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Film: Summertime and the Corn was High

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES November 2015 online

summertime drawing by Henry P. Raleigh

Eighty-six films rolled out over the summer. Eighty-six boggles the mind and sprinkled throughout were the familiar super-heroes, teens in trouble, video game adaptations, aging yuppies in mid-life crisis, re-dos in all shapes and sizes, even reaching back into TV’s ancient history for inspiration - all very much like last summer to think of it. May started off with a big one- “Avengers-Age of Ultron”, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor up against Ultron, a genocidal artificial intelligence and an annoying smart-kid know-it-all who was designed to consume all human knowledge and then stick it to us- every teen’s dream. There was more to come- summers are for barbecues and, of course, watching California go down in another 9.0 earthquake in “San Andreas,” topped off with a re-make of “Poltergeist”, a Thelma and Louise rip-off and well, why not? - another “Mad Max-Fury Road.”

Cinematic pace and invention never let up in June with screaming and dodging flying pteranodons in “Jurassic World” - The fourth in the series and barely distinguishable from its predecessors-still who cares? It’s the action that counts at the box office. “Insidious-Chapter 3” came up a third try-maybe there should be a three strike rule in film as in baseball. For fans of Mark Wahlberg and talking stuffed bears there was “Ted 2”; “Entourage” was back after the HBO series ended four years ago. “Me and Earl and the dying girl” may have sounded like a title for a light comedy unless you thought a teenage girl and leukemia were amusing. Something for everyone.

July started off with a super-hero tribute to very small things. “Ant-Man” without a spectacular weapon to his name was thrown up against yellow jacket and his fearsome plasma canon. It was a stretch but hell anything goes in the summer time. “Ant-Man” bedazzles his opponent by suddenly turning- you can guess- ant size, and you know how hard it is to deal, mano a mano, with an ant. The shrinkage so increases the little fellow’s density that you can’t even step on him without seriously damaging your foot. The rest of the month gave us a break in the never ending action excitement with a passel of light weight B’s- “Pixels” with Adam Sandler, a new generation of Griswolds heading for Wally World, Channing Tatum sans shirt and other naked dudes in a “Magic Mike XXL” sequel, Tom Cruise squeezing out one more in the “Mission Impossible” franchise and the venerable Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator Genisys”- the old boys were back again. It all wound up with something vaguely resembling James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan adding in Hugh Jackman as villainous Blackbeard and a whole bunch of natives who explode into powered pigments. And so on to August.

OK summer couldn’t end without at least one movie re-do. This one goes back to the 1960’s- television’s “Man from Uncle.” How many can remember Napoleon Solo Illya Kuryakin? “2 for Zacharials” was the obligatory post- apocalyptic end of almost everything save for this film and the “Diary of a Teenage Girl” and sex. The “Fantastic Four” the third also in the series and like others went for the “origin” story- you know, how did they ever get so fantastic? Well now, it was just another one of those pesky inter dimensional travel experiment that went awry into Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, The Thing and the Invisible Woman. Those last were suspiciously close relatives to the Hulk and the Black Widow from May’s super hero crowd. This mix-up probably occurs when there is such an overabundance of super heroes bumping into one another between filming. “Sleeping with Other People” and “People, Places, Things” ended August as an offering to the post-graduate thirty-ish gang movies, totally devoid of super heroes and other things of interest.

Little notice was taken at the publishing of the summer movie listing but advanced hype had begun for next year’s super-extravaganzas - “Batman vs. Superman” March 25, 2016, and “Star Wars- a new reason to hope.” December of this year- a trailer had already been making the rounds. This may seem a mean-spirited undercutting of the of those super freaks readying for their summer’s launch on the other hand maybe that was a way of saying, hang in there, folks, it’s going to get better.

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