I just reread my "Summer Movie Failures" post from last Friday. Dude, I totally sounded like Comic Book Guy in that one. It was a little disturbing. Look, I am not one of those guys. You know the ones. The guys who express their misplaced scorn for disappointing movies as they type out their anger with Cheetos stained fingers. "Everything I don't like sucks and if you disagree, you are stupid. Bla bla bla." As if piling on the crappy "Phantom Menace" ten years after it came out will compensate for their lives being complete failures.
Worst. Movie. Ever.
The internet is a big place and there are plenty of those guys out there. And I am not one of them. Am I? No. I'm not. Seriously. Now, I will grant you that there might be some superficial similarities between myself and Comic Book Guy. Some of those may include the following:
- I am sarcastic. (Are you the creator of Hi and Lois? Because you are making me laugh.)
- I have a snotty blog. (Rest assured I was on the internet within moments, registering my disgust throughout the world.)
- I currently have a terrible looking beard. (Woman: Brush the Sweet Tarts out of your beard and you're on. CBG: Don't try to change me, baby.)
- I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I'm nowhere near as fat as Comic Book Guy. (Oh, loneliness and cheeseburgers are a dangerous mix.)
- I know way too much crap about trivial garbage that has absolutely no value. (I do not need this, I have a Masters Degree in Folklore and Mythology.)
But I am not Comic Book Guy. (The more I repeat it, the more you'll believe it.)
Often I feel like I am too negative. Not just on this blog but in general. It's not that I'm afraid of hurting anyone's feelings. I wouldn't flatter myself to believe that I am of enough consequence to hurt anyone's feelings. No one takes this shit seriously. However I am somewhat self conscious of how I portray myself. And I really don't want to be some cynical complainy pants who blathers on and on about all the things in the world that displeases him. And now to illustrate my untamable foundation of positivity, allow me to post a list that is the polar opposite of my snarky bitchfest from last week.
Pardon me while I overcompensate.
So here is a quick list of 5 summer movies that I expected little from, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked them. These aren't the best summer movies of the recent past. They are five pleasant surprises.
5. "Terminator 3", 2003
This was a movie that definitely benefited from my own low expectations. It was generally considered a flop and I never heard anything good from any of my friends who saw it. That's because it's not a great movie. Certainly a let down from the massive T2. I think I rented it like two years after it came out. But I thought it was solid. Granted, there was no good excuse for it not to have Sarah Connor. I mean, why would they have her die from cancer? What a lame way to go for such a badass chick. (Seriously, what the hell is Linda Hamilton doing?) And I will agree that Arnold slept through this movie as he was eying the Governor's Mansion. But how could you notice?
But I still liked this movie. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have a thing for Claire Danes. She's not amazingly hot like Megan Fox or anything. In fact in this movie she looked like a 35 year old soccer mom, not the 20 something year old sex interest of John Connor. It's the haircut. But it worked for me. I liked that they did all they could to prevent Skynet from taking over and the world still blew up. I guess that makes the first two movies a little less relevant but so what. Like I said, not a great movie, but better than what I expected. Although, it could have used some Guns N Roses in the soundtrack. "You Could Be Mine" playing while the kid with the ratty mullet road the dirt bike was the best part of the T2. Ah, 1992. A good year.
By the way, it totally looks like Axl and Arnold are about to make out at the end of that video.
4. "The Island", 2005
Michael Bay has a reputation for making bad movies that look really good. I trashed on "Pearl Harbor" last week. It's a great example. Fantastic battle scenes. Terrible characters and story. Beautiful lighting and innovative blending of CGI and live action. But terrible characters and story. The same goes for "Armageddon". As laughably stupid as that whole movie is, it really is sharp looking.
He struck a pretty good balance with "Transformers", two years ago. A fun, brainless movie that sure was shiny. But I liked "The Island" quite a bit more. I rented this movie about a year after it came out, knowing nothing about it and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.
My affection for this film is probably mostly due to the massive boner I have for Scarlett. Damn it, she is hot in this one. She was rocking that white jumpsuit. But beyond that, the story is very interesting. It's a pretty standard Sci-Fi plot device that it was really well done. If you haven't seen it, put it in your Netflix cue and save it for a slow Friday night. The less you know about the story, the better.
3. "Iron Man", 2008
"Iron Man" came out just a year ago and everyone saw it and everyone liked it, so there's no real need to rehash it all again. But I will point out three elements that made this movie totally work. A: Robert Downey Jr. B: John Favreau. And C: The Dude.
A. I am not a big comic book fan. I never read them as a kid. And I didn't really like any of the Spiderman movies or the Hulks or Superman. With the exceptions of the first two X Men films and the Christopher Nolan Batmans, comic book movies just don't do it for me. So I figured I wouldn't like "Iron Man", even though the rest of the world was jumping up and down with excitement over it. But, I'll tell you this; that Robert Downey Jr is one charming son of a gun. He doesn't always make great movies, but he is always entertaining in the ones he's in. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is a great example. Not an amazing movie. But I would totally recommend it just to watch his smart ass wit for two hours. It also has Val Kilmer, who needs to be in way more films. You can't go wrong with Doc Holiday.
B. I didn't know that John Favreau directed "Iron Man" until I the opening credits of the film. That was the first time I let myself buy into the high expectations for this movie. John Favreau is the fat headed guy you see in the background of a lot of popular movies. He and Vince Vaughn started their careers together in 1996 with "Swingers", which is just a perfect movie for insecure guys who don't have the balls to go after the girls they want. It was written by Favreau. Actually, they were both in "Rudy", years before that but it was "Swingers" that put them on the map.
John Favreau directed "Elf". That's all you need to know about him.
It was Favreau's touch that allowed "Iron Man" to be fun, light-hearted escapism even though it dealt with terrorism, IEDs blowing up US troops in Afghanistan and the military industrial complex. Those are some pretty heavy handed subjects, considering the times. In lesser hands, this film would have been self righteous, self loathing bullshit. But Favreau hit all the right notes. It has enough substance that grounds it but in the end it's a far fetched, savior fantasy that just makes you feel good.
C. And finally, it has The Dude. A bearded, bald Dude. So that's what you call him. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
2. "Pirates of the Caribbean", 2003
How is it that a movie that is based on a ride at Disneyland and starred the feminine elf from Lord of the Rings and whose main character wore mascara the entire film, wasn't awful? I mean this thing had "marketing cross over, cash grab" written all over it, along the same lines as "From Justin to Kelly". And yet, it was one of the best summer movies I've ever seen. Why?
Yes, Johnny Depp. The guy that has caused most heterosexual men to have the following uncomfortable conversation with themselves. "Do I like this guy a little too much? Should I be concerned? Is a lifetime of lusting after boobs being threatened by Jack Sparrow? I mean, it's not like I want to make out with the guy or anything. And yet I can't stop looking at him. If my girlfriend made out with him, I wouldn't even be that upset. In fact I would probably give her a high five. Is this a problem?" Guys, you know what I'm talking about. Right? Right!? I'm the only one who has had these thoughts? Oh.
"Edward Scissorhands", "Gilbert Grape", "Ed Wood", "Donnie Brasco", "Fear and Loathing", "Blow", "Once Upon A Time In Mexico". He carries everyone of those movies. They're all pretty good on their own, and most of them have solid performances by supporting actors. But he owns those films. Hell, I even liked "Chocolate". That's right, I call it Chocolate, not "Shocula" or whatever.
By the way, I am really getting geared up for "Public Enemies" in a few weeks. Oh baby, that's gonna be good.
1. Star Trek, 2009
Now, I may have this a little too high. I've only seen it once. And I often see a movie I liked, then get really excited about it, tell everyone how amazing it is and then see it again only to not like all that much the second time around. So I reserve the right to dial back my enthusiasm when I get around to seeing this one again.
That said, this was one hell of an enjoyable movie. Star Trek has long been my Green Eggs and Ham. A long time ago, I decided that I didn't like it. I didn't want to like it. And that's the way it was always gonna be. And yet somehow I love William Shatner. Weird.
But upon walking out of the theater a few weeks ago, I have come to acknowledge that I in fact do enjoy Star Trek. In fact, I have since found myself watching the original series online. And even though the acting and the fight scenes are beyond cheese, it's really good. "City On the Edge of Forever", "The Menagery", "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". It's great television.
But this is the last thing I need. Man, I'm already a 31 year old virgin that has at one point made his own Light Saber replica. (Don't ask.) But if you add a Spock fetish on top of that then I'm doomed.
"Ooo, fat, sarcastic Star Trek fan. You must be a devil with the ladies."
"I must hurry back to my comic book store where I dispense the insults rather than absorb them."
One more Comic Book Guy quote for the road: France has launched a nuclear bomb heading for Springfield. Comic Book Guy is walking down the street reading a comic while eating a chili dog.
"But Aqua Man, you can't marry a girl with no gills! You're from two different worlds!"
(Sees missile heading straight for him.)
"Oh, I've waisted my life . . ."
Seriously, I'm totally different from him.