This summer has been the busiest in years, so I haven’t been to the movies as often as I would like. After hearing friends’ reviews of some films on my list, that might not be a bad thing. But, summer is the season for the sort of movie I like: Big, noisy and colourful. Summer movies are exciting.
As always, the summer season tried to start in April with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I enjoyed The Winter Soldier, but I found it a little…dark. The way it tied in to the end of the Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television season was pretty awesome, and I suppose one can say that that show probed some very dark and disturbing themes. However, the television show managed a better balance, in my opinion, between the unsettling and the amusing. I’d have liked more moments of startling and offbeat humour in The Winter Soldier. Just a few. Still, the story was compelling and the effects were, as always, utterly superb. There is no question that I’ll be lining up for the next movie.
In May I went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. This is a movie I really needed to see. I adored First Class and was eager to explore more of the back story between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Part of my appreciation was due to the actors chosen for the younger Professor X and Magneto. The chance to see James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Sir Patrick Steward and Sir Ian McKellen in the one film? Catnip. I could not resist. What did I think of the movie? Well… It was okay. Better than okay? But it didn’t blow my mind. In fact, if not for the superb performances of all involved, I might not have been as entertained. But I am satisfied. And done. For me, Days of Future Past wrapped up loose ends and finished the story. I don’t feel as if I need to see another X-Men movie. Obviously I will front up for the next one, however.
I heard there was another Transformers movie out in June. I skipped it. 😉
What I did go to see was Edge of Tomorrow. I loved this movie. Given that it had a science fiction apocalyptic theme and starred Tom Cruise, I was always going to go see this movie. Emily Blunt knocked my socks off and the rest of the cast definitely came to the party. The story was fairly simple and the affects were awesome. What I loved most, however, was the character of Cage. All too often our reluctant heroes hide wide altruistic streaks. They’re GOOD people just waiting for their chance to shine. Cage was an asshole and a coward, and without Rita to pull the trigger, repeatedly, he might never have amounted to anything. I really enjoyed his evolution and journey.
In July I finally got to see 22 Jump Street. We have a small theatre and often a movie disappears before I can find time to see it. 22 Jump Street isn’t the sort of film you carry high expectations for. You know it’s going to be silly, and that the plot will barely hang together. But I did hope it would be just as fun as the first and I also hoped that it wouldn’t go too far, take what worked in the first and turn it up or inside out (like Transformers…). Well, they didn’t mess with the formula. The second movie worked on all the same levels as the first, even while building on some in jokes. And it was funny, and kinda heart-warming. The posters for imagined sequels shown at the end were hilarious. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill make a great comic duo.
In August, I made time for three movies and saw them all in one week. My WEEK OF SUMMER MOVIES. There were three I really wanted to see before my tiny theatre did away with them.
First up was Guardians of the Galaxy. Want to know a secret? When I first saw the preview for this movie, I thought it looked silly. It looked like a pretend super hero film. A B-Grade project. Yes, I’m hanging my head in shame. First of all, I didn’t realise it was a MARVEL project until shortly before release when EVERYONE began tweeting about it. When the reviews started rolling in, with plenty of my forty-something friends saying they enjoyed it, I decided to give it a look see. Well, it was fun. Silly, as expected, but also very entertaining. I loved the characters and the cast. The story was just involved enough to support the action and, with the comic book origin, I was happy to forgive the holes in logic. I’ll definitely go to see a sequel, particularly if they revive Groot in time! (Also, who knew Chris Pratt was so ripped?) (Also, also, the music was fun.)
Next, I took myself to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. No one else in my family wanted to see it. When I turned up at the theatre, I had it to myself. I chose the middle seat in the middle row and settled in for my private feature. I’ve been a fan of Planet of the Apes since the 1968 film. I saw it as a kid and it BLEW MY MIND. That scene where Charlton Heston finds the half submerged Statue of Liberty? One of those movie moments I will always remember. Not all the films have been, well, amazing, but I have enjoyed them all because they build on a story, a mythos, that I love. This latest entry, which details the origin of the war between the humans and the apes, was wonderful. The story isn’t unexpected. When you’re making a movie that sits between a prequel and all that’s to come, it’s hard to include surprise. Instead, Caesar’s character is developed and through him, we see a reflection of the struggle at hand and to come. Besides that, the effects are just stunning. I believed the apes were real. The facial expressions, the eyes… So, so good. Also, I cried several times, which is always my mark of a very good movie.
Into the Storm. How did I not know Richard Armitage was in this film? I recognised his nose about ten seconds into his first scene. His dodgy American accent confirmed it. I’m not overly familiar with him, but wouldn’t have imagined he’d do a disaster movie. I always picture him in historical or fantasy settings. All dwarven and stuff. Anyway, Into the Storm was an amazing thrill ride! At the end of the film, I had to pull my fingers from the plastic armrests and convince my legs to work. I think my daughter left a bruise on my arm and she complained her tummy hurt. I know, I’m a terrible mother. (She wanted to see it!). I felt like I’d been on a rollercoaster ride. I also really enjoyed the unexpected humour and there were some awesomely gruesome deaths—and one kinda cool one. (So, I might be a terrible person, too, but I didn’t make the movie!) All in all, this movie exceeded my expectations, which is always a pleasant surprise.
Finally, we have the movie I plan to see next. Just as April is nowhere near summer, September is definitely fall. Especially in Pennsylvania where the leaves seem to turn on the first day of the school year. Releasing in September is The Maze Runner. This film looks pretty cool. I’m a fan of Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) and so excited to see him on the big screen. Also, it looks apocalyptic. Or dystopian—which is basically every Young Adult feature for the last ten years. Should we be worried about our kids? I don’t know a lot about the story, but the trailer had a very Lord of the Flies vibe to it, and lots of neat looking special effects. Also: maze. Anyone remember Cube? Man, that movie was SCARY. And bloody. I think Cube ruined mazes for me forever—and made me a sucker for a whole new genre of thriller.