I saw a lot of movies this summer and have been very busy with a new job. This is why I have not written a review for all the movies I went to. Starting May 6th until this last weekend I went and saw 12 movies in the theater. You do the math with the current ticket prices…JEEZ! This is an expensive habit.
During the summer I try to really focus on big summer blockbusters, I love art house films and romantic comedies, but during the summer I really want to get my money’s worth out of at least two of my senses. All the movies I did see fit in this category; big, expensive, A-list actors/directors, and they all made a lot of money. To tell you the truth it was a really good summer, I can honestly say only one of the movies was awful, another few were okay, but the other eight were good or really good.
I have been thinking and examining my top 5 and they have changed here and there, but this final list is really where I feel the most comfortable and feel like I can justify an explanation.
5. Tie!!! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. First time ever I have had a tie, but this is truly a tie. First HP, I loved this movie, it made me cry and gave me other emotional responses that reminded me of being a kid. That being said, it was not this one movie that did it for me, it was combination of 7 other films and 7 books that made this one movie so great. Second, RotPotA, this movie will most definitely win an Academy Award for visual effects, WETA is the absolute best in visual effects right now. Not since Jurassic Park have I been so in awe of animal CGI. Again, this movie could not be as good as it was if not for my childhood love of the “Apes” series. As a kid my favorite one was Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Rise is just a reimagining of, and a really good one. Both these films have sentimental connection to me that was unrivaled this year, but it was because they are a part of something much bigger than just one film.
4. Thor. This is in the Top 5 because I had very low expectations, I would say I even dreaded going to see and was happy that X-Men was coming out a couple weeks later. You know what happened, it blew me away. It was not the best comic book hero movie ever, but it was better than a lot of them, and Thor is a really boring comic book character in my opinion. This movie was fun and exciting and a great fit into what Marvel Studios is doing right now. As will all the current Marvel films, the casting is what sold it. Everyone in the cast was believable and not too over the top, and Kat Dennings could have been way worse. This movie exceeded my expectations, which is nearly impossible these days.
3. Super 8. This movie was nearly flawless, which is what everyone should expect from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg. It was a throwback to the late 70s and 80s movies that launched the latter to the top of Hollywood. It was mysterious and fun and exciting and scary and just so good. It was not your typical alien movie and the alien didn’t end up being E.T., it ate people, but the whole story was not about the alien or government. This movie was about people in a different era and their problems and hopes and dreams, and how they define those individuals in an extreme circumstance that makes them reflect on themselves and the people who are in their lives. Great film can’t wait to watch this with Jack and Nora when they are older.
2. X-Men: First Class. At the beginning of the summer I would have said this will be the best movie of the summer, and it nearly was. I love X-Men, the comics, toys, cartoons, movies, and books, all of it. The X-Men are my favorite, by far, comic book characters. So of course I loved this movie, but so did most of you. It was because it was a different take on what we had seen before, it was not set in present day, didn’t have to conform modernism. It was a 1960s movie with 2011 special effects! I have been a fan of Matthew Vaughn for a while now, everyone should rent Layer Cake and Stardust, and I think this is best film, followed closely by Kick-Ass. He has this relaxed cool thing about his films and actors like Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy fit right in and sell it so well you forget they are acting. I think Vaughn may have revived Kevin Bacon’s career too. This movie is so good, after a couple of viewing it has overtaken X2 as the best X-Men movie made.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger. Like with Thor, I was a little weary when I first heard about this film. Then I heard Joe Johnston was going to direct it, and after Jurassic Park III, I was not too thrilled about that. I was completely wrong; Johnston went back to his roots and made hands down, the best movie of the summer, and most like a Top 5 of the year. It had the perfect combination of action, story, special effects, romance, humor, and Tommy Lee Jones. Like X-Men, it was a period piece that worked fantastically. I will say I am worried about how Cap’ will fair in the modern world because typically, comics, that can sometimes get boring. This movie was both cool and up to date, yet still reminded me of the movies I watched as kid (probably because Joe Johnston was art director of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark). With as good as every movie Marvel has made, yes I liked Iron Man 2, I am very excited for next summer and the reign of The Avengers.
What were your favorite movies of the summer? I really want to know…seriously.
P.S.- I apologize of the X-Men: First Class poster, it didn’t realize they never made a good one.
After watching Captain America: The First Avenger earlier tonight, I had thoughts. Here is a list of live-action movies released in the U.S., starting in 1998, based on Marvel Universe characters. They are in chronological order and ranked out of 10 and based solely on my opinion of the films. If you are in need of an explanation, please comment.
Blade (1998) – 6.5
X-Men (2000) – 6.0
Blade II (2002) – 7.5
Spider-Man (2002) -6.0
Daredevil (2003) – 5.5
X2: X-Men United (2003) – 8.0
Hulk (2003) -6.0
The Punisher (2004) -4.0
Spider-Man 2 (2004) – 8.0
Blade: Trinity (2004) – 6.0
Elektra (2005) – 2.0
Fantastic Four (2005) – 6.5
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – 4.5
Ghost Rider (2007) – 6.0
Spider-Man 3 (2007) -4.5
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) – 7.5
Iron Man (2008) – 8.0
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 7.5
Punisher: War Zone (2008) – 4.5
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – 7.0
Iron Man 2 (2010) – 7.0
Thor (2011) – 7.0
X-Men: First Class (2011) – 8.25
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 8.5
With two comic book hero movies out already and two more on the way later this summer, I wanted to throw my two cents in. Not all are great, but so far so good this summer. Go out and see Thor and X-Men: First Class
Some people think comic books are for kids or just for nerds. I strongly disagree. I could write a very long paper about the history of art and how it is storytelling and so on. I think this is becoming less common thought. The recent popularity of summer blockbusters that include comic book heroes is opening up a new audience of readers from all walks of life.
This is a list of my top 5 favorite comic book heroes, and after this summer all will have been seen in a love action adaptation. These may not be the best or most popular heroes, but they are the ones I read the most, I watch the most, and if I could be any one of them I would in a heartbeat. These guys also have something that some other more popular characters do not, they are all cool. Really cool.
James Howlett was born in Canada in the late 19th century. When his mutant power manifested and he ran away, he was unsure of his future. Over the years James killed, loved, and lost. He worked for the Canadian government and eventually for the Weapon X program. The program grafter his mutant bones claws with a near indestructible metal. His mutant healing power helped him survive this process. The Weapon X program also wiped his memory and he fled the experimentation with no memory and took on the name Logan. He had run ins with the Hulk, Spider-Man, and eventually joined Professor Xavier’s second generation of X-Men. It was under Xavier that he learned to control his rage and that he was ultimately a protector and avenger. He would eventually become a major part of the Marvel Universe.
Wolverine was a childhood favorite of mine. He was an antihero who kicked butt and took names. He wasn’t most powerful mutant, but he was rough and had passion. His constant loss and rage made him seem more real then a lot of comic book and cartoon heroes. The fact that he was manipulated most of his life and is now on a path of revenge is exciting and worthy. He was Jason Bourne before Jason Bourne even existed. His place in the Marvel lore is steadfast and he is loved by many. Hugh Jackman has played him nearly perfectly (I even liked origins). I am excited to see Wolverine grow and become even more interesting.
Wolverine: Weapon X (1994)
Wolverine: Enemy of the State (2005)
Old Man Logan (2008)
Born into wealth and love, Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered in front of him. He vowed to rid crime and evil from Gotham City. He has never and probably will never accomplish this mission, yet he still continues to fight. Batman is a symbol to instill fear into the evil and corrupt. He is a detective, hero, friend, and lover. He has a hard time with emotions as seen with his many sidekicks who take the mantle of Robin. His only tie left to his parents is his faithful butler and dear friend Alfred. Batman is the dark knight and caped crusader who will never stop living by the code he holds dearest: Protect the innocent.
Kids either liked Superman or Batman; I was definitely a Batman fan. He had cooler villains, he wasn’t indestructible, and he all kinds of cool gadgets. Batman has gone through many changes throughout the years, but he has always been mysterious and level headed. Of all the comic books and all the movies and cartoons and superheroes out there, Batman seems the most possible. I think that is a major draw with his character, you could realistically grow up to be like Batman. I think it is also important to point out how important his villains are. Mainly the Joker, he defines Batman. The compliment each other perfectly, one is a crazy person who kills on a whim and loves chaos, the other is a crazy person who dresses in all black, solves crimes, and always tries to achieve order.
The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)
Batman: The Long Halloween (1996)
Batman: Hush (2002)
Hal Jordan was a test pilot. He became the greatest hero in the universe. He was the first human chosen by a green power ring to become a Green Lantern, he was chosen because he had the potential to overcome great fear. He joined the Green Lantern Corp and saved the world and universe many times over. Jordan is one of the many heroes who becomes consumed by evil and then comes back from the darkness to be the ultimate hero. When his home city was destroyed by Mongul, he became enraged when the Guardians of Universe (masters of the GLC) and he gave into fear and unleashed the entity Parallax. While consumed by this evil he went on a rampage to remake the universe in his image. Fortunately he was stopped and exiled until he used his power to reignite the sun and ultimately redeem himself.
The Green Lantern is by far my favorite DC character. He has cosmic power, he has a ring that can do anything, he has a dark side, and he was originally drawn to resemble Paul Newman. Of the four GLs that are part of the silver and bronze age of comics, Hal Jordan is the most complex and interesting. He stands up and fights when he doesn’t believe in something and he is willing to put it all on the line for love. His greatest enemy is not Sinestro, even though that guy is brutal, it is himself. He overcomes doubt and has some self-esteem issues. You can relate to him, even though he wields the awesome power of ring.
Green Lantern Vol 2 #9: Battle of the Power Rings! (1961)
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (1994)
Final Night (1996)
Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Volumes 1 and 2 (2007)
Survived a Nazi concentration camp, became a brother to Charles Xavier, conquered fear, stood up to oppression, devoted his life to help other mutants, brought hope to an entire race. Max Eisenhardt (Erik Magnus Lehnsherr) is a radical individual; he has many deep wounds that will never heal. His closest friend and person who knows him best is Professor Xavier, yet his beliefs and values take precedent over that friendship. Magneto has used his hate, anger, and even passion to be a reluctant figure head for Mutants across the world. He never wanted to lead, he just wanted what was right and natural, and leadership was something that he happened to be born with. His powers over the magnetic field make him an impressive advisory to the X-Men and the governments of the world. He was introduced as a villain in 1963, but as time went on, he became a friend, partner, father, messiah, and icon to a planet filled with hatred of the unknown.
Many would argue that Magneto is a hero, but I believe he is highly misunderstood. Much the way that Karl Marx, Malcolm X, Che Guevara was and are. They have an ideal world in their minds where everyone contributes equally to a greater good and no one person or group of people rules over another. Unfortunately this world will never exist, over the course of the comics, Magneto realizes this. He becomes more mature and even sacrifices himself for the cause of Xavier. If you don’t read the comics, watch the movies closely, Magneto is not an evil man, yes he murders and destroys, but he is doing what he thinks is right. Not for world domination or money, but to create a better world. Even though they are not in continuity exactly, my two favorite stories involving Magneto are Age of Apocalypse and House of M. In A of A, he is the leader of the X-Men after Xavier has died; he leads the resistance against the Mutant oppressor Apocalypse, and ultimately becomes the savior to the world. In House of M he is seen as a tyrant who lives in a perfect mutant world, but he is reluctant and when he discovers that it is all a lie, he only wishes for Xavier to be brought back and the world to be as it was. Magneto is one of the most interesting characters in the history of comics and it is because he has conflict within himself.
X-Men Vol. 1, #1 (1963)
Uncanny X-Men vol. 1, #150 (1981)
Magneto Rex: Once We Were Kings (1999)
House of M (2005)
Norrin Radd was a scientist on a distant planet that sacrificed his freedom to save that planet. He did this be offering to help the planter devouring Galactus. He gained cosmic powers beyond imagination, but lost his home and love forever. It was not until the Silver Surfer came to earth and met the Fantastic Four that he remembered his home world and that he was honorable and had a choice, he could save lives. He defied his master and gained his respect. After the Surfer was “freed” he came to call his new home. He contributed to helping save it many times. He eventually grew home sick for Zenn La and left to explore the cosmos and had a great impact for good in the universe.
I love the Silver Surfer; I love him in comics, in cartoons, and even in that one movie. He has unlimited power, he rides on a surf board, and he is completely silver! He makes Superman look lame and he is always looking to make the galaxy a better place. I love the story of the Surfer and how he made the ultimate sacrifice for love and how it wasn’t until he felt love again that he was able to break free from Galactus. He has been portrayed as a harbinger of doom, a messiah, and hero, and outcast, and as a man. He is all of these things, but none of them define him. He is the ultimate character in my eyes, I find every story involving him to be poetic and deep, he is so human without being from earth.
The Silver Surfer: Parable (1988)
Silver Surfer: Requiem (2008)
Back in January, threeandahalfthumbs was first to report that comedian Louis C.K. had signed on to play crowbar-wielding theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman in Warner Brothers upcoming adaptation of the popular video game series Half-Life.
Four scripts and two directors later, Producer Michael Bay is only too happy to shine the spotlight back upon what he is calling a “cast for the ages.”
“We’ve just signed Rosie O’Donnell,” Bay said, outside the New York premier of Transformers 4: No Fear In Fourth Gear. “She’s Lamarr, Gordon’s sarcastic pet headcrab. She’s kind of a Robin to Gordon’s Batman. Their relationship really gives the film its narrative thrust.”
When asked if O’Donnell would be suiting up as the mutated pest or simply voicing it, Bay responded, “You’ll have to wait and see.”
A simple concept. Incredible acting. Minor special effects. Appropriate pacing. These are all things Duncan Jones does very, very well.
As was seen is his directorial debut, Moon, Jones has talent. This is no surprise; he is the son of David Bowie. He uses pace, atmosphere, and characters to bring stories to life that are poignant and interesting. He has a knack for getting the most out of his actors. As he did with Sam Rockwell, he also does with Jake Gyllenhaal. The roles are not largely heroic, or cowardly, they are normal men who are in complex situations where they end up being extraordinary.
Source Code is the story of Captain Colter Stevens and his mission to discover a bomb on a train in Chicago that has already gone off. He is part of a mysterious branch of the government that uses a program called Source Code which can use the synapses of a brain that has recently died to go back to the last eight minutes of that person’s life. While going back over and over again to the last minutes of Sean Fentress’, Captain Stevens meets and falls in love with Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan). All the things that happen to the main character change his perspective as he tries to accomplish a nearly impossible mission.
This film is the perfect length. It doesn’t dilly dally with tons of special effects or a hyper-complex story that no one can follow. It tells the story of a man who is not familiar with his surroundings and he is still expected to save the world. He does not accept what is right in front of him, he becomes heroic.
I am a big fan of animated feature films. I would say that animated films are the reason that I love the medium today. I grew up watching Disney’s Robin Hood, The Hobbit, and An American Tail. These and many others set my on the path to become the film-loving man I am today.
The myths and legends are told through animated films. Modern storytelling to children is done through movies like the Secret of Nimh and Sleeping Beauty. Fortunately cartoon movies have grown and evolved, they have surpassed many of the live action features that come out today. Studios like Disney, Dreamworks, and Studio Ghibli have made a library of continually quality films.
Here are my top five favorites, they may not be the best, but I enjoy them the most.
5. Titan A.E. – A science fiction adventure story in the class of Star Wars, Titan AE tells the story of a reluctant hero who must save what is left of the human race after the destruction of earth. The animation, story, and characters are perfectly positioned for any kid or adult who loves sci-fi epics. The voice cast includes Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, and John Leguizamo. This movie plays out as a heartfelt, action-packed story of love, betrayal, and the human spirit.
4. The Iron Giant – The last great hand-drawn American feature is The Iron Giant. Set in the 1950s amongst beatniks and the red scare, there is a story of an alien robot who crash lands in small town USA. A little boy befriends the robot that has been damaged and is activated as a weapon when attacked by the military. The boy and his family must save the robot and help bring understanding to the community. This story resembles classics like E.T. and Close Encounters, adults do not understand how to interact with aliens, little boys who watch sci-fi television do. The voice talents in this movie include Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel. Brad Bird is the directing force behind this simple wonder.
3. The Incredibles – Another Brad Bird directed film, this one with the power of Pixar behind it, The Incredibles takes everything Stan Lee created with Fantastic Four and improved upon it. The story of a family of superheroes that must fight an egotistical villain, it is perfect. It is funny, exciting, and it’s about protecting the people around you by being honest with yourself. I grew up watching comic book based cartoons and am very familiar with Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the like, this movie is a wonderful depiction of that world. Great for children and adults, The Incredibles is a must see. The voice cast includes Craig T. Nelson, Jason Lee, and Holly Hunter.
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Myazaki. In my opinion, the greatest animator of all time, he even surpasses Walt Disney. He has created such classics as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Ponyo. This is my favorite of his films. It is about a girl who is transformed into an old hag by an evil witch, the girl then stumbles upon the mysterious wizard Howl and his fire demon Calcifer. They must combine their forces to defeat a growing evil. The thing this movie has more then any other animated feature I have seen is the deep fantasy that expects you to accept everything you see without asking questions. You sit in wonder as this masterpiece unfolds before you. The English dubbed version is voiced by Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Blyth Danner, and Billy Crystal as Calcifer. See this if you have the chance, but at least go add Ponyo to your Netflix instant queue.
1. Toy Story – This is the most sentimental of all the movies on this list. I hold it dear because I was Andy. I had a Wolverine action figure and a Luke Skywalker action figure that were my favorites, they are worn out and heavily used, but I still have them in the attic. I was 8 when I saw Toy Story in theaters and I remember being in awe, not just of the animation and the jokes, but of the entire story and real it felt to me. The journey of rivals becoming friends and discovering themselves in order to return their owner. John Lasseter developed the original story for The Brave Little Toaster and that eventually grew into what would become Toy Story. Pixar blasted onto the scene with a smash hit that set the bar extremely high for animated features to come, they have yet to disappoint. I plan on getting down my box of action figures soon, but for now my son is content wearing his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and being completely obsessed with all three Toy Story movies. The incredible voice cast for Toy Story includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and Jim Varney.
Next Top 5 – Appreciating the Unappreciated: Top 5 Directors who have never won an Academy Award.