First up is Kung Fu Panda. Dreamworks continues to ride the Shrek wave of introducing a new CGI-animated comedy every summer and this year is no exception. Kung Fu Panda looks like it's essentially The Karate Kid only with talking animals and more wisecracks. It's the first film of the season to take advantage of summer vacation for school-aged kids. Having a school-aged kid, I could very well be asked to see this.
The next week brings us The Incredible Hulk and The Happening. The Incredible Hulk is, of course, the movie mulligan (as Chris put it) for the not-so good Hulk by Ang Lee back in 2003. I personally think it's a bit soon to put another Hulk movie out but I don't run a major studio. All of the principals have been recast, most notably with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. This film appears to take many of its cues from the terrific TV series of the '70s (check out that "Lonely Man" homage in the poster) but promises more action. Unlike the TV series, the Hulk will actually face off against a supervillain in the form of a mutated Emil Blonsky. In the comics, Blonsky is known as the Abomination but the film's writers thought the name was silly and opted not to use it. Can't have anything silly in a film about a man whose radiation sickness manifests itself as being a monster. Yeesh.
The Happening is M. Night Shyamalan's latest film. Shyamalan is a bit of a polemic in the film world; you usually like his films or you don't. His latest appears to be a thriller involving people going nuts for seemingly no reason. Like Signs, this appears to be a nationwide thing and will be filtered through the eyes of mundane characters. Shyamalan, in my opinion, tries a little too hard to channel Alfred Hitchcock and even mentions this film as being similar to The Birds. Homage is fine, but come up with a new formula.
The week of June 20 is one for comedies. You have Get Smart with Steve Carrell and The Love Guru with Mike Myers. Get Smart could very well be funny but I'm afraid Carrell is going to end up typecast as a well-meaning doofus. Based on the clips I've seen, this is pretty much Michael Scott from The Office as a secret agent. As for The Love Guru, Mike Myers is a self-made self-help "guru" patterned after every idiot that aped George Harrison during the '70s. The Hindu community is already pissed off about the movie without having seen it—reminiscent of Catholics going nuts about Kevin Smith's Dogma.
The end of June brings a pair of films as opposite as night and day: Pixar's Wall-E and Wanted, based on the violent comic series. Evidently Wall-E was dreamed of years ago, way before Toy Story, of the last robot on Earth (mankind having evacuated). According to a couple of sources, Pixar opted to pattern the film on classic sci-fi films. That alone earns it a possible theater outing in my book. Besides, he's a cute robot and we'll get to see the cute Pixar lamp before the film.
I only became aware of the Wanted comic series after seeing the collected editions in bookstores. It's pretty violent stuff and a revenge story: two great things that go great together (aka the Reese's Theorem as coined by the brilliant Bill Doughty). While I'm curious about any movie starring a post-Tomb Raider Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, this is likely going to end up in the Netflix queue.
And so ends June. July will ramp things up a bit with more superhero stuff and talking monkeys in space! You cannot go wrong with talking monkeys... in space!