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Summer Movie Wrap-Up: June


June was a decent month for film, but featured two big budget sci-fi films that were love letters to Steven Spielberg. One was great, the other just CGI porn. Take a wild guess what film I’m talking about, I wish it was Bad Teacher.

Super 8:

Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler
Rated: PG-13

It’s difficult to tell sometimes if J.J Abrams is following in Spielberg‘s footsteps or trying to walk in them. Abrams has proven to be a competent director and storyteller especially with the fantastic reboot of “Star Trek.” “Super 8” is Abram‘s homage to the heyday of Sci-Fi paranoia films, low-budget movie-making, alien invasion flicks, and Adventure movies. The story of a small town in the 70’s and four kids making a low-budget horror film, when they accidentally witness a train crash that unleashes a deadly monster among their town. Abrams does a condemnable job for 2/3 of the film building the right amount of character drama, tension, and humor. Abrams is a great builder of suspense but the ending feels too cliche, cheesy, and ambiguous. The standouts of the film and the glue that holds it together are the main child actors who are among the best to ever be featured in a film. They posses the right amount of believability, childlike wonder, heart, and likability to help the movie be way more fun and exciting than you’d think. The children actors mixed with the nostalgia of being with friends making cheap films is what gives the film the resonance it needs. Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney are superstars in the making. Their performances elevate the film to something magical and heartfelt. They’re honest and real in their performances and are really the most worthwhile part of “Super 8,” and what it will most be remembered for.

Rating: 7/10

Bad Teacher:

Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segal
Rated: R

Cameron Diaz is a great comedic actress but Is also stuck with the dumb blonde role. In “Bad Teacher,” she finally gets a juicier role that gives her a chance to stretch her wings. She plays Elizabeth, a elementary school teacher whose engagement fell apart and now she needs a new sugar daddy. She meets the new substitute played by Justin Timberlake, a wealthy, naive teacher in a nerdy role that feels too forced, and realizes she needs bigger tatas to get the man she wants. Diaz slips into the role of the foul-mouthed, slutty, scantily clad teacher and is hilarious and a great anti-hero, but Billy Bob Thornton she ain’t. “Bad Santa,” a similar film made it’s despicable main character redeemable while this film expects us to root for Diaz even though her questionable choices compromise multiple people’s careers and lives, not to mention a classroom full of students. At the end of the film, the character learns nothing, and gets away with being a criminal, and everything works out without consequences. The film’s biggest redeeming quality is good-natured Gym teacher played by Jason Segal and overly nosy rival teacher played by Lucy Punch. Both play their roles equally hilarious and are the only dimensional characters the film has. Much like the main character the film looks attractive, and has good support but nothing to fill out it’s bra with.

Rating: 4/10

Transformers: Dark of the Moon:

Directed By: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro
Rated: PG-13

I’ll admit I was a fan of the first “Transformers.” Much like Abram‘s “Super 8,” Michael Bay paid homage to tropes of popular Spielberg films and had a young charismatic Shia Lebeouf. “Transformers 2” however was a loud, noisy, visual rape of the human senses. I was hoping that “Transformers 3” would redeem itself, especially shooting in my Chicago hometown. Well, it was better than the second one. The film tries to cleverly recreate history by incorporating the Transformers with the moon landing, but that’s when the cleverness ends. Shia returns with a Megan Fox replacement played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Who made me giggle by saying autobots in a British accent, but overall I think did slightly better than Fox. The plot treads familiar ground with the Autobots defending Earth against another threat that has ties to the Autobots history and the moon landing. Shia, now deals with a hero complex and trying to find a real job. His character of Sam went from idealistic young boy with an alien car to whiny man-child. His presence is over-the-top and a tad annoying. The rest of the usual suspects from the first two films return but this time include throwaway roles from Oscar winners John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. The movie is visually stunning and has some eye-popping sequences including a sequence of a skyscraper collapsing while characters are trapped inside. The last 45 minutes are a battle royale in Downtown Chicago that is exciting with great eye candy, but fails to rev up the adrenaline of seeing it’s actors in life or death situations. With the third film, Bay has successfully completed his trilogy creating a new subgenre of the action film. “Slow Motion Metal Pornography”

Rating: 5/10


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