By Jordan Ruimy
You hear that sound? That’s the sound of explosive bombs, superheroes, no character development and little to no substance. Yes, it must be summer and with summer comes loads of big, loud, abrasive movies. But this season, maybe things will be different.
It’s been like this for a good long time now. The studios release their biggest blockbusters, suited for those that just want escapism. There’s nothing wrong with escapism. I like the occasional movie that wants to do nothing but entertain and numb the senses. But there’s something very shallow and unmoving about a movie season that takes its pride in doing that. The following 10 movies are the ones to look out for this summer.
These 10 movies don’t just want you to forget and escape, they have something to say and directors that have a real conscience for feeling and character. As American Beauty once tagged in its promotional campaign, “look closer.”
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th)
Here’s the big one. A superhero movie that might go all the way to Oscar glory. With 2008’s The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan raised the bar for Superhero movies with a Batman that had deep, humane flaws in his tortured, dark soul. It was one for the ages and The Dark Knight proved to be the biggest blockbuster since Titanic. The anticipated sequel has higher expectations and no Heath Ledger as the Joker. Instead we get Tom Hardy as big, bad Bane and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. If everything goes right and the film is just as good as its predecessor, Oscar might call for multiple nominations including a long overdue Director nod for Nolan.
Moonrise Kingdom (May 25th)
Wes Anderson is not one to abide by formula. His films are unique in tone, bold in look and original in story. Just look at his body of work (The Fantastic Mr.Fox, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited) an extendedly rich catalogue that will grow even further in the years to come. His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and an outstanding supporting cast. The plot centers around a pair of young lovers that run away from their New England town. Opening the Cannes Film Festival this May, Moonrise Kingdom should be way up on your must-see list.
Dark Shadows (May 11th)
Whenever Tim Burton releases a movie, we pay attention. No matter how disappointing his last few remakes were – Charlie And The Chocolate Factory? Alice In Wonderland? – his latest is nevertheless anticipated. Based on the 1960’s Gothic soap opera of the same name, Dark Shadows casts Burton favorite Johnny Depp as a patriarchal vampire that wakes from a century long sleep. Leave it to Burton and Depp to bring dark humor to a film that most definitely needs it in loads. Although Burton is at his best when telling his own original stories (Edward Scissorhands) here’s hoping he nails it with this one.
Magic Mike (June 29th)
Does anybody want to watch a movie about the life of a veteran male stripper? I do. Especially when Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) directs. Channing Tatum stars as the stripper and to makes things even more interesting, Tatum started out his pre-Hollywood career as – you guessed it – a male stripper. Matthew McConaughey co-stars as the strip club’s sleazy owner. It’s the sort of personal autobiography that I look forward to in a summer of muck. It could hit all the right notes, especially with Soderbergh at the helm of this one.
Brave (June 22nd)
The folks over at Pixar (Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Up, Toy Story) rarely hit a false note. Their tales are filled with deftly handled characters, adult oriented themes and storytelling that’s just bliss. So it’s with great anticipation that we look forward to their latest original tale, Brave. In fact it is the first Pixar film to feature a female heroine, Merida. A redheaded Scotswoman that can shoot a fiercer bow than Katniss Everdine ever did. Although Cars 2 was an immense disappointment, I wouldn’t count Pixar out just yet. Judging by the trailer, Brave has the potential to do big things.
To Rome With Love (June 22nd)
Woody Allen’s follow-up to last year’s successful Midnight In Paris has another stellar cast at its disposal. This includes Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin and Allen himself . Expectations are at their highest for the Woodman’s 43rd film, which follows the same formula he used in Midnight In Paris. To Rome With Love is a love letter to a city he has always adored. Will it be another successful artistic achievement or will it fall in the same routine trap as his latter career films (Scoop). No matter, if we’ve learned one thing about Woody Allen over the years, it’s that you never count him out.
The Amazing Spiderman (July 3rd) and The Bourne Legacy (August 3rd)
Two movie franchise reboots. If there’s anything we can learn from Summer 2012 it’s that fresh, new ideas are not seen anywhere. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield takes over the Tobey Maguire role and Marc Webb takes over Sam Raimi’s directorial duties, yet there’s hope. Webb directed the awesome 500 Days Of Summer, Garfield is a talented young actor and the trailer looks like it won’t be the same old story. This could be a major surprise. In The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon is replaced by Jeremy Renner – yet there is no Jason Bourne in the movie. It’s a new agent and a new setting. Tony Gilroy, who directed the great Michael Clayton, takes the helm of the franchise and I’m betting he’s going to do a solid job.