Three Summer Films (2014 Edition)

There have been a lot of column inches lately about how this has been a diappointing year for the film industry. Yeah, there were a lot of high profile films that were crap, yet they made their money back in the international market, if not domestically. So, it’s safe to say that there will be another Transformers film in a few years. Yippee.

We all talk about how bad the Transformers movies are, yet they keep churning them out on a regular basis, even though they are the very definition of “Sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Or maybe because of it.

The reason is they make money. I hear people say things like, “I thought this one would be good,” or “I got suckered by the trailer.” Yeah, I have seen amazing trailers for crap films; too many to mention. And I have seen poorly made trailers for films that I ended up enjoying; such as Edge of Tomorrow.

The trailers for Edge of Tomorrow made it appear as if this was a retread of Oblivion, which I still haven’t seen. I, like many others, believe that Warner Bros. should have kept the original title from the novel: All You Need is Kill. That has to be the best “Sounds like a Bond film” title ever. For the upcoming blu-ray release, the marketing wizards are promoting it with the tagline, “Live, Die, Repeat,” which also sounds like a Bond film.

The biggest surprise of the summer movie season was Guardians of the Galaxy, but it was the good kind of surprise. It exceeded expectations both in terms of quality and box office. I have watched far too many so-called comedies over the past decade or so that didn’t have as many laugh out loud moments as Guardians.

It seems that somewhere along the way, Hollywood has decided that clever is the new funny. So many comedies try to incite humor by being perceptive; it’s the old “It’s funny because it’s true” approach. When it works, it’s great, when it doesn’t…

Guardians of the Galaxy’s humorous moments come from character, not from overly elaborate set pieces or from a screenwriter desperate to prove how clever they are. Many writers toss in pop culture references in order to look cool, or hip, or whatever the word of the moment is. In Guardians, Peter Quill uses pop culture references to get a point across in the simplest way possible, and the humor comes from the fact that no one else in the movie knows that it is a pop culture reference.

Any number of people who write about movies for a living have credited the success of Guardians of the Galaxy to the fact that it was so damn funny. Some of them atribute the success to the viewers caring for, and becoming emotionally attached to, a ragtag group of space outlaws. I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear or two while in the theatre. What really makes me sad is that more films don’t.

In a recent Facebook post, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn summed up the success of the film rather succinctly. He credits the fact that everone involved “gave a shit,” and that’s a direct quote. What makes me even sadder is that more filmmakers don’t.


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