Summer 2011 has left us! There were highs! There were lows! There were wizards and superheroes and monsters and aliens and good movies and bad movies and... other things.
So, with this in mind, I present to you The Fun In The Sun Awards for Summer 2011! Take a leap and enjoy!
Before we begin, a review of the summer!
The following was, and probably still is, going to be part of big feature over at Man, I Love Films where all the contributing authors chime in on their respective summers, but, I figured it's appropriate here as well, so...
It's no stretch to say that the slew of movies offered in the Summer of 2010 blew harder than Paris Hilton at her most promiscuous. With that in mind, Summer 2011 was a decent return to form. Though it held not a candle to the wonders that were delivered in the summer of 2009 and 2008, Summer 2011 offered much to admire. Comics were front and center again, but they actually managed to deliver on most fronts. X-Men: First Class was a wonderful reboot of that derided franchise, Captain America ended the Avengers promotion with flying colors, and Thor was one of the most entertaining and fun superhero movies I can remember seeing. Though Green Lantern and Cowboys & Aliens brought down the overall quality, comics still ruled supreme!
When it came to comedy, we were shafted, as per usual. The Hangover: Part II was, at best, a tired retread of the original; at worst, a horribly mean spirited, dirty, piece of trash. Horrible Bosses was a very funny, very welcome surprise, I'll grant you that, but it stands largely alone. Bear in mind, I haven't seen The Change-Up or 30 Minutes or Less yet, so...
But Summer 2011 succeeded because of three things: homages to Spielberg, wizards, and... the story of life? Super 8, The Tree of Life, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II made this summer. Super 8 was a well crafted, wonderfully nostalgic film that tapped into that childlike sense of wonder in a way few films can. The Tree of Life was a wonderfully nuanced and restrained piece of work that demands multiple viewings. And Harry Potter, man, Harry Potter! That was just perfect! Just perfect!
Some other gems included the surprisingly excellent Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the "better than it needed to be thanks entirely to David Tennant" Fright Night. And Transformers 3 was soooooo much better than it deserved to be. Just sayin'. There were bumps in the road, but after last year, I'm more than thankful for what we got.
Ok, with that, on to the awards!!!
Best New Franchise: Thor
Superheroes were everywhere, and Marvel was king of the superheroes. Thor was their champion. I guess it's unfair to label Thor a new franchise, especially when it and three other "franchises" are all part of the same "franchise", but to hell with that horribly confusing tangent; Thor has all the chops to stand on its own! With solid acting, fun action, and a spectacle never seen in comic book movies before, any sequel to the god of thunder's first romp is bound to be sensational.
Worst New Franchise: Green Lantern
Well, maybe this is kind of a cheat. There is no chance there will ever be a Green Lantern sequel, given the combination of critical savaging and barely any revenue to speak of. But, there could have been, so it wins this category. Ah well...
|Uh oh! Somebody's happy!|
Best Sequel/Prequel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
X-Men: First Class came close to nabbing this one, but the nostalgic child in me fell victim to the passion and mayhem of the final Harry Potter flick. Easily the best of the series, this one capitalized on everything that was every good about the previous films, whilst simultaneously soaring to new heights!
Worst Sequel/Prequel: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The POTC franchise was dead on the water well before Jack Sparrow was swallowed by the Kraken, and putting him in the driver's seat does not a good movie make. Though there were some cool moments, the fourth installment in this inexplicably popular franchise is about as far from the excellent first one that you can get.
|What? I thought you'd like that.|
Most Fun: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Ok, I know. I'm probably gonna have to check myself into some mental hospital at some point for recommending the third Transformers movie. But until then, I'll keep singing its praises. Dark of the Moon was far from a perfect movie, but it was an absolute blast, full to bursting with great action and effects. Michael Bay learned from his mistakes on Revenge of the Fallen, and sort of made up for them. I mean, not quite, but the efforts appreciated.
Least Fun: Cowboys & Aliens
A movie where cowboys fight aliens should be a perfect recipe for the most ludicrously entertaining thing ever. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, and the end product, while still cool at some points, is one of the more boring movies of the summer. What a shame.
|Where did we go wrong, Harrison?|
Smartest: The Tree of Life
Well, duh! If this movie has anything, it's a brain. Terrence Malick's subtle and restrained look at small town family life in 1960s Texas, set against the backdrop of the creation of the universe, is awe inspiring. It would take a bright mind to come up with and craft a story like this up to level of quality it is, and Malick has that in spades.
Dumbest: The Hangover: Part II
To be fair, the first Hangover wasn't exactly "smart", but it sure as hell was clever. The whole notion of knowing nothing about what Phil, Stu, and Alan got up to was really good, and discovering it all with them was hilarious. With Part II, all that cleverness has gone out the window, leaving nothing more than a tired retread of the first. I wouldn't say you feel dumber for having watched it, but you feel something close to it.
|And we have our first walkouts of the night.|
Surprisingly Good: Fright Night
A horror remake has no business being anything more than an enjoyable gore fest, especially if said horror remake is a remake of the film that not as many people know about. But Fright Night is awesome, with a really gifted cast, loads of humor and scares, and plenty of style to go around. But who am I kidding. I only liked cuz there's a scene where The Doctor kills vampires with a gun that fires stakes. That's the key to my heart right there.
Surprisingly Bad: Cowboys & Aliens
Given the talent involved, it's almost shocking how inept Cowboys & Aliens really is. Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, and Olivia Wilde are all really great actors, and Jon Favreau is one of the best, young, up and coming directors these days. So, why does this suck? Ugh!
Least Disappointing: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
It lived up to every expectation I had for it. The action was amazing. The emotion was heart breaking. It fully realized the potential of JK Rowling's books on the screen. That's alright with me.
Most Disappointing: Cowboys & Aliens
See above. I'm done talking about this movie.
|Sit in a corner and cry!|
Best Comedy: Horrible Bosses
The film that The Hangover: Part II was trying to be, Horrible Bosses took a really over the top premise and ran with it, crafting ingenious and hilarious set pieces and scenarios. The cast is loaded, with tried and true comedians filling out the roles of our murdering heroes, and big name A listers taking the reins on the aforementioned bosses. Man, Colin Farrell is hysterical in this movie. Don't miss it.
Worst Comedy: The Hangover: Part II
It's just not good. If the first one had never existed, this would be much more palatable. As it stands, nothing in this movie works. The humor is, at best, a rehash of the predecessor, at worst, incredibly mean spirited and dirty. I'm really let down by this one folks, not gonna lie.
|Jealous, aren't ya?|
Best Action: Captain America: The First Avenger
It's no stretch to say that Captain America delivered on the action front, even if it came up short in some other departments. Cap hops around the field, sending dudes flying left and right, bouncing his shield off walls, into faces, and other juicy things. For sheer thrills this summer, you couldn't do better than seeing a guy beat people to death with the american flag.
Worst Action: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Ok, that mermaid scene is admittedly tight, but everything was just "blah". We've seen thousands of sword fights from this franchise, and thousands of cannons fired. We don't need to see anymore. Let me put it to you this way. The main bad guy has a ship that can shoot an enormous jet of flame, destroying anything it touches, and he only uses it once... to kill one guy... and it wasn't even an important guy. Opportunity! Squandered!
|Everybody be cool! I got this!|
Best Performance: Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Shut up! Don't care if it's mo-cap. Don't care if there isn't a technical human on screen. Andy Serkis outshined everyone this summer with his wonderfully moving performance as an ape who's had enough. It's time for people to wake up. Motion capture is a legitimate form of performance now. Will someone give Serkis his damn Oscar already? Please?
Worst Performance: Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Cruz is only good if she's performing in her native tongue or Woody Allen movies, so this shouldn't be much of a surprise. Still, her character is completely pointless to the proceedings, and she doesn't do anything to try and elevate her to something memorable.
|I'M SO HAPPY!!!!!|
Best Director: Kenneth Branagh for Thor
It was risky decision, picking a guy known more for Shakespeare than big action, but it was one that paid off beautifully. Branagh, and his sensibilities, fit the over the top, larger than life Thor like a glove. It doesn't hurt that he delivers a marvelous spectacle as well. The final fight between Thor and Loki, set against a backdrop of swirling nebulas and stars is just awesome!
Rob Marshal for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to hire a guy known for making lavish, if mediocre, films based on Broadway musicals for a swashbuckling, epic, pirate adventure? Who?
That guy right there? Fire him immediately!
|Winning this award is almost as awesome as this picture!|
Best In Show: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
I don't know what else I can say about this film that hasn't already been said on this site, on other sites, on the LAMBcast, or to friends. It's perfect! Just perfect!
Worst In Show: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
When you are taking a break from the high adventure to focus on some emotionless missionary as he falls in love with an even more emotionless mermaid, you know your film has serious issues! That's all I'm saying.
|I'd like to thank the Academy... Oh wait! That's for later!|
Well, that was fun! Thanks for holding together for me folks. Glad you enjoyed them. See you next year.
Ah yes, next year. Summer 2012. Dark knights will rise. Avengers will assemble. Bring it on!