E: Ah, July – the thick of the summer movie season. In fact, you might even call this month a bewildering thicket of action, adventure and popcorn. Towering releases everywhere you look! Never fear, friends – the Quibbling Siblings are here to guide you through this month’s offerings.
M: A bewildering thicket of action, adventure and popcorn? I do not think that means what you think it means.
The Amazing Spiderman
C: The first on the list of big July blockbusters is, well, unimpressive. The only folks I know who are really jazzed about this thoroughly unnecessary reboot are either people who despised Tobey Maguire (and if that is you, seriously, what the heck?) or who just cannot possibly ever get enough Spidey. If the latter is you, let us know if you liked it. Because the reviews thus far, they have not been promising.
E: Well, some reviews have been scathing, and others have been pretty decent – it looks to be running at 72% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is more middling than anything else. But. Is there a reason to make this movie, other than to keep Marvel Comics (and more importantly, Studio) from getting the rights to Spidey back in their hands? I doubt it. The cast is terrific. The 3D looks heinous. But is it worth getting a babysitter to judge the rest for myself?
M: Doubtful. It might be worth a spot on your Netflix queue, or a trip to Redbox in about 5 months, but right now I’m dubious of even that. This is such a blatant money grab that even if the word of mouth were good I might skip it on principle.
C: That’s kind of how I feel too. Despite criticisms that it’s an all-action effects bonanza with a terrible script the good actors can’t breathe any life into, it’s possible I might like it if I watched it. But I’m annoyed by the reason it exists.
M: And the movie itself just looks tired, like something we’ve already seen, with nothing particularly original to it. Ooooh, the big mysteries of Spider-man are revealed!!! Unfortunately, there never were any big mysteries to Spider-man, at least, none that we care about.
Katy Perry: Part of Me
E: It sounds like this is going to be more interesting than the average concert/tour film, but I still don’t really get why people see these in the theater.
C: I know, right? I mean sure, not everyone can afford to see a Katy Perry concert. But my basic feeling is that if I’m a huuuuuge fan of an artist, I’ll save up to see their show – and if I’m not a massive fan, what’s the appeal of this kind of movie? I can watch her music videos for free on Youtube.
E: Exactly. Make the documentary, sure – but then show it on cable or release it on video. I can’t believe it’s worth booking the theaters.
M: I think you too may be a bit blinded by our proximity to one of the biggest cities in the country. Say you lived in big sky country out in Montana, or somewhere that concert tours rarely come near, then this type of thing might appeal to you greatly. Not this EXACT one hopefully (offense intended), but if you’re in the middle of the badlands, or in the desert in New Mexico, the movieplex 50 miles away might be the best you can get.
E: Very true. We are pretty spoiled for pop entertainment choices.
E: Oliver Stone directs this story of two pot growers trying to get their girlfriend back after she’s kidnapped by a drug cartel. Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson are the growers, Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek speak for the cartel, and Blake Lively is the girlfriend.
C: Did you say their girlfriend? As in, collectively?
E: Why yes. Yes I did. One’s a philanthropist/botanist, one’s an embittered veteran, all living together happily making beautiful weed until the drug cartels want a piece of their action. Based on the novel of the same name by Don Winslow (the prequel to which, Kings of Cool, is hitting bookstores now).
M: Yeah, the whole triangle thing is strange, but so is just about everything else about this movie. Salma Hayek as a cold-blooded ruthless cartel boss. The ad campaign painting the pot farmers as the “innocent” criminals going up against the cartel. Hollywood’s current insistence that Taylor Kitsch is a leading man. John Travolta, just in general. Nothing seems right here.
E: Haven’t you guys been dying for a movie staring Casper Van Dien? I know you have.
C: Who’s he again? He sounds like the ghost of somebody in a Washington Irving story.
M: Actually, he was in the Tim Burton version of Sleepy Hollow! More famously, he was the star of Starship Troopers, the one thatl ooked like Brian Austin Green.
E: Yeah, and that’s all we got about this dreadful looking paranormal thriller about sisters, ghosts, and their dead mother’s mysterious past.
The Do-Deca-Pentathalon Collaborator
E: I know nothing about this movie, but I had to mention it because of the name.
M: Outstanding name!
C: The name is notable. If not quite easy to remember.
E: Okay, I’ve looked it up – two grown brothers who love to compete create an Olympic-style competition for themselves at a family reunion. Made by the creators of the also wonderfully named Jeff Who Lives At Home. Could be fun.
M: Agreed, that does sound like it could be fun. I may see this before I see The Amazing Spider-man.
The Magic of Belle Isle
E: How weird is it that there can be a Rob Reiner comedy starring Morgan Freeman that I’ve never heard of?
M: Not that weird, I can’t think of many comedies starring Morgan Freeman, or recent AND successful Rob Reiner movies.
E: Yet, here it is. Freeman plays an alcoholic novelist who, presumably, finds himself at a summer house.
C: An alcoholic novelist, how original! Gosh, I hope he gets in touch with his forgotten dreams/love of humanity/sense of purpose again after a series of poignant conversations by a lake.
Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D
E: These movies have never done it for me. It wouldn’t be stretching the truth to say I dislike them, even.
C: What little I have seen of them strikes me as quite inane, or even nonsensical.
E: Not to mention shrill and ugly.
M: I’ve only seen part of the third one, but was surprised that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I suspected. Not that I’ll be lining up to take the kids to this one, but it was actually mildly enjoyable.
E: Robert DeNiro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Elizabeth Olsen star in this story of paranormal researchers used to debunking frauds. What do you want to bet they stumble on actual evidence of the paranormal?
C: In that case all they’d have to stumble on was Cillian Murphy’s creepy, creepy eyes.
M: Well played C!
E: By the way, I’m trying to remember the last time Robert DeNiro made a movie I actually wanted to see. And I can’t.
M: I kind of wanted to see Limitless. Aside from that I have to go back to Stardust.
C: Oh, Stardust! He’s amazing in his cameo as the “whoopsie” pirate Captain Shakespeare. I may just rewatch that and couple classic X-Files episodes, and consider Red Lights as good as watched.
Farewell, My Queen
E: So, okay, maybe we’re not so much spoiled for choice. French Revolution story. Big wigs. Actually in French.
C: Yeah, I think you made up the whole “thicket of action, adventure and popcorn” thing wholesale.
M: Yeah, I was thinking about contradicting that at the top, but your bizarre English-major-y wording threw me off there. I recently looked at the rest of the summer with a friend at work, and there wasn’t much other than Dark Knight Rises that seemed theater-worthy.
C: Boo E. False advertising!
E: That’s how I think of July! But it turns out it’s just a couple of big movies and the normal number of itty bitty ones. There’s almost no middle of the road or counter programing. I guess the navigation comes in to pointing the alternatives out if you don’t want to see the big tentpoles?
The Dark Knight Rises
E: See, okay, there’s this billionaire playboy who uses a really goofy costume to conceal his identify so he can also fight crime, avenging his parents’ murders…
M: I am looking forward to this, but am a bit apprehensive as well. As we were discussing on email yesterday, C still hasn’t seen Dark Knight–
C: I keep intending to… it’s just Schindler’s List syndrome. Everyone agrees it’s amazing, but no one feels like sitting down to it on a Saturday night.
M: It’s true that E and I both own it and neither of us have watched it since we saw it in the theater. It’s just so dark that unlike Batman Begins I can’t watch it over and over. Plus, Rises is being marketed as “the conclusion of the Dark Knight series,” so it has the whole “for it to be a ‘conclusion’, Bruce Wayne has to die, right?” thing hanging over its head. Aside from that, though, it really looks fantastic.
E: Also? Catwoman.
M: Gonna be a big year for Anne Hathaway, she’s Fantine in this winter’s musical film of Les Miserable that looks fantastic.
E: And it’s way to early to go in my worries over that one. So I’ll just say yes, excited and nervous about this movie in pretty much equal measure.
E: Otherwise known as the movie potentially derailed by current events (the Trayvon Martin killing) before its release.
C: The Watch is a Seth Rogen-scripted comedy with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill as members of a suburban neighborhood watch group that stumbles on a real alien invasion. The Trayvon Martin case would pose more of a problem, I think, if this didn’t have the sci fi element. Still, an unfortunate choice of heroes.
E: So does that mean the aliens save the day?
M: I’m assuming she’s referring to Jonah Hill.
C: I mean the neighborhood watch, but him too.
M: And it’s weird, I’ve seen previews and commercials for this, and there’s no hint what-so-ever that there are aliens involved. If it’s supposed to be a big twist, why put it out in the press releases and descriptions? If it’s not, then either the effects are horrible, or the movie is.
Step Up Revolution
E: No, I’m probably not going to see it in the theater. I’m probably going to be home watching the Olympics. But I am definitely going to see this dance movie, starring one of my So You Think You Can Dance favorites, Kathryn McCormick. So, M, do you think she can act?
M: Probably not, but for a franchise that was launched around Channing Tatum, does she have to?
E: Story of a guy who’s about to have tumor removed from his head falling for a girl. Kind of like Before Sunrise meets Like Crazy, from the look of it. Very emotional and sweet seeming, potentially with a downer ending. Does he die? Does he live but lose his memory from the night before? Very indie.
M: Very E. Not so much M.
E: Emile Hirsche has to come up with cash quick when his mom steals his stash. Where to go? To dad Thomas Hayden Church, of course. Mayhem ensues in this self styled “Texas Redneck Trailer Park Murder Story.”
C: Wow, July. You have so many winners to offer me. I just can’t contain myself.
M: Wait until you get a load of August!