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article imageSummer Movie Preview: From Depp to Tarantino to Transformers 2

By David Silverberg     Apr 19, 2009 in Entertainment
The summer of 2009 will give movie lovers Transformers 2, the queer-friendly Bruno, a new Tarantino flick, and Johnny Depp going gangster. Read on to learn what hot films will be hitting the cinema starting in June.
Recession? What recession? Hollywood's box office numbers don't lie -- moviegoers boosted worldwide grosses to a record $28.1 billion in 2008, up 5.2 percent from the previous year. And the domestic box office tally for the first 10 weeks of 2009 is ahead of last year's sales by an impressive 11 percent.
People want to escape into a fantasy world when the economy only spells gloomy doom. We've seen how mall cops, Hannah Montana and everyday superheroes can reel in attention. Even Friday the 13th topped the box office charts one weekend.
The upcoming summer movie season should give moviegoers that same variety, dishing out familiar comic-book heroes and TV shows going big screen. Then there's the lesser known productions that could get those conversations a-buzz at water coolers. presents a selection of upcoming films and our prediction on how they'll be received:
Away We Go
Releasing June 19, 2009
It's a road trip movie with a twist: a young couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) are expecting their first child but are unsure where to start a family. So they travel across the U.S. to find the perfect home for their baby. Directed by Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, Jarhead), the film is also gaining buzz for its writing team -- renown author Dave Eggers and wife Vendela Vida. Eggers ie credited with penning one of the most head-turning novels of the decade, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Prediction: In a season hungry for romantic comedies devoid of melodrama, Away We Go is poised to become a sleeper hit. And don't underestimate the writing prowess of Eggers and Vida. We predict a screenplay award for the duo, but perhaps not on the Oscars stage.
See the trailer here.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
Releasing June 24
Director Michael Bay and Paramount must have been salivating when Transformers kicked butt at the box office last year. Bay and company are back at it again with Transformers 2, this time ushering in Optimus Prime (!) for another epic battle against the evil robot-vehicles. Early clips of the film show the same CGI goodness, which can either excite or upset hardcore Transformers fans, depending on their allegiance.
Prediction: It'll rule its first weekend, but don't expect the sequel to have the lasting power of the original. Sure, a boosted budget of $200 million will give more screen time to Autobots and Decepticons. If a tired storyline and Shia Lebouf's stunned expressions begin to grate on people's nerves, Transformers 2 will only be a momentary sensation.
A decepticon in Transformers 2
A decepticon in Transformers 2
Courtesy Paramount
See the trailer here.
Public Enemies
Releasing July 3
In his first film since playing maniacal barber Sweeney Todd, Hollywood star Johnny Depp returns in a gangster film that should get Sopranos lovers clamouring for tickets. Depp plays John Dillinger, Christian Bale plays FBI agent Melvin Purvis and Billy Crudup is J. Edgar Hoover in a gritty flick helmed by Michael Mann. This 1930s-era film pits the American gangsters against law enforcement, so expect lots of shooting, fedoras and wiseguy insults.
Prediction: Depp will boost the film's profile but Public Enemies will only attract the diehards, the Scorcese and Sopranos fans. Not a good date movie, but perfect for a guy's night out. Don't expect any widespread critical acclaim. Instead, expect a decent time-travel pic to an era where John Dillinger ruled the crime wave of the '30s.
See the trailer here.
Releasing July 10
The character Bruno and his  adopted  child
Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen
Courtesy Universal Pictures
If you thought Borat was racy, then Sacha Baron Cohen's latest faux-documentary will mess you up. Brüno follows Cohen's flamboyantly gay character Bruno as he travels across the world spreading fashion sense and queer culture. He shocks mall security wearing a "slave" to his chest, and upsets Orthodox Jews sporting an unbuttoned vest and black hat. Bruno's interview subjects are easily duped -- Cohen has set up at least 25 front companies to conduct his interviews, according to The Smoking Gun.
Prediction: Borat was big but Brüno will be bigger. It won't just win at the box office for weeks, but also top all films with word-of-mouth buzz. Bruno touches on timelier issues compared to Borat's grossfest; look at how Prop 8 and queer rights continue to be hot-button topics across the world. Brüno might trivialize some of that serious discussion but it also might lighten the mood. Either way, expect the people who just don't get it to protest loudly.
See the trailer here
The Cove
Releasing July 31
Heralded as one of the most anticipated documentaries of 2009, The Cove targets the abusers who are torturing and killing dolphins off the coast of Japan. The activist-filmmakers uses state-of-the-art equipment to provide powerful images of the underwater creatures. It's like Sharkwater but for dolphin fans.
Prediction: It won the Audience Award at Sundance, so The Cove's already enjoying some momentum. It will also reach audiences early at this year's Hot Docs Festival in Toronto. It has potential to be nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars, but it's hard to figure out if the doc will be as balanced as it hopes to be. Do the Japanese subjects get their fair say? If they filmed certain areas illegally, can the filmmakers still retain their credibility?
See the trailer here.
Funny People
Releasing July 31
What's that, another Judd Apatow movie? Starring Seth Rogen? Not a huge jaw-dropper, sure, but this time Rogen is paired with Adam Sandler in a comedy that borders on the tender side. Sandler plays a comedian who found out he has a terminal illness and he takes a young protege (Rogen) under his wing. Jonah Hill, Eric Bana, Leslie Mann and Sara Silverman also co-star.
The cast of Funny People
Leslie Mann, Adam Sandler and Eric Bana star in the Judd Apatow comedy Funny People
Courtesy Universal Pictures
Prediction: Apatow knows how to pack theatres (remember Anchorman?) and Rogen isn't saturating our eyeballs too much. Yet. By July, we could be all Rogen-ed out, and that could hurt this film's chances. But judging by the trailer, Sander doesn't get all Billy Madison and instead portrays a more thoughtful character, a la Punch-Drunk Love. If Funny People hits all the right notes, it could be the comedic hit the summer needs.
See trailer here.
Inglourious Basterds
Releasing Aug. 21
Quentin Tarantino is returning with an intriguing mish-mash of a film: he brings his trademark ultra-violence to a story of special squad of Nazi killers. This squad, called "the Basterds", not only kill members of the Third Reich but scalps them with voracious glee. It stars Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson and The Office's B.J. Novak.
Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds
Brad Pitt stars in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film Inglourious Basterds, about an army squad of Nazi killers
Courtesy the Weinstein Company
Prediction: "We will be cruel to the Germans and through our cruelty they will know who we are." This line sums up the movie's plot, but you can expect some romantic intrigue too. Tarantino followers will clamour to this film on opening night, and Pitt's star wattage should draw the ladies who don't mind some blood splatters. Thing is, can Inglourious live up to the hype? Can it recapture Tarantino's glory days of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs? We doubt it, but it should be an amusing ride through a Nazi slaughterhouse.
See trailer here.
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