Blockbuster Round-Up: A Review of this Summer’s Biggest Movies (So Far)

We’re officially only a few days into the Summer of 2013, but Hollywood has been churning out their latest batch of summer blockbusters since early May. Here are my thoughts on some of the biggest movies of the season so far (by order of release date).

Iron Man 3 (Release Date: May 3; Box office take: $403 million): This was clearly a ‘paint-by-numbers’ effort for Robert Downey Jr., who, by all accounts, has grown weary of playing the role of billionaire industrialist/playboy/superhero Tony Stark. The writers tried to raise the stakes for Tony/Iron Man by giving him PTSD (a result of his bout with the generic aliens at the end of last summer’s The Avengers), a lethal adversary in The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), and someone to care about (and thus a damsel in distress) in Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow), but it all falls rather flat in the face of sequel syndrome and the reality that there isn’t really anywhere else for this franchise to go; that is until Marvel decides to reboot it in 5 years. My verdict: 1.5 stars (out of 5).

Star Trek: Into Darkness (Release: May 16; Box office take: $217 million): The sequel to JJ Abrams’ 2009 reboot reunited all the familiar Star Trek characters for another swashbuckling adventure into the final frontier…only, a good chunk of the film actually takes place on boring old terra firma. This time around Kirk (Chris Pine) must learn some tough lessons about leadership, responsibility, and personal sacrifice when he and his crew face off against a villain-who-shall-not-be-named, but who is readily familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of Star Trek lore. Abrams doubles down on all the action, humor, and lens flares that made the 2009 film both loved and loathed, and die hard fans of the original films will be rankled as the director continues to step on their favorite castles in the Star Trek sandbox. While Star Trek: Into Darkness is light on the intellectualism that is generally associated with this long-running franchise, it’s still a fun ride. My verdict: 3 stars (out of 5).

Man of Steel (Release: June 14; Box office take: $214 million): This ain’t your dad’s Superman. That’s the message that director Zack Snyder and writer David Goyer tried to convey in this reboot of a franchise that’s been long overdue for a shot in the arm. Gone are the original Donner films which portrayed Clark Kent/Superman as the all-American superhero fighting for truth, justice, and all that jazz. The 2013 edition of Kal-el/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) still battles monsters, but mostly (at least initially) of the internal kind, as he struggles with the quintessential question: “who am I?” (Apparently existential crises are not exclusive to just humans.) Viewers get to discover the answer to this question through a series of flash backs to his childhood growing up on a farm in Kansas, while in the present Kal-el roams North America, performing random deeds of heroism while searching for clues to his alien ancestry. Snyder fills the screen with beautiful imagery, yet it felt to me that it was merely style over substance, as I really never felt any connection to this new Clark Kent at all. By the time the last of the Kryptonians, led by General Zod (Michael Shannon), arrive on Earth to reclaim their prodigal son, little work has been done to establish why Kal-el would fight for a planet that he’s never felt a part of. There’s still moments to enjoy in Man of Steel, and I think I liked this film more than Eric did, but for movie goers and fans of the comic who are looking for the quintessential Superman movie, the search continues. My verdict: 2.5 stars (out of 5).

By my estimation, this has been a pretty dismal start to the summer movie season, and with such titles as The Lone RangerWhite House DownPacific RimR.I.P.D., and The Wolverine to look forward to, I’m not holding out much hope for improvement. If I do manage to catch any of these other films I’ll update this list and provide a close-out summary of this summer’s blockbuster movies. Stay tuned!

The worst story of the month

This is the worst thing I’ve read since the last worst thing I read.  It really goes to show what horrible horrible people there are in this world.  However, maybe I’m just out of touch and have no idea what goes on in the real world these days.

So basically, a couple got married.  The former boss of one of happy couple attended and brought, as a gift, a gift basket of assorted pastas and high end goodies.  A very nice gesture from someone who clearly is no more than an acquaintance.  This half of the couple emailed her former boss and said she was allergic to gluten and needed the receipt to return the gift.  A little shady, but not the end of the world in my book.

Here’s where it gets fun, and where these people become completely deplorable.  This woman’s better half emails this guy and says that no one brings gifts anymore.  It is expected that people not only just bring cash to a wedding, but you bring enough to pay for your own food.  WHAT?!?

Okay, so lets say for arguments sake that this is proper etiquette.  Maybe this guest is like me and is completely clueless as to the new ways of weddings.  It is completely rude and disgusting of these newlyweds to attack a guest this way.  He was invited to your wedding.  If you cannot afford to pay for your guests to eat at your wedding, maybe you should have a smaller wedding.

I admit, I have been married for a very long time.  Sometimes, it seems like an eternity.  And as each year passes, I go to fewer and fewer weddings.  But I have always brought a gift, and I have never been expected to pay for my own food.  It makes me glad that I don’t have to go to a lot of weddings in the future.  I wouldn’t have any idea what I’m supposed to do.  Although I guess any weddings I go to would be for people who aren’t some of the worst people on the planet.

Maybe I’m wrong?  Is this the way weddings are going now?  Let me know.  But there’d better be a damn good argument for treating someone this way who was a guest at your wedding.

Man of Steel

So let’s just get this out of the way. The movie isn’t all that great. Hell, it’s not all that good. I was extremely disappointed. I am a huge superhero fan. I am not a huge fan of comic books. I do read a few comic books. Mostly Green Arrow. He’s the best!! I’ll blog about him another time. This is about Superman. Give me a good origin story, and I am an easy customer.

The movie opens on Krypton and the destruction of the planet that sends Kal-El to Earth to live among the humans. I really enjoyed this part of the movie. I thought it was really well done. Unfortunately, this is where it all went downhill. The movie is two and a half hours, so I had a lot of time to think, as there isn’t much of the movie that kept my interest. I started to wonder, is it possible to make a good Superman movie?

The thing I liked most about this movie was Kevin Costner’s Jon Kent. I thought the way he was written was really well done. This was seriously about it. Superman stands for everything that is good in the world. Whereas Batman is willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done, Superman has a moral code that cannot be tarnished. In this day and age, is it possible to make a film where our hero has that much integrity?

Maybe it’s in the powers of the man of tomorrow. If you look at other superhero films, someone like Captain America had a strong set of morals, and The First Avenger is my favorite Marvel superhero flick ever. In The Avengers, outside of Thor, they are all human. There’s always a chance one of them won’t make it, however unlikely. The last son of Krypton has no such vulnerability. True, in this movie he is battling another Kryptonian in General Zod, but when you’re powered by Earth’s yellow Sun, not much can go wrong for you.

So how does one make a good Superman movie? I don’t know what the right answer is. Superman Returns was abysmal. I haven’t seen any of the original series in forever. I wonder if they have held up as well as I remember them being as a kid. Probably not. I’ve read that Warner Brothers is going to use The Man of Steel as the starting movie for their Justice League world. I’m hopeful that they can turn this around when other characters are brought into the mix. Whether they introduce heroes in their own movies first, or start them in the Justice League of America, I don’t know, I don’t care. I just know if I were going to make a JLA movie, the first thing I would do is call Joss Whedon.

The Voice

I’ve never seen a season of American Idol. Seeing people who cannot sing, attempt to on TV doesn’t interest me at all. In fact, I am not a fan of reality shows in general. If it’s not The Amazing Race, the non-celebrity version of The Mole, and for some reason, Solitary, even though it’s pretty terrible, I have no interest in reality shows.

But I’ve always watched The Voice. I was intrigued by the premise, originally. Not being able to see the contestants, only being able to go by what the coaches heard was an interesting way to put together a show, and after season 1, I was hooked. Luckily, I appreciate all different types of music, so a singing show will appeal to someone like me, because most likely I am going to find at least one or two people to root for, and in each season, I have.

In season one, I was all about Dia Frampton. She was and is still incredible. I was very sad when she didn’t win, however, it was obvious, even during the audition period that Javier Colon was going to win. I was fine with that. He was very good, just not my favorite.

Season two saw me throw my support behind Tony Lucca. Jermaine Paul won, which was a surprise to me, but again, I was okay with it. He wasn’t my favorite, but I understood.

Last season, again saw a clear cut winner early on. Cassadee Pope was going to win the entire time. It was obvious. Again, she wasn’t my favorite. While I did love her, and think she was amazing, I was a Terry McDermott guy. So I was 0-3, but as long as Nicholas David didn’t win, I was fine with it. He is freaking terrible.

Which brings us to this week. For the third time out of four seasons, the winner was clear very early on. If you pay attention at all, you knew Danielle Bradbery was going to win season 4. Now I love country music, so I was good with this. Alas, my favorite, The Swon Brothers, didn’t win. But, like last season, I had a least favorite. As long as it wasn’t Michelle Chamuel, I was good with whatever the outcome was. I don’t need my singers to do squats on stage 4,000 times per song. I’ll pass.

The point is though, it has been very easy to predict who the winner was going to be in a majority of the seasons. The reason for this is obviously because if a singer gets a song into the top 10 of iTunes, those votes are multiplied by 10. Get a couple of those early on, and you can coast to a the title. It won’t make a difference how many votes an artist gets through the other options. I’ve always had a favorite in the finals, and been fine with the winner in each season, so I guess the way it works has been okay by me, but I think it’s stupid that if a fan buys a song, it could potentially make all votes irrelevant by the end of the season. Basically it makes The Voice just a commercial for iTunes. And let’s be honest, does anyone really not know what iTunes is?

Oh, and also, congratulations to Danielle. To be 16 years old, and sing that well is incredible. She absolutely deserved to win the show. And don’t talk to me about Judith Hill. I read a few other message boards and blogs and Twitter. Why am I the only one who doesn’t understand her appeal? I was thrilled to see her go.

DuckTales (Remastered)

Life is like a hurricane!!  In no way do I consider myself a gamer.  I love video games, but my library is pretty limited to mostly sports games.  I’ll play any sports game.  Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods, MLB, etc.  I love them all.  The good thing is, all my friends do as well.  But there is a special place in my heart for old video games as well.  I still have my NES, my Super NES, a Sega Genesis, Playstations 2 and 3, and a WII.  Over the years I’ve stupidly sold games, left them at friends houses, or lost them along the way but I’ve never forgotten what joy some of them have brought me.  And one of the all time best is DuckTales.

My favorite game ever is Pole Position.  I have always wanted an upright Pole Position game.  In a home console game, I love NBA Jam.  But for some reason, DuckTales always found a way into the rotation.

I was a child of the 1990’s, so maybe my love of the show just hooked me into the game.  In fact, I haven’t played in so long, I barely remember anything about the gameplay itself.  I just remember loving it.  So when Capcom revealed plans to bring it back to life, I was so excited!  Granted, I found out about this last week and they announced it in March apparently, so I was a bit behind the times, but still excited.

I was a bit worried that this would only be available on the new platforms coming out, out that had recently been released.  I have two young children, and have no intentions on buying the WII U, Xbox One, or PS4.  Luckily, I can get this on the Playstation 3 and will absolutely be doing so. It’s funny that I found out about this just this past week.  My oldest is two and a half and recently was really sick.  As a way to keep her on the couch and resting (and not touching her baby sister) I decided to show her my DuckTales DVDs.  Yeah, I have all the DVDs that are available.  She loved them!  Of course she did!  How can someone not love Ducktales?!!

Ok but seriously, why have the last 25 episodes not been released on DVD?  I have 75 episodes, but not the complete series.  This bothers me to no end.  If I love a series, I want the series.  Not part of the series.  I have season 1 of Ned and Stacey.  Season 2 is not available.  And don’t get me started on Two Guys and a Girl.  Where was I?  Oh right.

Thank you, Capcom.  Like EA Sports did when they re-released NBA Jam in 2010, and Next Level Games did when Punch-Out!! came back, a part of my childhood was reborn.  And I couldn’t possibly be happier.

Not pony tails or cotton tails, no

Duck Tales!  Woo ooo!