The Electric Grapevine | A Summer of Flops | 07.07.2010
Its been six months since venturing into my favorite category of debate, the film world, but after watching the majority of this years’ biggest films crash and burn like a Justin Hammer creation (Iron Man 2 anyone?) I feel its worth wading hip deep into this years pile of bombs.
After a quick look at box office returns for this year so far it almost seems as if we may actually be getting sick of being force fed the same garbage over and over again. Surefire recipes are not so surefire anymore as the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz bomb Knight and Day showed over the past week. I say almost because a couple of reliables such as Shrek and Toy Story have kept up their end for the most part though Shrek didn’t do as well as its predecessors.
I know for me two of the best films of the year so far are the relatively small efforts Get Him To The Greek and The Losers. The Losers is alot like something I would write if I were 12 but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The cheesy action films’ unbridled playfulness made it a joy to watch while Greek was just a great time and old fashioned substance abuse comedy.
At the begining of the year, if i could have voted for one film that wouldn’t let me down it would have been Matt Damon’s Green Zone which turned out to be the most contrived piece of drivel I’ve sat through in years. It represented perhaps only the third time I’ve walked or debated walking out of a theatre. I’m still unsure if watching an empty screen for the same running time wouldn’t be an upgrade.
The snappy commercial lured me in with the promise of Damon and Bourne director Paul Greengrass delivering cinematic genius for a third time. From what I read, the film was supposed to go against the “Big American Saves Day” tone towards a more fallible and vulnerable hero. They showed this by having a big name American take on the enemy and his own country…alone and unscathed.
I should have known better as the third time is never the charm for film franchises or partnerships. Even with that actor/director tag team. As I will often gripe, the best films come apart at the seams in threes. Lethal Weapon, Batman, Rush Hour, Spiderman, Matrix, Oceans 13, Beverly Hills Cop... Ninja Turtles. Yes, Ninja Turtles is one I find myself having a hard time defending my stance on to friends.
Apparently my taking issue with the time travel element makes little sense when five-foot tall martial arts trained turtles are the protagonists of the story, but I have the column and I’m sticking with it. Unlike Green Zone, The A-Team commercial had me cringing in fear of how god awful the film would be, so I was delighted that the film nailed it right on the head from its brilliant casting down to the tone of the film being a great balance between the “kick a guy 20 feet” 80’s approach and something that we can actually fight and fear for on screen knowing there is at least a small element of danger. For those of you yet to see it, be sure to stay after the credits.
Another film that delivered was Iron Man 2. I’m not the biggest Iron Man fan but the film found its way nicely thanks to Robert Downey Jr. who unlike many actors remembers how to play a character in successive films.
The film also had a much better rogues gallery than the origin story before it as I never really bought into Jeff Bridges as a villain. Casting the Big Lebowski as a bad guy simply didn’t work for me while Mickey Rourke is someone you can definitely believe is a badass.
Rounding out the comic to films jump is Kick Ass which was aptly titled and probably the most fresh story of the year to hit the screen. The blend of comedy and ultra violence was absolutely flawless.
All of these films however are just dabblers in the action arena as in just over a month Sylvesters Stallone’s testosterone fueled reel of mayhem The Expendables will touch down and remind folks of how a summer movie is supposed to be. It’s just amazing it takes a 63-year-old man to demonstrate it.