Smoothie at the Movies: May watch list
After a Frozen winter, We’ve finally arrived at the big blockbuster summer movie months. The heat has started to swelter and explosions of mass quantity are heading to the big screens. Here are six selected flicks coming out this month to look forward to. So when the heat gets to be too much, you’ll know what to watch in an air conditioned room, with an ice cold drink, and maybe a giant lizard destroying an entire city skyline under his feet.
Godzilla (May 16th):
It's been several decades and several silly movies since the great fearsome lizard has been taken seriously. As an audience we've seen him become a friend of ours, battling other giant beasts like Mothra and even King Kong. We've even seen his child grow up. And for the longest time we stopped fearing the great monster. But deep down inside we knew there was gonna be a day when the technology would catch up with what the world needed. The most realistic looking giant world destroying monster: the new Godzilla.
The success of Pacific Rim last summer showed that you could make a big, dramatic, realistic-looking monster that could destroy whole societies, and once that destruction door was open, it only made sense to let the great one step through and tear some buildings apart for us. The real move here is picking up Bryan Cranston as one of the leads. After his final stint dramatically changing television viewer’s lives on Breaking Bad, this is his first real foray onto the big screen. Cranston plays a nuclear physicist investigating strange things happening in Japan -- only to discover the monster. It's simple as this: If The One Who Knocks is running in fear, maybe we all should be afraid.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23rd):
So here’s the conundrum: You make two sets of movies (the original X-Men trilogy and X-men: First Class) that have the same two main characters (Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto) who are played by two separate duos of excellent actors (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the trilogy/ James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in First Class); they are all so great that you want to make a movie with all of them -- but how?
Well, time travel of course. This is the glory of a comic book world after all. Anything's possible, if you can get the audience to believe. Even taking Wolverine (Hugh Jackman on his seventh spin with the cigar smoking badass) from a future dystopia where mutant hunting machines, known as Sentinels, have helped create an all-out human/mutant war back to the seventies to stop Jennifer Lawrence’s shape shifting Mystique from killing the creator of the Sentinels (Bolivar Trask,"‘Game of Thrones'’’ Peter Dinklage) and preventing the wars from erupting is completely acceptable. It has Back to the Future's rules; lets just get in the Delorean and go!
For the die-hard nerds, the real pleasure in the new movie is that they have finally brought up some of the not ready for primetime players who are featured in the future of X-Men cannon. The X-Force alums, such as Blink, Warpath, and Bishop (finally we get to see Bishop!), give some great new blood to a franchise that might start going stale if the people in charge aren’t careful. Plus, they've been teasing the audiences about having actual Sentinels for almost a decade now. It will be a nice payoff to finally see them in action.
For some reason the X-Men franchise hasn't been as fruitful for Marvel as many of their other series have been; The Avengers made $1.5 Billion dollars by itself compared to the $2.3 Billion the X-Men serials have accumulated in six films. This is completely baffling; The X-Men have always been the perfect example of outsiders who just never fit in -- searching and finding a home, friendship, and even love amongst themselves. The undertones of the franchise, you'll find, are universal -- if you are willing to look past all the blue fur, you’d see that the characters lives are just like your own... with just a little more excitement in them.
Neighbors (May 9th):
It’s time for the Seth Rogen frat movie. It’s odd; you would have assumed Rogen to have been in something along these lines already, but outside of his TV show, Undeclared (in his pre-movie early years), he really hasn’t been involved in the timeless frat comedy trope. Just because frat guys quote Rogen doesn't mean he's played a frat guy.
Rogen plays the husband in a young couple, with wife Rose Byrne (of Bridesmaids), who is more enthusiastic about staying home playing with their young baby girl than going out and having a good time. Their lifestyle is upended when new neighbors -- a zany and wild fraternity headed by Zac Efron (High School Musical) and Dave Franco (Now You See Me) -- move in next door. The two houses clash, and a series of comical Hatfield-McCoy-like battling ensues.
As far as initial premise goes, this movie walks over some very worn-down ground; however, Rogen is still able to develop enough humor to hold your attention. Casting Efron may also serve as a secret, audience-grabbing weapon. In this past year, between this film and That Awkward Moment, Efron has been acquiring more mature roles. Could this be the movie that allows Efron to prove his theatrical talent by flexing his comedic muscles, like Channing Tatum did in 21 Jump Street. Is ZFron the next CTates?
Maleficent (May 30th):
It would take a very certain actor to be able to take on the task of making one of the most feared villains in Disney movie history and make everyone look at her in a more sympathetic light. Enter the one and only Angelina Jolie. An untold prequel to Sleeping Beauty, the film traces the story of Maleficent, a powerful fairy with large black wings and defender of the creatures that live in the depths of the woods, who is betrayed by the king (Sharlto Copley of District 9) and loses her wings. Subsequently, Maleficent curses the king's daughter, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning of Super 8). Still vengeful, still evil, Maleficent is not represented as blindly evil as she is in childhood classic Sleeping Beauty.
This is the directorial debut from multiple Oscar winner Robert Stromberg, who has won awards in production designs for Alice in Wonderland and Avatar, so the sets and costumes will likely be nothing short of spectacular.
And just it’s the big budget movie season doesn’t mean that there aren't some art house treasures washing up on the shore for you this month. Here are two more movies that might take a little more to find but should really be worth your time:
The Immigrant (May 16th):
James Gray has been quietly making some of the greatest cinema in the modern era and very few people seem to really know it. He has directed Two Lovers, We Own the Night, and, his first film, Little Odessa, all of which are worth catching if you've never seen them. The Immigrant may very well be his best work yet. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix (the first film since his great performance in Her), who Gray previously worked with in We Own the Night, as a shady gentlemen in early 1920s New York who finds Marion Cotillard (Le Vie En Rose), a Polish Immigrant on Ellis Island who can’t get her sister through a doctor's check point en route to America. Phoenix offers to help her.. but for a cost.
We Are The Best! (May 30th)
It’s Sweden in the early 1980s and music is… well, really awful. Three young girls decide that they have to fight their society's abominable music with the only thing they believe can conquer the world: Punk Rock Music. Although they are outcasts at school, have no instruments, and are constantly told that Punk is dead. The girls relentlessly pursue their quest to discover adventure and uniqueness in a bland world.
Keep yourselves cool in the warm months to come, and check in next month for the June picks of the summer movies to be on the look out for.
Matt ‘Smoothie’ Sargeant is a nolavie film writer. Contact him at mjsargeant83