Friday, June 26, 2009

Ranking my summer movies

I've seen a lot of the big movies this summer. In some respects, it's the only thing I do on the weekends. I've always been a big movie guy...give me some (ahem...severely overpriced) popcorn to munch on and I get to escape for a couple hours or so. I've seen most of the big ones from Wolverine to Transformers I thought I'd take a little time to rate my summer movies from least favorite to most favorite. Oh heck...I'm not really even sure what the rating system is here!
Star Trek
My take: A fun, cool spin on the Star Trek mythos, this movie rewrites the sacred Trek continuity so we can have new adventures of the Enterprise without worrying about the age and health of the original crew. No doubt, this is a fun ride...a glossy, well-executed film that heightens the action and reveals excellent replacements for the people who originally wore the Starfleet uniform. Zachary Quinto is awesome as Spock...his performance is worth the price of admission alone.
See it because: It's an accessible, fun movie that anyone can get into regardless of their level of enjoyment of Trek or science fiction in general.
Don't see it because: thinking about the plot too much will give you a headache, the original Spock shows up in a little too timely of a fashion, and there's a lot...A LOT...of lens flare!

The Hangover
My take: Crass, crude, and off the wall, The Hangover is the kind of movie guys love to watch together while girlfriends/wives/significant others try unsuccessfully to keep themselves from laughing. The setup is tremendous and the payoff is pretty darn good.
See it because: What other movie involves a tiger, Mike Tyson, and a terrifically funny Rain Man reference? The picture montage at the end of the movie is also high-quality entertainment.
Don't see it because: the language and humor are juvenile and crass and some of the plot elements sound like a brainstorming meeting for a Will Ferrell movie.

My take: Disney and Pixar do it again. Up is a tremendously imaginative and charming ride that's carried just as high as the house that's at the center of the plot.
See it because: I loved the dog named Doug...a very lovable character. It's very touching to see the main character get past his own apprehensions and find a way to start anew. It's also surprisingly touching...something that shouldn't really be surprising since it is a Pixar film packed with heart.
Don't see it because: While the movie has made its share of money at the box office, my first impression was that kids wouldn't enjoy it very much. The film starts in a slow and melancholy fashion...and to tell you the truth, the setup will probably bore kids...or make them very, very sad.

Transformers 2
My take: Inferior to the first movie featuring the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, this one brings back most of the primary characters from the first film. Incredible special effects overwhelm at times while the story lacks focus.
See it because: Giant transforming robots will always be awesome...especially when Peter Cullen's voice reverberates as Optimus Prime, one of my all-time favorite characters. Bumblebee also has several good moments, though his voice circuits are still inexplicably fried. I loved how they brought John Turturro's character back into the fold.
Don't see it because: Despite my overall enjoyment, there's a lot of stupid, juvenile, out-of-place humor that doesn't work; the Fallen baddie is fairly pointless, the so-called Autobot "twins" are annoying, and some of those awesome special effects are so dazzling and confusing, you have no idea what in the hell is actually going on.

Angels & Demons
My take: Tom Hanks has a much better haircut in this film, making it already more watchable than The Da Vinci Code. This is more of a straight-up murder/thriller with less of a focus on a grand and controversial conspiracy theory.
See it because: Tom Hanks is always watchable, Ewan MacGregor is fun in his role, and the setting is breath-taking. It's also got a pretty nice twist.
Don't see it because: the movie is as paint-by-the-numbers as it gets, especially if you've read the book. There's never a sense that Robert Langdon and his partner are in any real danger and the movie packs a lot of dialogue that simply connects the dots for viewers instead of making them think.

Terminator: Salvation
My take: For the first time, a Terminator film spends a significant amount of time in the grim future only glimpsed in earlier movies. It's not exactly the future Christian Bale's John Connor expected..and this isn't quite the movie I expected either.
See it because: Bale's co-star Sam Worthington is terrific in his role and there are some good action sequences. There is a single good "goosebumps" moment during the film's final fight.
Don't see it because: Bale clearly phoned this one in, the ending is unsatisfying, and the movie in parts. Even though there's a great cameo at the end, it's brief and the novelty quickly wears off. A total disappointment.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
My take: Wolverine made Hugh Jackman a star...ironic since he wasn't the original choice for the role! When Wolverine himself is on the screen, you can't take your eyes off him...Jackman owns the role. The movie feels like a patchwork of bad ideas crammed together with no particular order or logic. Bad, hammy dialogue and too many characters (all of them underused) make this a task to watch.
See it because: Hugh Jackman is awesome. Ryan Reynolds is entertaining...even in his brief screentime.
Don't see it because: Fox clearly has no idea what to do with its Marvel superhero properties (see X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer). This movie is a narrative mess, a confusing mishmash of half-baked ideas and too many characters. Why do we need to see Cyclops in this film? Why does Patrick Stewart appear in some of the most jarring CG work in the history of cinema? How do you screw up a movie starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine that also includes Liev Schreiber and Ryan Reynolds (two of my personal favorites!)!!??