The summer movie season is a funny thing for me. Has been for the last couple of years. Because, as it is summer in the US, it’s winter down here. Not that this matters much in La Paz. “Winter” simply means colder nights and mornings than usual. There’s no such thing as a fully-rounded season in this place. It’s chilly in the morning, gets warm with the blistering sun in the afternoon and chilly again at night. And from February to April it usually rains like a fuck outside.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The purpose of this blog is to briefly run through the big May blockbusters and see what clicked and what didn’t, not talk about Bolivian weather patterns. So, here we go… I’m assuming that, if you’re reading this, you saw the movies. I don’t feel the need to issue a spoiler warning but I’ll issue one just in case: There are spoilers.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The summer was kicked off to a spectacularly underwhelming start with this little sucker. I don’t know what I was expecting from the fourth film in an okay franchise with two good leads from the director of Tsotsi. So I can’t exactly say the movie didn’t meet the undemanding expectations of its thoroughly boring trailer. (Oh! Your big action beat is Hugh Jackman leaping from an exploding jeep to a helicopter. I can’t wait to see such an original notion unfold on the big screen.) From then on in it was an amalgamation of the terrible Origin graphic novel and the very good Weapon X graphic novel with all the cheesiness of the former and none of the goodness of the latter. Jackman and Liev Schreiber deliver solid performances, I guess. Jackman owns this role, as we all know. But Schreiber had a tougher job – taking a character no one gives a shit about or understands outside of the comic community and trying to make him interesting to the best of his ability. He almost pulls it off. In the end, though, when you walk out wishing the opening credits sequence had actually been the whole movie, something went wrong. And, let’s be frank, I liked those credits a lot more when I saw them in a movie called Watchmen.

Star Trek
But, one week later, I couldn’t give two shits about any of that because I saw this movie. This wonderful pop confection that just about completely took me by surprise. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of JJ Abrams. It’s also most likely not a point of any particular interest either. But there it is. Loved Felicity. Loved Alias. Looking forward to loving Lost (once I get around to watching it) and his X-Files ripoff is starting to grow on me. Mostly because of John Noble’s Anthony Hopkins impersonation, but we’ll see what happens. … And as for his film work? I like Forever Young. I like Regarding Henry. These are watchable afternoon cable pictures. I’ll even confess to liking Taking Care of Business (Or: FILOFAX – as I assumed that movie was called when I first saw it on video, years ago) but, most likely, that’s because I get a kick out of Mako saying “Nice titties” more than anything else. I really don’t remember much else about the movie. But I know that it’s about Charles Grodin’s entire life falling apart because he loses his diary.

Ok. So maybe there was nothing in that film to suggest that its writer could conceivably make a good Star Trek movie. I’ll give you that. But he did make the best Mission: Impossible movie so I was willing to cut him some slack regardless.

That being said, I was skeptical about this until opening day. Wasn’t sure about the cast. Wasn’t sure about the concept (and by that I mean starting the series over with a new cast – I avoided spoilers so knew nothing about anything else). Just plain wasn’t sure. But you can throw that out the window right now, because I sure as shit was sure by the time the words STAR TREK fade onto the screen after that tremendous opening.

What follows is, as I’m sure you’ve both heard and experienced personally, one of those fantastic rides you pay good money to see during the summer season. You can say what you want about the “weak script” or “Kurtzman and Orci aren’t good writers” or “it doesn’t make any sense.” These are all criticisms that have been leveled at the film even by people who legitimately enjoyed it. But it kept the promise of delivering a fantastic popcorn movie. And the concept at the center of it is quite brilliant… Rebooting while adhering to canon. It sounds ridiculous on paper, but they made the thing work. The most purely entertaining Star Trek film since 1986. And they didn’t have to make it a comedic, family-oriented chick flick to pull that off. This is an admirable thing.

Angels & Demons
And then, this month’s little history lesson. I think it’s interesting how they took a more action-based adventure story than The Da Vinci Code and almost made it into just as inert a movie. This sequel to the most unusual summer blockbuster of 2006 is a very strange bird indeed. I think my friend Gigio summed up the works of Dan Brown quite succintly and accurately. He called it: Harry Potter for old fucks.

Tom Hanks’ rendition of Robert Langdon is a new breed of screen hero. The passive protagonist. He merely has to point at things and talk about them. The actual actions are done by other people. And so, a thrilling airport book I read a couple of years ago is transformed into a merely intriguing potboiler about a middle-aged guy who has a big mouth.

In the end, the villain is vanquished because a bunch of old people glower at him, so he gets all pissy and creates a campy 70s B Movie demise for himself. And the other bad guy is killed by his own car because he’s a fucking dumbass.

Meanwhile, Tom Hanks gets to show off his action/adventure chops by leaning on a bookcase and passing out.

This is also a new breed of thriller. Not since The Da Vinci Code have I seen a film wherein 87% of its dialog is made up entirely of exposition. The suspense is generated by how many more Wikipedia-friendly details can be crammed into one sentence. And each new scene is a spectacle of one-upmanship in that department. I also like how I don’t give a flying fuck about Bernini or Raphael. But this movie seems to think I do.

Bernini was Illuminati??????? Of COURSE he was!

Who gives a wet shit?

And I also love a big budget Hollywood summer movie directed by Ron Howard and released through Columbia Pictures, with special effects that look like they were created on someone’s 1989 Macintosh Plus.

I suppose the money went to the catering, the Rome hotels and Tom Hanks’ hairpiece, because once Ewan McGregor started bouncing around Vatican City like a sprite from a Sega CD game, I laughed until I began weeping for humanity.

Very well…
And if you’re wondering why (all the love that you long for eludes you and people are rude and cruel to you, I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why. You just haven’t earned it yet, baby.) … I haven’t brought up Night at the Museum 2 it’s because I didn’t want to see it… dubbed.

So… As it stands – the score is as follows: Star Trek1, everyone else – NIL.

Not bad odds. The June installment brings Terminator Salvation, Transformers 2 and Watchmen (Yes… Watchmen)

Watch this space in about 3 weeks.

Stay safe.