Welcome to part 2 of Geek's Super Summer Film Preview focusing on the month of June!
We put together a panel of experts to share their thoughts about their candid hopes, dreams and fears for the upcoming crop of prospective blockbusters. They are:
The Producer// a savvy maker of many well-known film and TV series.
The Fanboy// a devoted (and deodorant using) expert of geek cinema.
The Webmaster// behind one of the Internet’s most popular film and TV fan sites.
The Screenwriter// who has rewritten and rewritten some of the biggest genre blockbusters of the last decade.
Each expert weighed in anonymously to offer frank insight in this summer’s most eagerly awaited motion pictures.
Release: June 7
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Isabelle Fuhrman, Zöe Kravitz
Screenwriter: Stephen Gaghan, M. Night Shyamalan, Gary Whitta
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
The Plot: Soldier and son (Smith and Smith) crash land on Earth 1,000 years after it was evacuated by humans and must travel its dangerous terrain to survive and safely escape (cue thundering, trailer-like music) AFTER EARTH!!!
The Producer// Will Smith can do anything, except make his son a movie star. His career now seems to be solely devoted to delivering the boy’s birthright, which ain’t going to happen anytime soon. This film looks like the rare Smith miss, particularly coming on the heels of Oblivion, which looks like the same movie. Plus, what was Shyamalan’s last watchable film? The Sixth Sense was a long time ago.
The Fanboy// Aw, HELL no!
The Webmaster// Armageddon/Deep Impact, Volcano/Dante’s Peak, now Oblivion/After Earth. This is a long-running tradition in Hollywood; similar movies whet the appetite and feed off of each other’s box office. But this time around I’m predicting both movies bomb. This one looks even less interesting than the Tom Cruise vehicle, and Will Smith’s can’t-miss reputation might take a hit here.
The Screenwriter// Like Oblivion, only not as… wait. No. It’s exactly like Oblivion, which will be hard enough to sit through once, let alone twice. Plus, M. Night Shyamalan? Swing away.
Man of Steel
Release: June 14
Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon
Screenwriter: David S. Goyer, based on a story by Goyer and Christopher Nolan
Director: Zack Snyder
The Plot: Another origin story for Superman, this time through the lens of 300 and Watchmen helmer Snyder, with Shannon as villainous General Zod.
The Skinny: Giving Superman a big screen makeover fell to screenwriter Goyer who co-wrote the story with Nolan and was both thrilled and frightened by the assignment. “It was fun, it was terrifying, it was an awesome responsibility,” says Goyer. “What could be bigger than Batman? Superman, who is the sort of granddaddy of all superheroes. I’m really, really excited for the world to see it. It’s something special.”
And while Bryan Singer’s much maligned Superman Returns adhered closely to the Richard Donner-directed superverse, this new incarnation exists on its own merits. “I absolutely adore those films, but we’re doing something original and something new,” adds Goyer.
The Producer// A stellar cast from fanboy director Zack Snyder seems bound to satisfy with Chris Nolan as his guardian angel. Michael Shannon seems born to play General Zod and Cavill seems like he’ll be solid as Supes. I just know I’m going to hate the fact that Hans Zimmer isn’t going to use the John Williams’ theme.
The Fanboy// As long as Superman doesn’t spend half the movie creepily stalking Lois Lane, I’ll be happy.
The Webmaster// We have not had a good Superman movie since 1980, and the fans are hungry for one. Plus, DC needs a hit with this to keep up with what Marvel is doing — outside of Nolan’s Bat-Trilogy, DC’s film department has been a mess and Green Lantern was a huge disappointment. The fact that they are going with Zod over Lex Luthor is a good start…
The Screenwriter// Kneel before Michael Shannon! My question: How much of this movie was shot on location on Planet Houston?
This is the End
Release: June 14
Stars: James Franco, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Jay Baruchel
Screenwriters/Directors: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
The Plot: A party at James Franco’s house with a bunch of his celebrity buddies goes awry when the apocalypse arrives.
The Skinny: Most of the movies featuring Rogen and his repertory group of acting buddies feel like it’s a bunch of friends getting together and making a movie anyway, so why not skip the process of coming up with new characters and just give in and play yourself? This could very well be the be-all-and-end-all of meta comedic movies.
The Producer// I imagine the pitch sounded pretty good when they thought it up between bong hits.
The Fanboy// Kinda reminds me of a band that’s had a few great albums about real things but then starts writing songs about how hard it is to be a rock star. Hope I’m wrong.
The Webmaster// Thank God one well-placed hand grenade didn’t hit this set and wipe out everyone in Hollywood I give a damn about.
The Screenwriter// After Pineapple Express and, especially, Green Hornet, I wasn’t sure what Rogen was up to. I just hope this is more like the former than the latter.
Much Ado About Nothing
Release: June 21
Stars: Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon, adapted from the William Shakespeare play
Director: Joss Whedon
The Plot: What does the director of The Avengers do during a production break while making last year’s most successful film? He spends 12 days helming a super-low-budget Shakespeare adaptation that he funded himself. The story follows two sets of lovers dealing with romance in different ways and featuring many of Whedon’s Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse alums.
The Skinny: Kranz plays Claudio in the movie and found that the abbreviated shooting schedule really brought the material to life in fun and surprising ways. “It was so much fun to make and we found so many wonderful things, even though it was as run-and-gun a movie as I’ve ever done,” says Kranz. “It developed so organically, I don’t even think Joss felt that this was a film festival movie when he started, and now that’s what I hear he wants from it. As a movie from its inception to what it is now, I think we might have something really wonderful on our hands.”
The Producer// Whenever Joss Whedon is involved with a project, it seems much ado about something is warranted and this micro-budget Bard adaptation looks like a Shakespearean success from the Shakespeare of the geek generation.
The Fanboy// Whedon couldn’t get any butts into seats for the supposedly huge phenomenon that was Firefly, so I don’t see fandom flocking to a Shakespeare movie just because he made The Avengers. Don’t quote me on that. Wait, you’re quoting me?
The Webmaster// Whedon fans will be sure to make it out to this one since the cast is littered with alums from Firefly, Dollhouse and the Buffy universe (plus Agent Colson from Avengers). Outside of the die-hard fans, though, I wouldn’t expect this to draw much of a crowd, even if it’s good.
The Screenwriter// Well, at least we know the dialogue will be good. Because, you know… Shakespeare.
World War Z
Release: June 21
Stars: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, David Morse, Elyes Gabel
Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan, based on the Max Brooks novel
Director: Marc Forster
The Plot: The zombies are taking over the world yet again, but these suckers move fast and are deadlier than we’ve ever seen them before. That’s why Brad Pitt is called in to not only save the day, but his family as well.
The Skinny: Z was supposed to arrive late last year, but massive reshoots reshaped the film, but that also allowed it to land into a prime summer movie slot. Gabel plays a virologist named Fassbach in the film who holds many of the answers Pitt’s character is looking for. “I play the Jeff Goldblum-esque type of geek who informs Brad Pitt’s character that, ‘it’s a virus that you’re going to have to deal with,’” says Gabel. “My guy’s not in the book. They created him for the reason of the exposition, because he goes into different areas and he goes all around the world. And I’m the only person who can help Pitt. So it was nice — there’s a nice little bit of exposition in there. It’s a wicked piece. I can’t wait to see how it comes out.”
The Producer// Great book by Max Brooks would have made an even better TV series so, of course, they turned it into a massively budgeted feature film under the aegis of art house maestro Marc Forster, who almost tanked the Bond franchise a few years back. That said, despite all the troubles, of which there were many, including a feuding Forster and Pitt, the trailer looks amazing.
The Webmaster// The zombie craze continues to sweep across pop culture, and it was only a matter of time before they got around to World War Z. The presence of Pitt and Enos lend credence to the quality of the project, but the trailer didn’t really grab me. And director Forster does fine with the Oscar-bait movies, but he is also responsible for one of the worst Bond movies in recent memory.
The Fanboy// He does fine with Oscar-bait movies? Have you sat through Neverland? At this point I’m almost zombied out. Hopefully, there’ll be a Johnny Depp zombie.
The Screenwriter// Nothing screams “box-office hit” like reports of reshoots and on-set chaos. On the other hand, the source material is one of the coolest genre books to break big with the mainstream in recent years.
Images: Sony, Warner Bros, Lionsgate, Paramount