The summer films of 2008 are shaping up to be some of the most exciting in years. While a handful look like they will be fodder for good theological/cultural discussion, most will be visually electrifying escapist fare. While there aren’t as many sequels as 2007, there are quite a few movies that look absolutely incredible. To start some early buzz for the summer, I thought I’d round up information on the big releases so you can be better informed about what’s coming down the pipe. Below you will find a chronological listing of 16 featured upcoming summer of 2008 movies and links to their respective websites. Fair Warning: most of these films are made by non-Christians and may contain questionable material. Hopefully you can save this list for when things begin to thaw out, to help you decide what to see this summer.
Iron Man – May 2nd
Synopsis: Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark the billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a dreadful weapon but instead builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes committed to protecting the world as the invincible Iron Man. (Cue the Black Sabbath soundbyte)
Verdict: Visually, the Iron Man suit looks amazing. And I think Downey Jr. will do well with this roll, though I have to say, from the trailers he is looking more and more like a young Al Pacino every day. This was one of my favorite comic books growing up, so I hope they don’t mess up the story too much while trying to update it. I’m also ecstatic to hear that Stan Winston’s animatronics and special effects design may keep this film from being the next Transformers, and help it become the next Terminator.
Director: Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura)
Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges
Speed Racer – May 9th
Synopsis: Based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, the live-action Speed Racer will showcase the kind of revolutionary visual effects and cutting-edge storytelling that have become the benchmarks of the Wachowski brothers’ films. The film stars Emile Hirsch as Speed, Christina Ricci as Trixie, Matthew Fox as Racer X, Oscar winner Susan Sarandon and John Goodman as Mom and Pops Racer, and best of all a real monkey (not some CGI monstrosity) as Chim Chim.
Verdict: There are lots of bloggers sinking their teeth into the look of this film. They don’t understand or appreciate The Wachowski’s vision. They are pioneering a new dual-focus technology which will make the live-action film appear more like the original anime. With a great cast and large and growing fan base, it appears the only thing Speed Racer won’t have is cheesy sound dubbing.
Director: Larry & Andy Wachowski (The Matrix Trilogy)
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – May 16th
Synopsis: The characters of C.S. Lewis’ timeless fantasy come to life once again in this newest installment of the Chronicles of Narnia series, in which the Pevensie siblings find themselves back in the world of Narnia. 1300 years have passed since their previous visit and Narnia has been conquered by the evil King Miraz. The four children soon meet Narnia’s rightful heir to the throne, the young Prince Caspian, who has been forced into hiding as his uncle Miraz plots to kill him in order to place his own newborn son on the throne. A thrilling, perilous new adventure and an even greater test of their faith and courage awaits them.
Verdict: I’m probably not as excited about this film as I should be. Maybe I’m just not getting my hopes up. I pray that it will introduce people to Aslan as more than just another superhero who comes to save the day. In Prince Caspian, when the children finally meet Aslan, the narrator tells us that they feel “as glad as anyone can who feels afraid, and as afraid as anyone can who feels glad.” This kind of awe, this profound mixture of feelings, will be a high standard for the next film to aim for. The visuals look stunning, but I hope they leave off the sappy sweetness and false happiness. Though Lewis’ world is enchanted, it also isn’t paradise. There is pain and sin and death. If the movie shows all of those things with realism it may just make us long for Aslan in this world as well.
Director: Andrew Adamson (Shrek, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
Actors: Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Ben Barnes, Warwick Davis, Liam Neeson
Synopsis: Not yet available, but Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, and I think there is a crystal skull involved.
Verdict: Spielberg hasn’t gone wrong with Indy yet and I have no reason to think this will be anything less than great, especially for those die hard fans. Premiere night will be crazy with all of the old people fighting the teenagers for tickets. I look forward to the sequels, Indiana Jones and the Nursing Home of Doom and Raiders of the Prune Juice. All kidding aside, it should be great.
Director: Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Munich)
Actors: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent
Forgetting Sarah Marshall – May 30th
Synopsis: From the producers of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up comes the story of struggling musician Peter Bretter (Jason Segel). Peter has spent six years idolizing his girlfriend, television star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). But his world is rocked when she dumps him and Peter finds himself alone. To clear his head, Peter takes an impulsive trip to Hawaii, where he is confronted by his worst nightmare: his ex and her tragically hip new British-rocker boyfriend, Aldous (Russell Brand), are sharing his hotel. Can he find closure? Comedy ensues as he tries to forget Sarah Marshall.
Verdict: I know that many Christians have found Judd Apatow’s comedy to be overly crass and foul. While I agree that it is vulgar, I also find it refreshingly sentimental and poignant. This movie looks like a cute and hilarious date movie. Probably very few lessons to be learned, but I’m alright with watching a movie every now and then just for fun without analyzing it for theological/philosophical content.
Director: Nicholas Stoller (Debut)
Actors: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill
Also opening this week is Starship Dave starring Eddie Murphy. It seems eerily similar to Murphy’s biggest flop ever, The Adventures Pluto Nash.
Next Week: The month of June