Summer movies are all about big guns, tons of money, too much hype and super heroes—and this summer we got all of the above. However, movies that rely too heavily on hype take a huge risk. These “blockbusters” either rock hard or flop even harder.
Tropic Thunder is the most expensive comedy of all time. It’s also chockfull of big names and faces. “Tropic Thunder” is about a group of actors trying to put on the performances of their lives while filming a war movie. The twist is that the lines between fiction and reality blur when the actors find themselves deep in the trenches of real military action. The movie begins with several fake trailers featuring the lead actors. This idea of creating fake trailers is nothing short of comic genius—I was in tears. For the last 90 minutes of the film I was still in tears, but for a completely different reason. I realized why I’ve come to hate Ben Stiller: he tries way too hard. The movie contains a small handful of cheap jokes that are endlessly recycled. Certain questions started to flood my mind such as: is Jack Black running around topless and acting insane funny anymore? Is having a young scar-faced Asian boy as the leader of a drug ring in the jungle supposed to get a laugh from me? Why is Robert Downey Jr.’s wonderful acting talent going to waste on bad writing? I wanted the movie to be funny, but it never managed to recapture the humor of the very impressive opening sequence. It may have been an expensive film to make, but in the end the humor is cheap and appeals only to the lowest common denominator.
Tropic Thunder: D+
It’s impossible to talk about this year’s summer movie season without thinking immediately of The Dark Knight. It beat “Star Wars” for all-time U.S. box office gross, making it the second best selling film. Few movies are able to live up to the colossal hype that usually accompanies summer movies, but “The Dark Knight” deserves every penny it has raked in. Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors of this decade. His latest installment in the Batman franchise is preceded by movies like “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige” and the critically acclaimed “Memento.” Along with directing, Nolan can also claim writing credits for all four of these films. With a gleaming resume like that, its no wonder Nolan was able to reinvent the summer superhero flick so successfully. Earlier in the summer, “Iron Man” hit screens and temporarily became the new standard for superhero movies. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but “The Dark Knight” made me almost completely forget about “Iron Man.” Heath Ledger’s performance would be equally as impressive and worthy of praise even without the knowledge of the actor’s tragic death, which admittedly adds a layer of poignancy and eeriness to his portrayal of the Joker. If you’re one of the last two people one earth that still hasn’t gone out to see it, do yourself a favor by skipping class and getting to the nearest showing as soon as possible.
The Dark Knight: A-