As the 2012 summer blockbuster season kicks in, the old saying about warm-weather movies being mainly remakes, retreads, reboots and reruns is true as ever.
But hold up a second, because that big blast you heard isn’t just “The Avengers” breaking records — it may be a new way of looking at old ideas.
No, we’re not about to see a movie of Hasbro’s Operation game done as a black-and-white meditation on mortality directed by Terrence Malick. (Although that might be cool…) Still, this summer nonetheless has the potential for some novelty within the familiar.
We can start with “The Avengers.” As it cruised past the biggest opening weekend in history — $200 million; take that, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2”! — critics and audiences marveled at, among other things, the wry pleasures of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and the seamlessness with which Marvel Studios combined four superhero franchises.
Yet there’s also an of-the-moment pop-cultural snap director Joss Whedon brings to the movie’s dialogue-driven moments. Instead of simply being weak stitching between the action beats, one joy of “The Avengers” is in how its characters connect. It’s a revelation in the genre, and you can hear Hollywood treat it like a revelation: “Oh, it’s not just about costumes and ka-bangs!”
There are, of course, still plenty of those, and will be more when “The Amazing Spider-Man” swings into town and “The Dark Knight Rises” bows. Those each look to do something new as well: Spidey will attempt a tonal reboot from the Tobey Maguire trilogy (more fun, less fretting), and the latest Batman drama is dancing around its main character’s retirement and/or death. Either way, they’re all a long way from last year’s “Green Lantern.”
The summer may be lousy with aliens, too, but the biggest may make a return in “Prometheus.” The artfully choreographed trailer rollout for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi spectacle has now produced a sneak peek at what seems to be the multijawed fiends first seen in Scott’s “Alien,” back in 1979.
“Prometheus” may be a prequel that redefines how that term is used — its story looks to expand on and explore the universe of the previous “Alien” movies.
Meanwhile, “Snow White and the Huntsman” may not only rewrite the classic fairy tale, but also the bad aftertaste from the recent, dreadful “Mirror Mirror.” “Total Recall” seems bent on getting right what the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger flick got wrong.
And “The Bourne Legacy” — despite a “You didn’t know this other story was going on”-feel that recalls “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” — will at least star “Avengers” star Jeremy Renner, proving he can carry an action film without his superfriends.
Everything old certainly is new again — but with a twist.
THE ART OF THE TRAILER
Speaking of “Prometheus” and its advance looks: The movie’s seemingly endless series of trailers and “official” videos hit a saturation point a few weeks ago, but it’s worth noting how wonderfully mapped-out this runup was.
The Web is, after all, where most people check out what’s due at the multiplex, and while they may have missed out on some serious working minutes, they did see, in the case of “Prometheus,” a speech by a character played by Guy Pearce at a meeting of board members that referenced the androids in the film series (Michael Fassbender plays a synthetic human in the new film). As domestic and “red band” — i.e., foreign — trailers teased fans with “are they here or not?” questions regarding the aliens, scenes and extra moments like the Pearce footage added layers to the movie.
“The Dark Knight Rises” has had similarly engrossing trailers, and the release of scenes and big moments got pulses racing for “The Avengers” and have goosed up even “Battleship” interest. For movie fans, the trailer is now a necessary way to keep up with what’s coming up.
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