Looking Back at Summer 2009 with Lots of Words and No Pictures

Grocery stores are already selling their boxes of mini chocolate bars for Halloween. Back to school commercials have invaded our television sets. Any moment now, leaves will start falling from trees and the weather will steadily decline. Yup, it's official. The summer is over. Oh sure, the actual final day of the calendar summer season is September 20, but for me, summer is a four month season defined by one thing: movies. It starts with the first weekend in May and ends sometime late in August, when the crop of blockbusters has dried up. That time has come, which means it's time for me to turn around and survey the damage. The following is my attempt to make sense of the four months of cinematic celebration that was piled high with garbage attempting to hide the few gems hidden deep inside. I had to wade through a lot of crap to get here, but as always, it was worth the trek.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Unlike last year, the good was few and far between in summer 2009. The blockbuster season got off to a rocky, embarrassing start when the moronic superhero flick X-Men Origins: Wolverine arrived and made Brett Ratner's 2006 exercise in excess X-Men: The Last Stand look like a modern masterpiece. The entire cast, including Hugh Jackman, donning the claws for the fourth time, looked uncomfortably bored for the duration of the movie and director Gavin Hood was so far out of his element that he couldn't conjure a single moment of popcorn-y excitement. The movie looked awful, sounded awful, and left a really bad taste in my mouth. It instantly hung a dark cloud over summer 2009, which was happily lifted the following week with the release of JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot.

JJ's Trek was marred by a weak villain, but it still managed to be an engaging and hugely entertaining romp. The main characters were perfectly recast with Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), and Karl Urban (McCoy) all bringing their own interpretation to their characters, while remaining entirely respectful of the original cast. The script was a fun origin tale that wisely paid tribute to Roddenberry's classic series, while managing to pave the way for a new set of Trek adventures existing on a fresh timeline. The movie also boasted some brilliant sound work and yet another pitch-perfect score from genius composer Michael Giacchino (Alias, Lost, The Incredibles).

So, only two weeks in and the summer already had its first really bad movie and its first really good movie. From that point onwards, May was a bit of a blockbuster rollercoaster ride. It dipped again with the lame Angels & Demons, which reminded me how greatly I dislike Ron Howard's direction now, a fact that Frost/Nixon had made clear only five months earlier. Everything about Howard's second adaptation of a conspiracy-minded Dan Brown novel felt flat and dull. Tom Hanks cut his hair and didn't phone in his performance this time around, but those were the only improvements upon the abysmal 2006 stinker The Da Vinci Code.

After that, another sequel to a bad movie showed up, but this one managed to be a pleasant surprise. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, besides having the longest title of the summer, stood out as a really engaging piece of blockbuster family entertainment. I thought the fun concept of museum pieces coming to life at night was poorly utilized in the first movie, but this bigger and better sequel was exactly what the first movie was missing: fun. The effects were great, the jokes were pretty enjoyable (mostly thanks to the presence of Hank Azaria, who clearly had a blast playing the villain), and the movie had one fantastic asset: Amy Adams, whose firecracker portrayal of doomed aviator Amelia Earhart was a genuinely glowing treat.

On the same weekend that the Night at the Museum sequel opened, McG (the guy behind the Charlie's Angels movies) proved that the Terminator franchise just isn't the same without Governor Arnie. As the fourth instalment in the popular series, Terminator Salvation finally took audiences into the post-apocalyptic future for the entire duration of the movie. The action sequences were incredible (McG favoured long, energetic takes) and moviegoers were finally given the opportunity to see rising Aussie star Sam Worthington in a blockbuster role (he wasn't worth the wait), but the script was idiotic and the movie was devoid of dramatic focus. Not terrible, but not very good, either.

May ended on a very high note with two fantastic movies hitting theatres at the same time: Pixar's tenth feature, the endearing and very funny Up, and the brilliant, nastily delicious horror flick Drag Me to Hell, which saw director Sam Raimi (the Spider-Man movies) return to his creepy, imaginative roots.

Up told the delightful tale of an elderly man who affixed thousands of balloons to his house and travelled off to a magical place called Paradise Falls. The story was wonderfully quirky, the characters were lovable, and the movie featured one of the best creations of the entire season: talking dogs. Dug, a playful canine too easily distracted by squirrels, lit up the screen whenever his digitally created body sauntered into the frame. Looking back at the summer, Up remains one of my favourite movies in the whole batch of blockbusters.

Drag Me to Hell was a gleefully grotesque collection of eerie sounds, dark comedy, and expertly timed scares. Raimi conjured up the magic of his cult classic Evil Dead trilogy and gave horror fans a fright flick to remember. Star Alison Lohman gave one of the craziest and most committed performances of the summer, which made her character's journey to Hell that much more meaningful. An incredible movie and easily one of the summer's brightest highlights.

By the end of May, the summer season had already hit some high exciting highs and some disturbing lows. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. After that, things got ugly.

June brought two awful comedies in the form of Will Ferrell's laugh-free Land of the Lost and Jack Black's awkwardly unfunny Year One. Will Ferrell making a bad movie is about as surprising as the sun setting in the evening, but Year One was especially disappointing because it marked the return of once-great filmmaker Harold Ramis to silly big-screen comedy hijinks. Ramis is best known as the man who helmed such 80s comedy classics as Caddyshack and National Lampoon's Vacation. Now a whole new generation of kids will know him as the guy who made that stupid biblical farce. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

June also heralded the arrival of the summer's biggest blockbuster, the noisy, inescapable juggernaut Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The movie opened to one of the biggest box office debuts in history, while also racking up some of the year's worst reviews. I actually came down directly in the middle of the mess, as I chastised the movie for its juvenile humour and horrendous excuse for a script, while praising the sheer spectacle of the behemoth and its groundbreaking effects work. Ultimately, I think the flimsy story and presence of two robots who manage to be annoying and extremely racist pull the movie down too far, but I can't help but partially applaud director Michael Bay for making a movie that feels absolutely gigantic in every way.

Oh yeah, and a little movie called The Hangover was released in June, as well. The sleeper smash of the summer, the R-rated post-Bachelor party comedy offered up a handful of laughs and provided some enjoyable entertainment. I didn't think it was absolutely hilarious from start to finish, but it was a reminder that Hollywood can still churn out a fun comedy in the midst of a lot of crap. Sharing space at the multiplexes with junk like Land of the Lost and Year One certainly made The Hangover look pretty rosy in comparison.

July was a more barren month than usual. Sacha Baron Cohen's controversial mockumentary Bruno was anchored by a brilliant performance by Cohen, who somehow managed to stay in character in real-life situations that appeared dangerous and threatening on camera. The movie's attack on homosexual-hating conservatives may have been a case of preaching to the choir (the people that Bruno is poking fun at are almost certainly going to steer clear of this movie) and the satirical edge is not quite as sharp as it is intended to be, but Cohen's performance made the entire experience quite exciting and awe-inspiring.

Harry Potter made his sixth trip to cinematic Hogwarts in the mediocre Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The magic of the book was slowly stripped away in director David Yates' second Potter movie (he also directed the superior 2007 flick Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). The acting by the main kids (well, not really kids anymore) has bottomed out and the movie merely dragged when it should have intensified. The photography and effects work was absolutely amazing, though, so that helped. But with Yates returning for the final two movies in the franchise and the young cast no longer growing in performance ability, I'm only mildly interested anymore.

Near the end of July, the summer season took another nosedive. First came G-Force, then came Funny People. Both movies had me clawing my eyes out in boredom, with the former being the most painful thing I've sat through so far this year. The guinea pigs-on-a-mission movie was purely soulless family entertainment, sucked dry of anything resembling imagination or purpose. I hated everything about the movie and just felt depressed that kid's entertainment had been reduced to such an atrocity.

On the other hand, Funny People is certainly not a family movie, with its endless parade of penis jokes, but it's only a few steps above G-Force in the grand scheme of modern cinema. The latest comedy from the usually brilliant Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) is his first major misstep as a director. He's had his name attached to crap in the past (such as the childish Will Ferrell vehicle Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), but when he steps behind the camera, the result is usually something special. But Funny People is two-and-a-half hours of Adam Sandler playing Adam Sandler and whining about his fame and fortune because he's really just a lonely guy deep inside. Cue sappy music and awkward montages. Or rather, don't. Please.

August then rolled around and it was here that a few of the summer's most pleasant surprises were hiding out. Sure, the month was bookended by Stephen Sommers' hokey G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at one end and Quentin Tarantino's self-indulgent World War II mess Inglourious Basterds at the other, but the gems were nestled comfortably in the middle of it all. August 14 saw the release of up-and-coming filmmaker Neill Blomkamp's aliens-as-refugees flick District 9. That movie took a smart and effective look at what might happen if friendly, malnourished aliens had their massive spaceship break down over downtown Johannesburg. The result was a mixture of thought-provoking ideas and great, old-fashioned thrills.

A week later, the unforgettable and overwhelmingly brilliant documentary The Cove hit theatres. The story of a group of activists struggling to expose the truth behind dolphin slaughter in Japan remains my favourite movie of the year. I've already seen it twice and both viewings were spectacularly powerful. I can't recommend the movie enough to anyone interested in documentary cinema. Or anyone interested in any kind of cinema, for that matter. The Cove has some pretty potent subject matter to begin with, but director Louis Psihoyos and everyone else involved in the making of the movie help elevate the material to towering heights. The result is a gut-wrenching, emotionally explosive masterpiece.

An activist documentary doesn't exactly seem like the usual summer movie fare and, of course, it isn't. But that was the kind of summer this was. I even forgot to mention both Moon and The Hurt Locker, which were two of the summer's best-reviewed movies. I didn't love either of them, but Moon's gorgeous visuals and stellar performance by Sam Rockwell (essentially performing a one-man show) saved the movie from its dead-end script. The Hurt Locker seems destined for a Best Picture nod and, while I never connected to the characters on any kind of emotional level, I did appreciate director Kathryn Bigelow's ability to toss us directly into the fray of the Iraq war.

So, as always, there was lots to chew on over the past four months. The good, the bad, and the ugly were all on display in a collection of different genres and colours. There were surprises, disappointments, triumphs, and disasters. Some things never change. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Budgets or: What Exactly Does $175 Million Buy Nowadays?

Once upon a time, nearly two decades ago, the notion of a $100 million budget was relatively foreign. Nowadays, $100 million plus production budgets are thrown around Hollywood like candy. Even the days when $200 million production budgets were reserved for projects running wildly out of control or ones that involved massive sinking boats are long gone. Of course, once the budget hits that level, the numbers start getting really fuzzy, so you can never be too sure what the truth is and where it's hiding.

Summer 2009's dual robot extravaganzas Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation were both reported to have production budgets that ran north of $200 million. How north, well, that information isn't so clear. But one thing is for certain: ass-kicking CGI robots are expensive. REALLY expensive. Not too surprisingly, those two movies had some of the sharpest effects in the summer tool box, so at least the money was well spent.

But not every movie seemed to make the most of its colossal bank account. Take, for example, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Where did the reported $130 million budget disappear to? Honestly, I'd love to know. Because I had no idea that dreadful digital claws were so expensive. That's about the only way I can make sense of a movie with a bigger budget than X2 (which used actual prop claws, not digital ones) looking so much worse than that first X-Men sequel. The X2 effects were brilliant and yet its budget was supposedly $110 million. X-Men Origins: Wolverine ditched the realistic claws that were actually made out of metal for what is arguably the most laughably ridiculous digital effect of the summer and yet the movie cost more to make than Bryan Singer's sequel! What the hell is going on?

To be fair, Brett Ratner's awfully stupid third instalment in the franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand, supposedly wore a price tag of $210 million and it looked mostly like crap, too. And there were real claws in that one, so I guess there goes my "digital claws are expensive" argument. Either way, $130 million is a lot of money to spend on a movie directed by a guy who seems to have no concept of how to shoot an action sequence. Hopefully, the execs at Fox have learned some sort of lesson, but considering how quickly this franchise creatively collapsed, I'm not holding my breath.

Perhaps the only thing more inexplicable than spending $130 million on a movie with bad effects is spending $175 million on a movie stuffed with bad effects. Such is the case with Stephen Sommer's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which often looked more like a cartoon than, well, the actual G.I. Joe cartoon from the 80s. Just think about that for a moment. A hundred and seventy-five million dollars. Imagine all the amazing things you could do and buy with that money. Then imagine you just gave it to Stephen Sommers. Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Bad idea.

Sommers has a history of blowing big budgets on dreadful digital effects, as evidenced by his 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns and his 2004 stinker Van Helsing. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has Sommers up to his old tricks, choosing quantity over quality. But even then, it's A HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. The quantity over quality approach should still result in some actual quality, right? Well, apparently not. Other than the very impressive sets built for the movie, the money seems to have gone towards a gigantic collection of flat and lifeless CGI that is never believably integrated with the real environments. There's even a really funny moment where a CGI Polar Bear saunters around on screen, apparently for no better reason than to make sure every single audience member takes note of how terrible the effects are. Oh Stephen Sommers, when will you ever learn?

Well, if Sommers is at all interested in taking pointers, perhaps he should study District 9, the sci-fi flick heavily populated with aliens that cost only $30 million to produce. Director Neill Blomkamp, producer Peter Jackson, and the entire effects team at WETA Digital all have a lot to be proud of. The movie grossed more money domestically in its opening weekend than its reported budget. That is no small feat. Certainly, comparing G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to District 9 is a little unfair, since G.I. Joe has far more effects shots and District 9 buries some of its effects in fuzzy news footage. But even then, it's a difference of $145 million, so I'm willing to give District 9 the edge in this battle.

Special Effects or: Didn't I Just Talk About This for the Last Seven Paragraphs?

Okay yes, I did mix the effects talk in with the budget section, so I don't have a ton to add here. But one thing that happens at the end of every summer is that I (and other effects-obsessed Oscar nuts) can really begin predicting what three movies are going to be nominated for Visual Effects by the Academy come next February? Things are complicated by the general assumption that James Cameron's sci-fi opus Avatar (slated for release on December 18) will be among the nominees. So if that turns out to be true, then this summer's best effects offerings will have to fight over the last two spots.

If ever there was a time when the Academy needed to extend the number of effects nominations from three to five, this is it. Yes, despite all of my complaining about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, summer 2009 offered quite an impressive array of special effects. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen may have taken a massive critical drubbing, but the effects are simply outstanding. The team at ILM pushed CGI to the brink of what we know is possible and then pushed some more. The interaction between the CGI robots and the real environments was absolutely stunning. Every single movement by a robot was expertly integrated with the practical, on-set/on-location effects. At this point, I have to say that I will be completely shocked if this movie is not included in the Academy's three nominees.

So if that's two spots potentially locked in right there (and that's all just conjecturing, anyway), then what will be the final nominee? District 9's effects are mind-boggling when you consider the modest $30 million budget, but how many Academy voters will factor that in? Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince featured nearly flawless CGI throughout the movie, but it wasn't as prominent as the effects in certain fellow blockbusters, plus voters might feel like they've seen it all before, even if the sixth instalment in the franchise does have a handful of tantalizing visual flourishes.

I'm not even going to entertain the idea of G-Force being recognized for its effects, so I'll leave that one alone. Terminator Salvation featured great action sequences and a whole slew of beautifully rendered digital robots, so it certainly stands a chance. But my money is ultimately on the flashier and more successful Star Trek, which took something old and made it look new again. The brightly-lit CGI really stood out and if the space battles weren't enough to catch the eyes of voters, then the movie featured not one, but TWO giant space alien creature things. That should do the trick.

Box Office or: Which of Those Aforementioned Gigantic Budgets Was Actually Worth It?

Well, summer 2009 wasn't summer 2007, in which four blockbusters each grossed over $300 million domestically for the first and only time ever, and it definitely wasn't summer 2009, which witnessed The Dark Knight shatter records and climb to number two on the list of domestic grossers, but it did have its fair share of hits. The biggest movie of the summer, box office wise, was actually the biggest movie of the summer, spectacle-wise. Michael Bay gave audiences the exact giant robot carnage they were craving and the result was a domestic box office haul for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that currently teeters on the edge of $400 million. Any moment now, Bay's biggest career blockbuster will become only the ninth movie ever to reach that milestone. Not bad.

No other film in summer 2009 even crossed the $300 million mark domestically, but a handful of releases came quite close. JJ Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise has pretty much come to a close at just over $256 million, which makes it the highest grossing Trek movie by about a hundred and fifty million miles. The only Trek movie out of the previous batch of ten to even cross the $100 million mark was the whale-obsessed 1986 sequel Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. That movie made $109 million, which was once considered impressive for a Trek feature. Well, Abrams has managed to make Trek cool again and his movie was one of the biggest draws of the summer.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince remains the second highest grosser of the year and it's gargantuan tally of $294 million from domestic box office is a solid reminder that the franchise is still hugely popular. The plan to move the picture's release date from November 2008 to July 2009 meant that Potter fans were chomping at the bit to see the movie. The result was the biggest midnight screenings haul ever ($22.2 million, easily besting The Dark Knight's $18.5 million from a year ago). With Warner Bros. stretching J.K. Rowling's seventh and final Potter novel into two movies, you can be guaranteed that the Harry Potter franchise still has a lot more dollar signs in its future.

Another box office guarantee nowadays is animated Pixar movies. Even though the subject matter of their movies seems to grow only more difficult to market with each passing story, Pixar continues to prove that they can turn anything into a colossal hit. It helped that Up was sold as Paxar's "first 3D movie ever." Oh yeah, and it was an excellent movie that could ultimately appeal to just about anyone. That helps, too. And the talking dogs. Never underestimate the box office potential of talking dogs. Pixar's tenth feature became the third highest grosser of the year and is currently wrapping up its theatrical run in the vicinity of $289 million.

So far, three of the big box office hits mentioned above have been the product of established franchises (even if one was never equated with box office gold) and the other one is the product of an established brand, which might as well be a franchise as far as Hollywood is concerned. But the summer's biggest surprise came in the form of a little comedy with no major stars and what seemed to be a tired concept. The Hangover arrived in theatres in June with hopes of turning a tidy profit. A short while later, it was crowned the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever, topping such films as Beverly Hills Cop and Wedding Crashers.

The post-bachelor party movie's huge success is both mysterious and rather simple. With the biggest star in the movie (Ed Helms) being a supporting player from the NBC version of The Office and the movie being dumped into a summer dominated by comedies starring the likes of Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and Adam Sandler, it initially seemed like The Hangover would be lucky to escape the summer in one piece. But apparently, stars be damned, all moviegoers really wanted from their comedy was something funny. Considering that Land of the Lost, Year One, and Funny People were comedic dead zones that felt like lame versions of recycled material, The Hangover's light and silly tone (complete with some jokes that were actually funny!) was apparently just the antidote audiences were craving for a mostly laugh-free summer.

Yes, both Year One and Funny People were released after The Hangover had already exploded with a better-than-expected opening weekend (and Land of the Lost actually opened on the same weekend as The Hangover), but it was that movie's longevity that let its box office soar so high. I think that, if Land of the Lost, Year One, and Funny People were actually decent movies that audiences connected with, then they would have stolen quite a bit of business away from The Hangover. But this was a summer where the biggest stars in comedy were taken down a notch, each of their stumbles opening the door to a new wave of comedy stars ready to make their mark.

A handful of other movies pulled in respectable numbers. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, with its lofty $175 million budget, has pulled in $133 million in domestic box office receipts so far. When you factor in the impressive overseas sales, the movie has managed to post a profit. But if you ask me, those are hardly numbers to build a franchise on, even if that's exactly what Paramount execs are planning to do.

I think they jumped the gun by greenlighting a sequel the second the movie posted a solid opening weekend (just shy of $55 million domestically). Especially since it sounds like Sommers is going to return to the director's chair, which means another gigantic budget (probably even bigger than the last one) and a movie that will be much of the same. Then again, Sommers' biggest hit to date is The Mummy Returns, so maybe Paramount is hoping that he has a knack for making sequels succeed. We shall see.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine was another crappy blockbuster that did okay at the box office. It's final domestic tally sits at a few thousand dollars shy of $180 million, which isn't bad considering that its $130 million budget, although terribly spent, was significantly smaller than a lot of the other budgets tossed around for this summer's crop of blockbusters. But the movie's box office haul did fall quite short of the $214 million X2 made in 2003 and the $234 million X-Men: The Last Stand made in 2006. It looks like audience interest in the adamantium-clawed superhero is eroding. At this point, the future of the entire X-Men franchise is up in the air.

Overall, the summer box office posted good numbers and a few new movie franchises were born (or reborn, as is the case with Star Trek). The big guns, Harry Potter and Transformers, performed incredibly well and the entire comedy genre witnessed an unexpected changing of the guard. Records were broken and new stars emerged and nobody got too mad at Stephen Sommers for blowing $175 million on G.I. Joe. Everyone went home happy. Except Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and Jack Black. They were like the spoiled kids cut out of the wealthy family's trust fund. Better luck next time, boys.

What's Next or: Will Next Summer Have Less Guinea Pigs? Please?

Even though I'm sure a G-Force sequel will torture my eyeballs sometime down the road, it luckily won't be happening next summer. It's still a bit early to pick through the misshapen pile that is summer 2010 slowly coming into focus, but there are already a few things worth looking forward to for next year's blockbuster bonanza. The summer blockbuster season will kick off on May 7 with the release of highly anticipated sequel Iron Man 2. The superhero flick should be lots of fun, with Jon Favreau returning to the director's chair and Robert Downey, Jr. suiting up as the titular hero once more. Also along for the ride are Mickey Rourke (!!!) as villainous Whiplash and Scarlett Johansson (???) as not-so-villainous Black Widow.

The other date to mark on your calendar that you won't even have until several months from now is July 16. That's when the brilliant Chris Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) will unleash his big-budget sci-fi thriller Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe, and Tom Berenger(!). So in other words, everyone ever. Okay, maybe not quite, but it's a huge and exciting cast and whatever Nolan has in store for us, it should be interesting.

Next summer will also see the release of Ridley Scott's once-revisionist take on the Robin Hood mythos. Scott will once again team up with Russell Crowe (their fifth collaboration) for what is likely the millionth interpretation of the material. At this point, nobody has any idea what the hell is going on with this production. Well, hopefully Scott and Crowe do, but they might be the only ones.

It started off as Nottingham, a movie that would have put the Sheriff of Nottingham in the protagonist role and Robin Hood in the villain role. Crowe was going to play the Sheriff and the Robin role wasn't yet cast. But then came word that Crowe would play BOTH roles, which created quite a stir in the online community. Somebody pondered the idea that perhaps Crowe's Sheriff actually fabricated the Robin Hood character in order to give the townsfolk false hope, a plot point that would explain why Crowe was playing both characters.

But then, somewhere in the midst of it all, Crowe ended up in the Robin Hood role, the Nottingham title was dumped, and suddenly it all sounded a lot like every other Robin Hood movie ever made. Only less necessary. Maybe Scott and Crowe are hiding something and maybe this Robin Hood will be pretty good, but it's all sounding a bit pointless right now. For anyone still interested, we'll have to wait and see on May 14.

Personally, I'm excited to see The Green Hornet, the long-awaited big-screen adventure of the newspaper publisher-turned-crime fighter who rose to fame in 30s radio serials. The Green Hornet is being directed by the awesome Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express). Rogen will star as the Green Hornet and Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou will play the role of Kato, originally made famous by Bruce Lee in the 60s television series. I was more excited for this movie when the great Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle) was attached to direct and star as Kato, but I'm still eager to see this movie even in its Chow-less form.

Those are the summer movies that I am most intrigued by, but there are other flicks, too, like a Sex and the City sequel and the fourth Shrek movie. Knowing that Mike Myers is still getting work is making steam come out of my ears, but the Shrek franchise is very popular, so another sequel was inevitable. Plus, Eddie Murphy's Donkey shtick may have grown old two movies ago, but at least this Shrek nonsense keeps him busy and away from making more Norbit movies. Sometimes, you have to appreciate the little things.

The Wrap-up or: Thanks for Just Reading Over 5000 Words About Blockbuster Movies

Well, that was a lot of blabbing. 5000 words worth. Wow. Well, apparently brevity isn't the name of the game when it comes to me and blockbuster movies. I had a lot of fun sifting through the summer now that the smoke has cleared. It wasn't the best of summers, especially when compared to the excitement of summer 2008. But for all of the disappointments, all of the bad jokes, all of the Stephen Sommers, there were a few delicious gems that made it all worth it. Plus, I learned some valuable life lessons, such as: talking dogs good, talking guinea pigs bad. Those are words to live by. Well, if you've made it this far, then thanks for reading. I hope you had a good time at the movies over these past four months. Another summer down, many more to go.