This past summer was loaded with everything Hollywood could throw at us. Although you have all been denied my insightful reviews for the several months we’ve spent apart from each other I am sure you made it to the movies and were subject to many opinions (not to mention your own). Well, now you will get mine on just about every movie of the summer along with what I think about what to expect this fall semester.
The biggest hype always surrounds the movies that the production companies dumped the most money into. These, of course, are expected to gross the most at the box-office and are therefore a wonderful blend of comic one-liners, action, romance and more. These include, but are not limited to, “Spider-Man,” “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “The Sum of All Fears,” “The Bourne Identity,” “Minority Report,” “Men in Black II” and finally “XXX.”
“Spider-Man” was a fantastic ride through the comic-like world. Very rarely can a movie studio adapt a popular comic book to the screen and do it well, as we’ve seen from other Stan Lee characters on the screen and like I predict we will see from “The Hulk” due out next year. But “Spider-Man” holds true for the comic book fans and still entertains those who have never read a comic in their lives. B+.
“The Sum of All Fears” and “The Bourne Identity” bring off-screen pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon into a monetary competition at the box-office. Ben Affleck as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan eventually won over Matt Damon’s good, but insufficient, portrayal of the earlier ’80’s best seller. “The Sum of All Fears” was a fine film, you can never go wrong with a Jack Ryan thrill, but it doesn’t match up to the previous in that anthology. And the book “The Bourne Identity” is much more suspenseful than Matt Damon and director Doug Liman could ever produce. C for both films.
Now we get into the CGI (computer generated image) war as “Star Wars: Episode II,” “Men in Black II” and “Minority Report” all face off.
With everything in the world going to computer graphics I feel nostalgic toward the time when Star Wars was done with models and actual stunts that endangered Harrison Ford. It is a simple continuation of George Lucas’ saga and again, like “Episode I,” this one doesn’t live up to any in his original trilogy. C-.
“Men in Black II” was fun and somewhat entertaining, but like most sequels, doesn’t hold a candle to the first one. I felt very let down by this film. It gets a C- as well.
“Minority Report” was surprising. Lately Speilberg and Cruise have let me down, and I thought this was going to continue that streak and yet I found myself very entertained. It had all the elements of a good movie and all the elements of master filmmaking, but there was some technical dialogue that could’ve been cut as well as about twenty minutes, so this gets a B-.
“XXX” is on the other end of the spectrum. I thought this was going to be an adventure I would be glad to be a part of, but I was horribly and disgustingly wrong. “XXX” was simply a two-hour music video with unfathomable stunts and a ridiculous plot. It seems they had a small premise for a movie, put it together, and then said, “let’s also blow up some Columbian drug lords (as in there is no point to a rather large action scene in the beginning.)” A very deserving F is given to “XXX.”
Most summer comedies either surprise us with their box-office take or they upset with it. A good example of an upset would be “Undercover Brother,” but let’s be honest, what logical person saw this one doing anything good. D.
“Bad Company,” with Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock didn’t pull in nearly what the studios had hoped considering the money they put into it and “Scooby-Doo” upset its original fan base. Seriously now, “Scooby-Doo” should be finding out about the ghost at the abandoned amusement park, not trying to save the world. Both get a D+.
Funny man Adam Sandler gives us a small bomb with “Mr. Deeds.” It isn’t a large bomb, just a small one, seeing that it isn’t nearly as funny as Sandler can be. Let’s hope his release later this year, “Punch-Drunk Love,” makes me laugh a little more. C-.
“Like Mike,” starring Lil’ Bow Wow, doesn’t even deserve a review, for I haven’t found words to express that monstrosity. But Austin Powers, however, is another fine piece of work from Mike Myers. He started with comedies like “So I Married An Axe Murderer” and hasn’t let us down since. It wasn’t as good as his earlier Austin Powers movies, seeing as he used many repeated jokes, but it is still funny and worth the money. B-.
SIMPLY GOOD FILMS:
There are three films from this summer (four after “Signs”) that I think deserve special mention. The first is Robin Williams second film in a trilogy of darker films, “Insomnia.” This is the second film from writer and director Christopher Nolan (“Memento”). It has great performances by Williams and Pacino and you may see it again come the Oscar race. B+.
The next film, “Road to Perdition,” is one that is going to most likely bring Tom Hanks yet another Oscar nomination, but what do I know when it comes to the Academy considering I still think Denzel should give back his award due to some catastrophic mistake. “Road to Perdition” is the incredible tale of a man dealing with his own demons and struggling not for his own life, but for the life of his son, for he feels his son can get into Heaven still, but not himself. Many critics have compared this film to “The Godfather,” but that is too much pressure for any film. There will never be another “Godfather” but this new gangster tale still receives an A for everything that it is.
The biggest surprise I got this summer was a film I honestly went to because my girlfriend really wanted to see it. “About A Boy” is a comic and dramatic milestone for actor Hugh Grant. I couldn’t stop laughing at and caring about every character in the film. A movie that gets so many emotions involved accomplishes something rare in theater. This gets a very solid A, so you better not miss this one.