Weekend Movie Preview (5.6.11)

Summer is here!!! I rarely find it professional to use exclamation points in my writing, but considering how dull 2011 has been so far and the slate of summer movies that looks to have several things for everyone, subduing my elation would be futile … !

As per usual, summer kicks off the first weekend in May with a superhero entry, this year’s being “Thor.” This trend goes back to 2002 when “Spider-Man” made over $100 million the first weekend of May 2002. In years prior to 2002 we saw “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” do well in this spot, but “Spider-Man” was the first complete blockbuster to open in May. “X2: X-Men United” did similar business the following year, and after a two-year break, the spot has been owned for good by some blockbuster hopeful, usually a superhero film. “Thor” marks the fifth straight year that a hero has ushered in the summer. Both “Iron Man” films, “Spider-Man 3” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” are the previous films to do so and currently 2012 and 2013 will also be consummated by Marvel with “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3.”

After “Fast Five” took off last week, however, summer could soon be starting in April. We shall see.

All this, however, doesn’t mean there won’t be alternative programming to all the fighting and explosive mayhem: two romantic comedies also arrive, one based on a bestselling novel.

New This Week


Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne (screenplay), J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich (story), Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby (comic)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston

Summary: For a foolish mistake, the Norse god Thor is stripped of his power, including his almighty hammer Mjolnir, and banned from the heavenly realm of Asgard to Earth. He’s discovered by scientists, one being Jane Foster (Portman). From then on a battle ensues to stop a plan to destroy Earth headed by Thor’s malicious brother Loki (Hiddleston).

The Word: British thespian Kenneth Branagh takes the reigns of one of Marvel’s more obscure and less relatable heroes, Thor, Norse god of thunder. Since he’s not human, Thor can be tough, but in the hands of a true craftsman like Branagh, the sky seems the limit. If Branagh seems unusual, note that he was a huge fan of the comic as a young boy. That’s usually a good sign and one that indicates the source material was treated with utmost respect.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86% (great)

My Thoughts: Despite some excellent grandeur as seen in the set pieces and costumes, my initial reaction was that “Thor” looked cheesy. Hemsworth certainly looks the part and capable of being a rugged leading man, but the real struggle here will be balancing the mythological with modern day. If the script and Branagh could strike that balance, something truly special could happen here.

Recommendation: If you didn’t get your summer motor running with “Fast Five” last week, this should do it.

Something Borrowed

Directed by Luke Greenfield
Written by Jenny Snyder, Emily Giffin (novel)
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski

Summary: Rachel (Goodwin) let her dream man slip away in college and get swooped up by her best friend (Hudson). Years later they’re getting married, but caged feelings slip out and Rachel and the groom-to-be find themselves in bed together.

The Word: Based on the popular book by Emily Giffiin this is every perpetually single woman’s wish fulfillment scenario is to get that one hottie back and this story fleshes it out. Hollywood has tried to break Goodwin (“Big Love”) in as the next rom-com darling since putting her in great company in “He’s Just Not that Into You.” She joins forces with Hudson here, Krasinski for some comic relief and newcomer Egglesfield.

Rotten Tomatoes: 17% (very bad)

My Thoughts: This is definitely tub-of-ice-cream material. In a summer without “Sex and the City” on the big screen and tons of loud and noisy blockbusters, where will women be likely to spend their money? “Something Borrowed” gives them their first shot and the genre has already been rather underserved this year. That said, the RT score should scare people.

Recommendation: By looks of the critical reception, pass, or better yet … borrow it from someone on DVD this fall.

Jumping the Broom

Directed by Salim Akil
Written by Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs
Starring: Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine

Summary: Two very different families converge when a couple decides to get married in Martha’s Vineyard.

The Word: You might be a bit surprised not to find Tyler Perry’s name in front of this one as it’s pretty much a carbon copy of his formula as well as last year’s “Our Family Wedding” only both families are black. Paula Patton stars along with several other familiar faces from black family comedy. The film will have to contend with Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family” which came out Easter weekend.

Rotten Tomatoes: 35% (not good)

My Thoughts: There’s nothing original about this film except that Paula Patton stars and she’s gorgeous. It amazes me the same movies can continue to be made and as a result I don’t expect big things for this one — it should go silently in the night, especially with “Madea’s Big Happy Family” having come out just a few weeks prior. Mother’s Day has never been a big movie-pitching holiday either.

Recommendation: Skip the broom, unless you’re running behind on your spring cleaning.

Box Office Predictions

Summer roared off to a big, fast and loud start in some people’s minds last weekend, but the muffler should go on this weekend in favor of cinema’s newest superhero. Thor had a big overseas opening and positive reviews should help it do well. The $90 million-plus that “Iron Man” first debuted with seems unlikely given the Norse mythology and no Robert Downey Jr. figure, so $75-90 seems more realistic for “Thor.”

Fast Five will come up well short of breaking the ribbon, but still do well. “Fast & Furious” plummeted after scoring more than $70 million two years ago and with “Thor” stealing away part of its audience, a similar drop should be expected. $30-35 million makes sense for the car chase/heist flick.

The summer’s first romantic comedy should take third place. We saw “Water for Elephants” do well a few weeks ago for a romance based on a novel, so $15 million is my guess for Something Borrowed.

In fourth I like Rio to hold up well without any family film competition. $10 million seems right. Jumping the Broom should come in fifth despite facing competition from “Madea’s Big Happy Family.”

1. Thor
2. Fast Five
3. Something Borrowed
4. Rio
5. Jumping the Broom



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