Feature: Summer 2009 Roundup, Part 2

The Summer in question here starts in may and ends by mid September with the beginning of fall which brought out releases like Surrogates and Inglourious Basterds. So this roundup does come almost a month late but this situation is due to the place I live in most movies including some big ones like Up and Star Trek come several months late. There are some others like District 9, Sam Raimi's Drag me to Hell, 500 Days of Summer, Cloudy with Chance of Meatballs, Bruno, Time Traveler's Wife etc I couldnt get to see at all. Maybe I soon will when they are out on DVD's. Sometimes I feel like moving away to greener(read where movies release the earliest) pastures. Also I have intentionally skipped talking about movie like Aliens in the Attic, I love you Beth Cooper etc which have been said to be ranging from uncomfortable, nauseating to vomit inducing. So here are the rest of the movies which I got to see and are worth talking about. For here in 'Too Much Cinema' good cinema is everything.

So continuing the serial reviews from the last post:

This is the best 'chick-flick' or romantic comedy if you wish of this year. It stars Ryan Reynolds who has a knack of picking simple small budgeted yet refreshing films and Sandra Bullock who I havent seen act so well in a long long time. Well I have never seen her act well before. This movie has the usual romantic plot and twists but it has refreshingly new and bold (read adult) stuff in the comedy department. Just like The Hangover you are entertained through out the movie with one liners and sketches. By doing so this movie ends up pleasing the views who are non chalant to the chic-flicks, which is quite a big thing for such films. It has paid off well too by landing the 10th spot in the highest grossers of the year so far.

I like rom-coms as much as I like non stop action popcorn movies which the summers are characterized by. This movie stars Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl and revolves around ONLY them as any other movie of this genre. Yet these two very beautiful and talented actors havent been given much to do. Ugly Truth is like a rehash of The Proposal with all the workplace settings, hate you but end up loving you plot and more importantly the adult humour. So it is boring sometimes but gives you good laughs and fun overall. Did you seriously expect anything more out of it?

This was easily the one to pick among the big starrer blockbusters of this summer. It was like a ticking bomb where there is action right from the beginning to end, you just dont stop and rest even when the characters are contemplating. Much like Salvation and Transformers 2 this movie doesnt have much character depth but they make up for it by giving you tons of flashback. But the true star of the movie and what separates this from the other two is Hugh Jackman. He is a brilliant actor and he makes most of whatever little scope he has been given to act. This must have been easy but by keeping him in focus and not losing track like McG did in Salvation this movie fares pretty reasonably.

Most would say 6/10 is a lot for this movie, but I beg to differ. 2 simple reasons: 1) It was pure unadulterated corny fun. 2)I dint get anything more or less than what I expected from a movies with B list stars based on a 80's Cartoon series. This movie is the best example for the non stop action popcorn summer blockbuster everyone yearns to make. They were all like this before intense characterization and Dark Knight levels of glood and depth came in. Insane technology, breathtaking action sequences, Rachel Nichol and Sienna Miller in deep cleavages and padded bra's gave the movie wholesomeness. But at the end it was just another stupid action popcorn movie with a plotline your 10 year old cousin can think of. Hence it just a 6/10.

Harry Potter movies have been huge letdowns. They are visually and directionally inconsistent and confused. They shouldnt have gone with so many directors. But on the bright side it is not Chris Columbus making all of them. However Prisoner of Azkaban was an aberration with a unique style and strong story telling which almost recreated the complete book experience. And The Half Blood Prince comes close to it. Yes, a lot of plot elements have been distorted and altogether removed. Even the explanation of the title was inexistent and out of sheer formality but this movie dint make me curse the sacrilege of the books or bore me to death either. It was stable storytelling and my attention wasnt let gone at any moment. That is a lot for the HP movies.

Johnny Depp! Christian Bale! Michael Mann! Marion Cotillard! This movie was one of the highly anticipated movies of the year and many were even whispering Oscar. But it turned out to be a dud, it dint even entertain properly forget about drawing you in and binding you with the characters and their lives like great movies do. It wasnt even the expectations that did it for me, since like always the movie came late and I heard of the luke warmed reviews. This movie was plain boring. Having seen all this before, I thought American Gangsters was just alright and this takes mediocrity with aspirations to a new level. The silence during gun fights, they failed attempts to make the viewer emotionally connect with Dillinger and the confused character sketches were yawn inducing. Though Depp performed well with whatever he was given, Bale was totally wasted. Again reminds me of American Gangsters which ran solely due to Denzel Washington's performance but here even Johnny Depp wasnt enough to save this movie. Will the real Michael Mann please stand up?

Tony Scott is the master at what he does. Find gripping, on the edge of your seat thrillers and cast Denzel Washington as the hero and give you a jolly good ride. They are usually tales with some novelty and depth. This is not. You have a tick mark by every point in the "How to make an action thriller like Die Hard?" book. Psycho Killer with hostages. Check. Common Man with troubled past stuck co incidentally. Check. Proper crew with a plan. Check. It is just about the money(more money than the psycho killer wants you to believe). Check. These go on, but I cant. It was a nice lazy afternoon watch and though not something I would recommend cinematically it is something I would see to unwind just like I watch those rom-coms.

J.J Abrams. Take a bow. Though MI3 wasnt that great, you wow'ed us by producing Cloverfield and Lost. Here you show us how a perfect Summer blockbuster has to be done: Take a immensely successful franchise of the past. Strip the story, keep the outline, forget what happened and start from the beginning. Cast talented and promising new actors in iconic roles and let them be. Provide strong characterization and personality to your leads and put them in adrenaline rush situations with emotional challenge. Create a powerful imbalanced villain who is set on revenge and not just money. Get a cameo by an icon who will please the previous generation. Weave a story around all this with spell binding effects and geek worthy science. Voila! And I just understated it.

Star Trek is much more. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto  are fantastic in their roles and are well flanked by an equally admirable support cast. They arent intimidated by the legacy and synergize well. I had a brilliant ride watching this movie and it made me cheer like a little boy like I last did while watching Iron Man and Dark Knight. This movie is in their league and stands strong. It does have its flaws but lets not bother because when you have the best movie of the summer in your hands you dont really care for the bad pennies. I watched this movie thrice on the big screen(including once in IMAX) and not only that is a record, each repeat was as good as the first. Hands Down, the best movie of the summer and the year so far!

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