Thumbs Down to Summer Movies

This week the big summer release is Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds in the lead.  So far the studio has only allowed one critic to review it on Rotten Tomatoes.com– Karina Long from the Village Voice. Usually when critics are not allowed to screen a film it is not a good sign- typically indicating their desire to milk it for opening weekend profits before it fizzles with bad reviews.

I obviously have not seen the film but Karina’s review points out what I see as a major flaw in most summer movies (or blockbusters in general).  She says:

“Campbell’s (the director) ADD style privileges spectacle over story — so much so that the film never rewards the viewer for even trying to keep track of what is going on.”

“It’s 10 minutes before a human character appears on-screen in Green Lantern, a personality-free franchise-launcher that builds toward a quaint, if explosive, argument in favor of the nebulous quality of “humanity.”

i did like Walle but this was the best graphic I could find.

Don’t you think this describes most of the big name movies that have come out in the last several years?  Whether it is the buzz of new special effects or the lameness of nearly all 3D, most movies are more about creating an audience hook  than developing good stories or interesting characters.

Part of the blame is moviegoers.  The market speaks loudly and when sequels and special effects bonanzas make a fortune Hollywood will keep pumping them out. Of the top 25 summer movies of all time over half are either prequels or sequels- all but 7 are super hero/science fiction movies.

The especially sad news is that these movies are incredibly expensive to make.  The Green Lantern cost $300 million!  (Of course romantic comedies can be terrible drains of money such as the horrible How Do You Know? with Reese Witherspoon costing $120 million and making only $30 million. I’d hate to be an investor in that film…It was awful)

Here’s another review of Green Lantern

It’s at this point I must make a confession- I don’t like super hero movies.   It’s hard to explain why but I have never liked them. With the exception of Harry Potter, I can’t think of a super hero/fantasy franchise I’m  a fan of (I’m a marginal fan of Lord of the Rings).  I also like the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but they have been sullied by mediocre follow-ups in recent years.

Despite all the special effects I find most super hero movies boring and I don’t like 3D.  It gives me a headache.   One of the things I liked about Inception is it was different.  It had all the panache of a blockbuster with a good story.  I like that 30 people could see it and all leave with different ideas on the plot (and ending).  I wish most Hollywood movies had as much thought put into them and took as many risks.

I didn’t even like The Dark Knight. I know shocking, but it freaked me out, gave me nightmares.  I recognize it is a well-made and acted movie, but I did not find it a pleasant viewing experience.  Everyone else in the whole world seems to like it but not me.  Sorry!

The only other summer movies I can think of that I have enjoyed in recent years are the Harry Potter films (although I found the last one to be  a little slow) and the Pixar movies.  I also liked Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.

Why do I like these movies?  I like them because the stories are good.  I like the Harry Potter movies because the story is good and the characters are interesting.  Is that too much to ask?

This year I have only seen one new movie in the theater- Jane Eyre. (It wasn’t my favorite version but I enjoyed it).  Granted I had many other things on my mind; however, when I look at this summer only two movies even look interesting- Midnight in Paris and The Help (aside from the last Harry Potter which I want to see). I’m even skeptical of my usually reliable Pixar’s summer offering- Cars 2.  I think it could be their first dud.  We will see…

I have no interest in the 5th Fast and the Furious,  4th Pirates movie, 3rd Transformers, 4th Twilight,  or 4th Xmen (I think its at 4?).  I might see Kung fu Panda 2, but I’ve got a feeling the studio is going to milk that franchise until it is dead like they did with the Shrek movies (which I never liked much anyway.  I hate all the double entendres.) I wanted to see Source Code but never made it to the theater.

Also do we really need another Hulk movie (that’s what we have to look forward to next year)?  Mark Ruffalo will be playing the Hulk and he had the nerve to compare the green giant to Hamlet and Romeo.  Really?  Isn’t that kind of sad- the 2011 version of Hamlet is the Hulk? Wow.

I also think I will lose it if one more lame television show from the past is made into an equally bad movie (Yogi Bear, GI Joe, Charlie’s Angels, A Team, Chipmunks, Scooby Doo, I could go on and on…).   Hello Hollywood- just because something made money in the 70’s or 80’s does not mean it should be made into a movie.  Now we have the Smurfs movie coming in August.  What’s next- Rainbow Bright, Punky Brewster, Saved by the Bell?  Please NO.

Is it too much to ask for an original idea?  Let’s have more Inception and less Transformers. More 500 Days of Summer and less Back Up Plan (a truly awful Jennifer Lopez movie).   More Finding Nemo and less Shark Tale.

What do you think of summer movies?  Why do you think these clunkers make money?  I have a theory that people go because they want something to do with their friends more than they want to see the particular movie.   I certainly have seen my share of bad movies because my friends wanted to see them.  Peer pressure!  Every so often I’m pleasantly surprised but most of the time I leave thinking ‘why did I waste my $9 and more importantly my 2 hours plus?)

None of these look good to me....

9 thoughts on “Thumbs Down to Summer Movies

  1. I have to say that I really enjoyed “Thor.” Although, unlike you, I have a weakness for superhero flicks. Granted, many of them are bad, but I was a comic book buff growing up, so I have at least a tolerance even for failures, like “Iron Man 2.”

    I think people go to blockbusters hoping for the escape that comes from a great film like “Inception.” Unfortunately, they are too few and too far between.

    1. I agree with the idea of escape. That’s why I like to read. I get to escape my world and enter 1850 London or an apocalyptic future. Movies can do this as well.
      I can imagine one of the hard things about being a critic is defending why you like or dislike something. There are some things that I just don’t like, some genres that almost never work for me. There are also genres like musicals that I am way more likely to give a free pass.
      Don’t you think that usually superhero movies are too long? Most of them are 2 1/2 hours or longer. I liked the old Mission Impossible show and they managed to get intricate plots done in 1 hour. I also liked Smallville for the first couple years.
      The second pirates movie was a classic example. They took a solid first movie and butchered it. It was like 3 hours and was a muddled boring mess. I also hated the fish pirate. My friend calls it the bugger pirate! Kill me now.
      I did like the Incredibles- that’s a superhero movie!
      Its a little over-played in Utah for some reason but I also liked The Princess Bride. A movie left unsoiled by horrible sequels. That would never happen now.

  2. A ton of new reviews for Green Lantern came into today on Rotten tomatoes. Its only at 22%. Sounds pretty bad.
    Christy Lemire from Associated Press said

    “A joyless amalgamation of expository dialogue and special effects that aren’t especially special.”

    I think that describes most summer movies…

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