Welcome back, film fans! The past few months have been quiet on the movie-going front. Sure, the beginning of the year might have been a good time to rush in to catch all of the award darlings that you missed in the fall, but other than that, the majority of our offerings have been pretty resistible, even to the most obsessive completest. There have been exceptions, yet they they’ve been few and far between. To some The Lego Movie was just a 100-minute long toy commercial, but it was an immensely delightful and clever 100 minutes at that. To others, the action and theatrics of LIAM NEESONS is always worth a trip to the theater, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There was also an enchanting Wes Anderson movie that – actually I have nothing to say here except PUT THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL IN WIDE RELEASE ALREADY! Okay, moving on.
What I’m getting at is the first quarter of 2014 didn’t exactly offer anything like The Place Beyond The Pines or Side Effects. It’s mainly just been underachieving duds (The Monuments Men), unnecessary sequels, destined to disappoint (300: Rise of an Empire, Muppets Most Wanted) and stuff you probably already forgot existed (3 Days to Kill, anyone?). (Also, an unusual quantity of biblical and religious-themed movies, but that’s a topic for another day.) But, luckily, the literal and the cinematic winters are coming to an end. The summer movie season is just over a month away. And so, we, the scribes of Saying Something, are offering previews of some of the movies that we’re excited about this summer. Like last time, each of us picked two movie trailers that whetted our respective appetites, but we selected each one for very different reasons.
22 Jump Street (June 13)
Two springs ago, a mildly uninspiring-looking and highly unnecessary remake of the 1980s hit cop show 21 Jump Street was released. It starred Jonah Hill, who (at the time) was known as something of a one trick pony funnyman and Channing Tatum, who (at the time) was known as a pretty boy whose acting skills were questionable at best. It seemed destined to fail. But to nearly everyone’s surprise, it became not just the hit of the spring, but also the best comedy of the year. It did so by being both a) refreshingly self-aware and b) really, really funny. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who directed the aforementioned – and whip smart – The Lego Movie, by the way) and writers Hill and Michael Bacall were fully aware of how ridiculous the whole idea was, so they went out of their way to remind us. It could have been a cliché-ridden wreck, full of tired cop and high school tropes; however, 21 Jump Street flipped the script and undermined as many generalizations as they could. For example, when Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) return to high school, they expect to be thrust back into their old cliques – the shrimpy nerd with the outcasts, and the tall and muscular bully with the popular crowd, but they find that being a hard-ass is now considered lame, and being intelligent and tolerant is the new cool. It also featured an impeccable supporting cast full of funny and talented people that hit all the right notes, and a couple of classic cameos.
At the end of the film, after Hill and Tatum have become the heroes and are welcomed back into the 21st Jump Street program, they learn from their foul-mouthed captain (Ice Cube) that they are going back undercover. This time, our bumbling detectives are going to college, which gives us our premise for 22 Jump Street. Its trailer shows promise that the sequel will be another hilarious romp. The first thing it does is poke fun at its own existence, and justify its tacky and seemingly nonsensical title. “Well, I hoped never to see you again,” Deputy Chief Hardy, played by the always-welcome Nick Offerman says in his most droll monotone. “Ladies, nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot, but you got lucky,” he says, as it cuts to some of their antics in the first movie. “So, now this department has invested a lot of money to make sure Jump Street keeps going.” In other words, the movie was a financial success, and now the studio will crank out as many unnecessary sequels as they can, as studios are wont to do. “The only problem is the Koreans bought the church back, so we’re moving you across the road to 22 Jump Street.”
Honestly, this perfectly executed joke would have been enough to reel me in, but the trailer goes on to show glimpses of the undercover cops’ college lifestyle, which apparently includes outrageous partying, the novelty of freshmen dorm life and joining the football team. The plot seems essentially the same – “we’ll go to all of the classes and activities, ask about the drug, find out who the dealer is” – which appears to be a part of the joke. This strategy was disastrous for other comedy series (ahem, The Hangover, the poster child for the diminishing returns of this model), so it’ll be interesting to see if they can subvert expectations in other ways. Other gags, like Jonah Hill’s Schmidt referring to him and Channing Tatum’s Jenko as a power couple and Tatum’s inability to produce anything remotely like a Mexican accent make me confident that 22 Jump Street will be a worthy follow-up.
The Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
To me, the year of 2013 was a pretty great year for movies, but the summer of 2013 was kind of underwhelming. It had its moments, sure. But a lot of it just kind of felt the same. Things blowing up, cities being destroyed, heroes and villains all marching to painfully familiar beats, with The Fate Of The World always inevitably at stake! There can only be so many epic things before they start to feel tedious. It’s not that I don’t enjoy blockbusters; I do, I’m just tired of ones with the exact same feel.
Which brings us to my second selection. Unlike my first pick, The Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t a sequel or a remake, so it will feel like something new, even if it’s technically not. It’s based on a long-running, though little known Marvel comic book series, so, yes, it’s yet another super hero movie. However, from the looks of the trailer, it’s not going to be the typical self-serious, brooding action-fest. The red-hot Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, or Star Lord as he, and he alone refers to him, a goofball who fashions himself as a law-breaking space swashbuckler. Quill steals a coveted object from an alien bad guy known as Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace, who you might remember as the outspoken pro-slavery politician in Lincoln, or from The Hobbit or Twilight) and becomes the subject of an intergalactic manhunt. He teams up with a group of fellow misfits and rogues – all of whom already have firmly established origin stories, so we don’t have to waste any time with that – made up of a green girl (Zoe Saldana), a dude with Bane-like bulging muscles (Dave Bautista), a tree-like humanoid (Vin Diesel) and a genetically engineered raccoon (Bradley Cooper). Sounds terrific, right?
In the trailer, we first see our protagonist as he is arrested by a squad of fierce-looking space officers who, much to his chagrin, have never actually heard of “Star Lord,” the so-called legendary outlaw. Then, a high-ranking officer type, played by the wonderful John C. Reilly, introduces us to the rest of Quill’s crew by helpfully reading off each character’s rap sheet. We get an amusing bit where Quill gets upset at a large alien for listening to “Hooked on a Feeling” on some old-timey head phones before a fast-cutting action montage, with “Ooga Chakas” thunderously chanting in the background. Spaceships! Explosions! A raccoon wielding machine guns! “They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy,” Reilly says. “What a bunch of A-Holes,” his comrade replies contemptuously. It’s goofy and completely ridiculous in the best way possible.
Blake Baxter is a native of Illinois and a 2013 graduate of Eureka College. He currently writes about sports and culture for Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Voices, and previously covered the Carolina Panthers for Football.com during the 2013 season, as well as college basketball for ESPN Louisville during the 2012-13 season. He has also written about sports, pop culture and politics for The College Fix, The Wine and Cheese Crowd and an assortment of newspapers. Blake works in the communication and marketing field for Technical Solutions & Services, but aspires to write full-time in the near future.
Each season has their movies. The last weeks of fall signal Oscar season and the end of the last of summer box office smashes. Winter brings out the Scorsese’s, the Tarantino’s, the Paul Thomas Anderson’s, etc. The latter half of winter brings a slow period. Afraid of being forgotten, “serious” filmmakers shy away from the early part of the year. As a result, spring brings a slew of mediocre comedies, as always, with a few exceptions. Arguably the most anticipated movie season for most casual moviegoers is summer. Summer is the season when the super hero flicks hit the screen – along with any other explosive-laden, heart-pumping action joint. While my personal favorite is Oscar season, summer movies can be very fun; there are some this year that offer promise.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
Comic book adaptations have inundated summers since the early-2000s. Furthermore, virtually everyone knows that this is the second film of the second Spider-man series. The first series included Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider-Man 3 (2007). Sam Raimi directed the first series and Peter Parker was portrayed by Tobey Maguire. The first two installments of Raimi’s trilogy were widely celebrated. Special effects supplemented the material and each film broke box office records upon their release. The capstone of the trilogy, however, was not viewed as positively. While Spider-Man 3 broke box offices record upon its release, critics and fans alike expressed their disappointment with the film. Many pointed to the comics and criticized Raimi for straying too far from previously constructed storylines (ironically, the final installment was more reminiscent of the comics than the first two). The masses’ complaints never resonated with me; my opinion of book adaptations applies to comics as well.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” has certainly attempted to appease fans of comics and cartoons of the beloved web-spinning hero. The helm was given to Marc Webb who, before The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) was released, had only directed one full-length film, (500) Days of Summer (2009). Being that “Summer” was an ironic, quirky romantic comedy, it seemed odd Webb would be tapped for the revamp of a high-grossing super hero movie. In my opinion, he lived up to the task. The Amazing Spider-Man was still the embodiment of the iconic hero, but with an entirely different feel. The characters were nuanced, but basically the same. The difference was mainly acting and aesthetics. There was a chemistry between actors that wasn’t as present in the first series. Additionally, the movie felt “younger.” The gadgets were more advanced and the storytelling more complicated and compelling.
I look forward to more of the same in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Andrew Garfield is an up-and-coming actor, who has impressed me and, more importantly, directors; Scorsese has him starring in his 2015 film, Silence. Additionally, Emma Stone has always been an actress crush of mine. Furthermore, viewers will get to experience proven actors in villainous capacities: Jamie Foxx as Electro, Dane DeHaan as Green Goblin, and Paul Giamatti as The Rhino. This last tidbit does spur a question. A complaint of Spider-Man 3 (2007) was that it was too convoluted with a superfluous amount of villains; three in total. Uh-oh, there are three again. Does that mean critics and viewers will deem the plot too unrestrained? Nevertheless, the trailer does a terrific job at titillating the audience.
Chef (May 9)
This movie has probably flown below the masses’ radar, though it boasts a savory cast. Countless late night hours spent watching Food Network has probably subconsciously made this movie appealing to me, but I don’t care; I’m planning to satiate this hunger. Chef is the tale of a, well, of a chef, of course! After losing his job cooking at a restaurant, this chef (played by Jon Favreau) decides to open a food truck while repairing his flimsy familial ties. Jon Favreau wrote, directed, and starred in this film – his first creative offering since leaving the highly-successful Iron Man series. While not much is known about Chef (there isn’t even a proper trailer), it promises to be at least interesting if for nothing else than seeing Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Dustin Hoffman on screen together. I don’t have much to offer on the movie itself; it may be a decent indie flick or it could be a complete flop. But the appearance of Favreau’s dish is tantalizing enough to make me at least try it.
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Development.