Summer Cinema Review

Just as is the case every summer, the general population was faced with a myriad of different cinematic worlds to hide away from the sun (read: rain) in. The summer months provide us with the longest blockbuster period of the year, with something new, glitzy and star-spangled to see every week. 2011 has been no different.

As could have been predicted- probably several years in advance- the biggest film release of this summer was HarryHarry Potter Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final instalment in the septology turned cinematic octology. It was a big deal for some, saying final goodbyes to their childhood with robe-draped midnight openings across the country, which led to record-breaking opening takings. Throwing audiences right in where Part 1 left off, Part 2 tugged them along at a relentless pace allowing them to gorge their eyes on some of the best of British CGI as the last great wizarding battle took place and many long-awaited moments made their way onto the silver screen, from the inevitable getting together of Ron and Hermione to the fierce words of Molly Weasley. Yes, some of the performances were still shakey (bless him, but Daniel Radcliffe does try) and, as is the case with many book to film adaptations, the book will always triumph, but it was felt by many fans and critics that this concluding film was a cut above its predecessors. Even if it did close with that unforgettable, unintentional nugget of comedy gold that was the epilogue; those that had read the book were cringingly expecting that anyway.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated films after Harry Potter was the sci-fi thriller, Super 8. It was written and directed by J. J. Abrams. It was produced by Steve Spielberg. Film nerds everywhere could barely contain themselves long enough to witness such an exquisite silver screen partnership. Bearing some similar touchstones to Spielberg’s beloved E.T., Super 8 tells the story of a group of adolescents caught up in the aftermath of a suspicious train accident and the consequences of their helping a far flung alien, a victim of hostile bureaucracy.

This summer also saw the usual slew of classic comic-book characters being made Hollywood flesh on the big screen. James McAvoy portrayed a young Charles Xavier opposite Michael Fassbender’s Magneto in X-Men: First Class. This prequel and fifth instalment in the X-Men film franchise set against the backdrop of the 1960’s Cuban missile crisis went back in the established timeline in order to show audiences the beginnings of the X-Men, where Magneto first found his fetching anti-Xavier helmet and, most importantly, how did Xavier end up in a wheelchair anyway?

Captain America also made some use of genuine historical events, this time the ever-popular World War Two period. Chris Evans (also known as the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four films) was miraculously diminished through the powers of CGI to portray weedy but resilient nice guy Steve Rogers, only to see him emerge well-oiled and muscled from a machine half an hour into the film. In this way, audiences witnessed the creation of Captain America and his early losses in his mission against rebel Nazi weapon development branch, Hydra. As the full title of the film is Captain America: The First Avenger audiences were also privy to the final bricks being laid in the build up to the foundations of The Avengers.

Other comic releases included Green Lantern which, although applauded for its exemplary use of special effects, was not a favourite among critics, whereas Kenneth Brannagh’s adaptation of the lesser-known Thor was better preferred.

This year’s surprise comedy hit was the female funny vehicle, Bridesmaids. Written by and starring Kristen Wiig, this gross-out comedy, with its clever combination of script-work and improvisation was much lauded by critics who appear to have been pleasantly caught out by a film that, although at first appeared to be a chick flick, went on to include uproarious scenes of explosive diarrhoea in the gleaming white of a top class bridal shop. Of course, the film was produced by Judd Apatow of Anchorman and Superbad fame, so if you were paying attention during the opening credits you may have had some idea of what to expect. This film was not loved by all but appears to have been thoroughly enjoyed by middle-aged woman up and down the country. Other comedies released this summer included Horrible Bosses, with funny guys Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day teaming up in a procession of hilarious screw-ups that told the tale of three friends failed attempts to murder each other’s detestable bosses as portrayed by a dark Kevin Spacey, a loathsome Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston in her first decent comedic role since Friends.

Following the usual summer blockbuster trend, audiences had plenty of sequels and threequels to choose from. Pixar’s Cars 2 was a pulsingly colourful hit with the younger generation (or for those young at heart). Michael Bay’s third Transformers movie explored the dark side of the moon, transferring raucous robot action to an unexplored territory and transforming popular Megan Fox into the more blonde and British Rosie Huntington-Whitley. The award for most numerically advanced sequel this summer goes to Final Destination 5, the last and most exaggeratedly gruesome in the increasingly groanworthy series; although, that’s what they said about Final Destination 4.

August closed and September drew in with a dose of British cinema. The Inbetweeners Movie was even more of a success than could have been predicted based upon the popularity of the E4 TV show. The film now boasts the shiny box office badge of most successful weekend opening for a British comedy, with takings of £13.2 million from Friday to Sunday. Depicting a wild lads’ holiday in Malia gone wrong in so many ways, The Inbetweeners Movie was just as crude as anyone could have hoped for.

A more tasteful British outing was found in One Day, the filmic adaptation of David Nicholl’s bestselling novel. The unique year-by-year narrative device as used in the book felt jarring as in the first few scenes, but as the film progressed and the length of the scenes grew and expanded alongside Dexter and Emma’s quasi-romantic friendship, audiences were able to settle in and enjoy the hauntingly witty unravelling of a contemporary relationship, one already dubbed a ‘modern classic’.

 

And that’s just a quick look back at the major players in this summer in cinema- there was plenty not to miss (and yet also, some to avoid, some which should go straight to video because no one owns a video player anymore).