In review: Summer releases

The New Pornographers
Label: Matador
Release Date: May 4
Listen to: “Your Hands (Together)”, “Daughters of Sorrow”

Together opens strong with “Moves” and “Crash Years” which gloriously combine synths, strings and electric guitar in the New Pornographers’ signature style.

Though the album drags along in the middle, it is redeemed by the haunting and melodic “Daughters of Sorrow’”, which showcases Dan Bejar’s often under-represented talent – that said, it can’t be easy to stand out in a group with four lead vocalists.

Neko Case and A.C. Newman shine as always on up-tempo numbers like “Up in the Dark” and “A Bite Out of My Bed”, while Kathryn Calder gets her chance on “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk”.
The album closer “We End Up Together” presents stunning harmonies and the band’s trademark instrumental crescendos.

Overall, Together offers a more vibrant and cohesive collection of songs than 2007’s Challengers, though it doesn’t quite match the glory of 2005’s Twin Cinema. Nevertheless, the more you listen, the catchier Together gets.
–Sarah Murphy

Iron Man 2
Directed by: John Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date: May 7

Despite the massive line-ups for midnight showings, a star-studded cast and box office success, the much-anticipated sequel to 2008’s Iron Man fails to live up to the hype.
Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke deliver exceptional performances as each other’s battling archrivals.

The film’s special effects keep the audience entertained throughout, although over-the-top ideas in the sequel seem to detract from the quality of the first movie.

New concepts are introduced without adequate explanation, leaving the viewer confused.

Explosive fight scenes and dry, sarcastic humour keep the audience interested, but overall, Iron Man 2 is quite disappointing.

The one thing saving this movie from complete failure? Robert Downey Jr. is an attractive man.
–Meaghan Walford

Letters to Juliet
Directed by: Gary Winick
Release Date: May 14
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gael García Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave

Letters to Juliet tells the story of a journalist vacationing in Italy who meets the Secretaries to Juliet – a group of women perpetuating the myth of Romeo and Juliet by answering thousands of letters addressed to Shakespeare’s tragic heroine. Inspired by a letter she reads chronicling the romance of Verona, Juliet embarks on an adventure to reunite lovers that have been separated for 50 years.

Although Gary Winick’s story is fictional, the film is based on an exquisite book of the same name by Lise and Ceil Friedman, which explores the history of Juliet and her link to modern Verona.

Rife with clichéd references to Shakespeare’s play and the hallmarks of romantic comedies, the movie ends in a predictable happily-ever-after scenario that stretches even one’s most tenuous grasp on reality. Relying heavily on the typical chick-flick formula, Letters to Juliet leaves viewers unsatisfied and fails to extend beyond the boundaries of a standard date night movie.
–Elizabeth Bate

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage
Release Date: April 16

If you’re looking for a light-hearted, summer movie with a random appearance by an incredibly creepy Nicolas Cage, then Kick-Ass is the movie for you.

In his breakthrough performance, Aaron Johnson stars as a high school student who is tired of the way things in his world seem to be. By wearing a wet suit and a ridiculous looking mask, he decides to become a super hero and fight local crime. From broken bones and a brief hospital stay, to teaming up with a partner and out of control weapons, Kick-Ass keeps you laughing all the way through.

Although gratuitous fight scenes cause the film to drag near the end, this can be over looked since the kids are just so damn funny. Add a little psychotic Nicolas Cage and you’ve got yourself a movie that will make you laugh right into the summer season.
–Meaghan Walford

Clash of the Titans
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Release Date: April 2, 2010
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson

In the 2010 remake of 1981’s Clash of the Titans, the demigod Perseus (played by Avatar’s Sam Worthington) embarks on a journey to save the city of Argos from the wrath of Hades (Ralph Fiennes who played Voldemort in the Harry Potter series) and the rest of the underworld. After his family falls victim to the collateral damage of Hades, revenge is the motivation driving Perseus along with the help of Argos’ soldiers and fellow demigod Lo.

Liam Neeson successfully portrays Zeus as the mighty god of Olympus and promiscuous shape-shifter. The special effects are impressive and the 3D lends itself well to the mystical elements in the movie. With a new portrayal of Medusa, and a wide array of other villainous creatures, this movie is well worth checking out.
–Deanna Sims