Meller’s Mid-Summer Movie Thoughts: Wanted, The Happening, Shotgun Stories & More

So we’re already at the end of June, halfway through the movie season and it’s time for a mid-game thought dump. There have been a few good movies (Iron Man, Indy) and more than a few shitty ones (Speed Racer, The Love Guru, Zohan), but there are some particular points that I want to hit on about what has passed and what is upcoming.

First – Last weekend was the opening of Wanted, and all I can do is say “Fuck yeah.” I read the original comic books when they came out a few years ago and absolutely ate up its dark humor and pure badassery as only Mark Millar could deliver. The movie, though it changed the story to make it more audience friendly, seems poised to be just as sweet. The main reason that I’m pumped for this movie has little to do with any of the actors, but instead the director. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Timur Bekmambetov rules. Learn to say that name, because he’s going to be the best action director for years to come and Wanted serves as his introduction to the American market. Welcome Timur, welcome.

On a more depressing note, I didn’t heed the warnings of critics and ventured to see Shymalan’s latest misstep – The Happening. Wow, that movie ate some serious dick. On its knees in the middle of the group of dudes, moving like a circus seal. If you haven’t seen it yet, DON’T. It boiled down to be an utterly offensive experience. Really Shymalan, you call that piece of trash a movie? Death Sentence was better. Hell, Norbit was probably better than that trash. I’d rather watch the Number 23 on repeat for the rest of my life than sit through the happening again. Bad M. Night, bad.

The beginning of July marks a day that I’ve been awaiting for months. Shotgun Stories comes out on DVD. What is Shotgun Stories? you ask. Besides the best movie I’ve seen all year, Shotgun Stories is an independent film directed and written by Jeff Nichols that is Shakespearean in scope. The plot revolves around a trio of brothers whose drunk of a father abandoned them and later got his shit together and started a new life with a new family. He was such a bad father that he named his first three children Son, Kid and Boy. At his funeral, the two families see each other, Son spits on the casket and a feud ignites. It sounds simple, but it’s not to be missed. Catch this on DVD July 1st. Do it.

I’m fairly optimistic for the rest of the big summer movies coming out. My personal pumped list for the remainder of the summer is as follows: Wanted, Wall-E, The Wackness, Hellboy 2, Dark Knight, Pineapple Express, Hell Ride and Tropic Thunder. I’m pretty sure that all of these movies will be the highlights of what’s to come and won’t disappoint. Anyone else got any movies they’re excited for that I missed?

– Meller

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It’s Almost Time, Start Getting Pumped for Indy IV, & Other Summer Movie Thoughts

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Raiders of the Lost Ark is the reason that movies were invented. Movies are primarily there to entertain us, and nothing does that better than Indiana Jones movies. Say what you will about the artistic beauty and emotional depth present in movies such as American Beauty, but for the masses the movies serve as a means of escape and enjoyment. Raiders is a thrill from start to finish, eternally fun and enjoyable.

Now, after 19 years, we see another installment in the saga of the man who single-handedly made archaeologist synonymous with bad-ass. The initial reviews of the movie have been good, but they point out that what I knew was going to happen, an over-reliance on CGI.

George Lucas is one of those filmmakers who shows exactly how CGI can be detrimental to movies. The man practically invented special effects, but now he’s using them to kill movies instead of make them. Remember how awesome the new Bond movie was? That’s because it was all stuntmen instead of CGI. I’m all for that, and the fact that the new Indiana Jones relies heavily on computers instead of human beings to produce some of the pulse pounding moments is disappointing.

Want to see how to properly use special effects? See Wanted this July, and watch as Russian director Timur Bekmambetov uses CGI to create some astounding visuals. If you don’t want to wait, check out the first two parts of his Russian fantasy trilogy Night Watch & Day Watch. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. He’s the real deal.

Another example of poor CGI unfortunately seems to be The Incredible Hulk. It won’t look quite as poor as the previous iteration of the character, but it still doesn’t look quite good enough. I honestly don’t think that CGI will ever create a really good version of the Hulk – it just looks too fake. It’s hard to care about a character if he’s gigantic, green and fake looking, even if Ed Norton is supposedly in there somewhere. I remain reserved in my expectations for the Hulk, but I’m hoping to be surprised.

So Indy IV releases nationwide on Thursday, and you can bet I’ll be there – shitty CGI or not. I’d suggest you do the same and enjoy what is sure to be one of the most enjoyable movies of the summer. Check back on Friday for my impressions on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

– Meller