Movies in Theaters
This weekend brings us looks at two larger-than-life supernatural menaces and one character comedy featuring two actors playing themselves (at least sort of) — how’s that for complete polar opposites? Whether you’re in the mood for high-flying fantasy or real-life (at least sort of) laughs, you can beat the heat with Super 8, Trollhunter and The Trip.
A group of kids filming a Super 8 movie by the railroad tracks in small-town Ohio are the first to witness an accident that sets free what seems to be an aggressive alien lifeform that promptly begins to wreck havoc all over the place. Where did this thing come from — and, perhaps more importantly, what is it up to? J.J. Abrams, the showman who managed to turn Star Trek into a sexy summer blockbuster filled with beautiful young people, is going the Cloverfield route with this monster tale, taking a similar marketing approach (what does the alien look like? Who knows?) and shrouding the plot’s details in oh so tantalizing secrecy. Abrams is aces, so expect Super 8 to be one of the classiest movies this summer — and, in case you’re having more trouble swallowing the realism of kids shooting on a Super 8 film camera in today’s digital age than the idea of an actual space alien on the loose, know that this is a period piece of sorts, taking place in 1979.
Speaking of Cloverfield, Trollhunter is Norway’s contribution to the caught-on-film (or, in this case, video) first-person horror genre — and quite an impressive contribution it looks to be. A midnight sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Trollhunter follows a group of students that investigates a series of bear killings and begins following a mysterious hunter who specializes in tracking down trolls. And these aren’t the little trolls of Lord of the Rings, mind you — these things are huge, and they appear to be perpetually pissed off. Steeped in both myth (no one in the adjacent town believes in God or Jesus, as a troll can “smell the blood of a Christian man”) and postmodernism (there’s at least one joke about Michael Moore throwing in the towel on investigating this “conspiracy”), Trollhunter will probably end up being one of the cleverest movies of the summer.
And speaking of postmodernism, The Trip features Steve Coogan (as himself) being asked by The Observer to tour England’s finest restaurants — when his girlfriend is unable to go with him, Coogan somewhat reluctantly asks his friend, Rob Brydon (as himself), to join him, which begins a series of road trip misadventures and dueling celebrity impersonations (both men do an outstanding Michael Caine, by the way). The Trip is the latest from director Michael Winterbottom, the man who can jump from a look at the Bosnian War (Welcome to Sarajevo) to a period Western (The Claim) to a chronicle of the 1970s Manchester music scene (24 Hour Party People, which also starred Coogan) to an experimental piece featuring two actors having sex (for reals!) intercut with scenes of them attending various concerts (9 Songs, which also starred Margo Stilley, who plays Coogan’s girlfriend here) without blinking an eye — indeed, like his journeying protagonists, Winterbottom refuses to be tied down. Expect The Trip to be drolly amusing in that British sort of way — which means it will probably be funnier than most other comedies coming out this summer.
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