A Look Back and A Look Forward

The summer of 2008 is just about over and I'd like to take this time to reflect on some of the best movies of the summer. Although actual summer begins in June, the summer movie season began way back in May with the release of Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the summer with a fantastic superhero film that garnered major critical acclaim, receiving a 93% on rottentomatoes.com. Not to mention Downey Jr. gave a phenomenal performance as billionaire playboy Tony Stark. Iron Man surprised everyone by surpassing expectations and becoming the first film of 2008 to break $300 million at the domestic box office, a feat analysts only expected from Indy 4 and The Dark Knight. With this huge success, a sequel was greenlit immediately and is now slated for 2010. Iron Man was also the first piece of a puzzle that Marvel is putting together. For those of you who stayed after the credits you may recall the exciting reference to the Avenger Initiative, which sent comic book nerds abroad crazy. Well The Avengers film does appear to be happening, and Downey Jr's Tony Stark appears to be the first group member. That film is scheduled for July of 2011. I gave Iron Man a 10 out of 10.

The next huge release of the summer of 2008 was the long, long, long awaited Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Many people were left disappointed by the extra-terrestrial touch put on to the famous archaeologist's series, but not me. Indy 4 delivered the excitement and adventure that I loved from the previous 3 films. A 60+ year old Harrison Ford showed he still had the ability to bring the charming character of Indiana Jones to life. Joined by the rising star Shia Labeouf, Indy 4 went on to make upwards of $300 million just as predicted. Although you may not agree, I felt Crystal Skull was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful series. But now even I am a bit upset by the idea that George Lucas wishes to make a 5th film. George, enough is enough. Go out on a high note. You already sank your Star Wars ship with those awful Episodes 1-3, maybe you should come up with an original idea. Even if a 5th Indy flick got made, Lucas said Shia Labeouf would not take over and it would remain with Ford as the lead actor. Well by the time the film was released he would be about 70, and even I'd say it's time to hang up the whip. Let us all hope that a 5th Indy film never happens. I gave Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a 7.5 out of 10.

The next film I saw in the summer was a film I didn't even want to see. It took my friend to say he'd buy half my ticket so that I would go see it with him. I unhappily agreed, and was happily surprised. The Incredible Hulk was a HUGE HUGE HUGE improvement over the god awful 2003 Hulk directed by Ang Lee. Although still nowhere near perfect, casting Edward Norton in the lead role pushed The Incredible Hulk into credible movie territory. A good performance from Norton really helped make this film better than it should have been. The Hulk is the least interesting superhero ever created in my opinion, but this film actually did him justice. A terrible performance by Liv Tyler bogged The Incredible Hulk down a bit, but top notch special effects pushed her weird shaped face aside. Unfortunately, probably due to the fact that the general public disliked the first Hulk, The Incredible Hulk only made $134 million, only $2 million more than the far worse Hulk. A regular film would love to make $134 million but since The Incredible Hulk required $150 million to make, fiscally it was a failure. But who cares about how much it made anyway, this film provided the second piece to Marvel's puzzle, joining Iron Man in the Avengers mix. I gave The Incredible Hulk a 7 out of 10.

But the summer 2008 really became fantastic when The Dark Knight rolled into theaters. Featuring the brilliant performance from late Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight has been a box office powerhouse, recently beating Star Wars as the second highest domestic grossing film of all time. At approximately $500+ million dollars and counting, The Dark Knight needs about $140 million more dollars to beat Titanic for the number one spot, but it's looking unlikely. Not only was The Dark Knight the best film of the year, but one of the best films of all time, and topped my own personal list as my favorite film of all time. With a record breaking opening weekend of $155 million, The Dark Knight was the only film great enough to make me go to a midnight showing. I hate midnight showings. No let me rephrase that. I HATE midnight showings. But this movie made me go. I'm glad it did. Originally I wanted to give The Dark Knight an 11 out of 10, and I did. But then I realized it was unprofessional and I made it a 10 out of 10. I just want the record to show that it deserves more. A script for the third film has not even been written yet, but rumors have circulated suggesting Johnny Depp as the Riddler and Angelina Jolie as Catwoman. Personally I think both are terrible ideas, and a third film shouldn't even be made. There is no way it is going to top this one. Absolutely no way. Like I said, I gave The Dark Knight a 10 out of 10.

Finally, the summer has ended with a laugh with the release of Tropic Thunder. After a controversial release due to the protest by disability support groups, Tropic Thunder didn't make much noise at the box office, only making $26 million over the weekend. Still it was good enough to knock The Dark Knight from it's perch at number 1 at the box office, which it held for a full month. What made Tropic Thunder so funny was the amazing performance by the very man who kicked off the summer of 2008, Robert Downey Jr. How appropriate that the man who brought us into the summer with an astounding movie now shows us the way out of summer with a hilarious movie. Some strong supporting performances and a random Matthew McConaughey made Tropic Thunder a hit in my eyes. I gave Tropic Thunder a 7.5 out of 10.

I did not mention Wanted or Hellboy II because I'd be here forever spitting out redundancies. Both those films were great as well.

The summer is now over. Go in peace.

Here are some of my recommendations for upcoming films in 2008:

Bangkok Dangerous (Sept 5) Burn After Reading (Sept 12), Igor (Sept 19), Eagle Eye (Sept 26), Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Oct 3), Saw 5 Oct 24(that's right, I'm a closet Saw fan, you got a problem with that?), RocknRolla (Oct 31), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Dec 19), The Spirit (Dec 25)

Here are some movies I suggest avoiding in 2008:

Disaster Movie (Aug 29), College (Aug 29), Disaster Movie (Aug 29), Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Oct 3), W (Oct 17), Disaster Movie (Aug 29), High School Musical 3 (Oct 24), Punisher: War Zone (Dec 5), Disaster Movie (Aug 29), The Day the Earth Stood Still (Dec 12), AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND GOOD IN THIS WORLD, AVOID DISASTER MOVIE!!!!!!!! IF YOU KNOW SOMEBODY WHO PLANS ON SEEING IT, HURT THEM! YOU CAN TELL THEM I MADE YOU DO IT.

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Movies given a 10/10

  • Milk
  • In Bruges
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Shining
  • A Clockwork Orange