May Movie Madness!!!

By on May 9, 2014
Emma Stone takes a look at the box office returns for the latest Spider-Man movie.
Courtesy of imdb.com

May is off to a decent start, with the moderate success of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which is closing in on the $100 million mark here, but cleaning up overseas to the tune of some $277 million. That’s a bit of a comedown from past entries in the series, not helped by middling critical reception- including this one- but thankfully, May’s just getting started.

Today brings the latest Seth Rogen bro-com, “Neighbors,” which revolves around a married couple with a newborn who have to contend with a frat moving in next door, featuring Zac Efron and Dave Franco, who really do scream d-bag, right? The film’s secret weapon may well be Rose Byrne, who excels in drama to be sure (“Damages,” the “Insidious” series), but was funny in “Bridesmaids” and just about the best thing in “Get Him to the Greek,” which I grant you, isn’t saying much. Still, her willingness to go for broke might just come in handy here- one would hope.

Rose Byrne tries to get her party on with her new "Neighbors."  Courtesy of imdb.com

Rose Byrne tries to get her party on with her new “Neighbors.”
Courtesy of imdb.com

It’s actually next weekend when the party gets started in earnest. Leapin’ lizards! Nope, it’s not the remake of “Annie,” it’s the latest iteration of “Godzilla,” arriving on May 16th. This one has a solid cast that includes “Breaking Bad” dad Bryan Cranston, the “Kick Ass” Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the better-than-the-average-Olsen-twin Elizabeth Olsen (“Oldboy”), and action vet Ken Watanabe (“Batman Begins”),who’s almost as big in Japan as Godzilla himself for his samurai roles.

I was a bit on the fence about this one, but the director, Gareth Edwards, was picked for a solid reason: his excellent take on the creature feature, aptly-titled “Monsters.” Do yourself a favor and check it out sometime. The new “Godzilla” will likely be along that line, with a bit of “Cloverfield”-style POV insanity, though thankfully, the entire movie will not adopt the found-footage thing. One thing’s for sure: it can’t be any worse than the last American-made one with Ferris Bueller. Cue the Blue Oyster Cult!

It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope, it's Godzilla!  Courtesy of imdb.com

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s Godzilla!
Courtesy of imdb.com

Also opening that day is the latest Disney sports drama, “Million Dollar Arm.” It revolves around a sports agent who gets the bright idea of recruiting Indian cricket players to play baseball in the States, and the affect doing so has on his personal life. With “Mad Man” Jon Hamm starring and the unconventional-but-winning casting of the delightful Lake Bell, this one might just be a home run.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Bell’s wonderful “In a World…” you totally should, especially if you’re at all fascinated with the art of the voice-over: hence the title. The trailer for this one is charming, so maybe this bit of counter-programming will work for Disney, a la the likes of “Miracle” and “Remember the Titans.”

However, the film I’m most looking forward to, and my favorite of the super-hero franchises outside of “Batman,” has to be “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” arriving on May 23rd. With a classic, albeit tweaked, storyline direct from the comics, and a cast that is like the American all-star response to the “Harry Potter” films, this is the blockbuster to beat this summer, to be sure.

You know you want it. Jennifer Lawrence as the colorful but sexy Mystique. Courtesy of imdb.com

You know you want it. Jennifer Lawrence as the colorful but sexy Mystique.
Courtesy of imdb.com

Check out this star power, which includes vets from both the original and rebooted franchise: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, plus, for good measure, new recruits Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) and Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”). Okay, some of them aren’t American, but what a cast, nonetheless. And those are just the cast members we know about. Who knows who else might crop up? The plot is wonderfully bonkers and involves time travel- hence the various people playing younger and older versions of the same part- and, oh, what else do you need to know? Even if you don’t like this sort of thing, there are worse things to do than watch Jennifer Lawrence naked and painted blue, running around kicking ass for two hours or so. May 23rd can’t come fast enough, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m also a sucker for a well-rendered fairy tale re-imagining, and if the dueling “Snow White” movies left something to be desired, maybe “Maleficent” (May 30th) will get it right this time. Angelina Jolie is a damn sight scarier than Julia Roberts, that’s for sure. Elle Fanning seems tailor-made for a fairy tale princess- that’s “Sleeping Beauty” to you non-fans- and the very idea of the adorable Juno Temple as a pixie makes me smile. I’ll allow it might suck, but I’m so in, and the presence of Robert Stromberg, the Oscar-winning art director behind “Avatar” and Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” tells me that, at the very least, it will be pretty to look at, so there’s that.

A Million Ways to Die

Amanda Seyfried and Neil Patrick Harris in the “Blazing Saddles”-redux “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Courtesy of imdb.com

Also opening on May 30th is Seth MacFarlane’s follow-up to the surprise hit, “Ted,” a Western movie spoof, “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” (Rest easy, “Ted” fans, a direct sequel to that film is due next year.) This one looks more like MacFarlane’s day job in the animation field: it’s basically “Blazing Saddles” with more of a “Family Guy” sensibility. The cast is surprisingly impressive, including some actors not exactly known for bringing the funny, but sometimes that’s what works best. Just ask the guys behind “Airplane!” and the like.

Leading up the cast is Charlize Theron, doing a sillier take on “The Quick & The Dead” as a sharp-shooter that teaches her cowardly boyfriend (MacFarlane) the ropes when her murderous ex (Liam Neeson) rolls into town to reclaim what he sees as his. Rounding out the cast are Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Christopher Lloyd (as Dr. Emmett Brown!) This wasn’t exactly high on my list of must-sees, but the trailer is so winning that I’m putting it down as a mild wanna-see, if only for that bonkers cast.

Of course, that’s not all May has in store. For you more independent-minded moviegoers, I’ve got an alternate list of May releases that emphasize the upcoming indie flicks that will hopefully be headed to a theater near you! Check it out here!

 

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About Mark Trammell

Mark Trammell is the resident entertainment critic at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is also a Graduate Student and does a vid-cast movie review show. He is a life-long fan of films and has a pretty whacked-out, all-over-the-place movie collection that would give most sane people pause. He loves horror movies and Disney flicks and isn't entirely sure there is a difference. He one day hopes to put his money where his mouth is and inflict his own perverse vision on society, entirely so that he can tell people who ask: "If you think you can do better, why don't you make a movie yourself?" to shut up.
 
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