Today, as we look back at the Summer Movie Season that was, we need to address those movies that didn’t quite live up to expectations.
Every year when Summer Movie Season ends, there’s always the doom and gloom articles about how movies didn’t make as much money, or how they weren’t as good as last year’s movies (which the same website/blog/news/critic/whatever said sucked anyway) or how we’re living in an endless loop of reboots, adaptations, and sequels, forgetting that most movies are reboots, adaptations, or sequels, and have been since the dawn of time. For the most part, they do what they’re supposed to do: entertain us.
I’ve said before, I usually find summer movies the most entertaining, because they aren’t geared for an audience of several stuffy auteurs who pick which films are going to be the “best” based on some criteria we’ll never know. How 90 minutes of Sandra Bullock screaming was one of the best pictures of the year because they managed to film in the same 3-D that Michael Bay has been using for years is beyond me.
Regardless, with any movie season, you’re going to get the worst. Why are they bad? Maybe things didn’t quite gel when they started putting everything together. Maybe something was lost in the script, or maybe the director’s original version has been hacked to death by studio or actor interference. Or maybe no one did research to see what a turtle actually looked like. Who knows. Here is my list of my six biggest disappointments of Summer 2014.
Note: It was going to be five, but I had a lot of hate to go around this year. I’m starting with the best of he worst, then moving my way down.
6. Tammy. I love Melissa McCarthy. I’ve loved Melissa McCarthy ever since she was Sookie on Gilmore Girls. (Which featured a lot less nudity and a lot less campy vampires than the other Sookie.) I remember seeing the trailers for Tammy and I was laughing, prepared for a lighthearted road trip comedy from Melissa McCarthy.
Nope. This probably would have been one of the greatest dramas of the year, probably Oscar worthy (without Sandra Bullock screaming for 90 minutes) if it had been left alone, and marketed not on the comedic value of McCarthy, but rather the fact that she can act and she can do drama. Instead we got a jumbled mess of a movie that wasn’t really sure what it wanted to say. It wasn’t really a comedy. It wasn’t really a drama. It wasn’t really one of those in-between things like Gilmore Girls. It just sort of… was. And it was uncomfortable.
There were some good moments. But they ensured that every dramatic or comedic moment was undercut with some kind of uncomfortable moment where you weren’t sure if you were supposed to laugh or walk out of the theater.
5. The Purge: Anarchy. The Purge makes for an interesting concept. Once a year, Americans are allowed to get out all of their violent influences by being able to break any law, with the exception of killing certain people. Some people make it into a game. Some people roam the streets. Just about everyone treats it as a new religion. Anarchy takes it to an interesting new level by having a father (I didn’t catch his name, but it matched his personality) decide he was going to avenge his son, who was killed by a drunk driver. He decides to wait patiently until the Purge so it’s nice and legal, because rage can be quelled for that long.
However, once again we have a jumble of missed opportunities and “We’re doing a sequelitis” which works for Muppets but not so much for horror/drama/thrillers like Anarchy. And I don’t mean, “We’re making a sequel so we have to do this,” I mean “enjoy this one, because we’re going to be making about fifty more of these and we’re not going to explain things.”
You see, as it’s explained a few times if you can’t pick up on it, the Purge itself is a secretish Government plot to get rid of the poor people which brings down crime and poverty. Even though there’s still a lot of people living in poverty, because we meet two of them when they’re forcefully dragged from their homes and saved by the dude going to avenge his son. He took his time out of revenging to save some people.
It turns out, they were dragged from their home and were going to be murdered… (spoilers) by the Government! Because the Purge wasn’t killing enough people. You learn this in the last five seconds of the movie, shortly before the siren sounds and everyone puts up their weapons because psychopaths that wish to murder and torture people, would totally do that, and not continue for hours on end and claim not to have heard the closing siren.
Oh, and there’s another couple that’s arguing, and they get caught outside during the Purge. Because some street gangs (also working for the Government! Twist!) sabotaged their car so they can hunt and kill two extra people.
Makes total sense, people.
4. Hercules. As we saw with this summer former WWE Champions can make good actors when given the right material. We even saw it with the Rock countless times. So, then… why is he in such a dull and drab movie?
Oh, yeah, because it’s Hercules: behind the scenes! You see, kids, Hercules, wasn’t the son of a god and great warrior, he was just a great warrior with some fancy stories behind him that wore a lion pelt to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. And the good guys, I guess?
Because everyone wants to tune into a Hercules movie to NOT see him be Hercules. We just want to see a regular guy, fighting an army with the least convincing crew of warriors, ever. Also, ones that don’t do basic research, based on… well… everything. Also, they didn’t let the Rock be the Rock. He wasn’t his charming self. He was a dude with a permascowl and of course, a “heavy backstory” freshly stolen from God of War. (Yes, I know that this is based on a book that came first. But still… freshen it up a little.) It’s just Hercules without the fun and magic, and we already got that earlier this year.
3. A Million Ways to Die in the West. I like Seth McFarlane. I like his jazz album, I love Family Guy, American Dad, there were even a few minutes of the Cleveland Show that were amusing. I loved Ted, even if people are trying to claim that a foul mouthed teddy bear was such an original idea it was only there’s so they have to sue him. The second I saw the Doc Brown cameo in the trailers, I really, really, really wanted to love this movie. It had Liam Neeson in a comedy role! Charlize Theron! Even Neil Patrick Harris as the owner of a “mustachery”. A professional place for mustaches! How could this not be funny?
Let a Million Ways to Die in the West show you how…
How can you have a musical number about mustaches in a Western, and let anyone other than Neil Patrick Harris sing it? Also, I don’t mind some gross out humor but let’s pull it back a little. It’s not enough to show sheep urinating on a guy, but he has to hallucinate about it later, with a song and dance number. Also, NPH with the hat… seriously? It’s too gross to even show.
The thing was, it could have been a really funny movie. The cameos were spot on, and kind of hilarious. It did have some good jokes about a guy that really didn’t want to live on the frontier, and about how living there for some would actually kind of suck. But then they had to ruin so many good opportunities.
Seth McFarlane just needs someone on the set to say, “hey… let’s pull it back just a little bit.”
For the sheer reason that so many opportunities were missed in what could have been a great comedy movie, perhaps the funnies of the summer, this was going to be my worst movie of the summer. But then… Michael Bay Happened.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Back when this was first being made, there were rumors. Rumblings, if you will. The “Teenage” part was taken out of it. Maybe they were going to be aliens. No, the magic ooze that turned them into Ninja Turtles was going to be alien.
Any of that would have been better than what we got.
Step one when adapting anything like this that’s been around since the 1980’s and has a rabid fan base is to realize you won’t be able to put your trademark stamp on it. It’s also to realize that maybe you should watch an episode or two of the series… any of the series… or maybe pick up the comic book on which it’s based. Then maybe you won’t half-ass the origin story.
Step two, is to actually look at a turtle. Just take a quick look at them and if the countless other comic books, TV Shows, or movies didn’t show you how a mutated turtle in this universe would look, you can at least have an idea of what you think they should look like and have them not look… well, like what we saw.
Step three is to look at how ninjas act… even 7 foot tall mutated turtles, and then not bog them down with heavy machinery and extra jewelry, which hadn’t been on a ninja turtle since… well, ever, really. How did Donatello even move let alone be ninja-y with all that stuff on his back? I’m not talking about the shell.
Then you can start looking at the minor details of a movie, like the “plot” which makes no sense and pretty much wastes William Fincher, one of the creepiest actors of our time who has the ability to make a bad movie good. But not this. Also, the whole Will Arnett-Megan Fox thing came across as kinda creepy, not adorable.
Keep in mind, this is all from a lifelong Ninja Turtle fan. But as I said before, bonus points for the Arrested Development reference was was very slickly put into one scene.
And the worst movie of the summer was…
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction. I was so excited when the cast list didn’t include the words Shia or LeBeouf. I was excited when it looked like actual action stars were getting involved. Then I watched you. Oh. Where to start, where to start, where to start?
Should we start with the creepy obsession with scientist/inventor/junkyard owner/farmer/totally not made up name haver Cade Yeager’s (Mark Wahlberg) 17 year old daughter, complete with scene where her boyfriend actually brings out documentation SHOWING that he can legally have sex with her. And shows it. To her father?
Or maybe we go with the time jump of five years, where the Autobots are hunted.. for reasons… because “we’re doing a sequel.” Just not this one. The next one, where you’ll get answers. Also everyone hates the Autobots now, despite the fact that they saved Chicago from getting further destroyed. So it makes total sense that the secret arm of the Government that is above the President would not only team up with another strange robot alien, but would also be actively selling the means to build an army of Transformers that tests showed they can’t control. Logic!
By the way, the events from the last movie have been raised to a 9/11 type event, and we know this from the number of people who had friends and family killed in Chicago, and hate the Autobots - the robots stopping the invasion - because of it.
I think I might start with my usual complaint with these movies, which is… have you seen a human being stand before? Or act? Here’s a little tip: the Transformers, when talking, don’t have to be constantly moving. They can stand still and have a conversation. Like any other living life form. We get that you want to show off your shiny CGI.
This movie actually managed to make giant robots wailing on each other boring with another extra-long fight scene at the end of the movie. That didn’t. Ever. End. It also did the same thing by having Optimus Prime missing for a large section of it as he ran off to get the robots that turned into dinosaurs so they could make their 10 minute appearance in the movie, get you to be confused with the other robots, and then leave.
The worst part about this movie, and why it’s my least favorite of the summer… is because of what it’s made me. I sound like an old man, yelling at today’s hip movies with their special effects and their CGI’s. I should love this movie, and I realized that there was a part of me that did. But I can’t look past the fact that a 45 minute CGI fight scene was just sooooo long. This is the type of movie we should be enjoying over the summer. This should be number one on everyone’s list, and it’s popularity should have it running well into Christmas. But instead we get nonsensical plot points, creepy daughter interactions, and nothing we were promised in the trailers.
That’s my wrap up of Summer Movies that were unfortunate. The only other one that I considered including on this list was Sex Tape, but that was more of a waste of Jack Black than anything else. Tomorrow, I’ll be focusing on the Summer Movies that you should have seen… and if you didn’t, you should go see now!