I’ve been to the movies a good amount this summer. At least, a good amount for me at this stage in my life. In high school, I used to go to the movies once or twice a week. Any movie. Even movies I didn’t really care about. And I’d regularly see movies three or four times in the theater.
Once, a friend and I went to see X-Men because we were thirsty at 11:00 at night and, for some reason I will never quite understand, decided going to the 24-hour diner was just too much effort.
Once, I went to see Titanic for the fourth time in the theater, by myself.
Oh, to be young and to have every penny you earn count as disposable income. Those were the days.
But I digress.
Nowadays, I only go to the movies when I really want to see a film on the big screen. Which means sometimes, I go months without a trip to the theater. But this summer, I’ve been going every few weeks. It seems Hollywood has gotten my memo about making more comic and sci-fi action movies, and they have decided this is a good plan. This pleases me greatly, because I love me some explosions.
I know. It’s shocking. Please try to contain yourselves.
For a little while, I thought I’d review each movie separately, then realized this was never going to happen. They are too many, and I’ve procrastinated too much. So instead I’m going to give you a one-paragraph mini-review on all the action movies I’ve seen, and let that be enough. Because I’ve already rambled on forever, and this is just the intro.
Here we go.
I was a huge fan of the rebooted 2009 Star Trek, so this sequel was one of my most anticipated films of 2013. Especially when I found out the villain would be played by none other than Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock is seriously one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it…fix that). I’m pleased to say Star Trek Into Darkness did not disappoint. I absolutely adore every bit of casting in this franchise (Karl Urban as Bones is my favorite) and feel they do a fantastic job of capturing what was so amazing about the original Star Trek, while making it fun and accessible for a whole new generation of fans. Yes, there were a couple minor plot holes, and yes, I wish there were more Klingons, but as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Into Darkness and eagerly await the next installment in the reimagined Star Trek universe. Verdict: Must see. Must own.
As a huge fan of The Avengers, I was super-curious to see the first movie to kick off phase 2 of Marvel’s unprecedented multi-film lead-in to the Avengers sequel (P.S. If you want a recap of how all the movies leading to the first Avengers film tie together, this is the best one I’ve found). Call me crazy, but I’m one of the only people I know who merely liked the first two Iron Man movies. I know, most people think they’re the best, but I just thought they were okay. But. BUT. I absolutely LOVED Iron Man 3. The writing is brilliant. Not only does Tony have to deal with the after-effects of the events in Avengers, but the writers figured out a way to make a billionaire superhero, with a supersuit and limitless resources, vulnerable. No small task. And don’t even get me started on the genius that is how the villain is handled. And the women! Pepper Potts! I don’t want to spoil those of you who haven’t seen it, but suffice it to say, Iron Man 3 blew me away with its awesomeness. As with most comic movies, there are some plot holes, but I didn’t even care. See it. You’ll be glad you did. Verdict: Must see. Must own.
Man oh man, Man of Steel, I wanted to love you so bad. But sadly, despite some undeniably excellent casting in Henry Cavill as Superman, and despite some rather impressive special effects, I just couldn’t get behind this movie. Mainly because it decided it would just be an alien/explosion movie, with a superhero, and not a SUPERMAN movie. There were so many missed opportunities. No Kryptonite. No intriguing dichotomy between mild-mannered Clark Kent and Man of Steel Superman. No playful banter between Clark and Lois Lane. And then we get into the things that are just plain wrong for Superman. Superman would never cause so much senseless destruction. Superman would never stand by and watch someone he cared about die, out of fear for himself. And Superman would never do…the thing he does in the end. I can’t say I hated Man of Steel – as an alien action movie with a superhero, it was fine. And it was wonderfully acted, and certainly had its moments of explosion-y greatness. But as a Superman movie — which is why I saw it in the first place — I was disappointed. Verdict: Wait for DVD. Or skip entirely.
After suffering through the travesty that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I was nervous about this movie. I love X-Men. I love superheroes and comics of all shapes and sizes, but X-Men has been my favorite for decades. I even collected the trading cards as a teenager. Yes. I was that kid. And while the most recent X-Men movie, X-Men: First Class, was amazing, I can’t ignore that films like Origins and The Last Stand also exist. So really, going to an X-Men movie is a crapshoot. However, I was pleasantly surprised by The Wolverine. It had a creative, engaging story with some awesome new characters and loads of slice-and-dice Wolverine action. I had a couple complaints — one of the villains is horribly cheesy and totally unnecessary, and some of the plot is convoluted, and the movie kept insisting on reminding me that The Last Stand actually happened and wasn’t just a bad dream — but while I was watching, I had an enjoyable experience. None of my problems were large, and none of them occurred to me until after the movie. (Well, except for Viper, the aforementioned unnecessary villain. All of her screentime was stupid.) It’s not my favorite X-Men movie, but I enjoyed it, and it was far from being the worst. Verdict: Worth the price of the ticket.
I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie in theaters. I wasn’t planning on seeing it ever. The trailer looked awful, like a Transformers/Godzilla ripoff, with nary a plot or interesting character to be found. But then all of Twitter and Tumblr started gushing about how awesome it was. I had friends assure me it was better than the trailer. I became curious. So I went. And holy cow. The trailer doesn’t even begin to do it justice. Yes, there are very large robots fighting very large monsters, which is a common trope in Japanese cinema, but it’s much more than a monster/robot action movie. It has a fabulous, diverse set of characters and explores a variety of relationship dynamics. It has a creative premise and a solid plot. And yes, it has giant robots fighting giant monsters, and that is awesome. No, it’s not going to win any Oscars or redefine the future of American cinema. But it was a thoroughly entertaining and exhilarating roller coaster of a movie that far exceeded my expectations. Verdict: Worth the price of the ticket, bordering on must see. Will probably own.
So there you have it, folks. My take on the big action blockbusters I’ve seen this summer. I also want to take a moment to give a shout-out to Now You See Me, which I didn’t include above because it’s not an action movie, but I did find thoroughly enjoyable. It’s everything I wanted in an adrenaline-fueled magician heist movie. I don’t think it’s in theaters anymore, but once it hits Redbox, check it out.
How about you? See any good movies this summer?