After saying for weeks that I needed to go to the movies, I took Saturday afternoon off for a matinee of Iron Man 2 with my friend and theater colleague Richard. Richard hadn't seen the first Iron Man movie (which I loved), and found some elements of the sequel confusing. I thought the sequel had a couple of howlers (how does Mickey Rourke get to Monaco? And how does he manage to hang onto that toothpick all the way from prison to New York?), but it's Robert Downey Jr. and a bunch of stuff blowing up, so it worked for me.
As the first of the summer blockbusters, Iron Man 2 was preceded by six previews of coming attractions — but one of those was for Shrek: The Final Solution — er, Shrek Forever After — and you already know everything you need to know about that movie. Or at least, I already know everything I need to know about that movie.
1. The A-Team. Really? Really? 19,000 unemployed screenwriters in Hollywood (WGA West had 19,354 members last year, and let's say 354 were employed), and this is the best they can do? They've updated it from the TV show in that this A-Team are Iraq war veterans, and includes a woman (Jessica Biel). Plus, I assume the special effects are better. But it's hard to imagine shelling out $10 to see a movie version of something I can watch for free on late-night cable.
2. Inception. In this thriller directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight), Leonardo di Caprio plays a thief who learns people's deepest secrets through their dreams. His last job, however, is to implant something in people's minds using the same methods — something that seems very dangerous to the external world as well as their internal ones. The trailer reminded me of David Cronenberg's eXistenZ, which is enough to make me want to see it in the theater.
3. Grown Ups. Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James and Chris Rock play childhood friends reunited for a summer vacation with their families. Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Cybill Shepherd's impulse marriage on "Moonlighting") directs. You've seen this movie before. I've seen this movie before. I strongly suspect I saw most of the best jokes in the trailer. I'll probably see it in the theater anyway.
4. The Last Airbender. Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, co-hosts of my favorite movie review show (available as a BBC podcast) have made several references to this movie in the past weeks. Until I saw this trailer, I had no idea what they were talking about, but apparently it's already getting lots of promotion over there. Simon & Mark made it sound ridiculous before I knew anything about it, but this trailer sealed the deal. Directed by M. Night Shymalan, it's based on a kids' TV show I've never seen. The young Aang must fulfill his destiny (as the Last Airbender) to save his people from the domination of the Fire Nation. The only reason I'd pay money to see this would be Cliff Curtis, who plays the Firelord and looks — well — smoking hot in the preview.
5. Super 8. A sci-fi movie by J.J. Abrams, produced by Steven Spielberg. That's all I took away from the trailer, and it seems to be about as much as anyone knows. IMDb says they're not filming until the fall, and it's not due for release until sometime next year. But now all of us know the title, and I've even mentioned it in my blog. Such is the power of previews.