Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summer Movie Predictions

Summer. For many, summer is a time for relaxation and vacation. For others, it’s a time to replenish the depleted bank account by trading away one’s time and soul for some hard-earned cash. Some lucky folks go on trips all over the world, proclaiming the cause of Christ, thanks to generous grants our school offers.

Me? Aside from a job and the worrying about what I’m going to do with my life come next summer, I’ll be at the movies, and I figured I’d enlighten you, the dear reader, as to what might be worth seeing. Joining me this week, because he enjoys the tag-team writing so much, is none other than Ben Wyman.

Now, I was a huge fan of “Sin City,” Robert Rodriguez’s film adaptation of the first three installments of Frank Miller’s graphic novel series. Though flashy film effects and over-the-top CGI aren’t necessarily what get me into a theater, Rodriguez managed to do it well, and mix it into a decent story to boot. So, naturally, when I saw the trailer for Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly,” I was intrigued.

The movie’s synopsis, according to my ever-faithful resource, the Internet Movie Database, goes something like this: “Darkly" imagines a paranoid world in which it seems two of every ten Americans has been hired by the government to spy on the other eight, in the name of national security and drug enforcement. When one reluctant government recruit (Keanu Reeves) is ordered to start spying on his friends, he is launched on a journey into the absurd, where not even his girlfriend can be trusted.

“A Scanner Darkly,” distributed by Warner Independent Films, is due for limited release on July 7, followed by a nationwide release on July 14.

Moving along, considering how hot the weather tends to get, it’s only natural that the Democrats will pick up their battered banner and champion the cause of global warming once again. At least, that’s where director Davis Guggenheim will focus his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“Truth,” as written in a synopsis by an obviously left-leaning Plantation Productions, is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. "It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely," said Gore.

Personally, I just miss laughing at Gore’s monotone voice, and I’m interested to see what kind of fodder he’s trying to load into the metaphorical political cannons. “Truth,” distributed by Paramount Classics, will see a limited release on May 24.

Finally, what summer would be complete without a major release from the can’t-do-wrong folks at Pixar Animation Studios? “Cars,” was supposed to be Pixar’s final film with Disney before Disney bought them out for a mind-boggling sum.

Pixar can do no wrong in my eyes, but still, I can’t help but feel a little off-put by “Cars.” Perhaps it’s that they’ve already gone the “lifeless made lifelike” route with 1995’s “Toy Story” (and its 1999 follow-up, “Toy Story 2”), but I can’t help but wonder if they’ll manage to strike gold for a third time. But then again, they’ve been pretty tight-lipped on the project so far, and they managed to make me misty-eyed over a fish in 2003, so I’ll try to keep the faith a bit longer.

Wyman: I enjoy the challenge and thrill of Oscar season, but there's a heady, universal joy during the lazy days of summer: the mindless blockbuster. Every year, there's months of build-up before each film, with fans turning out in droves for each sweltering opening night. And you go too, of course, and you have a good time, but by the time you're back at work on Monday you've forgotten all about it, because of course, blockbusters are usually not very good.

But wait. There's hope. This summer has a bumper crop of films with surprising potential, and a crew of talented directors. "Rush Hour's" Bret Ratner breathes new life into "X-men," while "X-Men's" Brian Singer gives us the return of "Superman." Meanwhile, a resurgent Ron Howard takes on "The Da Vinci Code," and "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams revamps "Mission Impossible." And even if those fail, there's still the wild cards of M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water," and Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly." We're not even to July yet, and that's about half of my graduation money right there.

Summer movies are simply too fun to miss. Sure, Will Ferrell's "Talledega Nights," may disappoint, and "The Break-Up," the tabloid-friendly Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn vehicle might bust, but who cares? Jack Black and the boys from "Napoleon Dynamite" have "Nacho Libre" right around the corner. Johnny Depp dons the mascara again for "Pirates of the Caribbean," probably the most fun you'll have this summer.

My picks? I think "Pirates" and "The Da Vinci Code" should be everything we're hoping for, and that "Lady In The Water" proves to be the surprise hit of the season. But if you're longing for a little substance, please, don't miss "A Scanner Darkly." You won't be disappointed. And how often in the summer can you say that?

Peracchio: Speaking of surprise and substance, probably one of the most anticipated films of this summer for fans of Internet in-jokes is none other than “Snakes on a Plane.” You may think I’m joking, but I’m dead serious. “Snakes” is something like the black sheep of the disaster film genre, and stars Samuel L. Jackson as the man who saves a plane full of people from a crate full of deadly snakes.

At any rate, the ridiculous title, and even more ridiculous premise, have generated a huge amount of buzz on the Internet. So much so that fans are making their own trailers, and the film’s official website actually sports a logo created by a fan.

“Snakes,” distributed by New Line Cinema, is currently in post-production and due for release on August 18.

This past year proved the value of the independent film, but for once, I’m excited to see what the big-money studios have to offer. Until then, there are plenty of other pictures to see, and not much time left in this semester to do it. Lord knows, once summer hits, I'll have to find a real job.