The Media Morgue 2008 Summer Movie Preview

The cinematic spectacle known as the Summer movie season has always been an important part of a studio's operation. Studios started grouping their "tentpole" movies (in other words, the films that would hold up the rest of the studio's yearly body of work) into the seasons back in the 1970's, when films like "Jaws" and "Star Wars" proved that big budget films could draw big numbers at the box office with kids who were out of school.

For 2008, there are several films that people seem to be foaming at the mouth over this go around. For example, when the trailer for "Iron Man" was presented to the geek masses at Comi-con last year, people went nuts, saying it was going to be the biggest film ever. And while there are many movies that claim they are going to be smash hits, we, however like to temper this enthusiasm with a good dose of snarky skepticism based off of previous experiences.

Jay Jammer, the Media Morgue movie mogul (the "Quad M", as I call him) and I went over the extensive list of flicks making their debut for the Summer season and we've picked some of the more anticipated movies, along with our comments. Clicking on the film title will take you to a page that will show you either the trailer or at least the IMDB info on the film.

Full review after the jump

Opening May 2 (Friday):

Iron Man

JJ - Yes, oh yes, and YES! YES! YES! Did you see the trailer? The suit is exactly like the comic. The first suit is exactly like the comic. He looks exactly like the comic. Getting alcoholic (Robert Downey, Jr.) to play Tony Stark the comic alcoholic is perfect. I will see this midnight if the chance arises. And yes another comic book movie, but oh well. There are some comics that have stories that rock the socks off of any movie Hollywood can come up without a comic book’s help. Make more if they continue to make ones that just make my jaw drop.

Judge - Don't know much about the comic book, but the trailer did sell me on seeing this film - which is what a good trailer is supposed to do. However, I've been burned before. "The Omega Code" for example, had a solid trailer. 3 minutes into the film I started apologizing to my guests I'd dragged to the theater. Iron Man, however, looks like its going to be a big hit, or at least worth the price of admission.

Opening May 9 (Friday):

Speed Racer

JJ - Seeing the trailer was just eye-astounding. Here you have a cartoon that is one of the most well known comics and the first (most likely) to dip the taste buds of America on that Anime crap. I think it’s crap because I do—not my thing. Since it’s not a cartoon they had to make it visually wowing. I have never seen the visuals that I saw in that trailer before. That hooked me and I can’t wait to hear that theme song rattle my ear drums. Go Speed Racer, GO!

Judge - Nothing like a heartwarming story of a boy race car driver and his chimp to start the season off with a bang. But unlike Iron Man mentioned above this one made me nervous the moment I saw the trailer. Then I heard that over 90 precent of the movie is done with CGI and I got even more nervous. This may have worked with "300," but I'm just not sure about this one. Still, I am a fan of the Wachowskis, so I'll be checking out this one to see if it lives up to the hype. Its a live-action take on anime king Tatsuo Yoshida's cartoon from the 70's. The fact that its done by the Wachowskis is its only saving grace at this point.

Opening May 16 (Friday):

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

JJ - Now I wasn’t totally wowed by the first one, but it was good. I mean it was entertaining and the actors they chose for the kids were great. So I am excited to see this one just because I liked the actors. Plus it’s a story that doesn’t drown me in the writer’s philosophical propaganda like a certain atheist and his books with a girl who is without a character flaw.

Judge - The first film, based on the first book did exactly what you mentioned and drowned you in its OWN philosophical propaganda. It was a little preachy in a thinly veiled sort of way. This is probably why Christian groups just fell over themselves talking about how great it was and buying tickets for their various congregations. However, there is now an established base of fans eagerly waiting for this one to come out, so its safe to say that it will have a strong open but probably weak legs as the weeks move on. Especially considering what is being released the following week. (See below)

Opening May 22 (Thursday):

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

JJ - It’s like an explosion of awesome movies in the month of May, ending with this one. Of course there is one more weekend with movies opening, but they are nothing special that could out do the first four weekends. Sorry. Indiana Jones is one of the best characters to ever be created. Harrison Ford has stated this is his favorite character to have ever played. He does so well with him and this movie will have such a massive opening that I believe it will out million everything else that opens on this month. I grew up with Indiana. It’s exciting for there to be one more.

Judge - Ah, nostalgia. I remember sitting in the middle of a single screen movie house - the kind with a sticky floor that reeked of decades of fake butter popcorn - and I was just enthralled with the film. Speilberg's homage to the classic serial movies from a time most of us didn't live in. I can see why people loved it. From its reluctant hero character to the classic duality of good versus evil. Indiana Jones has all the ingredients for a true summer blockbuster. Its an easy bet to figure this new incarnation of Indy is going to be just as good, if not better than previous ones. And its done by Spielberg and George Lucas, which is amazing when you consider that they could even build a sound stage big enough to house both of their egos. I'll be there opening weekend, tub of popcorn in hand, just waiting for John Williams music to take me back again. (you're humming it in your head right now. I know it).

Opening May 30 (Friday):

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

JJ - I am excited to see this one only because it’s a Judd Aptow comedy. It’s opening the last weekend after all these great movies have opened. I hope it doesn’t get swamped by the competition. Of course, it is possible that this movie can hold it’s own against the mega-megas of the ’08 Summer Extravaganza. (Before the bomb of hell that 2009 will hold for the movie world, because of the writer strike.)

Judge - calls it "is 2008's Knocked Up" which is a very bold statement. Honestly, I'm a sucker for a good romcom (that's Hollywood-speak for "romantic comedy." See, I sound like a player now) and the trailer for this one seems pretty funny. The plot is pretty simple, so Aptow better make sure he's got all his ducks in a row to make this one stand up against his past work. Its going to be a great date movie. Its going to be a good box office release and its timed at just the right time - when most everyone on the planet will have already seen Indiana Jones and is looking for something new.

June 2008

Opening June 6 (Friday):

Kung Fu Panda

JJ- I am sick of cartoon animals that seem to be about the same thing…silly jokes and no plot, especially those not made by Disney. Even so I’ll be seeing this movie. I’m just stating that I’m not setting any standards above my ankle for it. Not even Jack Black makes me want to see it, and the fact I have to see him before a movie telling me I shouldn’t text does not help matters.

Judge - bah. It's a kids movie with adult jokes. Its got cute, funny looking animals voiced by well known celebs. Its the exact same formula that has been used by every animated film since Pixar made Toy Story. In other words, it will be a big hit, spawn panda merchandise everywhere, and by Christmas, we'll all be completely sick from the saccharine taste it leaves in our mouth.


JJ - Genghis Khan. That’s enough for me. I have only seen one movie that had him in it and that was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. That can’t be historically accurate enough—so this movie will have to help me out. I could read a book but this isn’t the looking forward to the books summer has to offer review.

Judge - Written, directed and staring a bunch of people most folks have never heard of before. This is Kazakhstan's official submission in the Foreign Language Film category for the 80th Academy Awards (2008). But unless its got incredible cinematography and huge distribution, I fear that its going to be missed by a lot of people. But I do like Mongolian BBQ, though.

June 13 (Friday):

The Happening

JJ - M. Night Shyamalan directed and created and I’m going to see it, and yes that’s all it takes.

Judge - The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo and Betty Buckley and follows a family that goes on the run from an apocalyptic crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity. Shyamalan has burned a bridge or two in the past with his storytelling (See: Lady in the Water) so I think a lot of people are skeptical that this one will be a strong opener. Especially since its going up against the big green dude on the same weekend.

The Incredible Hulk

JJ - Did we not see a movie with this title before? Oh wait we did. What they are asking us to do is forget the other one was ever created. How stupid. And even though it’s stupid I cannot resist seeing it because I like Edward Norton. If they had gotten anyone else I would have said NO and avoided the mess that would be sure to ensue. But since it is Ed I will be seeing it, even if there is a huge mess that could drown me in my seat---at least it’s mess that will star the awesome actor Edward Norton.

Judge - Actually the last one was just named "Hulk" so this one is going to be better because its got a bigger title and stuff! And its going to have....uh...people in it and its not done by Ang Lee, so its got that going for it. And the CGI is probably so much better than what it was five years ago, when everyone lost their minds with the stupid green fists and the stupid drink cups and happy meals and toys and shirts and shoes and other stuff. Its the same story, new actors. Just a re-telling of stuff we've already seen.Completely unoriginal, but will probably have a huge draw at the box office. Will it become a legend in the realm of cinema? Probably not so much. But its sure to be a merchandising monolith. There's also the rumor that Iron Man will make a guest cameo in the film. People seem to love that stuff.

Opening June 20 (Friday):

Get Smart

JJ - WAY before my time. Steve Carell makes me want to see it because he is in it. What can I say, he makes me laugh. I’ve liked most of his movies just because he was in it and not because of the plot. I am not totally ignorant on Get Smart the TV show. I have seen it and based on that the trailers remind me of them. It’s another retro feel movie to pair up with the likes of Speed Racer.

Judge - It was before my time as well, but I do remember watching the midday re-runs on local TV when I was a kid. I was never a big fan of the show (most of the jokes were over my head at that time) but now looking at it, I can see thegenius that Don Adams brought to the character. I can also see that comedic talent in Steve Carell and I think it will be a really funny movie and done in a different vein than Austin Powers was.

On a side note, when I showed the trailer for the film to my co-workers, they all had the same reaction when Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson was on screen. They all had a sort of whiney "Really? He's in it? I don't know...."

Opening June 27 (Friday):


JJ - Disney and Pixar’s movie. I’m there. I saw the trailer and I was amused. I’ve not been disappointed by any of their other movies so I see no reason to even think I will be for this one. And again it’s me deciding to see a movie solely because of who created it. Names sell.

Judge - I don't know. Its just...I don't know. Maybe I'm just tired of the same old rubber stamp animation that Pixar has put out. Yes their stories are always amazing and Disney works hard to make sure they put out a good product, but...I don't know. My decision will be to wait for this to be on pay per view or even on HBO and skip it at the box office.


JJ - A shoot ‘em up movie. Based on what I have decided I’m going to see I’m going to pick this one because I need a good gun movie. Based on the stills I’ve seen and the actors that litter this film, my interest is peeked. But if I don’t have time to see it, it loses out to the cartoon robot. Sorry.

Judge - Angelina Jolie's sexy clock is just about to run out. Frankly I'm tired of seeing the smokey-eyed, pouty lipped, highly trained killer stereotype time and time again. This film looks like it has all of the usual assortment of cliche's. My vote: I'll wait for it to be on HBO.

July 2008

Opening July 2 (Wednesday):


JJ - A Will Smith superhero. It looks alright. At least it’s not another one of him saving the world because he’s the only one that can. I’m sort of sick of those, though he’s a great actor. So this one is the only one opening this weekend and that leaves me no choice. I’m not totally excited, but what am I to do?

Judge - What? No pirate movie for the 4th of July? Sad. However, this one actually has my interest. I like Will Smith and I think he can pull this one off pretty well. Its got a decent comedy element to it and its coming out at the right time to take advantage of a stagnant box office.But if this is the only thing out for the 4th of Julyt weekend, I think people are going to be talking about how the holiday box office was off from previous years.

Opening July 11 (Friday):

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

JJ - HA….I did NOT want the first one to end. I liked it. I’m excited for this one. I like the characters. I think that it’s very creative and it stands out as unique without having to copy the cookie cutter version of a hero. Plus sawing off his horns in the first movie just made Hellboy cool.

Judge - Not a fan of the first film, not a fan of the character, not a fan of the comic book, not a fan period. Translation: pass.

Tropic Thunder

JJ - Actors who are filming a war movie end up having to fight a war—interesting. It can be really good or really cheesy whoreness. I don’t know. But the idea has made me go, ah. I’m more along the lines of maybe yes with this one.

Judge - the premise seems unbelievably lame. But if its shot well, it will probably pull in decent numbers. Ben Stiller has become one of those actors that you either love or hate. It all depends on just how many people love him versus hate him.

Opening July 18 (Friday):

The Dark Knight

JJ - The teaser trailer was so good it gave me chills. The Joker’s laughter was awesome. Then we have the posters…the spray painted joker grin using the bat symbol as a smile, the red paint dripping in mimic of victim’s blood. Then another trailer that shows the Joker in all his drab and dark glory, the new bat rides and the debut of the bat helmet. Then the new posters of the movie, whoever is doing the posters deserve more money than they are getting. They are astoundingly good. I have not wanted a poster so bad in my entire life until now. I don’t even like Batman that much…but this movie just makes me love him. This movie is the most anticipated movie of the entire year of 2008. It better not disappoint and it better rake in so much money no other movie will touch it come December when they state the top grossing films.

Judge - Yet another remake of a film using the same premise. I really hate it when studios allow stuff like this to happen. The fact that it was hinted at when the first Christian Bale flick came out had geeks on the edge of their seats waiting for this. I think it will be a solid film and the trailer does look like its got a solid feel to it. My guess is that this one will be huge. I also agree on the posters. They are very strong.

Opening July 25 (Friday):

The X-Files 2

JJ - I saw the first one and so I’ll see this one. That’s it on that. But no movie opening this weekend will knock The Dark Knight as number one.

Judge - I watched every episode of every season, but I'm over it. Ten years between movies is just too long to carry any interest.

The 2008 Summer movie season is going to have its work cut out for it in light of the huge success the box office had last year. Can Hollywood repeat their previous successes and make this a year to remember? I guess we'll see.


Anonymous said...

speed Racer's probably the dumbest movie ever made. What are the Wachowski's thinking ? They've done nothing original since the Matrix, .. that is if that's their original IP. Starting to look like it's not, since they've done nothing truly different since then. And, their previous movies pre-matrix were cult flops.

Yeah, they're just one trick ponies.

Anonymous said...



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