Arts & Culture / Mosaic / May 23, 2012

Summer previews

As May turns to June, we stand on the border between the slow, post-Christmas film season and the “time of the blockbusters:” the summer rush of guaranteed moneymakers. “The Avengers” and “Battleship” mark the arrival of the latter group, but we’re not quite there until these films arrive on the scene. Are they all worth seeing? I can’t say for sure yet, but I can say what my current impressions are. Here’s what I think of the summer films coming to theaters near you:

“Men in Black III” — I haven’t seen the original two “Men in Black” films in their entirety, although I understand the films are near and dear to many people’s hearts. It’s always disconcerting when a sequel comes out more than a decade after its predecessors — see how well “Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” turned out — but perhaps there’s some hope. Director Barry Sonnenfeld returns along with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin is a talented addition as a younger Agent K. At the least, it will be a harmless, nostalgic diversion with a group of familiar faces.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” — Thank, or curse, Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” for jumpstarting the recent trend of fairy tale turned dark and twisted epic. Tarsem Singh made a comedic Snow White, “Mirror Mirror,” earlier this winter, but “Snow White and the Huntsman” has loftier goals. It turns the story of diabolical queens, poisoned apples, and kindly dwarves into a “Lord of the Rings”-level epic. Snow White (Kristen Stewart) doesn’t flee the Queen (Charlize Theron), instead engaging her in all-out war. Nothing really sticks out about this project except for “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth, and you’re probably better off holding off on fantasy epics until “The Hobbit” comes out this winter.

“Prometheus” — The trailers are still cryptic about the storyline, but anyone familiar with Ridley Scott’s output knows “Prometheus” is a prequel to the first “Alien,” depicting humanity’s first encounter with a vicious alien threat that may or may not be Xenomorphs. Those afraid that “Prometheus” will fall into the predictable “setting up the first movie” shtick of “The Thing” and “Star Wars” prequels may rest assured knowing “Prometheus” will try to work on its own, separately from the “Alien” franchise. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s” Noomi Rapace and chameleon actor Michael Bassbender are also reassuring touches as the two leads.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” — This year’s “Snakes on a Plane?” Perhaps, if its blunt title and ludicrous premise are any indication, but “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” has one leg over the goofy but forgettable “Snakes on a Plane”: it tells its joke with a straight face. The film takes the idea of a superhuman, vampire-slaying Abe deadly serious, which should, hopefully, make the more insane moments — Lincoln practicing ninjutsu in the Oval Office, brandishing an axe-shotgun — that much more enjoyable. As Knox students, we’re obligated to watch any movie about Lincoln anyways. It might as well be this quasi-horror/action comedy.

“Brave” — Do you need a new reason to see a Pixar movie that isn’t a “Cars” sequel? “Brave” looks beautiful, with its painstaking depiction of an Irish fantasy landscape filled with subtle mysticism. Spirits are hinted at behind the more natural iconography of bears and Middle Ages castle life. Princess Merida might not be the first empowered female figure with a bow and arrow, but count on Pixar to delve deeper and give her a separate, compelling personality from “The Hunger Games’” Katniss.

“The Amazing Spider-Man”/“The Dark Knight Rises” — Our two big superhero films of late summer ride on top of huge expectations. Not only will they inevitably be compared to Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers,” but Nolan has his sublime “The Dark Knight,” graced by Heath Ledger’s haunting turn as The Joker, to live up to, and “The Amazing Spider-Man” will either rise or fall on its ability to win over audiences still used to Sam Raimi’s vision of the web-slinging hero. I’m more confident in Nolan, who has proven with “Inception” that he’s the real deal as a blockbuster, storytelling titan. “The Amazing Spider-Man” still seems extraneous. I still can’t shake the feeling that its director, Marc Webb, is resting on the laurels of his last film, the wildly successful “500 Days of Summer.”

Tags:  Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Alien Avengers Barry Sonnenfeld Battleship Brave Charlize Theron Chris Helmsworth fairy tale Josh Brolin Kristen Stewart Men In Black Michael Bassbender Mirror Mirror movies Noomi Rapace preview Prometheus Snow White Snow White and the Huntsman summer Tarsem Singh The Hobbit Tommy Lee Jones trailers Vampire Hunter Will Smith

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Ivan Keta
Ivan Keta is a weekly film columnist for The Knox Student. In 2013, he won first place in Critical Film Review from the Illinois College Press Association, competing in the open division against dozens of other Illinois college newspapers.

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