Over the course of the summer blockbuster season, we’ve seen some huge unexpected bombs and successes alike. Movies expected to fare well, didn’t, yet some came out of left field and hit a home run. We take a look at some of the best success stories and also some of the failures.
Winners! (In no particular order)
Adult themed comedies
In a summer where overall box office receipts was down and dominated by mammoth action blockbusters like Transformers: Dark of The Moon. Your Highness,Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses were pleasant surprises, sticking out like a sore thumb with solid writing and raunchy gags. Bridesmaids also gave us a new comedy star in Melissa McCarthy, who will almost certainly have an overflow of offers after her hilarious role in that movie. Charlie Day of TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will have also left a mark on audiences with his bumbling ways in Horrible Bosses.
With an ambitious agenda to bring their flagship super team, The Avengers to the big screen, Marvel set about doing so last year with Iron Man 2, a film chockfull of set ups for a future film. This year, they had to tackle two key members of the team, the God of Thunder, Thorand Captain America himself--two characters that were difficult to bring onto the big screen. They were known but were considered second tier heroes and were not easy to relate to. Thor’s a God, and Captain America tends to be thought of as a one dimensional patriot and good guy. The trick was to bring more dimensions to their big screen portrayals and boy, did Marvel do it. The movies weren’t without their flaws (Cap’s lack of character development, Thor’s express romance) but were generally well done and well received both critically and financially. With perfect casting for both roles, now Marvel looks set to create history with the first superhero shared cinematic universe, an eagerly awaited epic team up event that fanboys have dreamed of for years and with two new money churning franchises to boot.
The X-Men were the first real success for superhero movies in general but lately, their outings had become somewhat of a chore to watch on screen. X3 was an all-round mess and X-Men Origins: Wolverine was largely forgettable--failing to properly make a connection with the audience through what is easily the franchise’s most accessible character. To complicate things, X-Men: First Class wasn’t nicely received when announced, with a rushed production schedule and 20th Century Fox’s liberal interpretations of Marvel’s characters a particular concern for fans. Although Fox was still just as liberal, swapping out the real original “First Class” of the comics for a bunch of make do characters, director Matthew Vaughn kept the focus where it rightfully should’ve been, the relationship of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr AKA Magneto, to deliver the best comic book movie this year and remove some of the taint the franchise has gotten over the past two films.
When Rise of The Planet of the Apes was announced, it would have been hard to find anyone genuinely excited. Sure, people would have gone to see it, but no one was freaking out over a new Apes movies. Especially, not after the last Tim Burton disaster… We still can’t get that Ape romance out of my head. Lady Gaga might had just caught that last movie while writing “Bad Romance”. (Damn you, Tim Burton!)
Enter Andy Serkis. The experienced motion capture artiste, known for his work as Gollum in Lord of The Rings, plays Caesar, the ape who goes rogue. Effectively playing the central character, Serkis lends the digitally created ape a vast array of emotions, effectively rendering James Franco and Freida Pinto as wallflowers in the movie. Well done, Andy.
The Rock and Vin Diesel wrestling each other through walls while exchanging corny dialogue somehow became a sleeper hit of the summer. Hmmm… The franchise also managed to successfully transition from movies that were primarily about street racing to movies about cars and action and in this movie, heists. Not bad for a five movie old franchise!
Those Pirates of the Caribbean
When a fourth Pirates film was announced, most people wondered where else they could take Johnny Depp’s beloved Captain Jack Sparrow to… to the land of boredom, that is. A bloated, unnecessary instalment that lacks the sense of adventure of the previous films, this probably should have never been made in the first place. You have a cool ship that breathes fire… but you only show it once?! Doh. This film somehow managed to crack the $1 billion mark, joining an exclusive club of movies on hype. Wow.
Warner Bros/DC Comics
A case of a flat and over expository screenplay letting down a solid cast here is the story of the Green Lantern movie. In consequence, we end up with the current champ for least money making comic book ever… making only US$154 million dollars worldwide thus far, Green Lantern can’t seemingly recover the rest of its 300 million dollar budget even with the upcoming release of it in other international territories.
It is somewhat puzzling that Warner Brothers, who possesses all the of DC Comics’ property in one place, is getting hammered by its main rival Marvel who has most of their major properties licensed to other studios like Fox and Sony instead, leaving them with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America as their major hitters. Shouldn’t it be much easier to develop your own movies yourself like what Marvel Studios has done?
The failure of Green Lantern has put a dent in Warner Brother’s plans post Harry Potter and Batman as well as the chances of the launch of other DC properties seem to have taken a huge hit. However, despite the setback, Warner Brothers head honcho Jeff Robinov has commented that a Green Lantern 2 is likely in the works, and so is a Flash movie. What was most surprising was his statement that their priority was a Justice League of America movie in 2013, one that wouldn’t tie in with their franchises. So yes, you’re getting another portrayal of Superman, a year after Man of Steel! With Chris Nolan’s brilliant Batman franchise ending after next year’s The Dark Knight Rises… the future for Warner and DC’s movies look murky and messy, without any neither concrete nor plausible plans in place.
We love Ryan Reynolds as much as the next guy but being in two critically panned movies in one summer season can’t be doing much good for his career. Here’s hoping Deadpool comes sooner rather than later, and is awesome. Godspeed, Van Wilder.
Not as bad as Revenge of the Fallen… but still pretty darn terrible. Just like the Pirates, this film cracked the exclusive 1 billion dollar club, despite horrible reviews. It’s only strong point, massive action sequences featuring giant robots beating the crap out of each other is let down by horrible non contextual comedy for much of the film. Shia Lebeouf’s fast talking act is no Jesse Eisenberg and deaths of memorable fan favourite characters from the first movie like Ironhide, Starscream and Megatron happen without any consequences, failing completely to capitalize on any warm sentiment from the viewer. Meh…
After watching The Hangover Part 2, we have to admit that the jokes and gags present in the movie are actually funny, that is if you didn’t already see the first one. Having the same exact plot as the first one just screams “CASHGRAB!” and considering the first movie was much beloved, the Wolfpack really deserves better. With a third instalment rumoured to be on the horizon, here’s hoping that the plot isn’t recycled…