Our resident geek highlights summer treats for the non-outdoorsy
Summer is finally here and at the time of this writing, the Astros are No. 1 in the American League, which puts this year in the running for one of the greatest years in baseball history, which, in turn, puts it in the running for greatest year in recorded history. But when you’re not watching the most ragtag, fun loving team since the 2004 Red Sox, you can keep yourself entertained with these little pieces of pop culture.
Jurassic World — This is the big one. Right behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is this monster just waiting to drain every drop of nostalgia you have left in your brain. John Hammond’s original vision of a park unlike any other has finally been realized but, you guessed it, the dinosaurs get out and run amuck. It’s up to Chris Pratt and a team of trained raptors to save the day. How can you not want to see that? Did you read that sentence? Here’s hoping for a surprise cameo by Jeff Goldblum at the end.
Big Game — When Air Force One is shot down over Finland by rogue terrorists, it’s up to a young Finnish boy to keep the president alive as they make their way through the forest. Oh, by the way, Samuel L. Jackson is playing the president. This is the first big budget release for Jalmari Helander, director of “Rare Exports.” This film is sort of flying under the radar, so if you happen to notice a screening nearby, jump on it. I guarantee it will be the most badass Finnish action movie you’ll see all year.
Ant-Man — If I’m being honest, we, and by we I mean comic book fans, we all thought “Guardians of the Galaxy” wasn’t going to work. Honestly, up until that first trailer I had no idea how they were going to pull it off and they knocked it out of the park. Because of that I have been optimistic about “Ant-Man.” True, he may be a founding Avenger but he’s never been able to hold down his own ongoing series, and even the limited series he’s been in haven’t been that well received. But damn, this looks incredible. Michael Douglas stars as Hank Pym, one of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe. Once, in the comics, Pym built a lab coat with a singularity in the pocket so he could store anything he wanted. For a lab coat! In the film, Pym’s Ant-Man suit that allows the wearer to shrink down to the size of an ant — I know — and also talk to ants through a psychic helmet, is stolen by a business rival. So Pym employs Scott Lang, a career criminal played by Paul Rudd, to steal the suit back. I just can’t wait to see how this all plays out. I know it will be good and I’m betting so many little kids will have Ant-Man costumes this Halloween.
Trainwreck — If you don’t know who Amy Schumer is you probably haven’t been on the Internet in a few weeks. Google her and come back, I’ll wait. … See? Funny right? OK, now imagine her dating Bill Hader in a Judd Apatow-directed movie. Sounds pretty good right? Yeah it does! Schumer plays a woman in her early 30s who still goes out drinking almost every night and can’t figure out what Hader’s character sees in her. Hilarity is bound to ensue.
Southpaw — I’ll go see anything Jake Gyllenhaal stars in. I’ll also go see anything Antoine Fuqua directs. So I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty jazzed about “Southpaw.” Gyllenhaal gained 40 pounds of muscle for this role, transforming himself into quite the intimidating fighter. But just like all the best sports movies, this film looks to be less about fighting and more about why we fight. There’s Oscar buzz already for this one and its high time the Academy recognized how amazing Gyllenhaal is after they snubbed him for “Zodiac” and “Nightcrawler.”
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. — If there were a midway point between the new James Bond movies and the swinging ’60s of the Austin Powers films it would be “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” This remake of the original series stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer and is directed by Guy Ritchie. Honestly, from the trailer I have no idea what the plot is but it does look really sleek and cool in a way that only movies set in the ’60s can look. Oh, and just to get it out of the way, Henry Cavill just looks like Superman. It’s not that “Man of Steel” fixed that in my mind, because let’s face it — it wasn’t good enough to do that. But the man just looks like Superman. I mean did he even have to audition? Did he just walk in and they were like, “Well I guess we’re done here.”?
Straight Outta Compton — This is the movie for everyone that was in high school during the ’90s. This is our “Ray,” our “Sid and Nancy.” Ice Cube’s own son is playing him in a movie about the most important time in his dad’s life. How can you not get hyped about that? Paul Giammatti in a movie about gangsta rap? Yes please! Whatever I have to do to see this movie I will do it. The soundtrack alone is enough to get a normal human being that lived through the ’90s excited.
Secret Wars — This is the big event from Marvel for the summer and if the movies have been piquing your interest, this is where I would start, because apparently, it’s going to “change everything.” Some are fearing a reboot akin to the one DC put out a few years ago, but for the most part it seems like they’ll just be pulling characters from alternate realities and futures and melding them into one cohesive universe. What does that mean for readers? It means a fight to the death between universes. And a lot of cool mini-series. Here’s how weird this is getting, one of the new books is called “Thors.” It’s about all the alternate universe Thors teaming up to bring law and order to this event. There’s also one about all the different Spider-Men teaming up to do science together and stop this whole thing from blowing up in everyone’s face. Oh and there’s also the main series “Secret Wars,” written by Jonathan Hickman who has been setting this whole thing up for years in the pages of Avengers and Fantastic Four.
Well, I’m off to spend hours and hours listening to the Astros win baseball games on the radio. I have a date with a huge glass of ice tea and a nice sunny patio. I suggest you do the same. And when it gets too hot, pop into a theater or a comic shop and see what kind of stories you find.
Commentary by Jeff Dixon
(Jeff Dixon loves movies and comic books in a way that often terrifies him. You can follow his insane ramblings on Twitter @ThatJeffDixon)