There were a lot of high expectations coming into the 2012 summer movie season. With high adrenaline fueled adventures, a new Pixar movie, a few remake and sequels along with comedies galore, this summer wasn’t looking too shabby. Among the vast ocean of summer blockbuster films, there were a few unexpected titles that stood out and some that hit the mark as as predicted. After the jump you’ll find out what eight films I adored this summer.
Unlike last summer when there were a record breaking 27 sequels released, this summer 2012 was a lot more toned down. I’d have to say that audiences definitely knew which films to line up for and which to stay away from. Could the public be catching on to Hollywood’s tricks? Some of those big crapshoots that I avoided like the Black Death were: The Dictator, Dark Shadows, Rock of Ages, Battleship, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Hit & Run, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and That’s My Boy.
Although I knew they were going to blow harder than a french prostitute, I was quite interested in seeing The Watch, The Campaign, Total Recall, Chernobyl Diaries, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Step Up: Revolution. A few movies I could careless about either way and never saw were Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, Savages, The Expendables 2, Men in Black III, and Hope Springs.
There were six utterly horrendous movies I saw this summer. Their lifeless attempts to inflict some sort of feeling or create a cohesive story failed in my mind, and they need to be burned from my memory. These duds include: Take this Waltz, The Possession, The Apparition (I only watched this for Ashley Greene), Premium Rush, To Rome with Love, and Ruby Sparks (concept and performances are good, direction killed it).
I heard Beasts of the Southern Wild is good, but for some reason that never really interested me. Cosmopolis had some polarizing reviews, so that will be a rental. Some films that I saw, that were good, but did not completely stand out would be ParaNorman, Lawless, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Prometheus, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Amazing Spider-man, and Magic Mike.
But let’s now break down my favorites in spoiler-free fashion:
8. Brave (Mark Andres, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell)
Although there were many hands in the cookie jar and more apparent studio involvement than with any other Pixar film, this new Disney•Pixar venture caught my eye. Aside from the brilliant animation work – especially with Merida’s hair and environment work – Brave has a good story, not great, but it is a good Pixar entry that made up for Cars 2. Even though I believe Pixar played it safe by creating a story that appealed to a more wider audience, it is still a well done piece of work. There is still that Pixar charm, a good leading heroine, and some pleasant character moments.
7. For a Good Time, Call… (Jamie Travis)
At first, I thought this movie would be OK, perhaps borderline stupid. The closer the film came to its release the more my expectations dwindled into nothing. I’m not the biggest fan of Ari Graynor – I think her performance in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is what turned me off about her – but I figured, what the hell. And in For a Good Time, Call… Graynor does a pretty adequate job. (Her face just reminds me of Renee Zellweger sometimes.)
After the credits rolled, I was in shock, like I had just seen a dog walk on it’s hind legs. This film has wit and plays the relationship genre in a refreshing way. Instead of focusing on the stereotypical girl distraught over boy scneario, there is this underlying plot about friendship and the relationship between two roommates/girls. It is clever, lovely, and raunchy good fun. Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor have great chemistry and although there is more cheese than a banquet spread, this film does well to acknowledge that.
6. Robot & Frank (Jake Schreier)
I had just recently seen Driving Miss Daisy for the first time ever – it was perfect timing before seeing this film. Robot & Frank plays on the elements of DMD very well, but does a fantastic job at growing its own legs and branching past those themes. Frank Langella excels in this performance and could easily obtain many nominations for awards coming up this winter. There is a lot to Frank and his past, his current state of evolving alzheimer’s, and his relationship with Robot. This film is very amusing and has great heart. You cannot miss Robot & Frank this year.
5. Ted (Seth MacFarlane)
When I first heard about the premise of this story I said to myself, how could this film go wrong? You have Mark Wahlberg doing his weird comedic, straight-man shtick that he nails, Seth McFarlane as a foul mouthed teddy bear, and Mila Kunis – one of the most gorgeous actresses in Hollywood today. When the first trailer came out, which was a red band trailer, I stopped immediately after the first minute when they finished the “Thunder Song.” I couldn’t watch a second more, not because I thought it was horrible, it was because I couldn’t spoil myself with something I felt would be spectacular. I knew that if I watched any further I would ruin the entire movie for myself. I’m glad I didn’t.
Ted is just what you would expect from the creator of Family Guy. This film is insulting, vulgar, and absolutely hilarious. I have grown to find new episodes of Family Guy tired and lazy, but that could attribute to Seth MacFarlane putting most of his attention on Ted. A lot of care went into this comedy to ensure that it would work well and appeal to more than just Family Guy fans. The believability of Ted living in our world works and I wouldn’t put it past them to create a sequel. And I wouldn’t mind that at all.
4. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan)
I don’t have the greatest reason as to why this film is so high up on my list other than its incredibly epic scale and the cast that fit so well into their characters. I saw this film twice. First time was in true 70mm IMAX, which blew me away on a spectacle level. The second time I did not see it at an IMAX and was let down, not because it was not in IMAX presentation, but by other factors that just brought down the movie from within.
I love this film, but at the same time I am mad. The Dark Knight Rises gives such a fantastic ride, but it is so disconjointed and full of plot holes. It is so damn entertaining, yet it leaves me feeling empty. This is not the Batman sequel we deserved, but it is the one we needed. We couldn’t wait any longer, but it wouldn’t have gotten any better or worse the more we waited for it. TDKR had Spider-Man 3 syndrome written all over it, but at least it didn’t have an emo dance number. There is just so much going on, a lot of it unimportant compared to The Dark Knight. A visual spectacle, full of wonderful performances, especially by Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises will be forever on my list of movies that leave me self-conflicted full of pain and joy.
If you’re looking for a terrific, refreshing movie that is original and very unpredictable, Safety Not Guaranteed is your movie. Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, and Mark Duplass make this movie very special. Trevorrow does wonders to the direction of the film; you never know what to expect. I am not the biggest fan of Jake Johnson’s side story, but Aubrey Plaza’s journey tops everything.
There is something magical about this film that brings a warm feeling into your heart; it’s not something you take away from movies often. There is great subtle comedy in Safety Not Guaranteed with sweet, caring moments by Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza. If someone spoils the ending of this movie for you, take a step back and kick them in the crotch as hard as possible.
2. Moonrise Kingdom(Wes Anderson)
Let me state that I am not the biggest Wes Anderson fan out there. I think some of his films are so trendy, that they are pure hipster bait. All things considered, I love Fantastic Mr. Fox. After witnessing Moonrise Kingdom I was content. The more it sat with me, the more I began to admire it for all the little things, and the incredible band of characters this story beholds. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are just so innocently adorable together and make this movie endearing.
Moonrise Kingdom is a completely charming, compelling, and just a pure good tale. It has all the right intentions and doesn’t make you feel like you’re surrounded in a bar full of tank-top, PBR drinking hipsters. I wouldn’t put it past the Academy to nominate for best picture come Oscar time. This will be the best feel good movie of the year hands down.
1. The Avengers (Joss Whedon)
What felt like an eternity, which was only five measly years, the superhero boy band got together and The Avengersassembled. All of that work that was put into Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 1 & 2 paid off flawlessly. The momentum was worth the wait, and what Marvel Entertainment has done in order to adapt their universe into film is nothing short than amazing.
Everyone involved from all the past films worked well together on the big stage and did not disappoint. The moment they all come together is not just earned, but should be considered one of the greatest superhero moments ever captured on the big screen. You have to give a hand to Joss Whedon who wove every heroes arc into one extremely entertaining and coherent conclusion. Luckily for us this is just the end of Phase 1 and I cannot wait to see where Phase 2 and 3 take us. BRING ME CIVIL WAR WITH SPIDER-MAN, THE X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, AND EVERYONE ELSE!