Is it possible to say that we've seen some awful movies recently? Yes, we have? But must this be classified as a horrible year for movies? Depends on your angle. Maybe those people who can't see a bright spot have been subjected to too many viewings of "Robin Hood." "Robin Hood" brought out the very worst that movies can be. It was overly long and painstakingly dull. The action was too quick to be admired. In the end, it was just a two hour trailer for a sequel no one is even interested in seeing.
Then, there was "The A-Team," a fine example of Hollywood creative bankruptcy. The film mainly consisted of sloppily edited action sequences, unfunny jokes that made no sense, and a plot that's beyond incomprehensible. Seriously, if the audience is supposed to buy into the idea of a flying tank, the world being portrayed must first be remotely believable. Without that, it's just a tank being held up by a parachute. This would likely be a top contender for worst of the year had it not been for "Robin Hood."
It seems funny to say that for the first half of the summer, the best movie was "Iron Man 2." "Iron Man 2" lacked the surprising fun of its predecessor. Two great villains and a surprising story were bogged down by a need to constantly promote the upcoming "Avengers" movie. It would've been much better had Robert Downey Jr. had just been allowed to do whatever he wanted to.
The conventional superhero genre may be dead, but the graphic novel genre is just being born in an amazing new way. The ambitions and satirical edginess of the late summer pleasure "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" cannot easily be equaled. The more I think about it, the more "Scott Pilgrim" stands out as a perfect representation of our current world. It parodies video games, comic books, and hipsters like only someone who has ever been involved with video games, comic books, and hipsters could. Edgar Wright is officially the satirist film director of our generation.
Of all the sequels, prequels, and remakes to grace the cinema this summer, of course the only one actually worth seeing comes from Pixar. "Toy Story 3" is the rare sequel that not only felt necessary, but also worked to finish a story. It also brought tears to my eyes for all the right reasons. The "Toy Story" saga began with the story of a child and ended with the child going to college. Maybe the reason that this film seemed even more meaningful to teenagers than children is that it fit in so perfectly with our lives. Now, I need to think twice before leaving a toy behind.
Pixar may rule the animated genre, but that doesn't mean that competitors don't have a chance. The scrappy debut effort "Despicable Me" didn't have the money and talent of Pixar, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be worthy entertainment. This one might be meant more for kids, but it got me with its near perfect voice talent (Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Will Arnett) and little creatures called Minions.
As usual, the greatest summer delights came from the indie surprises. On the darker side, there was the twisted creature feature "Splice" and the hauntingly realistic "Winter's Bone."
"Splice" was far from perfect, but it was without a doubt one of the most expertly directed films made in a while. Vincenzo Natali so effortlessly vacillates between the many different moods and feelings projected by the film. Until the very conventional ending, he made "Splice" something truly special. I can't wait to watch "Cube," and all other films he has planned down the line.
"Winter's Bone" was a much different film than you'd expect to see over the summer. The cold, harsh Ozark landscape certainly contrasts the summer attitude. But the film played off both murder mystery and character study so well. I guess this one was just too dark and too realistic to reach out to a wider audience.
Another indie that didn't reach out as far as it should've was "Cyrus." I will admit that my expectations for "Cyrus" were extremely high and that they weren't exactly met. I certainly got a different movie than I anticipated. Still, it certainly surprised me in a good way. It was frank and understanding while being so hilarious and breezy. It also elevated Jonah Hill from good comedic actor to impressive dramatic actor. Maybe the love triangle was a little too weird for some people.
The indie community can live with one true victory this summer: "The Kids Are All Right." "The Kids Are All Right" deserves so much praise for so many reasons. No comedy in the past year has felt this warm, inviting, and all out hilarious. Not to mention, it also contains a groundbreaking portrayal of a lesbian couple as, well, normal. "The Kids Are All Right" could've been about a man and a woman and their relationship wouldn't have been much different.
Now, I save the best for last. It's a pretty obvious choice, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't talk about it one last time. It's Christopher Nolan's brilliant triumph, "Inception." Maybe I've talked enough about this movie, but the more I talk about it, the more I enjoy it. Now is no time for further in depth analysis. Now it is time to praise "Inception" for what it really is: the smart and original blockbuster we don't get anymore. The film certainly has its faults, and it is definitely too early to put it next to the likes of "Citizen Kane" and "The Godfather." But appreciate "Inception" for what it is, because we rarely get a film like it. Then again, with its huge box office success, perhaps studios will finally start to take risks on original ideas.
That's summer 2010 for you. It was a summer in which good ideas and imagination triumphed over the uninspired. However, summer is not over yet. "Piranha 3D" is just around the corner.