What can knock Snow White and the Huntsman and Men in Black III from their blockbustery perches? Perhaps a tale about the quest for the origins of our existence. The kids are also sure to flock to the latest installment in the we’re-not-Pixar-but-we’re-trying movie studio franchise. If you’re looking for something filled with quirky, mordant, eerie people — or if you are one — check out Todd Solondz new film, or drink a fifth of bourbon, pop a quaalude and see Jane Fonda’s newest film about family and hippies.
Prometheus: In what appears to be the prequel to Alien, and hopefully the movie that will cleanse our memories of those terrible Predator / Alien mashups, Prometheus gives us a team of explorers searching for the origins of mankind on Earth. As with most quests, this one has harrowing consequences when it leads our brood to the deepest reaches of the universe. The images here are dark and ominous, harkening back to the original Alien. One concern here might be the possible overabundance of special effects, but, in general director Ridley Scott has handled this quite well in the past – most notably in Gladiator. While it might not surpass Alien or Cameron’s Aliens, it should kick off the non-animated / non-Will Smith season of summer blockbusters.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted: I’ve yet to see either of the first two installments to this franchise. Perhaps it’s because I’m disturbed by the fact that African American comics like Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy are destined to be cast as annoying equines in animated films in a bit of meta-typecasting. I suppose it’s more so that the premise never appealed to me. While I’m sure there’s cuteness here for the kiddies, I’m not sure if I like the numerous connections being made to Toy Story 3 in the advertisements. There’s something a bit disturbing when a film tries to build off of the success and genius of another studio’s production, something that often portends cheesiness and cliché.
Dark Horse: As the title suggests, we’re looking at a couple of outsiders here. Both are in their thirties and have their quirks: one is an avid toy collector; the other still lives at home. Normally this isn’t the type of film I would see or recommend on the grounds that eccentric characters finding love is about just as interesting as workaholic, self-important people finding love, but Dark Horse is directed by Todd Solondz, writer / director of Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Storytelling, and Palindromes. These are not cult classics, but each one is a well-told, well-directed satirical story of quirks and hang ups – disturbing and otherwise. Most likely, Dark Horse will not the be best date film – despite the subject matter – but it could be a solid film to remind you of human imperfection.
Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding: Stop reading if you’re heard this one: an uptight character needs to get away from it all and absconds to a more rural, relaxed utopic environment. Pot smoking, nudity, and some variation of free love ensue. Relationships are mended; understanding is fostered; the people rejoice. The one bright spot here might be Elizabeth Olsen, but probably not nearly elucidating enough to blind us to the inevitable predictability.