Summer movie season highs and lows

CanWest News Service
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Now that the summer movie season is over, give or take a Vin Diesel movie, the world is already looking forward to the Oscar-happy fall, when the real art comes out to frolic in the rust-coloured leaves of auteurism and shiver majestically in the sad snows of the ambivalent ending.

Now that the summer movie season is over, give or take a Vin Diesel movie, the world is already looking forward to the Oscar-happy fall, when the real art comes out to frolic in the rust-coloured leaves of auteurism and shiver majestically in the sad snows of the ambivalent ending.

Hey, this is easy!

Not so fast though. Before we leave summer behind summer, with its explosions and its special-effects monsters and its fart-happy comedies.

Lets recall how excited we were back in April when Mike Myers and the rest were still glittering castles of possibility shimmering in the future and we didnt know yet that The Love Guru was going to be 88 minutes of penis jokes (well, at least it was short).

Heady days, and how young and foolish we must have seemed, recommending the new Indiana Jones film as the best bet of the season and throwing in M. Night Shyamalans The Happening as another film to look forward to.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, and also of the Internets latest box-office results, its time to look back on the highs and lows of the summer movies.

Gentlemen, stop your engines:

Another Reason To Give Up, Bite the Bullet and Make The Seventh Sense: Shyamalan flopped again with The Happening, an ecological horror movie with a not-bad idea man-eating plants were swell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Little Shop of Horrors that cant live up to the expectations of a filmmaker who might have simply started with too big a splash and then run out of vision.

All Right, Already: The Incredible Hulk, which starts like The Bourne Identity and ends like Transformers, proves that the character can be more exciting than the one Ang Lee gave us in The Hulk.

Nevertheless, there is a limit to a superhero whose whole thing is that hes angry.

Im angry, too, and you dont see me doing sequels.

Enough, We Say: Indiana Jones and the Mystery of Why It Took So Long To Get Made, or whatever it was called, reintroduced one of moviedoms most beloved characters in a film whose elements seem to have been overtaken in the past few years: one too many National Treasure films, perhaps.

The climactic scenes of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, combining ancient Aztecs with space aliens, was the cardboard icing on the plastic cake. This is a franchise that is best left to history, which is probably why the worldwide grosses were only US$780 million.

So far.

Please, Stop: The X-Files: I Want To Believe.

But Let Us Raise A Modest Cheer: For 3D, a movie effect thats like an old friend back in slick new clothing. Careful, though Journey to the Center of the Earth showed how in-your-face perils could turn a mediocre film into a thrill ride; Fly Me To The Moon showed how it could also be just an excuse for mediocrity.

You Mean Women Go To Movies?: Sex and the City, a $400-million surprise, proved theres a market for films in which a lot of closet space is a fetish of sexual proportions.

A Role To Remember: In a movie that pushed so many envelopes it could have been set in the post office, Tom Cruise provides the most hilarious extended cameo of the summer in Tropic Thunder.

His balding studio executive Les Grossman an aggressively foul-mouthed, faithless, money-grubbing, hot-dancing horror show proved once again that Cruise can so act.

Or at least that hes been around Hollywood a long time and has been paying attention.

The Robert Downey Jr. Award For Physical Makeovers: To Robert Downey Jr. as the most interesting superhero of the season in Iron Man Downey Jr.s mumbly irony sometimes reminds you of a live-action Popeye and then the most transgressive supporting actor in Tropic Thunder, a role he plays in blackface and manages to make sympathetic.

Two silly films, but Downey Jr. was transfixing.

All This And Heath Ledger, Too: The Dark Knight was a bit of a narrative mess, with many scenes seeming to end in the middle, but it reintroduced Batman as the darkest of comic book heroes and gave us a villain to remember in Ledgers smeary-faced Joker.

An Oscar-worthy performance, so eat your heart out, autumn.

Nicest Surprise: The Visitor, with Richard Jenkins as a lonely professor who teams up with two squatters in his New York City apartment.

A lovely little drama with a delicate performance by Jenkins, a character actor given a rare chance to shine in a leading role.

The fact that his next appearance was as the exasperated, foul-mouthed father in Step Brothers just proves that yes, were talking about the summer.

Organizations: Body Snatchers and Little Shop of Horrors, Center of the Earth

Geographic location: The Hulk, Tropic Thunder, Hollywood New York City

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