The Big Winners and Losers of Summer 2012

By  · Published on September 1st, 2012

All in all, this was a decent summer. There were plenty of highs and lows, with zero grand achievements for either sides of that scale. We could argue endlessly about what movies lived up to the hype or which ones totally blew it, but where’s the fun in having that conversation for the thousandth time over twitter? What we all should be discussing is the important stuff, like, how sad Damon Lindelof’s Twitter feed could get this summer or how many ounces of man sweat we think Matthew McConaughey shed in Magic Mike?

These are the real topics worthy of discussion, ’cause who cares why Vickers didn’t run a few feet to the right to easily save her life in Prometheus? Or how on earth Batman survived that nuclear blast when we clearly saw him in The Bat before the blast? These are details we all need to let go of. What you all really need to know is who came out as the winners and losers of this summer season, and I’m here to tell you who.

The Losers

Damon Lindelof’s Twitter Feed

“No, no, that’s not a plot hole, that’s ambiguity!”

Writer Lindelof took a well-known lashing for the finale of LOST. It can’t be easy to constant hear smack talked about your passion project on a daily basis, especially when you just want to tweet about how bad you thought January Jones was in X-Men: First Class. So years later, Prometheus comes along, making some of the harsher reactions to the LOST finale come off as kind. Whether you like Lindelof’s “open-ended” stories or not, you can’t deny there’s no way some of these tweets Lindelof received didn’t hurt…

If those tweets aren’t critical enough, it must be even sadder when Tyler Perry of all people criticizes your pretty damn cool movie.

That Dark Knight Rises Script

Bruce Wayne pondering why he’s barely the star of his own movie.

What a mess. From a thematic standpoint to structure, The Dark Knight Rises was more bloated than epic: too many side characters who aren’t half as interesting as the lead they took screen time away from, the jumps in logic, and the two “romances” which further proved Nolan doesn’t have much interest in female characters. Nolan and the cast brought their A-game, but they just happened to forget a script to bring along with them.

The Non-Ending of The Bourne Legacy

Renner and Weisz trying to find a proper ending.

As Neil Miller said, The Bourne Legacy “ just fizzles out and ends. That Moby song comes along, the credits roll and that’s it. There’s no closure to the story, no big climactic moment of heroism. Something is being held back. This isn’t just a fourth film in an action franchise, it’s an act of desperation by a studio in need of a franchise.” Unfortunately, The Bourne Legacy seemed more interested in providing an ending one or two movies down the line. That third act goes so big, that it’s baffling that the movie ended on, “Well, I guess that’s it? I don’t know, but we’ll find out in the next film!”

Seth Grahame-Smith’s Genre-Mashing Tricks Fail

“I freed the slaves, and none of you came to see my movie.”

A lot of stock was being put into Seth Grahame-Smith, with two films in one summer, a few adaptations of his work being developed, and a rumored Beetlejuice 2. But after the bombing of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Dark Shadows, apparently not a whole lot of people are interested in Grahame-Smith’s B-movie sensibility. Dark Shadows wasn’t a summer movie and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter barely qualified as an actual movie.

Man’s Man Tommy Lee Jones Gets Scared

“One more word about Al Gore and I will shoot you.”

That poor, poor man. Whenever I saw an interview with TJ, I wanted to give the ‘ol guy a hug; he always looked miserable. With having to discuss Men in Black III and Hope Springs, the man took a serious beating. If you see the interview with Jones on The View ‐ where he’s asked about being roommates with Al Gore, a topic he’s apparently not fond of discussing over and over again ‐ if you stare deep down into his eyes, you can see the heartache he’s going through.

Is that a real smile or the face of a man dying slowly on the inside?

Scratch that, now here’s the face of a man dying slowly on the inside.

The Winners

Joss Whedon as Blockbuster Director


As fun as Serenity is, it’s not particularly cinematic. There’s a TV-quality to it, and that’s what many worried about when it came to Joss Whedon taking on a project as massive and precious as The Avengers. Whedon, as proven by that billion or so dollars the movie made, showed his appeal and directing chops go beyond the small screen. There was a scope and sense of fun to The Avengers sorely lacking in its competition this summer, most notably in two mopey superhero movies…

The Hulk Stops Grabbing Tissues, Starts Throwing Punches

Sad Hulk is sad.

Speaking of mopey superheroes, Bruce Banner/The Hulk was certainly stuck in that mold for the past few years. As good as Edward Norton and Eric Bana were as the titular character, there wasn’t much charm to either of their portrayals of Bruce Banner and seeing the Hulk destroy everything in his path. Mark Ruffalo and Whedon made Bruce that awkward goof with the right amount of torment, rather than a guy who’d kill himself in frame one of a popcorn movie about a guy who turns big and green.

Not only that, it was the first time The Hulk felt like a character, not an uncanny-valley CG effect.

Arnold Is Old, But the Good Kind of Old

No caption necessary.

Even though Arnold Schwarzenegger never really got physical in The Expendables 2, the film and that wonderful trailer for The Last Stand showed Arnold’s still got whatever it is he’s got. Even in the briefest of appearances this summer, the actor showed why he’s always been a step above the Stallones, Norrises, and Van Dammes of the world. Arnold knows he’s funny, and he doesn’t have to violently nudge anyone to let them know why. When asked how he’s feeling in The Last Stand trailer, Arnold responds “old.” What the former Governor keeps in mind is that “old” doesn’t mean “outdated,” something The Expendables films forget.

This Summer Got Violent

Violence really can be adorable.

With John Hillcoat’s effortlessly fun Lawless, Oliver Stone’s brutally cool Savages, Ridley Scott’s (kind of) horrific return to sci-fi, and auteur filmmaker Simon West’s movie about old folks’ home residents turn towards violence, this was a good time for R-rated movies. There’s usually a sore lack of real blood and guts during this time of year, so it was rather pleasant seeing some non-bloodless kills every once in a while. If you want brutal, those movies could brought it, from alien abortions to decapitations to Van Damme punches.

Male Strippers and Bicyclists Are Cool Again

Can you hear the money?

Bike-messengering and male stripping aren’t exactly the most cinematic jobs, at least that’s what society wanted us to think pre-summer 2012. Director Steven Soderbergh showed us the ins and outs of the male show men world, while David Koepp declared himself only director with nostalgia for bicyclists. Premium Rush and Magic Mike ended up being two of the welcomed surprises of the summer, mainly because of Soderbergh’s and Koepp’s undying love for strippers and lawbreakers.

Funny Voices

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Tom Hardy and Michael Shannon weren’t afraid to let loose with their oddball mannerisms with their respected villains. Those two men demolished the most scenery this summer, and it showed in those quirky voices. There’s something scary about Michael Shannon letting out a child-like giggle and talking in a high-pitched voice to express his frustration. All he has to do is talk in that movie to make you laugh. As Kate Erbland said, if you thought you loved Michael Shannon before, wait until you see him in Premium Rush.

Matthew McConaughey Gets Sleazy…and Sweaty


With Bernie, Magic Mike, and Killer Joe, the movie star left behind trying to be that likable cool surfer dude image McConaughey played up the past few years and decided to get ugly. While all three of his characters we saw him play these past few months had their own type of charm, he let them run wild in their sleaze (Bernie), greed (Magic Mike), and nihilistic (Killer Joe) tendencies. This was the summer of McConaughey, and he proudly earned it by what he put Gina Gershon through and with all those glares and sweat he mustered up for Magic Mike.

What were your favorite moments of the summer?

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Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.