Joel Crabtree, Morgan Davis and Danny Djeljosevic secretly drugged Jason Sacks in order to bring you this gonzo summer movie breakdown.
Thor (May 6th)
Joel Crabtree: Thor is this summer’s lead-off batter, and it also has a lot to live up to considering how well Iron Man and debatably Iron Man 2 did in the same release position. On top of all that pressure, the summer of 2011 is heavy on superheroes. How well Thor does might be a litmus test for the rest of the summer.
Morgan Davis: I’m not gonna lie, I think this may be the superhero movie to beat this summer, financially at least. It’s just a perfect storm of blockbuster subjects- fantasy epic, superheroics and a good old fashioned fish out of water story. What more could you ask for?
Danny Djeljosevic: I’ve already seen it (are US critics embargoed even though the film already premiered internationally?), but all I’m going to say is that I sense that this current generation of superhero films are going to be exhibiting growing pains as they finally begin getting out of the shadow of Tim Burton’s Batman.
Joel: The brunt of Thor’s success (or failure) will fall on the shoulders of breakout hopeful Chris Hemsworth and director Kenneth Brannagh, both of whom are out of their element bringing Marvel’s Norse god to life.
Morgan: Admittedly, I was a little concerned when Kenneth Brannagh was confirmed as the director. Brannagh has the bad habit of getting lost in the period fixings of his adaptations and ignoring the purpose of the story. As a director, he may be the most perfect example of why so many hate Shakespeare without having read a single sentence of the bard.
But then I remembered how hammy the original Stan Lee Thor was and how effective the contrast of that hamminess with Kirby’s insistence on making everything fucking bizarre was. I mean, we’re talking about a god who occasionally battles magical robots. And as soon as that same said magical robot appeared in the trailers, I knew this battle had been won. By which I mean the battle in my head over whether I wanted to see this movie or whether I really wanted to see this movie.
Priest (May 13th)
Danny: Tokyopop’s last major contribution to the world will be a manhwa adaptation that people will just mistake for director Scott Stewart’s other religious-themed, Paul Bettany vehicle.
Joel: I have absolutely no faith in Priest.
Danny: I predict a lot of blue-gray filters, which means the 3D glasses will render the film indecipherable.
Joel: Stewart, the man behind the mess known as Legion, somehow begged, borrowed and dealt his way into taking on what could have been a potential franchise. However, with Stewart behind the camera, there’s little chance of that happening now — and an even smaller chance that I’ll see it.
Morgan: Wait, is this a sequel to Legion? Did that movie do that well?
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20th)
Danny: Mistaking themselves for highfalutin fantasy entertainment a la Lord of the Rings, the Pirates sequels gradually disappeared up their own asses with mythology. This sequel, directed by Chicago Rob Marshall, could hopefully prove much needed course correction for a franchise that got away from its main product (jokes, Johnny Depp, swashbuckling), but will more likely prove as irrelevant as a Mummy sequel.
Joel: I’m going on the record as saying that I’m an unabashedly enthusiastic fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. It’s one of my many guilty pleasures. So, it should come as no surprise that I’m excited for On Stranger Ties to a degree that would almost seem … disturbing?
Morgan: The only thing that makes me optimistic about this film is the key subtraction of certain undesirable elements. Namely, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
Joel: The subtraction of Gore Verbinski as director and the addition of Rob Marshall is cause for concern. But when you add in Ian McShane as Black Beard (seriously … BLACK BEARD), you begin to feel a lot more comfortable. Simply put: I’ll be there.
Morgan: Ian McShane is always a good idea, as far as I’m concerned.
Danny: On another note, this film is based on a book that has nothing to do with Pirates of the Carribean — just like the novel that inspired Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
Morgan: At least that means it will make more sense than that terrible third film. What the fuck was that even about?
X-Men: First Class (June 3rd)
Danny: In recent years, Fox has become notorious for completely ruining their genre films due to low budgets and studio fuckery. Could X-Men: First Class be any different, or will it just end up relatively better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine?
Joel: If there’s one superhero movie to have 100 percent confidence in this summer, it’s X-Men: First Class, despite its really poorly designed marketing.
Danny: There’s a sense of vindication in seeing Matthew Vaughn finally direct an X-Men film after he walked away from X-Men: The Last Stand.
Joel: It was a tragic moment for the franchise when director Matthew Vaughn dropped out of X-Men: The Last Stand and was replaced by Brett Ratner.
Morgan: Ratner utterly demolished the X-Men franchise.
Joel: Vaughn, luckily, is an incredible director, and I’m glad that we’re finally getting to see what he could bring to the X-Men.
Morgan: Weirdly, some have preemptively decried X-Men: First Class as Mad Men for mutants. But you know what? I am totally fine with that.
Danny: Making it a period piece set in the 1960s is a brilliant idea.
Morgan: People forget that the X-Men were not a hot Marvel property by any means until Claremont soap opera’d that shit up. I mean, that was a book that ran reruns for several years before getting what may have been one of the first blockbuster reboots in pop culture. No one gave a shit about that book. Nobody.
Super 8 (June 10th)
Morgan: Is this just J.J. Abrams doing his version of E.T.?
Joel: Over the years, I’ve grown to trust J.J. Abrams in the world of nerdom. He produced Cloverfield, something that I spent way too much time obsessing about after the initial trailer. He took on the impossible mission of creating a great third installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise.
rgan: I’m willing to put faith in Abrams, but I haven’t the slightest idea what this film is about. Aliens who ride in government trains? Does that make them alien hobos? Will we see a cameo by Darkseid Jenkins?
Danny: Viral marketing game! Follow @djeljosevic and ask me directly to find out how I feel about the upcoming film Super 8!
Morgan: Why is everything always about you, Danny?
Troll Hunter (June 10th)
Morgan: HOLY FUCK THAT TRAILER OMGOMG
Joel: The Troll Hunter will give audiences one more reason to thank Magnolia Pictures for continuing to release genre movies that most studios (even indie studios) would have no interest in.
Danny: Those troll designs are fantastic, and it looks like one of the sadly rare cases where the fake documentary format isn’t used as a “clever” way to cover up a low budget.
Joel: This Norwegian import is sure to turn a few heads, raise a few eyebrows, and put the spotlight on director Andrew Ovredal’s bold handheld style and organic effects. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this one.
Morgan: Do you know why I’m especially excited about this? Because it looks like a gigantic expansion of my favorite segment of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, that’s why. You know the one. If you don’t, you should rectify that immediately.
Danny: This is going to be the best movie all the nerds will ignore in favor of all the bigger, dumber, more expensive summer films.
Morgan: Fuck you, nerds.
Green Lantern (June 17th)
Joel: I’m not sure what to make of Green Lantern at this point. Warner Bros. seems to have played this one a little too safely, putting Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro) at the helm and letting Ryan Reynolds take on the role of Hal Jordan.
Morgan: Is there a superhero out there that Ryan Reynolds won’t take on?
Joel: Reynolds is an incredibly likable (and arguably talented) actor with those leading-man looks.
Morgan: Reynolds simply isn’t interesting enough to command focus. Frankly, he’s damn annoying when he’s front and center and uninterrupted for two hours or so (which would be fine for Deadpool, if the script was good enough). Give me Adventureland over Van Wilder any day.
Danny: This is DC’s first major non-Superman, non-Batman superhero film, and might start the company’s big-budget cinematic properties on the wrong foot if it flounders in the box office. Me, I’m hoping for a lot of spacebound sci-fi insanity and crazy toyetic aliens. We haven’t had one of those since Star Wars, but we should have (there were so many great creatures in Hellboy 2).
Joel: Martin Campbell’s familiar with reviving or creating franchises. In fact, one could argue that it’s the only thing he’s done well in his career. So I can confidently say that Green Lantern will not be a great movie. It will be passable, or maybe even good.
Morgan: I’m not sure I want to see a film where Reynolds does his best George Clooney imitation (seriously casting folks, why did you not go the Clooney route here?).
And that’s part one, folks! Check out Part Two, which covers July and August!