I guess I should qualify the title of this post with “…That I Saw” because there are a lot of movies that came out this summer that I just haven’t seen. It would be impossible to see all the movies that come out any given week and, to be honest, I wouldn’t want to anyway. I mean, really, Shark Night 3D? Who thought that was a good idea?
Which is all my long winded way to say that movies a lot of people like aren’t on this list, such as The Help. I haven’t seen it nor do I plan to see it. Perhaps I will eventually see it through Netflix one day when I’m bored, but it’s not exactly my sort of movie. Other movies off the top of my head that I haven’t seen that were sort of big: Horrible Bosses, The Hangover Part 2, Bridesmaids, Transformers: Watch More Things Blow Up, Crazy Stupid Love. Then there are the smaller art house films that I haven’t seen that I would probably like such as Beginners or Brighton Rock.
What I did see: just about any movie that involved a comic book character with the exception of Priest. I’m pretty sure no one saw that movie. I also saw a lot of movies involving aliens. I’ve determined this is the year of the alien, but that’s a post for another Random Tuesday. Overall though, it was a pretty sucky summer for movies, particularly of the “geek” genre. It seems to happen every other year and 2011 just happened to be one of those off years. Next year will come back and beat me in the face with a new Batman movie and so many other things that very few films of this summer could live up to (fingers crossed).
For the sake of this countdown, I’m considering any movie that came out beginning May 1 through September 2 to be a “summer” movie. So here are my top 5 favorite movies from summer 2011.
5. X-Men First Class
This just barely edged out Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and if that movie had been titled something less stupid like just Rise of the Apes, it probably would have been my number five instead. X-Men First Class is not a great movie; I even hesitate to say it’s a good movie. With that said, it was leaps and bounds better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Jennifer Lawrence’s take on Mystique, every scene involving January Jones and the fact that the only African-American character is the first to blow up bothered me, but I loved the 1960s setting and above all I love James McAvoy. His take on Professor Xavier made me happy even if his screaming “I can’t feel my legs!” at the end made me laugh at how on-the-nose it was. McAvoy and Michael Fassbender saved what would have otherwise been a bit of a mess. Magneto’s backstory? More of that please, less of the baby mutant house party. Oh, and the kid from Skins! He should be in more things, preferably playing a science geek, because he makes me smile too.
4. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows Part 2
I generally have issues with the Harry Potter films, but that’s mostly because I’m a curmudgeon that prefers the books and takes my annoyance out on the films. I felt this volume was too rushed, too much crammed into not enough time. Watched back to back with Volume 1, I think you might get whiplash at the complete turn in tone, mood and plotting. With all that said, Daniel Radcliffe has grown into a fantastic actor and pulled off the action well even if I still find he’s over the top during the more overtly emotional scenes. I thought this was a fitting end, but I didn’t feel like the effects of the story at hand – the deaths, the destruction – really got enough room to breathe and therefore didn't matter as much as they did in the book.
3. Fright Night
I loved this movie. I didn’t think I would, but then I did. Yes, it’s mostly because David Tennant made me giggle like a fool, but I thought the story was tight, the pacing was great and Anton Yelchin was perfectly cast. To see more of my thoughts on Fright Night, see my review here.
For the last two, I’m having a really hard time choosing which one I loved more. Despite a similar premise, they were two completely different movies. One was sweet, captivating and a throwback to 80s adventure movies and the other was grungy, violent and brilliant. That’s why I have a tie for number 1. Based on the movies I saw this summer, the two best were:
1. Super 8 and Attack the Block
For the first time in a long time, I saw a movie and not once thought “Hmm, I wonder how much longer until this is over” or “Hmm, I wonder what we’re going to eat after this” or even just “Hey, that guy is hot”. Super 8 pulled me in from the beginning and never let go until the credits rolled. It felt like the Goonies but with an alien. Not once did the kid actors become annoying and the lead, Joel Courtney, made me want him to play the kid in every movie I see involving a child actor from here on out. His performance was understated yet heartbreaking. Not once did I feel like he was anyone other than Joe. Yes, JJ Abrahms still has an obsession with lens flare and it seemed even more out of place here than it did in Star Trek, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the film. If you haven’t seen this, rent it now. It was all the good things of family-friend adventure movies of the 80s without the bad special effects and bad haircuts (which is odd because it takes place in 1979, but whatevs).
And on the opposite end of the alien spectrum, we have Attack the Block, a low budget, gritty film about British street thugs fighting an alien invasion. While some of the teens in this movie did become annoying, that was sort of the point. The aliens were ridiculous and creepy and un-like anything I’ve seen. The story went in directions I didn’t see coming. There was comedy and gore and brilliant dialogue, even if I could only follow half the slang. There’s even a layer of social commentary stuck in between the running and the fireworks. Not to mention that John Boyega, who plays head street tough Moses, carried the entire film away on his shoulders. If you have not seen this film, go now. For a bit more about Attack the Block, you can see our review here.