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Summer movies: mostly good but nothing to blow you away

I really am the proverbial Charlie Brown of summer reviews, lining up every time to kick that ball only to have it yanked away by the film companies going Lucy on me and yanking away the ball.
There were some good parts to the summer and some really good films.
I liked X Men: First Class a lot. Prequels work most of the time and this one was exceptional. Tracing back the roots of the mutants as they came into their power, and a superb villain by Kevin Bacon made this exciting and dramatic. Perhaps the best line of the summer was “I Prefer Magneto.” Oh myyyyyyy. Surprisingly, this movie didn’t crush at the box office.
Captain America completed the Avengers intro and next year that launches and should be a blast. There’s an art to turning comic books into films and Marvel has cracked the code. They do enough of an intro to explain the essence of the character and then they run a full episode. WIth the Captain they kept it in its original time frame, during the Second World War and that was a really good decision. He’s a simple superhero and keeping him in simpler times worked.
Story story story. The technology was actually really fun. Something out of the science fiction films of my youth. Big upside and a solid box office hit. Meanwhile, his partner in crimefighting, Thor did solid box office business but was even better than its ticket sales would suggest. It was funny and entertaining with some superb story telling from surprise director Kenneth Branaugh. The Avengers is going to kick butt.
And then there’s Green Lantern.
Swing and a miss.
I love the Green Lantern series and the character is everyman turned superhero. They spent how much on this mess???
I have no more answers than when I wrote my original review but it probably comes down to trying to substitute special effects for story. If they just introduced us to Hal and then took an episode from the comics and filmed that, they would have had a hit. As it was, it bombed at the box office and with the critics. Pasty nation was not amused.
There were some OK kids’ films.
The Smurfs was solid in terms of content and in a summer where families were left holding the bag a bit it was a huge hit. It was a charming little film with lots of blue fun to go around, and of course, Doogie Howser.
Cars 2 was another swing and a miss, although not by a lot. They focused on Mater, aka Larry The Cable Guy and in doing so committed to a different style of humor. There was a lot to like in the first one, and a little less this time All of that aside, it’s impossible to see a $200 million movie as a failure. It just wasn’t as good as it could have been. It didn’t inspire the kind of loyalty and affection the first one did.
For me, the best family film and bordering on the best film of the summer, was Mr. Poppers Penguins. It’s sweet, it’s funny and one of Jim Carrey’s more likeable characters. Again it’s just a throwback to a simpler time, and while they updated it to be set in today’s Manhattan, they kept the charm of the story rooted in the era it was written, the 30s.
There were the usual block busters. I thought Transformers Dark of the Moon was terrible. I really couldn’t watch it, it was so irritating  and 2 1/2 hours too long and no redeeming characters. And it did over 300 mill so wait for the next one to roll out sometime soon.
Cowboys and Aliens was an oddity that took me awhile to embrace and if you have to work yourself into liking a movie you’ve already lost the battle. It was fun, but confusing and really came down to James Bond in the old west – which isn’t unforgiveable. I think I just expected more of Jon Favreau who was can’t miss for a long time.
Pirates of the Caribbean. Hmmm
Another 300 million dollar movie which did nothing for me at all. It probably gets another bit of the apple given the big bucks it did but I was a fan of this series and now not so much.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes had the most chilling preview and ended up being a really good watch. If you weren’t a fan of the original series this was still worth the price of admission, and if you were, well this brought it all home and explained a lot. Another prequel that worked, and a good performance by James Franco.
Harry Potter was one of the monster hits of the summer and considering they’re all getting a little long in the tooth, this was a pretty good swan song. Both thumbs up from the the incredibly loyal fans of the series. Peeking around the corner of 400 million.
Kung Fu Panda was cute, but forced and just didn’t get it done. It was 100 mill plus but it just didn’t connect with its audience.
Super 8 was a good film and a success given its budget and subject matter. It was quirky and kind of a kid’s movie but grown up in content and I think it was a really good watch.
There were some fairly interesting comedies. Hangover 2 was tepid, Horrible Bosses surprisingly strong and
even The Change Up found an audience.
It was just a ‘Meh’ kind of summer. There was nothing horrible really, no Catwoman or Love Guru. Spy Kids 4 came close. They’re fun.
But nothing really blew me away either.
We made some money, sold some popcorn and all in all had a good time. Not much left to do but sit back and wait for the next Twilight to come out in November. Buckle up kids, I smell a fall preview column coming soon.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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