Days are getting shorter, the temp is getting colder, and the movies are getting less blockbuster-y. Summer is turning into fall, and that means its time to look back at the summer that was, movie-wise.
Two big movies I wanted to see but which fell through the cracks were the acclaimed Toy Story 3 and the 80s-nostalgia, 'roid-filled action extravaganza The Expendables, but I'll hopefully catch those on DVD (or maybe even a theater still).
Anyways, here's what I thought of what I did see.
Iron Man 2
A worthy follow-up to the first film, though not without its flaws (I could have done without the drunken Iron Man/Rhodey fight and with more Scarlett Johannson, but that's true of most movies...).Once again, Robert Downey Jr. is so entertaining as Tony Stark that it isn't until the movie is over that you realize how little the title character appears in it.
Get Him to the Greek
It certainly has its funny moments (then again, it doesn't take much to get me to laugh), but largely forgettable. I'd honestly forgotten I'd seen it until I looked over the list of movies released over the summer, and am having a hard time coming with anything else to say about it. That's pretty much the definition of average, I suppose.
Tons of fun. Patently ridiculous, in parts, but still tons of fun. Bradley Cooper was good enough as Face, in a role that was more central to the movie than I was expecting, that I wouldn't mind seeing him play the witty action hero in future summer blockbusters. Thankfully, the obligatory romantic subplot with Jessica Biel was downplayed almost to the point of non-existence, and we got to just sit back and watch the boys have some fun and blow stuff up.
Knight and Day
Another movie, like The A-Team, that is little more than summer fluff but enjoyable enough. This felt like an old-fashioned kind of movie (in a good way), an original story banking on the star power of its actors to sell tickets (and, as such, is one of the few films from this last summer that isn't based on or spun-off from something else). Tom Cruise, in Mission: Impossible mode (complete with his trademark goofy running) is an old hat at this kind of super spy stuff, and Cameron Diaz managed not to annoy the piss out of me. Marc Blucas, The World's Greatest Actor, also makes an appearance, which is a plus for any movie. I have a few minor quibbles with the plot (specifically, one of those annoying scenes which requires a character to act out-of-character in order to move the plot along) but it holds together better than you'd expect a movie which probably had its puntastic title written before its screenplay would.
The Last Airbender
The film I was most looking forward to seeing, and easily the worst movie I saw this summer (in fact, in a long while). M. Night Shymalan sucked all the fun, humor and energy out of the television series and presented a leaden, murky and poorly-written turd of a movie. As my brother said, it was like the first draft of the movie got filmed instead of revised. "What's a better word for 'sacredness'? Ah, screw it, we'll fix it later." Even the special effects and action scenes (which can at least make a bad movie fun to watch) were crappy and/or non-existent. The poor actors did the best they could with some awful material (and Dev Patel's Zuko wasn't half bad) but the only enjoyment to be had in this one was in laughing at how bad it is.
Easily the best movie of the summer. It isn't a flawless masterpiece or anything, but it is very, very good. Like lots of Nolan's films, it adds some substance to the summer blockbuster formula and leaves you both exhilarated and thinking. Any movie that is, essentially, the love child of Total Recall, The Matrix and Ocean's Eleven is a-ok in my book.
The Other Guys
On the Will Ferrel spectrum, this falls closer to Step Brothers than Anchorman. It's definitely funny, but it has some plotting problems. Things are setup that never payoff, and what seems like foreshadowing turns out to be foreshadowing nothing. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see multiple endings on the DVD, as it felt very much like a film which was tweaked several times between being shot and showing up in theaters.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
It's a shame this wasn't more of a success, as it's a very unique and enjoyable film, combing elements and tropes of comic books, video games and pop music with a great cast. Michael Cera brought enough energy to the title role to separate it from the numerous ennui-soaked characters he's made a career out of playing without leaving behind the listlessness inherent to Scott's character (and the reason Cera was likely cast in the first place). I haven't read the manga-esque graphic novels on which the movie is based (and thus am more or less ignorant of the inherent flaws and charms of the property) but the film did a good job of creating an environment where the video game style battles, sound effects and other callbacks were both fun to watch but believably ordinary for the characters. Definitely worth checking out as, judging from the box office returns, most people reading this haven't seen it.