Sean P. Means: What the summer movies taught me

Published September 4, 2013 3:11 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

September signals the end of the summer movie season, so, like a kid writing his first essay of the school year, I think back to what I've learned from a summer of seeing blockbuster movies.

This summer, I learned:

• That even superheroes can have existential crises. ("Iron Man 3," "Man of Steel")

• That fake superheroes also can have existential crises, but those aren't as interesting. ("Kick-Ass 2")

• That Smurfette can have an existential crisis, but then it just gets weird. ("The Smurfs 2")

• That there are freakish parallels between the Jazz Age's idle rich and today's 1 percenters — and not just the Jay-Z soundtrack. ("The Great Gatsby")

• That when J.J. Abrams tells the press a certain character won't be in his franchise movie, it's a sure sign the character will be in his franchise movie. ("Star Trek Into Darkness")

• That it's not always a good thing for a sequel to be identical to its predecessor. ("Fast & Furious 6," "Grown Ups 2," "Despicable Me 2," "Red 2," "The Smurfs 2," "Kick-Ass 2")

• That when you ask for a sequel to be different than its predecessor, it's not always a good thing, either. ("The Hangover Part III")

• That there is a sweet spot where a sequel can be similar enough to the original, and yet different enough to still be fun. ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Monsters University")

• That there are entirely too many mediocre computer-animated movies. ("Epic," "Despicable Me 2," "Turbo," "The Smurfs 2," "Planes")

• That messing with classic literature can sometimes pay big dividends. ("Much Ado About Nothing," "What Maisie Knew," "Austenland," "The Great Gatsby.")

• That reprising young-adult "literature" has its limitations. ("The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones")

• That it's not Utah's fault when a movie filmed here bombs. ("The Lone Ranger," "After Earth")

• That Ethan Hawke with Julie Delpy is irresistible. ("Before Midnight")

• That Ethan Hawke fighting for his life, either in his house or in a car with Selena Gomez, is totally resistable. ("The Purge," "Getaway")

• That the old Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson magic just ain't there anymore. ("The Internship")

• That the old Brad Pitt magic is still potent. ("World War Z")

• That anybody who says women can't be funny are full of crap. ("The Heat," "Frances Ha," "In a World …")

• That the German word for "hunter" is "jaeger," and the Mexican word for "butt-kicking director" is "Guillermo Del Toro." ("Pacific Rim")

• That the world does not need a "Men In Black" rip-off. ("R.I.P.D.")

• That the world does not need a cut-rate cyber-thriller. ("Paranoia")

• That the world does need a well-made old-school horror movie. ("The Conjuring," "You're Next")

• That, in the right hands, the end of the world can be fiendishly entertaining. ("World War Z," "The World's End")

• That the porn industry is emotionally unsatisfying, for those involved in it and for those watching a movie about it. Yet, because it's a chance to show stars getting nekkid in the name of art, indie filmmakers will keep cranking out movies about it. ("Lovelace," "The Look of Love")

• That there is not a manipulative button Harvey Weinstein will not push to get Oscar nominations. ("Lee Daniels' The Butler")

• That it's possible to present an African-American character who's not a plaster saint and come out of it with a compelling and timely drama that also should be in the Oscar conversation. ("Fruitvale Station")

• That growing up is tough, but watching it happen to fascinating characters reaffirms one's faith in the next generation. ("The Kings of Summer," "The Way, Way Back," "The Spectacular Now")

• That I could sit through a One Direction concert, if not for the female fans (not the teen girls, but the 35-or-older women) screaming every time one of the lads takes off his shirt. ("One Direction: This Is Us")

• That I never, ever want to go to SeaWorld again. ("Blackfish")

• That I would like to go to Austenland, if it existed. ("Austenland")

Sean P. Means writes The Cricket in daily blog form at http://www.sltrib.com/blogs/moviecricket. Email him at spmeans@sltrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/seanpmeans.