Spring/summer movie guide
In a trend at the movies this Spring/Summer, distributors interrupt strictly good versus evil heroic franchises for twin topics that reflect the not-so-scrubbed-under-the-rug anxieties of the 21st Century.
Let’s do the easiest spin first. Since romantic comedy has fallen along with the skewed and morphing definition of a relationship, smiles, kisses and happily ever afters seldom sync with the newest generation of flick goers. Hollywood has been slow to catch up, but dysfunctional relationship comedy has gradually taken hold after less than stellar performances in “Five Year Engagement” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
WILL THEY BE FUNNY?
Among the offerings this spring are: ” Big Wedding,” (April 26; all-star cast of Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams); Tyler Perry presents “Peeples” (May 10); and “The Hangover III” (May 24). Summer promises Grown Ups II (July 13, Adam Sandler ), and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson teaming up once again for , “The Internship” (June 7).
DESTROYING THE PLANET AGAIN AND AGAIN
The second dominating theme has been rapidly churning out the “end of civilization as we know it” (a.k.a. apocalyptic) films. Their emergence began before the atomic bomb race of World War II (“Metropolis,” “End of the World,” “Deluge”), but the threats of nuclear oblivion during the Cold War set a standard for other worldly invaders (“War of the Worlds,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”), nuclear desolation (“On the Beach,” “World, Flesh and Devil”) and mutated futures where apes, zombies or insects rule the a globe which has survived a virus, internal or external catastrophe, or the grips of planet wide dictatorship.
From 1950 to 1959, only seven such films were released, and in the 60s, a total of 13. The futuristic computer – or ape – administered dominions brought 23 flicks in the 70s and 30 in the 1980s. But following September 11, 2001, the genre literally exploded to 55 titles (after a slight 90s slump to 29). 2010-2012 brought 18 flicks.
2013’s crop adds a variation – wasting the White House (perhaps, cinematic exasperation at the continuous Congressional gridlock). “Olympus Has Fallen” (Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett) opened in late March, but “White House Down” awaits June 28. “Olympus” has a more intimate hostage crisis ploy while the school’s out offering will be f/x bells and whistles from the director of “Independence Day.” Channing Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and James Woods star.
Reflecting the crime gone haywire attitudes which last evolved during the times of racial and student unrest (“Strawberry Statement,” “Escape from New York”) comes a “Hunger Games” sacrificing of the weak spin-off called “The Purge,” built around home invasions and a 12-hour crime without punishment ritual. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey share the lead.
June uncorks an intimate scope to wiping out the population potentially along the “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” scenario following the actions of one would-be couple. “This is the End” places a group of drinking buddies (Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson) safely on the outskirts of Los Angeles when catastrophe hits. They survive the Big One, but for how long can they hold off cabin fever and the eventual demand to restock the pantry?
Meanwhile, zombies, robots, politics and other post-apocalyptic themes instill fright, paranoia and banding together in releases such as:
“Oblivion” ( Tom Cruise): Patrolling the wiped out ruins of humanity, Cruise and an emotively flat companion (Andrea Riseborough) extract resources from Earth’s surface; however, this mysterious post-intergalactic war adventure flips from drone blasts and underground resistance to a climatic space battle.
“After Earth” (June 7, Will Smith, Jaden Smith): Crash landing on the planet 1,000 years after its abandonment, father and son …
“World War Z” (June 21, Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Matthew Fox): A United Nations operative has a zombie pandemic on his plate and he’s criss crossing the planet seeking data from survivors to prevent its resurgence.
“Pacific Rim” (July 12, Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi): Guillermo del Toro directs a war between sea monsters (Kaiju) and humanity’s robots (Jaegers), where an obsolete pilot teams with an untrained rookie on a quest to save the planet.
“Elysium” (Aug 9, Matt Damon, Jodie Foster), where in 2159 the extremely affluent have fled a ruined, over populated Earth for a space station, one man under takes a mission to heal the polarization amongst the classes, which at its root has strong immigration laws preventing entry to the luxurious space station.
FAMILY & HEROICS
Family-friendly releases this summer include Despicable Me II, Epic, Turbo. Monster University, Smurfs 2, and ( Pixar) Planes.
As for franchise heroics, “Iron Man III,” opens May 3, “Star Trek Into Darkness” on May 17, “Man of Steel” has another reboot June 14, and an attempt to modernize “The Lone Ranger” franchise (July 3, Johnny Depp).