The Best and Worst of Summer 2011

Today is Labor day which means that the summer movie season is officially over and to round it out I would like to post what I thought were the best movies of the summer and what were the worst movies I saw this summer. This summer was a summer jam packed with notable movies coming out nearly weekend. From a film goer’s stand point this seems great, but once we got about a month into the summer I began to notice that even though there was a lot coming out there was not much great coming out. The summer was full of comic book adaptions, sequels, prequels, and brand name films. To begin the talk I’ll start with what I thought were 3 of the worst movies to hit theaters this summer.

*Summer blockbuster season begins the first weekend of May and ends at Labor Day

The Worst

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The latest entree into the Pirates series was a rather weak and hollow film that never lived up to its potential. Even though it trimmed the excess fat that the the last two films had had off it was still missing something. There are many times the movie feels almost mechanical in how it progresses and while there are some times that this film does some cool things it still ends up feeling less than satisfying. Even Depp seems like he is cashing a paycheck in this film which is very sad because he has always been part of what made this series great. The movie wasn’t a total failure because it did several things well and Geoffrey Rush is still awesome as Barbosa. Hopefully whenever they do another film(which is almost certain considering this movie topped $1 billion dollars because of high gross over seas) they will be able to continue to go back to the roots of the original.

Green Lantern

Green Lantern was supposed to be DC’s equivalent to Iron Man and set up for the DC film universe. Unfortunately this movie was plagued with all sorts of problems that in the end resulted in bombing at the box office after its first weekend. Green Lantern had so much potential but in the end was ruined by a terrible script that also created some terribly written characters that lead to horrible performances from most of the actors(other than Ryan Reynolds who tried desperately to make the bad script work). Because of the script the entire movie was limited on how good it could actually be. The script was plagued with every problem from bad dialog to plot holes to inconsistent and underdeveloped characters. The hardest part to watch in the movie is knowing that somewhere in the movie there is a good foundation that was taken the entirely wrong direction. Aside from what it could have been; it was just a bad movie with pointless characters, a terrible main plot, and an overall pathetic take on a superhero movie.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Transformers 3 may be an improvement over Revenge of the Fallen but it sill has so many shortcomings and problems within it. The biggest problem with this movie is its run time. The movie is 154 minutes long which is probably 45 minutes longer than it should be. The first half of the movie is chalked full of middle school grade humor, pointless conversations, and Shia Lebeuf screaming about everything. Once the movie enters its second half things begin to pick up and the fun is definitely there. There are some incredible action sequences, an actual story that begins to get interesting, and the movie almost(curse you Michael Bay) gets emotional when one of the characters nearly dies execution style. If the movie would have been trimmed down I think I might have been able to like this movie, but as it stands it is still just fun entertainment that looks pretty. This movie had so much more potential but Michael Bay was content with keeping the status quo and shoved a Victoria’s secret model in for no reason.

The Best

X-men: First Class

X-men First Class was a movie that could have been terrible and by all means probably should have been terrible because of how fast the film was thrown together. Luckily the movie manged to succeed where the past couple of entrees failed which is in writing and character development. The movie shows us the origins of Magneto and Xavier and why they have the philosophies they do and why they are both best friends and worst enemies. There was an awesome cast lead by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender who really give this film an anchor to hold onto. The movie is very busy and there is always a lot going on, but these actors and how the characters were written really is what gives this movie legs to stand on. We also get some awesome performances from Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult. The movie actually gives us a really great 1960s period piece as we get their take on the Cuban Missile Crisis and the events surrounding it. Overall X-men was probably the best film to hit theaters this summer because of its social commentary, great writing, great performances, and a simply bad-ass film to boot.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

This was the end of Harry Potter and I think that most fans including myself thought it went out with a bang. The movie provided fans and audiences with both dramatic and emotional payoff that had been coming for 7 movies as we see characters motivations revealed, deaths of many characters, and an end that would give closure to the story of Harry Potter. The movie may have been a little too short for its own good as it certainly could have used more in many of the battle sequences and exposition, but it still delivered what the film had promised. On top of the payoff the movie is just a lot of fun to watch as we get to see some spectacular battle scenes underneath the absolutely stunning cinematography and beautiful art direction. The acting continues to be top notch as we see the three leads Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson really have grown into their roles not to mention the awesome performance of Alan Rickman as Snape who has been fairly under appreciated in this series. This was both a great summer movie and a worthy conclusion to the long running Harry Potter film series.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was probably the biggest surprise of the summer as it actually delivered a really great character story about the Ape named Caesar and how the Apes begin to become more intelligent. The movie does a terrific job at developing Caesar as a character; not an animal. The brilliant thing about it is that there is really no dialog in the process of this development; it is all done through the action and facial expressions of Caesar. Andy Serkis does an amazing job at playing this character and quite frankly I think he deserves an Oscar for his amazing work in Mo-cap. He has done some amazing things in both Lord of the Rings as Gollum and King Kong as King Kong before this, and after seeing him play Caesar so well it is quite clear that he has gotten the shaft in terms of recognition. Aside from Caesar the movie also looks great; mostly because Weta Workshop and the work they did with the Apes. The movie does a great job at making this film franchise relevant again; something that I once thought was impossible. By making the movie about Caesar, a cure for Alzheimer’s, and man kinds nature to not leave well enough alone this movie manages to show that the Apes series is not through yet.

Overall Grade for the Summer: C or 7.0

There were a lot of movies that came out this summer and only a couple of them managed to be anything exceptional. Other than the 3 movies I mentioned above there really wasn’t anything that stood out. There were plenty of comic book adaptions like Thor, Captain America, and Cowboys and Aliens that were by no means bad, but also nothing really special.  There were many movies that looked very promising and were actually pretty solid like Super 8 that never shined like they should have. So there were lots of “decent” or “solid” movies but few great movies. Overall I would say there was plenty to be entertained by this summer but little to really make an impact on film goers or the art of cinema.

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