By Adam Turner
Traveling through the summer movie landscape can sometimes be an overwhelming, daunting challenge. With new blockbusters coming out week after week, how can you possibly sort through all the cheap thrills for the true hits?
To help you out, here is a movie guide reflecting back on the highs and lows of the industry this summer, some still in theatres, some headed to DVD and Netflix in a few weeks.
“Thor” – A very solid (and funny!) fish-out-of-water superhero origin tale. Chris Hemsworth owns his role as Thor and director Kenneth Branagh makes his Marvel film more than just a stepping stone toward the epic “Avengers” movie coming out next summer. Verdict: B+
“Bridesmaids” – Earns my vote as funniest movie of the year thus far. Screenwriters Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo set out to craft the first Judd Apatow “chick flick” and end up exceeding many of the producer’s best films. Verdict: A
“Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides” – By cutting out the fat and returning the fun to the franchise (this is a movie based off a theme park ride, remember?), “Pirates 4” is easily the best since the original.
“The Hangover Part II” – Sticking rigidly to the successful formula set in the first film, this sequel ends up seeming like little more than a retread. However, it is still funny, and the sight of Bangkok’s strippers isn’t an image you will shake anytime soon. Verdict: B-
“X-Men: First Class” – This movie succeeds for two main reasons: James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. As Professor X and Magneto in their twenties, the two actors’ chemistry is electric. Verdict: A-
“Super 8” – J.J. Abrams’ collaboration with Steven Spielberg is an exciting, funny and sincere love letter to filmmaking and Spielberg’s own past hits that influenced Abrams as a child. Verdict: A
“Green Lantern” – A super-powered dud. Though not terribly awful, it fails to do anything particularly interesting with the character. Verdict: C-
“Bad Teacher” – Though Cameron Diaz seems to try a little too hard to be “bad” as the title requires, the supporting cast (Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel and many others) more than makes up for it. A surprisingly funny midsummer hit. Verdict: B
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – We get it, Michael Bay. Explosions are cool. What people ever saw in this franchise I’ll never know. Verdict: D+
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” – A wonderful and (have to say it) magical end to an overall great adaptation of the endlessly popular and enjoyable book series. Verdict: A
“Captain America: The First Avenger” – Like “Thor” before, director Joe Johnston makes the most out of his stab at Marvel lore with a film that plays just as much like a period piece as it does an awesome superhero film. Verdict: B+
“Friends With Benefits” – Besides the undeniable charisma and chemistry between the two leads Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, this movie begins by mocking many of the elements that make up a crappy romantic comedy but, sadly, still ends up becoming one. Verdict: B-
“Cowboys and Aliens” – Despite all the awesome star power packed behind this film, it was actually my biggest disappointment this summer. Not bad, but not everything it could and should have been. Verdict: C+
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – I entered the theatre with low expectations; this was, after all, the seventh(!) film in the series. I left, however, happily surprised and fulfilled. Amazing CGI and one of the richest, captivating non-human characters to ever grace the screen, powered by a fantastic performance from Andy Serkis. Verdict: B+
“30 Minutes or Less” – Similarly to “Cowboys and Aliens,” an awesome cast and crew are straddled with a just-OK script. Great concept, average execution. Verdict: B-