NEWS

Nick Rogers: Kid flicks take top ’08 honors so far

Nick Rogers

At the midway mark of 2008 movies, animated robots and pandas, a titanium-clad superhero, a massive monster and cannibalistic punks with Mohawks find themselves the year’s top 5 so far. Yep, even the guy behind that opinion thinks that’s weird. (Although “Doomsday” — coming to DVD later this month — truly is one of the year’s wildest rides ... and with a Frankie Goes to Hollywood song to boot.)

Maybe it’s not a shocker to find the wondrous “WALL-E” in that mix, but “Kung Fu Panda’s” unexpected poise and patience proves how great a year 2008 has been for children’s films. (On a live-action front, “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” like “Zathura,” offered a thrilling throwback to the 1980s style of fantasy films.)

It’s also been a great year for escapist fantasies with subtext — the nightmarish “Cloverfield,” the military complex commentary of “Iron Man,” even the man-out-of-time elements of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Multiplexes also have hosted several sturdy romantic comedies, coincidentally all from Universal — “Leatherheads,” “Definitely, Maybe” and “Baby Mama.”

Notice that Universal’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” isn’t on that list. It’s an early contender for the year’s most overrated film. It barely had more shape than “Strange Wilderness,” an Adam Sandler-produced comedy that’s a strong contender for the decade’s worst film.

Sadly, it’s easier to pick out this year’s dregs: the clueless and hopelessly boring “10,000 B.C.”; “Vantage Point” ramming a gimmick into the ground before its idiotic conclusion; “Get Smart” obliterating the valiant efforts of star Steve Carell; nasty, bland and boring action in “Street Kings” and “Jumper”; the creative bankruptcy of the bank shots in “Semi-Pro,” yet another Will Ferrell sports comedy; and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” an interminable, bloated sequel.

Nick Rogers can be reached at (217) 747-9587 or nick.rogers@sj-r.com. Read his blog at blogs.sj-r.com/unpaintedhuffhines.