Summer is icumen in - early if you believe this weather - and with it comes the parade of vast studio behemoths substituting spectacle for intellect and huge-ass explosions for the craft of film-making. We've had Battleship already and for sheer boneheaded imbecility that's going to be hard to beat. That said, some of them should still be fun - though unfortunately we already know this because they're almost all remakes or sequels; there's practically nothing new or innovative, just retreading old formulae and old concepts in the desperate hope they'll work again. It's rather depressing, but hey - things will explode and big movie stars will supposedly look cool in daft costumes. What more do you want? I'm going purely by the titles and what scraps I've heard here so these "observations" may well bear no resemblance to the finished items. In scheduled release order, then:
1. PROMETHEUS (June 1)
In the case of Ridley Scott's long-in-the-trenches return to SF and the Alien universe (and hopefully to great movies), what I'd really like is for Fox to stop with the publicity. We're already at maximum anticipation, our seats are booked and all we have to do is turn up and watch it. We can't do anything more. Stop with the trailers and the hype. I'm also hoping there's a 2D screening on at a reasonable time: I'm getting increasingly fed up with the ineffective gimmick and having to pay extra for it. I suspect that since Prometheus is set in space, vast chunks of it are going to be pretty dark anyway without the stupid glasses, and invisible with them. Still, there's a high-powered star cast doing their thing, and there should be some visceral meat to chew on given the 15 certificate (R in the States).
2. ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER (June 20)
Not the most eagerly awaited vampire movie, really, but we don't know when or if we're getting Dario Argento's Dracula 3D in this country. (Nor am I that excited about the last of the Twilight series, which doesn't come out until November.) Really wish we could have had Pride And Prejudice And Zombies though. I'm iffy about Timur Bekmambetov: Night Watch and Day Watch were weirdly entertaining but I hated Wanted. Still, it's neither a sequel nor a remake: it's actually based on a novel, the things movies used to be based on in the old days. (Thinking about it, I'm not actually sure whether it counts as a blockbuster. Hey-ho.)
3. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (July 3)
Some early posters bore the legend "The Untold Story", which is odd because it looks to be the same frequently told story as before: if you change too much of it, at some point it stops being Spiderman. I've never been a fan of Spiderman anyway so my hopes aren't high, but something nifty might come of it after the frankly dull Sam Raimi films. Oh, and it's in 3D. Bastards.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (July 20)
Speaking of bloated....Call me a heretic, but I really cannot get that excited about Batman movies, be they the gloomy Gothic darkness of the Tim Burtons, the incoherent gibberish of the Joel Schumachers or the humourless po-faced seriousness of the Christopher Nolans. Whether Bruce Wayne or Batman, the character's a thudding bore and resists every cinematic attempt to make him anything like a three (or even two) dimensional human being in a camp pantomime for children. In that respect the best representation is still Adam West running around in his underpants. On the other hand: there's a roster of star names and reliable actors doing their bit. And no 3D.
5. G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (August 3)
I'm one of the nine people who actively enjoyed the first G I Joe: it was a dumbo spectacular that didn't take itself at all seriously, that knew it was empty-headed nonsense based on a plastic toy and a Saturday morning cartoon show and operated on that level (unlike the Transformers movies which have similar origins but operate under the delusion that they're Proper Films). As a result G I Joe was a breathtakingly silly but thoroughly enjoyable load of crash bang wallop and now there's a sequel, with action heavyweights Bruce Willis and The Rock, which looks....what? March? Conversion? No! Sadly, the dribbling dunces at Paramount have decided to pull the film until March 2013 so they can foul it up with a botched 3D effect and charge us extra for the privilege. You utter, utter knobs.
6. THE BOURNE LEGACY (August 13)
Can the Bourne franchise survive without Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass? I know I'm again swimming against the tide here, but I rather prefer the first Bourne movie - partly because it's got Franka Potente in it, and partly because Doug Liman occasionally nails the camera to the ground rather than the occasionally dizzying handheld Greengrass technique in which I'm occasionally not sure what I'm looking at (and if I'm in the front six rows I'm feeling ill from motion sickness).
7. THE EXPENDABLES 2 (August 17)
Another two hours of testosterone and things going kaboom, with even more 80s action stars turning up for one last big orgy of destruction and carnage; it should be kind of enjoyably stupid but will there be any intellectual meat or pause for reflection? It's from the director of Con Air and the When A Stranger Calls remake, so probably not.
8. THE THREE STOOGES (August 22)
Not really, but it's something other than pyrotechnics and body counts.
9. TOTAL RECALL (August 22)
I love the Verhoeven film, and frankly I cannot imagine this new one getting anywhere close to it - it's from the director of Die Hard 4.0 and two Underworld movies, after all, and I'm still not sure about Colin Farrell in anything. Even so, it should be interesting to see what results a completely different approach might yield; sadly, there's no mention of a three-breasted hooker in the credits on the IMDb.
10. DREDD (September 7)
Pity about the 3D (yes, I know, but if they're going to keep making movies in this stupid system I'm going to keep on about it), but this one might be the big sleeper of the summer. There are no huge names in the cast apart from Karl Urban (probably best known as Young Bones McCoy from the Star Trek reboots), the director made Vantage Point which was okay. So expectations aren't high and it could be a pleasant surprise. Actually I think the Stallone version is underrated, and it's a shame it's hard to find on British DVD (none of the online rental sites stock it), but maybe it'll be reissued in time for this new version.
11. SKYFALL (October 26)
Can't find anything out about this: it looks to be an arthouse obscurity that won't trouble the multiplexes. It's early days yet, but maybe it would help if the studios released a trailer or something.
These should all be more or less enjoyable enough escapism from the trudge of Modern Life, though they're not necessarily the movies I'm most looking forward to over the summer months (bear in mind that I may not see them over the summer as the 'plexes will be full of little brats on their school holidays). But they're the bigger hitters that should get people into cinemas and hopefully get them coming back the following week to see something else. That's how I started, after all.