I have to admit it. This summer was filled with a number of lackluster movies for me. I’ve become bored by summer blockbusters that don’t provide anything new or interesting to the usual formula. Because of that, we skipped several of the big tent pictures that most people would assume we would see. At the same time, the ones we did see, generally left me unimpressed and wishing I’d spent the time binge watching something on Netflix instead. I’m honestly shocked that this was apparently the second best summer for box office numbers. But there were a few standouts this summer, so here are the top movies I actually enjoyed.
Please note that I’ve had to count April as “summer” just so I could get four for my list.
I had no expectations for Ant-Man, which could be why I enjoyed it so much opposed to Age of Ultron. Paul Rudd is a charismatic actor, but a movie needs more than that to keep me entertained for two hours. Luckily Ant-Man is full of humor, sight gags and interesting action sequences. Even all the CGI didn’t bother me like it did in Ultron because Paul Rudd’s face was covered. I adored Scott’s relationship with his daughter, his grudgingness to do the wrong thing in order to do what was right and the training sequences. The only thing this movie could have done better was not force the romance between Scott and Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne at the end of the film, which felt forced and unearned. Not every superhero needs to romance his badass leading lady, guys.
Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation
The dialogue is this movie is so stupid and Tom Cruise lacks any depth whatsoever, but this movie is still fun. The stunts are amazing and the scenery is gorgeous. Though I have to admit that this film makes the list because of Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, who not only can hold her own in a fight, but also takes off her unreasonably high heels before running, climbing or fighting someone. Practicality in a femme fatale is rare and I appreciate it so much. Simon Pegg is delightful as always and Alec Baldwin did some nice scenery chewing too. This thing isn’t going to win any awards, but I didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it either.
Pitch Perfect 2
It’s not as good as the first one, and it’s has some seriously problematic stereotypes it leans on for jokes, but I still laughed. The music is great and I imagine the re-watchability of this one will be nearly as high as the original. I have no idea how they’re going to shoe horn a third movie into the series, but I’ll go see it just for more of Anna Kendrick’s Beca being an awkwardly amazing badass.
Technically it came out in April, but it has been one of the most enjoyable films we’ve seen this year. It’s a quiet, creepy little drama about a boy, his robot and the boy he uses to test his robot until it all falls apart in the end. All the performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are nuanced and subtle, words rarely used with summer films. This film made me think, kept me captivated and gave me the creeps all at the same time. It really deserved more attention than it received.
The Biggest Disappointment: Age of Ultron
I have a hard time putting my issues with Age of Ultron in words that haven’t been said a million times over. It had way too much crammed into a short amount of time. Subplots of Clint and Natasha to “humanize” them left me cold and often annoyed. Thor’s jaunt into a random supernatural hot tub made absolutely no sense. The twins were little more than cyphers of supernatural abilities. It felt like something tying it all together was curled up on the cutting room floor, and I just left the theatre sad that I didn’t love it like Winter Solider or Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe after a rewatch, it’ll sit with me better, but this was the first sign to me that the Marvel Universe had gotten too big and too unwieldy to cram all into one movie.
Other big disappointments could have been Mad Max: Fury Road or Jurassic World, but I had no expectations for those and being incredible bored (or car sick in the case of Fury Road) was unsurprising.
Looking through the movies that came out the last few months, the only one I didn’t see but could have possibly rounded out this list to a full five would have been Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I think it looked too YA drama for Fernando to go with me, and it was only playing at our local indie theatre for two or three weeks. I look forward to seeing it when it comes out on DVD.
I’m hoping that this fall and winter will bring far more films worth my time and money. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian and Mockingjay Part 2 still to come later this year, perhaps there will be some more blockbusters worth my time before the year is out. What films did you enjoy this summer and which ones are you looking forward to this fall? Share in the comments!