Saturday, July 08, 2006

Finally a fun summer tentpole

Though I hate to think of myself as a curmudgeon, I have to admit that it's rare I can drop any critical stance and just have fun at a summer tentpole. Whether it's "Superman Returns," "M:I:3," "Spider-Man 2," or any of the "X-Men" films, I always end up thinking they're just not very good movies and I don't enjoy myself much.

The only summer tentpole I thoroughly enjoyed last year was "Batman Begins," but virtually everyone with any intelligence admits that that was a just plain excellent movie, regardless of its big budget and franchise aspirations.

Many people say I don't know how to just have fun at the movies, but I really don't think that's true. I'll have fun if the movie is fun, and not so actively bad that I can't ignore the faults.

I also honestly think that a lot of summer movies actually aren't much fun because they don't have enough action. Look at "Superman Returns" or "X-Men: the Last Stand" or "M:I:3" or "Fantastic Four." Those movies actually only have 2 or 3 set pieces each. Unless you have a great plot, that simply isn't enough.

That's why I'm very happy to report that I had a lot of fun at "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Yes, the plot is unnecessarily convoluted and at at least one point, doesn't make any sense. And no, it is not about anything at all besides characters trying to get stuff they want. But the set pieces are frequent and spectacular, the performances are all great (with one notable exception who has become a star despite a total lack of talent), the score is rousing, the effects impressive, and the characters are set up to play off each other really well. I particularly appreciated that the protagonists don't get along and are often at cross-purposes. That's unusual for a studio tentpole (especially from Disney) and made the movie even better.

So yes, I like fun summer movies. When they're fun. And "Pirates" is. I should note that Alicia didn't enjoy it, even though she loved the first one. But then she thought "Superman" was perfectly fine. I should probably dump her.

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