Making the cut: summer movie favorites

The Chimes staff reviews some of their favorite summer movies.

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Chimes Staff, Writer

The summer has been filled with busy and lazy days, time at the office and time at the beach. In the midst of it all, seeing at least one movie was made a priority over the past few months. The Chimes staff has reviewed some of their favorites.

“Captain America: The First Avenger”

Sarah Seman, Senior News Editor

Overall: Loved it!

Review: Flash back to a time of cabaret music, red lipstick and pulsing patriotism and you’re ready for the setting of Captain America. Despite being based off of Marvel comic books from the 1940s, this film shies away from the sterile computer animation seen in many superhero movies and instead envelops viewers in authentic human emotions and vivacious colors.

Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four,” “Nanny Diaries”) steps out of his usual role of irresistible charmer to play Steve Rogers, a scrawny boy from Brooklyn. With the help of computer-generated imagery, Evans takes on the appearance of a 98-pound kid who is repeatedly rejected by the army even amidst the turmoil of World War II. Seeing Evans with a chicken-like neck and thinned faced was befuddling-the use of technology was brilliant. Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) decides to recruit Rogers and use him for a government experiment called Project Rebirth.

Because the experiment will cause traits, both physical and mental, to be amplified, Dr. Erskine carefully observes Roger’s bravery, intelligence and humility at boot camp before performing the experiment and creating Captain America. His appearances and weaknesses become backdrop to his desires and actions; an outlook that we should all adopt.

While the American people treat Rogers as a mascot, the Axis powers are being influenced by Nazi Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) who also underwent Project Rebirth many years ago and found that it amplified his more sinister desires. Known as the Red Skull, Schmidt proves to be Captain America’s archenemy. Through an eye-flashing series of explosives, icy mountain zip-lines, airplane jumps, underwater struggles and burning bridges the two forces battle for power.

This film leaves a lasting impression of humanistic struggles and echoes the fact that what starts as a desire of the heart can quickly escalate into a change in our actions. Steve Rogers is not a superhero because of what he becomes, but because he continues to live out who he already is despite the new fame and strength he is given as Captain America.

“Cowboys and Aliens”

Chase Andre, Opinions Editor

Overall: Enjoyed it.

Review: Movie-goers should raise an eyebrow when writers and producers stop finding original titles for their films and instead draw from generic genres. A second eyebrow should be raised when two of those genres so blatantly collide, as was the case in Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens.” Think “Independence Day” meets John Wayne.

Favreau takes the standard elements from each genre as a rule not to be broken, as you are guaranteed to see Indians, a gang of bandits, a holdup and mass abductions. Redemption? Daniel Craig is a convincing lead in chaps and boots, and Harrison Ford offers the film its only dynamic character. Does this wrestle with the deep questions of life in a new and audacious way? Does the film offer out-of-your-seat action or never-before-seen special effects? No. But fans of either genre will write this off as an enjoyable view.

“The Tree of Life”

Chase Andre, Opinions Editor

Overall: Fantastic … if you know what you’re in for.

Review: If you are expecting anything similar to the Brad Pitt or Sean Penn films you have seen before, or really anything you’ve seen before, you won’t find it in Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” In a capsule, the film is a postmodern portrayal of a man peering into his past searching for the threads of faith. There he finds the Law of Grace juxtaposed against the Law of Nature as it weaves through the tapestry of his life. True to its postmodern form, the film deconstructs any attachment to a chronological plot, frequently departs from its characters’ storyline and leaves the viewer with more questions than resolved answers. Nonetheless, “The Tree of Life” has overwhelmingly beautiful cinematography, and a fresh adaptation to seeing matters of faith wrestled with on the big screen.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love”

Elizabeth Sallie, Editor-in-Chief

Overall: Loved it. (No pun intended.)

Review: “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is beautiful. It’s not a romantic comedy in the traditional sense. It doesn’t leave you with butterflies at the end. Instead, it takes a hard look at love and what that looks like in the real world. It concludes that maybe, sometimes, love is not simple. It’s complicated and messy and awkward. Be warned, this provides for a few uncomfortable moments.

These uncomfortable moments are played out perfectly by an all-star cast. Steve Carrell (“The Office”) plays the lead, who recently dumped by his wife, is mentored by a womanizer, played by Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”) to hit on women in bars. Julianne Moore and Emma Stone both do an excellent job portraying women who want real love. Each different moment brings you into the pain of divorce, the emptiness of cheap sex, and the passion of young love. Beautiful cinematography highlights a well-written script that leaves you thinking that though love is crazy and stupid, it’s worth it.

“Super 8”

Job Ang, Print Photo Editor

Overall: It was OK.

Review: The synopsis: classic Spielberg special effects interlaced with J.J. Abrams suspense and injury makes for a solid film. Anyone who has seen “E.T.,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Sandlot,” or “LOST” will find this grand summer flick to be familiar territory. Juxtaposing a sense of wide-eyed wonder into a retro 1960s setting, the filmmakers are able to infuse a whimsical feel to this “War of the Worlds”-esque alien invasion story.

Explosions caused by invisible apparitions, overturned vehicles, and the uncanny understanding between a human child and an alien being will warm the hearts of fans of the previously mentioned classics. The implementation of the classic Super 8mm video camera into the story lends more to the classical feel. While character development is thrown to the wayside in favor of spectacular visual effects, “Super 8” still stands up as one of the better, albeit cheesier, films of the summer.

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