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Flixist's Spectacular Superific Summer Movie Recap


4:00 PM on 09.05.2012
Flixist's Spectacular Superific Summer Movie Recap photo



And so summer comes to an end and we bid farewell to blockbusters and stupid action. Once again we have been graced with a summer chock full of greatness, strangeness, disappointments and surprises. But what was which and which was what? It's hard to know with so many varying opinions about movies out there (I know a guy who didn't like Avengers, for instance).

Thankfully, the Flixist staff is looking back over the 2012 summer film season and picking apart what went right, what went wrong and what went stupid. There was plenty of stuff to watch this summer, as our summer preview showed, but which films were the true winners of our summertime hearts.

Director: Joss Whedon
Release Date: 
May 5
Review

I think we were all just a little bit skeptical about whether or not The Avengers, the first real superhero team movie and the sum of years of world building from Marvel and Disney, would actually work. Most people loved Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, even if Iron Man 2 and Thor came up lacking, so there was a lot riding on this one. We skeptics have been silenced, for we forgot one of the golden rules of genre filmmaking and television: Trust in Joss. It was Joss Whedon's hand on the wheel (and his re-write of the script) that gave The Avengers the emotional oomph it needed to really knock our socks off. Combine that with the insane final battle in New York City, and The Hulk walking away with every moment he smashes into, and you've got my favorite movie of the summer. All I hope is that Marvel can pull out all the stops again in 2015. This time, I'll remember to Trust in Joss. - Alex Katz

Director: Peter Berg
Release Date: 
May 18 
Review

To say that Battleship exceeded my expectations is a bit of a misnomer. As I said in our Spectacular Superific Summer Movie Preview, I was totally expecting an extremely stupid movie with an ass load of 'splosions and all you can eat patriotism. Still, I couldn't imagine how brainless and crushingly insane this movie turned out to be. From the awful dialog to the forced movie cliches to the tiny fact that the aliens used game piece like bombs to attack the ships, I sat there in utter amazement that a movie based on a board game can turn into a big budget sci-fi Navy recruitment video. Once the veterans started showing up, something in me wanted to stand up from my seat and salut the patriotic cluster fuck that wasBattleship. And the best part of this entire story is that the movie kind of flopped, reinstilling some faith in the American movie going populace. U-S-A! U-S-A! - Andres Bolivar

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Release Date:
May 25
Review

Men in Black 3 was really...awkward. While I loved a lot of the ideas, the entire endeavor was kicking a zombie horse. Why did they make MIB3 (besides money)? Tommy Lee Jones didn't want to be in it (his performance clearly showcased this), Will Smith's heart wasn't in it, and the flick started off by showing off Nicole Scherzinger's boobs. Yeah they're nice and all, but keep it out of my Men in Black because it's Men in Black not Boobs in Black darn it (wait, that actually sounds pretty cool).  In the end, MIB3 was fun, but I couldn't stop thinking how much better it would have been if they had just rebooted the whole thing. And if I actually want a reboot for something, we have a problem. - Nick Valdez

Director: Wes Anderson
Release Date: May 25
Review

The deliberate, whimsical artifice of Wes Anderson's worlds is often very funny, but frustratingly difficult to connect with. Moonrise Kingdom feels like the purest expression of its director's guiding themes to date - how the unquestioning sweetness of a child's world view is eventually lost amid adult complications; the need for nostalgia to sweeten reality's bitter pill - and a paean to the joy of young love. It is unabashedly adorable, featuring the greatest deployment of a trampoline anywhere in cinematic history. In another summer where the major blockbusters disappointed, Moonrise is my favourite film of the year so far and the most effortlessly hilarious comedy I've seen for a long time. At a time when snark and cynicism reign supreme, it's a triumph of sincerity and wholehearted silliness. - Xander Markham

Director: Rupert Sanders
Release Date: June 1
Review

Since the Huntsman is the only one who gets to be in the sequel, the films will be going in an entirely different direction from now on. That may be a good thing, really. By the end of Huntsman, Snow White story is totes finished (um, spoilers?). There's no more room for her to grow and she wasn't that enticing of a character to begin with. K-Stew just couldn't compete with the scenery chewing prowess of Thor and that one space lady from Prometheus. For what it's worth, the film was very pretty and K-Stew was totes the cutest thing ever as long as she didn't speak. Nick Valdez, singlehandedly setting back generations of feminism. - Nick Valdez

Director: Ridley Scott
Release Date: June 8
Review

Speaking of Prometheus and its many faults, this one burned me bad. I'll admit that's partially my own fault, having ridden the hype-train right into the station, but even objectively I just couldn't get my head around all of the stupid s**t that was going on in this movie. It racked my mind for days, literally days. But for every black cloud there is a silver lining, and Prometheus' saving grace was it's visual effects. I don't feel very confident in this franchise going forward, but I'll be damned it I won't watch Prometheus again if only for it's special effects and art direction. - Thor Latham

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Release Date: 
June 8
Review 

Technically, I'm cheating because I saw Safety Not Guaranteed back in March during SXSW. However, that doesn't take away from the film's greatness (or its rolling theatrical release throughout the summer). Along with the indie comedy packaged plot are great performances by the cast. Led by Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza and The League's Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed was one of my favorite films not only out of SXSW, but also during the summer. Here's hoping that more audiences will be attracted to it once it upon its home release. - Geoff Henao

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Release Date: June 22
Review

Another year, another Pixar movie. Just like clockwork, I flock to the theatre to see the latest in the masters of modern animated filmmaking. Boy, did they not disappoint with Brave. While the story was pretty predictable to those of us who have experienced any fairy tale, Brave was still a bunch of fun. Easily Pixar's most beautiful film since Up, the gorgeous Scottish landscape was rendered in such great detail. Your move, Hobbit. - Maxwell Roahrig


Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Release Date: June 22
Review

I think ol' Abe got a bad rap on this one. While the film was far from perfect people really hated on it for being too serious. The problem is taking itself seriously is the entire point! The reason it worked is because it actually went all out serious. I'll admit some of the melodrama didn't work it's best, but if this film had gone total camp it would have been horrible. By actually acting like they were making a historical movie, and adding plenty of visual flair, the filmmakers made a camp film without trying to be camp. That's a tough feat. - Matthew Razak

Director: Marc Webb
Release Date: July 3
Review 

I've learned some things this summer about pre-release hype, and how easy it is to get caught up in it. While I wasn't completely disappointed with Prometheus, the film wasn't without its (many) faults. Same story with The Amazing Spider-Man. What could've been a really great return to the character, we're instead given the most fraudulent love story I've seen in years, and a depiction of Peter Parker that isn't true to form. Yes, Emma Stone is gorgeous and funny, and yes Andrew Garfield is a great Spider-Man. But he's not a great Peter Parker. But that's not to say all is lost. The Lizard was a decent enough villain, and the actual filmmaking was great for a first time action director. Hopefully this bumpy start leads to a great sequel. - Maxwell Roahrig

The Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: July 20
Review

I was lucky enough to avoid basically every single spoiler The Dark Knight Rises's PR company could have thrown at me. I knew that most of the cast was recurring, and I knew Tom Hardy was Bane and Anne Hathaway was Catwoman. I also knew that Marion Cotillard said she wasn't Talia Al Ghul. Everything else was a mystery, and that made seeing the film awesome. It's not the best film in the trilogy, but that's hardly an insult to its quality. I never got the chance to see it a second time, which I think would have helped me, since I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole IMAX thing. But I can't say I was disappointed by Christopher Nolan's latest film, and it shows (even more than Inception, I think) what kind of amazing things he can do if given the money for it. Nolan's most inventive films have always been the ones made in between the remakes and adaptations, so I am incredibly excited for his next film, whatever it is. Alec Kubas-Meyer

Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Release Date: July 27
Review

Searching for Sugar Man is one of those improbably cool stories about obscure artists and cult followings. Sixto Rodriguez played music like Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens by way of Detroit but was ignored and forgotten... until his music got big in South Africa. In our interview with director Malik Bendjelloul, he said this was one of the best stories he'd ever heard, and he allows it to unfold with a gentle hand. While Bendjelloul may be the director, the focus is the mystery of the man named Rodriguez and the twists and turns the film takes as we discover what happened to the man who sang "Sugar Man." There's been some nationwide media attention about the film and Rodriguez's music this summer, and I'm happy that both are receiving the recognition they deserve. - Hubert Vigilla


Director: Scott Speer
Release Date: July 27
Review

Imagine a Step Up movie, but without the focus on great dancing and instead a focus on mediocre set pieces and stunts. That's Step Up Revolution for you. Taking all the bad from the previous films and removing all the good may seem like an odd tactic, but considering the film still made money I'm pretty sure they good poop on the screen, hand out some glasses and call it a Step Up film and they'd make money. If the future of dance movies is to not have real dancing in them we may have to start calling them by another genre. Festering Piles of Terrible, maybe? - Matthew Razak

Director: Len Wiseman
Release Date: August 3
Review

In the land of remakes there may be nothing worse than being forgettable. If you're a great remake everyone loves you and if you mess around with a lot of stuff then at least people debate about you, but if you're nothing than you've really invalidated you're entire existence. Total Recall was pretty much nothing. It wasn't horrendous as a movie, but it wasn't good either. It did nothing daring and did nothing stupid Lacking the camp and, shall we say, charm of the original it instead opted to be a pastiche of every sci-fi film since Arnold's version released. I suppose if you're going to be a copying a classic in the first place, why not copy all of them while you're at it. - Matthew Razak

Director: Tony Gilroy
Release Date: August 10
Review

I can't confess to ever having been a fan of the Bourne movies. If you ask me, the real Bourne legacy is Paul Greengrass' thoroughly unwelcome association of the action genre with motion sickness, thanks to his habit of using shakycam to disguise his seeming inability to shoot a fight sequence properly. The original movie was far and away the best, with the two sequels retreading much of the same narrative ground. Adding a fourth movie to the roster was always a risk, even in the hands of Identity director Tony Gilroy, and the absence of Matt Damon only heightened those concerns. Unfortunately, even for fans of the series (like our reviewer, Matthew Razak), Legacy proved every bit as disposable as feared. Bourne's hunt for his memories was swapped out for newcomer Aaron Cross' hunt for medication; talking head scenes returned with a vengeance; The action felt distinctly repetitive; the story only seemed to exist to set up (sigh) further sequels. Far from creating a lasting legacy, this was a misfire even Jason Bourne would be happy to forget. - Xander Markham

Director: Chris Butler and Sam Fell
Release Date: August 17
Review

ParaNorman is probably the best looking stop-motion film I've seen in years. The level of detail put into the character models, the town, and all the ghostly apparitions Norman encounters is simply mind blowing. We also got a dark yet sweet supernatural yarn of the sort Tim Burton used to be able to tell really well, before all the paunch and Johnny Depp love started clogging his brainpan. It's great for kids, it's fun for adults, and it's got a fairly unpredictable story. Though I loved Brave as much as any Pixar movie, I hope ParaNorman gets a shot at the Best Animated Film title this year. - Alex Katz

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