POP CORN MOVIES LOOM LARGE FOR TEEN BOYS
By Robin E. Simmons
A key demographic for studios in the summer competition for eyeballs are teen boys. I met with five seniors at Desert Hot Springs High School – Elijah, Ryan, Dillon and Freddy – and asked them what films they most wanted to see based on movie trailers and social media buzz.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
By far, the most anticipated film is Christopher Nolan’s final Batman reboot in his amazing trilogy. Christian Bale has redefined for fan boys (and girls) the essence of Batman’s very soul. Nolan’s knack for big action, hard moral drama and exquisite composition create a visceral world that excites fear and awe. The big question is: Will this be the end of Batman? Does the iconic and troubled crusader actually die? Or is it only the alter ego that passes away and Bruce Wayne is “cured” from his obsessive war against corruption and evil? In any event, this is the film that transcends all others according to the boys I spoke with. Opens July 20.
Next on the list of most anticipated summer film is Ridley Scott’s not really prequel to his 1979 hit ALIEN that put a new spin on sci-fi horror. Director Scott has publicly stated on several occasions that he wants to “scare the [crap] out of the audience.” The essence of the story is a search for our origins can lead to our demise. The much-watched on-line trailer has been analyzed in detail and it is the mysterious “space jockey” from ALIEN that gets the most attention. In the last weeks, a brilliant new viral video has emerged of the human-like cyborg Dave (Michael Fassbender) speaking to the camera as if in a commercial from Weyland Industries (Google: “Michael Fassbender Dave Prometheus”). It’s not a scene from the movie but a peripheral element of the story that creates an eerie fascination and ominous dread as an amoral being states he will do “unethical” things for humans and can blend into human society undetected. Opens June 8.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER
All the boys who saw the trailer thought the movie was cool and wanted to see it. Elijah said, “It’s the way we really want to see Honest Abe the rail splitter swings his axe.” Tim Burton produces and the immensely gifted visualist Timur Bekmambetov directs. It’s a perfect teaming of material with all aspects of above the line talent. None of my sample demographic had any special desire to see Stephen Spielberg’s serious bio-film of Lincoln starring Liam Neeson on the big or little screen. Essential 3D? Maybe. Opens June 27.
MEN IN BLACK 3
The third outing of the secret alien hunting squad had a so-so reaction from several of the boys. The feeling was “wait for home video.” MIB agents Will Smith (the most popular movie star in the world and Tommy Lee Jones return for comic action based on the Malibu/Marvel comics in turn based on a term originated by the late paranormal investigator Keel. Again, the fate of the earth is at stake. And again Barry Sonnenfeld directs. The plot involves time traveling back to 1969 to thwart and alien criminal named Boris from killing agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and changing history, as we know it. And if Smith and Jones don’t succeed in their mission in 24 hours, they will be trapped forever in the past. Which, to my thinking, may not be all that bad. Word is the extra dimension works well here and adds to the fun. Josh Brolin co-stars as young Jones/Agent K. Opens May 25.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Andrew Garfield dons the tights in this long-in-gestation re-imagining of the beginnings of the teen superhero from Marvel Comics. I couldn’t get much of a response for this film, lots of shoulder shrugging and that it was too soon to start the series over again. I did get a bigger response to the notion of a newly imagined SUPERMAN from producer Christopher Nolan. Emma Stone co-stars and Marc Webb. Naturally it’s in 3D with an Imax 3D version as well. Columbia Pictures must be confident because there’s already a sequel in the works for release in 2014. Even so, the teen jury’s still out and the “want see” factor is not high. Opens July 3.
Johnny Depp has worked with his friend director Tim Burton eight times now. They surely have a shorthand method of communicating and seem to share similar sensibilities. But will this tongue-in-cheek morphing of the TV soap connect with a wide audience? Does Depp do justice to Barnabas Collins? I think there’s a built in audience for what is being promoted in a brilliant trailer as a sexy comic thriller. But will the film fulfill the terrific promise of the trailer. Strangely, some of the demographic teen boy sample thought it was more of “chick flick” but would definitely go to see Depp “do his thing” if they had a date who really wanted to see it. Everyone liked the weird Andy Warholish posters. Opens May 11.
Here’s yet more episodic documentary silliness from the master of bad taste in the name of skewing the fools, madmen and bigots of our world. I love the official teaser quote: “Sacha Baron Cohen plays the dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppressed.” Whether true or not, the film has been promoted in some circles as based on Saddam Hussein’s novel Zabibah and the King (I wonder if Paramount Pictures actually sought and bought the rights?!) Ben Kingsly and Anna Faris co-star. Director Larry Charles is back for his third Cohen faux biopic. Opens May 16.
KATY PERRY: PART OF ME
None of the demo teem teens spoke of Katy Perry’s 3D film that looks at her public and private life. Some groaned when I mentioned it, but none the less, there is a strong surge of interest in Perry’s first film. She has a distinctive creative signature in the way she brands herself as a feminist cupie doll that actually has something to say. Add to this a hot retro look that often belies the ferocious, sometimes angry, message beneath the lyrics. Buzz is: a gorgeous 3D film with terrific sound. Opens July 5.
More cool upcoming big screen movies next week. Meanwhile, what’s your most anticipated film for the summer?