Time to do another summer movie round-up post. Just like last year’s post, I’ll be ranting and raving about everything I’ve seen between April and August. I saw one less movie this summer than I did last summer, and I don’t like my favorite movie as much as I liked Scott Pilgrim, but I saw fewer shitty movies this summer. Guess it’s all a wash.
17. Cowboys and Aliens
I was so looking forward to this movie. It had cowboys and aliens! How do you fuck that up? You do so by getting the guy who made the Iron Man movies to direct it, that’s what you do. The only decent thing about the Iron Man movies are the actors and how they play off of each other, but Cowboys and Aliens is lacking in the humor and interaction that allows for that sort of stuff– It’s just a big action sci-fi spectacle, and Jon Favreau sucks at action scenes. On top of that, the western bits are dull and the alien bits are unimaginative. Just plain shitty.
16. Your Highness
A sword and sorcery stoner comedy. Yeah. It could have worked it it was the least bit funny, but it wasn’t. There were a few bits that had potential, like the Hydra bit and the pedophile Yoda, but it all comes off awkwardly for all the wrong reasons. It isn’t the sort of I-can’t-believe-you-went-that-far humor it thinks it is, it comes off like that drunk guy who keeps saying everything looks like a cock and says everything’s gay and it all comes off like a heap of insecurity.
15. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
So dull and unmemorable that I completely skipped it when I initially wrote this post. ‘Nuff said.
14. Green Lantern
Green Lantern’s main problem is that it’s painfully boring. It isn’t utterly stupid like the previous two movies, but it has nothing going for it other than some pretty space effects. I didn’t give a damn about Hal, I didn’t give a damn about Parallax, and I didn’t give a damn about the Green Lantern Corps. Snore.
13. 30 Minutes or Less
Not sure why I saw this, since it isn’t the sort of movie I usually see. At least with Your Highness I had the excuse that I was out of town for over a month and desperate for something to do. Not the case with 30 Minutes or Less. At least it was a bit better. Some of the gags actually worked, and I could relate to the whole “slacker unable to get over his lifestyle vs. dude trying to make something of himself” conflict between the main dude and his best buddy.
12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
The problem with Harry Potter is that the source material kinda sucks. The way everything concludes is just plain stupid. Despite how lame the ending is (especially that fucking epilogue), everything else manages to elevate the material. Snape’s fate plays out awesomely, mainly because Alan Rickman is fucking awesome. In fact, all of the adult actors nail the parts and make them far more interesting than they have any right to be. With everything that works so well it’s a shame that the actual story sucks.
This would be a lot higher on my list if it was edited to hell. And by that I mean the action scenes are all but incomprehensible and the rest of the thing has that quick-cut, post-Michael Bay sheen to it that has ruined action movies. But the actual revenge story has a decent spin to it since no one is a good guy. The main chick is the daughter of a wetworks-specialist who worked for a scumbag drug dealer, and there’s no sign that he was trying to go straight. He just got double-crossed by someone who was nastier than he was. And the main chick herself is a coldblooded murderer who earnestly threatens the family of an FBI agent. It’s no ruse, she fully intends to kill his children and wife he doesn’t cooperate. This isn’t a matter of righting wrongs, it’s just a matter of rooting for the lesser evil. I liked that. Shame its action wasn’t particularly good.
Thor’s a lot like Green Lantern in that the spectacle part is kinda boring. I dug the part where Destroyer attacked that small New Mexico city since it felt like something straight out of a 50′s monster movie, but the Frost Giants and the big finale did nothing for me. Unlike Green Lantern, the rest of the movie was pretty solid. The guy they got to play Thor is pretty damn perfect for the role, and the rest of the cast was pretty decent. That’s been the biggest strength and the biggest problem with all of these Avengers prequels: they have awesome casts that work well with each other and nail their character, but they aren’t given anything to do. It all feels like a big sneak peek to a movie that may not deliver.
9. Captain America: The First Avenger
And Captain America is the best of the pre-Avengers movies. The action isn’t anything special, but we get a far more complete character arc for Cap and the art deco 40′s style makes the movie look far more distinct than all of the other Marvel movies. It wasn’t awesome or anything, but it was a lot more fun than Thor, Hulk, or Iron Man.
Almost feel dirty for ranking this higher than either of the Marvel movies, but it’s the truth: I had more fun watching Priest. I know it butchers the original Korean comic, but fuck that. I couldn’t care less about being true to the source material. The world the movie creates is fascinating– it’s all Blade Runner meets the Catholic Church. Neon signs play religious propaganda and Communion is served to you by robots in a bar. That’s fucking awesome. The action meat of the story is pretty generic, but it manages to mesh the western and sci-fi genres a hell of a lot better than Cowboys and Aliens. Surprisingly fun stuff.
7. Source Code
You know the plot of Madoka? Take that, condense it to a more tolerable two hour movie, remove all the crying and faux-emotional bits and young girl fetishism, and you have Source Code. It’s all about manipulating quantum physics to save the world from disaster. It’s pretty standard modern sci-fi stuff, but it plays it off really well. Solid stuff.
6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Unlike Fright Night, Rise doesn’t so much improve the source material as it expands upon it. Sure, we’ve seen Apes origin stuff in the original movies, but we’re getting to see a different sort of origin this time around. The effects work is awesome since it manages to capture the emotions awesomely. It plays out like a twisted prison movie– like Shawshank Redemption if it was actually enjoyable to watch. And I loved the way it ties in the original movie with its brief glimpses of the Mars mission that goes missing. I’m not sure how I feel about the inevitable sequels, since this movie brings everything back around to the original movie so perfectly, but if they can put a new spin on things like they did in this movie I’d be all for seeing a new Apes franchise.
5. Super 8
Yeah, it’s a great throwback to the sort of movies Spielberg made in the late 70′s and early 80′s. It may try a little too hard and nailing that feeling, but it works far better than it should. The alien wasn’t particularly interesting– just your typical post-Alien creature– but the way the kids interact with one another was incredibly relatable. I may be a few years younger than the kids portrayed in the movie (It takes place in 1979 and I was born in 1978.), but I could “get” where the kids were coming from. You know how peeps always look to slice of life anime as some sort of reflection on their own youths? That’s how I felt with Super 8 because it actually resembled my own youth in some manner.
4. Fright Night
I really dig the original Fright Night, and the remake somehow managed to improve on the original. It retains a lot of the original’s humor while changing up details to make it work in a more recent setting. And Colin Farrell was surprisingly awesome as Jerry the vampire. Feels weird saying it, but his performance is probably the best one I’ve seen all year. Shame the Oscars suck and ignore movies like this.
Art house assassins. It’s a beautiful movie filled with beautiful violence and beautiful revenge. Love this sort of stuff, especially when it’s as well-made as this. It doesn’t do anything new, but it does it with far more style than similar movies, and style’s just as important to making a good movie as stuff like plot and character development. And I loved Cate Blanchett’s character. She was intimidating and creepy without using any of the typical action movie posturing you see in this sort of thing.
2. X-Men: First Class
First Class has plenty of flaws. Outside of Magneto and Prof X, the rest of the mutants don’t get much to do, and when they do have some screentime it isn’t particularly interesting. But the rest of the movie is so good that it overcomes the lame bits. It’s like watching a 60′s era Bond movie, except Bond is busting out super powers and using them to augment his super spy tech. I loved how The Hellfire Club was rebranded as something of a mutant SPECTRE, and turning Sebastian Shaw into a Dr. No-like villain was brilliant. And if Daniel Craig gives up on Bond anytime soon, Michael Fassbender should be the first choice to replace him. If they managed to make all of the kiddie X-Men less annoying and gave them something to do, this would probably by my favorite movie of the summer.
1. Fast Five
Yeah. Fast Five’s the best movie of the summer. It’s a great action movie. The action scenes are clear and intelligible, even if they go way over the top. The characters are amusing to watch much in the same way the characters in something like Ocean’s 11 are fun– Hell, this is basically Ocean’s 11 with really fast cars, and I’m surprised it took this series this long to reach such a natural conclusion. And it has Vin Diessel fighting Dwayne Johnson– Riddick vs The Rock! These guys should be churning out action movies the way Stallone and Schwarzenegger were back in the 80′s and 90′s, and while it’s a shame they’ve had to resort to kiddie Disney movies and the like way too early in their careers, it’s great to see them duking it out together in an awesome action movie like this. We need more action movies like this.
Movies Intentionally Left Unseen Because You’d Have To Shoot Me And Drag My Corpse To See Them: Transformers 3 (Fucking hate talking robots made of indecipherable special effects and Michael Bay), Cars 2 (Fucking hate talking NASCARs and Larry the Cable Guy), Kung Fu Panda 2 (Fucking hate inept talking pandas and Jack Black), The Smurfs (Fucking hate seeing the little blue guys forced into a movie about poop jokes)