And now, the rest of the movies that I caught this summer…
WALL-E: I love Pixar. Even their worst movies are better than 99 percent of the crap Hollywood turns out. WALL-E is a movie where the main characters don’t even talk for most of the movie, and it’s still FANTASTIC. Visually, it’s absolutely phenomenal. It’s amazing how they use visual cues to set up a backstory without telling us anything. There’s no needless voiceover (which can be very hit-or-miss). The most narration we get is from old commercials.
Do you like metaphors with your movies? Then check out the humans on the spaceship that have their lives so dictated by technology that they don’t stop to see the world around them. Unlike the “all you need is love” theme in Sex and the City, the message here fits seamlessly into the story and never gets clunky. Pixar hit yet another home run with this film.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army: I really enjoyed Hellboy, so while I wasn’t wild with anticipation for the sequel (I’m rarely wild with anticipation for sequels), it looked pretty cool. My favorite part of this movie was the visuals, especially the animated beginning sequence, telling the story of the Golden Army. It was also great to see John Hurt again, if only for a few minutes.
However, the rest of the movie alternated between being pretty good and being just sort of “meh.” I did like that you could sympathize with the villain’s reasoning, if not his methods, and the tooth fairies were creepy as hell. However, they seemed to have trouble establishing the same character dynamic that they had in the first movie, and that hurt this one.
Although I liked the climactic fight scene in this one better than the first movie, overall this one wasn’t quite as good as its predecessor. It was still a fun afternoon diversion, and if you liked Hellboy, you should catch it when it hits DVD.
Mamma Mia!: This is what I like to call a WYSIWYG movie: what you see is what you get. It looks like a fun, lighthearted, happily-ever-after movie, and it is. You watch it and come out feeling all bright and bubbly, like the whole world is just a little bit shinier. The music is great and the location is gorgeous (then again, I love Greece). You just want to get up and sing and dance right along with the characters. It’s just a whole lot of fun. If you just want a movie that’ll make you smile, this is it.
The Dark Knight: This was the biggest movie of the summer, hands-down, and is one of the few sequels that I was on pins and needles waiting for from the moment the credits rolled on Batman Begins. Most of the cast and crew returns, along with new additions Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, and Heath Ledger. The result? The second absolutely fan-freaking-tastic superhero movie of the summer.
The Dark Knight kept perfectly with the tone from the first movie, and even gave us something more: a dip into the psychology of not just Batman, but the people of Gotham in general. I loved the scene with the ferries and the hospital’s hostages, and Gordon’s amazing ending monologue, explaining why they must chase Batman although he did nothing.
As I’m sure you’ve already heard (or seen), Ledger’s Joker is one dark, twisted puppy. The disappearing pencil trick was perhaps the best entrance ever. We don’t know where he came from. We don’t know why he is the way that he is. But damn, he’s a great adversary for Batman. I don’t know if it’s Oscar-worthy, but it is certainly one of the best villain performances ever.
Aaron Eckhart (whom I love from Thank You For Smoking) also stands out as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. And holy crap, he made a scary-looking Two-Face. His fall is very tragic, although it could’ve been handled a little bit better. It happened just a little too quickly for my taste. Rachel, unfortunately, is the weak link once again. She doesn’t seem to be a character so much as simply motivation for Batman and Dent.
The returning cast? Stellar. The surprising depth of the movie? Stellar. The surprising darkness? Well, don’t take the kiddies to see this one. Truly, a worthy sequel to Batman Begins. See it.
And…that’s a wrap. I managed to catch one of the blatantly abominable action movies currently in theaters (Babylon A.D., if you really wanted to know), so I’ll have an update with my thoughts on that later.