for the same kind of return with this film that Fox has seen so far with the Alvin and the Chipmunks films and with Neil Patrick Harris starring and a voice cast that ranges from current pop culture icons to Pee Wee Herman I don’t see why it wouldn’t dominate the box-office as the summer winds down. Quality with these kinds of films rarely matters.
Speaking of quality not mattering, make way for Kevin James and Zookeeper (7/8) in which James will talk to animals and attempt the success films such as his Grown Ups and Paul Blart: Mall Cop achieved. Honestly, with Adam Sandler voicing one of the characters I have to assume this one is a guaranteed $100 million earner already.
Another film quite possibly destined for $100 million is Robert Rodriguez returning to his Spy Kids franchise once again with Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (8/19). This is a franchise that has made over $310 million domestically in its first three installments. The third made more than the second and this one again is in 3D. There is a proven audience for these films, but the reviews have been declining since the first one. RottenTomatoes lists the first installment at 93%, but from there it went to 75% and the last one was a meager 44%. Is this going to be yet another case where the quality of the films before hurts the one to follow or will the same audience be willing to give this latest one a chance?
Finally, I have no idea what to say about Jim Carrey’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins (6/17). I like saying the title just because it sounds so stupid and coincidentally the trailer follows suit. This movie looks terrible, but perhaps people that like penguins will show up in droves. If these were the Madagascar penguins I’d be more interested. If it was the giant penguin from Billy Madison I’d be more excited. But penguins dancing to Vanilla Ice? Not so much.
I’ll kick off the genre section with the Sundance pick-up The Devil’s Double (7/29) in which Dominic Cooper (An Education) stars as Latif Yahia, body double to Uday Hussein, son to Saddam Hussein and big brother to Qusay Hussein. The kicker, however, is that Cooper also plays Uday. Early reviews called it “a rocket-powered thriller” and “undeniably fascinating” and as for Cooper’s performance and some of the people comparing the film to Scarface, Geoffrey Macnab at The Independent says “he shows a certain restraint” and “doesn’t just indulge in Al Pacino-like histrionics.” Could be good.
Next, we move to the barbarous as Lionsgate will unleash the remake of Conan the Barbarian (8/19) bringing Robert E. Howard’s creation to a whole new audience as Conan (Jason Momoa) quests across the continent of Hyboria, fighting to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village. In an effort for full disclosure, I hated the Arnold Schwarzenegger original and as a result have no desire to see this movie. Should Lionsgate screen it I will certainly attend, but my expectations are very low, decide what you think by watching the new trailer right here.
This summer is actually quite light when it comes to the glossy PG-13 video game-esque features, but the summer will start with such a film with Priest (5/13). Paul Bettany stars as a warrior priest who disobeys church law by teaming with a young, part-vampire sheriff (Cam Gigandet) and a priestess (Maggie Q) to track down a band of renegade vampires who have kidnapped the priest’s niece. This is Bettany’s second teaming with director Scott Stewart as the two last delivered the dud Legion so I’m not exactly expecting much from this one either.
One film that might join Priest in the PG-13 thrills department is Fright Night (8/19) from DreamWorks as I have not yet received an MPAA rating for this one. However, I doubt it will be limited to a PG-13 considering the original 1985 feature was rated R and centers around a teen (Anton Yelchin) who finds out his neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. I have actually heard good things about the original and hope to watch it soon, but I’m also interested in seeing how Lars and the Real Girl helmer Craig Gillespie handles this material as he will move to the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies next.
Perhaps the most anticipated horror film of the summer is Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (8/12), the Miramax acquisition that ended up at FilmDistrict which has been having its share of fun at the box-office with the highly successful low budget horror Insidious. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark‘s claim to fame is the fact it’s being presented by Guillermo del Toro, but it also had a pretty freaky little teaser trailer last August (watch it to the right).
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is actually a remake of a 1973 made-for-TV original, which I actually reviewed last year. The story centers on a family living in a 19th-century mansion, which they are renovating, when young Sally (Bailee Madison) unwittingly lets loose a race of ancient, dark-dwelling creatures who conspire to drag her down into the mysterious house’s bottomless depths. She must convince Alex (Guy Pearce) and Kim (Katie Holmes) that it’s not a fantasy-before the evil lurking in the dark consumes them all.
Horror then moves to a familiar franchise as Warner Bros. decided four wasn’t enough when The Final Destination made $186 million worldwide in 2009 and will now deliver Final Destination 5 (8/12). Will lightning continue to strike?
From the familiar to the stars as the Weinstein Co. has finally decided on an August release date for Apollo 18 (8/26) after they bounced it all around the schedule over the last six months. The is one of those found-footage features, which purports to depict lost recordings from Apollo 18’s mysterious mission to the moon where, suffice to say, something very, very bad happened to the crew. I did a big write up on the film last December which you may find interesting. The comments on that article, however, turned into some kind of religious war so maybe avoid those.
And finally we come to a close with Fox Searchlight’s Sundance acquisition Another Earth (7/22), which deals with the story of two lives that become intertwined as the world deals with the discovery of a duplicate Earth. This film will be showing at the Seattle International Film Festival and I recently watched the trailer, which I really can’t say I could make heads or tails of. There was good buzz for this film coming out of Sundance so everything the trailer offered must come together in some fashion, but I can’t really tell from the trailer… which is probably a good thing.
So there you have it… 50 films previewed in four days. If you missed or want to revisit any of my previous installments just click on the links below.