Monday, April 29, 2013

Riske Business: Summer 2013, Sequels and Reboots

We have a lot to look forward to this summer movie season! Just not these movies...for the most part.

Necessary and Welcome
Star Trek Into Darkness

Adam’s Take: I love the 2009 reboot of Star Trek. A sequel should be a cause for celebration, but Star Trek Into Darkness feels like the beginning of the end to me. I’m bummed they went the dark route. What made Star Trek special was that it went its own way, which the new one doesn’t seem to be doing. I can’t shake the Star Wars cloud that hangs over Star Trek now. I never thought J.J. would leave the super cute valedictorian for the vapid prom queen.

Why Necessary and Welcome? The cast is well-assembled, the director keeps getting better and the first one was too successful and good for there not to be a second movie.
Fast & Furious 6

Adam’s Take: Did you ever think back in 2001 there would be six of these (seven if you count the next installment due next summer)? At this point, I feel like I’m watching a baseball team full of veterans who are in the prime of their careers. We’ve gone through the growing pains and now it's gravy train time. I still can’t believe that The Fast & the Furious is the premiere action franchise of the moment, yet I’m happy it is.

Why Necessary and Welcome? Fast Five was the most successful movie in the franchise financially and creatively, so there is no reason to end on that note. Like Star Trek, the Fast & Furious series really has a great ensemble in place. Also, like Star Trek again, the director (Justin Lin) keeps improving as an action director.  I love how this series keeps re-inventing itself.
Man of Steel

Adam’s Take: I so want to like Superman. I’m game to be way on board with it. Time after time, though, it never connects for me. The first trailer to Man of Steel didn’t inspire much hope, but that new trailer? Oh my, that looks good! I’m a fan of most of the cast, including Amy Adams, Michael Shannon and Kevin Costner, and I think I want to see this movie just as much because it’s the new Zack Snyder as it’s the new Superman movie. And thank G-D, no Lex Luthor. That dude is boring!

Why Necessary and Welcome? With the superhero boom really taking off since the summer of 2008 (two years after Superman Returns flopped), there was no way Warner Bros. and DC Comics weren’t going to try and revive this character. I think everyone seems to be rooting for this one to work.

Unnecessary and Welcome

Iron Man 3 (AKA: Marvel Phase 2.1)

Adam’s Take: Ok, this won’t win me any fans, but I don’t like Iron Man. He’s my least favorite Avenger. It’s the marriage of an actor I don’t like (Robert Downey Jr. – who doesn’t need you as a fan because he likes himself enough for all of us) and a character I find as relatable as Howard Hughes.  So surprisingly, I’m interested in seeing Iron Man 3. Why? Shane Black is directing, so the new movie should be at the very least idiosyncratic. The other reason I’m interested is because I want to see if it’s enough to have one Avenger in a movie anymore or if it will seem like a letdown after seeing all of them together.

Why Unnecessary and Welcome? It just seems superfluous to me at this point to have a stand-alone superhero movie in the Marvel universe. I am in the vast minority, as I know virtually everyone is looking forward to seeing another Iron Man movie. The franchise is too big to fail. They couldn’t stop now even if they wanted to.
Before Midnight

Adam’s Take: I love Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. These are two movies that are brave enough to know that a love story told straight up is compelling. They are also part of a genre that I love: the ‘walking and talking’ movie. But I have to be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that many critics and festival audiences have seen it and said it’s great, I would be worried.

Why Unnecessary and Welcome? It’s unnecessary because the ending of Before Sunset is one of the best endings in movie history! It’s ambiguous (but not really), and I’m not sure how much longer these two can be compelling as a screen couple. Before Sunrise was about unexpectedly falling in love in your early adult years when you’re still trying to figure things out. Before Sunset was about missed opportunities, going with your heart or your head, and if it is morally right to fix past mistakes at the detriment of other people. What is left? I don’t want this to turn into This Is 40. As I mentioned before, I am welcoming Before Midnight because I have already heard that it was good.
V/H/S 2 (AKA: We Found Better Footage)

Adam’s Take: I’m a sucker for anthology horror movies, and from what I’ve heard (based on festival screenings) the sequel to V/H/S is supposed to be much better than the original.

Why Unnecessary and Welcome? Didn’t V/H/S gross under $1 million dollars in theaters and a bit more On Demand? This might be the lowest grossing movie ever to get a sequel. It’s welcome because the format isn’t bad and I’m always open to showcases for up and coming horror and exploitation directors. Then again, that approach gave us the worst movie of 2013 thus far: The ABCs of Death.
Kick-Ass 2

Adam’s Take: I wasn’t crazy about the original movie, but it definitely has its fans. I’m looking forward to the sequel because of Jim Carrey. I’m willing to bet most of the satire of the original is foregone in favor of more elaborate action sequences and broad comedy.

Why Unnecessary and Welcome? Subversive cult movies rarely benefit from having a second chapter. And yet, the new movie looks edgy, so maybe it has more up its sleeve than I am giving it credit for.

Unnecessary and Unwelcome
Fucking Hangover III: Fuck Yeah! (AKA: Fucking Hangover III: Fuck Yeah!)

Adam’s Take: I try not to be elitist, but something like The Hangover series forces me into that position. The people who love these movies are not as smart as the people who hate these movies. I don’t think they are poorly made (in fact, they are beautifully shot), but they are so cynical and so hateful that loving them reflects poorly on your character as a human being. It’s a series that will kill a giraffe for laughs! This series is the equivalent of all those idiots out there that think getting hammered is a prerequisite for having fun. This is the movie equivalent of alcoholism. And Ken Jeong is the worst.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome?
The Hangover Part II was just a copy of the original. Why would you expect anything different from Part III? I’m just so damn tired of people talking about The Hangover and trying to convince me it is anything more than disappointing at best.
Monsters University

Adam’s Take: I don’t think this is being made other than to sell toys. Disney has sacked and pillaged what was once Pixar. Maybe I’m being too cynical.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? Why wait 12 years to make a sequel to a mid-tier Pixar movie? I just can’t shake the feeling that this is Pixar’s next movie because it has brand value and is easier to sell than an original idea.
Despicable Me 2

Adam’s Take: Have fun! I’ll wait in the car.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? This movie seems to have zero purpose. Why else do they only promote the noids (or whatever the hell these yellow guys are) and never the lead character or the story? It’s unwelcome because the studios responsible for making CGI kids movies hate you and your family. Every once in a while, they’ll get it right (How to Train Your Dragon, Pixar pre-Cars 2), but the average is not in their favor.
Grown Ups 2 (AKA: We Hate You: The Movie)

Adam’s Take: We need to stop him! Adam Sandler is the only reason this movie exists. You can’t blame his friends. It’s beside the point that his career is now an inside joke. The career trajectory of Adam Sandler only proves that you can never trust anyone.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? Why have a second story to this saga when the first one didn’t even have a story? I seriously doubt anyone is intending to right the wrongs of the original. This isn’t Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (movie’s solid)! The tagline for this movie should be “Do you even remember the first time you sold out?”
Red 2 (AKA: The Best Exotic Marigold Expendables)

Adam’s Take:  I didn’t care too much for the first movie and I’m even more dubious about a sequel. Comedy sequels pretty much never work. If you think Red 2 is going to change that trend, then you are sorely mistaken.  Bruce Willis will so be asleep for this.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? I’m pretty sure the studio doesn’t even think this is a good idea, but I’m sure it was born out of a Monday morning studio meeting after the original Red cleaned up its opening weekend. Years later, we’re paying the price.
The Wolverine

Adam’s Take: Do we like the character this much? I can think of a billion other people I’d rather see go to Japan than Wolverine. Aren’t there any Japanese superheroes? The fact that this is directed by James Mangold means it will be aggressively average.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? Has X-Men become the Undeworld/Resident Evil of superhero franchises? Why is it important that he’s in Japan? What’s next? Aurora, IL? Culver City? Beirut 1993? I feel like Hugh Jackman needs this a lot more than we do. He needs our money so he doesn’t have to steal loaves of bread.
The Smurfs 2

Adam’s Take: I don’t give a damn. I never saw the first one and will not see the second one. It’s one of the benefits of not yet having kids. I’ll catch up with you guys when there’s a Smurfs 6. Homeboy’s gonna have to hold up two hands.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? I don’t think I need to say why this is unnecessary. This movie was made because it’s illegal to mug children. It might as well be called The Smurfs 2: Give Me Your Money, Parents!
300: Rise of an Empire

Adam’s Take: I fell asleep both times I tried to watch 300. It’s monotonous. A sequel/spin-off is not for me.

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? I think this movie owes just as much to the Spartacus television series (and Game of Thrones) as it does the original 300 (it came out 6 years ago!). Due to the through line of the original, no one from 300 looks to be in the sequel, so it’s more of a spin-off.  I haven’t seen the trailer yet, but I can’t shake that this is just a B-team effort all the way. Nothing but a cash grab.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Adam’s Take: Didn’t The Perks of Being a Wallflower mean Logan Lerman could leave this Potter knock-off behind? Also, I’m not so sure about this Logan Lerman movie star thing. The kid’s straight up normal. If Josh Hartnett can’t hack it in this town, why do we think this guy will do any better?

Why Unnecessary and Unwelcome? Many wannabe fantasy franchises tried to launch in the Harry Potter wake and the original Percy Jackson (unseen by me) seemed to leave little to no impression. Is anyone clamoring for more? Is the target audience from the original too old to care?

Adam’s 10 Most Anticipated Movies of the Summer:

Before Midnight
The Bling Ring
The Conjuring
Fast & Furious 6
Man of Steel
Star Trek Into Darkness
This is the End
The World’s End
You’re Next

What do you think of this summer’s slate of sequels and reboots? What movies this summer are you looking forward to the most?


  1. "The Best Exotic Marigold Expendables"
    Ha! I snorted.

  2. I enjoyed your assessments of these movies, Adam. Possibly the only one on which I differ with you in my thoughts is Kick-Ass. I am a big fan of Kick-Ass, and It's maybe my third favorite movie of 2010, behind Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Inception. I like the addition of Jim Carrey. Hopefully the movie delivers for me as the first one did.

    Actually, I'm also strangely intrigued (I don't think I'd go as far as to say "excited") by a 300 sequel/spin-off. But I still agree that it seems largely unnecessary. The first one just looked pretty and I'd like to see more of that.

    Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Monsters University (because Pixar), and The World's End are probably my most anticipated movies of the summer.

    You know the feeling you get when a director impresses you so much that you just have to see every single thing they do? That's how I feel about Edgar Wright (and subsequently, The World's End) nowadays.

    1. I'm going to give Kick Ass another shot closer to when the second one comes out. I remember exactly when I stopped being on board with the first one. It was when the Kick Ass character's mother drops dead and they treat it as a joke. It took me out of the rest of the movie. It also didn't help that Super came out shortly afterward and I liked that one a lot better.

    2. Admission: I still have never seen Super, so it's possible that I would like it a lot better, too. I'll have to check it out.

    3. "Super" is awesome, as good or better than "Kick-Ass" even though they're at their core different movies/takes on the same subject matter.

    4. Kick Ass starts on the "real world" and ends up in Superhero movie land.
      Super starts on the real world and stays there til the bitter end.
      I like Super much better, which makes me interested for Guardians of the Galaxy, but at the same time a little sad because I think this will be the beginning of the end of Gunn.

  3. "...Star Trek Into Darkness feels like the beginning of the end to me"

    From your column to God's ear.

  4. Hey Adam I wanted to throw a couple more alternate movie titles at you real quick

    The Wolverine (AKA Les Miserables 2: Miserable' with a Vengeance)
    300 Rise of an Empire (AKA 300: This time we have guns?)
    Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters (AKA Financially Viable Teen Magic Series)
    and finally Smurfs 2 (AKA Smurfs 2 : A John Doe and Alan Smithee Joint)

    I also want to defend Monsters University for a sec. I actually think they are trying to challenge themselves by making a prequel to one of their slightly lesser films (by Pixar standards anyway. I actually don't think this is totally a merchandise cash grab but what do I know I actually like the first CARS movie (the sequel though ouch) I also think Brave didn't turn out as well as it could have but that may have more to do with the fact that we have seen SO MANY fairy tale films we have been overexposed.

    On the good side of things this movie didn't have any director changes through production and the clips so far give me hope. In either case I already know I will enjoy this film more than anything animated this year, I've seen nothing to even give me slight hope that Pixar will be topped this year (Last year's winner PARANORMAN!)

  5. Yes! Awesome new title for the Percy Jackson movie. I was toying with The Perks of Being a Lightning Thief.

    I so hope you're right about Monsters University.

    1. The trailers for MU remind me of the comment Patrick often makes regarding children's movies; Who is this movie for? The general angle/approach here seems to be a "finding yourself during adolescence" movie and a large selection of college in-jokes. Target Demographic: pre-teen children?

  6. On a note completely random and unrelated to this column, yet completely necessary and welcome, happy SLP Blu-ray release day, Adam!

  7. @John - I know :-) Happy SLP day to you too. On certain days it has become my favorite movie. It makes me sort of embarassed but I've seen it 5 times so I feel comfortable in saying that I won't get tired of it.