2009 Summer Movie Winners and Losers (Mania.com)
Date: Wednesday, September 02, 2009
There are two sides to every story: black and white, yin and yang, heads and tails and all that jazz. In the epic struggle that was the summer of 2009, the cosmic scales of karma and justice found an awkward balance. For every winner, there was a loser and Mania.com is here to provide you with a recap of this summer’s biggest battles.
1. Terminator: Salvation Vs. Star Trek
The first bout on our card features a couple of last ditch efforts to jumpstart a franchise that has seen better days. In the case of Star Trek, the funeral services had already been held and the body had been dissected for science. Terminator, on the other hand, still had a light pulse, with a recently-cancelled television series and a less-than-stellar final outing a few years back. Two sci-fi franchises on life support duke it out on the undercard.
The clear cut winner in this battle was Star Trek. Lauded by fans and critics alike, it breathed new life into Gene Roddenberry’s vision and ensured that the U.S.S. Enterprise will continue to keep on boldly going for at least a few more years. We saw a sleek new look and an honorable homage to the old continuity. Terminator, on the other hand, was panned by critics and ended up at the local dollar theater faster than you could say “Come with me if you want to live.” Not even Batman could save this predictable and one-dimensional flop.
The Winner: Star Trek by pinfall
2. Land of the Lost Vs. The Hangover
Our second matchup features a ring general taking on one of the young lions of the sport as Will Ferrell attempts another old TV show revival with Land of the Lost. The challenger: a fresh faced up-and-comer known as The Hangover!
With a bloated budget of $100 million, LOTL apparently didn’t do any training and ran out of steam… hell, it never really had any to begin with. The film opened at just over $18 million and barely made back half of its budget. Reviews were terrible at best and Will Ferrell proved that his schtick is as over the hill as the dinosaurs he grappled with in the film.
The Hangover, on the other hand, came out swinging. With a budget of only $35 million, it was the underdog success story of the summer. Utilizing skills such as a talented cast and actual humor, this film used strong buzz and positive word of mouth to become the Rocky Balboa of Summer 2K9, proving that a semi-retarded man falling down and yelling a lot does not equal comedy.
The Winner: The Hangover by TKO
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine vs. Harry Potter
Two of the most anticipated flicks of the summer went toe-to-toe in our next fight. Both were sequels in popular franchises and both came with their fair share of controversy.
Wolverine was the fourth film in the X-Men franchise and an early cut leaked onto the interwebs shortly before the film premiered. Word of mouth was negative and Fox quickly assured us that the film fans downloaded illegally wasn’t the final cut. Turned out it didn’t matter much, as the movie didn’t exactly live up to the high standard set by the first three X-Movies… or any standards, for that matter. Hugh Jackman’s performance as the adamantium-infused mutant was the only high point in a film filled with pointless cameos and lackluster effects.
Harry Potter fans were outraged when the film, originally set to be released in November of 2008, was pushed back to July 2009 in order to guarantee the studio a major blockbuster. They must not have been too bothered though, as the film broke records for the biggest midnight gross of all-time as biggest five-day gross. It went on to become the highest grossing film of 2009. It appears that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
The Winner: Harry Potter via submission.
4. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra vs. Inglorious Basterds
Both featured soldiers fighting against an evil so vile, it can scarcely be described. One was based on a beloved toy line, the other: a spaghetti-western inspired World War II film.
Quentin Tarantino’s epic Inglorious Basterds felt like the movie the director was born to make, with every scene and every line of dialogue absolutely perfect and filled with homage to the films he loves and has been inspired by. Every performance was top-notch and Christoph Waltz earned himself a well-deserved Best Actor award at Cannes. This is a perfect example of how to turn an action film into art.
G.I. Joe, on the other hand, felt like it was cobbled together from leftover pieces of other summer films found on the cutting room floor with incomprehensible dialogue and performances more wooden than the toy soldiers that inspired the original G.I. Joe oh so long ago. If Channing Tatum doesn’t win a Razzie for his performance as Duke, then something is definitely wrong with the world.
The Winner: Basterds via pinfall. And let’s hope the Joes make it out of the arena with their scalps intact!
5. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen vs. District 9
The combatants in our main event are both interstellar travelers trapped on a world they never made. It’s a two-out-of-three falls steel cage match pitting the robots in disguise against the prawns of District 9. Would the reigning heavyweight champion of summer blockbusters be able to stand up against the technical savvy of the upstart young lion?
In terms of ticket sales, Transformers was the clear-cut winner, trouncing all competitors with the exception of everyone’s favorite boy wizard. District 9’s ticket sales are nothing to scoff at, but nowhere near the record-breaking numbers Transformers have done over the course of the summer. In terms of respect… well, that’s another matter.
District 9 has been almost unanimously praised, with critics raving about the film’s intelligent story, social commentary and analogies to the apartheid system enforced by South Africa from 1948 to 1994. Transformers on the other hand is one of the worst-reviewed movies of all time and featured lowbrow humor, a couple of robots straight out of a minstrel show and plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon. D9 featured a return to the thinking man’s sci-fi of the 1970s, but with kick-ass action and special effects. Transformers played the “What did you expect, Shakespeare?” card and caused moviegoers eyeballs to bleed with over two hours of mind-numbing special effects and battle scenes that were so big and expensive they actually tipped the scales into the negative. Familiar with the phrase “So bad it’s good?” The effects in Transformers were so bloated and overdone that they actually became boring. Another fight scene? Ho-hum.
The Winner: In the end, this matchup brings to mind that timeless tale of the ultimate underdog: the aforementioned Rocky Balboa. After an intense battle, The Transformers walked away with the championship belt, but District 9 walked out with pride and dignity intact. We’ll leave it up to the reader to decide the real winner of this battle, but one thing is for sure: it isn’t the folks who spent their hard earned money on the crapfest that was Revenge of the Fallen.