As the official start of the Summer movie season, I can't help but think that May is shaping up pretty well under the circumstances. Each weekend gives us a gargantuan sized blockbuster for mainstream audiences to spend their time and money on, even if you decide to count Fast Five as the start of the season. I don't, because I occasionally decide to be optimistic. I'll continue to refer to Thor as the kickoff event, much like I referred to Star Trek as 2009's kickoff event after X-Men Origins: Wolverine went up in a pile of smoke and oblivion. Reviews for Thor have come out surprisingly well, which was probably the biggest worry heading into this Summer. Joss Whedon has started production today on the epic scale blockbuster for next Summer, The Avengers. We don't want to head into it with a bad taste in our mouths.
I have reservations against The Beaver, and they surprisingly enough have nothing to do with Mel Gibson. The man may suck as a person, but his work is still formally brilliant. Bridesmaids looks like an amusing vehicle for underrated SNL comedian Kristen Wiig. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides doesn't have a hope in chance of being good or great. What we can expect is a fun ride. Finally, as much as I would like to hope for the best, The Hangover: Part II is just starting to look unnecessary. I'll see it, which is a guarantee either way. I was on a dodge-ball team in high school called "The Wolfpack". It's pretty much a mandatory requirement. I just may not find as much gleeful pleasure as I had hoped for. That leaves us with my top three most anticipated films of this upcoming month, and I should be pretty well assured of greatness this time around.
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson
I have been prepping for the worst this Summer, and you could definitely excuse me for it. Any year when we don't get a brilliant film from Pixar does seem like a bit of a failure. Fortunately we have Dreamworks to pick up the pieces, and they proved themselves pretty well last year by giving us both How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind. Kung Fu Panda was the film that really kicked off that landslide of quality, and now they are returning to those roots. It looks filled with humor, beauty, and insanely awesome action sequences. That's what made the first film such a surprising delight, and lightning should strike twice.
2. The Tree of Life
Directed by Terrence Malick
Please do not strike me dead for only having this film placed at #2 on my list. There's reason behind the madness that pushes this film down a peg in terms of my anticipation. It mostly has to do with Terrence Malick's wise marketing decision of releasing one "teaser" trailer that reveals little to nothing about the film's plot. It's enough to keep me 100% content and elated until the film's release, and it doesn't have me biting my ankle to see it. It's not the sort of film that I have to see right now or else I'll blow my brains out. It looks absolutely beautiful, subtle, and brimming with all kinds of quality. There's fear that it won't live up to such enormous expectations, but for someone it will. I hold out hope that it will be me.
1. Midnight in Paris
Directed by Woody Allen
Without the slightest reluctance, I am completely looking forward to Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris. I had certain palpable dreads, especially since it stars none other than Owen Wilson, a cinematic omen of death. The man is far more miss than he is hit, which might be the perfect thing for Woody Allen to take on. The director also has more failures than he does successes, at least in terms of the last decade. This is looking like the self-aware sort of comedy that could bring him back into our good graces. He's due for another great film. His last two films didn't feel like they had it. This one does, so it should.