Summer Movie Preview: May 2014

It’s here! Summer movie season is here! Now if only it would finally get proper warm outside…

May 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are wonderful as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. They deserve a much better movie than this over-long commercial for future Spider-Man spin-offs like Sinister Six.

Belle

I’ve been seeing trailers for this in the arthouse since last year, and I’ve wanted to see it ever since. Based on the true-life story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race illegitimate heiress in eighteenth century England, the story follows Dido as she is raised in the uncomfortable position of being both a daughter of the house and a social pariah. The trailers look like the movie focuses largely on her romantic prospects, but I hope it examines her relationship with her guardian, the Earl of Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson). Lord Mansfield was the judge on an important case in the late eighteenth century which ended up aiding the abolitionist movement in England, and it’s believed that Dido’s influence is what lead to his ultimate decision that basically said slavery was unsupportable in a legal sense, paving the way for full abolition in 1833. That’s WAY more interesting than who she married.

Limited

Walk of Shame

Two enormously likeable and underrated comedic actors, Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden, star in this comedy about a woman trying to get to an important job interview after a one night stand. Not the most promising set up ever, but I’d watch Banks and Marsden together on screen all day long. Even if it is directed by the guy responsible for Without a Paddle, Drillbit Taylor and Adam Sandlers’ god-awful Mr. Deeds remake.

Limited/VOD

May 9

Chef

Allegedly this movie is an allegory for Jon Favreau getting fired off the Iron Man franchise, except that back in 2011 Favreau himself stated he chose to exit the franchise because he wanted to work on projects with more creative freedom. Like Chef. Still, there’s probably a link between Favreau’s stint as a franchise director and his return to his indie roots and this story about a chef who gets canned from a major restaurant and goes on to open a more personally fulfilling food truck.

Limited

God’s Pocket

John Slattery’s directorial debut has the distinction of also being one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last films. It premiered at Sundance and though reviews were not good, most put the blame on a dour, lazy script, with many critics noting not only that the acting is good but that Slattery actually made this mess somewhat watchable, and that with better material he could be a solid director.

Limited

Legend of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

How is this not direct to DVD?

Mom’s Night Out

The Hangover for soccer moms.

Neighbors

Really, really funny. Compared to June’s 22 Jump Street, it’s flying under the radar and has more the makings of a sleeper hit than a breakout, but Neighbors made me laugh A LOT, and Zac Efron is genuinely funny in it—this is the grown-up role he’s wanted so badly. Co-starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Dave Franco, and directed by Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), it’s worth a go, especially if Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t your cuppa.

May 16

Godzilla

It’s not going to do the gangbusters business of Spider-Man or, probably, X-Men 2/7, but Godzilla is the most promising blockbuster this month. The trailers have been really tight and a 13 minute preview was very impressive. It looks like the kaiju movie Pacific Rim should have been, were it more than just dum-dum robot porn. By the end of summer this might be the one that surprises us most, both in quality and financials as it could end up having legs and being one of those quiet earners like Now You See Me in 2013.

Million Dollar Arm

Disney has these feel-good sports movies down to a science and I want to see this one succeed because Jon Hamm deserves a decent career once Mad Men is done. That doesn’t mean I actually want to see this, though. Because I don’t.

May 23

Blended

Adam Sandler attempts to make a movie that won’t make you want to stab your eyeballs with forks, but this trailer makes me want to punch myself in the face for sitting through it, so…no.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

I liked X-Men: First Class well enough but as always, the X-Men franchise is plagued by too many characters and indistinguishable mutants (the fact that one is red and one is blue is all that separates Azazel and Nightcrawler to casual audiences). One thing I liked about First Class is that it WASN’T about Wolverine, but he’s back and front and center in Days, and also William Stryker is once again featured even though he is not a compelling villain at all and X-2 already did about the best you can with that character.

I actually do want to like this movie, so I’m going to stop talking myself out of it.

May 30

A Million Ways to Die in the West

I’m not a huge Seth MacFarlane fan, and yet he always finds a way to make me laugh despite myself. I can tell I’m going to end up seeing this somewhat against my will and I’m already mad at myself about it. The gag implied by the title actually has a lot of potential for a comedy, but MacFarlane is not the most subtle or satirical humorist. He pretty much goes for the obvious gross-out joke every time, and I fall for it, every time. And the cycle of self-loathing continues.

Filth

James McAvoy’s long-awaited (on this side of the pond, anyway) adaptation of Irving Welsh’s novel about a coke-addicted cop who is basically a total disaster in every way. Looks GREAT, and expands into theaters from VOD platforms.

Limited

Maleficent

Angelina Jolie stars as the Sleeping Beauty villainess who turns into a dragon. I’m in.

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