Summer at the Movies: What to see and what to flee

The Dark Knight Rises – July 20

Why you should see it:

Christopher Nolan undeniably knows how to make a movie. He has proven that time and time again. It features a good mix of rising stars and skilled professionals. Everyone involved in this project seems to know what they’re doing.

It’s also based on one of the better story arcs in the comics, “Knightfall.”

While the first film in the franchise “Batman Begins” struggled at times, “The Dark Knight” was absolutely great and set the standard for superhero movies. There’s really no reason to not be excited for this movie.

Why you should flee it:

Okay, there may be a few reasons. Bane has been a famously tricky villain for filmmakers, and his last appearance was in the awful Joel Schumacher “Batman and Robin” movie. He’s one of those villains that works much better in print than on the big screen.

We also don’t really know what a Nolan-directed Batman movie will look like without Heath Ledger. “Batman Begins” isn’t exactly a fair comparison, as it was an origin story, which is incredibly hard to do well. Ledger’s performance is a big part of what made “The Dark Knight” so memorable. It could very well be that without Ledger, “The Dark Knight Rises” will be similar to “Batman Begins,” which while still a good movie, really wasn’t particularly exceptional.

The Watch – July 27

Why you should see it:

It’s written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This is the same duo that wrote “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Pineapple Express.” They clearly understand comedy and have a knack for writing it.

Its director, Akiva Schaffer, is a bit of a wild card. He’s somewhat well known for his work with The Lonely Island, a sketch comedy group, and for directing their first film “Hot Rod.” While “Hot Rod” did end up being a bit of a mess, it was still a funny mess, and some of its best moments came from Schaffer’s directing. Schaffer also has a very unique, and at times dark, sense of humor which could help make this film something more than a forgettable summer comedy.

It’s also encouraging to see Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade working on this film. Rogen and Goldberg have written for Hill before and have demonstrated great skill in working with his style of comic delivery. As for Ayoade, his performance as Maurice Moss on the British comedy, “The IT Crowd,” makes him someone to keep an eye on. It will be interesting how he works with a more American style of humor.

Why you should flee it:

There seems to be very little passion behind this movie. It originates from an idea from a studio executive and has been reworked from a PG-13 film for teens to a hard, R-rated film. Films work best if the people involved in their creation are truly passionate about what they’re doing. “The Watch” feels like at its heart it’s nothing more than a soulless cash grab.

It also stars Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Both of these men have lost much of their appeal. Everyone knows their delivery, their style, their comedic sensibilities, and their novelty has entirely worn off. There’s also the problem of experience. Director Akiva Schaffer is far less experienced than Stiller or Vaughn, which has the potential to cause a lack of respect from them. Actors that don’t respect their director are unlikely to churn out anything more than uninspired performances.

Total Recall – August 3

Why you should see it:

Well, Bryan Cranston is in it, which could be interesting to watch.

Why you should flee it:

Everything else about this movie screams disaster. It has a horribly inflated budget; its writer and director are hardly worth mentioning; and, it is a remake of a genuinely entertaining movie.

Its trailer has some truly awful special-effects shots that are quite distracting and seem almost lazy.

It’s being directed by Len Wiseman, responsible for the godawful “Underworld” franchise and the profoundly disappointing “Live Free or Die Hard.” The original “Total Recall” combined satire with cyberpunk to portray a bizarre and entrancing future.

Paul Verhoeven gave the film a very unique feel, one that is sorely lacking in this remake, which looks like nothing more than an attempt to cash in on the recent spy-action trend started by the “Bourne” franchise.

Its lead writer Kurt Wimmer wrote “Salt,” the generic thriller that excited no one.

This movie has almost no chance of being more than a forgettable thriller, which is sad, given its source material.

The Bourne Legacy – August 10

Why you should see it:

This is definitely a movie to look forward to. It is being written and directed by Tony Gilroy, the writer of the first three “Bourne” films and critically-acclaimed director of “Michael Clayton,” which also deals heavily with themes of intrigue and corruption. It’s safe to say Tony Gilroy knows what he’s doing.

Its star, Jeremy Renner, has some experience in the genre with “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and is a notable up-and-coming star. He seems the perfect choice to fill the boots of the lead role in the “Bourne” franchise.

Why you should flee it:

This isn’t a movie that people particularly wanted to make. It is the result of director Paul Greengrass leaving the franchise alongside Matt Damon. It could mark something of a tonal shift for the series, as Greengrass’ style was always a big part of the appeal of the “Bourne” films. Although some found Greengrass’ abuse of shaky cam to be nausea-inducing, many fans love his visual style and may find this new installment lacking its director’s touch.

It is also the fourth movie in a franchise. History suggests it will run out of steam. After all, how many “Bourne” films do we really need?

The Campaign – August 10

Why you should see it:

“The Campaign” could very well turn out to be quite a good movie. It has a solid team behind it, especially its director Jay Roach, who directed “Meet the Parents” and the Austin Powers trilogy.

This certainly solidifies his comedy credentials, but he also directed the Emmy Award-winning “Recount” which tells the story of the United States Presidential Election of 2000. This combination of experience with comedy and politics makes him an obvious choice to direct.

Its writers are also experienced; Chris Henchy wrote for “The Other Guys” which was a wonderful deconstruction of the buddy-cop genre rivaled only by the recent “21 Jump Street” remake, and both Henchy and the other writer for “The Campaign” Shawn Harwell worked on “Eastbound and Down.” “Eastbound and Down” is a truly hysterical HBO comedy, notably well written and with a wonderfully unique and dark style.

Of course the two leads, comedians Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell, are both skilled in their own regard. Ferrell plays an arrogant and aggressive incumbent congressman, vying with new rival Galifianakis, whose character is sensitive and naive. Both actors are a good fit for their characters, and it will be interesting to see their on-screen dynamic play out.

Why you should flee it:

While Jay Roach is a great choice for the film, its writers may not be. Chris Henchy also worked on the critically-panned “Land of the Lost,” and much of the success of “The Other Guys” was attributed to the work done by lead writer and director Adam McKay, who worked with Ferrell before on films like “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights.”

The trailer is also disheartening. The characters feel surprisingly shallow and clichéd considering the actors portraying them and most of the gags shown aren’t terribly interesting or unique.

The Expendables 2 – August 17

Why you should see it:

“The Expendables 2” looks like it’s going to be exactly what you would expect it to be: no plot; no character development; just lots of manly men with big guns blowing things up.

Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis drive around in a mini cooper with an automatic shotgun. What’s not to love?

Why you should flee it:

“The Expendables 2” looks like it’s going to be exactly what you would expect it to be: no plot; no character development; just lots of manly men with big guns blowing things up.

Really, people who know they will enjoy this movie already know they’re going to see it, everyone else knows they won’t see it.