Sequels crowd the summer multiplexes

Sequels are all the rage in theaters this summer. Yea right, tell me something I don't know. If only these very sequels had the attitude of giving a fuck about quality and perception of character, then maybe we wouldn't be complaining so much about how it's business as usual. A sequel isn't necessarily always a bad thing, check out my list of the 10 greatest sequels below and you will change your mind about it. The problem is that MOST of these follow-up films are just another reason for stars to sign up to low rates screenplay to get a big fat paycheck, case in point; The Hangover Part 3  (★)  . Director Todd Phillips is back and so are his stars -Bradley Cooper,, Zach Galafanakis and Ed Helms. The result is a disaster, a screenplay that is lazy and completely devoid of the humor that made the first film so damn good. Ah yes, the good times. Remember when we discovered the original film in the summer of 2009? It was funny, sexy, original and had a freshness that the other two films sadly lacked. That was then, this is now. In The Hangover Part 3 our cast is threatened by John Goodman's gangster who has a grudge against the gang's buddy/criminal underlord Mr.Chow funnily played by the always reliable Ken Jeong in a portrayal filled with racial stereotypes.

No need for me to go much into detail about the plot but suffice to say this is a movie that goes nowhere. It's dead on arrival and has not much to recommend. Safe for Galafanakis' goofy, deliberately mean spirited Alan and the scene stealing Jeong as Mr. Chow, the rest of the cast looks like they don't even want to be there. Not too long after his Oscar nominated turn in Silver linings Playbook and his role in The Place Beyond The Pines, Cooper crushes all the street cred he might have garnered with those movies and shows us just how low an actor can go for a big fat paycheck - but after all this, what I really learned from The Hangover Part 3 is to never get your hopes up for a film franchise that started off on a high but has sheepishly stooped into a low, all that really matters for big studios is how much money will be made and not how good the story can be.

I'm not done. The sixth -yes sixth- Fast And The Furious movie is out in theaters and I did drag my ass to it because 2011's Fast Five delivered surprising jolts in a rio-infused testosterone blast of a blockbuster. Listen, I'm just like you. I do want to be entertained and escape for 2 hours but I also don't want to be cheapened out by watching a product disguised as a movie. The Fast And The Furious 6 (★) is not crap but it's not good either. It's just that. A film with no brain and no heart that delivers relentless action without ever thinking about a story. That's what made Fast Five such a half assed guilty treat, there was actually a plot. Here it just feels like an excuse of a plot stuffed with car chases, cheesy one liners and a dead character from the past -Michelle Rodriguez's Ledi- coming back to life! Don't ask, it's just an excuse to have an extra cast member and to bring more ridiculousness to the story. The film isn't boring, it's just there. It moves sporadically but doesn't have the energy to warrant a 2 hour plus running time. In fact, just like any sequel I've seen this past summer, the movie is just there. Yea, I know I'm repeating myself here but I kind of like that description, it explains my feeling towards most sequels. Just being there, on the screen, flat and not all that exciting.

People know how rare it is to have a sequel that is better than the original film, yet they still go out in droves to see these mega-blockbusters. Is it because they are filled with blind hope that it will be better than the original? Here's the thing, a mainstream audience likes comfortability. They are too lazy to discover new and better things and would rather go with familiarity. That's why sequels, remakes, reboots and comic book movies are all the rage these days. They triumph over the artistic process. People depend on a safe, familiar formula to get their entertainment. It's a real shame and long gone is the era of the 70's film where creating a movie from an original idea was all the rage. Now if only sequels could have followed the lead of the ten movies below, these films reinvented themselves the second -or third- time around and were complimented by care in the product. It wasn't just about money with these films, they aimed to outdo the original and make art out of the process.

(1) The Godfather Part 2
(2) The Return Of The King
(3) The Dark Knight
(4) Toy Story 2
(5) Spider Man 2
(6) Before Sunset
(7) Terminator 2
(8) Superman 2
(9) Toy Story 3
(10) The Empire Strikes Back


✭✭✭ 1/2
American History X
Saving Private Ryan
The Truman Show
A Simple Plan
Shakespeare In Love
Life Is Beautiful
The Thin Red Line

The Spanish Prisoner
A Civil Action
Buffalo 66
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
The Big Lebowski
Enemy Of The State
There's Something About Mary
Out Of Sight
He Got Game
The Waterboy
Hard Rain
Rush Hour
The Negotiator

The Opposite Of Sex
Dark City
Snake Eyes
Gods And Monsters
The General
A Bug's Life
Smoke Signals
Living Out Loud
The Parent Trap
The Wedding Singer
The Butcher Boy
Love and Death on Long Island
Very Bad Things
Your Friends and Neighbors

What Dreams May Come
Lethal Weapon
U.S Marshalls
The Man In The Iron Mask
Bride Of Chucky

Summer kicks off with "Iron Man 3"

It's kind of a funny thing when you think about Robert Downey Jr's story. The drugs, the sex, the crazy partying, the meltdowns - it all led to an insanely triumphant comeback and him becoming an action star playing Iron Man in 3 highly successful movies. It's not like he wasn't talented in the first place. He's made a career of memorable roles. Check out his fake African-American blackface in Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder or even his underseen role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The guy has talent. Taking about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that film's director, Shane Black, has taken over Jon Favreau's duties as director of the newest Iron Man. If Iron Man 2 was a total and utter disappointment, this newest installment seems a bit more fresh and newly invigorated. Not to say that it hits the peaks of the original 2008 film which was one hell of a movie. That one felt fresh, innovative and just downright satirical about the whole superhero genre. Oh how the times have changed. Downey has sort of become a caricature of himself. He's still entertaining to watch but there isn't much freshness to his persona anymore. It helps that Iron Man 3's screenplay is much better written that the last one, much kudos must be given to Shane Black and Drew Pearce who collaborated on the screenplay.

Listen, with all that being said what I'm trying to imply is that it's going to be damn near impossible to reach the heights of the first Iron Man. As far as I'm concerned this is a franchise that can call it quits after this last film, an idea which will probably not be met very graciously by the studio heads given that the series keeps making the big bucks at the box office. In Iron Man 3 the baddies are played by capably brilliant actors -Ben Kingsley and Guy Pierce- that bring a real nice touch to a film that could have easily steered the wrong way. I'm not going to get into the whole plot which involves terrorism held by deeply rooted grudges against Downey's Tony Stark but there's enough meat here to recommend this popcorn movie. Iron Man 3 is sadly part of a summer movie crowd filled with product placements, action figure toys and a safe PG-13 rating. It isn't my kind of movie, it doesn't provoke and raise genuinely human ideas, but I'll still take it over most of the Hollywood drivel that'll get released between now and August 31st.

It's business as usual. The process of commerce over art is nothing new in Hollywood but taking the time to still tell a genuinely interesting story with character development can still be done in what will be a misbegotten summer movie season. No remakes. No reboots. No sequels. Imagine a Hollywood like that, sounds impossible eh? Just pure cinema. This summer expect commerce over art, it just happens. That's why you have to dig deep and find exceptions in the Hollywood studio system, Neil Blobkamp's Elysium, Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim and -yes even- Zack Snyder's The Man Of Steel look like carefully packaged studio products with lots of care and heart put into them. Everything else will most probably be relegated to the idea of business as usual.

Summer Movie MVPs

This is straight out of the archives. At the end of every summer I usually recap it with my "Summer movie Report Card". I thought it would be fun to post past winners of the "A" grade. Which is basically my own opinion of what were the best of the best. Summer is usually lacking in quality for film but these films defied logic and aimed for the sky. I usually bitch and bitch about the countless atrocities I watch every summer but, truth be told, there diamonds in the ruff. Take not, i didn't make one for 2011 but I'm tempted to try and sort the titles out and come up with a few titles.

The Truman Show
Saving Private Ryan
Buffalo 66
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
There's Something About Mary
Out of Sight

The Sixth Sense
Eyes Wide Shut
The Matrix
The Blair Witch Project
South Park
Summer of Sam
The Iron Giant
American Pie
Austin Powers 2

Chicken Run
Shanghai Noon
Road Trip
The Patriot
The Perfect Storm
Scary Movie

Ghost World
Artificial Intelligence
Moulin Rouge
The Others
Hedwig And The Angry Inch
The Deep End

Minority Report
Road To Perdition
The Fast Runner
About A Boy
The Bourne Identity
Lovely And Amazing
One Hour Photo
13 Conversations About One Thing
The Believer
The Kid Stays In The Picture
The Good Girl
24 Hour Party People

Finding Nemo
Capturing The Friedman's
The Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Swimming Pool
American Splendor
28 Days Later
Freaky Friday
The Italian Job
Terminator 3

Fahrenheit 9/11
Spider-Man 2
Before Sunset
Maria Full Of Grace
The Manchurian Candidate
Super Size Me
Harry Potter 3
The Door In The Floor

The 40 Year Old Virgin
Cinderella Man
Batman Begins
War Of The Worlds
Me You And Everyone We Know
Grizzly Man
Broken Flowers
Red Eye
Hustle And Flow

Little Miss Sunshine
The Illusionist
The Descent
Talladega Nights

A Mighty Heart
Live Free Or Die Hard
The Simpsons Movie
Rescue Dawn
Knocked Up

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Tell No One
The Pineapple Express
The Incredible Hulk

The Hurt Locker
District 9
500 Days Of Summer
Inglourious Basterds
The Cove
Drag Me To Hell
Public Enemies
Julie And Julia
The Girlfriend Experience
In The Loop
Star Trek

Toy Story 3
Winter's Bone
The Kids Are All Right
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Get Him To The Greek

The Tree of Life
Super 8
A Better Life
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

The Dark Knight Rises
Killer Joe
Premium Rush

12 Movies to Look forward to in Summer 2013

For most cinephiles that look for substance and signs of life in movies, summer is not the ideal movie season. It is a movie season filled with bombastic, popcorn entertainment aimed at horny, action-loving teenagers -and quite a few adults too. You want proof? Adam Sandler and his gang are back for a second round with "Grown-Ups 2", a sixth "Fast and The Furious" movie is coming out, Hugh Jackman is suiting up again for another "Wolverine" movie, and a third "Hangover" is about to attack your local movie theatre. Sequel upon sequel, remake after remake, That's the summer movie season for you. However, don't be discouraged fellow Awardsdaily readers for I have come here with very good news. There are signs of hope, directors trying to break the mold and movies from the studio system that actually look promising. These movies might just make our trips to the theatre a little bit more interesting. They have something most of the other movies don't have; buzz.

The Man Of Steel (June 14th)
Zack Snyder's track record isn't very good. His films -"The Watchmen" "300"- have done very well at the box office but have failed to ignite critics. I still have hope. Judging by the new 3 minute trailer of his upcoming Superman epic "Man Of Steel, producer Christopher Nolan's style has rubbed off on Snyder. This does not look like the sunny, picturesque Superman we saw in 2006's "Superman Returns". Instead, just like in Nolan's Batman trilogy, we have a flawed hero battling more than just the bad guys. The trailer gives hope that this might just be the darkest Superman movie we've ever encountered. I'm crossing my fingers, even with Snyder at the helm.

Only God Forgives (July 19th)
Director Nicolas Winding Refn is one of the hottest directors around. All thanks to his teaming with Ryan Gosling in 2011's retro-noir Drive. That was a great movie filled with luscious, irresistible style. In "Only God Forgives" Refn teams up again with Gosling in a crime-thriller set in Bangkok. Details are very hush hush about the whole thing but how can anyone resist this one. The trailer and newly unveiled neon bright movie poster makes it seem like this will be right up any "Drive" fan's alley. I cannot wait.

Elysium (August 9th)
Neil Blomkamp made one of the best science fiction movies of recent years with 2009's "District 9". This hotly anticipated sophomore effort, "Elysium", stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and just like his previous film it explores political themes such as immigration, health care and class issues. Right on. This is the film that might just make or break Blomkamp as a director and show us if "District 9" wasn't a one off hit. It has the potential to be something spectacular. With this kind of ambition and this kind of cast expect a popcorn movie with brains and an abundance of ideas.

The Great Gatsby (May 10th)
So Baz Luhrmann decided to take one of the great literary works of the last 100 years and turn it over its head by adding his trademark mix of glitz and excess. I'll take that over any sequel or remake coming out this summer. Add a great cast that includes the always remarkable Leonardo Dicaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire and you have a film that might just be remembered come Oscar time. Will this be the Luhrmann that popped our eyes with colorful visuals in 2001's "Moulin Rouge"? or will it be the director that completely bombed with his failed epic "Australia"? I'm not sure but I'm excited to see what he has in store for us.

Before Midnight (May 24th)
This might be the most anticipated sequel for any true movie fan this summer. And guess what? 95% of the general public have no idea that this is even coming out. Amen to that. Director Richard Linklater is a true American maverick and with this movie trilogy he has explored some of the greatest questions we have had about love and relationships. 2004's "Before Sunset" was a great movie but left us with a few questions unanswered. The filmmaking was incredible and the acting solid. In "Before Midnight" our couple is back but this time they are mired in married life and struggle to find the unity they once had.

Fruitvale (July 26th)
Coming off one of the greater Sundance showings in recent memory, in which it won both the Jury Prize and Audience Award, Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale" is bound for greatness. Taking place on the last day of 2008, the film expores a day in the life of Oscar, a 22 year old Bay resident who crosses paths with family and friends. An air of doom is the ambience here and director Coogler has gotten tremendous praise for this small indie film. It might just be this year's "Precious" or "Beasts Of
The Southern Wild" and we all know how well those movies turned out when it was nomination time.

The Bling Ring (June 14th)
Director Sofia Coppola has not really had an Oscar contender since 2003 when she made the masterful Bill Murray/Scarlett Johanssen love story "Lost In Translation". "Marie Antoinette" and "Somewhere" both garnered mixed reviews and were quickly forgotten come awards time. Inspired by the true story of a group of celeb obsessed teenagers that would track down celebrity homes and rob them,  Coppola's "The Bling Ring" promises to be a return of sorts to the teen angst of her very impressive 2000 debut "The Virgin Suicides". With a cast of mostly unknowns -safe for the very reliable Emma Watson- Coppola will surely try to garner back the acclaim that she once had as a very promising filmmaker. I still think she is.

Frances Ha (May 17th)
Noah Baumbach has never been big with Oscar but his films are more than just that. "The Squid And The Whale" director is a talent that doesn't play by Hollywood's rules. His latest is called "Frances Ha" and it has garnered plenty of solid buzz at film festivals. I have seen it and it is great. A return to form from a director who's last few efforts lacked a little something something. Going back to New york and shooting in beautiful black and white, Baumbach casts his "Greenberg" star Greta Gerwig as a woman in her late 20's looking for herself post college-life. It's a film that greatly describes the dilemma many young women face once college life is over and responsibility kicks in. 

Monsters University (June 21st)
What would summer be without a new release from our favourite film animation company. Pixar has been in a rut as of late. As much as I liked "Brave"it didn't reach the heights of previous Pixar classics such as "WALL-E", "UP" and "Ratatouille". Their penchant for making sequels as of late is also rubbing off on me the wrong way. A "Finding Nemo" sequel is in the works for next year and their dreaded sequel to "Cars" constituted a new low for the film company. Their latest is a sequel to Monsters Inc, a solid film from 13 years ago that didn't really need the back to school treatment. Nevertheless, I'm hoping this doesn't turn out to be a cash grab like "Cars 2" and turns out to be as witty and smart as the first film. 

Pacific Rim (July 12th)
Here's one that could either suck or kick ass. Since director Guillermo Del Toro is a visual wizard -watch "Pan's Labyrinth", "Hellboy" or "The Devil's Backbone"- I'm betting this one will kick ass. Judging by the trailer the plot is all over the place and involves aliens taking over earth and human-controlled robots trying to destroy them. It's not masterpiece theatre nor is it likely an awards contenders but sometimes all need to check your brain at the door and just enjoy the ride. This might just be the ticket. Movie geeks all around the world will be drooling. 

World War Z (June 21st)
Zombies are all the rage these days. In "World War Z" Brad Pitt teams up with director Marc Foster for an apocalyptic Zombie film that is more "28 Days Later" than "Warm Bodies". It has the ingredients to be one hell of a film and if the trailer is any indication we probably won't have much time to catch our breath in this film. I trust Pitt's film choices -safe for "The Mexican" what was that all about?!- and director Marc Foster has proven himself to be a pretty damn competent mainstream filmmaker -Watch "Monster's Ball".

Star Trek - Into Darkness (May 17th)
Who are we kidding here?! The first Star Trek of this newly rebooted franchise was fresh and fun to watch. It even made a bunch of critics top ten lists. JJ Abrams is back as director of the second film and it looks like we might be in for one hell of a ride. Abrams really seems to be coming in on his own as a filmmaker and the trailer makes it look like he's going to be playing with a lot of different colours and images. Expect lots of surprises for this one.