Our month devoted to YA adaptations continues as we discuss 2008’s infamous vampire romance TWILIGHT, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Watch as a grown-ass man over 100-years-old seduces an emotionally-stunted high school girl! Swoon as he obsessively follows her everywhere and watches her sleep! Your heart will skip a beat as she destroys every other healthy relationship in her life to please this hunky monster! To say the messaging in this film is troubling–especially in 2019–is an understatement, although we’re not entirely convinced author Stephanie Meyer was even self-aware enough to understand what the hell she was writing. Hardwicke, on the other hand, has no such excuse for her ridiculous filmmaking flourishes. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that co-host Luke thinks this is one of the greatest films of all time. Team Jacob!!
SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?! is devoting the month of August to Young Adult adaptations, and we’re kicking things off by tackling one of the biggest: 2012’s THE HUNGER GAMES, directed by Gary Ross and based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a dystopian future where the wealthy and powerful rule the working class through violence and intimidation (oh, wait…), underdog heroine Jennifer Lawrence will participate in the annual titular event, where tweens and teenagers are forced to fight to the death. Will our dead-eyed protagonist make it to the end? Or will she get distracted by a love triangle that forces her to choose between a little boy who decorates cakes and Liam Hemsworth? Meanwhile, a supporting cast of veteran actors auditions for RuPaul’s Drag Race, while viewers everywhere wonder why they’re not just watching CATCHING FIRE again.
On this week’s episode, we take our first foray into the Jame Bond canon as we tackle 1989’s much-maligned LICENSE TO KILL, directed by John Glen. Timothy Dalton stars as the 007 agent, and this time, it’s personal, as he seeks revenge against the drug czar who left his best friend for dead after torturing him with a shark. We are not making this up. And here we thought this was supposed to be the gritty one. Throw in a diamond-sporting iguana, killer maggots, ninjas, an impossibly baby-faced Benicio Del Toro, and Wayne Newton as a lecherous television evangelist, and what you have could be one of the greatest films ever made. Well, we sure like it, anyway.
It’s Triple Lindy time, baby, as we take on 1986’s collegiate comedy BACK TO SCHOOL, directed by Alan Metter. Rodney Dangerfield stars as a boorish but lovable business tycoon who enrolls in college to bond with his son and finally get the higher education he denied himself as a teenager. Wild and wacky shenanigans naturally ensue. Some even involve Kurt Vonnegut. What the man doesn’t find, though, is some damn respect from our co-host Luke, and frankly, the rest of us are appalled. The man is an institution!
This week, SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?! reveals their softer side as we take on 2003’s romantic comedy DOWN WITH LOVE, directed by Peyton Reed. An homage to the screwball comedies of yesteryear, Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor show off their flair for both verbal and physical comedy, which inspires both of our co-hosts to go into complete film nerd mode. Seriously, the degree to which Luke geeks out is borderline unsettling, although the biggest argument erupts over whether or not Mr. McGregor possesses that ever-elusive “edge.” Things get ugly.
This week, we head to the movie theater to check out the latest divisive thriller from Ari Aster, 2019’s MIDSOMMAR. The writer-director of HEREDITARY returns with more artsy horror, as a group of grad students heads to a small Swedish village for its annual mid-summer festival and discovers all sorts of bizarre and violent shenanigans. Grief, feminism, toxic masculinity, dance competitions, inbred oracles–all are present and accounted for, although whether they cohere into something substantial is certainly up for debate. The discussion gets heated. WARNING! THIS EPISODE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR MIDSOMMAR!!
Christian Bale Month comes to an end this week here on SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?!, so we decided to go out with a roar as we take on 2002’s dragon epic REIGN OF FIRE, directed by Rob Bowman. Bale and Matthew McConaughey butt heads as two alpha males desperately trying to survive in a dragon-ravaged England. How the dragons got there, or if they’ve always existed, or just their entire damn history–no one involved in this production could even be bothered to address these most basic questions, resulting in a frustrating viewing experience. Needed more swing dancing Nazis, that’s all we’re saying.
This week, Christian Bale Month continues as we tackle 1993’s WWII-era tale SWING KIDS, directed by Thomas Carter. In 1939 Berlin, Bale and Robert Sean Leonard play best friends who rebel against the Nazi uprising the only way they know how: by swing dancing! And while we would like to report that this film is as bonkers as that synopsis might imply, it actually plays more like a semi-interesting Wikipedia footnote brutally stretched to feature length–although it’s hard to fully hate any movie that repeatedly features the phrase, “Swing Heil!” Yeah, you read that correctly.
Christian Bale Month continues this week as we’re talkin’ about 2000’s SHAFT, directed by John Singleton–you damn right! Samuel L. Jackson stars as the titular hero, a smooth-talking police detective who delivers his own special brand of justice when an overprivileged and racist trust fund baby (Bale) commits a hate crime on the streets of New York City. The only thing he can’t defeat, though, is a script that crosses the blaxploitation elements of the ’70’s original with what basically amounts to a Very Special Episode of Law & Order. But we sure do love Jeffrey Wright in this movie. Somebody give the man an Oscar!
June is Bale Month here at SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?!, where we tackle a few of the films of the talented–and temperamental–Christian Bale. First up is 1992’s NEWSIES, directed by Kenny Ortega, the heart-warming Disney musical about the 1899 Newsboys’ Strike in New York City. Nothing screams ‘uplift’ quite like watching a group of orphans sing and dance about child labor laws and unionization, although an even more impressive feat of tap dancing is listening to co-host Luke defend this trainwreck. His love of this film knows no bounds, and frankly, it frightens us. Not as much as Bale’s ‘Santa Fe’ number here, but a close second.