This September 22nd marks the Fall Equinox and the official end of summer. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here a cold wind has started to roll in and bring a chill to the evenings. Fall is upon us, which suits me find; I’m a sweater person. Winter is coming on the other hand and don’t get me started on Winter. Anyway I digress, we’re here to talk about summer, summer movies specifically. We didn’t go see a ton a movies this summer, in fact we even missed our annual Woody Allen summer ticket (Magic in the Moonlight will just have to suffer on our small screen at home when it comes out). Truth be told, not too many offerings this summer looked up to snuff; case in point, not 1 but 2 Michael Bay movies. The latest Transformers made an obscene amount of money around the world, but like an astute critic of the first film stated ‘ I’d rather have my head duck taped to a dryer full of pots and pans on full for two hours than sit through that again.’ It also feels like a lifetime ago since a comedy was actually funny. I found 21 Jump Street immediately forgettable and the sequel looked like it just offered up the same stuff: pass. The new Spiderman seemed to suffer from the ‘too many villains’ plight that brought the original trilogy down. Too many of the movies this summer were just aiming for the low hanging fruit.
Looking at the box office results, I feel many people shared my sentiments about our choices this summer. It was the lowest grossing summer since 2006, falling almost a billion dollars short of last year. We ultimately shape our movie culture with our pocketbooks. This is a very scary prospect, because only the movies that bring in the big numbers will get the green light regardless of how formulaically vacant they are, so that means there are more TMNTs in our future. The reason we have so many super hero movies is that for the moment they make money. I fear audience fatigue will soon set in and burnout is eventual. We need more original ideas and intelligent scripts to fill those seats.
I did actually make it to four flicks this summer; one made me question my humanity and the other three made me feel like a kid again. Godzilla kicked the summer off with a stylish reboot of a monster movie icon. When I was a child nothing felt more like winning the lottery than turning on the television to find a Godzilla movie. The kid in me smiles every time I hear his roar, so I was very pleased/relieved to find his hallmark sound was intact. The brilliance of this movie is we have to wait a while before we get our first full glimpse of the big guy and for the rest of the movie you are left with the feeling of wanting more. It’s a satisfying slow burn. Brian Cranston is underutilized and the design of the other monster didn’t do it for me, but overall Godzilla satisfies.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes just left me confused. I didn’t know who I was supposed to root for: the apes or the humans?
The first movie going experience I can clearly remember was going to see Star Wars when I was six years old. I went to see it another three times that summer and gauge every summer blockbuster that has come after it against it. Guardians of the Galaxy definitely had that sci-fi lived in vibe with plenty of Han Solo homage going on- which I liked. Guardians works best because we like the characters. They’re a funny dynamic group of lovable scoundrels and their throwback soundtrack was a nice touch. Where Star Wars leaves them in the dust however is; Guardians doesn’t have a strong enough villain to foil against our new favourite team. A super hero movie ultimately succeeds or fails by its choice of bad guys.
The movie highlight of the summer for me was definitely Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Filmed over twelve years, we literally get to watch an entire cast grow and age over the span of the main character’s adolescence. It is both over the top ambitious and understated performance and drama in equal measures. It is like no movie you have ever seen and it is a great watch.
Overall, not really much to report on a pretty lackluster movie season but I would recommend all four of the films I saw this summer.
Dawn of the planet of the Apes B
Guardians of the Galaxy A-