Monday, July 09, 2007

Nobody's ever said "Lights! Camera! Romantic Comedy!"

I’d like you all to think I’m some high cultured guy who enjoys award-winning television shows, classic literature and perfectly-crafted independent films that attempt to speak to your heart and make you think. While it’s true I do enjoy all of those to some extent, I realized about halfway through Live Free or Die Hard (known for the remainder of blog posts about it as Die Hard 4) that if I had to choose any one movie genre to spend my time watching, it would most likely be action movies. Sure, comedies are great, but there’s nothing sadder than a joke that doesn’t catch, and while it’s great when massive, sprawling epics of either character or politics end up reverberating with you for weeks after, but when they don’t, you just wasted a whole lot of time.

I think deep down, the majority of America at least enjoys a limited quantity of the action genre. The success of 24, Grand Theft Auto, Steven Seagal’s career and every video game shooter testifies to the fact that every once in a while, people just want to see stuff blown up with no frills attached. When looking at the results of Slate’s action movie one-liner contest, I came across a link to an entire book just about the action genre! If my stack of summer reading still wasn’t a bit too high and both my Amazon wishlist and shopping cart already not filled to the brim, that would be at the top of the queue.

As much as I enjoyed Transformers, I think Die Hard 4 was better. It had the built-in advantage of needing limited exposition – no need to establish John McClane as bad-ass, just a few minutes on how the family and work situations are – before it kicked things off. Rob agreed that it was awesome, but also called it something like the most over-the-top movie he’s ever seen, which I think is kind of a stretch, although the scene with a big-rig dueling with a F35 fighter jet on a bunch of highway ramps would probably beg to differ. Bruce Willis morphs into a Stone Cold John Wayne American hero, and it’s nice to see, with all of the mishandlings of “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Fortunate Son” in various political and ad campaigns, that Creedence Clearwater Revival gets used as it should for once. Justin Long was great, but Timothy Olyphant was only decent as the villain (couldn’t help but think what PSH’s MI:3 character would look like going against Willis).

As far as the details for Transformers, it definitely runs a little long and you can actually see the struggle between Steven Spielberg wanting to tell a story and establish characters while his erstwhile director, Michael Bay, just wants to shake the camera and blow stuff up. There’s a whole lot of stuff that could become poignant or ground the action in humanity, but Bay would rather just do his now-patented 360-degree shot around combatants in a room and leave it at that. But seriously, if you’re going to quibble about the characterization in a movie about a giant robot truck fighting a giant robot spaceship while other giant robots destroy the city around them, maybe you need to reevaluate your perspectives on things.

After an ugly, bloated, sequelriffic May, the summer movie season has really turned around since Knocked Up kicked off June. If you’re at all interested in action movies, both of these movies have got nothing but great reviews from anyone I’ve talked to. Sean sent me an e-mail today that simply contained “AH-SUM” as the text in an e-mailed entitled “All Hail Megatron!”. Tim texted me last night the same sentiments, implying that Transformers was maybe the greatest movie he’s ever seen. You’re win-win with both of them, but if you’re just picking one (why would you do that?), I’d take Die Hard 4, although nothing in that movie holds a candle to Megan Fox.

So if we’re putting together a Summer Movie Awards – and mind you, this is a work in progress – it would look something like this (of movies released, I still need to see Ratatouille and Sicko, and as if it were necessary, Fantastic Four 2 and Evan Almighty, plus there are loads of others to come out.)

Best Summer Movie

Knocked Up


Live Free or Die Hard

Ocean’s Thirteen

Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (?)

Best Actor in a Summer Movie

Bruce Willis, Live Free or Die Hard

Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Seth Rogen, Knocked Up

Shia LeBeouf, Transformers

Best Actress in a Summer Movie

Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up

Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (?)

Best Supporting Actor in a Summer Movie

Geoffrey Rush, Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard

Paul Rudd, Knocked Up

Josh Duhamel, Transformers

Best Supporting Actress in a Summer Movie

Megan Fox, Transformers

Leslie Mann, Knocked Up

I’d like to include some Ocean’s Thirteen people, but to really focus on one is kind of difficult as it was certainly an ensemble effort. This is obviously very rushed, very premature and very flexible to all sorts of change by the time mid-August rolls around and the polls close.


One of the underrated aspects of the Fourth of July, especially when it’s nice out and everyone is justifiably outside, is that you get some sweet television marathons. I didn’t realize until far too late that USA had a Monk marathon on and that SciFi was showing their traditional Twilight Zone megarun.

As far as Monk goes, it appears that the newborn brother of Tony Shaloub and the also-great Psych, Burn Notice, is a hit. I’ve yet to set the Tivo and catch up on it, but I don’t need to tell you that a USA show featuring Bruce Campbell is awesome, because I think we all know that it is. Just to touch on Twilight Zone, if you watch a marathon of good Rod Serling episodes and don’t find yourself applying them to other situations you see in books, television, movies or life, then you’re missing out on something. Some of them haven’t aged well, but others still pack quite a bit of “Dammit, why’d I watch that before trying to go to sleep” punch.


I still can’t get over how scary this picture is, and if it’s bad for me, imagine how the crazies feel. Can you imagine what the religious right would do if it had to choose between a Mormon and a Clinton?


Disappointing ends to both Inferno 3 and Reunited: Real World Las Vegas. Inferno 3 had a couple of final Infernos that just weren’t competitive, followed by an aesthetically unpleasing “Run long distances carrying things and do puzzles” final challenge. Meanwhile, back in Vegas, everyone sort of accepted that since this is just a nice free fortnight-long vacation in Sin City, so why get upset over little stuff?

The worst part about the last few weeks is Alton’s fall from Greatest Athlete on the Planet. While some of these aren’t exactly indicative of athletic ability, in the last month he’s been awful at basketball, said he’s never gambled before, got DQed in a challenge and missed a really easy question in the electric chair trivia game. He still did the rope swing and cargo net climb challenge in less than two minutes, but my previously unshakeable faith in him quivered slightly in the wind.


I’ll leave you with this. Don’t ask questions, just enjoy:

And after you’re done with that, why not enjoy one of the greatest host entrances this side of Legends of the Hidden Temple.

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