Summer in Review: May
By BOP Staff
October 28, 2008
Iron Man - Early this year, I theorized that this would be the chance for comic book films to finally reach critical and awards-season praise, with Iron Man setting 'em up and The Dark Knight knocking 'em down. Years after X-Men and Spiderman, these two films have, in my mind, erased any stigma that stodgy, conservative critics may still have about comics as source material. Iron Man was easily the best true action-adventure of the summer, carried by performances, humor and heart, rather than effects and action. The fact that it was a bigger draw than Indiana Jones, despite decades of anticipation, speaks to this.
Made of Honor - I'm single, so I don't even know what the hell this is.
What Happens in Vegas - Americans, $80.3 Million worth of you kept the careers of both Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz going at the same time. Shame on you. That being said, we saw a lot of examples of successful counter-programming this summer, and this was one of them. If there are no romcoms coming out for a month, just throw anything out there; apparently it'll stick.
Speed Racer - Well, something had to kill the '80s nostalgia boom.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - The fate of the Narnia series is a shame; while I missed Prince Caspian (like everyone else,) I thought that the first film in the series was charming and captured the spirit of the book well. Fantasy seems to work well when we haven't seen one in a while, with the three Lord of the Rings films being the obvious exception; the glut of kid's fantasy over the past few years spelled doom for Prince Caspian. No one should've been surprised, though; a look at Eragon's numbers should've made the result here crystal clear.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - As someone who has purchased not just one, but two Indiana Jones hats in his lifetime, it killed me to hate this film. But it was truly dreadful. If an Indy film this bad managed to pull in $315 million domestic, imagine what a good one could've done.
Sex and the City - The strong result for this virtually guarantees a sequel. It'll run four and a half hours long, star 35 people I can't stand, and have a budget of $120 million, $105 million of which is devoted solely to handbags.
The Strangers - I maintain that horror is the most reliable of the genres. Bombs are usually a result of oversaturation, not quality, and even a clunker will find an audience among those (like myself) who will see any scare filck playing, regardless of quality. Put out an acceptable R-rated (for the love of god, R-rated) horror film at a convenient place on the calendar, and you'll easily make your budget back. The Strangers is an excellent example; it won't make any best-of lists, but moved along enough to keep me interested, and it took advantage of a fright-less stretch of the release schedule to prosper. Good for Universal on this one.
Iron Man - Red hot commercials and trailers made me a believer in the notion that this film could open huge. The best surprise is the fact that Iron Man was every bit as good as previews promised it would be. I continue to be blown away at the fact that it's more than just a good superhero movie. It's a good, good movie. How awesome is it that two outstanding and quirky actors as Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp have seen career resurgences over the past few years? I'm legitimately excited for the sequel, even if I'm not a particular fan of Iron Man (in fact, I kind of hate the character in the comic books) and am disappointed that Terrence Howard won't be returning to play Rhodey.
Made of Honor - I totally forgot that this movie exists. It's profitable, so I guess we might be seeing more of McDreamy in future above-the-title roles.
What Happens in Vegas - This commercial still infests my nightmares from time to time. I hate Cameron Diaz and see no reason why anyone would ever want to see a movie where she stars. But unfortunately, the world doesn't agree with me and thus, movies like What Happens in Vegas find success. Boooooo!
Speed Racer - I personally thought this movie was a blast and did a great job of capturing the spirit of the animated series, but readily admit it wasn't for everyone. Honestly, it's not for most people. And the Wachowskis have lost a lot of Hollywood confidence as a result. After disappointing with the quality of the Matrix sequels and turning in a product that bombs as badly as Speed Racer, they're not golden anymore. They might just have to delegate projects down to James McTeigue (director of V for Vendetta and the upcoming Ninja Assassin) in the short term.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - What can I say about this that hasn't already been said? I think it's been proven that audiences are pretty much worn out on kids' fantasy not named Harry Potter and the _____________. Caspian was probably profitable, but there has to be a lot of concern about Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - I remember way back when, back in the day when I thought this movie would be the top earner of 2008. Oh, how sweet, innocent and naïve I was then. I had no idea that a movie as violent and scary as The Dark Knight would have the chops to go all the way to #2 of all time, nor did I think that newcomer Iron Man would be able to beat the well-loved Indy. I'm sure not spitting on Indy's result, but imagine what might have been if people actually liked the movie?
Sex and the City - I just don't understand women, which is sad, since I am one. I love shoes, I like handbags and I like clothes. I just don't understand sitting and watching a movie about them.
The Strangers - This movie's success was a total surprise to me. It looked so awful, but admittedly, I think that about most horror movies these days. Even the ones that look good to most people turn my stomach thinking about them.