Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer Movie Monday: Catching Up

Now that school is over and I have some time to write (yay!), I'm finally able to fill you in on this summer's first round of movies. Look forward to one of these posts every week, but for now, this will cover the last few weeks of summer movies. Click through for the seven movies in this first installment!

Opened Friday, May 2nd
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Campbell Scott, Marton Csokas, B.J. Novak, Sarah Gadon, Michael Massee
53% on Rotten Tomatoes

Now we return for the second installment in the second Spider-man franchise since the start of the 2000s. The necessity has obviously been debated since the first one came out a couple years ago, but since they're going to make the movies anyway, we might as well get past that. What I'm worried about is that this second film is a bit bloated, what with a million different villains popping up. Bigger isn't always better and I would rather see more from the characters that genuinely make these versions more exciting. You can't beat Garfield and Stone's chemistry so you might as well center the movie on that. Unfortunately, I don't think that's what was done when you've got a mysterious backstory involving Peter's parents as well as four or five villains in the mix.

UPDATE: Yes, this movie is packed. Some things feel a little rushed, most notably Harry Osborne's storyline, but other elements are given their due, such as Electro and Gwen and Peter's relationship. I thought that throwing in the elements of discovering Peter's parents' involvement in everything was interesting and necessary, but in the end just a bit too much backstory given the rest of the story in the movie. It was a lot, but I still feel like this iteration of Spidey is better done than it's most recent predecessor.

Opened Friday, May 2nd
Directed by: Amma Asante
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, James Norton, Tom Felton, Sam Reid
83% on Rotten Tomatoes

This period drama takes a look at an illegitimate mixed-race woman raised by her uncle and struggling with her place in society. It is a true story and one that will certainly be so interesting to see play out. Dramas of this specific period rarely take a look at other races than white people who dominated anything and everything that they could. Gugu Mbatha-Raw's performance is being praised and it's exciting to see a woman who has been on the scene since 2005 coming into her own.

Opened Friday, May 9th
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr.
87% on Rotten Tomatoes

Jon Favreau goes back to his indie roots with this little charmer that follows an artistic chef with bad reviews to his venture in opening a food truck. Food trucks are all the rage at the moment, so it certainly is timely, and I'm betting that you'll walk out of the theater hungry and ready to chow down. It has certainly been a long time since Swingers but it will be fun to watch Favreau back in that domain, rather than just steering a giant superhero ship. With this cast it will prove to be hard not to like.

Opened Friday, May 9th
Directe by: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jake Johnson, Lisa Kudrow
74% on Rotten Tomatoes

This raucous comedy is looking to earn the title of "comedy of the summer." It will be left up to the charisma of Rogen, Byrne, and Efron whether or not it achieves that. It has the makings of a raunchy, but oddly touching film that hopefully makes you laugh until you cry, but it could just as easily cross the line into obnoxious territory. Either way it will rake in the cash and draw in plenty of teens and college students. Question of the day: why isn't Rose Byrne on the poster? Start a feminist debate in the comments about how a woman on the poster would deter men from seeing the movie, because I kind of think that's what was in the marketer's heads.

Opened on Friday, May 9th
Directed by: Gia Coppola
Starring: Emma Roberts, James Franco, Jack Kilmer, Val Kilmer, Nat Wolff, Zoe Levin, Andrew Lutheran, Olivia Crocicchia, Claudia Levy, Brenden Taylor
79% on Rotten Tomatoes

The premise of this movie is especially ironic considering James Franco's recent instagram antics that have involved questionable pictures and propositions to a teenager. This is ironic because the original author of the story is Franco himself, and the story is about a student and a relationship (or at least, possibility of a relationship) with her soccer coach. Life imitating art? Let's hope not. Franco's actions in real life aside, the movie looks to make Gia Coppola a notable director in her own right and give Emma Roberts another chance to prove her chops in an intriguing and uncomfortable plot.

Opened Friday, May 16th
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk, Patrick Sabongui
73% on Rotten Tomatoes

It's back! Hollywood makes another attempt to make Godzilla relevant, and it honestly looks like it's just going to be a big bag of monster fun. It has a killer cast and as long as it gets a little weird, I think it could work. It's Godzilla. It is literally a giant lizard overtaking a city. It is preposterous in 2014 and if there isn't a teeny bit of humor, what's the point? Plus, Bryan Cranston is great at everything, so if anyone can carry a giant lizard movie with drama and hopefully some humor, it's him. He was Hal and Heisenberg. He can basically do anything, and with a versatile supporting cast, the movie is really set up for success. It has to be scary in a Jaws kind of way. Jaws will scare your pants off, but you have a ton of fun watching it too.

Opened Friday, May 16th
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Aasif Mandvi, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Gregory Alan Williams, Allyn Rachel
61% on Rotten Tomatoes

It's Disney's latest sport movie! This one features Jon Hamm on a quest to introduce MLB's very first Indian player. Baseball is one of my favorite sports and great baseball movies are really great: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Moneyball, and The Sandlot all have a special place in my movie collection. That's partly because of the classic nature of baseball. It's the All American pastime and peanuts and crackerjacks are all engrained in our culture (or at least mine). This makes the idea of baseball as a global sport (or at least an American sport with many international players) all the more intriguing, and this plot all the more relevant to our increasingly global, inclusive lives.

Opening Friday, May 23rd
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, Daniel Cudmore, Bingbing Fan, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Lucas Till
92% on Rotten Tomatoes

This is another superhero movie taking the viewpoint of bigger being better. It could work, depending on how dynamic the script is, but otherwise there is huge potential for this to feel as muddled as the theatrical poster. If the movie is as cool as the teaser posters however (seen above), then it could be stellar. I'm all about superhero movies but with Marvel just churning them out, I'm finally starting to feel a little bombarded. This won't stop me from seeing them, but I think studios need to start slowing it down and focusing on quality not quantity. Regardless, this could still be awesome. Here's hoping because I want to not get sick of superheroes/mutants/cool weirdos.

What movies are you excited for this summer?

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