Fireworks. Barbecues. The beach. And of course summer movies! July is probably the most popular month for Hollywood to unleash their biggest movies. They know all the kids are out of school, people have more time off and more opportunities to kill an evening. And everyone would like to enjoy some air-conditioned time watching an entertaining movie!
So what do you we have here? Well, looks to be a traditional month of July with a sprinkling of pretty much everything – action films, sci-fi films, some sequels, a returning superhero, some comedies, plenty of cartoons for the kids, some off-beat entries and Woody Allen.
This month is jam-packed so I’ll be breaking this rundown in two separate blog posts.
THE LONE RANGER – July 3, 2013
Long before audiences associated masked heroes with Marvel and DC superheroes, fans had The Lone Ranger!
Debuting in 1933, he was one of the most popular characters of the period, whose adventures ranged from radio, television and comic strips. He was everywhere. At the height of his popularity he was the most well-known, beloved cowboy hero that had kids everywhere yelling “Hi Ho Silver!”. They were dazzled watching him bring justice to the west and leaving bad guys asking – “Who was that masked man?”.
Disney embarks on bringing one of the most iconic characters back to the big-screen! The thing is…..does anyone remember him?
I’m not trying to be cute about that question. I’m just not sure younger audiences today have any idea of who the Lone Ranger is. I suspect the characters long illustrious history is probably unknown to most of them. If they are familiar with him at all it’s probably in a passing fashion. They’ve heard of the name and know the guy wears a mask and has an Indian sidekick, but other than that they’re probably in the dark.
This big-budget film hopefully will correct that. Ranger John Reid (Armie Hammer) survives a brutal ambush by the hands of Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). An Indian by the name of Tonto (Johnny Depp) stumbles onto the massacre, discovers that Reid is still barely alive, recalls him as the man who saved his life years ago and nurses him back to health.
Wanting Cavendish to believe he successfully eliminated all the rangers Reid fashions a mask to hide his identity and sets out to seek justice. However, this ‘lone’ ranger does have help from Tonto who vows to help his ‘Kemosabe’ with his mission.
The two men get into gunfights, epic battles, exciting chases and create a mythic team of heroes in the west. Of course their helped by their horses Silver and Scout, along with a never-ending supply of silver bullets.
This production is cut from the same cloth as the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which I am not a fan of. It’s the same studio. A humongous budget. Director Gore Verbinski helmed three of the Pirates films. And of course the casting of Depp as another oddball interpretation of a character.
I’m really not sure what to make of this. The trailers are really promoting the action and effects. Tons and tons of ‘splosions to dazzle moviegoers eyes.
I have no clue as to what kind of chemistry Hammer and Depp will have – or if they’ll even bother much focusing on the characters. They might just take the easy way out and have them be one-dimensional action figures running from one big bombastic setpiece to another. That will probably be enough to lure general audiences into seeing it opening weekend. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good movie.
I remember when I was a wee lad being taken to see The Legend of the Lone Ranger that was released in 1981. Despite that movie….well to put it kindly being not very good and being a notorious bomb – I was still jazzed when I saw the Ranger on that big screen yell “Hi-Ho Silver”, start galloping on his white horse and he and Tonto stopping the bad guys. Crap I even had some of the toys from that movie.
I’m betting this new Lone Ranger will be better and looks to be much more fun. But with budget that has been rumored to be in the neighborhood of $250 million – it’s going to have to make a real…lot….of money to recoup those costs to be considered a success.
I still find it hard to fathom a Lone Ranger movie could cost so much money. We’re not talking Star Wars or The Avengers here – it’s two guys riding horses! I’m guessing the production problems the film went through really started adding to the bill.
All that train action and those elaborate setpieces better deliver and get audiences to tell their friends to see this or The Lone Ranger might turn into John Carter Part 2!
Depp’s casting as Tonto will undoubtedly have critics questioning why wasn’t a real Native American cast – that’s already started. We all know the answer to that though. Depp is a popular star. Without him this movie might not have been made. It certainly wouldn’t have such a huge amount of money invested in it and would be the studios tentpole film for the summer.
When I first saw the pictures of him as his Tonto I thought he might have gone too far with his interpretation. The crow on his head, the facepaint, it just looks like he may have pushed things too far with this character. He’ll easily eclipse Hammer off the screen if the Ranger isn’t allowed his time to shine.
My friend who is a big Lone Ranger fan and can’t wait to see this movie doesn’t really know what to make of it either. I asked him if he thought the movie would be a hit. He simply answered, “probably only with me”.
DESPICABLE ME 2
The first Steve Carell flick of the summer has him returning to voice the former-villain Gru who now spends his time parenting his three adopted little ones from the first film.
However, Gru’s domestic life is interrupted when the Anti-Villain League asks him for his help. With his past villainous activities and keen evil mind he’s the perfect candidate to help them stop a new super criminal who has cropped up with sights set on destroying the world!
The original was a pretty big hit, so inevitably a sequel had to come out. I watched the first one and thought it was ok. The animation looked very sharp, it had some funny moments and Gru turning from evil villain to caring for these orphans had some laughs and some sweetness to it.
With most sequels to animated films I think once was enough and a number two really doesn’t get me very excited. I’ll probably end up catching this sequel the same way as I did with the first. I’ll be hanging out with my nephews, they’ll pop it in and I’ll watch it with them. It will probably do some good business since they were smart to include those little yellow aliens in it again. The kids love those little guys.
THE WAY, WAY BACK – July 5, 2013
Second Steve Carell movie. A coming-of-age story of a teen coming into his own over the course of the summer. Duncan (Liam James) is spending his summer with his mom (Toni Collette) her boyfriend Trent (Carell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Feeling like an outsider he makes an unexpected friend with waterpark owner Owen (Sam Rockwell). From a memorable summer experience Duncan some enlightening life lessons.
Comparisons will be made to the surprise indie hit Little Miss Sunshine, since Carell and Collette are starring in a small film from the same studio Fox Searchlight. It’s got a great cast and who doesn’t love a tender, funny coming-of-age story?
And with its small budget it should be a nice quiet hit at the very least if it can manage to get some screen time against all the bigger-budgeted summer flicks. I’ve already heard really good buzz about this since it debuted at Sundance. Not many movies so far this summer have garnered glowing reviews. This could be one of those little films that sneak up on audiences and delivers the goods.
PACIFIC RIM – July 12, 2013
We move from a small, inexpensive movie about the rites of passage right back to what the summer season is all about – big expensive spectacle.
It’s the near future and humanity is attacked by giant monsters that have risen out of the Pacific Ocean. They wreck a lot of havoc, destroy a lot of stuff and start snuffing out the population. With no way to battle these sea-dwelling monsters with what they have handy, new weapons have to made to give humans a fighting chance – giant robots!
Reading the synopsis and seeing the trailers for Pacific Rimmakes you realize there would have been no other time to release this flick other than the middle of the summer. With giant monsters fighting giant robots – it doesn’t get much more summer sounding than that.
There might be more than just the rock-em-sock action. Director Guillermo del Toro, who also wrote the screenplay, carries a lot more hope than if this was directed by Michael Bay, John Moore, Roland Emmerich or some other hack action director. He has a pretty impressive resume of some quality, inventive films and is the guy who almost directed The Hobbit. How can you not attach a certain amount of optimism to this?
In between the monster/robot brawls there’s a story with real-life human beings played by Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Ron Perlman. We know the special effects are the real draw here. With any luck this story will pack more punch and be better executed than a standard Transformers flick orBattleship. It’s got to be better than those right? Could Del Toro actually make us care about the human characters operating these giant robots?
GROWN UPS 2
Oh brother, another Adam Sandler movie.
Once again he returns with his pals Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider where they spend time in their old hometown and wacky antics ensue as they hang out at their kids school – or something.
I really don’t care.
How is it that Sandler characters in movies have unbelievably hot, ridiculously sexy love interests? Bridgette Wilson, Julie Bowen, Joey Lauren Adams, Marisa Tomei, Courtney Cox, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jennifer Aniston…
In this one he’s still apparently married to Salma Hayek. I’m all for suspension of disbelief with movies, but I just roll my eyes at the casting of his romantic leads. And that’s even before I hear the premise of the movie. It’s the Sandler alternative reality. It’s something I’ve never gotten or enjoyed.
The only way I would care about this movie is if no one turns out for it and it takes a lashing from audiences and critics. For me that’s the best part of a Sandler movie.
After the double-whammy of Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy, two films that even hardcore Sandler fans thought were awful and didn’t do nearly as much money as expected, will they show up to this one? My guess is probably so. They’ll see there’s a lot of funny people in it and they’ll buy their tickets.
Plus, it’s a sequel so they’ll expect more of the same as they got from the first movie. I guess audiences liked that. So the Sandler name will be credited with not being complete poison, they’ll say how he still has cache and his movies can still make money.
As for me I have zero interest in this and would love to hear how terrible it is with rants by moviegoers about how much it stinks. Unfortunately, I predict it will get a much more positive reaction than Jack and Jill. But really that wouldn’t be too hard. The Shaquille O’Neal cameo should really go over big with audiences….it just sounds so hysterical.
TURBO July 17, 2013
The 3-D thing is still being done??? People still feel forking over that extra money is worth it?
Here we get a garden snail who dreams of something more than the slow, sluggish life he’s living in. A freak accident gives Theo incredible speed. Changing his name to Turbo he attempts to enter the Indy 500 and try to win it all.
It’s a cute sounding underdog kind of story I guess. Young fans of the Cars flicks will probably get drawn to it. I’m sure there will be some speedy animation and in the end Turbo learns the lesson that maybe the slow life isn’t all that bad. They’re already prepping a Netflix series based on this, so they better hope this movie is good and that audiences like it.