4 Movies You Should Rent or Stream and My Favorite Summer Movie

Former Movie Theaters
This is why I buy lots of movie concession stand food and patronize local theaters. This “Surf Mall” in Ocean City, NJ was once a movie theater. (Okay, I really love Sour Patch Kids too… and Twizzlers… and popcorn… so it’s not exactly a hardship).

While I was in the midst of edits for Dark Light of Day and finishing up the second Noon Onyx book, I was in a massive dry spell of movie viewing. So the minute I handed in that second book I went on a movie watching binge. I rented them at home and tried to see as many as I could in the theater this summer. (I have a feeling another dry spell is approaching! ;-))

So the “reviews” that follow are really just my thoughts on a bunch of movies that I had fun watching. If any of you saw them too and want to discuss, please tell me your thoughts in the comments. If you saw other ones that are worth seeing, let me know! If you disagree with my thoughts, let me know! Half the fun of watching movies is comparing notes after. So here they are in no particular order:

Secret World of Arrietty

Watched this with my kids. Simply adored it. When I was a kid, I loved reading The Littles. This movie reminded me a bit of those stories, but possibly even better. Why? Well, for one, I am a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. He did the screenplay. (He was also the director for these fantastic movies:  Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and Ponyo, as well as many others). I also loved the relationship between the two main characters, which was sweet and touching. And I loved how some of the scenes in the movie celebrated nature.

Are you a Hayao Miyazaki fan? If so, what’s your favorite movie of his?

First Position

This is a terrific documentary that focuses on the lives of six ballet dancers ranging in age from nine to nineteen as they prepare to compete in one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. It is an inside look at the life of those who dedicate themselves to this discipline, showing both the good and bad. Usually I watch documentaries in pieces as I do stuff around my house, but the whole family watched this one start to finish one Friday night. It was compelling and gave us something meaty to discuss. My oldest was fascinated by the dancers’ talent and dedication, but I’m honestly not sure I could put my kid through that kind of rigorous life. There’s a fine line between pushing and supporting.

If you or your child had that kind of talent, how would you handle it?

Giant Mechanical Man

I would put this movie squarely in the “quirky romance” category, which I love. The characters were fantastic, especially the title character Tim, who performs as a giant mechanical man because he feels like “modern life can be alienating. It can be like you’re mindlessly walking through it, like a robot.” And he wanted people to know that they aren’t crazy. That they’re not alone. So he created an alter ego, this silver-painted, stilts-wearing street performer. Jenna Fischer (of The Office fame) plays the other main character, Janice, who’s down on her luck and living with her sister. Topher Grace’s portrayal of a massively self-centered, egotistical author was funny too.

Do you like quirky romances? What are some of your favorites?

John Carter

I have to admit, the poor reviews had me staying away at first. But then Katy Hulme, the Storytelling Nomad, said how much she liked it, so I figured I should at least give it a try. While John Carter may not be my favorite movie of the year, I enjoyed it and was glad I watched it. For anyone who likes science fiction or fantasy, you should give it a go. Watch with an open mind. I would *love* to hear other people’s thoughts on this, but my take on why it didn’t do better is (1) it was set on Mars. The story seems a little too fantastical for Mars these days (A Princess of Mars, the story upon which the movie was based, was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early twentieth century); and (2) its title was confusing. Unlike Spiderman or Tarzan, the name “John Carter” isn’t immediately recognizable outside of the SF/F fan community.

Did you see John Carter? What did you think? Why do you think the movie wasn’t more successful?

Summer Blockbusters

At the beginning of the summer season, I predicted the movie I would love the most was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Self-prognosticating usually doesn’t go as well for me, but I’m happy to report that, after seeing all of the “big ones,” Prometheus was indeed my favorite. Why? Hmm… I guess because, one, I loved Noomi Rapace’s character (man, was she fierce or what?! And yet vulnerable too. My favorite type of heroine.) Two, I LOVE movies that combine big special effects and awesome SF/F settings with a little mind-bending “what if?” I like movies that entertain, but also allow you to think. Prometheus was also a fantastic action movie, with a little mysticism thrown in for good measure. How could it not be my favorite movie of the summer?

Which SF/F films have made you think and, if so, what about?

Forget about The Endless Summer. Don’t we all just want endless popcorn… and endless movies? Thankfully, Oscar season is just around the corner! 😀

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

16 thoughts on “4 Movies You Should Rent or Stream and My Favorite Summer Movie

  1. Thanks Jill. To truly appreciate what went on with John Carter at Disney you will have to read Michael D Sellers upcoming expose novel “John Carter and the Gods Of Hollywood “. See http://www.the johncarterfiles.com

  2. John Carter was a great movie,but requires more than one viewing to be truly appreciated. Disney never appreciated what a classic it had and just wanted a tax loss. The marketing was non existent for a 100 year old classic. The movie has one of the best endings of all movies…. think Ghost or even Gone with the Wind. Shock and overwhelming emotion ! It deserves the trilogy that was originally planned.

    1. Hi Chris– Funny you should mention the ending. I thought it was great too. (I admit I haven’t read the original work that John Carter was based on so I was pleasantly surprised with how the bookend plot turned out). Thanks for the comment!

  3. Jill, I didn’t see any of the movies you listed. With that in mind, I’d have to say the best movie of the summer was a toss up between the Avengers and Batman. Both were the culmination of prior movies and thus had quite a bit of backstory to them.
    On the topic of John Carter, I agree that if you’re going to change the title of a movie, it should be to a better one, not one that gives no hint to the type of movie it is.

    1. I’ll be interested to see what you think of John Carter. I think you would like it, but either way, would love to hear your thoughts. Have a great week! Thanks for the comment.

  4. Hello Jill,

    Like you I too stayed away from “John Carter” though a lover of fantasy and Science Fiction. And like you I was confused about the title because I was familiar with a Princess from Mars and not JC. But I was bored one night and I rented the movie and did enjoyed the movie for what it was – entertaining and a sweet love story, not to mention the special effects were amazing. I think that what people forget is that Edgar Rice Burroughs was ahead of his time for actually thinking and creating these fantasy worlds and types of creatures. Though H.G. Wells was around during his lifetime too and did his own creative stories which are very much alive today, as in War of the Worlds, who can forget the 1950s classic? Why it failed, who knows. Humans are such fickle creatures.

    1. Hi Lina, thanks for this thoughtful comment. Your last bit about humans being fickle made me chuckle. Too true. My husband had 2005 War of the Worlds on the other night and I tuned in for some of it again (how can you not?!) It was the part where they were all hanging out in the basement with Tim Robbins’ character. He was great in that, as was Dakota Fanning. Gotta love it!

      Have a great week!

      1. Thanks, Jill. That was not a bad version. Again the special effects were great. Tom Cruise not bad to the eyes no matter how zany he gets. Divorce is a very sad thing especially when children are involved. Anyway, it is interesting because that is the one scene in the movie I do not like because Tom’s character had to kill him in order to make it safe for himself and child. Too real if you ask me. I always forward that scene. You have a great week too.

  5. I liked John Carter a lot. As much as Spider Man, for example. Yes, sad that it did so badly. We went because a friend’s son was one of the writers. Okay–to qualify, the beginning was kind of slow. Same was true for Spider Man as well.

    1. Hi Rebecca, I loved this summer’s Spidey reboot. I thought it would be too early for it but — like a good plague movie — a well done superhero movie will always get the thumbs up from me! 😀

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I’ve never heard of the first three movies listed. I love watching movies, but nowadays I rent more often than go out for them.Tonight I may go to a showing of an indie film that some friends of mine filmed. It’s won lots of attention (and prizes) at film festivals. It should be fun since I know some of the actors.

    1. Hi Brinda, hope you had fun last night if you ended up going to the show. If you see this reply, let us know what the name of the film is. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Me and my sons absolutely love Miyazaki. It’s hard to choose a favorite. It’s a tie between Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Did you catch the Totoro in Toy Story 3. He was a toy in Bonnie’s room. We were psyched to see him there. John Lassiter is a huge Miyazaki fan!

    1. I didn’t know that about John Lassiter and missed the Totoro in Toy Story 3 (another wonderful movie, although I can’t imagine anyone not having seen that yet!) I haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro. Your comment reminded me to put it in my Netflix queue. Thanks for visiting, Casey!

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