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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
In the last decade or so it seems Hollywood is content to unleash sequel after sequel after sequel onto the populace each summer. Throw in the occasional remake (Why remake Fright Night or Karate Kid when the original is already good?) and it seems summer is filled with no new ideas, retreads of characters, and a total lack of originality.
Summer of 2007 is oft cited (by me) as the low point of this standard. That summer alone saw Spiderman 3, Pirates 3 (released less than a year after Pirates 2), Harry Potter 216, and Shrek Part 3: Shrek Farts Out Another 600 Million Dollars. Each of these films seemed to last in excess of two and a half hours, were bloated by extemporaneous characters, dialogue, and product placement and also seemed to have a collective score of 6 on Metacritic.
Summer of 2011 is shaping up to be 2007 all over again. We’ve already had Pirates 4 unleashed upon our sensibilities. Hangover 2 opened just this past weekend and seems to be the same exact movie with nothing more than a location change. X-Men: First Class opens soon, and based on the positive reviews it might actually be good. But it’s still the 5th X-Movie in 11 years and it just seems so unnecessary at this point. Kung-Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 should be good enough entertainment for the kids but damn do they seem inconsequential. Harry Potter finally goes away this summer, which is exciting but not exciting enough to get me into a theater. The aforementioned Fright Night remake will be released in August. Let’s hope McLovin won’t have to do porn for the rest of his career if the movie bombs.
In Summer of 2008, Paramount Pictures helped release Iron Man, a comic-book movie that seemed to re-write the rules of comic book movies. It was fresh and fun, helped by a great performance from Robert Downey Junior. Though little more than an origin story, audiences responded exceedingly positively to the movie. 2009 saw District 9, perhaps the smartest mainstream science fiction film of the decade. Last year, Christopher Nolan released the intelligent blockbuster Inception, a film that challenged audiences to actually think about what was going on, but also managed to be a gigantic hit at the same time. What summer film released in 2011 will do the same?
Thor received some positive buzz, but it hasn’t exactly broken out the way Iron Man did. Green Lantern looks absolutely atrocious, which is disappointing considering the rise in popularity of the source material as well as the director involved (Martin Campbell, of Casino Royale fame). Captain America seems like a pretty safe bet, but it too seems to fall more into the Thor range rather than the Iron Man range (though I personally think it looks good). That honestly leaves me with Super 8 and Cowboys & Aliens to get excited over. This summer just ain’t looking too good…