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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer movie update

Way back on Valentines Day i listed all the summer blockbuster movies i was amped about seeing. Now that we're most of the way through the movie season, i thought i'd give a bit of a recap/update with mini reviews since i didn't make posts after seeing most of them. Don't worry, i'll warn and censor any possible spoilers.

First, i'd like to point out that unlike the summer before, this summer wasn't all sequels and remakes. There were several, but they were not nearly as dominant as last year. I'm not saying every movie was terribly original, but it was nice to be treated to more of the unexpected, and get introduced to new characters for a change.

Feb 14th - Jumper

Didn't see it. Heard it sucked. Will probably grab it on Netflix eventually.

April 18 - The Forbidden Kingdom
Didn't see it, though i heard it was decent. Still want to see, but is on my Netflix queue now.

May 2 - Iron Man
Great movie. Started the summer off right. Just the right balance of substance and just having a ton of fun. Special effects were awesome, acting was solid, script was tight. Not fine art cinema - no Oscars here - but really good movie that should be very rewatchable.

May 9 - Speed Racer
This one was ok. I was fairly disappointing that there was much more language and violence in this than i think should have been allowed as a PG movie. Having said that, if it had been rated PG-13 i would have enjoyed it more. I also think the acid-trip visuals worked for me after a while. It was much more of an art film in that regard than i expected - almost to the point of being avant-garde or experimental really. Once i got used to that, i think it was a good film. Middle of the road, but good.

May 16 - Chronicles of Narnia: Price Caspian
Excellent, but like Speed Racer this one should have been PG-13. It was pretty much in line with the first Lord of the Rings movie, but without blood. Literally. Same number of bodies falling. Same number of swords stabbing, etc...just no blood squirting when it happens. But like i said, very good. True to the book (almost too much - those who haven't read it might be confused) and well acted and written. I hope they keep moving through the books - at least make it a trilogy. These Narnia movies could have been drivel, but so far so good.

May 22 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I went in with mid-level expectations and didn't bury myself in spoiler-filled coverage before it came out and i think it paid off. I really liked this one. I think what i liked best was that it assumed that Indy kept doing things for the last 20 years. [SPOILER ALERT - HIGHLIGHT TEXT TO READ IT] It referenced Young Indiana Jones Chronicles events, assumed that Indy was in the service during WWII (which of course he would be), etc. He wasn't just old, he had a life. The only gripe i had on this one was the scene with Mutt swinging from the vines with monkeys...and the truck/cliff/tree moment that was straight out of a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Otherwise the suspension of disbelief was within what i was willing to deal with, and loads of fun. I also think this one worked better because it tapped into a mythos that i was familiar with. Indy 1 and 3 were great because i grew up hearing about what they were after. Temple of Doom didn't reach me as well because i didn't care about the MacGuffin. In this one, it worked because i've heard about Rosewell aliens for years and mysterious temples in South America, so i was ready to see those fantasies played out on screen. [END SPOILERS] Wish i could see this one again, but i guess i'll have to wait for the blu-ray for a second go-round.

June 20 - Get Smart
Didn't see it. Might get around to this one eventually, but the closer it got and the more i saw about it, the more it looked like it wasn't my kinda movie.

June 27 - WALL-E
Great movie. I can see where most people are coming from with the reviews that the first act was great, but the later parts of the movie dropped off. While yes, the first part was fun and light and enjoyable, a whole 2-hour feature of that would have gotten boring after a while. I enjoyed this one thoroughly, though it still ranks behind A Bug's Life, Cars, and Finding Nemo for me in the Pixar pantheon. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT - highlight text to read] I also didn't take issue at all with the concerns some had with the message of the movie. Firstly i don't think it was that much of a message movie. On first viewing i definitely got a message, but on further examination, really this was a love story set on the backdrop of a humorously exaggerated extreme future. [ END SPOILERS]

July 2 - Hancock
Awesome. I really think people that didn't like this movie went in with too many expectations. This wasn't Pursuit of Happiness or Independence Day, but a wonderful balance between the two. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT - Highlight text to read] I also love that though this movie had a major 'twist' (which was by some miracle not spoiled in the trailers), the movie wasn't about the twist. It had a twist, then moved on to what the movie was really about. Kudos to the writers and i think they also thankfully avoided dealing the the alcoholic/tortured super-hero issue too much, which leaves room for those stories in Ironman sequels [SPOILER END]. Highly recommended.

July 11 - Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Haven't seen yet, but still hope to see before it leaves theaters. If i have to wait for blu-ray though, i can.

July 18 - The Dark Knight
Great movie but... It was a little too dark and a little too long for me. Good movie, but it needed to be tightened up. Many subplots that could have been cut (one in particular) and well...gonna have to go into spoiler mode: [SPOILER ALERT - Highlight text to read] All of the acting was spectacular, and the overall direction was good, but the script needed work. The entire Hong Kong sequence should have been cut, and overall it just needed a few nips and tucks. My only other major gripe was Two-Face. One that he didn't get enough time, and two that he looked ridiculous. He looked like Imhotep from The Mummy. He just had gas on his face which caught on fire. Batman was right there and put the fire out. Unless Batman put it out with a brick, Dent's jaw shouldn't have been broken and his face should have been burned, not missing! Then even at that...if his face was missing...he wouldn't be walking around and talking the same. His voice would sound different, etc. Normally i wouldn't nit-pick something like this, but Christopher Nolan has gone out of his way to make a very realistic world here. We can believe that what we are watching could actually happen - but not Two-Face. Overall though, the Joker was great, the increased role of Lt/Commissioner Gordon was great, and it was a very good movie. Just not as good as it could have been (read: over-hyped and not as good as the amazing movie it followed) [END SPOILERS]

Aug 1 - The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Nov 21 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Might checking out (or wait for video):

March 14 - Horton Hears a Who!
Saw the last 15 minutes of the movie at a showing in the park. Looked cute. Might get around to seeing more eventually.

June 6 - Kung Fu Panda
Haven't seen, but plan on it. A friend of mine said he liked it more than Ironman at the time, which says a lot.

June 13 - The Incredible Hulk
Didn't see. Not planning on it anytime soon. Just looked poor. Never been a big Hulk fan anyway.

June 13 - The Happening
Didn't see, but looked like it would be good. Still plan on catching on Netflix.

July 11 - Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Haven't seen yet, but would like to. Plan on seeing it before it leaves theaters just so i can see the 3D experience.


patrick said...

Hellboy is dependably fun; for sure that director has an amazing imagination, reminds me of his work in Pan's Labyrinth

Matt Evans said...

I'm not sure which version of Caspian you saw, but a full half of the movie (the part where they assault the castle) is not in the book. Most of the first half of the book is the 4 Pevinsies getting to Caspian, a part that was covered in about 15 minutes in the movie.

Paul Nicholson said...

Really? Guess i'll have to go read it again. I thought i remembered it being pretty faithful

Matt Evans said...

I did too, then read the book about a week later. They butchered it.

Mel said...

Kev and I went to see Journey on Thurs night. Get ready to pay $3 a piece extra for the glasses. It was a fun, no-brainer movie. Never read the book, so I can't make any intelligent comparisons.

Rob Robinson said...

This was a good read, Paul. I generally agree with your thoughts about Indy, but I think focusing on Roswell was a mistake. This movie was at least 14 years in the making, and reportedly Spielberg and Ford balked for a long time at Lucas' desire to focus on the crystal skulls. In the interim, the X-Files, Independence Day and many other pop culture references left the idea overdone, if you ask me. I also have a hard time with this particular subject matter being in Indy's world. It seems hard (too hard) to believe.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Dark Knight. You're probably right about Two Face's appearance, but it didn't bother me as much. I read somewhere that Nolan and Co. tried more realistic interpretations and found them too disturbing.

Is Quantum of Solace (Nov. 7) on your list? As a lifelong James Bond fan, it's definitely on mine. The trailer in front of the Dark Knight looked solid.

Paul Nicholson said...

Yes, Quantum of Solace is definitely on my list of "to see" movies. I have only been a casual James Bond fan most of the time. My favorite were "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Live and Let Die", i think because they were the most plausible to me. So when i eventually saw Casino Royale on DVD, it switched Bond movies over from 'meh' to 'on the list' for me for sure.

There are several more movies coming out soon that should be on this list. I'll probably do another list for winter/spring soon. "The Day The Earth Stood Still" for sure, along with a few others.

Paul Nicholson said...

Oh - Kevin and Mel - I saw "Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D" Friday night. 3D still gave me a headache but it was far and away better and more enjoyable than the 3D i last saw at the IMAX. I wish the movie was a better movie overall instead of just a vehicle for 3D effects, but its a good starting point.

I think the 3D would have been perfect if they had stayed away from too many small near-field objects (birds, leaves, etc up close to the viewer). Those didn't work so well, but most of the rest of the effects did masterfully. I would love to see what a few Pixar movies would look like done in digital 3D. Not so sure i'm dying to see the Star Wars trilogy sets done that way though.