A few more movies to prove that this summer movie season is a total disaster



Did we expect The Green Lantern to be any good? I didn't. Yet I still went to a screening hoping for it not to be a total disaster. Sadly it was. You can put it on the long list for worst movie of 2011. Director Martin Campbell -who did a solid job with Bond in Casino Royale- doesn't have much to work on here. Who are we kidding here, the Green Lantern was never one of the more exciting superheroes. The film adaptation proves it. It doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it an outer space film? is it a monster movie? is it a comedy? is it a drama? What if I answered none of the above .. anyways you get the picture. Add to the fact that I was never a big fan of Ryan Reynolds' -how shall I put this- acting chops and you got a movie recipe made in hell. The character's are hilariously sketched out in an unintended way and the space scenes are ridiculous. It's a great comedy. Seriously though, is there anything worth watching here? maybe the 3D which is better than most of the other 3D I've seen this summer (Cars 2 below) - However, I'd rather look at paint dry than watch this movie again.

I love Pixar so damn much. The classics they've released over the past 10 years are tremendous (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3) yet there's always been much hate directed towards 2006's Cars which -I'll admit it- did not have the inventiveness of the previously said titles but had a sweet, good natured simplicity to its Americana colors. I loved every second of it when I saw it 5 years ago at a screening room in Alberta's Lux movie theatre. Cars 2 I did not love. It is by far the worst movie in Pixar's short 17 year history. While the original had a sweet, simplicity to it, this one is all flash and turns into a predictable spy caper. The characters are wooden and the marketing for Cars products is all over the map. Not surprising considering Cars has become a billion dollar industry, from lunchboxes to toys Pixar has been milking it ever since the original's release. Another big mistake is concentrating the center of its plot on red-neck talkin Mater, a caricature that ranks amongst Pixar's worst. Here's to better Pixar in 2012 when Brave rolls out amidst great buzz.

Cameron Diaz does wonders with her role in Bad Teacher - a raunchy comedy that delivers in some scenes and drags in others. The film comes out after a slew of "Bad" films have been released over recent years, sadly this doesn't rank in the same bogusly outrageous MVP league as Bad Santa or Bad Lieutenant. At times the film earns its R rating and at others it's just too bland to be anywhere near PG. Yet Diaz nails her role as a slutty teacher that has always looks for the guy with the big paycheck. Low and behold a new teacher shows up -played geekily well by Justin Timberlake- a heir to a french watch company and the perfect target for Diaz's ambitions. From there on in it's hit and miss. When the jokes work they work well, when they don't it's a complete mess. As for what passes as a so called plot, well it's thin. The story is more sketch than actual movie and resorts to sap in its finale. The usually great Jason Segal can't do much for an underwritten role. It's Diaz that's the only one that comes out of this one alive, she's dynamite. I guess in Summer 2011 you just can't win them all.

The Green Lantern (PG-13) ★
Cars 2 (G) ★★
Bad Teacher (R) ★★½

JJ Abrams & "Super 8" try to lift up a summer filled with bummer



Here's a film that shares a distinct commonality to some of the great science fiction movies of the last decade such as Spielberg's War Of The Worlds and Neil Blomkampf's Distrct 9: Its ending sucks. You know what I say? It's just the ending. Before that Super 8 is really just a blast and is carried off by its young lead actors who show a remarkable presence on screen. I won't give too much away cause this is really just one of those movies you got to see without knowing much about. There's a train wreck in a small town and it's caught by these film obsessed kids shooting a movie of their own. The tragdy twists everything around in an otherwise quietly simple, mundane town. It's really in its mysteries that the film works best -- the guessing game is relentlessly inventive with a sly approach to not giving too much away to the audience and their hungry appetite for answers. Of course once the audience is fed the said mystery Super 8 crumbles in its own pretentious Hollywood formula, which is a real shame cause it really is just tremendous fun.

This nifty little -or actually big- project comes to us from Spielberg protege JJ Abrams, who always has nifty little tricks up his sleeves - The Lost finale anyone? -but has a knack to sometimes outdo his own ambitions such as what in fact happened in Lost's preaching finale and this film's final 20 minutes. Which is really all good since I'd rather have an artist strike out and miss with something fresh than watch the same, same old retreads weekend after weekend - Pirates Of The Carribean 4 anyone? The Green Lantern? What it really comes down to is ambition and none of the big studio movies out there right now have Super 8's ambition. Acknowledgment must be given to the true stars of the film, who aren't big names but in fact teenagers that have a natural way of showing to the camera what it really is like to be young and frightened. Elle Fanning -Dakota's younger sister- is a standout and really just knocked me out in an emotional scene at the beginning.

We still haven't found that one great movie of Summer 2011. Usually every summer brings us a film that will combine both artistic integrity with mass appeal (The Dark Knight, Wall E, Up, Inception) to create a work of art that almost everybody can agree upon. Super 8 tries to be that film but its too simple a concept and too familiar to really warrant a mark of greatness or a place in sciene fiction history. What it does have is heart and I wouldn't even be able to name you 1 movie so far this summer that has had enough heart and smarts to capture an entire nation hungry for the next big thing in theatres. It ain't coming folks, unless you're -of course- looking forward to Transformers 3, then you shouldn't even be reading this blog in the first place.

Super 8 (PG-13) ★★★

X-MEN FIRST CLASS



Matthew Vaughn's followup to Kick Ass doesn't have the same inventive, original storytelling he infused in last year's surprise R rated hit. In that film Vaughn took Nicolas Cage and reinvented the Hollywood superhero movie for our modern era of graphic violence. Then again tackling the origins of X-MEN won't necessarily qualify as high art or a daring realization. Vaughn wants to seek the origins of these popular mutant heroes, where they come from and what shaped their destinies. It works -or at least most of the time- and is a sheer delight to watch. Sure there are flaws but why quibble when the fun comes in plenty of mutating forms. Predictability starts to creep in as the film reaches its final third but X-MEN FIRST CLASS is what a summer movie should be all about- brainless fun.

Of course some may be disturbed by the holocaust themed revenge story that is at the center of our main protagonist Erik's struggle for revenge -a solid Michael Fassbender. I dug it but others might not. Erik saw his mom shot to death by Nazi Sebastian Shaw in the Warsaw Ghetto of 1939. Sensitivities will most likely get touched but I found it wholeheartedly intriguing ditto Kevin Bacon as the bad ass Nazi lieutenant. Vaughn has taken the origins of the X-Men comic books and possibly made the best movie in the series. before this bad boy, 2002's flawed X-MEN United took the crown as best. I'm not an X-Men fan but I couldn't help but be taken by these freaks and their pursuit for acceptance, in fact I rather like them more as hipster young ins from the 60's rather than their current, perfected forms.

This doesn't have the landmark fingerprints Sam Raimi brought to his great Spider-Man 2 or Christopher Nolan brought to his masterful The Dark Knight. One might go as far as to say that those movies had an auteuristic feel to them, which is what gave them their finely tuned edge. Vaughn isn't an auteur, he's just a filmmaker that wants to entertain. His movie won't move mountains or change the way we watch movies like Nolan and Raimi's films did but instead it's just there, an entertainment that does justice to the comic books and is a welcome relief from the failed comic book adaptation that was Thor earlier this summer.

★★½ or ★★★

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