Now that summer is over, the onslaught that is the blockbuster movie season has come and gone. It’s been a few months since you’ve last gotten the Hollywood treatment here at Hapless Geek, and for that we say, glad you missed us! We’ve been pretty busy over the summer, but that didn’t mean we weren’t at the local multiplex gorging on popcorn or trying on new 3-D glasses for the ultimate in movie-viewing at home (the times, they are a-changin’, my friends). And so, to salute the greatness of the year of the blockbuster, we’ll showcase a rapid-fire review of the films that have captured our imaginations, joys, despairs, and more importantly our hard-earned money over the last 3 months. These films are both great and small in scope and release, as the occasional indie film makes a summertime appearance. By the time some of these reviews get to you, the films might already be released for home entertainment consumption (either because they weren’t good enough to stay in theaters or in limited enough release that more sales would come from word-of-mouth), so we’ve included a recommendation legend to guide your future purchase, rental or global panning of said films.
And awaaaaay we go!
The Dictator
–    Is it Borat? No. Is it Bruno? No. It’s like both of them combined with more utter stupidity,  misplaced sensitivity and a chance for Sasha Baron Cohen to poke fun at world politics unabashedly
–    Anna Faris plays it straight in this one, not too much of a departure from her Scary Movie persona
–    Cohen can’t shoot guerrilla style anymore, so this is clearly a work of fiction, with heavy reference to real-life situations
Our Recommendation: SKIP it. If you’re a Cohen purist, take a chance with it, but I’d predict you’d be disappointed.
There is an unrated version of the film out on DVD and Blu-ray, so there’s a chance you’ll get more laughs (or more gross-out elements) for a justified rental.

–    A visually stunning, graphically intense “prequel” to the Alien franchise
–    Noomi Rapace is stripped bare—literally and figuratively—in her portrayal of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw
–    Michael Fassbender is eerie and convincingly apathetic as android David
–    The two casting choices that made no sense to us: Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. Both are superb thespians who are given next to nothing to showcase their talents
–    WARNING: Not for the faint of heart. Space violence seems to be the worst kind these days, and director Ridley Scott spares no expense making us believe it
Our Recommendation: RENT it. And hopefully there is a director’s and/or cast commentary track to increase the replay value.
The Amazing Spider-Man
–    Andrew Garfield turns an impressive mix of Spidey and alter ego Peter Parker here; truer to form of the comic version than Tobey Maguire’s adaptation
–    Emma Stone gets better and better every movie of hers we see. Classic beauty, now with the chance of getting her hands dirty in some action scenes
–    Casual fans must wonder, “why reboot a story that was done relatively well already?” The answer is simple: Sony knows they’ll be making money off of the franchise from both fan boys and casual watchers as well; they just needed a story strong enough to not disappoint either one
–    The CGI and visual effects helped the storytelling immensely, without detracting from main plot or being too distracting to keep everyone intrigued. However, it’s your typical retelling of a story we’ve seen before, so enjoy it at your own risk
Our Recommendation: RENT it. Again, the special features packaged with the home video release will determine whether or not to buy.

The Dark Knight Rises


–    A tidy ending to the Dark Knight Trilogy. Director Christopher Nolan makes good on increasing the scope of the IMAX experience compared to The Dark Knight
–    Not as anticipated a sequel than TDK, but a strong, solid story
–    Tom Hardy surprised and delighted us in his portrayal of Bane – after we could finally understand what he was saying the second viewing
–    Quality performances come from newcomers Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
–    Christian Bale saved his most gut-wrenching portrayal of the Caped Crusader for last…or is it???
–    It is definitely worth seeing on IMAX; Nolan makes great use of the medium to add scale and grandeur to the film—just come prepared with ear plugs if you have sensitive hearing
Our Recommendation: WATCH it. More than once. Preferably in a regular theater, then on IMAX. Then BUY the Blu-ray. Seriously.



–    Watch it for the laughs, re-watch it at your own peril; the jokes won’t be as funny watching it the second time around
–    Mark Wahlberg is very funny. Seth MacFarlane is funnier as Ted. Both of them together was unexpected movie magic
–    Don’t be fooled: it is not the voice of Peter Griffin in this movie, no matter what the trailers and TV spots tell you
–    Mila Kunis is…well, she’s okay here, though you could think of 5 different actresses to plug into her character and the film wouldn’t skip a beat
–    MacFarlane is furiously loyal to his Family Guy and American Dad voice actors: Kunis, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, Jessica Barth, and Patrick Stewart all contribute to the film
Our Recommendation: WATCH it once in the theater, and then move on. Otherwise, RENT it.

Moonrise Kingdom


–    One of the better Wes Anderson films of his collection
–    The two lead players are newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who stole the show with their natural chemistry and fearlessness
–    Bruce Willis seemed more uninterested than usual here, but Bill Murray was his normal, understated self in the Anderson element
–    Edward Norton was very entertaining as an absent-minded scout leader, Frances McDormand was solid again, and Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel both provided very solid cameos
Our Recommendation: try very hard to WATCH in theaters, as it is in limited release. But definitely RENT, and if extras are present, worth OWNing.

Safety Not Guaranteed


–    An independent film with tons of heart, very good acting and a believable plot surrounding an unbelievable premise. It has been referred to as a blockbuster disguised as an indie, and we couldn’t agree more
–    Jake Johnson, Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass are very good as puppeteer/colleague, cynic lead/romantic foil, and even more cynic mark/eccentric genius, respectively
–    Newcomer Karan Soni rounds out the main cast with a subtle but indispensable performance
–    One of those movies that leaves you with more questions than answers—signs of a successful independent film, in our opinion
Our Recommendation: WATCH, with the option to RENT.
Total Recall
–    A very tongue-in-cheek homage paid to the original Total Recall. Purists of the original will snicker at the many references used in the remake
–    A question we asked ourselves while watching this: why in the world would you want to remake a movie that was adapted from a book without changing nearly anything? Answer we came up with: $ee Ama$ing $pider-Man
–    Kate Beckinsale was delightfully badass in TR as Lori (which seemed to be a hybrid character from the original between Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside)
–    Jessica Biel didn’t seem anything like Rachel Ticotin in this remake—probably because no one really cared enough about Ticotin’s character in the original to make her any more or less meaningful
–    As much as you couldn’t understand what Arnold Schwarzenegger was saying in the original, he was much more entertaining than Colin Farrell. And somewhere we’d think Farrell would agree with us
Our Recommendation: RENT it. No need to waste good money watching something you have no real vested interest in reliving.

The Expendables 2


Stallone: This thing belongs in a museum.
Schwarzenegger: We all do.
–    This line describes the entire idea of this film in a nutshell. It’s an action lover’s dream, with none of that filler you get in most films—you know, like plot, dialogue, sense…
–    Every action film star you can think of is in this, every cliché ever put on paper is uttered, every bullet ever created was shot from every gun ever manufactured – but you’ll truly enjoy every second of it
–    It is wholly unbelievable and violent, but it’s such a great, fun ride, you’ll suspend your disbelief very quickly
–    It’s kind of like a mix between Rocky BalboaStreet Fighter and Bad Boys, pitting legends against upstarts, but kicked up a notch (or twelve), with just enough room for absurd one-liners, comedy and Michael Bay-esque explosions
–    Fantasy matchups galore, with Stallone vs. Van Damme, Statham vs. Scott Adkins, Chuck Norris vs. himself. You wonder how all these guys get decent lines in, but they all have a role and an archetype to showcase, and they do the best with what they’ve got
Our Recommendation: WATCH it, only if you like ridiculous action, cheesy plot, even cheesier dialogue, and gratuitous violence. Otherwise, tell all your friends who like those things to go see it!
So there you have it, hapless geeks. A relative blow-by-blow account of our summer at the movies. Some of these films are still in general release, so see for yourself how these all fare in your must-see lists. We for one can’t wait for Summer 2013!

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