Note: Hiatus
Bread and Circuses, or, Why 'Hunger Games' Was Better Than 'Avengers'

Summer Movie Kickoff!

Welcome back from CultureGeek's hiatus! And what a way to start the summer - you've seen Avengers, yes? Apparently everyone has, or plans to this weekend. So much for the lackluster movie industry - let's see what Hollywood has in store for us this summer!

As per usual: I do not cover every movie, because Entertainment Weekly exists. These are the major geek films, with extra notice for "stuff other people would watch" and "movies you could not pay me enough to watch."


The Avengers: My thoughts on Avengers probably deserve their own review, but since the movie's already out, everyone who wanted to see it already has… and probably will again. The short version: it was delightful popcorn fare, a real ensemble flick capably directed with only a few glaring plot holes and convenient plot devices. Predictable, but fun. The best comic book movie ever? Not even in the top five. But by all means, enjoy the hell out of it. Anything's better than suffering through Wolverine again. Also: I was not bothered by Loki's slur against Black Widow. Why? Because that's how bad guys act toward women who threaten them. In real life.

Dark Shadows: If you were a fan of the vampy soap, circa 1960s or 1990s, you should be ashamed of yourself for watching this. Tim Burton is becoming a caricature of himself, remaking other people's visions into his own weird subgenre forever starring Johnny Depp. While we're at it, let's make fun of the '70s, because that's hard. Burton has always been hit or miss for me, and he seems to do his best when he's not remaking other people's work (Planet of the Apes, anyone?). Nothing I saw in the promos made me think "fun" or "scary."

Battleship: Dumb premise for a summer action flick? Maybe, maybe not. From the trailers, it seems like someone had an awesome idea for an alien-invasion megafilm, and then the marketing people said, "Hey, let's tag it after a popular board game! That'll really put butts in the seats!" Apparently it's impossible to get a movie on the docket that isn't a) a sequel, b) based on a comic book, game or toy, or c) about sparkly vampires. Still, we'll check out Battleship, on the off chance someone wrote a good script before marketing got hold of it.

Men in Black 3: After the dullness that was MIB2, I was willing to let this one go. I heard it was a time-travel flick, and yawns ensued. But that was before I saw Josh Brolin in full makeup as a young Tommy Lee Jones, and I must say… good job, makeup people. And good job to Brolin, managing to perfectly capture Jones as K in about 10 seconds of film. Will Smith is always fun, so I'll pick up the Noisy Cricket one more time.

Other People: What to Expect When You're Expecting. The promo looks decidedly unfunny, with an emphasis on "men can't handle babies" that stopped being funny after Three Men and a Baby. Named after the single most useful pregnancy book in the English language, coupled with plenty of Stupid Man Says Stupid Things and poop jokes, I expect it'll do quite well.

Hell No: The Dictator. I am allergic to Sasha Baron Cohen on the best of days. This, however, is so far beyond the pale I am amazed it isn't being protested, except that would give it too much attention. I am annoyed by humor that exists not to be funny, but to shock and horrify people into embarrassed titters - Cohen's primary art form. Cohen has tried the whole "furriner explores New Yawk" thing before, and then turned his sights on flaming gay men. Now we're supposed to laugh at jokes about terrorism? Dear Mr. Cohen: Too. Soon. It's been too soon for ten years and it isn't going away. It will always be Too Soon for jokes about terrorist attacks on New York.


Snow White and the Huntsman. Try to forget that Twilight alum Kristen Stewart's blank face stars in this movie. Charlize Theron as the wickedest of wicked queens looks to be awesome, with hunky Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman searching for her through a forest to rival Narnia. Magic, intrigue, swordfights and critters… Mirror says give it a shot.

Madagascar 3. I realize I am the only human that didn't like the first Seinfeld in the Zoo movie, and nothing about the promos for the second or third has made me change my mind. Perhaps I'm simply beyond the phase for CGI-animated talking animals.

Prometheus. Ridley Scott returns to the Alien universe with a prequel explaining (maybe) where the aliens came from and what happened on LB427 before Ripley et al got all chest-bursty. If anyone but Scott had directed it, I'd dismiss it as a knockoff destined to die like Alien vs. Predator. With Scott at the helm, however, I am unreasonably excited. Then again, I did pay to see AvP… and AvP2. In the theater. Full price. I am shamed before you.

Safety Not Guaranteed: This is one of those movies listed even though nobody is talking about it. Alleged journalists contact a guy who wants to travel in time. It was a Sundance winner and looks to be about faith and imagination… or it'll be dull. I think it looks like a solid Netflixer.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Every ounce of the history buff in me is opposed to the very premise of this movie, that Lincoln's mother died by vampire and he was a secret Slayer ever after. Lincoln as action hero, plus my allergy to Tim Burton (producing this time), all say that it should be a horrible train wreck of a movie. And yet… the promo strangely compelling. I am ashamed to say my curiosity may overcome my scruples.

Brave. It only took 12 movies for Pixar to get around to making one about a girl. Brava to a princess who fights against the preconception that she should be a delicate flower that needs to be rescued, with bonus archery skills. I've watched the evolution of Disney heroines with great interest, and while I've never been as fond of the Pixar movies as traditional Disney (flying in the face of, oh, every other reviewer out there), I am hopeful that Brave will put a new face on the Disney Princess. It's not like they truly need it: Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana and Belle each brought new levels of intelligence, strength and character to the pink genre, for which Disney never gets credit - mired down in Snow White's shadow. But girls always can use a new heroine.

GI Joe: Retaliation. Okay, I'm the mother of a teenage boy. I was dragged to the first movie kicking and screaming. I was pleasantly surprised with a fun action flick, albeit one that rather ignored the laws of physics (ice doesn't sink, boys). The sequel looks to have twice the action and plot-what-plot centers on … being framed as bad guys? Oh, who cares? Big booms, fight scenes, The Rock and Bruce Willis. The end.

Other People: To Rome With Love. Some people love Woody Allen. I am not one of them.

Hell no: That's My Boy. It's a "comedy" about a young man who was the product of a female teacher raping a student. He grows up, his juvenile father moves in with him and is no more mature than he was in junior high. Because that's funny. Someone tell me why Adam Sandler is still allowed to make movies?


The Amazing Spider-Man. Let's get this out of the way: Toby McGuire was a great Peter Parker and an awesome Spider-man, there was no reason in the world to fire him and the reboot was unnecessary, even if it let us get Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. (Whew.) However, two things make me rethink my opposition: a quip from Spidey to a thief that tells me the writer might have read a comic or two, and the apparent placement of Gwen Stacy as Peter's girlfriend. The mangling of Gwen's storyline in the first movie was my biggest single complaint, deserving of its own column. Will they finally do justice by Gwen Stacy, or once again bow to the sanitized, neutered comic-book movie form to which we've been relegated? Stay tuned...

Ice Age: Continental Drift. I freely admit I haven't seen any of these movies, and I'm ignoring the fact that continental drift happened over millennia, not in one cataclysm. I'm sure if you enjoyed the previous movies, you (or your kids) will like this one.

The Dark Knight Rises. I am trying to be cautious about my enthusiasm, just because The Dark Knight was the best comic book movie of the new era and one of the all-time best movies of the century thus far. This Bane looks a whole lot more like the terror of the comics, not the mindless beast of the Movie That Shall Not Be Named. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins the cast and it sounds like Christian Bale has finally mastered the Gravel Voice as the trilogy sadly ends. Bonus: Batplane!

Other People: Savages. Oliver Stone returns with a movie about pot dealers whose girlfriend is kidnapped by rival dealers. It comes off like a charming comedy until bad things start happening. I'm not sure what Stone is up to in this movie; the trailer is practically bipolar in its mood shifts. But anything he does automatically gets some attention.

Hell No: Ted. Creepy-ass teddy bear wakes up and starts talking, and he sticks around to smoke a bowl with Mark Wahlberg. A grown man who can't kick the teddy bear to the curb even to get laid> Seth McFarlane thinks it's funny to watch Wahlberg fight with a teddy bear. May his career survive. (Wahlberg's, not McFarlane's.)


The Bourne Legacy. Okay, I love Jeremy Renner, but somebody explain what happened. This series was about Jason Bourne as played by Matt Damon, right? Apparently not anymore...

Total Recall. Remakes R Us cranks out another one, with a completely different premise beyond the existence of Rekall, the company that implants memories. They're playing with Colin Farrell instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger this time, and Farrell is capable of acting. It's possible this one might edge closer to the mindfucking intent, if not the plot, that Phillip K. Dick wrote. But... no Mars??

The Expendables 2. I hate to disappoint Chuck Norris fans, but this movie was almost downgraded to PG-13 because Norris refused to participate unless they cut the swearing. So much for the tough guy. Besides him, there's plenty to enjoy: expanded roles for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who only cameoed in the first film; Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain (who gets to fight Sylvester Stallone at last); and while they ignored my loud suggestion that Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton needed to be in the sequel, I can report a sighting of at least one woman capable of using a firearm in this movie. Also: Charisma Carpenter returns, and maybe this time they'll remember that she's had martial arts training and let her do something besides whinge. Bonus: more Jet Li! Minus: no Mickey Rourke.

Other People: Hope Springs. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones seek intense marriage counseling after 30 years together. Someone's bucking for acting Oscars. Netflix.

Hell No: The Campaign. Because what I really want to do with my summer vacation is watch Will Farrell and Zach Galifianakis pretend to out-asshole each other as presidential candidates. I can watch that on C-SPAN, thanks.


And there you have it: a summer with potential! See you next week, while I start my letter-writing campaign to Marvel for a Black Widow-Hawkeye movie.


Derrick Ferguson

Marvel shoulda been working on a BLACK WIDOW/HAWKEYE movie 20 minutes after they finished THE AVENGERS.

Even though it's got Rhianna in it, I'm strangely interested in seeing BATTLESHIP. Can HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS: THE MOVIE be far behind?

Christopher Rodriquez

So when you forced me to watch G.I. Joe you are now just standing firm on movies that you should watch? I tell you what I will bite the bullet and watch some for you cause that is what friends are for.

I see an Oscar in Battleship's future.

Kat Tales

You are spot on this summer. Avengers was a great movie. Dark Shadows promos just so wrong I won't even watch it when it hits cable much less spend any money on it.
Dark Knight looks awesome. I agree Spiderman did not need a reboot, but will probably watch it at some point. Also Snow White and the Huntsman ( Chris Hemsworth after all) and I'm pretty sure my hubby and bro-in-law will want to check out Battleship.
Sasha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell mean DO NOT WATCH. Other films will see how the summer plays out and how my DVD/DVR backlog clears

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