2008 Summer Movie Pool Preview | The Dark Knight | Iron Man | Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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2008 Summer Movie Pool Preview

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Hancock
WALL-E
Kung Fu Panda
Sex and the City
Mamma Mia!
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Incredible Hulk
Wanted
Get Smart
Tropic Thunder
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Step Brothers
You Don't Mess With the Zohan
The Pineapple Express
What Happens in Vegas...
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
The Happening
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Space Chimps
Babylon A.D.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Meet Dave
In case if you don't know what's coming out for the 2008 Summer Movie Pool Season, check below for a detailed list of this year's crop!

May 2

- Iron Man
The season kicks off with, believe it or not, a super hero movie. I wonder what those are like. Luckily, I'll have FIVE chances to see one this summer so I can get the gist. Now Marvel Comics movies have typically performed great in the month of May: twice with Spider-Man and twice with the X-Men. Can the lesser known Shellhead pull off the same feat or will the rain of other competing blockbusters rust his armor?

- Made of Honor
11 years ago Julia Roberts revitalized her career with My Best Friend's Wedding. Now Patrick Dempsey is trying to keep the magic going with the exact same movie where the gender roles are switched. I wish all movies were that easy to pitch. Originality is just so hard to explain.

May 9

- Speed Racer
People may belittle NASCAR racing as "go fast, turn left… go fast, turn left," but nothing was ever boring about Speed Racer cartoons when he took a turn. Each twist came with Speed shrieking in terror and exasperation: "Ahhh, Ohhhh!" He could be going through a drive-thru with Chim-Chim (the pet chimpanzee ever racing team needs) and you'd hear the same little girl scream as he goes from the intercom to the window. Sure, the candy-coated, day-glo CGI in the film makes this look like a true live-action cartoon, yet if those shrieks didn't make the cut, the film will feel a little empty.

- What Happens in Vegas
Man, it's counter-programming galore as we get our second romantic comedy in a row going up against the weekly mega-movie. This time we get Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher as strangers who end up getting married in Vegas but can't get divorced because they don't want to split the $3 million dollars they won while they were there. This is mind boggling. I can't even find the $5 tables when I'm sober in Vegas. How do these people find a wedding chapel when they're wasted?

May 16

- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Disney found a potentially huge franchise when The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe lived up to Harry Potter box-office standards. However, they achieved that by starting with the most popular and well known of the Narnia books. If Prince Caspian comes even close to the $291 million The Lion scored in 2005, The Mouse will be very happy indeed.

May 22

- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
It has been 19 years since the last Indiana Jones film. There's not a high schooler (well, not a good high schooler) in America that was even alive when that film came out. Anyone under 27 wasn't even alive when Raiders of the Lost debuted (I think I just threw up in my mouth). Does Indy transcend generations a la the Episode movies (yes, I still refuse to call them Star Wars movies) or is this a film that's going to sell a gangbuster of senior discount tickets? Is Indy still cool or has he turned corny? And does the fact that Harrison Ford has only had two hit movies in 14 years (14 years?! This guy used to be Mr. Automatic!) have any factor at all? To these three questions, I have absolutely no answers at all.

May 30

- Sex and the City
The cast of the hit HBO show finally make it to the big screen four years after the series ended. It was nice they didn't wait the ten years the Spice Girls did before they reunited. By then people might have actually missed them. Oh, whoops, I said that out loud.

June 6

- Kung Fu Panda
You know, when Chris Farley made Beverly Hills Ninja 11 years ago, I bet Jeffrey Katzenberg was just sitting there going, "Someday, this will be a great animated movie!" I can't tell if we upgraded from Farley to Jack Black as the panda, but I'll say a definite yes for the Nichollette Sheridan to Angelina Jolie move. Then again, if Nichollette was good enough for Michael Bolton back then, who am I to cast stones? I mean, could someone tell him how he was supposed to live without her after loving her for so long? I know I couldn't. That's why he had to repeat the chorus 89,000 times!

- You Don't Mess with the Zohan
When do you think we're going to have our first summer free of an Adam Sandler movie? 2017? 2022? Will it be when our children's children have children? This un-convoluted plot involves an Israeli commando faking his death so he can pursue his life long dream of being a hair dresser. Wasn't this already covered with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn in Bird on a Wire?

June 13

- The Happening
M. Night Shyamalan returns after his Lady in the Water sunk with this version of Signs 2. The end of the world is happening all around, so let's see how one isolated couple of Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschenal deal with it. Though the flick looks promising, the monster M. Night is facing most here isn't actual in his movie… It's the green monster in the movie opening the very same weekend. Psst, 20th Century Fox, it's not counter-programming if it's going after the exact same adventure/thriller audience.

- The Incredible Hulk
The first Hulk movie was legendary for multiple things. Its $70 million opening was the biggest ever (at the time) for a non-sequel. Its almost 70% box-office decline the following weekend was also one of the biggest drops in film history. How does this help or hurt this new incarnation? Obviously, people like them some Hulk if they showed up for the first one and this one tries to have Hulk battle something scarier than Nick Nolte's crazy man beard.

June 20

- Get Smart
Steve Carell gets another shot at big-screen, comedy, blockbuster guy. Last year's Even Almighty barely floated to $100 million after costing nearly twice that, so this might be his last chance to prove he's "that guy" that can galvanize a mass audience. Question is, can he prove he's "that guy" against a guy who's trying to prove he's still "that guy" in Mike Myers?

- The Love Guru
I'll be honest, I'm even more confused about two studios dueling two comedies together this weekend than the Hulk/Happening pairing the week before. Don't they realize only one film can open at #1 a week and the other will be deemed a failure? Mike Myers returns to his first live action comedic lead since the Cat in the Hat (and I use the term "comedy" loosely there) in 2003. What's the great idea he's got to hook the ticket-buying audience into his groovy ways? He's an Indian love guru brought to help an African-American hockey player fix his marriage. I can't even tell which part of that sentence is the most unbelievable.

June 27

- Wall-E
Pixar merges E.T. and Short Circuit for this tale of a robot abandoned on Earth who has an adventure across the galaxy. Sure, it's not as quick to digest as the "it's a rat that can cook" description for Ratatooie (and yes, I continue to refuse how to spell that word), but something about rats cooking made that film hard to digest for a lot of people too. We all know Pixar movies make bank, but can they make enough in this crowded summer to crack the Top Five?

- Wanted
Angelina Jolie returns to her Mrs. Smith and Lara Croft ways as she teaches James McAvoy how to become an assassin for Morgan Freeman's secret agency. The film was originally going to come out in March where it would've had almost zero competition during this very weak spring season. That, or it would've seemed like the exact same premise as Jumper just without the, you know, jumping. Now's it's surrounded by big boys all around. Can this action-fest, graphic novel hold its own or will it go the way of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

July 2

- Hancock
Look, I know all about Mr. July, Will Smith. Even when he's in something pretty generic like I Robot, he scores. But this… this… looks Pluto Nash terrible. A mainstream movie about a down-on-his-luck, alcoholic, sloth of a superhero. There's gotta be more going on here than what the trailer leads you to believe, right? They've got some talented people, a huge budget, a 4th of July weekend all to themselves, and what looks like a Wild Wild West clunker to show for it. This is the movie studios are staying away from?! Where's some romantic comedy counter-programming when I need it?

July 11

- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
There are those who claim Hellboy is a great theatric version of the comic book series. Then there are those who fell asleep both times they tried to watch it. Guess which camp I fall into? Blame it on the Selma Blair factor. Whenever she or Thandie Newton are onscreen, all the life force gets sucked out of anyone watching. "But Matt, they say this one's even better!" Would better be me falling asleep earlier than the last movie or later?

- Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Why want 18 months for James Cameron's Avatar, when you can watch a live-action, digital 3D picture now! It's just like the flicks at the theme parks except the seats don't move (well, unless you've got a kid kicking your chair behind you) and it's 90 minutes longer. Brendan Fraser leads this family adventure, but will movie-goers follow his lead and put on the goofy glasses? Judging by the huge ramp-up of 3D movies all over Hollywood, studios are guessing yes.

- Meet Dave
Speaking of Pluto Nash, Eddie Murphy found another studio that will pay him to make a goofy concept movie. Here he plays an alien ship captain whose actual ship is a life-size version of Eddie Murphy. The crew all sit in the person's head and make him do things in the real world to help him blend in. Wasn't this Herman's Head on Fox a few years ago? I'm not quite sure when you can pinpoint the hilarity ensuing, but it has to the snickering of the other people in the lobby if they see you walking into this theater.

July 18

- The Dark Knight
Iron Man, Hulk, Hancock, Hellboy, and now, that's right Batman! I wonder how hard they had to fight to get that title as opposed to something starting with the word Batman. I mean, how are you going to find it at Best Buy on DVD when all the other Batman movies are in the "B" section and this is in the "D" section. It's things like this that make people forget that Jason X is even a part of the Friday the 13th franchise. No wonder New Line Cinemas folded. Still, what was already geared to be a dark comic book movie has turned all the more tragic with Heath Ledger's death. How this will impact or not impact the performance of the films has kept studio heads swirling for months.

- Mamma Mia!
Well, the opposite of a Dark Knight would exactly be a sunny day and it doesn't get any sunnier than on-location shooting in Greece and ABBA music. Now THIS is counter-programming! Finally, someone gets it. Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan star is this film version of the hit stage musical. Now if only they could get a disco ball to drop in the theater while it's playing, everything would be perfect.

- Space Chimps
An animated movies about monkeys in space with no Matt LeBlanc in site? Come on, he was already Lost in Space and co-started with a monkey in Ed… He's been working toward this gig his whole career!

July 25

- The Longshots
It's the heartwarming, based on a true story movie about the first female quarterback on a Pop Warner team in a small town that brings the whole area together as they head toward the Pop Warner Super Bowl. Seems likable enough… until you read it's directed by none other than former Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst… Wha?!

- Step Brothers
Will Farrell re-teams with John C. Reilly and the Talladega Nights director for this comedy about two grown men who each live in their single parent's house and then have to share a room when their parents marry. Normally, you could just say Will Farrell and the money prints itself. But Semi-Pro did yucky for Farrell and many blamed it on the R rating. This one is coming from the Judd Apatow camp, so it'll be same thing this time around. Is it time for Will to make Daddy Day Care 3 or can his movies appeal to people older than 12?

- The X-Files: I Want to Believe
You know what I want to believe? I want to believe I'm not going to be wasting my money on some six year-old two-part episode that never aired during the Doggett and Reyes years, but I have no guarantees. The first X-Files movie felt like a TV movie, so why should this one feel any different? Hopefully Scully and Mulder's kid is old enough now to be a precocious 10 year-old know-it-all that helps them solve crimes with his secret gadget watch. Then I'd be all in!

August 1

- He's Just Not That Into You
An ensemble romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Connelly? Well, if only they removed the Ben Affleck part, we'd be getting somewhere here. It's may not quite be the female equivalent of when Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were onscreen together in Heat, but it's way above Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren uniting in Universal Soldier.

- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Seven years after The Mummy Returned, Brendan Fraser is back in the fold as adventurer extraordinaire, Rick O'Connell. This time he's awakened an Asian mummy played by Jet Li, though Jet Li might have been mummified himself years ago and no one's realized it yet. Will it be a return to the hokey charm of the first film or a return of the bombast of the second film? More importantly, would Universal even be making this flick if they didn't have a Curse of The Mummy ride to promote at their theme park?

- Swing Vote
Kevin Costner leads an all-star cast as a loveable loser who comes to own the deciding ballot in a big Election Day vote. Add a dash of redemption, reacquainting of lost loves, and learning to fall in love all over again, and this might be something that has a two-night premiere on TNT some day. Not a three night premiere though. Those are only saved for special movies like Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

August 8

- Pineapple Express
Speaking of Harold and Kumar, here's another buddy pot picture. A crime lord is chasing down a dealer and his client for witnessing a murder. If this duo gets trapped anywhere, the phrase "smoke 'em out" will have a whole new meaning.

- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Do these pants come with a passport? I have no idea how these pants keep making it through customs.

August 15

- Star Wars: The Clone Wars
An upcoming animated TV show gets a debut on the Big Screen? Never let it be said that Lucas won't take every dime you throw his way. Why doesn't he use his special effects for good and go back and animate Natalie Portman's performances in the Episode movies. The Tatooine sand had more personality than her.

- Tropic Thunder
Ben Stiller goes for Three Amigos magic by having a cast of actors end up in a real conflict on location in an Asian jungle while thinking it's all part of the shoot. I'm a sucker for these kind of corny movies, so you better bring the goods, Stiller! You Heartbreak Kid me on this and I'll heartbreak you.

August 22

- Bangkok Dangerous
It's Nicholas Cage in an Asian Man on Fire. That's all it takes, people. Anything longer than 10 syllables and you'll hear a click on the other end of the cell phone. You hook 'em in 10 syllables and then you're good to go. That's why Snoopy always started with "It was a dark and stormy night." He had them as soon as he said "dark."

- Crossing Over
Two years ago in May, Crash crashed into the summer movie season. It didn't light any box-office fires, but it did decent enough that this Crash 2 if you will (Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ashley Judd, and a cast of thousands in a story about 21st immigration and race relations) is willing to give it a try. Why they are trying it in August when adults are sun soaked, getting ready to get their kids back in school, and frantically trying to find a time that 9 other adults can all get together to have a Fantasy Football draft, I have no idea.

August 29

- Babylon A.D.
Now this is the way to end the summer season! Why they saved the best for last, I have no idea. Vin Diesel is like the Transporter escorting a woman from Russia to Germany who's host to some organism a cult group is trying to capture to turn into a genetically modified Messiah. The only thing better is if the three silhouettes from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were there in the bottom right corner to help you enjoy the festivities. No wonder Vin signed on so quickly for a Fast and the Furious 4.

by Matt Neuenburg on 04/28/2008

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Babylon A.D., Get Smart, Hancock, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Iron Man, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Kung Fu Panda, Mamma Mia!, Meet Dave, Sex and the City, Space Chimps, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Step Brothers, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Dark Knight, The Happening, The Incredible Hulk, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Pineapple Express, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Tropic Thunder, WALL-E, Wanted, What Happens in Vegas..., You Don't Mess With the Zohan
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