Old franchises breathe life into summer films

Matthew Carroll

The box office may be down yet again this summer, but that does not necessarily mean that Hollywood is doing anything different.

The usual suspects of the summer movie experience were all there: lots of remakes, a couple of sequels, big blockbusters and an R-rated comedy or two. Here’s the long and short of it.

Best Remake

The top honors in this category go to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After the grossly overrated Big Fish, Tim Burton made a wise decision to cast long-time collaborator Johnny Depp as the eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka.

Depp shines in a performance that can best be described as “Fear and Loathing at the Hershey’s factory.” The rest of the cast — headed by Freddie Highmore in the title role — provides equal parts heart and humor, which help to make Charlie one of the summer’s best.

Your take: “One word: acid,” said Chris Brown, sophomore English major.

Best Sequel

OK, Batman Begins is a prequel not a sequel, but either way, it’s still the king. Before Batman was old, over-produced and had nipples on his Batsuit, he was apparently a pretty cool guy, as evidenced by Christian Bale’s (American Psycho) brooding, conflicted portrayal of the Caped Crusader.

Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) is terrifying as Bruce Wayne’s nemesis, Dr. Jonathan Crane (aka: Scarecrow), and veteran actors Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson help bring Batman back to the big screen with a vengeance.

Your take: “It was unexpected. It almost had an indie feel to it,” said Dan Kurak, junior exploratory major.

Best Comedy

Based on the trailer, Wedding Crashers looked mildly amusing at best. In reality, this was far and away the funniest movie of the summer. Vince Vaughn is at the top of his game, Rachel McAdams is charming and Christopher Walken is, well, Christopher Walken.

Sure the ending is a little cutesy, but we all need a little sugar in our diet every now and then. So, while The 40 Year Old Virgin is another must-see flick, Wedding Crashers offers the most giggle for your green.

Your take: “I loved Vince Vaughn. Huge Vince Vaughn fan. Wait, screw Vince Vaughn. Rachel McAdams wins. She made the movie,” said Shelly Wotowiec, sophomore English major.

Best of the Rest

Sky High is a surprisingly smart, entertaining family feature.

War of the Worlds was spectacular eye candy, but the ending left me with that same empty, ripped-off feeling I had after listening to Fall Out Boy the other day.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith had action, sophistication and a little Vince Vaughn humor on the side. That all adds up to the first good movie Angelina Jolie has ever been a part of.

Best Failed Attempt at Making a Watchable Movie

Stealth is the worst example of movie-making since someone decided that Bill and Ted needed a bogus journey. A plane that flies itself and listens to Incubus all day long is not a good starting point for a blockbuster movie.

When you throw in the likes of Jessica Biel and a wholly uninspired Jamie Foxx, you get a movie that makes sandpaper contact lenses sound better by comparison.

Contact ALL correspondent Matthew Carroll at [email protected].