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Archive for September 2nd, 2011

This week saw the official end of summer so what better time to look back on the summer blockbusters. When did the summer start? Based on the UK weather you would be forgiven for thinking it started and ended in April, but for the purposes of this post the summer blockbuster season began in May. This eliminates the underrated Sucker Punch and the surprisingly enjoyable Fast & Furious 5 (aka Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist aka Fast Five).

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Cap’n Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is seeking the mythical Fountain Of Youth, along the way he crosses paths with old flame Angelica (Penélope Cruz), her farther, the legendry pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and a Spanish fleet for good measure. After the tedious parts two and three I didn’t know what to expect from this fourth movie, despite its many faults, it is actually a surprisingly good fun swashbuckling adventure that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. – Budget: $250,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Surprisingly well.

X-Men: First Class: Is X-Men: First Class: a reboot or a prequel? I’m not sure if it really matters, but if it’s a prequel there are some distracting continuity issues, if it’s a reboot it is a fantastic opportunity to restart the franchise in the way the comic books often do. The casting is great, the acting is good, the story is okay, I love the 60‘s setting and there are some very funny moments. It does suffer from too many unnecessary characters and isn’t very well paced. On the whole it is a worth entry into the X-Men franchise that is much better than The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine but not as good as parts one and two. – Budget: $160,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Not bad.

Green Lantern: Budget: If Marvel and DC are in a battle for movie supremacy Batman is standing alone against the might of the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Green Lantern was DC’s chance to get back into the fight before they bring out the potential big gun, a Superman reboot. I think we are going to have to wait for the man of steel. Ryan Reynolds does a good job in the lead role and the movie is better than the trailer and reviews would suggest, it’s still average at best. – Budget: $200,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Not well.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: The best thing I can say about the new Transformers movie is that it is much better than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, considering how bad that movie was it really is the definition of damning with faint praise. The story and the acting are as bad as ever, some of the action is quite good. The one lesson learnt from the previous movie is to make better use of the human stars even though foremost of those is Shia LaBeouf who lacks charm charisma and acting ability. The sad thing, somewhere in the two and half hour runtime there is probably a decent ninety minute movie; and the surprising thing, I miss Megan Fox. – Budget $195 million (estimated) – How’s it done? Better than it deserves.

Thor: Thor, son of Odin is a powerful but arrogant warrior until he is cast out of Asgard and forced to live on Earth amongst humans. Done badly Thor could be the least accessible and credible Marvel comic book adaptation, in the hands of director Kenneth Branagh it is funny, exciting, entertaining and fun. Advertised as being in 3D, Fortunately there was also a 2D option, no prizes for guessing which one I saw. – Budget: $150,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Very well.

Captain America: The First Avenger: The name says it all, the origin of the first Avenger in preparation for next years Avengers movie. Perfectly cast, well structured and the period setting is spot on. The balance between action and narrative is about right, all in all it as good a film as it could have been allowing for its role as a setup for The Avengers, this is also the reason for the movies only real problem, the modern day sections are conspicuous and could have been handled better or even omitted. – Budget: $140,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Not bad.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2: The problem with the inclusion of this movie on the list is that I can not live or die at the box-office on its own merits. Its success or failure was already sealed long ago with the phenomenon that is the previous movies and the books they are based on. Fortunately it is good, in fact one of the best movies in the series. – Budget: $125,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Highest grossing movie of the year so far.

Super 8: With a tiny budget by blockbuster standards this movie nearly didn’t make the list, however its such a summer movie I just couldn’t leave it of the list. Set in 1979 it is reminiscent of the movies Steven Spielberg (the producer of this movie) was making in the 70’s and 80’s. To add to this the young cast is sensational. The movie is predicable and clichéd, but that really doesn’t matter, it is well made and great fun. – Budget: $50,000,000 (estimated) -How’s it done? Very well.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: I really didn’t want to see this movie. Of the original film series only the first film was any good and the Tim Burton remake was dire at best. However a good second trailer and great word of mouth convinced me. As it turns out the movie is really good, the plot is seriously flawed but on the whole it gets away with it. The effects are fantastic, the story is pretty good and even the acting is good, the best coming from Andy Serkis in a motion capture suite. Certain elements of the plot point to potential sequels, lets hope the are as good as this one. – Budget: $93,000,000 (estimated) – How’s it done? Not bad.

Cowboys & Aliens: Loosely based on a comic book and set in Arizona in the 1870’s, I think you can guess the plot form the title. Boasting a fantastic premise, a great cast (Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell) and a talented director with comic book pedigree (Jon Favreau) I had high hopes for this movie. Although it doesn’t live up to its promise, its still well made and good fun. – Budget: $163,000,000 – How’s it done? Bomb

My top five summer blockbusters in order are:

  1. Super 8
  2. X-Men: First Class
  3. Thor
  4. Captain America: The First Avenger
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

All things considered it has been a good summer for big budget blockbusters, however there have been at least five better lower budget movies this summer:

  1. The Guard
  2. Senna
  3. The Skin I live in
  4. Stake Land
  5. The Way

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