Can July restore my faith in the 2010 summer movie season?
Why are this summer’s box office offerings so abysmal?
I embarked on my mission in May hoping that at least a smattering of summer movies would be worth the price of admission. At this point, however, only a couple films — “Iron Man 2,” ”Toy Story 3″ – have lived up to the hype.
Unfortunately, July doesn’t look much better.
Here’s hoping that my predictions of another miserable month, based on the movies mentioned below, turn out to be wrong.
“The Last Airbender” (Opens today)
Based on the popular animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (not to be confused with the James Cameron blockbuster), this fantasy epic follows the adventures of Aang (Noah Ringer), a young boy with the ability to control the elements.
With the help of siblings Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (“Twilight” team member Jackson Rathbone), he must defeat the Fire Nation — led by Prince Zuko (“Slumdog Millionaire” star Dev Patel) and Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis of TV’s “Trauma”) — and restore peace to the world.
“Avatar” boasts some flashy special effects, but critics say the incomprehensable plot, laughable dialogue and wooden acting aren’t up to the same standard. Has director M. Night Shyamalan has lost his edge?
“Despicable Me” (July 9)
Notorious super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) has it all — a secret lair, cool weapons and an army of dim-witted minions. Nothing, not even his arch-enemy Vector (Jason Segal), can stand between him and total world domination.
Then Gru comes face to face with his greatest challenge ever: a trio of cute, precocious orphans (Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher and Dana Grier). Can this dastardly, despicable bad guy change his tune?
Presented in “eye–popping 3D,” “Despicable Me” is just one of two animated movies this year about supervillains. Will Ferrell stars as the title character in “Megamind,” due in theaters in November.
We’ll see if either film is able to put a fresh, funny spin on the superhero spoof genre.
“Predators” (July 9)
When a team of elite warriors are unceremoniously dumped on a jungle planet, it’s a safe bet that they’re not there for a picnic.
In fact, this planet is inhabited by the same stealthy interstellar hunters that terrorized in Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator,” Danny Glover in “Predator 2″ and a ton of Hollywood unknowns in the “AVP: Alien vs. Predators.” Now, these sorry saps — Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne and Danny Trejo — must struggle to survive the meanest, nastiest killers in the universe.
I can easily picture Fishburne and Trejo as big, bad alien bait. I’m even willing to buy Brody as a skinny survivor. But Topher Grace?! His turn as Venom in “Spider-Man 3″ was so laughable that I’ll be counting the seconds until he bites the dust in this sci-fi shootout.
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (July 14)
It was only a matter of time before Disney decided to turn one of its most popular properties, the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” short from “Fantasia,” into a feature-length film.
But did it have to be this film?
In “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” master magician Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) recruits a seemingly ordinary teen (Jay Baruchel) for the title job. He needs his help in defending New York City from his nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina, slumming). I don’t know which is more laughable — Cage’s character’s name or his haircut.
Directed by Jon Turtetaub (“National Treasure: Book of Secrets”) and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”), “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is the kind of family-friend blockbuster that caters to the lowest common denominator.
I’ll be avoiding this one like the plague.
“Inception” (July 14)
Christopher Nolan, the visionary filmmaker behind “Memento,” “The Prestige” and “The Dark Knight,” is no stranger to imaginative storylines or shocking plot twists. Now he’s back at the box office with another mind-bender.
“Inception” takes place in a world in which highly trained thieves can invade your mind through your dreams and access your most closely guarded thoughts. It’s called “inception.”
Dorn Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has made his career stealing company secrets from unwilling minds. Now, he and his team of specialists are faced with a far more difficult task.
Out of all of this summer’s offerings, “Inception” is the title that makes my spine tingle the most. It’s got a terrific director, great special effects and an amazing cast, including Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page and Ken Watanabe. Wow.
“Salt” (July 23)
Angelina Jolie has played her share of tough, capable hotties who know how to handle a firearm — the title archeologist in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” the missus in “Mrs. & Mrs. Smith,” Fox in “Wanted.” So it should come as no surprise that she’s back in action in “Salt.”
When a Russian defector accuses CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Jolie) of being a spy, she’s forced to go on the run — using her training to survive as she searches for a way to prove her innocence. Sound familiar?
We’ve seen stories like “Salt” many times before (“Mission: Impossible,” “Knight and Day”). However, the material may benefit from being in Jolie’s hands rather than those of the original lead of “Salt,” Tom Cruise.
“Ramona and Beezus” (July 23)
Here’s a fresh addition to this summer’s family entertainment roster.
Based on Beverly Cleary’s beloved children’s books, “Ramona and Beezus” focuses on the relationship between grade schooler Ramona Quimby (Joey King, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”) and her older sister Beatrice, aka Beezus (“Wizards of Waverly Place” star Selena Gomez).
Directed by newcomer Elizabeth Allen, this mild-mannered comedy features a cast of TV stalwarts including John Corbett, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Duhamel and Sandra Oh.
“Dinner for Schmucks” (July 30)
I saw little need to remake the British comedy “Death at a Funeral.” And I’m even more curious why anyone would want to remake the brilliant French film “The Dinner Game.”
Unfortunately, “Dinner for Schmucks” isn’t likely to lend any new revelations.
Directed by Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents,” “Austin Powers”), the movie stars Paul Rudd as Tim, a rising executive who’s invited to participate in his boss’ monthly dinner game. Whoever brings the biggest buffoon to dinner wins.
Tim succeeds in finding an impressively idiotic specimen, IRS agent Barry (Steve Carell). Then things get really ugly.
Ugh. I barely stand to watch the trailer.
“Cats & Dogs: “The Revenge of Kitty Galore” (July 3o)
Did we really need a sequel to 2001′s “Cats & Dogs“?
According to a slew of studio executives, the answer to that question is “yes.”
Like its predecessor, “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” takes place in a world where felines and canines are locked in an eternal struggle for dominance. This time, however, they’re forced to work together to take down the title villain, an out-of-control kitten voiced by Bette Midler.
Excuse me one moment while I vomit in my trashcan. There. That’s better.
“Charlie St. Cloud” (July 30)
Originally slated for an October release, this drama reunites Central Coast heartthrob Zac Efron with his “17 Again” director, Burr Steers.
Efron plays a young man overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother, Sam (Charlie Tahan, “Nights in Rodanthe”).
When Charlie meets Tess (Amanda Crew, “The Haunting in Connecticut”), a girl whose love of sailing rivals his own, he’s forced to choose keeping his promise to Sam and going after the girl he loves.
Based on the book by Ben Sherwood, “Charlie St. Cloud” could be the movie that finally transforms Efron from dancing, singing Disney star to serious actor.
Image courtesy of MovieWeb.com.
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