Summer Movie Season 2011 Wrap-Up

The Movies:

  • Fast Five
  • Thor
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Bridesmaids
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Super 8
  • Green Lantern
  • Tree of Life
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As if we needed a sure sign, the cool weather and rainy Labor Day weekend has announced loud and clear that Summer 2011 is over. Before football season really cranks up and before we invest in tons of pumpkin-spice flavored treats, I want to take a quick moment and review the movie season that was.

Looking back, I think we can confirm that the thematic through-line of the summer’s movies was nostalgia… whether in remakes (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), period pieces, (Super 8, Captain America), revisionist histories (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, X-Men: First Class) or backwards-gazing spiritual ruminations (Midnight in Paris, Tree of Life), it seemed that the past was on Hollywood’s mind.

The industry’s stubborn attempt at indoctrinating the public with the importance of 3D was stronger than ever, and it does seem like the public is responding. I, myself, am still leery towards 98% of 3D experiences. I will admit that 3D seems to have brought Michael Bay closer to being the revolutionary visualist he has the potential of becoming, but a billion extra dimensions will never fix an inability to read tone or cut fat.

My most pleasant technological discovery this summer was the long-derided digital IMAX experience. Call it Diet IMAX. Call it IMAX, Jr. Call it LIE-MAX. There’s no denying that this is not the enormous, domed cinematic experience that has been sold to us for decades, but -regardless of the bad branding- seeing a film in digital IMAX is worth the up-charge and makes the experience special.

My wife and I didn’t get to make it to many comedies this summer, and we happened to skip all of the animated features. One “achievement” we did nail was checking out all of the summer’s superhero movies, and I’m proud to say that both of us can champion Captain America: The First Avenger as the summer’s best superhero movie. Much of that is probably because the movie does not play out in the standard superhero sub-genre template, but works more as a character-based adventure film. Overall, I don’t think any of the comic book adaptations will hold up as well as a Dark Knight or a Spider-Man 2, but we’ll see how X-Men: First Class and Captain America -both crowd favorites- fare on repeat viewings.

For some chatter about the summer’s box office performance, check out this article.

 

All that said, here are some of my favorites of the season, with rankings in various categories:

 
SCORE
1.) Henry Jackman, X-Men: First Class
2.) Michael Giacchino, Super 8
3.) Alan Silvestri, Captain America: The First Avenger
4.) Patrick Doyle, Thor & Rise of the Planet of the Apes
5.) Alexandre Desplat, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II

CINEMATOGRAPHY
1.) Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life
2.) Larry Fong, Super 8
3.) Amir M. Mokri, Transformers: Dark of the Moon

EFFECTS
1.) Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2.) Rise of the Planet of the Apes
3.) Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II

SUPPORTING PERFORMANCES
1.) Elle Fanning, Super 8
2.) Alan Rickman, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II
3.) Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
4.) Dwayne Johnson, Fast Five
5.) Adrian Brody, Midnight in Paris

LEAD PERFORMANCES
1.) Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
2.) Michael Fassbender, X-Men: First Class
3.) Joel Courtney, Super 8
4.) WETA & Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
5.) Chris Evans, Captain America: The First Avenger

 

 

ACTION SEQUENCES
1.) Tower Topple, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2.) Train Heist, Fast Five
3.) Uprising, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
4.) Train Wreck, Super 8
5.) Harry vs Voldemort, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II
6.) Bus Attack, Super 8
7.) Climax, Fast Five
8.) Final Plane Chase, Captain America: The First Avengers
9.) Getting to Sentinal Prime, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
10.) Chasing the Hydra Spy, Captain America: The First Avenger

SCENES OR MOMENTS
1.) Argentina, X-Men: First Class
2.) Train Station Performance, Super 8
3.) Final Moment, Super 8
4.) Childhood Montage, Tree of Life
5.) Caesar is Home, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
6.) Dinner Table, Tree of Life
7.) Interrogating Griphook, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II
8.) Cookie Distribution, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
9.) Wedding Boutique, Bridesmaids
10.) Final Moment, Thor

BEST THEATRICAL EXPERIENCES
1.) Super 8 – Live music with dinner, followed by coffee with friends, topped off by a midnight screening in digital IMAX. Loud, vibrant, and very fun.
2.) Midnight in Paris – I surprised Danielle with a picnic after work. Wine, sandwiches, and a great screening.
3.) Transformers: Dark of the Moon – The eye-popping visuals and kinetic energy of this movie’s final act, rendered in IMAX 3D – with no loss in exposure, color, or clarity – more than makes up for its annoying eccentricities and fatty “character” moments.

 

 

GRADES:

A
Super 8
Tree of Life

A-
Captain America: The First Avenger
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II

B+
Midnight in Paris
Bridesmaids
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

B
Fast Five
Thor

B-
X-Men: First Class

D+
Green Lantern
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

 

So, that’s it. The ice cream’s melted, the pool is covered, and those short shorts are wholly inappropriate. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that our newest movie, The Nocturnal Third, is premiering locally and online this Friday, September 9th, despite missing its chance to be a Summer movie… as well as its promised Spring release date.

You can watch The Nocturnal Third, in its entirety, for free all weekend long at http://www.thenocturnalthird.com