Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Future Market 2009, Part IV: The End of Summer

The Middle Room approaches summer... differently. Here, speculation and prediction are key. As such, I make it a point to offer some reflection on upcoming films, how I expect them to be received, and what sort of critical response is required for me to pay the price of admission.

This is, as the title implies, the fourth and final part of a series. You can find the first three here, here, and here.

July 24: G-Force
Estimated Tomatometer: 45%
Minimum Tomatometer: 85%
Okay, technically this movie should have been considered in the previous installment. In fact, for a time it was going to be. But then I saw the trailer once more, and deleted it. What's happened since? Well, I saw a slightly different trailer; one in which a guinea pig threatened to tear off a young girl's finger. Suddenly, a glimmer of hope emerged, that this could be... the one.

"The one what?" you may ask. Very well. I will explain. Every few years a movie comes out in which animals are implanted into a world of espionage. I've toyed with the idea myself, in fact.

The problem, however, is that no director has been willing to take these ideas seriously. Such films have always descended into comic relief and slapstick. I want to see a film in which rodent secret agents are handled like they're in an action movie. I want to see them infiltrate, investigate, and - preferably - kill those who seek to do evil. Based on the trailers, I estimate there is less than a ten percent chance this will be that movie. In fact, the reviews make the movie look absolutely horrible.

But this is a Disney movie, and while that once meant less than nothing, they've recently produced some exceptional live-action pictures which have blended genres in unexpected ways. I refer primarily to Sky High and Enchanted, two movies which also looked awful from their trailers. This isn't meant to raise expectations, but rather to point out that there is, in fact, hope.

August 7: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Estimated Tomatometer: 50%
Minimum Tomatometer: 35%
There are movies I expect to be good, movies I expect to be bad, and then there are movies I expect to reject such simplistic labels. This, I hope, will be the third.

After the success of the Transformers, it was inevitable that Hasbro would look to turn their other 80's animated program into a franchise. To do this, they enlisted Stephen Sommers, who I consider entirely appropriate.

While it may be less than accurate to call Sommers a brilliant director, he is something of a specialist with an instinct for adventure. While Van Helsing was a rather large disappointment, the first two Mummy films and Deep Rising are fantastic examples of popcorn film making. Personally, I want nothing more from GI Joe.

The first Mummy movie received a score of 50% on the Tomatometer. This is most likely a good indicator for how movie critics respond to his brand of zany adventure.

August 14: District 9
Estimated Tomatometer: 94%
Minimum Tomatometer: 85%
I've known about this movie for a while now. The premise was certainly intriguing enough, as was the viral marketing campaign. But I had very little interest in the movie, itself. That is, at least, until I caught a trailer. As the preview played out, a single thought emerged: "My God... they made this movie." When I reviewed Watchmen, I observed that, at the very least, it had succeeded in making superheroes feel like they existed. The preview for District 9 makes aliens real and places them in the real world. Nothing feels like fantasy or fiction: nothing.

If I'm wrong about this movie, it will readily become apparent. But, if I'm right, this film may prove to be stronger than expected.

August 21: Inglorious Basterds
Estimated Tomatometer: 80%
Minimum Tomatometer: 90%
Ultimately, I find this less intriguing than Kill Bill. There is an expectation that Tarantino's audience is somewhat constant, that those who have seen his past movies will feel the same about his upcoming pictures.

While I respect him as a director, I find the war movie a less enticing genre. If this turns out to be a masterwork, I may relent. Really though, my decision to see this movie will be based more on the reaction of friends than anything else.

September 9: 9
Estimated Tomatometer: 78%
Minimum Tomatometer: 40%
There are few trailers which have caught my attention as quickly and effectively as the one for 9. This post-apocalyptic fairytale looks absolutely stunning, and, on the heels of Coraline and Up, makes me wonder if there could be real competition at the Oscars this year.

And that concludes the list. Of course, there will almost certainly be at least one movie that I don't know about that gets released and demands my money. Last year, it was Tropic Thunder. We'll see what surprises the summer holds....

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