Debating summer’s most anticipated summer movies: Do we really need another Jason Bourne?
The calendar may say spring, but to Hollywood, summer is in the air, which means lots of comic book movies and sequels, raunchy comedies and family fare (no bears mauling Leo, thank you). We asked some fans of these genres, Times film editor Marc Bernardin and Hero Complex editor Meredith Woerner, to chat about their hopes and fears for the long summer movie season ahead.
What movie are you most looking forward to this summer?
Marc Bernardin: Honestly, and I’m not even sure entirely why, but “Jason Bourne.” I had a lot of love for the first three films — “The Bourne Legacy” doesn’t exist — but Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass make good movies.
Meredith Woerner: Why does anyone need another Jason Bourne movie?
MB: Why does anyone need anything, Meredith? Life is a dull masquerade.
MW: What’s the plot of this movie? He gets his memory back? And then loses it again. And we’re like, “Oh, no, Jason Bourne’s memories.”
MB: And I can’t help but succumb to the charms of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, who co-star in “Central Intelligence.” I have a soft spot for people who look like they’re having the most fun in the world doing something that seems like it should be the most fun in the world. It’s one of the reasons why that first “Ocean’s Eleven” film is such a hoot — because it looked like the cast was having a blast.
MW: For me, my most anticipated movies for the summer are, in order of adorableness, “Captain America: Civil War,” “Me Before You” and “Keanu.”
What summer movie makes you the most nervous?
MW: I know you think I’m going to say “Suicide Squad” after we found out that Jared Leto sent condoms to the cast, but no, it’s actually “Pete’s Dragon.” Have you seen the original? There is an entire song about child abuse in it. The creepy Gogan family, which has somehow enslaved Pete, sing “Gonna snag him, gag him, drag him through town” after he escapes. There’s no singing in the new movie, so that means no Gogans, but it also means no “Candle on the Water” or “Every Little Piece.”
MB: I can’t work up any enthusiasm about “Pete’s Dragon.” “The Hobbit” movies sapped all dragon mojo out of me.
MW: I’m deeply invested, instead of it being an orphaned boy who was adopted by a gang of abusive adults, Pete is a feral child Robert Redford discovers and — wait for it — he was raised by a dragon. Who is this movie even for?
MB: I love that “Pete’s Dragon” and “Sausage Party” are opening on the same day.
MW: I can’t talk about “Sausage Party” without breaking out into hives. The whole concept is so morbid. The “Saving Private Ryan” reference in the trailer was dark.
MB: I am concerned about “Independence Day: Resurgence.” Will Smith was the thing that buoyed that the first “Independence Day” from just being exploitative sci-fi pap. And without him, why make another movie? Because of that huge Judd Hirsch lobby? It was the first time we ever saw that kind of thing on that scale. “Independence Day” is a thing that doesn’t need a sequel. Catching lightning in a bottle like that is almost impossible to do twice. Especially without the lightning rod that is Will Smith.
MW: And there’s is no way Bill Pullman will top his original speech. Pullman’s “ID4” speech is so patriotic it was recently used in a Bud Light commercial. When we all die and the next city is built upon our bones, one day our future race will discover the original “Independence Day” and say, “Truly, President Thomas J. Whitmore was a great leader.”
MB: I know we’re talking about a Hollywood that is positively infatuated with sequels and prequels and reboots and whatever, but sometimes a story is best as a single, discrete thing. Not everything needs a universe. Not everything needs to be Avengerized. That said, I never really wanted a sequel to “Finding Nemo,” and now we’re getting “Finding Dory,” and word out of CinemaCon is that Pixar has found a way to break my heart all over again.
MW: Pixar doing what Pixar does best, captivating the youths and reducing the olds to sobbing babies. Speaking of the “Avengers” (smooth segue), where do you stand on “Civil War?” It’s the kind of movie you badger your friends into seeing so you can talk about it over beers. You just need to see it to believe it.
It’s the kind of movie you badger your friends into seeing so you can talk about it over beers. You just need to see it to believe it.
— Meredith Woerner
MB: It’s also the kind of thing that seems obvious on the surface. Like, of course, this is how you’re supposed to make a superhero movie. This is what it looks like when all the pieces click into place.
MW: But are we reaching peak superhero exhaustion, “Civil War’s” quality not withstanding?
MB: Ironically, it doesn’t feel like there are so many. Without a Marvel movie to cap the summer in August — the “Guardians of the Galaxy” / “Ant Man” slot — it feels a little light. And then I realize we’re getting “X-Men Apocalypse,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2” and “Suicide Squad.” That’s how much Marvel has dominated the space until recently. But summer movies are all about familiar pleasures.
MB: Do you think we’ll ever get to the point where someone decides — and have it stick — that, “We’re done making movies in this series?” Are we now in a world where nothing can come to an end? And if nothing can end, why should we care?
MW: Goodness, no! Despite saying he’s through, Hugh Jackman will still be making Wolverine movies until the actual apocalypse. Look, I just need to see Jennifer Lawrence from the “X-Men” movie turning into other people, and I’ll be mostly content with the whole thing.
Where have all the romcoms gone?
MW: Does this summer have a single romantic comedy in it?
MB: It used to be that you could count on a Nancy Meyers movie to get slotted in there and make $200 million. Now, nothing, except maybe Seth Rogen taking his shirt off in “Neighbors 2.”
MW: It feels like romcoms have been replaced with a couple of “women behaving badly” comedies. I’m very interested in this as long as it’s not bad, because they’re women but bad because they are interesting and flawed characters. “Absolutely Fabulous,” “Bad Moms” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” which I’m hoping has more Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza than Mike and Dave. Fingers crossed for female-dominated funny.
MB: Or, in Paul Feig’s hands, the women form friendships despite insane-o circumstances. Like weddings, international espionage or ghosts.
MW: Yes, “Ghostbusters.” I want this movie to be good.
MB: I really, really want it to be good too. I never actually root for anything to be bad. But ... but that first trailer had all the life of really good paint. Trailers are sales tools. As such, they’re not actually indicative of a movie’s quality. But if they thought that’s the best they had to lead with ... what does that say about what they think is working in the movie?
MW: To that I’ll say this. Kate McKinnon. Kate McKinnon. Kate McKinnon. Kate McKinnon. That moment when she licks the proton pack? That is what I want, the whole movie. Truly, I can part with the traditional romcom for more brash and bold female-lead storytelling that also makes me laugh.
Movies no one is talking about, why?
MB: Is it as odd to you as it is to me that we’re entering a summer that has Steven Spielberg directing a fantasy film and no one is really talking about it?
MW: I’m talking about it, but read Roald Dahl’s books printed on paper. Paper, I tell you!
MB: Shouldn’t we be shouting from the rafters about “The BFG”? Or are we for the first time living in a world where [Steven Spielberg’s] name doesn’t mean what it used to? Unless it’s “Steven Spielberg is making Indiana Jones 5.”
Shouldn’t we be shouting from the rafters about ‘The BFG’? Or are we for the first time living in a world where [Steven Spielberg’s] name doesn’t mean what it used to?
— Marc Bernardin
MW: The bits we’ve seen look really charming. It’s that whole “kid under a blanket with glasses thing” we love.
MW: Where do you fall on “Star Trek Beyond”?
MB: Listen, I am a “Star Trek” fan. I want to love a “Star Trek” movie. But from what I’ve seen, this feels the least like a “Star Trek” movie than the other two movies, which also weren’t “Star Trek” movies. They were “Star Wars” movies in disguise. And I question the wisdom of any filmmaker who covers Idris Elba’s face in makeup.
MW: They have to kill someone this movie — and a death that’ll stick, unlike everyone else who has magic blood and can’t die. Who do you think it’ll be?
MB: Chekov. The most inoffensively disposable member of the crew. Sorry, Pavel. Been nice knowing you.
MW: Dang. See ya, Chekov. As long as it’s not Bones.
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