At the half-way point of the year, it’s time once again to take stock of cinema and television and, what specifically, we can look forward to over the next few months.
As always, it will likely be a case of the good, the bad and the ugly – but at this juncture we really don’t know who will be the heroes and villains.
KUNG FU PANDA
Tapping into the voice talents of Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman and Lucy Liu, this animated tale sees an unlikely hero, the panda Po, being drawn into an epic martial arts adventure of good vs. evil, sloth vs. discipline and weight vs. grace. The story of a lazy slacker with big ideas competing against driven Chinese rivals seems particularly well placed ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN
Adam Sandler pursues that elusive Academy Award once again, this time playing an Israeli secret agent starting his life over in New York City. Now working as a hair stylist, Sandler’s character struggles to keep his killer instincts in check while performing colourings and blowdry’s. What could possibly go wrong?
Tapping into another nostalgia TV series, Steve Carell plays bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart alongside Anne Hathaway as the new Agent 99. Decades before Austin Powers, Mel Brooks and Buck Henry were among the first to make fun of the then-new James Bond movies of the 1960s. Can the old shoe phone gag work in the age of smartphones?
THE LOVE GURU
While Carell again as an Indian mystic/hockey sports epic/romantic buddy comedy movie. Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake join in to up the attractiveness factor, and the sight gags and awkward ethnic jokes look to be most enlightening.
The magic combo of Disney and Pixar turn their 3D-rendering skills to the story of a small, lonely robot named WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) that discovers there is more to the universe than his vast pile of post-apocalyptic junk. Voiced mainly by beeps and whistles, expect the noisy must-have toy from this film to annoy the heck out of millions of parents by summer’s end.
What if Superman was a dirty, hard-living, reckless and irresponsible slob whose approach to crime-fighting left dozens hurt and caused millions of dollars worth of property damage every time he “saved” the day? That would be terrible, right? Will Smith takes the reins of this action comedy and, as Hollywood’s favourite face for summer box office bounty, seems a definite crowd pleaser.
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
Visionary director Guillermo del Toro reunites the cast from the original Hellboy movie to continue the supernatural comic-book adventure staring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair. This time, mythical creatures from another world wage war on Earth – cue special effects, plenty of action brawling, and that strange mole on his forehead.
THE DARK KNIGHT
Rumors say the stress of playing The Joker in this sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins” led actor Heath Ledger to use multiple medications which may have factored in his fatal overdose in January. Few will enter theatres for this one without thinking about the young actor’s untimely end. Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast with Christian Bale returning as Bruce Wayne.
The blockbuster Broadway musical based around the songs of 1970s Swedish supergroup ABBA comes to the big screen. The cast of Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried tell the story of a bride-to-be seeking her real father. Will audiences take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on this one?
THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE
Even before Chris Carter’s original TV series stopped making news episodes back in 2002, agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder had mostly left the scene as actors Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny pursued other work. Details on the plot to this movie are vague, but fans can expect the welcome return of flashlights in the dark and quiet sexual tension broken by moments of blurry alien terror. We want to believe this one’s worth the wait.
THE ACCIDENTAL HUSBAND
Uma Thurman, Colin Firth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan make up a madcap love triangle where a soon-to-be-married talk radio host discovers she has a previous marriage on the books. Little does she know her “husband,” a New York City firefighter, has a secret grudge against her. This romantic comedy dares to ask the question of who a woman will choose: The safe, stuffed shirt Brit or the carefree, macho American hero? Date movie gold.
All action comedy cast including Ben Stiller, who also directs, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jnr, Nick Nolte and Tom Cruise. All hell breaks loose when a group of self-serious actors filming a big-budget war movie end up becoming the commandos they are playing. Falling somewhere between war movie-action movie- outright parody, expect some decent belly laughs.?
Two guys. One job. No rules. When two assistant managers of a large grocery-store chain learn that a long-awaited promotion is soon to be announced, the competition that soon heats up between the pair drives their families and co-workers to the edge of sanity in this comedy starring Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly.
Gonzo is a three-dimensional portrait with a focus on Hunter S. Thompson’s work, whose legendary status is due as much to his scintillating writing as his outrageous antics. A die-hard member of the NRA, Thompson was also a coke-snorting, whiskey-swilling, acid-eating fiend. While his pen dripped with venom for crooked politicians, he surprised nervous visitors with the courtly manners and soft-spoken delivery of a Southern gentleman.
A provocative and suspenseful drama based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel, it tells an evocative story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence set in the pre-WWII era. In the film, Charles Ryder becomes entranced with the noble Marchmain family, first through the charming and provocative Sebastian Flyte, and then his sophisticated sister, Julia. The rise and fall of Charles’ infatuations reflect the decline of a decadent era in England between the wars. Emma Thompson co-stars as Lady Marchmain.
VICKI CHRISTINA BARCELONA
Just as New York City was the backdrop in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, the stunning city of Barcelona is the setting for the romantic adventures of Vicky and Cristina. These two young Americans spend a summer in Spain and meet a flamboyant artist – Javier Bardem and his beautiful but insane ex-wife Penelope Cruz. Vicky is straight-laced and about to be married. while Cristina is a sexually adventurous free spirit. When they all become amorously entangled, well, you can guess where it’s going…..
Like Princess Diana, her direct descendent, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire was beautiful, glamorous and adored by the public. But while her beauty and charisma made her a household name, one thing always seemed to escape her: love. Keira Knightley takes the lead in a period piece that should have ‘em queuing down the street.
A race-against-time thriller starring Shia LaBeouf and Billy Bob Thornton. Two unsuspecting Americans are separately drawn into a conspiracy by a mysterious woman they have never met, but who seems to know their every move. By the time they discover her frightening identity, they have become her unwitting accomplices in a diabolical assassination plot.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
The next Bond with Daniel Craig once again in the lead promises more of the gritty, hard-hitting 007 we saw last time. During the filming, Craig was hospitalised four times – an indication of just how serious this guy takes his stunts. One of Ian Fleming’s smaller stories, expect a Bond that’ll deliver more reality than Roger Moore was ever up to….