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Summer Movie Preview: San Francisco Once Again Prepares for Devastation by Blockbuster 

Wednesday, May 7 2014
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5/16

Godzilla

Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche

Concept: Giant lizard wreaks havoc, as giant lizards do; Golden Gate Bridge once again smashed (see sidebar) as smug untouched Transamerica Pyramid stays out of it. Or does it?

JK: I scrutinized an early trailer and noted that Cranston and the monster never seemed to be on screen at the same time. It's him, isn't it??

SC: That would explain those shots of Dean Norris looking so frustrated.

5/23

Blended

Director: Frank Coraci

Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore

Concept: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore

SC: Equally descriptive titles: Another Paid Adam Sandler Vacation. Romance & Fart Jokes. Banality. Stuff Happening. Running Out the Clock.

JK: Those titles are already taken, actually, and are due for release every summer from now until 2019. Sandler is in most of them.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence

Concept: Time-traveling, history-meddling supermutants and the Marvel Studios franchise they propagate.

JK: It's the first of this summer's three movies directed by people accused of sexually abusing minors. So there's that.

SC: Oooh, does that mean that Powder is actually one of the X-Men? Now it all makes sense!

5/30

Maleficent

Director: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

Concept: Jolie = Evil Disney Queen

SC: Prepare for the onslaught of "Maleficent? More like Deficient!" headlines. (Though not in a paper as classy as ours, of course.)

JK: Is it weird that at first I misread the title as Male-efficient, and wondered for a moment why people had been saying Jolie seemed perfect for it?

Night Moves

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard

Concept: Reichardt = Benevolent Indie Moviemaker Princess. Also, a tale of environmental activists plotting to blow up an Oregon hydroelectric dam.

SC: It's too much to hope for this to be a backdoor Lex Luthor origin story (since Eisenberg is cast as the villain in Batman vs. Superman), but I'm hoping all the same.

JK: Hey, let's work in a reference to Bob Seger's sextuple platinum breakthrough 1976 album Night Moves, just for the hell of it. Okay, done.

6/6

Edge of Tomorrow

Director: Doug Liman

Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Concept: A near-future soldier at war with aliens gets stuck in a time loop: fighting, dying, fighting, dying — figuring shit out, winning?

JK: So, like, the overblown-blockbuster love child of Groundhog Day and Source Code? And wasn't there an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation sort of like that too?

SC: There was, and when you figure that last year's Oblivion was a blatant ripoff of Moon (um, spoiler?), at least Cruise is still stealing from the best.

Editor's Note: Also sounds like the concept behind practically every videogame. "Tom Cruise is... Mario!"

The Case Against 8

Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White

Concept: An HBO-distributed documentary on Prop. 8 and the first marriage-equality lawsuit to reach the Supreme Court.

JK: Which is much preferable to the "Octomom" biopic I was afraid this might be.

SC: Attending this film may violate the religious liberty of people who oppose same-sex marriage. So, please attend this film.

6/13

22 Jump Street

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco

Concept: The sequel to 21 Jump Street, in which a pair of fresh-faced cops, having gone undercover in high school, now must go undercover in college.

JK: See how they worked that "2" right into the title there? It makes perfect nonsense!

SC: I believe I speak for all of Generation X when I say that any 21 Jump Street sequel not called Booker can go straight to hell.

6/20

Jersey Boys

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Christopher Walken, John Lloyd Young, Freya Tingley, Francesca Eastwood

Concept: The origin story of '60s pop band the Four Seasons, as recently recounted by a Broadway hit.

JK: Clint returns to his preferred genre of fossilized period pieces, this time with pep!

SC: Isn't this the one about the guys who do the prank phone calls? I'm so confused.

Venus in Fur

Director: Roman Polanski

Cast: Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric

Concept: A film of David Ives' two-person play, about the shifting balance of power between an actress and a director.

JK: Why do you suppose Polanski thought he'd be right for this?

SC: I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's a Velvet Underground fan, but a real fan would know to pluralize "Furs."

6/27

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer

Concept: Robots in disguise, and the franchise they propagate.

JK: Oh, I finally get it now! Hasbro! Like: Has Bro. Yes it does.

SC: And it rhymes with "No Homo," which I'm sure Michael Bay appreciates. (Yeah, I'm still bitter about Pain & Gain.)

7/11

Life Itself

Director: Steve James

Cast: Roger Ebert, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Chaz Ebert

Concept: A documentary about the late film critic, based on his memoir of the same name.

JK: This one goes out to all the critics out there, those weary troupers teetering on the abyss of irrelevance, plodding through their obligatory summer movie previews, and yearning for new ways to talk shit about Michael Bay.

SC: A challenge to reviewers: Describe your feelings about this film without mentioning thumbs. C'mon, you can do it.

7/18

Jupiter Ascending

Directors: Andy and Lana Wachowski

Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Concept: In the future, a lowly human janitor discovers herself to be some sort of intergalactic royalty.

SC: The Wachowskis return to Matrix-style territory, making it all the more a shame that Speed Racer flopped.

JK: I'll check this out as soon as Cloud Atlas ends. So maybe next fall?

Planes: Fire and Rescue

Director: Roberts Gannaway

Cast: Dane Cook, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris, Regina King

Concept: Animated sequel to the spinoff of Pixar's Cars.

JK: Or should I say a tailspinoff?

SC: In a more just world, we'd be saying "straight-to-video-off."

Wish I Was Here

Director: Zach Braff

Cast: Braff, Mandy Patinkin, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad

Concept: Ten years after Garden State and still searching for meaning, here's Braff's new indie-ish dramedy of self-discovery.

JK: Your Kickstarter dollars at work.

SC: Though it would probably be more entertaining to stay home and re-watch the Tim Heidecker spoof of Braff's Kickstarter.

7/25

Sex Tape

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry, Jack Black

Concept: A married couple makes a sex video, then freaks out when it goes public.

SC: PROTIP: Be very, very careful if you Google this movie.

JK: Its title's quaint reference to antiquated media notwithstanding, this does appear to be a contemporary movie. Probably it's just that Sex MPEG doesn't yet roll off the tongue, and Sex QuickTime implies a different angle on zany-frisky comedy.

Hercules

Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Irina Shayk, John Hurt, Ian McShane

Concept: This year's second megamovie action spectacular about the legendary Greek demigod doing demigodly things. (The first was a January flop.)

SC: Hey, it has John Hurt, and also that guy who said "cocksucker" a million times on Deadwood! Happy thoughts, folks!

JK: And Irina Shayk continues the proud tradition of supermodels in movies gumming up the works by looking like supermodels.

Happy Christmas

Director: Joe Swanberg

Cast: Swanberg, Melanie Lynskey, Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham

Concept: Mild upheavals in the domestic lives of young creative types.

SC: It's being released in July and has little to do with Christmas, which is about as "quirky indie comedy" as it gets.

JK: Or maybe it's because the prolific Swanberg works so efficiently now that his movies actually travel backward in time upon release.

8/1

Magic in the Moonlight

Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Jackie Weaver

Concept: A romantic comedy set in the French Riviera during the Jazz Age.

JK: Speaking of prolific directors traveling backward in time....

SC: Will there be lengthy medium shots of awkward dialogue by a talented yet under-directed cast? Well, um, see, um, maybe yes.

Get On Up

Director: Tate Taylor

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, David Andrew Nash, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer

Concept: A James Brown biopic.

SC: As James Brown song titles go, "I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I'll Get It Myself)" would look much catchier on a marquee.

JK: I also would have accepted "Doing It to Death."

Guardians of the Galaxy

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana

Concept: A band of misfits, a valuable stolen orb, and the quirkiest Marvel Comics superhero team to date.

JK: I think what this needs, just to give it a little extra punch, is a Jupiter Ascending crossover.

SC: For that matter, Jupiter Ascending would probably benefit from the addition of a raccoon that talks and wears clothes. (Not counting Mila Kunis. Zing!)

8/8

The Dog

Directors: Allison Berg, Frank Keraudren

Concept: Documentary about the man who in 1972 tried to rob a bank to finance his lover's sex-reassignment surgery — and, in turn, inspired Dog Day Afternoon.

JK: Just the thing for your "Backstories of Early Pacino Movies" double feature, paired with James Franco's Interior. Leather Bar.

SC: I'll be very disappointed if it turns out the "Attica! Attica!" scene didn't happen in real life.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

But Perhaps More Importantly, Producer: Michael Bay

Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tony Shalhoub

Concept: Turtles who are ninjas, and mutants, and teenagers.

JK: I wasn't really into TMNT as a kid, so at least I won't feel betrayed.

SC: I mostly feel betrayed by a system that lets the director of Wrath of the Titans keep working.

Lucy

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Concept: In Taiwan, a reluctant drug mule gets poisoned by a drug, which gives her superpowers.

JK: Guess Besson hasn't lost his borderline-creepy fixation on young female warrior-badass fantasy objects.

SC: Nor have people lost their borderline-creepy fixation on Scarlett Johansson. (I just do not get her.)

8/15

The Giver

Director: Philip Noyce

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Taylor Swift

Concept: A young lad considering his options in a pseudo-utopian society beset by "Sameness," as adapted from Lois Lowry's YA novel.

SC: Philip Noyce returns to Matrix-style territory, which is weird, because he was never there in the first place.

JK: You mean the richly mind-warping, never-seen-anything-like-it world of Patriot Games doesn't count?

The Expendables 3

Director: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more — introducing Mel Gibson!

Concept: An old group of muscular mercenaries gets reinforcements from a young group of muscular mercenaries.

SC: Maybe it'll finally explain which ones are "expendable," since they keep not getting killed.

JK: Now, were it The Expendables 3-D, I'd buy my ticket right now.

8/22

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson

Concept: Another stylized adaptation of Miller's comics series, involving a gambler, a stripper, a thuggish billionaire, some corpses, some vengeance, and stuff like that.

SC: Robert Rodriguez's habit of giving work to notorious cranks and sociopaths is admirable, but there are limits.

JK: Aw come on, what did Jessica Alba ever do to you?

8/29

The Congress

Director: Ari Folman

Cast: Robin Wright, Jon Hamm, Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti

Concept: A partly animated adaptation of a Stanislaw Lem novel from the director of Waltz with Bashir, in which an aging actress makes a Faustian deal to sell off all rights to her digital likeness.

JK: This absorbing oddity was a highlight of San Francisco's own IndieFest this past February, and maybe also a grim augury of summer-movie seasons to come.

SC: I have deep love for both Tarkovsky's and Soderbergh's versions of Solaris, so I'm just happy there's another Lem adaptation coming out. (Also, ever notice how our pretensions always resurface at the end of August?)

About The Authors

Sherilyn Connelly

Jonathan Kiefer

Bio:
SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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