Predators: The alleged Robert Rodriguez treatment for a Predator sequel has been the stuff of (specialized-even-by-these-standards) fanboy dreams for years, only intensified by the lack of effort apparent in Alien vs. Predator and, to an even greater extent, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. After the latter somehow failed to make Christmastime cash back in 2007, Rodriguez finally got his actual shot, coinciding nicely with an uncharacteristically dry period following a couple of trilogies, one of his biggest hits ever with Sin City, and his contribution to the ill-fated and totally awesome Grindhouse. In the late aughts, Rodriguez mulled any number of family, sci-fi, and horror projects while only actually producing Shorts (the only movie of his I haven't seen)—yet he opted to not actually direct his Predator movie, but rather provide a treatment and helping hand. Rather than plucking either a faceless music-video spawn or a flavorless clone of himself, Rodriguez chose L Magazine favorite Nimrod Antal, who most recently made a couple of underrated, claustrophobic, well-directed thrillers: Armored and Vacancy.
This Rodriguez/Antal combination lured Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Laurence Fishbourne, and Danny "Machete" Trejo onto a far-off game-preserve planet to be hunted by creatures (plural!) that could previously only be defeated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, acid-blooded aliens, Danny Glover, or (presumably) some combination of the three. I know a lot of people find Rodriguez tiresome for his energetic, homemade, sometimes slapdash approach, and his dedication to pulp, trash, and silliness. In a lot of ways, he walks Tarantino's talk: Tarantino may love exploitation movies, but his kung fu, slasher, and men-on-a-mission movies are deliberately paced and thematically rich. Rodriguez pretty much just makes shoot-em-ups or, for kids, snot-em-ups. But his one-man grindhouse approach works more often than not, and it's exciting to see him put his faith in talent like Antal. The thrills I get out of Antal and Rodriguez movies are exactly what summer movies have been failing at left and right this year (most years). In conclusion: I am so fucking excited for this movie. The idea of a badass Predator movie with good actors made by a guy who knows how to generate suspense and overseen by a guy who knows how to direct montages where people assemble weapons has shot my expectations to unreasonably high levels. One disappointment: how is Michelle Rodriguez (no relation) not among the chosen badasses? I guess that leaves room for her and Statham to get nabbed for the sequel which I'm assuming will be called Predatorss or Predatorses.
The Kids Are All Right: Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play a couple whose lives are disrupted when their teenage kids track down their sperm-donor bio-dad and find out that it's Mark Ruffalo (presumably in You Can Count On Me mode, except don't say that, because the You Can Count On Me guy wrote and directed a movie a bunch of years ago that never got released! No jinxies!). This sounds dangerously close to indie-warmedy territory, but in addition to director Lisa Cholodenko, it boasts co-writer Stuart Blumberg, who helped Edward Norton out with the screenplay to the charming, warm, and altogether underrated Keeping the Faith. Also, it seems possible based on the trailer that this movie has gotten Bening to quit pulling faces. I have no idea why this movie wasn't limited-released last weekend, when there were basically no new movies for adults playing in the New York Metro Area.
Despicable Me: I'm always curious and hopeful when big studios establish new animation studios, even though they rarely offer more than expensive clones of whatever established house is making money at the time (Disney, Pixar, and most recently, especially due to its easy cloneability, DreamWorks). Despicable Me comes from Universal's new animation arm, a production headed up by a guy who used to work at Fox's Blue Sky, with a vaguely Euro look and a supervillain-as-softie story wedged between the 2004 triumph of The Incredibles and the typically belated DreamWorks superhero spoof Megamind. I like the story idea, I like the look, and I like the litany of Apatow people doing the voices, particularly Steve Carell adopting an actual vocal performance rather than trading on his nasal, recognizable tone. Yet I'm not dying to see Despicable Me, maybe because of the sneaking suspicion that there are only a certain number of ways to make big-hearted, mass-appeal brightly-colored animated comedies if you're not Pixar. Or: maybe I'm old!
The Girl Who Played with Fire: I haven't seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or read the book, so I'm clearly not (yet) the audience for The Girl Who Played with Fire. I'm sure if I were, I'd be psyched that Music Box is releasing the Swedish adaptations of the three books just months apart in a single calendar year, although I'm not sure if they are doing such a great job of wringing maximum box office out of these pictures, throwing them on DVD so much faster than the usual art-house rates. And if they're going with that plan, how was this not positioned as a Semi-Thinking Person's Fourth of July Event Movie? Arthouse movies, I feel like you guys should be a little less intimidated by Eclipse and a lot more scared of Inception.