Summer at the movies: Take what you can get
By ROBERT McCUNE
For The DGKN
Movie buffs finally had a blockbuster summer – or at least a bit of one – on the silver screen. The spectacle of summer action flicks, if you ask me, really only belongs in the cineplex. Streaming at home just doesn’t compare to being in a theater, surrounded by and swathed in the cinematic experience.
Still, it’s been something of a slow burn to bring back the movies.
Theaters have had to contend with the aforementioned streamers – the HBO Maxes, the Disney Pluses – for such tepid titles as “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and (the better-late-than-never?) “Black Widow.”
Meanwhile, many of the most-anticipated summer epics continue to sit on the shelf, to be rolled out unseasonably later this year and into next, when movie execs believe the big crowds will be ready again to gather safely.
These still-delayed movies include a league of superheroes – including Marvel Cinematic Universe phase four entries such as “Eternals,” and, believe it or not, another “Batman” reimagining.
We’re also still waiting on a new “Ghostbusters” – this one, “Afterlife,” temptingly featuring much of the original 1984 cast – and a new “Top Gun.”
With other remakes and sequels stirring up nostalgia – including “The Matrix 4,” “Dune,” more “Mission Impossible” and more James Bond – theatergoers are likely to feel a little whiplash, and not just from the bright lights
from the projector booth.
But while we wait for the better blockbusters, there are a few good appetizers to sample on the big screen.
“Free Guy,” starring Ryan Reynolds (of “Deadpool”) looks fun – and a little like a mashup of “Wreck It Ralph,” “The Lego Movie” and that old 1990s gem “The Truman Show,” in which Jim Carrey portrays a nice guy coming to terms with the fact that his life has been one big TV show.
Families likely have enjoyed the ride of “Jungle Cruise,” the latest Disney theme park ride-turned live-action movie.
I actually had a good time watching “Black Widow” in a theater. Sure, it doesn’t move the needle much in the grand MCU, and anyone who’s kept up with the Avengers isn’t likely to be kept in suspense. But it’s a Marvel movie – no doubt – and it had been a while since I’d been treated to that particular flavor of spectacle in a theater. And that was fun.
Another comic-book caper, on the rival DC side, director James Gunn’s reimagining of “The Suicide Squad” does an admirable job of washing from our movie brains the terribly botched 2016 version. Replacing Will Smith as Deadshot with Idris Elba as Bloodsport, and Killer Croc with the much more endearing King Shark, this “Suicide Squad” is much more fun and colorful, ala Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn – just about the only redeemable part of the first attempt.
The premise remains – apparently short on superheroes, a black-ops government agency turns to the particular skills of some imprisoned villains, who are forced to do some hero work or literally lose their heads via the skull-implanted explosives.
When you can’t get the big capes, you settle for what you can get.
And this crew is inherently more expendable, while lower-rent.
Much like the summer movie roster so far.
Robert McCune watches a lot of movies and sometimes writes about them for The Dalton Gazette and Kidron News.