With school officially out for summer recess, I figured now might be a good time to take a look at what this highly-anticipated ("the biggest summer in history!") season has shoveled out so far. I'll also let you at home play along and tell Hollywood exactly what they're getting right, as well as what they're getting wrong, when it comes to providing its customers with satisfying summer entertainment. But first off, here's how my summer report card is shaping up (keep in mind, I've only included the more talked-about releases):
- Spider-Man 3 (grade: C) -- I'm being generous with Spidey 3, because I'm certain there are tons of fans out there who would fail this film without giving it a second glance. But as far as amped-up summer popcorn flicks go, this third installment provided all the necessary ingredients needed to entertain those of us with severe cases of attention deficit disorder. There may have been a lack of focus, and the villain count was a tad high, but the fight sequences were definitely fun to watch.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (grade: B -) -- I'm not sure why a film based on a theme park attraction has to have such a convoluted plot, but it seemed the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise managed to confuse more than it entertained. That being said, the special effects, coupled with Johnny Depp's colorful Captain Jack Sparrow performance, have given fans enough of a reason to keep coming back for more ... and more ... and more. Obviously, Disney is doing something right here -- when I figure out what that is, I'll let you know.
- Shrek the Third (grade: B - ) -- Visually, the film looked stunning. However, sadly, that was the only thing Shrek the Third had going for it. The jokes seemed old, the voice acting wasn't anything special and the plot was jam-packed with so many characters, we never had time to enjoy the ones we've grown to love. Was it just me, or did it seem like Shrek the Third was spoofing itself?
- Knocked Up (grade: A) -- Although the premise has been around forever, Judd Apatow and his gang of clever comedic magicians somehow found a way to make this thing pop. The jokes were raunchy but hysterical, even though the majority of them were geared toward a younger crowd. Tack on a heckuva lot of heart, and Knocked Up passed with flying colors.
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (grade: B) -- Yup, I happen to be in the camp that believes this sequel was not only better than the original, but it was better than the other sequels that opened up before it. Why? Well, read my review.
- Ratatouille: (grade: A) -- Just when you think Pixar is due for a dud, they come at you with anything but. Most definitely a film for all ages (but, quite possibly, more geared toward adults this time), perhaps Pixar should strap Brad Bird to a chair and force him to write and direct the next three films as well.
- Live Free or Die Hard (grade: C) -- As a summer action film, this flick certainly provides more bang for your buck. But it's not a Die Hard film; not even close. So what's more important: That the film entertains or that it stays true to the installments that have come before it?
So, I ask you: What does your summer report card currently look like?