Just in case anyone's keeping score, here's my current rankings of the summer blockbusters, so far, starting from the least interesting and working our way up in quality & enjoyment:
The Chronicles of Riddick
Surprised? So am I. I had such high hopes for Riddick, but, in the end, it was alot of sound & fury, signifying nothing. That fabulous cast and the absolutely amazing production design and, honestly, a story I really like. But there's a big difference between a good story and a good screenplay. Lord knows this movie could have been a lot slimmer, and a lot punchier. I also think the action scenes are overdirected (two much camera movement and fast cutting), so that you can't actually get a sense of just how much danger the characters you care about are in. I'm actually pretty tired of movies that say that their main character is evil, but they're really just kind of bad-ass (i.e. Mel Gibson in "Payback"). Riddick would have been so much better if he really was a stone-cold sociopathic mass murderer, who just happens to be such a monster that he actually brings down an empire. So much more interesting, although it does have an extremely cool ending.
3. The Day After Tomorrow
This only gets a higher notch because of the sheer absence of suck-i-tude. But the absence of wackness does NOT equal goodness. It's definitely fun, but thin as paper. And pretty contrived. It's a nice little piece of speculative sci-fi, but the science is EXTREMELY suspect. But, in my continuing quest to elevate B list actors that I love, I'm totally digging Kenneth Welsh's transformation from homicidal ex-FBI occultist Windom Earle in Twin Peaks to a thinly veiled knock-off of Dick Cheney in this movie. Plus, the effects are awesome. And the killer cold snap is pretty f'n cool. And, as a fan of Dennis Quaid's since Dreamscape, I'm glad to see him finally cashing in as a leading man.
LOVED the costume design (somebody PLEASE give Bob Ringwood an Oscar for this!). Loved the battle scenes. LOVED the fact that this movie really captures just how much of a punk-ass bi-otch Orlando Bloom's Paris is. LOVED the Hector/Achilles duel. And Peter O'Toole made my day. But, alas, they do muck with the history a bit much for my tastes, and they really overplayed their hand with the whole "quest for immortality" thing. Pretty good, but not as good as...
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Surpised? Me too. I only really got interested in it based off the the great reviews and my love of Alfonso Cuaron's work on Y Tu Mama Tambien. But I'm SO glad I saw this film. So much fun. Even when the action was a little slow, there was always something interesting on screen that kept me riveted. It's amazing the difference a director can make. He had such a granular sense of detail in his depiction of Hogwarts, it felt like a real place, and not just a special effect on display. I usually hate scenes like the one where Harry rides the Hippogiff (kind of an eagle-horse) over a vast forest and nearby lake, but it was absolutely (dare I say it) magical. I'm so bummed they're getting a new director. Hopefully, he'll be back for the 5th film.
Shrek 2? Not my cup o' joe. Van Helsing? Not worth my time or money.
Hot on my list for the rest of the summer?
The Bourne Supremacy
The Manchurian Candidate