2011 Summer Movie Preview: MAY

summer-preview-2

Summer 2010 proved to be an absolute flop by many’s standards and Hollywood has responded by giving us more of the same. This means sequels, remakes and adaptations up the wazoo. Will Hollywood miss the mark again? Probably, but you won’t have to visit an air conditioned theater to find great films this year. You’ll see smaller indies hitting the VOD scene more and more this summer, and this might be where you find the real gems of the season.

May kicks off with a good variety to the summer: we get our first super hero film, some of the hot franchise films, animated films, big-budget comedies and hotly anticipated indies. Even without the huge tent-pole releases of July, May could prove to be the best overall month of the summer season. Contribute to the discussion below in the comments!

May 6: Thor, The Beaver, Hobo with a Shotgun, Troll Hunter
May 13: Bridesmaids, Priest, Everything Must Go, Hesher
May 20: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Midnight in Paris
May 26/27: The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Tree of Life

thor-poster

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman & Anthony Hopkins

TRAILER

Thor (May 6)

Rebel Rikki: Of all the superhero movies coming out this summer, this is definitely the one I’m most excited about. The talent behind film’s incredible, and all the trailers/early reviews I’ve seen indicate that this movie’s straight-up epic, fun action. That’s exactly what Thor deserves; I think his larger-than-life world is particularly suited to a big-screen adaptation. (Anticipated Grade: B+)

Grisly Gunnar: Unlike you, Rikki, I have been mostly lukewarm about Thor, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reviews coming out from early screenings. It doesn’t seem like anyone is super ecstatic about the film, but it seems like it is going to be a crowd-pleaser and an improvement on Iron Man 2. (Anticipated Grade: B+)

Spaceman Spiff: I’m not super excited about Thor, but I’m going to go see it for the Avengers tie-ins. Thor is probably the Marvel character I know the least about and one whom I’ve never been too interested in learning more about. Nevertheless, I’ll certainly be seeing this movie, just most likely at an afternoon matinee. (Anticipated Grade B-)

Noah Nickels: I don’t know a whole lot about the original Thor character, so I don’t have a lot to judge this movie against. I am pleasantly surprised they were able to get Kenneth Branagh to direct this, I’m excited to see what he can bring. Although I said the same thing about Ang Lee’s Hulk which was a disappointment. The trailers for Thor have left me tepid at best, I don’t expect much more than the usual super hero fare here. (Anticipated Grade C)

Grisly Gunnar: I understand the comparison with Hulk, but that film’s problem to many was that it was just too serious for the content & I definitely don’t think we’ll see the same problem here.

Rebel Rikki: Yeah, I agree, I think/hope the only seriousness in this movie will be the faux-gravity brought on by the Old English-style dialog. Again I definitely want to echo what Noah says: Kenneth. Branagh.

Grisly Gunnar: We’ll see what Branagh brings to the film & I wouldn’t call him a great director, but I understand your sentiments.

the-beaver

Directed by: Jodie Foster

Starring: Jodie Foster & Mel Gibson

TRAILER

The Beaver (May 6 – limited)

Grisly Gunnar: I have heard so many different reviews (some GREAT some TERRIBLE) of this movie so far that I really don’t know what to think. The premise seems enjoyable but I’ve heard it is much less campy/comical than you would expect. I actually still enjoy Mel Gibson as an actor (last year’s return in Edge of Darkness was an under-rated film) and I’m interested in seeing what Jodie Foster can do as a director. Still, I feel I’m going to be mostly torn on the movie. (Anticipated Grade: C+)

Noah Nickels: As one of the Black List scripts that I have already read, I pretty much know what to expect plot-wise going in. I was not blown away by the screenplay, I did think it was keenly original and had its comical moments, but ultimately ended up more cliche than unique. We’ll see what Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson can do to spice it up a bit. (Anticipated Grade B)

Spaceman Spiff: This certainly looks quirky, but neither Mel Gibson nor Jodie Foster have ever really done anything for me. Probably going to skip this one.

hobo

Directed by: Jason Eisener

Starring: Rutger Hauer

TRAILER

Hobo with a Shotgun (May 6)

Grisly Gunnar: I’ve already seen this, so you know what I think… It’s a movie that a lot of people are going to like, but I wanted to like it more. (Actual Grade: C+)

Noah Nickels: Not much of a “grindhouse” fan, don’t care to see a hobo blow apart people’s melons with a shotgun. (Anticipated Grade: D)

Spaceman Spiff: Another Skip…

Grisly Gunnar: If you don’t like the film’s style to begin with, I would certainly tell you to stay away from this movie. To be fair, I was wavering between a C+ and a B-, but inevitably came down with a slightly negative impression of the film. And to echo what I’ve said in my review, there are going to be people who love this film, and I’m totally fine with that.

Rebel Rikki: I didn’t care to see this movie until I read Noah’s sentence about the hobo blowing apart people’s noggins. That is an amazing tagline.

troll

Directed by: André Øvredal

Starring: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg & Knut Nærum

TRAILER

Troll Hunter (May 6 – VOD)

Noah Nickels: Giant Trolls terrorizing the Norwegian countryside. Yes, I am pretty sure that’s a movie I want to see. The trailer looks pretty slick. I am most interested in the CGI and hope the trolls blend in seamlessly. There is a good chance we will have 60 minutes of boring, talkie talk before we get to the trolls, let’s hope the acting and conversation can hold out interest until then. (Anticipated Grade: B-)

Grisly Gunnar: I agree, Noah. I think Troll Hunter can be a unique adventure-comedy and it is definitely on my most anticipated list. It reminds me a lot of Cloverfield, although I think its ceiling is higher than my overall satisfaction from that film. I hope it doesn’t blow it in the third act like Cloverfield did — as long as it sticks to its guns, it should be a fun ride. (Anticipated Grade: B)

bride

Directed by: Paul Feig

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph & Rose Byrne

TRAILER

Bridesmaids (May 13)

Grisly Gunnar: I really can’t wait for this movie — with the talent involved, I have no doubt this is going to be very funny and original. (Anticipated Grade: A-)

Rebel Rikki: I’m going to break from everyone I know on this one. Despite the cast involved, many of whom I love (SNL currents & alums plus NBC Thursday cutie), I can’t shake the feeling that this is exactly the Hangover but for girls. None of the scenes in the trailer really work for me. If I’m right that this is going to be kind of a gross-out comedy for women, I think that’s interesting, but I still don’t see myself enjoying it. (Anticipated Grade: C+)

Noah Nickels: Does every woman-centric film need to be about weddings? I think women are genuinely under-represented in films today but when they get a chance to have an entire film to themselves they deserve better than to be shoved into a hangover rehash. I have a little hope that this will be OK because of the talent involved, but I don’t expect it to break any new ground unfortunately. (Anticipated Grade: C)

Grisly Gunnar: I have to say, I’m shocked by both of your answers. I see your point, Noah, but has there ever been a good comedy that is by-women-and-for-women without appealing to the most feminine cliches? I understand that the circumstances of the film are perhaps well-done, but I doubt this is going to be like anything we’ve seen before. And what’s wrong with having a female version of The Hangover? The Hangover was a pretty good flick but was overwhelmingly masculine — I think Bridesmaids can capitalize on the tone, while creating its own voice and perspective.

Rebel Rikki: Gunnar, I see what you’re saying, but the derivativeness just doesn’t do it for me. I also really like Noah’s point about playing to cliches.

Grisly Gunnar: Well, we’ll just have to see who is right on this one. I am fully confident.

Priest

Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart

Starring: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet and Maggie Q

TRAILER

Priest (May 13)

Spaceman Spiff: Snooze…

Grisly Gunnar: I first heard about Priest (the film) a while back (knowing nothing about the comic), and I was excited. I almost watched last year’s Legion because of it (same director), but I decided not to torture myself. Seeing the trailers, it looks abysmal. (Anticipated Grade: D)

Rebel Rikki: Is this about the comic writer known only as Priest? Is this about the band Judas Priest? … what the hell is this movie?

Grisly Gunnar: Haha, it’s based on a “manhwa,” which I guess is the Korean equivalent of a comic or manga. It’s about a group of priests that are used as vampire hunters.

Noah Nickels: Legion didn’t do very well, so they re-released it under a new name and cut out Dennis Quaid’s scenes.(Anticipated Grade: D)

must-go

Directed by: Dan Rush

Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall & Christopher Jordan Wallace

TRAILER

Everything Must Go (May 13 – limited)

Grisly Gunnar: It’ll be nice to see Will Ferrell break into another dramatic role, but I hope the script is better than some of his other dramatic work. At best, I think this can do for Ferrell what Punch-Drunk Love did critically for Adam Sandler — although without P.T. Anderson behind Everything Must Go, my anticipation ceiling is certainly lower. The trailer also shows that the film might be caught in some indie cliche trappings. (Anticipated Grade: B-)

Noah Nickels: I really loved Stranger Than Fiction and Will Ferrell demonstrated some pretty awesome acting skills, unfortunately this trailer left me feeling… nothing. I agree with Grisly, this looks like it steps into way to many indie-drama-com puddles for it to really stand out.(Anticipated Grade: C)

hesher

Directed by: Spencer Susser

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu & Natalie Portman

TRAILER

Hesher (May 13 – limited)

Noah Nickels:I hung out with doods like this in High School and listened to way too much Metallica myself. I don’t think any one of us should be looking after a kid and Hesher probably shouldn’t be either. I also want to see if Rainn Wilson can pull of a darker, more serious role. JGL and Portman know how to act so I have a feeling this one is going to be good. (Anticipated Grade: B+)

Grisly Gunnar: First and foremost, a great cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really making a name for himself, and it’s great to see that he is sticking to the indie dramas that first got him noticed (besides Third Rock, that is). Noah, Rainn Wilson definitely showed a little bit of what he can do in a more serious role in Super, which was a different step for him, but not completely satisfying. That role, of course, was meant to be very tongue-in-cheek, but he was asked to deliver some dramatic moments. Let’s see if he can take a step in a better direction here. (Anticipated Grade: B)

pirates

Directed by: Rob Marshall

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz & Ian McShane

TRAILER

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20)

Grisly Gunnar: I really have no interest in this movie. I don’t want to be forced to see it. (Anticipated Grade: C-)

Noah Nickels:The first one was pretty bad-ass. It was a fun little summer movie with lots of action and Johnny Depp was great. Then they made the same movie 2 more times, both were snooze fests. Maybe Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane can revitalize this franchise. (Anticipated Grade: C+)

Grisly Gunnar: I do remember seeing the original on DVD and thought it was pretty fun, if not overly long. The question is, though, can this really be any better than any of the previous films with the same tired schtick?

Rebel Rikki: Can you believe I’ve never seen any of these? I’m not going to start now.

Spaceman Spiff:I’m with Noah, the first movie was a barrel of fun, but the sequels were both boring and indecipherable… I’ll probably see this movie only because of Ian McShane, but not probably until it’s on video.

paris

Directed by: Woody Allen

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams & Kathy Bates

TRAILER

Midnight in Paris (May 20 – limited)

Spaceman Spiff:I’m actually pretty excited about this new film from Woody Allen, sure his later work is pretty hit or miss and Owen Wilson seems to do more harm than good lately, but the trailers for this look genuinely good. And it’s nice to see Woody working on a concept that’s a little more out-there than some of his recent work. (Anticipated Grade: A-)

Grisly Gunnar: Someone who still trusts old Woody! I mildly enjoyed his last film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, but that was mostly attributed to the wonderful cast he had. I don’t want to think that Woody has lost touch, but I don’t think he spends enough time with each project to really make sure it is a quality product. As for Midnight in Paris, my expectations are as high as any Woody Allen movie can be these days. (Anticipated Grade: C+)

Noah Nickels:I’ll side with both of you, while Woody is hit and miss these days, the one thing you can count on is a stellar cast. Sure he’s not making Annie Hall these days, but i never hate what I see and it’s always worth ten bucks. (Anticipated Grade: B)

hangover-2

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis & Ed Helms

TRAILER

The Hangover Part II (May 26)

Grisly Gunnar: I really enjoy The Hangover, but I just can’t see this having the same magic. Todd Phillip’s Due Date didn’t help. OK, it’ll be funny. (Anticipated Grade: B-)

Rebel Rikki: The Hangover is a film which has temporality built into its very nature. I don’t think it needed a sequel, nor do I think the sequel will be especially good, despite the excellent returning cast. I also haven’t enjoyed the first trailer very much. My feelings on this kind of echo my feelings on Bridesmaids. (Anticipated Grade: C+)

Grisly Gunnar: Rikki, I disagree with you a little bit, in that I think the film will deliver a lot of laughs, I just don’t think it can possibly be the lightning in a bottle that the first one was. Kind of like the “24” rule: how many bad days can one group of guys have? Obviously, the film will probably address this, and I am excited to see it.

Noah Nickels: Galifianakis is a genius. Yeah Due Date sucked, but that was a rushed out retread, that they made to bank on the star’s names and generate some do re mi. Hangover 2 will crush and I just know there is going to be muchas Sénor Chang in this one and that’s just fine by me! (Anticipated Grade: B+)

Spaceman Spiff: I anticipate liking this sequel, and the location of Thailand should offer a lot of good comedic opportunities.(Anticipated Grade B+, moving up to an A- if I drink beforehand)

Rebel Rikki: No one told me we had to calculate reviews based on if we were drinking. In that case, Bridesmaids is looking like a solid A+.

kfp2

Directed by: Jennifer Yuh

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan

TRAILER

Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 26)

Grisly Gunnar: Haven’t seen the first film, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Good chances are this will be the summer Dreamworks beats out Pixar. (Anticipated Grade: B+)

Rebel Rikki: I think Gunnar’s right about that. I know a good number of peers who saw the first movie and really loved it.

Noah Nickels: There is no way on this green earth KFP2 beats out Cars 2. Sorry Grisly, no chance in hell. Panda’s are cute and Jack Black was once a comedic idol of mine, but still I wouldn’t see this movie if you were to hand me the deed to the AMC theater franchise.(Anticipated Grade: C-)

tree-of-life

Directed by: Terrence Malick

Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain

TRAILER

The Tree of Life (May 27)

Grisly Gunnar: This is my most anticipated film of the year. I love everything I’ve seen from Terrence Malick (and I haven’t seen enough!) The trailer looks spectacular and I am excited that I have no idea how it could turn out. If it weren’t for my faith in Malick, I really wouldn’t know what to expect. (Anticipated Grade: A)

Rebel Rikki: I watched the trailer for this based on Gunnar’s recommendation. It’s crazy and creepy and pretty awesome. I really have no clue what the movie’s about, but the visuals are stunning and the trailer really speaks to me. I’ll trust Gunnar on this one; I’m guessing a solid film awaits. (Anticipated Grade: A)

Noah Nickels: I have no doubt that this will end up being one of my favorite films of the year. It seems like I have been waiting half a decade for it’s release. I guarantee it will look amazing, as do all Malick’s pictures. He has a way of pacing his films, that leaves you engaged no matter what is happening on screen. (Anticipated Grade: A)

tags: bridesmaids, everything must go, hesher, hobo with a shotgun, kung fu panda 2, midnight in paris, pirates of the caribbeab: on stranger tides, priest, the beaver, the hangover part II, the tree of life, thor, troll hunter

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