2012 Summer Movie Wrap-Up

daniel cohen examines the summer movie season…

Another over-crowded summer movie season has come and gone. We saw superheroes, a record-breaking opening weekend, superheroes, sequels, threequels, and even fourquels. And did I forget to mention superheroes? All in all…a pretty disappointing summer actually. ure, we had our share of awesome, but the disappointing outweighed the good. And even though I joked about all the superhero fare this year, it really is the best genre right now in terms of the blockbuster season. But it wasn’t all about the men in tights. There were some smaller comedic gems as well thanks to directors Wes Anderson and Seth MacFarlane. But enough blabbing — let’s defuse the explosions and put this summer to bed with my Top 5…

Flicks of the Summer:

5.) Marvel’s The Avengers:

I’m probably the only one in America not to have this ranked 1 or 2 on their summer wrap-up list. Don’t get me wrong: this is a great movie. Director Joss Whedon did a marvelous job of melding all these superheroes into one big extravaganza. The fact that he was able to live up to a five movie build up hype machine is very impressive, and I can’t wait to see what Marvel does next. My biggest problem with this movie though is that it’s just too jokey. I’m not saying it wasn’t funny, but the jokes are so frequent at times that it almost becomes a parody of itself. But aside from my complaints, the acting is superb all around, the action is ridiculous, and it’s a pure fun ride from start to finish. But when it comes to superheroes, I prefer the more serious fare.

4.) Ted:

It’s just refreshing to see a great comedy because they don’t come along very often. Does director Seth MacFarlane simply bring his Family Guy-style of humor into live action format…yeah, but it works. And unlike some other comedies such as Bridesmaids or The Hangover, which are full of unlikable assholes that I’m supposed to sympathize with, Ted at its core is about two loyal best friends, and that’s it. This film really does have a heart, because despite all the terrible things Ted does, you know he’s still a decent guy…or teddy bear rather. Oh, and it’s also hilarious. It’s a raunchy comedy that doesn’t rely on ‘shitting in the street’ scenes.

3.) The Amazing Spider-Man:


I may be a little too biased when praising this film because I’m someone who absolutely loathes the Sam Raimi trilogy. This film got a lot of crap because many felt the re-boot was too soon. But I say this re-boot couldn’t come fast enough. The degree of improvement from the original trilogy to this new series is like comparing the original Star Wars trilogy to the prequel trilogy. The acting is about 900 times better, it has the best romantic chemistry in any superhero movie ever made, and it’s just a superior film in every aspect. I could talk all day about how much better this movie is compared to Sam Raimi’s Power Ranger tri…oh, I’m sorry, Spider-man trilogy, but I’ll spare you.

2.) Moonrise Kingdom:

The Royal Tenenbaums is in my top 10 all-time favorite movies. Rushmore is also somewhere in my top 25. Yeah, I’m a big Wes Anderson fan. But to be honest, his last two live action efforts Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited weren’t great. He came back strong with Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I wanted another great live action Wes Anderson project. With Moonrise Kingdom, I can safely say he’s back. Between Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, and Bill Murray, everyone is great as you would imagine them to be in a Wes Anderson film, but it’s the kids who really carry this thing. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the two kid leads Sam and Suzy are phenomenal. And while it slows up a bit in the second half, I thought the ending was very powerful. This is just a great Wes Anderson film, and easily his best since The Royal Tenenbaums.

1.) The Dark Knight Rises:

Batman. Christopher Nolan. Christian Bale. The ending to one of the greatest trilogies ever. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Now with my top 5 out of the way, let’s do some quick hits on some of the best and worst of the summer:

Biggest Surprise: The Watch
-I may have been the only person who saw this, but not only did I think this was going to be a complete train wreck, it was actually a solid little comedy, and probably Ben Stiller’s best movie since Tropic Thunder.

Most Overrated: Marvel’s The Avengers
This doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, it just means I didn’t think it was the greatest thing since cinnamon flavored matza.

 

Most Underrated: Snow White and the Huntsman
I feel like a lot of people didn’t give this a chance because of Kristen Stewart. And while she’s certainly the weakest part of the film, she also doesn’t completely ruin it. This was a really good movie with a lot of slick action and a very dedicated performance from Charlize Theron.

The Scene Stealer: Bruce Wayne climbs out of Bane’s prison (The Dark Knight Rises)
For the simple fact that this scene is basically all the emotional weight of the entire trilogy erupting like a volcano. Everything about this works, from Bale’s performance to Hans Zimmer’s glorious score, it’s a truly riveting and moving piece of film. As the bats fly out of the wall while the prisoners chant ‘rise,’ it’s a scene Batman fans will never forget.

The Un-scene stealer: Dictator Aladeen delivers a baby (The Dictator)
Disturbing. Offensive. Shameful. But most important of all…not funny.

 

Most Disappointing Film: Prometheus
When I say the summer was disappointing, I’m pretty much referring to this movie. Aside from some good cinematography, I can honestly say there is nothing about this film I enjoyed. Except for Charlize Theron, the acting was pretty poor. I don’t even like Michael Fassbender’s performance, which seems to be the one thing people want to defend with this movie. This was just a complete miss.

The Lazy Award: Total Recall
Let’s take the Total Recall script from 1990, copy it, paste it on to a new document, take out Mars, and get a bad actor. There’s your movie.

Funniest Moment of the summer: Lance Armstrong’s… (Ted)
I’m still laughing.

The Endurance Test: Rock of Ages
Maybe if it was 80 minutes, it could have been tolerable. But two hours of bad karaoke…no thanks.

Best Performance of the summer: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman (The Dark Knight Rises)
The single greatest interpretation of this character from arguably the best actor working today. His best moment for me is when he screams at Bane towards the end: ‘WHERE’S THE DETONATOR!’ I don’t care what people say…Bale sells that Batman voice.

Worst Performance of the Summer: Russell Brand as Lonny (Rock of Ages)
I admit that I can’t think rationally about Russell Brand, but the moment when’s he’s supposed to give a big speech at the end and just mumbles instead sums up all you need to know.

Worst Movie of the Summer: The Dictator
Keep in mind I never saw Battleship, but I still think this would take the cake. This is a man (Sacha Baron Cohen) trying desperately to flaunt his one note shtick for another movie. This is no different from Will Ferrell or Russell Brand doing the same crap for ten movies. But for some reason, Cohen fools people into thinking he’s more clever. I don’t buy it, and I want him to go away.

That’s the summer, folks! While I was hoping for better, I can’t really complain about my top 5. In thinking about it, that is a very strong list. Maybe the summer wasn’t so bad after all.

What’s in store for next year? The return of the wolf pack, the enterprise beams up once again, Smurfs, and superheroes, superheroes, and more superheroes (Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine).

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.