2010 Summer Movie Preview: July
The Last Airbender (July 2)
A decade after "The Sixth Sense," its writer and director is in need of some serious career help, coming off a pair of resounding flops ("Lady in the Water" and "The Happening") that have turned the words "An M. Night Shyamalan movie" from a selling point into a threat. So here's "The Last Airbender," an adaptation of the popular cartoon series about a supernatural struggle between tribes capable of controlling the elements, and the bald, air-bending kid who can save the world. Kids' stuff from the guy who used to be known for chills and twist endings? Sounds a little disappointing, sure, but look on the bright side: No killer trees or Mark Wahlberg.
Predators (July 7)
Every time someone tries to give us a sequel to "Predator," the results are so disappointing ("Predator 2," the "Alien vs. Predator" movies), they send the franchise back into hibernation -- but now Robert Rodriguez has come along and decided to produce a reboot that would restore the badass menace of the first movie. And okay, so we're a little put off by director Nimrod Antal's decision to cast Topher Grace and Adrien Brody in "Predators" -- this is a series that started off with Arnie and Carl Weathers, after all -- but what it lacks in swollen pecs, we suspect this movie will make up in smarts, not to mention bloodthirsty intergalactic hunters.
Cyrus (July 9)
In "Step Brothers," John C. Reilly played a man who interfered with his father's new marriage; now, in this Sundance and SXSW-anointed comedy from the Duplass brothers, the shoe is on the other foot: Reilly's divorced character has found the perfect girlfriend (Marisa Tomei), but their relationship suffers from the strain of her unconventional bond with her 21-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Duplass productions are heavy with improv, and Reilly and Hill are at their best when they're turned loose; for lovers of squirm-inducing comedy, "Cyrus" might be the summer's must-see movie.
Inception (July 16)
Christopher Nolan has the kind of gotta-see-it cachet enjoyed by very few directors in modern Hollywood -- which is fortunate for him, because even though nobody knows what the heck "Inception" is about, we've all been champing at the bit to see it for months. Basically, what we've got here is Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a team that enters people's dreams, learns their secrets, and sells them to business competitors -- at least until they bump up against Saito (Ken Watanabe), a villainous executive who wants to use DiCaprio's technology for his own purposes. Sound weird? We're counting on it -- and if the trailer is any indication, "Inception" will be the premier mind-bender of the summer.
Dinner for Schmucks (July 23)
Here's the bad news: "Dinner for Schmucks" is a Jay Roach-directed remake of a French comedy, one which will doubtless forsake the original's black humor for nut-shot gags. And now for the good news: Roach stuffed his cast with very funny people, including stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, and Ron Livingston. Roach has proven he can defeat a talented ensemble (see: "Meet the Fockers"), but after seeing Carell heroically tread water with the extremely problematic "Date Night," we're going to give him and Rudd the edge, despite the fact that "Schmucks" puts Carell in the role of a badly bleached misfit. Don't let us down, fellas!
Salt (July 23)
This spy thriller has been in development almost as long as salt itself -- and has gone through a star (Tom Cruise was originally supposed to play Edwin Salt; after he dropped out, Angelina Jolie stepped in as Evelyn Salt) and multiple directors along the way (Peter Berg and Terry George dropped out before Philip Noyce took over) -- but now that it's finally here, "Salt" looks like it might have benefited from all that time in the incubator. After watching Jolie blast her way through the brainless "Wanted," it should be a treat to see her get some action in a movie co-written by one of the guys behind "L.A. Confidential." Besides, in the post-Soviet Union era, how often do we get to see movies about CIA/KGB intrigue? Not often enough.