Summer is the time of year when Hollywood pulls out all the stops and brings their best to the theaters, and this year was no exception.
This summer saw three powerhouse superhero films, several action and adventure blockbusters, and even a raunchy comedy about a talking teddy bear. Each of these films was unique and enjoyable in its own way.
Over these past three months, Keene State College students, faculty members, as well as several film critics have had the pleasure of viewing these films and forming differing opinions.
“The Avengers” is the culmination of a very ambitious project. Over the past four years, Marvel studios released a different movie spotlighting a different member of the comic book super team, the Avengers, each film continuing to build towards this one, finally bringing them all together.
The general consensus from both casual viewers and critics alike is that this movie was an excellent film that promised on what it delivered. However, others differed. Professor of Film Tom Cook said, “I enjoyed it, but there was a little too much buildup.”
This film was an excellent tribute to all of its featured characters, and the story flourished under the skillful writing of respected sci-fi and fantasy writer Joss Whedon.
The cast is fantastic, each one having already had a full movie to fully explore their character. Robert Downey Jr. gives his traditional charismatic performance, as Iron Man. Chris Hemsworth feels larger than life as Thor, the God of Thunder.
Mark Ruffalo steps in to replace and ultimately outshine Edward Norton when he takes over the role of Bruce Banner, aka, The Incredible Hulk.
Chris Evans gives a strong, yet still fairly quirky performance as Captain America.
Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, the only members of the team who did not have their own movies, slide comfortably into their roles as the elite assassins Black Widow and Hawkeye, respectively; and the always excellent Samuel L. Jackson knocks it out of the park as the man who assembled the Avengers, Nick Fury.
All of these great acting talents, an excellently written script, and brilliant visuals help make this project from Marvel studios more than lived up to its four-year hype.
However, not all movies of the summer were adventure blockbusters.
Seth MacFarlane, creator of popular shows like “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” brings to us his first ever motion picture. “Ted” is the story of a lonely little boy named John whose wish to bring his teddy bear to life magically comes true. Almost 30 years later, the bear, named Ted, is still living with him and driving both John and his girlfriend insane.
Decent comedies these days are very few and far between, and it is quite refreshing to see that they are not completely gone for good.
Despite “Family Guy” starting to become stale after so many years, “Ted” shows everyone that MacFarlane is still a very talented comedic writer and actor, having supplied the voice of Ted.
Cook described this movie as “really fresh and funny.” The jokes in the movie rarely miss and appeal to a wide range of humor tastes.
There are some jokes that are smart and satirical which demonstrate clever writing, but this movie is also not above the occasional toilet humor or sex joke, making sure no one feels alienated. Once again we have an all-star cast.
Seth MacFarlane voices Ted and does a great job of taking the “magical wish” premise and taking it in an unexpected direction by making the adorable children’s toy a vulgar pothead.
Mark Wahlberg shows that he was born to do comedy as John, giving a performance that was very reminiscent of his excellent role in 2010’s “The Other Guys.”
Mila Kunis does her job well playing the lead female, as John’s girlfriend, and as the center of attention for John and Ted’s antics.
A review on RottenTomatoes.com said, “Ted’s ‘romance versus bromance’ plot is familiar, but the film’s held aloft by the high-concept central premise and a very funny script.”
“Ted” is one of the funniest movies to hit theaters in years and will definitely get a laugh out of anyone who watches it.
But, the biggest surprise of the summer was “The Amazing Spider-Man.” With the incredibly positive reception of “The Avengers” on one hand, and the massive hype for “The Dark Knight Rises” on the other, most fans were skeptical of a reboot of the still fairly recent Spider-Man franchise.
This movie appeared to be destined to be the forgotten superhero movie of the year. However, those fans could not have been more wrong.
The retelling of Spidey’s origin slightly differed from both the comics and the previous film, but not to a point where comic book purists will feel alienated.
Every character felt fleshed out and unique and every action scene kept you on the edge of your seat. Andrew Garfield was the perfect casting choice to play Peter Parker. As Peter Parker, he plays a convincing science nerd and hopeless romantic who still feels like a real person and as Spider-Man he captures the wall-crawler’s sarcastic wit perfectly.
Emma Stone does an excellent job making the role of Gwen Stacy, the original love interest of the web-head from the comics, her own. Martin Sheen and Sally Field play lovable and yet still realistic mother and father figures as Peter Parker’s aunt and uncle.
Rhys Ifans plays a very tragic and sympathetic character as Dr. Curtis Connors, and a truly terrifying force of evil as Connors’ alter ego and main antagonist of the film The Lizard. However, this movie is not without its critics.
KSC junior Josh Tucker said, “This movie feels like it was made for children between one and three years old, and the fact that it wasn’t rated G was laughable.”
It is true that Spider-Man as well as many other superhero films try to appeal to younger audiences, and it is entirely possible that “The Amazing Spider-Man” fell into this trap.
Professor Cook said, “I was disappointed,” and mentioned he preferred the original Sam Raimi films.
Overall, this movie fared very well with major critics. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes describes the film by stating, “A well-chosen cast and sure-handed direction allows ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ to thrill despite revisiting many of the same plot points from 2002’s ‘Spider-Man’.”
Overall, this movie has much in common with its own central character, an underdog superhero in a world filled with much more powerful heroes than himself who still manages to save the day and earn the admiration of the people.
It’s a fine movie that manages to rival its competition and almost completely outshines its predecessors.
However, the hype surrounding “The Dark Knight Rises” was enough to outshine publicity for all other summer blockbusters. When “The Dark Knight” hit theaters in the summer of 2008, it quickly created a worldwide phenomenon and left everyone who saw it begging to see more. This past summer, the wait was finally over. So, did it meet expectations?
That’s a difficult question, because opinions regarding this film have been all over the map. KSC senior Olivia McGrath said it was “very predictable, like I knew everything that was going to happen.”
Professor Cook said it was “too long, too scattered and had too much going on for one film.” However, others have said that the film was nothing short of a masterpiece.
This film has less to do with the story, which is excellent, and more to do with Christopher Nolan’s approach to making this trilogy.
Nolan has announced that this would be his final Batman movie and, not to give anything away, the ending to the film provided a perfect conclusion to the story he’s been telling.
A lot of criticism of the film stems from the fact that it did not feel like the Batman from the comics.
But this is Nolan telling the story of Batman the way he’s always wanted to tell it, not the way someone else has already told it. The cast is excellent as always.
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman all reprise their roles from the previous films and are joined by the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy.
Hardy deserves special note for his portrayal of the villain, Bane. While not quite measuring up to the late Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker and speaking with a voice that sounds like Darth Vader doing a Sean Connery impression, Hardy manages to make this character a very powerful presence in the film.
Despite the incredibly mixed reception, this was a well-made and acted film.
With all of the movies that made their debut over the summer, there were the hits and the flops–however, there was something out there for everyone to like.
Whether it be, the much anticipated ultimate superhero movie, or the final chapter of Nolan’s Batman movies, Hollywood provided their audience with an unforgettable viewing experience.
Wes Serafine can be contacted at