Summer movie terribleness…

I have probably seen more movies this summer than I have for a good while – at least since 2008. I am likely to see even more as the season drags on – what with the final Potter flick and Captain America still on the horizon. What is sort of strange, though unsurprising, is just how underwhelming so many of these films have been.


Thor was likely the best of the bunch – though to be honest I only saw about half of the film. While not a good movie nor Shakespeare, the Thor film is a perfectly serviceable adaptation of a relatively difficult comic book source material. The thing I liked most about Thor was the way the CG scenery didn’t overwhelm you – even though much of the movie was high-level computer graphics. One never got the impression that the whole movie boiled down to an actor standing on a green screen plantform.

Unlike, say, Green Lantern which was completely and totally overwhelmed by its special effects. Ryan Reynolds fought an extremely stupid looking smoke monster with the POWER OF FEAR for the last 20 minutes of the movie. Much, perhaps all, of the movie felt and looked fake. This not is not to say that the GL movie was the worst comic book adaptation I’ve ever seen (X3) and the film was not the Geoff Johns inspired Rainbow Bright nightmare I was expecting. In fact, GL film was a relatively serviceable action movie if you could get past the fact that much of the film was Ryan Reynolds “emoting” at nothing (better actors that Reynolds have failed in similar situations). And the fact that they forget that their villain has mind control powers. And that one could remove Carol Ferris from this movie and lose nothing.

Arguably the worst film I have seen this summer is Super 8 – which was not at all what I was expecting. The first, say, 2/3s of the film is quite excellent. It is my sort of “horror” and “thriller” film, relatively character based and where the violence is more  implied than explicit. There were some truly great character bits – especially that scene in the diner between all of the teenagers and the middle of the film confrontation between Coach Taylor and his son. And yet, in the end it was all an for naught.

What Super 8 was really about was making E.T. for the 21st century.

Of course, since this is the 21st century, it is not a happy story for our visting alien. Instead of being welcomed by cute children, poor E.T. is welcomed by our ever-loving military which proceeds to torture and experiment on him. This leads, of course, to his eventually escape and consumption of human flesh. Luckily, the alien encounters (because the alien wants to eat his girlfriend) a young boy who lost his mother. This encounter teaches E.T. a powerful lesson: “We all suffer.” Thankfully, lesson learned the alien decides not eat said boy and his girlfriend and goes home. Que credits.

This strangely sentimental ending does not entirely click with what has come before; for if you want to make the killer alien sympathetic, you really should spend less of the film treating it like the T-REX from Jurassic Park. This gives Super 8 experience a deeply disconcerting feeling. By the end of the film, one is left not knowing exactly how to feel about anything you just spend the last 90+ minutes watching. The final shots do nothing to help this unease – for they bounce from sentimental closure to pot jokes.

That is what makes Super 8 much worse than the GL film or Thor. For Super 8 could have really been something but in the end it just ends up being a huge mess of nothing.


One Comment on “Summer movie terribleness…”

  1. Psycholarry1 says:

    Abrams is probably the best active director at prolonging intensity and suspense throughout a movie. This is often really effective, but it becomes problematic when pushed too far. It can feel cheap and artificial, and eventually leaves the audience wanting some downtime and dynamic contrast.

    Also, I found a good summation for the problem with many modern action films and why we should feel hopeful about Captain America. “The glimpses of the action we get are tantalizingly comprehensible. Like, a zipline. A chase on top of a train. These are things I understand and can get involved with, spatially. Joe Johnston is not really a director with a classic pedigree but I’m almost wondering now if a guy like that – a sort of workaday dude with a lot of experience with practical effects but not enough pull to disappear up his own ass like Zemeckis – is what we need right now: a superhero action movie directed by a guy who gets action (unlike Favreau or Branagh) and who is old enough to believe in quaint things like “letting the audience know what the fuck is going on.”

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