I've been predictably neglectful of this blog in recent months. I'll do the usual blame...bought a house, busy at work, blah, blah... Truthfully, I got lazy about writing.
Rather than give an extensive review of all the films we missed, I'm gonna hit the highlights. Several of these movies will be on DVD soon, so if you're looking for some recommendations and trust my judgement, here you go.
X-Men: First Class - A-
I admit, I wanted nothing to do with this movie from the day I heard about it. The last two X-films (The Last Stand and Wolverine) were messy at best, travesties at worst. A prequel set in the 60s seemed doomed. But as the previews came, I was impressed and intrigued.
The finished product might actually be the best of the franchise or at least on par with the exceptional X2. Carried on the strong performances of leads James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, First Class is clever, exciting and simply fun. Even the moments that as a fan are expected still work. Fassbender's evolution of Magneto is particularly excellent.
Super 8 - B+
Despite being an unabashed fan of Steven Spielberg, I didn't wax as nostalgic over Super 8 as I was probably supposed to. That's not to say it isn't a fine piece of filmmaking...J.J. Abrams' homage to his idol and the kid-centric wonder films of the 80s hits so many tonal points with ease. I think it's impossible to recapture the feeling of movies like that from our youth when we are no longer that young. It's the memory of what a movie evoked in us, so long ago, that makes it nostalgic.
I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting out of this movie, but something felt...missing as the end credits rolled. Still, the film is beautifully shot, exceptionally acted (the child stars are very evocative of those Spielberg populated his movies with as well) and filled with "wow" moments. I'm looking forward to revisiting this movie again on Blu ray.
Green Lantern - D+
Oh, DC, when are you ever going to produce a viable superhero franchise other than Batman? Your last Superman reboot failed and there's already backlash about the next one. You've got Marvel beat in the animated world (TV and direct to DVD), but your live action properties leave much to be desired.
I was especially disappointed at the lack of imagination or excitement in Green Lantern. After Batman and Spidey, the Green Lanterns have been some of my favorite comic book characters. This one, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, is rarely heroic and even less exciting. After spending most of the film using his power ring to impress Blake Lively and mope around, GL engages in a completely unprecedented battle with "the greatest evil in the universe" that seems to have little consequence to him. I was impressed with the special effects, especially the ring constructs (which there could have been more of), but it all felt so hollow.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II - A-
Not as effectively emotional and character-driven as part one, the action-filled finale of the Potter franchise will probably seem much more effective when watched back to back with part one. Still, it's been an amazing journey and, much like the novels, the films have grown and deepened with time. I can't wait to watch them all back to back and relive the joy.
Captain America - B+
Not quite as much fun as Thor, but the final film before next summer's sure to be blockbuster Avengers brings the Marvel universe together still hits all the right notes. Chris Evans is effective as the weak wannabe (great CGI to pull that off) turned super-soldier to fight in World War II. As with the other Avengers films, there are neat nods to fans throughout. I can't wait to see what Joss Whedon can accomplish with this cast on screen.