Well, it’s that time once again. Time for the big summer movies; the big summer blockbusters in theaters and the big summer DVDs in the mail.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of the big summer DVD releases?
That’s because there are none. Distributors want you to leave your house and spend more time in the theaters. So the summer DVD releases are a bunch of crap.
The following five movies are the best I could do with the slim pickings that were offered.
But first a short poem
We’ve got Espionage, History,
Sci-fi and Mystery.
One movie gives Batman a son.
We’ve got Kristen Bell, Clooney,
But screw me,
If you’re looking for good films.
To the reviews…
First up… the good
Veronica Mars (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Directed by Rob Thomas
Written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero
This is the perfect Veronica Mars movie. Kristen Bell was amazing as the young title character in the TV series and she’s even better as the grown up version. All of the usual suspects are back and there are tons of cool cameos from old favorites and a few surprises. I loved this film. It was the perfect Veronica Mars movie.
I fell in love with Veronica Mars quickly when I watched the first episode on Netflix and then I watched all the episodes in one weekend. By the end of the run I was singing the theme song. “A long time ago. we used to be friends…” I’m so happy they made the movie.
I didn’t realize how much I missed these people. Especially the exquisitely beautiful slice of honey in the title role. I can’t say the things I liked about the movie on the blog without giving away the mysteries and the surprises. It’s a mystery… and there are surprises.
Veronica Mars was a young detective in high school (A lot of people died under mysterious circumstances in her hometown). But if you don’t know Veronica, go watch the Veronica Mars TV series first. This movie was made for fans of the show. In order to fully enjoy it you have to become a fan… wait several years and then watch this movie. It is awesome.
Everybody sing. “We used to be friends… A long time ago… We used to be friends…”
Rent it (But start at the beginning. The show is really good)
Next up a remake…
RoboCop (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures)
Directed by José Padilha
RoboCop is a decent enough remake that pays homage to the first film with dialogue from the original movie sprinkled throughout like little nuggets of nostalgia. The problem comes in when the characters say anything else. Those few lines are the best writing in the film.
The dialogue is crappy. While RoboCop is still a great story, (we knew that going in) and there is some great casting choices with Keaton, Oldman and Jackson, even the scenes that feature these powerhouse actors are flimsy, hokey and mostly unnecessary.
Samuel L. Jackson seems so superfluous, it even looks like his scenes were added in post-production. He’s barely part of the story. Like an afterthought.
The writing of this remake left a lot to be desired. As with all of these sci-fi classic reboots, there is the much needed updated special effects and the modernization of the futuristic tech. What we thought was futuristic back in the 80’s is laughable today.
But in the end, there was no other reason for an update. The original RoboCop is dated, yes, but it is still a great film. The new RoboCop just can’t compete.
Skip it (Move along, citizen. There’s nothing to see here. Move along)
Next some old school international espionage…
3 Days to Kill (Relativity Media)
Directed by McG
Written by Luc Besson with Adi Hasak
First off, the title is misleading. The movie is billed as some kind of “Taken” scenario except with Kevin Costner instead of Liam Neeson. Spoiler Alert! There is no kidnapping. There is no clock. There is no immediacy. The trailer is a lie.
3 Days to Kill is about an old CIA operative who finds out he is dying of brain cancer and has three months to live. The title, 3 Days to Kill, comes from the fact that he visits his daughter and estranged wife in Paris. He wants to reconnect before he dies. The wife takes off on a business trip. Leaving him with the girl. So… he and his daughter have… three days to kill. But of course some old CIA business interferes and adventure ensues.
It’s a good story. The dialogue is awful and the direction is uneven but the story is interesting (Luc Besson has a good mind for action). But the biggest problems with 3 Days to Kill are the poorly written female characters. They are horrible.
I’m done with two-dimensional women in movies. There are three female leads in the movie: The mother, the daughter and his CIA handler. They are badly written and annoying. The mother whines and is oblivious. The daughter whines and is obnoxious while the handler is some sort of sexy psychopath. I don’t even know what’s going on there. (Amber Heard is awful but she’s sexy so I guess that’s supposed to be enough).
It’s a bad movie but it is still an interesting story, as he tracks down the terrorists and tries to reconnect with his daughter while coughing up blood and hallucinating and passing out at the worst moments (always the worst moments), it is fun to watch. And on the other side, the best things are the minor characters. The secondary characters are very real. Luc Besson puts so much effort into building these rich and dynamic minor characters that it makes the main characters and their flatness even more maddening.
Watch 3 Days to Kill for the colorful characters Kevin Costner comes across in his travels and for Costner’s fine performance despite the bad dialogue. But…
Skip It if you’re as tired of poorly written women as I am. And I am.
Next up animation…
Son of Batman (Warner Home Video)
Directed by Ethan Spaulding
The kid is annoying.
There are some good fights and action sequences but everyone flies around like Yoda in Attack of the Clones. It is distracting. In live-action movies that’s fine but in cartoons it just makes all the characters seem lighter than air. Like they have no weight. (w/o the force)
The story is kind of cool though. Batman finds out he has a son by Talia al Ghul who has been raised by the League of Assassins and her father Raj. So, Batman has to teach the kid not to kill people as the two try to avenge the boy’s granddad’s death and save the city.
All I have to say is the kid is annoying.
Now some history…
The Monuments Men (Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox)
Directed by George Clooney
The Monuments Men has a great cast. It really does. Most of these people couldn’t turn in a bad performance if they were trying. And It’s also a good story. An important story. A story about saving famous artwork from the nazis. I just didn’t like the direction.
The Monuments Men is an epic story that spans several countries and several years but George Clooney has the story spread out so much that it loses its narrative focus.
The Monuments Men plays like a collection of loosely related scenes. And except for the ending, which is pretty cool, it is, literally, all over the place. Not Clooney’s best work.
A historically important story, sure. A good story, yes. Great cast, absolutely. But because the characters spend most of their time in different countries. There was too much going on and it doesn’t make for a good movie. It is not a good movie.
Skip it. A couple of good scenes, some history and great actors but not a good movie.
and lastly… Vampires that don’t sparkle (It is now a requirement that they tell you they don’t sparkle. Thanks Meyer)
Vampire Academy (The Weinstein Company)
Directed by Mark Waters
Vampire Academy is so very bad… it is almost good. It almost makes it to the other side of bad and back around to enjoyable bad. But the movie spends more time trying to be cute than it needs to. It talks down to its audience so severely that it’s annoying.
And Vampire Academy, at its core, is a misguided cross between Twilight and Harry Potter. Vampire Academy may have made a good book but there is just too much explaining. So much back story before anything happens. And they rush through it.
The characters have to speed through pages and pages of exposition and then the writer adds these hokey sitcom jokes on the end of each speech. The guy directed Mean Girls. And I loved Mean Girls. But it was good because it was written by Tina Fey and that’s it.
But there are still some fun parts to the movie. Sarah Hyland is a surprise highlight to the story. She plays a nerdy vampire with just enough awkwardness and comic relief to make her likeable. And of course Sarah Hyland is a great comedic actor.
And Gabriel Byrne and Joely Richardson are good. But other than that, there is very little to like about Vampire Academy. The music choices are awkward and mishandled. The acting is awful and, like I said, the dialogue is mostly long explanations and bad jokes.
Yet underneath all the bad I could tell there was a fun story about young vampires at school that was so poorly directed and so badly scripted that anything good from the novel was lost in all the crappy crappiness. I really wanted to hate it enough to like it. I didn’t.
Skip it (but honestly it’s almost so bad that it’s kind of good)
So to recap…
There were two movies about heartless killing machines trying to reconnect with their family, RoboCop and 3 Days to Kill. Both with a few cool action scenes but both with horrible writing and dialogue.
There were two movies about famous detectives having family problems of their own, Son of Batman and Veronica Mars. One of them a fun and exciting romp down memory lane and the other one a new memory I’d like to forget. (the kid is annoying)
And there were two movies about a group of friends trying to preserve and survive their brush with history, The Monuments Men and Vampire Academy. Neither one of them very good but only one of them based on a true story. (I’ll let you figure out which one)
And that’s five.
Okay that was actually six but Son of Batman was sort of a freebie.
Now if only we could convince them to release some good DVDs for June.
But don’t worry, if they don’t, I’ll dig up something cool, maybe even something foreign.
See you on the couch,