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The merry month of May has finally arrived. The most anticipated of movie months, May brings promise of an awesome summer at the movies, arriving right at the peak of our bland spring movie angst.
So what better month to start our monthly movie previews (okay, so our site hasn’t been up long enough to start at any previous month) than May.
As usual, in the lead-off spot is a superhero movie, this one being the much-anticipated follow up to 2008’s Iron Man. Also familiar to May is everyone’s favorite ogre Shrek, providing the month’s lone family-geared entertainment.
Now, you might have already scrolled down this list (or checked out our super-duper graphic) and thought to yourself in your very best Sacha Baren Cohen Bruno voice “vhat about zee Sex and zee City girls?” Precisely. We’re not going to waste your time previewing movies you have no interest in, which we’re going to – for your reputation’s sake – safely presume.
Iron Man 2
If you haven’t seen our Complete Guide to Iron Man 2, you best rocket your way over there before reading any further. After reading it, you’ll likely wonder what there is left to talk about with regards to one of 2010’s most anticipated films.
Word is that if there are any flaws, it’s that the plot is much thicker and the characters more plentiful, which was obvious when they cast Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johannson, Mickey Rourke and gave Samuel L. Jackson a part that didn’t just take place after the credits. We’ll give you the low-down on whether these criticism are just come Friday morning.
One thing’s for sure, Iron Man 2 is doing what was expected of it at the box office. Released last Friday in Europe predominantly, the film has already grossed more than $121 million, which is quite possibly what it will pull just this weekend in the states.
Directed by Jon Favreau
Written by Justin Theroux (screenplay), Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Larry Lieber (comics)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwenyth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke
In the late 12th Century, Sir Robin Longstride returns from the Crusades to discover an oppressive regime has taken over England and forced the kingdom into corruption and tyranny. Robin must become an outlaw and rebel so that England can be free again.
With historically based films and reboots being all the rage, a new Robin Hood was always likely. Legendary director Ridley Scott (also a sir), who is no stranger to historical epics (Gladiator), helms the project, which stars favorite actor to collaborate with, Russell Crowe. The rest of the mouth-watering cast in this epic includes Mark strong (Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes), Cate Blanchett, Matthew MacFayden, William Hurt and Danny Huston. However, casting Australian and American actors in an English-set film could go against Robin Hood – it most certainly did against Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
There is potential with a revisionist take on the Robin Hood story that would show how the Middle Ages were a brutal period. With action being evident in the trailer and a more thoughtful message about Medieval ideology, this aims to be a more adult-oriented blockbuster. This could be the film for people who aren’t looking for your usual May superhero fix.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Brian Helgeland
Starring: Russel Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong
Shrek Forever After
The fourth and apparently final chapter of the Shrek saga comes in the franchise’s usual mid-May spot. As you’d imagine, they must be running out of ideas, so “Forever After” attempts to flip the Shrek universe entirely on its head. When Shrek makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin for a normal life, he ends up in an alternate Far, Far Away where none of the other characters know him, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Puss in Boots is a fat kitty.
The Shrek franchise has long been king of the animated family movie that enjoys slipping inappropriate jokes in for the adults. That makes each movie entertaining enough on its own, even though I think it’s a poor practice. Expect another mishmash plot with plenty of great jokes, but even I must admit that the prospect of seeing yet another Shrek movie is daunting.
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Written by Josh Klausner, Darren Lemke
Starring: (voices) Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas
Making a movie from an SNL skit hasn’t worked since the ’90s, but why not give it a try again? MacGruber is an action comedy spoof just in time for a year of team-based action movies that deserve, quite frankly, to be made fun of. Will Forte stars as the MacGyver knock-off, a specialist who works with the government with a penchant for homemade explosives and “anything but guns.” He teams up with a normal government agent (Ryan Phillippe) and SNL co-star and leading lady Kristen Wiig to thwart the plans of the evil Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) to nuke Washington D.C.
The name Dieter Von Cunth currently ranks as my number one favorite aspect of this movie. Seriously though, Kilmer is underrated in the comedy department and he’ll get some much-needed props in this movie. The sense of humor is pretty solid deadpan, so there’s reason to be optimistic. Reviews have been pretty decent too as the film debuted at South by Southwest back in March. I don’t think the community at-large will crave the MacGruber mullet, but there’s always room for a cult-favorite dumb comedy.
Directed by Jorma Taccone
Written by Will Forte, John Solomon, Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kirsten Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
As far as video game adaptations go, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time looks to rule over all before it in terms of grandeur and technical quality. Perusing the history of this heavily criticized sub-genre, one can’t help but be pessimistic both in terms of potential quality and box office performance. Only Lara Croft: Tomb Raider has broken $100 million domestic and only six video game movies have broken $50 million. Similarly, critics have not been kind to flicks of this ilk with the flop Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within standing as the best-received with a lowly 44% rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes.
That being said, looking for an exception rather than the rule for this film. For once, there is an actual talent behind the camera, that being Brit Mike Newell, who has helmed some great films the likes of Donnie Brasco and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He is also no stranger to adaptations having directed the fourth Harry Potter film, which was a commercial and critical success. “Prince of Persia” is also backed by blockbuster wizard Jerry Bruckheimer, who turned a theme park ride into a multi-million dollar franchise in Pirates of the Caribbean.
On the other side of the camera we are graced with an all-star, and in some cases, Oscar-winning cast. In the leading role of hero Prince Dastan is Jake Gyllenhaal, who is joined by Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Gemma Arterton. If any group of actors could add some gravitas to the material this would be the one. The film follows Dastan who, after showing bravery in battle, is adopted as the heir to the king as a means to stop his sons from fighting for the throne. Along with Princess Tamina (Arterton), they try to rescue the sands of time, a dagger from the heavens capable of controlling – time.
Directed by Mike Newell
Written by Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard (screenplay), Jordan Mechner (video game)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina
George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead
Zombie horror legend George A. Romero returns with yet another installment of his beloved franchise (I think this is number five or is it seven?), this one entitled “Survival of the Dead,” which has a deliciously ironic tone. The zombie action takes place this time on a small island where the people there fight for their lives while also trying to cure the undead, because on a small island, you’re going to know most people and it’s hard to just let them be dead – err, undead.
I’m a newbie to the “Dead” films, having only experienced the 1968 original and working my way up, but I don’t expect to get this far. Usually it says something when a franchise survives 40 years, but there hasn’t been a lot of positive feedback for any of the 21st Century “Dead” films. “Survival” was on the festival circuit all last year and garnered mixed reviews.
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by George A. Romero
Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Kathleen Munroe, Richard Fitzpatrick