The summer movie season is fast approaching, in fact starting this Friday. As usual, Hollywood has scheduled their blockbuster movies for the summer, and this year, the slate is chock full of science fiction and fantasy films. So many, in fact, that starting this week, you could, if you wanted, see a new SF/F movie every Friday through the end of July (with a couple of exceptions). Now that is a lot of movies, but does the SF/F movie fan have reason to celebrate or is this just another summer of cliches and remakes?

We here at SF Signal have put together this handy guide of the summer movies in the hopes of helping you decide, which, if any, you want to see and which to steer clear of. There’s even a handy box office quiz at the end so read on!


May

Iron Man (May 2) – First up, and looking to kick start the summer season with a bang, is Iron Man. It’s taken many years, and several comic movies, for Tony Stark to take to the big screen. I know many people are looking forward to this movie. I’ve never been a big Iron Man fan, but I have to say, the trailers certainly looks interesting. Can Robert Downey Jr. play a convincing Tony Stark? Will the ridiculous physics sap some of the fun from the movie? And just how good is the story? We’ll see starting this Friday.

Speed Racer (May 9) – Sign it with me: “Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer, he’s a demon on wheels!” Hot on the heels of Iron Man comes this adapation of the famous kids show. I know I am certainly looking forward to this one. The visuals alone are enough to get me into the theater. Add in some ‘car fu’ and I’m expecting to be blown away by the cars, tracks and effects. Of course, to be really good, the story needs to be strong. I’m not expecting anything in depth here, just something to push the movie along. Remember, the TV show was full of illogical and silly stories, so why expect a ‘serious’ movie here? And a PG rating means it will be somewhat family friendly, so I’ll be taking my two older sons with me to the theater. That alone makes Speed Racer a worthy summer movie. How many other movies will be this older kid (8 – 11) friendly? Will Speed be a demon on the silver screen? Two words: Mammoth car. Stay tuned.

Prince Caspian (May 16) – The Chronicles of Narnia juggernaut assaults the theaters with the second installment of C.S. Lewis’ classic fantasy series. Just like the first movie, Prince Caspian stars several lesser, or no name, actors in the title roles. That didn’t hurt the first movie, and I don’t expect it to hurt this one. The success of the first movie almost insures this one will also be successful. Carrying a PG rating as well (so two family friendly movies!) so I may end up taking my boys to see this one as well. I’m expecting a decent film, if not spectacular, much like the first.

Indy Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22) – THE summer movie for me. The movie that’s been 20 years in the making finally makes its debut and I will be there, day one, even if I have to fight the crowds. Is this just latent fanboyism talking? Could be. However, I hae faith that Spielberg and Ford can continue the Indy magic for one more movie. Add in the crystal skulls, Roswell, and Nazis, and I can hardly wait. The only misgivings I have concern the use of Shia Le Beuf or whatever his name is. Will he be a worthy addition or turn into a Jar Jar clone? For all our sakes, let’s pray against Jar Jar. This one is PG-13, so we’ll probably getting more violence and language. Just like the earlier movies. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go re-watch the first three, just because.


June

The Happening (June 13) – Ever since The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial career has been on a downward path. Was The Lady in the Water the bottom or is there further to go? If the spoilers I’ve read concerning the plot are any indication, he’ll be needing spelunking gear to find his career after this. The trailer does an O.K. job of generating interest, but even so, it doesn’t appear to be anything special. Of course, being vague is meant to draw the unsuspecting viewers inside, whereby M. Night can unleash his ‘famous’ ‘twist’ ending on them. I’ll pass, thank you.

The Incredible Hulk (June 13) – How do you know when your first movie sucks? When the sequel is actually a re-imagining of the first! Such is the case with The Incredible Hulk, setting the world record for the fastest franchise reboot in history. Nice. I had no desire to see the first movie, and even less to see this one. That’s right, if you can have a negative desire to see a movie, I have it for this one. Let me know how it is, won’t you?

Wall-E (June 27) – The second ‘must see’ movie on my list, and yet another family friendly one to boot. And even more, Wall-E is the most unabashedly science fiction of the lot. Depopulated future Earth? Check. Humanity living in giant spaceships in the depths of space? Check. One cute, overachieving robot with more personality in one 2-minute trailer than many actors have in a career? Check. Maybe Wall-E should give lessons to Keanu Reeves. In any case, I’m expecting Wall-E to help Pixar regain its box office mojo after it’s relatively lackluster movies Cars and Ratatoullie. Another day one movie for me, but the science fiction elements may scare some people away. Don’t let that happen to you or anyone one you know!

Wanted (June 27) – Wanted is based on the comic series by Mark Millar. Sadly, and not unexpectedly, Hollywood jettisoned the awesome setting, the evil super heroes win, and replaced it with some quasi-mystical secret society working for the ‘Fates’. Even starring Angelina Jolie and her lips can’t get me excited about this one. The trailers pretty much show a movie that is all action sequences punctuated by psychological mumbo jumbo scenes meant to explain the setting. Yawn. The star here is the red Dodge Viper and it’s uncanny Mach 5 impersonation. This is a rental.


July

Hancock (July 2) – How does Will Smith follow up I Am Legend? By playing a homeless superhero in Hancock. The trailer tries really hard to be funny, but doesn’t. Maybe this will turn out better than I expect, but I won’t be rushing out to see it. This is a rental at best for me.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (July11) – Fresh off his Nebula win for Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro returns to direct the sequel to the first Hellboy. The first one was O.K. when I rented it. This one may be worth a gander in the movie theater, especially if I can con Tim or Kevin into going with me. And check out that ginormous hand cannon Hellboy is using. Awesome.

Meet Dave (July 11) – Oh goody, yet another crappy Eddie Murphy movie. As if Pluto Nash wasn’t horrific enough, Murphy has decided to grace us with an expansion on the alien in Men In Black with Meet Dave, where Eddie Murphy’s character is actually a spaceship crewed by little aliens. They stroll around New York, getting involved in all sorts of situations where ‘hilarity’ is sure to ensue. Sue is what the movie going public ought to do, or at least get a restraining order against Murphy to keep him at least 500 feet from a movie camera. This one doesn’t look good at all. Aside from the natty white suit that is.

The Dark Knight (July 18) – I watched the first movie on DVD and I was disappointed that I hadn’t made the effort to see it on the big screen. I’ll definitely make that effort for The Dark Knight. If the trailer is anything to go by, this should be a rockin’ good time, with Heath Ledger’s Joker stealing the show. The third movie on my ‘must see’ list.

The X-Files (July 25) – You’ve waited a long time X-Files fans, and your wait is finally over. Well, on July 25th. Mulder and Scully return to the big screen, hopefully to explain what’s happened to them after the end of the TV series. Sadly, or not depending on your point of view, this movie won’t tackle the Gordian knot that is the show’s alien invasion mythology. Instead, it will be a standalone movie that “takes the complicated relationship between Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) in unexpected directions.” I’ve even seen rumors of Chupacabra. I don’t know what to think. Well, yes I do. I think X-Files works better on the small screen than the big. We’ll see.


August

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Aug 1) – Brendan Fraser returns to The Mummy franchise, minus Rachel Weisz. Luckily for Tim, Michelle Yeoh appears instead! This time the story takes Brendan to the Far East where they encounter the mummy of long-dead Emperor Qin. Which, of course, suddenly animates on goes on a violent rampage. If I were Fraser, I’d stay away from mummies. Pass. Oh, and one way to determine if you’re movie is going to suck? No offical web site, or teaser trailer 3 months in advance of it’s opening. Nice.

Babylon A.D. (Aug 29) – Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh (all right Tim!) star in this sci fi actioner about a woman, who is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest to produce a geneticaly engineered messiah. Um, O.K. The trailer is mildly interesting, but this is going to have to get a lot more compelling (Ms. Yeoh not withstanding) before I’ll even think about going to the theater to see this one.

There you have it, all the SF/F movies that will be appearing at a large cineplex near you this summer. Which ones do you want to go see and why?

Remember I said there’d be a quiz? Here it is. Time to put on your thinking caps and answer the following questions:

  • Which movie will have the largest opening weekend in terms of box office? – My guess is this is a race between Iron Man with its legions of fans, and Indy 4 with its legions of fans dragging their kids to the theaters. I’m going to go with Indy in a squeaker. Never go against the man with the whip.
  • Which movie is going to have to the biggest run in terms of box office? – Will Indy be able to hold on to its opening weekend crowds and bring in repeat customers? I don’t know, possibly. I also think Wall-E may have what it takes to out earn the others. I’m going with the cute robot.
  • Which movie is going to bomb the hardest? – I may be beating a dead on arrival horse, but Meet Dave just doesn’t look good at all. If I were to go with a bigger title, I’d put Hancock here, although Smith has a lot of fans. In the end, I don’t think you can bet against Murphy for tanking. Meet Dave it is!

Have at it!

Filed under: Movies

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