Science Fiction Double Feature...

Okay, so technically, only one of the two movies I saw today was science fiction, but how could I resist that title?

Usually, my goal for any given year is to see at least twelve movies in theaters, or one every month. Until today, I was woefully behind, having only seen two movies so far in 2012. This sorry state of affair has partially been due to being consumed with moving and settling in for the first three months of the year, but also partially because there haven't been that many movies this year so far that I was interested in seeing. Now that we're nearly fully settled into our new home, and summer movie season already seems to be in full swing, I have no excuses on either front, so today I thought I would kill two birds with one stone.

Though most of my movie watching comes in the form of date nights these days, there are still old family habits and traditions that are worth keeping. For instance, for most of my life I've seen superhero movies with my dad, as they are by and large the only action movies I really enjoy, and Dad has had a thing for superheros ever since he was into comic books as a boy. With a spate of superhero movies coming out this summer, I left Justin and Dad to decide how to divide my time, and they settled on an arrangement by which I'd see The Avengers with Dad, and The Amazing Spiderman with Justin. I have no idea what I'll do about The Dark Knight Rises, other than than go with both of them at the same time, or see it twice.

I also wanted to see Men In Black 3 with my mom, since I had seen the previous two films with her when I was in middle and high school (I'm officially old now, and I knew she was interested in rounding out the trilogy. Since yesterday was technically her actual birthday, even though we celebrated it last weekend, today seemed like an appropriate time to come spend time with her, and since I'd already be up in the burbs at the movie theater, I figured I'd scratch The Avengers off my list as well.

Even though neither film could be considered a cinematic masterpiece, both were perfectly entertaining summer blockbusters, with dynamite special effects. The Men In Black franchise may have been more exciting when I was younger, when computer generated special effects were more impressive than they are now that they're ubiquitous. There were plenty of funny moments, though the time travel premise was a little much for me to swallow. It felt at times that the writers of the screenplay hadn't ever picked up a history book. In 1969, Will Smith gets pulled over for driving while black, but then not more than 30 minutes later, we're supposed to believe that his long-lost father was a high ranking military official in charge of the Apollo 11 launch? I don't think so.

Still,  Josh Brolin was perfectly cast as a young Tommy Lee Jones. He was so convincing, you'd think he was his real-life son. Will Smith seems to be gaining gravitas with age, so his jokes weren't quite as funny as they were ten years ago, but he still delivered an acceptable performance. Nobody really acted their heart out, or delivered any particularly memorable lines, but it wasn't really that kind of movie.

Much was the same with The Avengers. Though Joss Whedon should be commended for making a movie that managed to balance an ensemble cast made of characters that have all starred in their own films, none of the individual superheros particularly stood out. Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man was full of sass, as usual, and Captain America came off as predictably self-righteous. The Hulk may have actually gotten the best lines of the bunch, including a scene where he tosses Loki, the villain, around like a rag doll. I wasn't really expecting much from Black Widow or Hawkeye, and I wasn't disappointed, but I would have preferred to have seen better usage of Thor, as I actually enjoyed his eponymous film quite a bit, even if it was ridiculous at times.

I don't think The Avengers was the end-all, be-all superhero movie that it was hyped to be, but it certainly provided a solidly entertaining experience for a summer afternoon. The special effects were breathtaking, and the action was balanced with a perfect amount of humor. I'm going to hold out for The Dark Knight Rises to be blown away by a summer blockbuster, since the grittier, darker style of that franchise suits me better. My tastes will always lean towards the moody, Academy Award fodder that is released during the winter months, but until then, I will do my best not to fall too behind on my annual quota of Hollywood releases.

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