Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 Summer Movie Roundup

Well, as most of you have probably heard, this weekend launches the first of many summer genre films. There are a lot of them hitting the screen this year, and I thought it would be helpful (to myself, if nothing else) to get 'em all listed in one place.

May 6: Thor. The film adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero (and that is an important distinction; it is *not* a film about the figure from Norse mythology, except in a form several times removed from the original source material). It looks neato-torpedo, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin is a great choice.

May 20: Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. They're still making these? Apparently so, and I'm sure Johnny Depp will be the high point as usual (and perhaps the only one).

June 6: X-Men. First Class: I really liked the first X-Men movie, but they declined severely after that one. I've not heard much about this, other than it's a prequel to the original, and it's of course another Marvel title. I'll probably give it a miss unless there's a lot of good buzz.

June 17: Green Lantern. I was never a big fan of DC Comic's Green Lantern until I saw the animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. I like what I've seen about this film so far, and I'm very much looking forward to it. Plus the studio just plunked down an additional $9 million for more special effects. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

June 24: Cars 2. I am pretty much committed to seeing anything from Pixar these days, since I've got a 10 year old. But the original Cars was quite excellent, and the trailer for Cars 2 looks entertaining. I just hope it doesn't turn into a 90 minute version of the Tow-mater shorts they show on Disney.

July 1: Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I am a HUGE fan of the original Transformers animated series, and the first (animated) film. I saw the first (live action/CGI) movie, and it was... okay. Maybe I'm just getting old, but it was too fast, too loud, and I had trouble telling one robot from another, especially when they were fighting. I didn't see the last movie, and I probably won't see this one, either.

July 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. I've never read any of the HP books. I liked the first movie when it came out, but left in the middle of the second one. However, my wife convinced me to give the films another look-see, and since we have them all on DVD (10 year old, remember?), I watched them all, and while I don't love them, I don't hate them. Some parts I actually enjoy quite a bit. I'll probably end up seeing this one way or the other, so why not in a theater?

July 22: Captain America, the First Avenger. This just looks awesome. Three Marvel Comics movies in one summer? Bring it on. And Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull? Awww yeah. They are certainly lining up that Avengers movie to be something spectacular; Captain America, Thor, Iron Man...

July 29: Cowboys and Aliens. I'm not sure this will really qualify as a "blockbuster", but I saw the trailer earlier this year (in front of "The Last Airbender", maybe?) and it looked great.

August 5: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I am conflicted about this. On the one hand, I am a tremendous fan of the original Apes films and television show. On the other hand, the remake of "Planet of the Apes" was first-class crap, and I am greatly afeared for this remake of "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes". But the trailer looks good, so I might put this into the "cautiously hopeful" category.

August 19: Conan the Barbarian. While the special effects for this certainly seem like they're going to blow away those of the Schwarzenegger Conan flick, I am greatly disappointed that it seems like we're going to get yet another lout-in-a-loincloth instead of the fiercely intelligent but deadly figure who embodies the dichotomy between civilization and barbarism that so infused the original REH stories.

And I should also point out that it looks like the sequel to The Wicker Man, entitled The Wicker Tree, has found an American distributor and could be on screens by Samhain. Woot! (And no, not the Nicholas Cage piece of garbage, but the original with Christopher Lee.)

Demographics and the Coming Gaming Bonanza

Back in the late 1970's and 1980's, I had all the time in the world for gaming.

Many's the night I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning painting miniatures, reading modules and rulebooks, solo playing wargames, and the like. On weekends, we would often have marathon AD&D games that would last 'till dawn, and *then* start a game of Avalon Hill's Civilization or Titan. I had time to play monster games like SPI's War in Europe. Really play them all the way through. And Napoleonics miniatures, and all the rest.

Alas, those days are behind me. Now that I've got a house, and a wife, and a kid, and a job... Not only don't I have the time to pour into gaming in general, but finding those vast chunks of consecutive time is an almost laughable prospect. Even my conventioneering is a part-time affair; I almost always go to cons that are within driving distance of my house. I believe that I'm not alone in my demographically-induced gaming semi-hibernation.

But all that will change in 20 years or so. Once I and the rest of my demographic cohort begin to hit retirement age, all of a sudden I'm going to have again all those oodles of time I had back in high school and college, and money to boot. There will be time again for marathon games, and painting hordes of miniatures. Time to play wargames galore, and writing RPG modules and wargame scenario books. I'll have the house paid off and the kid safely out of college. I will have...

"Time enough at last!"