It’s that wonderful time of year where excited crowds pack into multiplexes to see mindless big-budget extravaganzas, just so they can turn around in the fall and lament Hollywood’s lack of originality.
In a pre-emptive strike against that hypocrisy, here’s a guide to the least-anticipated movies the major studios are offering up this summer.
10. “Iron Man 3″
In fairness, the trailers are pretty enticing and the addition of Shane Black is an interesting decision. But really, what do we think is going to happen? It’s a standalone adventure that’ll move some pieces around the Marvel chess board as we gear up for “Avengers 2.” Thrilling stuff, right? Hopefully this third outing will be closer in quality to the first movie than the second.
9. “World War Z”
This one has major trainwreck appeal. Every bit of news that has come out about the production has been negative. Re-writes, re-shoots, delays, and Brad Pitt’s haircut have stacked the deck against the film in a major way. The legions of zombies waiting to rip into the characters are nothing compared to what fans of the book are foaming at the mouth to do.
8. “White House Down”
Full disclosure: I like “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” A lot. Roland Emmerich is the foreign answer to Michael Bay, which means that amidst all the numbskullery and destruction, occasionally he may accidentally make a good movie. That’s the optimism you have to take into the movie. But, this is man that also gave us “Godzilla,” “2012,” and “10,000 B.C.,” so the reality is much grimmer.
7. “The Wolverine”
At best the “X-Men” franchise is batting pretty close to .500. But the quality of the good movies is so heavily outweighed by the badness of “The Last Stand” and the last standalone Wolverine outing that indifference is the best I can muster for “The Wolverine.”
6. “RED 2″
On the scale of sequels no one asked for, there are two possible outcomes: movies that are surprisingly good (“28 Weeks Later”) and movies that leave you asking searching clarity (“Basic Instinct 2”). The best reason to have faith in “RED 2” is that it’s directed by the guy who made “Galaxy Quest.” The most obvious reason for apprehension is that it’s a sequel to “RED.”
Watch this trailer. The defense rests.
4. “After Earth”
Remember back when M. Night Shyamalan movies were events? Better yet, remember when Will Smith reigned supreme over the summer season? This is the most awesome director and star pairing of 2003. In 2013, the pairing almost reeks of desperation, especially on Shyamalan’s end. I want this movie to be good, I really, really, do. The blockbuster-sphere is more interesting when Smith and Shyamalan are making positive contributions. But I’ve seen the trailer, and Smith seems more interesting in putting the spotlight on his son and Shyamalan is barely mentioned in the advertising.
3. “300: Rise of an Empire”
“300” was so successful that it’s no surprise a sequel was made. What is a surprise is that it took seven years to get two more hours of glistening six-packs on screen. The first movie cemented the A-list status of Zack Snyder and Gerard Butler and we’re still paying for those sins (“Sucker Punch” or “The Ugly Truth” anyone?). There’s not much good to be gained by returning to this xenophobic, ultra-violent, ultra-dopey world that can’t be had from “Game of Thrones”.
2. “Grown Ups 2″
Adam Sandler is living the dream. Doing what he wants with his friends. It’s awesome. The majority of his comedies are sizable hits, quality be damned. We should all be so lucky to be in that position. On the flipside, Sandler hasn’t headlined a well-received comedy since “The Wedding Singer.” His movies routinely land on “worst of the year” lists and there’s no reason to think this one will fare any better.
1. “The Lone Ranger”
If this Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp pairing ends up being closer in quality to “Rango” than the “Pirates” movies, I’ll be thrilled. “Rango” is excellent. The (extremely long) “Pirates” movies mostly are not. “Lone Ranger” looks very similar to one of those films, and it’s not “Rango.”