Summer (Movie) Lovin’ (OR How Die Hard IV is like The Godfather Part III)
I thought 2007 was a tremendous year for movies. Here are just a handful of terrific ’07 flicks that I saw: Eastern Promises, The Darjeeling Limited, Grindhouse, Knocked Up, Superbad, The Simpsons Movie, The Mist, Gone Baby Gone, Margot at the Wedding, 300, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Juno, Charlie Wilson’s War, Ratatouille…I could go on and on.
And yet my recollection is that 2007 saw one of the most disappointing crop of big-budget summer movies in recent memory. Other than a couple of the comedies mentioned above (Knocked Up, Superbad, and The Simpsons Movie), I found myself continually disappointed by practically every single summer flick I saw. Those include:
Spider-Man 3 – What a disaster. I’ve been mocking it for two weeks on this site, and we have barely plumbed the depths of my disappointment. The first hour is pretty good (well, except for the whole Harry-has-amnesia thing), but then it just all falls to pieces. Peter Parker combs his bangs over his forehead to show that us he’s evil. Sandman agrees to help Venom kill Spider-Man for no reason whatsoever (an act made even more ridiculous considering that the whole first half of the movie bent over backwards to show us that Sandman is really an OK guy just trying to help his daughter). That awful, awful dance number. The way Gwen Stacy’s character is completely forgotten about. That awful, awful dance number. Ugh.
Shrek 3 –Mildly entertaining at best.
Transformers – Very much like ID4 to me — Big and dumb. Like ID4, it was a ton of fun to see in the theatre for the first time – lots of eye-candy explosions, lots of great “audience cheering” moments – I would be dishonest if I claimed it wasn’t a blast. But I really wish the movie was a bit smarter. Optimus and the gang acting like idiots trying to hide around Spike Witwicky’s house (“my bad”) is kind of like Jeff Goldblum using his Mac powerbook to download a virus into the alien mothership’s computer. I can’t see myself re-watching this too many times.
Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – I really didn’t like Pirates of the Caribbean 1 or Pirates of the Caribbean 2, so I’m not sure what I was expecting.
Die Hard IV – To me, Live Free or Die Hard is kind of like The Godfather Part III. Hang on, bear with me. I have always defended The Godfather Part III. My assertion is that if it had some other title, people would think it was a pretty decent gangster flick. Not amazing, but enjoyable. But because it’s the Godfather Part III, viewers compare it to the masterpieces that are the first two Godfather films…and of course Part III isn’t even close. I feel the same way about Die Hard IV. If this had some other name, we’d think it was an OK action flick. But calling it Die Hard is a big mistake. Because there really, to me, is nothing that makes this a Die Hard film, other than that Bruce Willis’ character is named John McClane. I just didn’t get any of the claustrophobic, race-against-time, one man against the world feel of Die Hard. And when people like me went in expecting Die Hard, they were disappointed.
Now, I am very excited for summer 2008. Iron Man. Indy. Batman: The Dark Knight. The X-Files. The Incredible Hulk. The Happening. Get Smart. Wall-E. The Pineapple Express. Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Those are some big movies, with a lot of potential. Will summer 2008 live up to expectations more than summer 2007? We’ll all find out soon enough!