Joss Whedon as Blockbuster Director
As fun as Serenity is, it’s not particularly cinematic. There’s a TV-quality to it, and that’s what many worried about when it came to Joss Whedon taking on a project as massive and precious as The Avengers. Whedon, as proven by that billion or so dollars the movie made, showed his appeal and directing chops go beyond the small screen. There was a scope and sense of fun to The Avengers sorely lacking in its competition this summer, most notably in two mopey superhero movies…
The Hulk Stops Grabbing Tissues, Starts Throwing Punches
Speaking of mopey superheroes, Bruce Banner/The Hulk was certainly stuck in that mold for the past few years. As good as Edward Norton and Eric Bana were as the titular character, there wasn’t much charm to either of their portrayals of Bruce Banner and seeing the Hulk destroy everything in his path. Mark Ruffalo and Whedon made Bruce that awkward goof with the right amount of torment, rather than a guy who’d kill himself in frame one of a popcorn movie about a guy who turns big and green.
Not only that, it was the first time The Hulk felt like a character, not an uncanny-valley CG effect.
Arnold Is Old, But the Good Kind of Old
Even though Arnold Schwarzenegger never really got physical in The Expendables 2, the film and that wonderful trailer for The Last Stand showed Arnold’s still got whatever it is he’s got. Even in the briefest of appearances this summer, the actor showed why he’s always been a step above the Stallones, Norrises, and Van Dammes of the world. Arnold knows he’s funny, and he doesn’t have to violently nudge anyone to let them know why. When asked how he’s feeling in The Last Stand trailer, Arnold responds “old.” What the former Governor keeps in mind is that “old” doesn’t mean “outdated,” something The Expendables films forget.
This Summer Got Violent
With John Hillcoat‘s effortlessly fun Lawless, Oliver Stone‘s brutally cool Savages, Ridley Scott‘s (kind of) horrific return to sci-fi, and auteur filmmaker Simon West‘s movie about old folks’ home residents turn towards violence, this was a good time for R-rated movies. There’s usually a sore lack of real blood and guts during this time of year, so it was rather pleasant seeing some non-bloodless kills every once in a while. If you want brutal, those movies could brought it, from alien abortions to decapitations to Van Damme punches.
Male Strippers and Bicyclists Are Cool Again
Bike-messengering and male stripping aren’t exactly the most cinematic jobs, at least that’s what society wanted us to think pre-summer 2012. Director Steven Soderbergh showed us the ins and outs of the male show men world, while David Koepp declared himself only director with nostalgia for bicyclists. Premium Rush and Magic Mike ended up being two of the welcomed surprises of the summer, mainly because of Soderbergh’s and Koepp’s undying love for strippers and lawbreakers.
Tom Hardy and Michael Shannon weren’t afraid to let loose with their oddball mannerisms with their respected villains. Those two men demolished the most scenery this summer, and it showed in those quirky voices. There’s something scary about Michael Shannon letting out a child-like giggle and talking in a high-pitched voice to express his frustration. All he has to do is talk in that movie to make you laugh. As Kate Erbland said, if you thought you loved Michael Shannon before, wait until you see him in Premium Rush.
Matthew McConaughey Gets Sleazy…and Sweaty
With Bernie, Magic Mike, and Killer Joe, the movie star left behind trying to be that likable cool surfer dude image McConaughey played up the past few years and decided to get ugly. While all three of his characters we saw him play these past few months had their own type of charm, he let them run wild in their sleaze (Bernie), greed (Magic Mike), and nihilistic (Killer Joe) tendencies. This was the summer of McConaughey, and he proudly earned it by what he put Gina Gershon through and with all those glares and sweat he mustered up for Magic Mike.
What were your favorite moments of the summer?