Weekend Movie Preview (6.10.11)

Now a month and a half into the summer season, you should be feeling the heat now. The demand for box-office dinero has increased tremendously and now the mystery of all mysteries, J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” looks for its piece of the pie. With all the major franchise offerings these past few weekends, will “Super 8” surprise or get the shaft?

New This Week

Super 8

Written and Directed by J.J. Abrams
Starring: Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Noah Emmerich, Amanda Michalka

Summary: A group of kids in the late ’70s are filming a movie on a Super 8 camera when they witness a horrific freight train incident that unleashes some kind of thing that results in paranormal phenomena occurring in their small town.

The Word: Few people can pull off a top-secret project, but Abrams is one of them. After “Cloverfield” turned into a success thanks to mystery and viral marketing, “Super 8″ attempted the same when its teaser showed up practically unannounced before “Iron Man 2″ last year. Since then, the film rounded up a cast and shot all fall in order to debut footage during the Super Bowl.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (great)

My Thoughts: An enigma from Abrams’ mind with Spielberg’s seal of approval doesn’t get more intriguing from a movie fan’s perspective. The trailers do an equally impressive job capturing our attention by juxtaposing a nostalgic Rob Reiner-esque setting with M. Night Shyamalan-esque phenomena. It’s simply hard to envision Abrams falling short on a project that he moved so quickly to bring to fruition. Early buzz is good, especially in terms of the nostalgia factor.

Recommendation: Go find out what the mystery is for yourself. If you’re not into all the sequels and flash-bang Hollywood films coming out, this is your summer movie.

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer

Directed by John Schultz
Written by Kathy Waugh and Megan McDonald
Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller

Summary: The imaginative and high-energy Judy Moody is looking forward to having an “thrilladelic” summer until she finds out her parents are leaving her and her brother Stink alone with their Aunt Opal. Turns out Aunt Opal (Graham) is a young spacey hippie willing to go along with Judy’s plan. Judy comes up with all kinds of “dares” to earn “thrill points” in order to have an awesome time.

The Word: The film is based on the popular children’s book series by Megan McDonald, who also has a writing credit on the film itself, so author approval secured. Much like last summer’s “Ramona & Beezus,” “Judy Moody” will look to go straight for the heart with a more traditional family film, and by traditional I mean something from the ’90s. The original was published in 2000, so presumably there’s a good following built of young readers who would be familiar with the books.

Rotten Tomatoes: 15% (very bad)

My Thoughts: Seeing as how “Ramona & Beezus” tanked last summer, I expect the same thing. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” has managed to find success with live-action kids book adaptations, but the books are much more popular. Kids unfamiliar will have no desire to see it because what appeals to kids today is not close to what it used to be. I’m glad this film has a “go out and take safe risks” message and it will probably garner good reviews just for doing so, but seeing it ironically sounds like a way to make your summer a bummer.

Recommendation: A family film worth skipping unless your child knows the books or needs some cinematic inspiration in order to pick up a darn book-thing or whatever they’re called.

Midnight in Paris

Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard

Summary: An engaged couple (Wilson and McAdams) tag along on a business trip to France and come fact-to-face with the slightly snobbish artsy lifestyle of many of the people living there. After midnight, however, Wilson — a struggling writer in need of inspiration — begins to discover Paris’ nightlife and disappears most nights.

The Word: Allen’s latest slew of European-set features continues and this one with much more success than last year’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”. The film has done exceptionally in limited release following its acclaimed Cannes debut. This cast is simply brimming with talent: Wilson, McAdams, Sheen, Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Alison Pill, Carla Bruni and Tom Hiddleston are included.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (excellent)

My Thoughts: Looks as if Allen has captured some more magic in his twilight years. Everything that I can gather from this film speaks to it being one of Woody’s best in a long while, perhaps more so than even “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Recommendation: The romantic comedy of the summer/year so far. A great date movie choice among other things.

Box Office Predictions

Although some prognosticators are nervous about Super 8, I take one look at “Cloverfield”‘s $40 million in January a few years back and I have confidence it will be the number one film, even with a strong second week from a well-received X-Men: First Class. I think “First Class” will finish with $25-30 million and I can’t see “Super 8” with any less than $30 million.

I’m getting a bit more daring in my predictions in these next couple places. I’ve been waiting patiently for Kung Fu Panda 2 to make its move on The Hangover Part II and I think it happens this weekend. Animated films hold up much better than poorly reviewed comedies, even if that poorly reviewed comedy is the highest-grossing comedy opener of all time. I have them both at around $15 million so the edge goes to “Panda.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will enjoy a final hurrah in the top five this weekend.

1. Super 8
2. X-Men: First Class
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. The Hangover Part II
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides




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