Flixist 2011 Summer Movie Recap Extravaganza


Flixist brought you the Summer Movie Guide way back in April, and now that the season and box office titles are about to change, it’s time to look back and see how the 2011 summer films turned out.

For the mortal readers out there who didn’t manage to see each and every new film in the past few months, this recap will be a great guide on which movies you don’t need to feel bad about missing, and also those that you definitely need to go back and watch.

After you’re done reading our thoughts on the past few months, we encourage you to head over to our official Community Blogs and share your opinions as well. Stand up for the movies you loved! Be bold and point fingers at the successful films you despised! Let your voice be heard!

Fast Five (4/29/11)

I predicted that Fast Five would be the best movie since Robocop 3, and dammit was I right. It’s absolutely mind numbingly retarded, and that’s the biggest strength of the movie. Where else can you see two cars towing a gigantic safe full of money down a busy Rio de Janeiro street in one of the coolest, most ridiculous chases all year? It’s as if the writers knew going in that they had to out-retard the previous movie. So they get The Rock to kick the crap out of Vin Diesel. While there’s boring plot stuff in the middle (Who needs character development if it’s going to suck?), it’s worth bearing through for some of the best action scenes all year. If you’re an action movie fan, that is. – Max Roahrig


Thor (5/6/11)

While Thor was definitely the lesser of Marvel’s two offerings this summer, it was no slouch. Apart from some fairly pedestrian, boring stuff going on in the Earthbound scenes, and an overuse of Dutch angles, Thor was a kickass expansion of Marvel’s movie universe from the more science-minded to a far-out world of techno-magic in different dimensions. Thor gives Marvel the perfect setup to really go gonzo in future cosmic Marvel films, and I can’t wait to see where Thor goes in 2013. – Alex Katz


Hesher (5/13/11)

Hesher was definitely a surprise. Based off of the trailers, it appeared to be a dark comedy with Metalocalypse-like tones. While it definitely had scenes obviously intended for laughs and chaos, the film had higher ambitions with its theme of redemption. Don’t let the heavy content fool you; Hesher is hilarious and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in top form. You should definitely catch it at matinee or rent it on home media when it’s released on September 13th. – Geoff Henao


Priest (5/13/11)

Priest continued Paul Bettany’s rather odd typecasting as an all-action god-botherer – having previously played Silas, the albino monk in The Da Vinci Code, and an avenger angel in Legion – which is pretty much the most interesting thing that can be said about this imminently forgettable actioner. Sure, it’s based on a Korean comic book and throws in a few empty nods to The Searchers, but it even managed to make a movie about a vampire-fighting ninja priest feel generic. The bleached visuals, industry standard blue and orange colour scheme and excess of CGI didn’t make for a visually compelling experience, with the post-converted 3D (admittedly done slightly better than usual) only making it worse. The kindest thing that can be said was that for its lowly ambitions, it succeeded in not being totally unbearable, mostly thanks to the inexplicable presence of Karl Urban and Maggie Q’s crucifix yo-yo. – Xander Markham


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (5/20/11)

Pirates 4

The majority of film critics thought Pirates 4 was bad or worse, but I disagree. It wasn’t great, but it had just as many good moments as bad ones, and it really bugs me how quickly and proudly people proclaim that none of the later Pirates films lived up to the first film in the series. So what? Does that mean they’re all failures? Do we only watch perfect films in theaters? Why is an okay comedy just okay, but an okay adventure film is automatically garbage? Maybe that’s why it’s so rare to see a true adventure genre movie these days, because the two guys who are largely responsible for brilliant movies like Aladdin, Shrek, and Pirates 1 get more hate for their sequels than the love they got for their originals. If On Stranger Tides was the same exact movie but without being part of the Pirates franchise, I bet it would have received much less criticism. A few hollow head current haters would even do a 180 and say “You know, this no name movie actually wasn’t that bad!” I admit Pirates 4 is light on the action and pretty dull when it comes to the story and new characters, but there are still a few smart scene executions and plenty of great conversations that make this movie worth watching at least once. – Tom Fronczak


The Hangover Part II (05/26/11)

Well this was nothing but a let down. You’d think the creative team behind the first film wouldn’t settle for simply rehashing the same jokes over and beating other jokes so far into the ground that they came out in China, but that’s exactly what happened. Plus, Alec turned into a really mean and not funny character this time around robbing the film of its whacky character. All in all the film was a total disappointment — unless you’re counting the box office where it destroyed most of the rest of this summer’s films coming in in the top five. This is why we get nothing but sequels these days. People pay for a name no matter how bad the movie is.  – Matthew Razak


Tree of Life (5/27/11)

tree of life

True story: The hype and polarization surrounding this film made me incredibly uncomfortable. Another true story: I really liked Tree of Life. I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t like it though; it’s non-linear, it’s non-narrative, it tries to reconcile death, love, hate, the creation of the natural world and the creation of the nuclear family, all with mime-like restrictions. A tall order. While there are parts that made me shiver because of their immense beauty, if nothing else, I think that Tree of Life deserves props for being brave enough to do what it did in the relatively wide release it had. I feel like part of the reception that it received was due to the kinds of audiences that ended up seeing it. It’s a shame too, since there is a lot of stuff jam-packed in there that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of. Tree of Life is definitely not for everyone, and it’s kind of the type of movie that you know before you see it if you’re going to like it or not. However, I thought it was particularly beautiful and a singular cinematic experience that won’t be seen again for a very long time.  – Liz Rugg


X-Men: First Class (6/1/11)


I went in to X-Men: First Class fully ready to loathe it (and with ten good reasons) and left the theater more pleased than displeased. The film couldn’t decide if it was a prequel or a reboot, but it was entertaining taken on its own. Trying to remove my personal issues from the film was more or less successful but I just could not get past certain decisions they most (largely the bastardization of Angel’s character and powers). I wasn’t that excited for it going into the film (still head and shoulders above most movies, it’s X-Men for Pete’s sake) but I left with a willingness to give the X-franchise another shot at period drama with blue fur and delicious, delicious Rose Byrne. – Sean Walsh


Super 8 (6/10/11)

While it wasn’t the box office smash I was expecting it to be, Super 8 came out to critical acclaim, harkening back to vintage 80’s Spielberg films. Say what you will about the by-the-numbers plot, but the film had amazing scenes that will stay fresh on your mind for a long time (I still get chills thinking about the opening train crash scene). If you haven’t already seen Super 8, it’ll be released on home media October 18th. – Geoff Henao


Midnight In Paris (06/11/2010)

I can safely say that Midnight met, and, dare I say it, exceeded my expectations. I gushed about the cast, and it’s no secret I am a big Woody Allen fan, so I really hoped this would be a return to form for the aging director. Maybe it’s my love of the ex-Pat literary movement of the 1930’s, or maybe its the wonderful surrealism of it all, but the movie had me hooked from the opening scene to the closing credits. The fantastic score (which we can surely attribute to Mister Allen’s impeccable jazz knowledge) sets the tone for a film that’s buzzed on wine and drunk with atmosphere, all in a good way. The city drips with romance, and the women ooze sexy without being cheap. Wilson brings an interesting, and welcome, touch as the Allen figure, and McAdam’s Ines is a perfect foil to the carefree, helplessly romantic that Wilson inhabits as writer Gil Pender. If you haven’t seen this film yet, do so at your earliest convenience. Actually, see it now, even if it’s inconvenient. It was so good I saw it in theaters twice, and that’s something I don’t do. – Sam Membrino 


Green Lantern (06/17/11)


Ugh. You know that feeling when you really shouldn’t get excited about something that you love in case it disappoints you? That was me with Green Lantern, and with good reason. Ryan Reynolds was decent as some guy who becomes a Green Lantern, but he was no Hal Jordan. The aliens looked almost perfect, but with the exception of Sinestro, each one had some glaring difference I couldn’t help but take issue with. Sinestro was awesome. he was as smug as his mustache was perfect and it got me through this film. Paralax/Krona was kind of cool as far as space bad guys go (better than Rise of the Silver Surfer’s Galactus, at any rate) but Peter Sarsgaard was terrific as the large-domed creeper Hector Hammond. All the space stuff looked pretty, but Reynolds’ green domino mask never managed to sit right with me. Would I see a Green Lantern II? Absolutely. Would I go into with my expectations set above “be better than Bubble?” One can hope. – Sean Walsh


Transformers: Dark of the Moon (07/01/11)

Bay and company said they heard the moaning and groaning of the fans after the second Transformers landed and Dark of the Moon confirmed that they did. Disregarding logic, plot and any ability to edit a film down to a manageable running time Bay through action set piece after action set piece at us until our heads exploded with actiony goodness. The end result was actually pretty awesome (and insanely jingoistic). The many complaints that could be levied at the film are easily removed when you accept the action lobotomy that the film is and stop paying attention to anything but the colliding metal men on screen. Oh, and in case you were wondering people really like action lobotomies. Dark of the Moon scored big at the box office and reaffirmed America’s love of transforming robots. This is why we get nothing but sequels these days. – Matthew Razak


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two (07/15/11)

Bringing the Potter behemoth to its ultimate end made Deathly Hallows Pt 2 unquestionably the most important movie of the year, possibly the decade. The millions of Potterheads across the globe were given a conclusion that was satisfactory, if far from faultless. Needless changes to the climactic duel between Harry and Voldemort turned JK Rowling’s perfect ending to Harry’s character arc into a slightly mundane shoot-out, whilst the rest of the movie suffered from pacing issues. However, the three leads showed how much they had grown as actors with moving performances and Alan Rickman finally got the chance to show he could do more than speak… verrrrry… sloooowlyyyy… and took the opportunity with aplomb. The weight of history backing up the movie gave it an emotional power it wouldn’t have had on its own terms: David Yates only really had to avoid making a bad movie to get the series across the line and though the finish wasn’t quite as graceful as might have been hoped, it was good enough to claim the win. In a summer of blockbusters overwhelmed by movies in turn lazy and cynical, Potter‘s last stand at least felt like an honest and affecting attempt to do right by an entire generation of loyal fans. – Xander Markham


Winnie the Pooh (7/15/11)


I had high hopes for Winnie the Pooh, and I wasn’t disappointed. While the movie could have gone terribly wrong, making me angry and bitter about the changes to a childhood favorite, it ended up feeling like a slightly modernized version of one of my VHS tapes. Sure, the score wasn’t fantastic and the jokes dragged at times, but it still felt just like an old-fashioned Winnie the Pooh adventure. The movie looks absolutely amazing, giving a crisp, fresh look while still feeling familiar, and the dialogue is mostly adorable. Also, the slightly updated personalities make everyone slightly more amusing for the adults who grew up watching them. I mean, Pooh Bear is a bit of a dick. The fact that I could type that sentence seriously just now is enough to make the movie worth watching. I can’t wait to buy this and watch it again. – Jenika Katz


Captain America: The First Avenger (7/22/11)

Captain America was probably the most fun I had at the movies this summer at movies that weren’t called Attack the Block. I had the most reservations going into this one, as I have pretty high standards for the director of The Rocketeer, and Joe Johnston managed to pull off what was basically The Rocketeer, but dressed as Captain America. It was smart, kickass, and had a dude with a red skull for a face speak in a German accent so hammy that I thought I was offending my Jewish ancestors for even listening to it. Because of the ham. Not the Nazi-ness. Though they’d be pissed at that for different reasons. Chris Evans really wowed me as Cap, and I’m really excited to see him really dive into the character come 2012 in The Avengers. – Alex Katz


Cowboys & Aliens (7/29/11)

Cowboys and Aliens Daniel Craig

Cowboys & Aliens was never going to be a great movie. You can just look at the name of it and know that it won’t be anything more than a stupid comic book adaptation. Jon Favreau did some good stuff with Iron Man, but there just doesn’t seem to have been a lot to work with. As expected, it’s not great. The story sucks, the acting sucks (with the exception of Daniel Craig), and the direction is middling at best. That being said, there are absolutely things to like about the film. Every year there is one movie that changes the meaning of the “PG-13” rating, and this is it. Last year, True Grit showed a bullet-to-the-head execution, and this year we saw a whole lot more than that. If you like alien guts, you’ll be seeing a shocking amount of them. The film is nearly nonstop action. It may not be great action, but at least a whole lot of things die (although somehow the overall populations never changes). It’s the very definition of a stupid summer blockbuster. Sure, there were a lot of other, much better action films this summer, but if you run out of things to watch on a rainy day, and you’re looking for some dumb fun, you could do a worse than Cowboys & Aliens. – Alec Kubas-Meyer


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (8/5/11)

I’ll admit that when I first wrote about Rise of the Planet of the Apes for our extravaganza, I was being overly ironic and cynical. It was just too easy to pick on a reboot of a franchise that already saw an awful remake with Marky Mark and a monkey that looked like Michael Jackson. I didn’t give RotPotA (lulz) the chance it deserved, which in turn led me to one of the most surprising and entertaining films I’ve seen all summer. Was Fox stupid for calling it Rise of the Planet of the Apes, successfully creating a retarded title that says “of the” twice? Of course. Were James Franco and Freida Pinto completely useless? Absolutely. Did they really hire Tom Felton to essentially play Draco Malfoy in this film? Yup. But damn it all to hell if it wasn’t so entertaining and interesting. They’ve successfully reignited my interest in the ape revolution, and though this film had its hiccups, I’m sure I’ll be back again for the sequel. Not only was it a good movie, but it also gave birth to one of my favorite internet memes. For that, I thank you, Caeser. – Andres Bolivar


30 Minutes or Less (8/12/2011)

Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari make an odd pairing in 30 Minutes or Less. Ansari’s hyper-caffeinated performance should be balanced out by Eisenberg’s neurosis, but alas… the pairing of the two didn’t work as hilariously as we hoped it would. Nick Swardson and Danny McBride, however, were more than capable of carrying the comedic torch as the antagonists. If you can still catch the film at matinee, do so. You might not laugh as much as you’d expect, but at least Dilshad Vadsaria, Ansari’s character’s twin sister, is super hot. – Geoff Henao