Monday, May 07, 2007

2007 Summer Movie Preview

Now that Spider-Man 3 has kicked off the summer movie season, I thought I'd finally weigh in and give my thoughts. Since there are countless other summer movie previews out there, each one more in depth than mine, I will keep it simple and categorize the big summer movies based my interest in seeing them. Who knows, I might actually pay to go see one or two of them in theaters.

First in Line at the Box Office: Two years ago when movie theater attendance dropped off significantly, a myriad of causes were being tossed around including a decline in the quality of movies, the shrinking window between theatrical and DVD-release dates, increasingly annoying theater patrons, endless commercials before the trailers, an increase in movie ticket prices, and technological advances in home theaters. I can say that every single one of these has contributed to my decline in movie going. Consequently, not a single one of this summer's movies has me bubbling over with excitement. So, as much I hate to kick things off on a down note, no movies make it into this first category.

Worth Seeing Opening Weekend: There might not seem like much a difference between this category and the previous one, but my basic movie philosophy says that some movies are more like an event than a movie. If you don't see it soon, some appeal is lost. Paying to see a movie in theaters often comes with more than a seat in a sticky auditorium. You get to participate in the conversation with people who have seen it. You get be a part of the excitement. You get to say, unapologetically, "yes, I fully buy into the hype and while I know my behavior is the byproduct of a marketing machine, I feel more American for taking the ride." Star Wars and Independence Day are great examples of movies previously in this category. If you didn't see "ID4" during the 1996 July 4th weekend, the movie just wasn't as good, which is the main difference between this category and one above. This year, the media have deemed three movies worthy of these two categories: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I have absolutely no interest in seeing Spider-Man 3. My dislike for Toby Maguire seems to be growing by the week. Not even a free ticket and a tub of popcorn would get me to the theater. As for Shrek, the first two films were charming and certainly had their moments, but somehow I fail to see where the mass appeal comes from. Can someone tell me why Shrek is so much more popular than then your garden-variety CGI film? So while I am discussing Shrek here, my interest in seeing it lies much lower on this page. Pirates, on the other hand, interests me. The first movie was a very pleasant surprise. The second was a little disappointing mostly because there was no ending. So in Pirates 3, we get our ending, thus my interest in seeing it.

Growing Anticipation: The movies in this category actually carry more interest for me than Pirates, however, because of the event movie appeal, the ticket price doesn't carry as much value. The first is The Bourne Ultimatum. I really liked the first two movies. They have all the standard action movie clichés with just enough originality to keep me interested. And while I can't stand his buddy Ben Affleck, Matt Damon brings to his roles a certain level of subtle professionalism. Also this summer, he stars in the other movie in this category: Ocean's Thirteen. While the first one was great, the second one was kind of dumb. However, Steven Soderbergh and crew promise this one will be better, calling it "Ocean's The One We Should Have Made Last Time." I've previoulsy ragged on Brad Pitt for his Long & Serious Trilogy, but I will say this: he does comedy well. When he doesn't take himself too seriously, he is quite entertaining.

Dollar Theater/Wait for the DVD: Pixar has yet to make a bad movie, yet for some reason I find that I enjoy their movies more when I can view them free from the hype and just enjoy the quality film making. Waiting until a movie is in the dollar theater or new on DVD removes a lot of the expectation that come with paying full price in a theater. That is not to say that Ratatouille might disappoint at full price, but it is one of those movies I'd rather see at some point down the road when I'm ready for it. The rest of the movies in this category interest me, but not enough to fork over full price either because I'm taking a wait-until-I-hear-more approach as is the case with Transformers or The Simpsons Movie, or, on the contrary, I know what to expect and don't feel in a hurry, as is the case with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or Rush Hour 3. You could probably make the stretch and throw Evan Almighty into the category. The original Bruce Almighty was mildly funny, and I've been a fan of Steve Carrell dating back to the short-lived Dana Carvey Show. His "Germans Who Say Nice Things" is a classic bit. It is also worth noting that should I fail to see Pirates during opening weekend (a growing probability since movie tickets in Phoenix are kind of expensive and some theaters think that matinée pricing should end after 12:00 instead of after 5:00), it would fall all the way to this category. I begin to count how many movies once had me excited but I never got around to watching until DVD.

Maybe on TV: The only remaining category applies to movies that perhaps mildly appeal to me, but not enough to pay any money to see them. It's kind of early yet to place many movies here because I have mostly just blocked out the advertising for them and forced them off my radar. I suppose Live Free or Die Hard could be one. License to Wed with Mandy Moore might be one also because it has four cast members from The Office (although it has "chick flick" written all over it). Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Shrek are two more.

Other movies will eventually join these lists and some fluctuation will occur, but for now this is where I stand.

1 comment:

morty said...

Now that summer is over, let's see how close I actually came to my movie going predictions.

I saw only two movies in theaters this summer: Ocean's Thirteen and Ratatouille.

I've also seen Pirates of the Caribbean 3, The Bourne Ultimatum, Evan Almighty, Transformers and Live Free or Die Hard on DVD.