Summer is finally upon us again and the studios are about to unleash their big-budget potential franchises on the public. With each year, I become less and less interested in the studios’ summer offerings, but this summer seems to offer more than its fair share of promising films, with Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Monsters University, This is the End, and Elysium all looking pretty fantastic. Of the 5 films I have just listed, 3 of them are already generating very positive buzz.
Iron Man 3 (Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios) – Release Date: May 3
Marvel Studios’ Phase 2 begins with the release of Iron Man 3. Many fans were disappointed with the second installment of Iron Man and I would not be surprised if that figured into director John Favreau’s departure from the series. I did not find Iron Man 2 to be nowhere near as disappointing as others did, but I also had an issue with the film’s poorly choreographed action sequences, which also plagued the first film. Enter writer-director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), who is regarded as one of Hollywood’s most talented action writers. Black previously worked with Robert Downey, Jr. on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and developed a friendship with the actor. The buzz on the film has been very positive, especially the reports on the action and the villain, the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. The trailers have so far been impressive and it appears that the stakes have been raised significantly.
The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) – Release Date: May 10
This is going to be a tough adaptation to pull off. What makes the book so great is not really its plot, but F. Scott Fitzgerald’s style of writing and the picture he paints of that era. The trailers seem to indicate that director Baz Luhrmann completely understands the style over substance nature of the book. If you saw the the director’s Moulin Rouge, then you know The Great Gatsby is perfectly suited to Luhrmann’s style and his taste. This film was originally slated to be released this past Christmas, but it was officially delayed due to an overcrowded release schedule. Hopefully that is the real reason and not that reshoots were needed. The film is going to be shown in 3D, which I think is a stupid idea given how incompatible this gimmicky format is for this type of film, but I guess commerce over art, right?
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (Focus World) – Release Date: May 24 (limited release)
The WikiLeaks scandal is one of the most fascinating news stories in the past decade. The information that was leaked by activist and journalist Julian Assange was eye-opening and if it was not for this footage, the sort of information that was revealed by the news leaks would have otherwise been dismissed as conspiracy theories. Wikileaks sheds light not only on the dirty secrets our governments withhold, but the ineptitude of the mainstream media in gathering important news stories.
Hannah Arendt (Zeitgeist Films) – Release Date: May 29 (limited release)
There have been many films about the Nazis and their capture following the end of World War II. I have not seen all of them, but the only recent one that has impressed me has been Steven Spielberg’s Munich and the reason it did was that Spielberg did not sugarcoat Israel’s motivations and methods for hunting the Nazis (unlike the film, The Debt, which came off as feeling almost like propaganda). The titular character of Hannah Arendt was a German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist, who was assigned to cover the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker. Arendt’s coverage of the trial and the depiction of Eichmann and the Jewish councils stirred a lot of controversy and criticism of Arendt’s loyalty.
The Kings of Summer (CBS Films) – Release Date: May 31 (limited release)
This film generated a lot of excitement at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and based on the trailer, I cannot wait to see it. It is the perfect summer film to see because its a coming-of-age story set in the summer and its about teenagers who want to be free from their parents’ tyranny so they spend their summer in the woods building a summer house. The humor is hilarious and it reminds me of other great summer coming-of-age films like Stand By Me and last summer’s Moonrise Kingdom.