“And if ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it”
by Kevin J Johnson
Hollywood, we need to talk about reboots. Remakes, redos, and reboots. Back in 2001, you tried to reboot PLANET OF THE APES with Mark Wahlberg and director Tim Burton. And while Burton created the modern comic-book blockbuster with BATMAN (1989), he flat out attested to being disinterested in making a remake of the original, instead crafting a reimagining that was a wholesale entirely different flick.
Fast forward to 2011. You dudes got a new director, Rupert Wyatt (fresh off his debut THE ESCAPIST) and teamed him up with Andy Serkis, one of the greatest physical actors of our time. You instilled the production with the key themes of the original book, and utilized the latest in motion capture technology to thrilling effect. Good job, Hollywood! For that, we’ll gladly look forward to DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (7/11, Fox), thank you very much.
Oh, what’s that? You wanna reboot TRANSFORMERS? With Mark Wahlberg? <sigh>
Look, I understand the last one (DARK OF THE MOON) is one of the ten highest grossing films of all time, and that you cracked $800 million on the second one without even a finished script. But if you think you can pull this off again, you have another thing coming. You got your trilogy, okay? You got your 3D surcharges and IMAX upticks and whatnot.
When you rebooted SPIDER-MAN, you needed to keep the rights, I get it. Plus, the 2012 version ain’t half-bad, though you exploited my Emma Stone crush. But just because you pulled it off doesn’t mean it was necessary. Raimi’s trilogy averaged $832 million per film, and helped solidify the comic-book movie renaissance we’re currently in the midst of. Spider-Man wasn’t broken, Transformers wasn’t broken (dumb yes, but unbroken).
You know what was broken? BATMAN AND ROBIN. SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE. These were franchises that needed fixing; healing would be a better word. We needed Nolan to make BATMAN BEGINS. We needed Snyder’s update in MAN OF STEEL (though we need to talk about that ending, more on that later) if only to course correct after SUPERMAN RETURNS, which was well-intentioned but mired in nostalgia.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was a perfect example of embracing a film franchise and injecting its prequel with emotional honesty and comic-book verve. And now, we’re getting X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (5/23, Fox), a crossover extravaganza of Wu-Tang proportions. See? Reboot crisis averted! Instead of starting over, you even brought the original cast back.
So before you ask us to go see TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (6/27, Paramount), ask yourself what we the audience want, what we need. I didn’t ask for Transformers 4. I didn’t ask for a brand spanking new Spiderman. I didn’t ask to live in a world where we have two Transformers films for every one BAD BOYS film. You just think about that.
“And think of the summers of the past”
There are certain trends we can expect in the summer: competing films with the same concept (DEEP IMPACT vs. ARMAGEDDON, HERCULES vs. LEGEND OF HERCULES), red-hot comedians getting a showcase (TAMMY), musicals, disaster flicks, sci-fi and horror thrillers. It’s a cavalcade of genre cinema, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to some of our favorite flicks from years past.
HAIRSPRAY and MAMMA MIA! were both summertime hits, and now JERSEY BOYS (6/20, WB) looks to continue on that tradition. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film tells the tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and gives us Eastwood’s first foray into musicals since 1969’s PAINT YOUR WAGON (I’m not even kidding; that exists).
Just as TWISTER did before it, INTO THE STORM (8/8, WB) sees a small town deal with a series of destructive tornadoes, this time with a found footage twist. The film stars Richard Armitage (THE HOBBIT, Strike Back) and is directed by Steven Quale, James Cameron’s 2nd Unit director of choice. I didn’t see his previous film, FINAL DESTINATION 5, but the fourth one was supposed to be the last one, so there.
Horror flicks are fun for us all, both in the theaters and the nightmarish visions in our sleep that cause us to scream ourselves awake. Last summer gave us THE CONJURING, YOU’RE NEXT, and THE PURGE. This summer, we have THE PURGE: ANARCHY (7/18, Universal) with director James DeMonaco returning with a bigger budget to fully realize the concept on a broader scope and scale. We also have DELIVER US FROM EVIL (7/2, Sony) and AS ABOVE, SO BELOW (8/15, Universal) on deck.
I loves me some sci-fi, and we have director Doug Liman returning to the genre after 2008’s JUMPER with EDGE OF TOMORROW (6/6, WB) starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel “All You Need Is Kill,” Cruise plays a soldier who uses an exo-suit to — and I’m sold. Just shut up and take my money, and bring me more exo-suits.
The Wachowskis are back with JUPITER ASCENDING (7/18, WB), starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. I thought their last film, CLOUD ATLAS, was a masterwork and SPEED RACER was so ahead of its time, it’s probably still a few years away from being truly appreciated. As long as these two are making movies, I’m aboard. To be frank, no one is pushing the boundaries of cinema like the Wachowskis and no one is likely to for a while.
This summer also brings us the social science fiction thriller THE GIVER (8/15, TWC) from director Phillip Noyce (SALT) and co-stars Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. It’s based on the dystopian young adult novel of the same name by Lois Lowry.
Which summer releases this year remind you of your favorites? Do some films seem more familiar than others, and in a good or bad way? Let us know by leaving some comments below!
“School is out and it’s a sort of a buzz”
Some of my favorite memories as a child were going to the movies. Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future. I was there for the Disney Renaissance, and the Burton Batman flicks. Don’t get me started on Power Rangers The Movie, you don’t wanna go there. Now, children today can look forward to films like
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (7/18, Disney)
…um. Okay fine, Power Rangers wasn’t exactly a work of art either (except that it was). Kids got their summer started early with RIO 2, but bet your bottom dollar that HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (6/13, Fox) will be a force to reckon with. The first film was magnificent and I have high hopes for this one.
Dragon also spun off a popular animated series on Cartoon Network, so the world of Berk is still fresh in young viewers’ minds. The entire voice cast is back with Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and America Ferrera, along with returning director Dean Deblois (Chris Sanders went on to co-direct THE CROODS). The second installment will more than likely be one of the top crowd pleasers this summer.
Hopefully, this year’s reboot of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (8/8, Paramount) will be as awesome for the kids as the 90’s films were for me. But I can’t describe to you how mind-blowing it was to see Jim Henson’s animatronic ninja fighters on the big screen; it was magic. I wonder what kids think of CGI nowadays.
For every AVATAR and Gollum, you have… well, NINJA TURTLES. 2007’s TMNT was a disappointment, so I’m rooting for this one to connect with its target audience. Just be awesome, for the kids’ sake.
Also being released this summer is EARTH TO ECHO (7/2, Disney/Relativity), a sci-fi found footage film in the vein of Joe Dante’s Explorers (1985).
What were some of your favorite summer movies as a kid? What was your favorite summer as a young moviegoer? What’s better: popcorn or nachos? Leave a comment below and celebrate summertime at the movies with Nuke The Fridge! Or don’t; it’s a free country.
Coming up next the wrap of Summer 2014 …