Action Movie May Summer Preview
Today marks the beginning of my people’s most sacred month, ACTION MOVIE MAY.
As we begin our journey into the hottest, most action packed months of the year, this summer seems especially jam-packed with testosterone injected mayhem, I’m going to walk you through the explosions and car chases to get to the very best in visceral entertainment.
Here it is, ready to help kick off the summer movie season, the Impossible Thing. The Movie That Should Not Exist. Forget Lord of the Rings. Forget Watchmen. Forget Dune. Forget every movie that was or is “impossible” to film, this is the one movie that should not have been able to be put together.
First you have to get all the characters in one film, and therefore under one studio. In the 90’s Marvel was selling off the right to properties to different studios, because that was the only way they knew how to do it. This is why the X-Men will never meet the Avengers and why Spider-Man won’t meet up with his friend/rival Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four. Fox owns the X-Men and Fantastic Four; Sony owns Spider-Man, and the Avengers is owned by Disney and has a partnership with Paramount.
Marvel managed to hang onto what was largely considered the “unfilmable” characters. How do you pitch Thor, God of Thunder, to middle-America? He’s a god, but not really? He lives in a magical kingdom with other god/not gods? His hammer is magic, but Thor is also magic so he’s powerful without it? What about the straightforward earnestness of Captain America? Can you truly do a good take in our cynical world of a man wearing the flag on his chest?
Yet Marvel, made it work. Tony Stark became rockstar Steve Jobs. Thor was a hot-headed young man trying to find his way in the universe and discover who he was meant to be. Steve Rogers was the little guy who was sick of running that was finally given the ability to do something about it. They made the heroes that were unfilmable into household names.
However, making a movie based on the exploits of one guy and making a movie where they all come together are two different things. You have to pay everyone. You have to pay for the special effects. You have to wrangle the delicate egos of beautiful people used to having their asses kissed. You have to give every character, and by extension, every actor, their due in screen time.
On top of all of that, it has to be good.
And according to nearly every advance review and the fact that it’s made nearly 200 million before it will be released in the US, they did it.
Joss fuckin’ Whedon.
Also, some creative contract structuring to secure everyone for six motion pictures at a price everyone could live with, but mostly Joss fuckin’ Whedon.
Whedon is a geek god. By hiring him, Marvel and Disney sent a message to all the nerd tribes that they “got it.” They understood that this movie and all the properties involved were important and that this movie would be scrutinized from day one, and to get the goodwill just to work on the movie in peace they had to hire someone who would try their damnedest to do the material justice.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are two shows named after a main character that end up being all about the ensemble cast and what everyone brings to the table in terms of both strengths and weaknesses. Firefly became one of the most beloved genre shows, ever, even though Fox didn’t air all of its episodes, and the ones they did air were shown out of order. The show found a place in many fans’ hearts because the crew of the Serenity acted like family in the ship, and team off it and not a collection of individuals talking at each other. Astonishing X-Men was an incredible run of comics that showed me that an X-book could actually be fun and readable and not up it’s own ass with continuity and cross-over bullshit. He made every character distinct, drawing on decades of relationships for their interactions, but still managing to find unique insights into the group dynamic.
He’s the king of team dynamics. He’s probably the only one who could do it. What Christopher Nolan did for Batman is extraordinary, but it’s grounded in the real world. A director like that could never take the sheer insanity of a team made of gods, super soldiers, experiments gone wrong, and uh, uhm, an archer, and make it work. This is one of those project where you just turn into the skid and go right after the crazy. Joss made high school as a horror movie, vampire noir, and space western all workable, enthralling concepts. Superhero team-up is nothing compared to all that.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m really looking forward to this movie. I hope it’ll be a fun romp.
I really, really, really want to eviscerate this movie.
But I saw all three Transformers movies opening day. I enjoyed GI Joe. So I don’t really feel like have a leg to stand on regarding this flick.
I mean, do you have any idea how much I’d love to point out that the board game tie-in aside this is basically Battle: Los Angeles, but on the water? Or how Universal was clearly counting on John Carter being a huge hit to sell the whole Taylor Kitsch thing? Or how there was probably a contract dispute over who would get to say, “you sank my battleship/I just sank your battleship,” but now the line will haunt the speaker forever? Or how we all wish it would have been Liam Neeson throat chopping aliens for two hours?
I’d love to bag on all of that, but I just can’t.
Men in Black 3
Was anyone dying for a third one of these?
Don’t get me wrong, I love pissed-off-I’ve-seen-it-all-Tommy Lee Jones as much as the next guy, and Josh Brolin’s Tommy Lee Jones impression seems to be on point, but I can’t make a feeling for this movie. I nothing it.
Snow White and the Hunstman
Somehow, someway fairy tales became an ‘It’ thing in Hollywood this year. We’ve got two fairy tale intensive TV shows and dueling Snow White movies. This one is the Grimdark version of the story with lots of fantasy elements and the giant monsters sorely lacking from past iterations. The special effects look neat. The dwarf cast is stacked with great character actors. Charlize Theron looks to be having fun vamping it up and chewing scenery as larger than life villain.
Really my only problem with this entire movie is that it’s central conceit is unbelievable. I’ve been a nerd my entire existence. Sci-fi, fantasy, comic books, I’ve spent most of my life living in other worlds, but I simply can’t abide in a world where the audience is asked to accept a realm of existence where Charlize Theron is threatened by Kristen Stewart’s looks.
GIVE IT TO ME.
GIVE IT TO ME NOW.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Hey, remember up at the top? The part where I praised Joss Whedon for mashing up genres? And how Buffy the Vampire Slayer was awesome?
Joss Whedon is nowhere near this.
Back in 1998 the tide began to turn. Blade was released into theaters, less as a comic book movie, and more as an action movie. It gained a foothold, and it was enough. X-Men and Spider-Man were quick to follow, video games began to make profits in the hundreds of millions, TV embraced nerdom with shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica or it’s conventions with more serialized storytelling in shows like Mad Men or Breaking Bad.
However we’ve reached a saturation point and now nerd culture is cannibalizing itself. This is calculated. It was created to light up all these different nerd alarms, and I’d like to think we’re going to be able to identify it, but we’ll see.
GI Joe: Retaliation
GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra was fun. This is not the same as good. It had underwater dog fights, ninjas, and the Eiffel Tower disintegrated and then fell on everyone. Think about it; until the very end, Cobra pantsed the Joes. The good guys basically lost every fight until the last one. Which for a movie aimed at kids is kind of daring.
This, however, isn’t about the last one, it’s about this one, and how they fixed the biggest problem which was building movie around the chemistry of Marlon Wayans and Channing Tatum by not asking Wayans back and apparently murdering Tatum Channing in the first five minutes.
Add to the fact that the Rock is in the cast with Bruce Willis and it’s already ten thousand times better than the first movie and that’s before you get to the part where Snake Eyes has a motorcycle made out of jet packs, and the jet packs perform kamikaze attacks on gates and doors that get in Snake-Eyes’ way.
As an aside, we’ve yet to see a single moment of Storm Shadow in any of the trailers wearing a shirt. I’m for this because it’s kind of nice to see Asian males presented as sexually viable in a western movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man
“The Untold Story.”
The fucking balls on these guys.
The origin story, again, only five years after the last one came out.
It’s well cast there’s no denying that, but after three barely average Spider-Man movies, I just can’t get my hopes up for this. I haven’t seen anything new in the trailers that says it’ll be a huge departure from the last trilogy.
If you tuned into any of the last three movies at a random point, there was a 77% chance that you would see the hero crying. If that extremely low bar can be leapt, then I’ll definitely come around.
This movie will make eleventy billion dollars even if it’s just Andrew Garfield farting into a coffee can.
The Dark Knight Rises
OH MY FUCKING SHIT.
ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?
DID YOU GUYS SEE THE NEW TRAILER?
I WANT THIS MOVIE TO DO TERRIBLE DEGRADING THINGS TO ME AND PAY WELL FOR THE SERVICE.
The Bourne Legacy
Jeremy Renner’s going to be in every film franchise from now until the end of time, isn’t he?
Normally if you were to show my a synopsis that contained the words “rogue,” “CIA,” “Krav-Maga,” and “danger” I’d be all for it, but in this case, I’m going to need to see, “in this movie a dangerous rogue CIA agent Krav-Magas the dick off of everything, AND we hold the fucking camera still this time. No foolin!’ The director learned how to shoot an action sequence this time, and not bullshit his way through it!”
I’d like that in writing.
In all seriousness, I like the paranoid chase feel of the Bourne movies, but I hope they don’t pull any “THIS agent is way MORE dangerous than Jason Bourne. HE’S so MUCH BETTER than the last guy. Fuck THAT guy. Right in HIS own BUTT.”
They’re slowly remaking all of Arnold’s old movies and I guess it’s Total Recall’s turn.
I can’t wait to get happy drunk and watch this at home, and then get sad drunk and scream at God about how Wiseman landed Kate Beckinsale and why I can’t wake from this nightmare where she keeps only appearing in his movies.
Three boobs or get the fuck out.
The Expendables 2
There’s nothing else here I can really add that I didn’t say in my 2,000 word essay. My one and only hope is more Dolph. I want to watch Dolph and Arnold to fight as giants in a model city and for one of them to use the moon as a weapon.
I am available to write Expendables 3: All of Us are EXPENDBRRRRRRRRL.
The Arnold and Dolph fight will be the third act. The second act is Statham and Li spin kicking babies off of conveyor belts.
Act one is, I don’t know, jet ski fight?
Jet ski fight.
Real quick: they cast Liam Hemsworth, Thor’s brother in real life, as the newest member of the Expendables. He seems like a really nice guy in all his interviews. However, I have this joke and I don’t know where else to use it:
Good thing they cast Liam Hemsworth in the Expendables 2. If there’s one thing dude-bros who love action movies and explosions want to see it’s the guy from the Hunger Games who couldn’t get the girl.
That’s it, all the action movies from May to August.
But that’s not it for ACTION MOVIE MAY.
Gird thy loins, and prepare for short stories, classic action movie reviews, a few installments of “Second Chance Theater,” and few words from our patron saint MICHAEL BAY.