To start some early buzz for the summer, I thought I’d round up information on the big releases so you can be better informed about what’s coming down the pipe. Below you will find a chronological listing of 16 featured upcoming summer of 2008 movies and links to their respective websites. Fair Warning: most of these films are made by non-Christians and may contain questionable material. Hopefully you can save this list for when things begin to thaw out, to help you decide what to see this summer.
Kung Fu Panda – June 6th
Synopsis: From the studio that brought us Shrek and Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda features Jack Black as Po the Panda, a lowly waiter in a noodle restaurant, who is a kung fu fanatic but whose shape doesn’t exactly lend itself to kung fu fighting. In fact, Po’s defining characteristic appears to be that he is the laziest of all the animals in ancient China. That’s a problem because powerful enemies are at the gates, and all hopes have been pinned on a prophecy naming Po as the “Chosen One” to save the day. A group of martial arts masters are going to need a black belt in patience if they are going to turn this slacker panda into a kung fu fighter before it’s too late.
Verdict: I am a big fan of Jack Black’s comedy, not so much when it has anything to do with wrestling, but otherwise he’s great. The rest of this voice cast could put this funny idea for a story over the top and allow it to compete with Pixar’s big release Wall-E. Hopefully they won’t spend too much time on cool fighting effects and will focus on the story, because without a story we will just have… well… Shrek.
Director: Mark Osborne & John Stevenson (Madagascar)
Actors: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan – June 6th
Synopsis: In You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, a comedy from screenwriters Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), Robert Smigel (Saturday Night Live), and Adam Sandler, Sandler stars as Zohan, an Israeli commando who fakes his own death in order to pursue his dream: becoming a hairstylist in New York.
Verdict: This could, and probably will be awful. If so, it will be Judd Apatow’s first hint of failure. The story just seems too over the top. But that could work in Sandler’s favor. And even though I enjoyed his foray into drama (Punch Drunk Love, Spanglish, and Reign Over Me) I’m excited to see Sandler headlining in comedy again.
Director: Dennis Dugan (Saving Silverman, The Benchwarmers, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry)
Actors: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Alex Luria, Emmanuelle Chriqui
The Happening – June 13th
Synopsis: Official synopsis not available, but it looks like a couple goes on the run after an apocalyptic crisis threatens the human race.
Verdict: Rumored to be M. Night’s First R-rated film, it could be the Cloverfield of the Summer. I always look forward to his suspense. I don’t see how it can be worse than Lady in the Water, so I’ll be there.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village)
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin
Get Smart – June 20th
Synopsis: In the all-new action comedy Get Smart, Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is on a mission to thwart the latest plot for world domination by the evil crime syndicate known as KAOS. Smart is partnered with the lovely-but-lethal veteran Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). Given little field experience and even less time, Smart, armed with nothing but a few spy-tech gadgets and his unbridled enthusiasm must defeat KAOS if he is to save the day.
Verdict: Steve Carell is back after the gaff of a lifetime in Evan Almighty. And he is playing one of the funniest TV characters of all time. I know that he can pull it off and bring his own comedic talent to the role. Once again, probably not many moralistic messages but just some good clean fun.
Director:Peter Segal (Naked Gun 33 1/3, Anger Management, 50 First Dates)
Actors: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Terence Stamp, Alan Arkin
Also opening this week is the latest from the director of Borat. It is a documentary titled Religulous it features Bill Maher traveling to all the holiest sites of the world and asking provocative religious questions. Should be controversial and interesting.
Wanted – June 27th
Synopsis: 25-year-old Wes (James McAvoy) was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. Until he met a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie). Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility. With wickedly brilliant tutors—including the Fraternity’s enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman)—Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny.
Verdict: Hmm… Well, besides sounding and looking like a Matrix knock-off. Come on, the dangerously sexy girl and the wise African-American leader encourage the boring cubicle dwelling prodigy to “choose your destiny.” It’s hard for me to look at McAvoy without thinking of Mr. Tumnus. I think it will hop to the top of the box office before getting promptly knocked back down by Wall-E. It may explore some questions of destiny and providence, or it might be as shallow as Next.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch)
Actors: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie
Wall-E – June 27
Synopsis: Academy Award-winning writer-director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) and the inventive storytellers and technical geniuses at Pixar Animation Studios (The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille) ask, “What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off?” After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL-E discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. EVE comes to realize that WALL-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet’s future, and races back to space to report her findings to the humans (who have been eagerly awaiting word that it is safe to return home). Meanwhile, WALL-E chases EVE across the galaxy and sets into motion one of the most exciting and imaginative comedy adventures ever brought to the big screen.
Verdict: It’s from Pixar. Need I say more? You know the story will be great and the animation will be spectacular. It is a crime that animated features get such little love from the awards community. Plus it features original and innovative sound design by Academy Award winner Ben Burtt (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). This will doubtless be one of my favorite movies of the year.
Director: Andrew Stanton (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo)
Actors: Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin, Ben Burtt