Summer Blockbusters – Where have all the big hitters gone?

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Summer is typically grounded in people’s minds for, more often than not, two things – holidays and blockbuster films.  This year, not coming to a cinema near you, is an odd mix of both- blockbusters have apparently taken a well needed break.

Looking at this summer’s line up, a lot of films are action based, have fast, angry trailers and focus on groups known as “The Insert-Generic-Mean-Plural-Noun-Here”.  We’ve got The A-Team, The Expendables, and The Losers to start with, and then later The American.

The season has already begun – Robin Hood and Iron Man 2 are already out, but nothing has been given, from what I’ve seen, the airtime on the telly or adequately excellent trailers to spring into a superficial blockbuster-dom.  The majority quite frankly inspire nothing more than a momentarily raised eyebrow and a “that looks… alright.”

Meanwhile, the studios are sitting on pre-shot, pre-edited and pre-wrapped titles that are sure to pull in masses, and they’re giving very silly reasons for doing so.  Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 has been shot and finished for almost a year now, but it’s tipped for November release because presumably last summer, last Christmas and this summer would have seen it competing with other, lesser Warner Bros. titles that need all the attention possible.

It’s almost enough to make me weep and rock back and forth in a corner, reading through the releases due this year.  June’s going to give us kids’ films about talking dogs (Marmaduke), the re-make of The Karate Kid, the bloody teen-angst and moping of the next Twilight monstrosity and Russell Brand and the fat guy from Superbad in the loosely-termed comedy Get Him to The Greek.  As if they’re presence isn’t enough, the few genuinely interesting films are buried by the Hollywood mediocrity, seen as too genred (Splice, Jonah Hex), too kiddy (just how much publicity have you seen for Toy Story 3?) or too many comedians killing the comedy (Grown Ups).

July suffers Tom Cruise in “not-another-comedy-turn-as-Action-Man” (see Mission Impossible 3) which is also known as Knight and Day, although it is actually billed as a comedy this time.  Topping the “let-the-bloody-franchise-die” list is Predators, where the overused alien killers are killing some new people, followed closely in the same list by Little Fockers.  Does De Niro need money that badly?  Family films are buried again and even Angelina Jolies’ pout/ breasts can’t help the thriller Salt get some anticipation.

August sees wannabe-Gladiator film Eagle of the Ninth charge its phalanx into our brains, some has-been called Bow Wow in the abysmal looking Lottery Ticket, Stallone’s geriatric GIs in taking on one last job (for god’s sake, hasn’t this been done to death yet?) and 3-D scraping the barrel with Piranha 3-D and Step Up 3-D.  It’s as yet undecided which will terrify you more, or which is supposed to.

Thriller’s are also August’s colour with The American starring George Clooney and The Town starring Ben Affleck hoping to repeat the success of Syriana and to better Paycheck respectively.  Again, though, they’ll pass most people by.

There’s no doubt a lot of these films will be entertaining; seeing an increasingly plastic-looking Stallone and an increasingly crisp Woody will be about two hours of utterly unmemorable fun.  The problem is nothing stands out.  Where is this year’s Avatar?  This year’s Angels and Demons?  This year’s Transformers?

Maybe they’re having a lull in blockbuster ideas at Hollywood HQ.  Maybe they just can’t be bothered promoting films they’ve begun to realise are utter dross.  Either way, one thing is clear- if the nature of this year’s clone-athon of films is anything to go by (three “one-last-jobs”, three “wannabe-Gladiators”, only one of which stars Gladiator, and a plethora of “family comedies” relying on puerile snickering), maybe a little holiday for the blockbuster is in order after all.

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