It’s that time again, time to look at the blockbuster’s of summer and allow me to give you an indie alternative to watch during these warm weather months. Last month we looked at sequels that abandoned anything fresh or new. This month I’m going to delve less into a theme and more into genres we’re going to look at a super hero actioner, a video game adventure, and comedy road movie. I said it last month and I’m going to say it again, there is nothing wrong with the films I recommending alternatives to, but I want to give the underdogs, the indie wizkids, and the classics a little love during the season of special effects and spectacle.
This month we start with a genre that has owned summer blockbuster cinema over the past seven years, and that’s the big budget superhero films. Marvel’s Ant-Man does appear to be something different for Marvel, very similar to Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of last summer, but when you really take a look it’s still just another piece in Marvel’s quest for multimedia dominance. The best way to fight a superhero film is to reach out to the people who love them, find the people who wish they were superheros and give them a hero to root for, with that in mind I bring you James Gunn’s twisted, dark, and funny 2010 release Super, starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, and Kevin Bacon. Super is the story of one man whose irritation with people mistreating other people pushes him to taking matters into his own hands as The Crimson Bolt. The film is rated R for language and violence, something you won’t usually find in mainstream superhero cinema, but also has a great deal of heart. Ellen Page is electric, and psychotic, as the comic store clerk who forces her way into being The Crimson Bolt’s sidekick Boltie, and has some of the most uncomfortable scenes you’ll ever watch in a superhero film. Kevin Bacon plays a drug cartel boss who cares so little about consequence and other people you can’t wait for him to get his in the end. So while Marvel takes another step towards it’s Hollywood domination with Ant-Man seek out the awkward indie step-child that is Super.
For our next alternative let’s look at video games, a lot of us loved video games growing up, we spent hours playing Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Super Mario, it’s that nostalgia Chris Columbus and Adam Sandler are hoping to tap in to with Pixels, a film where alien invaders take the form of video game characters from our youth to try to conquer the Earth. While this film has potential to be entertaining I personally think it has more potential to infuriate with a complete disregard of all the things we once loved about video games. So instead of risking that annoyance how about we look at a film that reminds us what it was like to love those video games with The Wizard. Starring Fred Savage, Luke Edwards, and Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley fame) as three kids taking a cross-country trek to compete in the ultimate video game championship. With a supporting cast that includes Beau Bridges, Christian Slater, and the Nintendo Power Glove this film truly rings of late 1980’s nostalgia. The final game in the competition being the debut of Super Mario Bros 3 will bring me back to my childhood every time. Why watch a film where our beloved video game characters are attacking us, when you can watch one little boy excel in playing them.
Finally this month I look at a once great genre, the road comedy. In it’s prime in the 80’s we were introduced to such great bumbling travellers as Del Griffith and Neal Page from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Pee Wee Herman in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Jake and Elwood Blues in the Blues Brothers, and of course the Griswolds from the National Lampoon’s Vacation series. Now this month we’re given a semi-sequel, semi-reboot, of the National Lamppon original simply called Vacation, starring Ed Helms and Christina Applegate as Rusty Griswold (the son from the original series) and his wife Debbie as they try to recreate his family vacation from his childhood with their now tech obsessed children. Why watch that when you can simply watch the original, a true classic from 1983 starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angleo, and Anthony Michael Hall as the original Rusty Griswold. The mishaps they endure are classic and to this day hold up better than any gags in the new version’s trailer. With appearances from Randy Quaid, John Candy, and Christie Brinkley this was a vacation that made every kid want to go to Wally World. So skip the “update” because the original still holds up.
So there you have it my three indie alternatives for July. I’ll be back in August to close out the summer with more incredible indie options, until then keep watching great film.