10 Sep 2011

Movie Madness: Summer Movies 2011

I've been pleasantly surprised by most of the movies out this summer. I think it's actually been the best in a few years! We got several comic book heroes, wacky pirates, a few angry apes, avenging wizards, a couple of original westerns, some period films and a few bitter disappointments.

These are just a few thoughts on the movies I've seen this summer (I don't think I've forgotten any), in the order of my having seen them. Most of of these have been out for so long (and some are probably on dvd already) I'm not going to walk on eggshells worrying about spoilers, although I'll try not to yell out "it was Col Mustard in the dining room with a knife!". :p

As I mentioned back in May, this one was a bit of a disappointment, and had me worried as to the quality of this summer's batch of films. Not much to add 4 months later, except I'm glad things only got better from there on out! And I guess it was ok placing it in a larger "The Avengers" context. ;o)

X-Men: First Class
Fun! And with James McAvoy as Prof X, yummm!!!!  I enjoyed the tone of a story taking place in the 60s, was amused at their take on the Cuban missile crisis, had a lot of fun with the cameos by Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn! All in all a pretty good addition to the X-men series which stands well on its own but has plenty of winks here and there for fans of the original movies (and probably more for fans of the comics).

Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides
Captain Jack is back! Sans Will and Elizabeth, with Barbossa. The damn monkey is also there, but good luck spotting him! :p  Crazy story, usual loonyness with Captain Jack Sparrow, but not quite convinced by Penelope Cruz and really didn't see any point in the mermaid-priest side story.

Now there was a damn good movie! I had planned on writing a whole post about it back in June, but World Oceans Day and a move kind of got in the way... Spanish movie filmed (mostly) in English in Bolivia (so some Spanish thrown in, dunno how much since as usual I was stuck watching it dubbed). The story starts from the theory that Butch Cassidy didn't die at the hands of the Bolovian army, but somehow managed to get away and has been living peacefully for many years under a different name, until fate has him cross paths with another outlaw who needs his help. Hijinks ensue. Sam Sheperd and Eduardo Noriega (yum!) are fantastic, the story is well paced, and the landscapes of Bolivia quite alien and riveting at the same time. A Western that takes place in South America? Well why not?! ;o)
I know it should be hitting screens in the US sometime soon (imdb says Oct 11, limited, so I'm guessing not everywhere), so take note of where it will be playing and GO SEE IT!!!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
THE movie I was most looking forward to this summer. I actually extended a trip in mid-July by one night in Barcelona so I could see it in English! :o) LOVED it! And yes I cried. And had a blast. And was sad it's all over. Loved the fact that they included the epilogue, but not 100% convinced by the ageing makeup! And will have more to say about it if I manage to finish writing my damn "Page vs Screen" post on it! :p
But for now, if you're interested, I'm going to send you on to another fabulous review by one of my favourite bloggers at Pop Classics. Juliette has a unique point of view since she likes to look at things through the lens of classical culture/literature/mythology and their representations in pop culture.

Oh. my. Who on earth approved this movie?! If you're a big history buff, particularly of the middle ages, then you might find this an interesting account of how wars (and particulalry sieges) were waged in early Norman England. But not if blood and guts and decapitations make you squeamish. If that's not your cup of tea then STAY AWAY! Not even Paul Giamatti's crazy spoilt King John or the delight to the eyes James Purefoy can save this one... :s

UGH! Extremely disappointed!!! I thought this was supposed to be this fabulous comedy?! For some reason I don't find a woman in a wedding dress having a diarreah attack in the middle of a street due to food poisoning all that funny... nor most of the other jokes and gags of a vulgar or scatological nature. It was all I could do to keep myself from walking out of it, and when it was over spent a while apologising my dad and sister from making them suffer through that and insisting that I'd only seen good reviews of it (which they had trouble believing, having disliked it even more than I did). I this is the way comedy is evolving, I'm afraid I'll have to look for my laughs elsewhere.

Captain America
Definitely the best of the summer's superhero movies, and a pretty good period film to boot! I thought the pre- and post- Captain America versions of Steve Rogers were really well done, and Chris Evans managed to make us remember who the pre- Steve was in his acting as the Captain (by which I guess I mean you could tell this was still a rather shy, awkward guy even though he was now all big and powerful). I liked the idea of him doing his part for the war effort, even if it meant acting for the crowds in a silly costume. Even better when he took the first chance he could get to prove himself. Tommy Lee Jones also great! And Hugo Weaving proves once again that he can be a great actor under a freaky mask! I look forward to seeing how Steve adapts to life in the 21st century...

Super 8
The movie I was most looking forward to this summer (after Harry Potter), and this Abrams-Spielberg one-two punch did not disappoint! People around here have been calling it E.T. meets The Goonies, and I think that's pretty apt, but with a pissed-off E.T.! :p I loved the kids and their movie project, had fun with the adults' cluelessness and thought that we only got to see the "monster" in bits and pieces at first made it all that much more thrilling. Was all-around scary fun for everyone! And a nice trip down nostalgia memory lane.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
MUCH better than I expected! I didn't think it would have that much depth or be so thought-provoking. And Caesar (the lead chimp) totally steals the show! Once again bravo Andy Serkis for pulling off such a great performance with motion capture! I enjoyed spotting the Easter eggs, the winks to the previous Planet of the Apes movie. I've only seen the original with Charlton Heston (and so long ago I just remember the main lines, plus the Statue of Liberty moment) and the recent Tim Burton remake (ugh!), so I don't know if I caught all the little references. I noticed the newscast on the manned flight to Mars and then the news that the astronauts were "lost in space", a clear reference to the astronauts who are the main characters who find themselves stranded on the "planet of the apes" in the other movies. I was wondering if the remake had any mention of the Golden Gate Bridge? Just because of its prominent position in this film... And I'm wondering how humans lose their ability to speak... Any case, good one! :o)

Cowboys and Aliens 
Well, that was a pleasant surprise! Not a candidate for movie of the year (but then I never expected that), but still quite a bit of fun! I only went because it sounded like a cool idea.: Indiana Jones and James Bond vs aliens! :p And they pulled it off in my opinion. Although the title should have been Cowboys and Demons since that's what these people think they're fighting (outer space? what's that?). The person who convinced me the least was Olivia Wilde (although I liked the twist on her character), but I really enjoyed Harrison Ford's tough old curmudgeon who kind of rules the town, and thought Daniel Craig's outlaw was pitch perfect (I've read there might have been accent problems, but since I saw it in Spanish...). Also enjoyed the idea that the aliens were just after good ol' fashioned gold! Fit in with the whole western idea really well. Anyhow, I enjoyed the concept, thought they brought it about pretty well, and all in all had a good time. Great way to end the summer! ;o)

So, which of these have you seen? What did you think???

The only "summer" movie I was looking forward to and haven't seen yet is The Tree of Life. Doesn't hit screens here in Spain until next weekend (Cowboys and Aliens only came out last weekend).

Now the Fall is starting, and after a (hopefully) short "empty" period we should be getting a slew of Oscar hopefuls. Almodovar's latest La Piel Que Habito just hit the screens in Spain. I know as a cinephile I should go see it, but I just can't seem to muster the interest. The idea of it (the theme) is pretty off-putting. But it's made a really good opening at the Spanish box-office.

Oddly enough, I'm a lot more excited about the new TV season than any upcoming movies, particularly when I see teasers like this one:

Bring on Castle, Bones, Fringe, The Vampire Diaries, House, Big Bang Theory and Merlin (and a slew of others) already!!! Of the new stuff I'm most looking forward to Terra Nova (Spielberg and Dinosaurs!!!) and Prime Suspect (and hoping they can do the British original with Helen Mirren justice). How about you?


  1. Thanks for the shout-out :) I was also pleasantly surprised by Rise..., it was so much better than I was expecting! I actually liked it more than Super 8, which was good, but I felt it was harsher and less heart-warming - nastier I guess, relatively speaking! - than old Spielberg stuff like ET or Close Encounters.

    I was disappointed I'd missed Bridesmaids (people were rioting) but perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing! Sad to have also missed Captain America though, will have to try to see that before The Avengers comes out next year.

  2. The only one of these that I have seen was Bridesmaids, and I too was totally grossed out by the potty humor that was supposed to be funny. I intend to see Cowboys and Aliens, and Planet of the Apes, but I think I'll wait until they are out on DVD. Harry Potter, I can see him in the future, I was waiting for the last movie to be released but I am in no hurry, because as you said, it's the END! Great post, Cris, thanks!

  3. @Juliette, you're not missing much with Bridesmaids... and the Captain should be ok on dvd.

    @DJan, glad to see I'm not the only one who was disturbed by that film! As for Harry Potter, I REALLY wanted to see it on the big screen. No way I would have missed that. ;o)


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