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Youth Culture Window

Hollywood’s Upcoming Blockbusters
The Heroes and Villains of Summer, 2009
An article from David R. Smith at TheSource4YM.com
5/9/2009


What does a mutant werewolf, an elite squad of crime fighters who are “non-existent,” a teenage wizard who finally made it through puberty, and vehicles that turn into robots have to do with each other? They’re just some of the characters Hollywood will use to attract your teens to theaters this summer.

Tinsel Town’s Big Plans for Summer 2009
As usual, Hollywood has some big plans for the silver screen this summer. They’ll be bringing the likes of Captain Kirk, Wolverine, Optimus Prime, Duke Hauser, Harry Potter, the Terminator’s John Conner, and a few others, to a theater near you.

Summertime is usually the season Hollywood picks to break out the action heroes of our culture; 2009 is no exception. As I look over the list of upcoming releases for this summer, I can’t help but make a couple of observations. First, several of these flicks revolve around the central characters’ origins. We learn of Wolverine’s “creation” in his self-titled movie, Captain Kirk’s birth and adolescence in Star Trek, the Autobots and Decepticons beginnings in Transformers II, and the assembly of the international ring of military professionals in G.I. J.O.E.

My second observation is this: Gen Y and Gen Z wouldn’t have any movies to watch this summer were it not for the heroes (and villains) of Gen X.

That’s right…I said it!

Most of us youth workers, who have become parents ourselves, remember playing with these action figurines and reading their comic books. Now, these characters will help younger generations forge their views on important issues like courage, revenge, duty, and love. With these HUGE movies coming out over the next few weeks, we need to be prepared to weigh in, so we can offer our students a more complete picture on these important issues.

So, grab some popcorn and look over this list of the summer’s most promising releases. Prepare yourself for the “truth” that will be dished out at $9.50 per ticket. Each movie, listed in order of release date, will offer a basic synopsis of the film. This is not an exhaustive list of movies for this summer…just those that will surely capture a teenage audience.

May 1st – X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Similar to how Batman Begins gives the “background” on how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine shows the “experiment” that turned Logan (Hugh Jackman) into the renegade mutant who was such a strong presence on the original X-Men films based on the Marvel Comic series. Basically, this movie tells the shocking story of Logan’s very, very long life, and the heartbreak and betrayal he has endured from those closest to him…and the revenge he decides to take as a result.

When a close friend of Logan’s is killed, he vows revenge and undergoes a risky experiment that fuses his bones with a powerful metal alloy known as adamantium. (Think titanium on steroids.) This not only makes him virtually indestructible, but gives him super strength, as well. He will need it, too! Along his tragic journey, Wolverine will face many incredible, mutant foes, including the evil Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber).

This flick has already launched Hollywood’s summer of heroes; it took in a cool $85 million at the box office on opening weekend, May 1st -3rd.

Directed by Gavin Hood, this 20th Century Fox presentation is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of action and violence, along with some partial nudity. You can view the trailer here.

May 8th – Star Trek
The Starship Enterprise flies back into action this summer to give fans a glimpse of James T. Kirk’s tragic start in life and difficult entry into the Starfleet Academy. The film follows Kirk (Chris Pine), who is an infant at the movie’s opening, through his enlistment as a peon in Starfleet, to his eventual advancement to Captain as a result of his bravery during a crucial mission. Patrons of this sci-fi series will also get to see how Kirk meets and interacts with Spock (Zachary Quinto).

From a bar in Iowa where Kirk is convinced to join the Starfleet, to the distressed planet Vulcan in threat of destruction, and back to Earth where mankind’s destiny is threatened by the evil Nero (Eric Bana), this film takes viewers on a voyage through space and time that centers on bravery and sacrifice for the benefit of the innocent.

Directed by J. J. Adams (Mission Impossible III), this thriller by Paramount and Spyglass is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, as well as brief sexual content. You can view this movie’s trailer here.

May 21st – Terminator: Salvation
Fans of this apocalyptic series are in for a treat when the story’s focus totally shifts to a fully grown John Connor (Christian Bale) and his fight against the machines, staged in the year 2018. This movie will probably be huge, as fans from two generations have been captivated by the struggle between man and machine that starred everybody’s favorite muscleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As John Connor leads the human resistance against the evil Skynet and its army of powerful Terminators, he meets a confusing character named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington). For a while, Terminators have been taking human prisoners to try and replicate their tissue to build the ultimate fighting weapon: a Terminator disguised as a human. Connor must decide if Wright is friend or foe and how he fits into the fight against Skynet who wants all mankind eradicated.

Joseph McGinty (We Are Marshall) directs this Warner Brothers production. It’s rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and adult language. You can view the trailer here.

May 29th – Up
From the comedic geniuses who brought us favorites such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Cars – aka Disney – comes a family-oriented film about the adventures of a grumpy old man named Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner) who sets out on a wild trip he has been planning for 70 years. There’s just one problem…he didn’t count on a chubby little kid named Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) coming along.

Old Man Carl has spent lots of time tying thousands and thousands of balloons to his two story house. On the long-awaited day, he springs them from his roof, and sets off with the ambition of traveling through South America…at 10,000 feet! Unbeknownst to Carl, Russell was on the front porch at the time.

Throughout the film, the two see majestic sites, battle bad guys and wilderness creatures, and learn to put up with one another in spite of the decades of life that separate them generationally.

Pete Docter and Bob Peterson co-direct this PIXAR animation that’s rated PG for some peril and action.

The trailer for this one is even funny.

June 24th – Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen
From the people who figured out how to fit a car inside a robot has come another movie that will fit thousands of fans into movie theaters to see the exciting sequel to Transformers. The new flick, Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen, will continue the story of Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) as they fall under the renewed threat of Decepticon forces who have returned to Earth.

When Sam has a revelation in college and comes to understand the ancient origins of the Autobots and Decepticon robots, he becomes the target of the evil robots’ revenge. Sam’s newfound knowledge puts him in the middle of a war fought by Transformers on both sides, which holds the fate of the Universe in its outcome.

Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and Transformers) is at the helm of this exciting sequel that is being released from Dreamworks and Paramount studios. It is currently unrated, but you can view trailer here.

July 15th – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
This sixth installment of this magical series, based on the writings of J. K. Rowling, brings back an older Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and company, as they continue their studies at the famed Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In the movie, Harry discovers a book that formerly belonged to a cryptic figure known only as the Half Blood Prince. Within its pages are hand scribbled notes that help Harry significantly improve upon his magical skills…and he’ll need every ability he can muster as he fights against the wicked and powerful Voldemort.

Directed by David Yates and released from Warner Brothers Studio, this film is rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality. You can preview the trailer here.

August 7th – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Every little boy’s favorite mid-afternoon cartoon is finally being made into a big screen thriller. Far from the twenty year old animation classics, this CGI-laden action flick represents Hollywood’s ability to take a Hasbro action figurine and turn it into a flashy movie character.

These “real American heroes” work for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity and their mission, under the direction of General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), is to battle it out against the evil Cobra Commander and his elite Cobra Force. Squad chief Duke Hauser (Channing Tatum) bravely leads this team of international do-gooders from the sands of the Egyptian desert to the frigid waters below the polar ice caps as they combat the evil organization led by a Scottish arms dealer (Christopher Eccleston).

Director Stephen Sommers (of The Mummy and Van Helsing renown) will unleash this Paramount Studios film on August 7th that is currently unrated by the MPAA. You can view the action-packed trailer here.

New Resources for New Releases
Make sure to stick with TheSource4YM.com as the summer continues. Without a doubt, we will have new Movie Clip Discussions based on some of these films that will help you teach biblical principles to your teenagers using media they are already absorbing. Our “Movie Guru” Todd will also be sharing his Movie Reviews on these flicks that give insight on the movies’ content and quality. And I’m sure Jonathan will throw in his two cents from time to time on his Blog.

Movies speak to kids in powerful ways, so we need to be familiar enough with these movies’ messages that we can converse with our teenagers about them. Popcorn with extra butter, blockbuster movies, and moments of ministry that can change lives…it doesn’t get any better than this!


David R. Smith David R. Smith is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year, Ministry By Teenagers. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org. David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.


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