2009 Summer Movie Preview: August
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (August 7)
Depending on who you believe, the first-ever "G.I. Joe" live-action feature will either be surprisingly good or so bad it's good -- and either way, it's difficult to ask more from an action flick in early August, particularly one that's already promising us Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander and Channing Tatum as Duke, not to mention Ray Park as Snake Eyes. The plot centers on...well, who cares? There will be plenty of guns, more action than you can shake a kung fu grip at, and Dennis Quaid playing a character he describes as "a cross between Chuck Yeager and Sgt. Rock and maybe a naive Hugh Hefner." Extra large popcorn, please!
When in Rome (August 7)
On the surface, this romantic comedy about a lovelorn New Yorker who pilfers some coins from a magic fountain in Rome -- and unwittingly attracts the attention of a motley crew of would-be suitors as a result -- sounds like the kind of formulaic drivel we avoid in theaters every February. But wait: Kristen Bell plays the female lead, and her paramours include Will Arnett, Jon Heder, and Danny DeVito. Yes, that's right, Danny DeVito. Toss in a cameo from Don Johnson as Bell's father, and we're willing to give director Mark Steven Johnson the benefit of the doubt despite a resume that includes "Ghost Rider," "Daredevil," and "Simon Birch."
The Time Traveler's Wife (August 14)
Yeah, it's a love story starring Rachel McAdams, but don't dismiss this adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's bestselling novel as "The Notebook" redux. The story of a librarian (Eric Bana) who spends his adult life being randomly yanked across the space-time continuum, "Wife" was snapped up by New Line even before the book was published -- and a line of directors that included Spielberg, David Fincher, and Gus Van Sant expressed interest before it ended up in the hands of "Flightplan" helmer Robert Schwentke. New Line's had it on the shelf for months, which usually indicates high levels of suckitude, but according to McAdams, they just needed to wait until Bana's "Star Trek" hairdo grew out before filming reshoots. One thing's for sure: you won't lose points by taking your lady to see it opening night. Bring Kleenex.
Inglourious Basterds (August 21)
In which Quentin Tarantino lines up an almost unspeakably awesome cast -- including Brad Pitt, Mike Myers, Diane Kruger, and B.J. Novak -- to engage in a bit of revenge fantasy that sends a group of Jewish soldiers into World War II Germany to kick copious amounts of ass. If you've seen the trailer and heard Brad Pitt screaming for Nazi scalps, you know Tarantino hasn't lost any of the gloriously profane edge that made him famous. His post-"Pulp Fiction" efforts haven't always lived up to the promise he showed early in his career, but between the cast and the brilliant idea, "Inglourious Basterds" should provide plenty of high-octane late summer fun.
Final Destination: Death Trip 3-D (August 28)
What, you thought this series ended years ago? No such luck, but with the introduction of newfangled 3-D technology providing a grisly new twist to the "sexy teens meeting horrible ends" franchise, "Final Destination: Death Trip 3-D" might actually be worth the price of a ticket. Besides, it's being directed by the guy who gave us "Snakes on a Plane," and features an appearance by minor softcore icon Krista Allen. What more could you possibly ask for from the fourth installment in a B-level horror series?
H2 (August 28)
And speaking of B-level horror series, here's "H2," the sequel to Rob Zombie's critically savaged "Halloween" reboot which, like the first "Halloween II" (confused yet?) picks up directly after its predecessor. Zombie's no slave to tradition, though -- "H2" diverges a bit from the well-trod, Michael Myers-centric path of the franchise, showing us events through the eyes of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) and even -- horrors! -- doing away with Myers' iconic mask for much of the film. Will any of this make "H2" something you want to watch more than once? Probably not, but as a way of bidding farewell to summer with one last bit of no-redeeming-value stupidity, it seems like the perfect way to end the season.