The Summer of Meh

I love summer blockbuster season. I am marginally a film critic and I do enjoy good, prestige movies. I watch innumerable independent films as well but I love a big action movie and summer is the season for those. I had high hopes this year but it has not panned out very well.

Iron Man 3: The Disneyfication of Marvel. Forget Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, the Black Widow, and War Machine, let’s give Tony Stark a cute kid sidekick. Can we call him Short Round?

The Great Gatsby: A film adaptation of a book where the director honestly didn’t understand what the book was about.

Star Trek: Into Darkness: The plot is utter nonsense but this was a lot of fun just the same. I mean really just the same.

Fast & Furious 6: The World’s Longest Runway. I’m just saying.

Epic: Generic

After Earth: Hmm I already used Afterbirth for Asylum’s take on this film so maybe Crash & Burn. Sorry Will – people like you but are apparently not so keen on your forcing your son on us. Another nail in Shyamalan’s career.

Man of Steel: The Anti-Superman movie – way to Kryptonite the franchise yet many people enjoyed it and the sequel will feature a non-Bale Batman.

World War Z: IF you can forgive it for not having anything to do with the book (hope you enjoyed the payout Mr. Brooks) and don’t mind a PG-13 zombie movie, it was pretty intense and intelligent.

Monsters University

Monsters University: Fun but not the classic that Monsters, Inc was.

White House Down: White House Dumb, Olympus Has Fallen part Deux

The Lone Ranger: Actually Tonto – the movie would have been a lot shorter if Tonto had let him die.

Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2: Fun but not as good as the first PLUS I had to endure innumerable McDonald’s Happy Meals to get the toys for umm my granddaughter – yes my granddaughter wanted them.

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim: Godzilla Meets Transformers but I still love monster movies. This could have been a lot better but was a bright spot this summer.

Red 2: More nonsense from folks who did not really understand what made the first one kind of, sort of, work. Still I love watching Helen Mirren kick butt.

R.I.P.D.: Men in Black 4, only supernatural instead of science fiction and poor CGI.

Turbo: Generic Cartoon 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Wolverine:X-Men 6 minus all the X-Men save two, and one of those is dead for the whole movie. The saving grace is the post-credits scene.

This was pretty much a summer with no new ideas. Of course the twelve-year-old boy inside of me enjoyed going to all of these movies even if the half-century old man knew most of them were duds.

White House Dumb

Air Force OneWolfgang Peterson’s Air Force One (1997 – sadly not currently available on instant Netflix or Amazon Prime) was a wonderful melding of the Die Hard premise (lone, unprepared hero fights off a band of villains to save innocents, including his family) with politics and the Presidency.

Olympus Has Fallen

Strangely, after a decade and a half, two studios simultaneously decided to remake this, choosing to make the protagonist a failed Secret Service member (Olympus Has Fallen)/a cop who failed to become a Secret Service member (White House Down), and set it in the White House so we could bring maximum building destruction.

White House Down

In itself these are not bad premises but in Air Force One, the plan is canny if a little loopy and the number of Secret Service agents are reduced by being on Air Force One. When the plan goes into effect, even though it is aided by someone on the inside, the Secret Service goes into action and does exactly their job. The rest of the story occurs because the President refuses to leave his family.

In Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, we have a full complement of Secret Service agents and auxiliary personnel. When the plan goes down, ALL of the agents search out the gunfire and throw their bodies in front of it, not for any effect other than to let our lone hero begin his mission. Olympus Has Fallen is the worst one, with a withering fire concentrated on the White House entrance and agent after agent walking right into the fire. It was almost as if they were filming a World War I over-the-top trench scene.

White House Down is clearly the more well thought out of the two plots. It has an irritatingly de rigeur and deus ex machina hacker so that various things can be magically taken care of but the overall villains give the best chance for success. Olympus Has Fallen was the right-wing version of the story, featuring a white President and North Korean villains. White House Down features Jaime Foxx as an Obama stand-in and the villains are the military industrial complex. I guess private military corporations are the villains du jour, replacing unscrupulous land developers.

It is a shame that neither of these movies can follow the wonderful blueprint set down by the master of the right-wing political thriller, Tom Clancy. Not only can Clancy concoct wonderfully plausible, if xenophobic, scenarios but he doesn’t have a single invincible superhero solve all problems. Honestly, the only purpose the cabinet served in White House Down, besides being victims and hostages, was to tell Cale how much time was left. Clancy has agents Clark and Chavez doing agent type work, intelligence analysts doing analytical work (except when Ryan gets in over his head), and Presidents doing presidential work. Sadly he is so rich now that other people write his books and they don’t typically understand the ensemble approach.

I will say that White House Down has much better special effects and an early blowing up of the Capitol building makes more sense than the Washington Monument as penis metaphor in Olympus Has Fallen. Both feature rah rah jingoistic patriotism, though most of White House Down features Cale (Channing Tatum) trying to rescue his daughter, while the President seems somewhat incidental.

White House Down can be big dumb fun but I would really like an intelligent thriller.

Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down one-line review:

Seriously, just go back and watch Air Force One.

FREE Movie Tickets from Target

Normally Best Buy rules in the world of FREE movie tickets but Target has jumped in with both feet in their latest ad. Please note: all promotions require a sticker on the front of the movie – don’t buy if the sticker isn’t present.

Despicable Me

* Buy Hop, The Lorax, ParaNorman, or Despicable Me on DVD and get a FREE 2″ Minion figurine as well as $7.50 movie cash for Despicable Me 2

Madagascar 3

* Buy Madagascar 3 or other DreamWorks animation (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda) and get $7.50 movie cash for Turbo

MI: Ghost Protocol

* Buy Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, Top Gun and get $7.50 in movie cash for World War Z

* Buy Columbiana, Black Hawk Down, The Patriot, District 9 and others and get $10 in movie cash for White House Down

* Buy The Bourne series, Jurassic Park series, Battleship, Savages, End of Watch and receive $8 in movie cash for R.I.P.D. or Kick-Ass 2. Note: This is Fandango cash so you must be able to use Fandango for this one.

* (Not in ad but seen at Target) Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Night at the Museum, Eragon have $8 movie cash for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

* (Not in ad but seen at Target) X-Men ($10-15) and Wolverine ($10) Blu-Rays have $10 movie cash to go see The Wolverine.

* (Not in ad but seen at Target) Braveheart, Gladiator, 300, Clash of the Titans, Troy, The Matrix have $8 movie cash ($5 for DVDs) for Pacific Rim, The Conjuring, and We’re the Millers

 

 

White House Birthday Down

Well, I spent Father’s Day enjoying a wonderful meal at Papa’s and Beer with my wife, eldest daughter, and granddaughter. I had spicy bean dip, carnitas (pork) fajitas, and flan for dessert. I enjoyed it so much that I expect to do it again this weekend for my birthday. Besides the quality of the food, my favorite thing about Papa’s is the quantity. I always have leftovers for lunch the next day. Yum!

White House Down

Father’s Day, I also went and saw the very disappointing Man of Steel with a FREE ticket. This time around it is White House Down (also FREE – thank you Amazon!). I don’t expect much from it – the trailer doesn’t look as good as Olympus Has Fallen and that wasn’t very good at all. The film I would have liked to have seen for my birthday doesn’t start for a couple of weeks.

Pacific RimGuillermo del Toro – I expect you to rescue me from this year’s humdrum (The Not-So-Great Gatsby, Iron Man 3 – Now with Less Iron!, Fast & Spurious 6, This is the (Offensive) End) summer movies. Only Star Trek impressed me and that had huge logic gaps.