? and if it's not sequels, it's lousy remakes at the multiplex, says John Patterson
The second most depressing thing about this summer at the movies was seeing that warmed-over rehash The Hangover II ? a triumph of trompe-l'oeil marketing over substance ? made $580m worldwide. The most depressing was that Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, the most grievous assault I endured on my intelligence this year, made over a billion. The most distressing personal consequence was that I paid to see both of them ? and, man, when I get that expenses cheque back I'll compensate by buying something really evil, like heroin or hollow-point bullets, just to reset my karma.
The multiplex was rotten with franchises all summer, as usual, most of them more doddery than they used to be. Harry Potter sidled off the stage for the last time, to even more obscene receipts and the unanimous acclaim of people who go in for that sort of thing, and just in time for Daniel Radcliffe and his formerly pimply cohorts to apply for their pensioner bus-passes. Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 also made a billion bucks, but despite a reboot to its cast, it felt long past its moment. X-Men alone retained a little vigour and sinew, and the Final Destination series won't stop soon, though really I wish it would.
New contenders have arisen, like ? and it feels odd writing this ? Kenneth Branagh's Thor (who knew?), and the high-performing Captain America (who seems just right for this idiot moment in American history), and possibly Cowboys & Aliens, all of which look ripe for sequelisation, thus pre-ruining the next two summers. Another aspirant franchise was strangled in the cradle of its brutal opening weekend: Green Lantern, starring perennial Nearly-Man Ryan Reynolds, won't be back for a sequel; it's bound for the ashcan of failed franchises, home already to Billy Zane's The Phantom and Ben Affleck's Daredevil.
The summer's comedies were also of the second rank, with the exception of Kirsten Wiig's riotous, albeit overpraised, Bridesmaids and a few moments in Friends With Benefits (from Will Gluck, who made last year's winning Emma Stone hit Easy A) and 30 Minutes Or Less (a disappointing second outing from Ruben Fleischer, director of Zombieland). Horrible Bosses and Bad Teacher were horrible and bad respectively; Arthur with Russell Brand was a joke ? sadly not a funny one ? and a flop; and I was surprised how poorly The Change-Up used two of my favourite comic actors, Ryan Reynolds (again, oof!) and Jason Bateman. However, the instantly cratering Larry Crowne, written and directed by Tom Hanks at his most saccharine, was a pleasure to savour ? the failure, that is, not the movie.
All of which leaves me with Bridesmaids and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes to watch again on DVD, in between seeing Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and a tacky-looking remake of Straw Dogs. Death to Summer! Roll on September!