i know, i know, it’s not thanksgiving time, where all the movies are Intense Overwrought Drama™ (aka oscarbait), but some of them are actually brainy & interesting too. nope, we’re in the thick of summer blockbusters, where stuff just blows up a lot, but is it asking too much for some of these to be brainy & interesting, also? i’ve gotten busted lately for my joyless movie reviews, but meh! i say, meh! i like my explosions as big & loud as the next person, but for the love of FSM, can we do flames without the fatuousness?
i think i’ve only caught 2 things this summer that actually worked on all fronts: iron man and kung fu panda. both of these have their flaws, but they both succeed in accomplishing what they set out to do. both of these movies have a clear story all figured out, a bit of angsty travails to endear the main character to you, and enough action to qualify as a summertime popcorn-chomper of a movie. both are easy recommendations to a broad audience – i’d not be embarrassed sitting around watching iron man with my grandma; the kid-movie-antics of KFP aren’t the sappy sort that’s boring to an adult. they’re both quite likable and straight-up fun to watch. neither is ambitious, the world hasn’t changed for the watching, but that’s ok, a fun time is had by all, and they’re not trying for the IOD™ here, anyway.
but everything else i’ve seen in a couple months falls a little flat.
speed racer was loud as hell, both in the racecar-roar audio and in the screaming visuals. it’s nowhere near as bad as some people have made it out to be, and i actually rather liked it. but the dialogue is baaaaad. like b-movie 50s bad. stay away if you’re an epileptic (i am not kidding), and if you missed it the theater, don’t bother if you don’t have a ginormous screen at home. made small, without the impact of the visuals larger than life, i’m sure it will loose most of its charm.
the hulk started off great for the first hour at least. the mindless ridiculousness of the trailer had me worried, but for a good long while the movie was nice. then the trailer hit. as in, most all the memorable trailer footage is taken from the obligatory climactic battle scene tacked on to the end. so, good movie for about 4/5, then blindingly stupid.
wanted is the worst thing i’ve seen in a very, very long time. i was pissy enough when we left that i a) wanted my 2 hours back, b) informed Chris he owed me dinner for the waste of time. on a free movie, natch, so that’s the level of annoyance we’re talking about here. not content to be merely stupid – it’s about assassins who pick their targets with, i shit you not, a random FABRIC LOOM OF FATE – it moves on in to utterly offensive in no time. every woman is a harridan or a whore, usually both. every man is a pussy (i seriously don’t think i’ve seen anything with that insult thrown around anywhere near as much) until he chooses to pick up a gun and become billy bad ass; these are the only 2 options as explained in a point-blank to-the-screen parting-shot voice-over. and at the end, people in the theater applauded. i weep for humanity.
i wanted hellboy to be the cure for the summer mediocrity. but, nope, not even my total love for señor del toro succeeded in saving it. while i did sorta like this movie, like i have most things i’ve seen this summer, it’s still falling squarely in the realm of just-ok-at-best. it had moments of utter genius and total beauty (most of which felt oddly boosted from pan’s labyrinth) with some rocking action scenes…that were juxtaposed with overly silly drama. our heroic couple fight over his apartment being trashed. our heroic sidekicks get drunk and sing to maudlin barry manilow. i’m sure they were going for “supernatural peeps: hey, they’re just like normal people!” but it comes off instead as a disjointed part-gravitas part-camp mess.
which brings us to the dark knight, hyped for months as the cure to the summer blues. and yet, nope, still merely ok. easily the most ambitious thing i’ve seen since IOD™ season, nolan & co aim for shakespearean levels of tragedy. but, like, mixed in with lots of explosions. the end result meanders between a handful of convoluted subplots and drags on for two and a half hours. poor pacing should be the kiss of death for any action movie…but what’s there is so good that it’s merely brought down to ok. i think an editor with a sharper knife could have made this into a really really good flick; Chris thinks that carving it into two movies with a somewhat altered plot would fix it. there will be plenty of people that will get off on how “deep” and “gritty dark” this batman is – leave the kiddos at home guys, there’s a body count here – but it didn’t quite work for me.
oh, well. there’s always the star wars cartoon coming out next month. and a new coen brothers movie in september! starring most of my favorite actors, and with a trailer featuring my current super favorite song! here’s to autumn, i suppose.