With Labor Day approaching, it marks the end of Hollywood’s Summer blockbusters. Myself and 4 writer friends discuss what we thought of Summer 2011. From Boston to New York to Detroit, ranging from age 17 to mid-30’s, Elizabeth Parker from Examiner Detroit & Yes/No Films, Mike Spring from DVDSnapshot, James Shotwell from Under the Gun Review and Johnathan Smith from Comicbookmovie.com & Earth’s Mightiest plus myself combine for the target audience for almost every film this summer, here’s our opinions.
Best of Summer 2011:
Ken: Super 8. The movie absolutely floored me. I had very high expectations for it and it still blew me away with its cross genres storyline. I love Abrams and he delivered a classic in perfect retro style.
Liz: I know Ken will disagree with this, but I have to say The Help. I loved the book and the movie definitely did it justice. This is only the second movie I have given 5 stars to.
Mike: Thor. Of all the movies I saw this summer, this was the one I kept comparing other films to. “I liked fill-in-the-blank, but it wasn’t as fun as Thor.” Chris Hemsworth is a star, the film had some really great humor to it, and Kenneth Branagh took a B-list comic book hero and made him into an A-list movie star.
James: Midnight In Paris – I’ve always been a fan of Woody Allen, even in the years surrounding Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, but this was the proof I think myself and the rest of the world needed to know he’s still one of the best writers in the business. Yes, it was reminiscent of all his (best) works, but is a greatest hits reel from one of film’s finest really a bad thing?
Johnathan: Super 8. Coming off good word from some fellow writers, I saw Super 8 on a fluke with a few friends. We enjoyed every minute of it; whether it was following a group of Goonie-esque kids on their film making expedition, or seeing them deal with a bad ass 50’s sci-fi throwback monster, the movie keeps the fun rolling every minute in a steady pace. Plus, it has some great 1980’s period piece jokes.
Worst of Summer 2011:
Ken: Originally I had TheTree of Life, but only one movie made me almost leave in the middle of it, The Help. I apparently saw a different movie than everyone else cause I thought it was ignorant and pretentious.
Liz: Definitely The Smurfs, though I haven’t seen The Tree of Life. I thought it would be funny since Neil Patrick Harris was in it, but alas, it was not. Definitely an hour and a half of my life I will never get back.
Mike: Horrible Bosses. Maybe not the worst movie of the summer, but the most disappointing for me. I really wanted, and expected to love this movie, as the trailer was hysterical. Instead, it was filled with unlikable people doing unfunny things.
James: Conan – I wanted to say Green Lantern so incredibly bad, until I saw this waste of money, time, and existence. From weak direction to plot and character arcs as flat as the Earth in 1426. Ron Perlman gives a Hail Mary of a performance, but even Hellboy himself couldn’t save this clunker.
Johnathan: Conan the Barbarian. Conan is a character whose movies or comics never wowed me. I enjoy the Conan flicks with Arnie to a certain degree in spite of myself, but nothing of interest was ever there for me except the star. This Conan sadly flows the same way, making it so Momoa was the only great thing (I felt he greatly embodied Conan from the comics), but sadly the rest of the film keeps you from enjoying anything, but him. The effects and weak story crumble a franchise that I personally never found to be much of anything in the first place.
Most Overrated Summer 2011:
Ken: Transformers 3. The movie made a ton of money and I thought it was ridiculous (in the bad way). Pirates 4 is close because of all the money it made, but at least that was watchable. I hate Michael Bay because of this junk.
Liz: Pirates 4. Definitely did not hold my interest like the other three, and I couldn’t help thinking that Johnny Depp read the script and decided to do the movie for the paycheck.
Mike: Super 8. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this movie. I just didn’t think it was all THAT great. I liked it, but didn’t love it. And from Spielberg and Abrams, I should have loved it.
James: The Tree Of Life – Indie cinema will always be held closer to my heart than studio films, but Terrence Malick really tested my patience with this film. Not only does it not make any sense, it’s mind-meltingly tedious. Further, it’s one of the few films I’ve known where even the acts claim they don’t “get it.” There’s a fine line between impressionism and simply not knowing where your going. This feels like the latter.
Johnathan: The Change Up. I judge comedies for myself, but I couldn’t help, but let the good word I heard from most people (but not many critics) hinder my opinion that The Change Up would rule. I love Bateman and Reynolds, and together they would seem like a classic pair., but this flick fell short, without being able to find its heart or its funny bone throughout the whole annoyingly familiar plot. Personally I had expected better humor, but instead got gross out gags that just couldn’t even get so much as a chuckle out of me.
Most Underrated Summer 2011:
Ken: The Guard. Most people didn’t see this Irish flick and it didn’t get a big release in the US, but Brendan Gleeson was fantastic and deserves a Golden Globe nomination. Completely un-PC and absolutely humorous.
Liz: Sarah’s Key, a little indie movie most of you probably haven’t heard of. Heartbreaking, depressing film, based on the book, which I read after seeing the film, but I actually liked the movie better.
Mike: Green Lantern. Okay, it’s not that I think this film is really “underrated,” but good lord people, it’s really not THAT bad. It didn’t deserve to get shredded to bits by critics and Twitterers alike. It’s a decent enough sci-fi superhero flick. Not great, certainly, but not terrible, either.
James: Bellflower – Evan Glodell is a mad scientist of a filmmaker. This tale of destruction and love is truly one of a kind and even those who are split on how they feel about it generally tell me they can’t shake it. It’ll stay with you in the best possible way.
Johnathan: Thor. I heard a slew of negativity early on for this flick during my many dealings with the world of comic book movies (get it?). Thor was treated as ok by most critics, and some went as far as to trash it for reasons that the plot actually made sense or the fight scenes towards the end weren’t as good as the one in the beginning. But seeing Thor myself, and seeing some of my favorite comic characters brought to life near flawlessly while still holding relevant to film was a great experience.
Biggest Surprise Summer 2011:
Ken: X-Men First Class. I love comic book movies, but I was really hesitant of this one before I saw it. Definitely the biggest surprise for me because it’s one of my favorites. Fassbender (Oscar worthy?) and cast are fantastic. Captain America gets honorable mention.
Liz: By surprise, do you mean good, or bad? I will go with good. I would say Friends with Benefits. It was a lot better than No Strings Attached, but with essentially the same plot, and it was a lot funnier than I thought it was going to be.
Mike: Captain America. Honestly, I had some reservations about this one. I love the Captain America comic books, but the trailer left me under whelmed. The movie has a few flaws, but overall it was a terrific adventure movie with heart and humor.
James: Page One – What I expected to be a lightly veiled cry for help in the digital age turned out to be one of the funniest and heart-warming films of the year.
Johnathan: X-Men: First Class. Being a huge X-men fan I was a little hurt they made a film with a poor excuse for an original team for the X-Men, and knowing they were pissing fans off at every turn. I went in thinking I would be coming out calling this film an abomination worthy of sitting on a shelf next to Catwoman (should you make the grave mistake of having a shelf containing Catwoman). It played so well as a movie, all comics were wept from my mind. Magneto is played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender that his scenes alone will keep you glued to the screen. But Fassbender far from overshadows the great work put in by McAvoy, Lawrence, and the lot. This compelling, witty, and fun superhero flick is certainly one to check out if you haven’t yet.
Movie You Missed in Theater, but Wish You Saw:
Ken: Tie for me. Even though I heard horrible things about both I still wanted to see Conan the Barbarian and Zookeeper. I heard Conan was epically bad and Zookeeper because I know a lot of people in it because it was filmed in Boston in 2009.
Liz: I still want to see Another Earth, a Fox Searchlight indie that did not screen here.
Mike: Transformers 3. Just because it’s big and loud and looks better on the big screen. I saw the first two in theaters and enjoyed them both (admittedly, they are flawed) and I wish I could have made it to see this one, too.
James: Thor – I know it kicked off the Summer and will be on blu ray soon enough, but after catching a VOD version of the film I now wish I’d seen it twice in theaters instead of the one time I had to pay extra to see The Green Lantern suck in the third dimension.
Johnathan: Cowboys & Aliens. I heard mixed reactions to this movie. But being the geek I’m sure you know I am at this point, I couldn’t help, but want to see this movie myself due to the fantastic cast and my love for alien attack flicks and westerns. Sadly, I missed my first chance, and never made room to see it afterwards.
Ken: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The movie is great and will get sequel(s). Didn’t know what to expect, but really enjoyed it. Serkis could get Oscar nod for playing an ape.
Liz: Definitely Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I haven’t seen the other Apes movies (bad reviewer, I know) but now this movie has inspired me to want to rent them on DVD.
Mike: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. An amazing movie experience. I’ve been a fan of the POTA franchise since I saw the original on a rented library video tape as a kid and wore it out. This is easily one of the best of the entire series. Loved it.
James: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – If any film should be considered the “cinematic event of the Summer,” this is it. Great acting, amazing CGI, and a world of new ideas that managed to open our imagination with a solid helping of relevancy for today’s hyper-active youth. James Franco, you’re my hero.
Johnathan: Fright Night. While keeping the same wit and charm as the original, a great cast carries a used, but apparently not dead movie idea into another round of greatness. Though some characters may have been altered from the original, it works better with this updated retelling of the story. Though it may fall a bit shy of its predecessor, Fright Night packs the punches, the screams, and laughs like a good summer popcorn horror flick should.
So if you like our picks feel free to look into my friends and comment your own picks below:
Elizabeth Parker http://joltleft.com/user-carlyle-peach http://www.yesnofilms.com/ www.twitter.com/yesnofilms
Mike Spring www.DVDSnapshot.com www.twitter.com/DVDSnapshot
James Shotwell http://underthegunreview.net/ www.twitter.com/utgjames
Johnathan Smith http://comicbookmovie.com/fansites/JohnathanSmith/ http://earthsmightiest.com/fansites/popculturehero/ www.twitter.com/jsmithcbm
And of course me www.twitter.com/murraymaker And I also do write for DVDSnapshot