1. Brave (Disney, 4,164 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): I want this to be good. I want Cars 2 to be an aberration in quality and Pixar to go back to dependably putting out good films. I want this more than anything.
And maybe because I want this so badly, I look at the trailer for this film and feel that Pixar knocks it out of the park. I get the understanding that the clips tell only a small part of the story, but the story they tell is Pixar at its finest. There were genuine laughs, heartfelt moments, and beautiful imagery. I am man enough to admit I teared up a bit when I saw it.
The plot, about a girl who rebels against what society–and her mother–expect her to be, isn’t exactly original. But in these cases, Pixar usually brings a new perspective to make the plot fresh and new. I can’t wait to see this film. I might even bring my daughter with me.
2. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Fox, 3,106 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated R): For all intents and purposes, it looks like this film is being played straight and not as a comedy. It is being presented, if the ads bear truth, as a horror/action film with our 16th President as the lead character.
If this is the case, then this tactic is pure genius.
The plot, taken from the book of the same name, is built on the conceit that an academic researcher accidentally stumbled upon a secret journal by Lincoln detailing his time as a hunter of vampires. It is couched in real world events and presented as if it were a historical fact. And that makes it funnier. Playing the film as a serious action film makes the false realism all the more funny.
Fun fact: Benjamin Walker, who plays Lincoln, had a birthday on June 21. May his birthday present be a big weekend for this film.
3. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Focus Features, 1,618 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated R): This film is a darkly comic look at what might happen if we got advance notice that the world is going to end. A funny look at human mortality is one thing, but let’s talk about cinematic mortality. When you are released on the same weekend as two other major releases with a little over half the theater count, your film doesn’t have a long life. Nice knowing you is right.
The film stars Steve Carell as a man whose wife bolts when she hears the news that an asteroid will strike the Earth in three weeks time. Suddenly free, Carell’s character makes it his final quest to find his high school sweetheart. Who he does find is Keira Knightly as a neighbor who helps him on his quest and eventually falls in love with him. Yes, that Keira Knightly.
The premise looks intriguing and it has a great cast (when actors the caliber of Derek Luke and Martin Sheen are at the bottom of the IMDB page, you have a pretty amazing cast). But there has to be some reason why the film was sacrificed to the summer movie gods.