The JoBlo.com Summer Movie Preview!!
Can you believe the summer movie season is here already? IRON MAN 2 hits theaters this Friday officially kicking off the summer movie season and that's just the beginning. There are a ton of movies to look forward to this year so I put together a list of the movies I'm looking forward to the most as well as a guide to how to prepare for them. A few things you can watch, read or play that'll help you get ready for some of this summer's biggest films. This is by no means a comprehensive guide to every movie released this summer (check out a full schedule of releases here) but just a guide to get you started and excited for the best of the best. Enjoy!
IRON MAN 2
MUSIC: AC/DC, "Back in Black" - This classic hard rock album came out in 1980 but thirty years later its songs will be heard in one of this summer's biggest films. "Shoot to Thrill" is the unofficial theme song of the film while the title track was used heavily in the original film's trailer. Also of interest may be "Have a Drink on Me" as we begin to see Tony Stark's descent into alcoholism.
COMIC: "Iron Man: Armor Wars" - IRON MAN 2 doesn't cull its plot from one specific series in "Iron Man" lore but rather a bunch of storylines all pulled together. A good way to get started though is to read the 7-issue miniseries "Armor Wars" that features an relevant plot about Justin Hammer (played in the film by Sam Rockwell) conspiring to steal the Iron Man armor. He also tangles with Crimson Dynamo who, while technically not in the movie, was part of the inspiration for Mickey Rourke's Whiplash.
TV: "Samurai Jack" - The series created by Genndy Tartakovsky may have gone off Cartoon Network's airwaves in 2004 but its style was instrumental in the development of IRON MAN 2. Favreau brought in Tartakovsky during pre-production on the sequel to assist with the storyboarding and found it brought a fresh, animation-style take to the action sequences. Favreau said they were both influenced by the same filmmakers and working together on IRON MAN 2 "opened a whole new world of possibilities."
TELEVISION: "MacGruber: Father and Son" - Obviously you should have seen some of the "MacGruber" skits from SNL before seeing the movie. Grubes himself, Will Forte, told me that the recent the Shia LaBeouf sketch was one of his favorites and proof that the character could maintain an actual plot besides the usual gimmick.
MOVIES: COBRA - While MACGRUBER director Jorma Taccone is loathe to call his movie a parody, it does pay homage to a number of classic 80s action films. Like MacGruber, Cobra is a sunglassed cop, protecting a woman, disregarding the usual procedures and fighting against an unspeakable evil.
PRINCE OF PERSIA
VIDEO GAMES: "Sands of Time" and "Warrior Within" - While the film takes its name from "Sands of Time," it's also takes some plot elements (including Dastan's costume) from the latter.
BOOKS: "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton - Director Mike Newell has said Hilton's 1933 novel was an inspiration for his cinematic vision of the film. That story, which introduced us to the fantastical world of Shangri-La, served as the basis for the romantic, science-fictiony adventure themes of PERSIA. (You can actually read the book online via Google.)
GET HIM TO THE GREEK
MOVIES: FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL - While Jonah Hill isn't reprising his character from SARAH MARSHALL, Russell Brand is back as British singer Aldous Snow. He stole enough of the show for Judd Apatow to request a spinoff and GET HIM TO THE GREEK is that movie. There's plenty else to love in this film ("If life gives you lemons, fuck the lemons and bail") and it'll sure enough get you in the right mood.
MUSIC: Infant Sorrow, "Bangers, Beans & Mash" - If you're going to watch a movie about a fictional band, you should at least be familiar with some of their music. "Bangers" is a new song written for GREEK by Brand and his FSM co-star Jason Segel. Like any good Aldous Snow song, it's catchy and doesn't make a lick of sense. (Listen here)
BOOKS: "My Booky Wook" by Russell Brand - Brand told us that "there are direct references to my own life" in GET HIM TO THE GREEK including his experiences as a heroin addict and various sexcapades. Brand's 2007 memoir details his turbulent rise to fame, which should prepare you for Aldous Snow, who's found fame but is still living a rather turbulent life.
TOY STORY 3
MOVIES: TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2 on Blu-ray - I include these discs less for the movies themselves (although they are beautifully transferred in the new BD presentation) and more for the supplemental features that will get you into all the work that goes into making the TOY STORY movies. When you see how much love and care goes into making a Pixar movie, you'll appreciate TOY STORY 3 even more.
BOOKS: "To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios" - More than just an "artbook" of production art for a particular movie (though there is plenty of that), this Pixar approved, 320-page book chronicles the rise of one of the most successful film studios. It includes forewards from Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter and former Pixar CEO Steve Jobs.
MOVIES: THE SHINING - What could an R-rated horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick possibly have to do with the family-friendly 3D adventure TOY STORY 3? Director Lee Unkrich. Unkrich, who directed TOY STORY 3 has said on numerous occasions that THE SHINING is his favorite film. He recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that he first saw the film at age 12 and that it was a "turning point" and after that "started to become fascinated with making movies." You'll probably won't find very few SHINING references in TOY STORY 3, though they do exist in traditional Pixar easter egg fashion. Keep your eyes peeled!
MOVIES: KONTROLL - This 2004 Hungarian film was the first for director Nimrod Antal who went on to bigger and better things in Hollywood, culminating with PREDATORS, the Robert Rodriguez produced revamp. You can watch the film for free online at Netflix and get an idea for what Antal will bring to the franchise.
BOOKS: "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell - The story of humans becoming the prey to a new predator is not exactly a new plot. It was most famously told by Richard Connell in the 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game." It tells the story of a big-game hunter who falls off his yacht and washes up on an island where he's hunted by a mad Russian. The plot has been adapted numerous times into movies but never before with a pack of alien predators and their Predator Hound.
BOOKS: "The Architecture of the Mind" by Peter Carruthers - You may recognize the title of this book as one of the ways that director Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. described INCEPTION in its earliest stages ("an action-thriller set within the architecture of the mind"). Carruthers book deals with the so-called "massive modularity" of the human brain (our brains are made up of separate modules that are responsible for specializing in specific tasks). Even star Leonardo DiCaprio said he wasn't sure what INCEPTION is all about but this book can put you on the first step to understanding for yourself.
MOVIES: DARK CITY - Nolan told the LA Times recently that he's had a script for INCEPTION for the past seven or eight years and that it "very much pulled" from a certain group of movies in the late-90s including this 1998 Alex Proyas film.
ART: M.C. Escher - Escher is perhaps best known as the mind-bending artists whose works line the walls of many a dorm room. His visually complex art played with perspective and impossibilities, reflecting perhaps a dream like world. Not unlike a world where Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fighting in a spinning room or where cities are folding onto themselves.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
BOOKS: "Scott Pilgrim" Volumes 1-5 - This may be a fairly obvious addition but I'm surprised at how many people are excited to see this movie and a) have not read the books or b) didn't even know it was based on a comic series. While the sixth installment, "Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour," isn't set for release until July 20th, the previous five installments are currently available. Edgar Wright said, "When I make a film...I like to cram it with as much detail as possible," so you'll want to be able to catch all the references and nods to the book.
MUSIC: Big Star, "Radio City" - SCOTT PILGRIM creator Bryan Lee O'Malley said on Twitter that without Big Star there would be no "Scott Pilgrim." "Radio City" was on Rolling Stone's list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time and includes arguably two of their most famous songs, "Thirteen" and "September Gurls."
VIDEO GAMES: Super Mario Bros. 3 - SCOTT PILGRIM is so loaded with video game influence, it's hard to pick just one. You'd do right with "Street Fighter" or "Dance Dance Revolution" but I wanted something decidedly 8-bit for my top choice. You'll notice multiple Super Mario nods in the film (including the band name Sex Bob-omb and the coins Scott receives after a battle) so this is a good place to start (though I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to hit up some "Legend of Zelda" while you were at it).