So, that time has come. August has nearly left us, and September is nearly upon us. With that comes the culmination of the summer movie season. I’m your friendly neighborhood movie buff here to count down for you my personal picks for the top five best films of the summer. Before I start, I need to go over a couple things.
First, I have not seen every single film released this summer. This is a hard goal to make for even those who review films for a profession. I’m just a fan who sees them for pleasure. While I am a big fan at that and probably have visited the local cinemas more than a sane person would, I have seen nowhere near every film released this summer. So keep that in mind that while reading.
Also consider…the fact that over half of the list is made up of sequels and a remakes. I will not go too in depth into this (this Gizmodo article does the topic justice) but I did at least want to make note of this. I found it fascinating. Not all of these are bad-they made it onto the list after all. It just goes to show how the market was this year. With that out of the way, let the list commence.
- Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek Beyond was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting that much this, the trailers were underwhelming. How could this Star Trek film, which just looked like a really long episode (a la Star Trek Insurrection) be a good worthy film for the year Star Trek turns fifty? I was going to get it over with and wait for the 2017 TV series. However, I left the theater satisfied. Beyond is a fun and very entertaining entry in the Star Trek canon. It celebrated the series in a subtle way I wasn’t expecting. It was a celebration of the themes of Star Trek, and included nice little nods to the original films, and was not a mess of fan service like the previous film. You can check out my full review here.
- Captain Fantastic
This is the latest R-rated comedy featuring a large family. As someone who really enjoys this genre, I found the film to be a success. The cast was great, Viggo Mortensen does a tremendous job, which is to be expected. The kids are also fantastic, they are all so delightfully weird. There are also some great shots and cinematography. The pacific northwest at the beginning looks gorgeous and the scenes of their bus, (named Steve) traveling are also shot well. The scenes inside the bus are also shot in an interesting way, where you can see Viggo and the seats behind him. It’s not shot from a camera in the mirror, it’s shot from outside the mirror so you can see the mirror and the people. Explaining this is incredibly hard, but that’s why it works well on film, a visual medium. That being said, I did have some problems with the film’s conclusion. I don’t think the main character changed as much as he could have. That being said, this was a beautifully shot film, with a lot of delightful fun.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film receive so much unfair scrutiny before it’s release. I went in with an open mind, and I loved the new Ghostbusters to bits. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s definitely the most fun I had in the cinemas this summer. It takes the spirit of the original, in which four hilarious comedic actors team up to fight ghosts, and simply casts women in the roles instead. It’s simple, but it works. I think too many reboots try to be the same film as the original, but the reason Ghostbusters works so well is because it’s different. The new cast is great! I had trouble choosing a favorite, I loved them all so much. If I had to narrow it down though, Kate McKinnon absolutely steals the show as Holtzmann. She brings so much energy and character to the role. The other three were great as well (though Melissa McCarthy seemed a bit toned down,if I’m nitpicking). Ghostbusters was a load of fun, some of the most fun I’ve had in the theaters in a while. You can read my entire review here.
- Captain America: Civil War
Marvel has shown no sign of stopping with high quality blockbusters. Their latest film, Captain America: Civil War being one of the finest they have done yet. The film has a very tight and well thought out narrative. When doing a movie with this many characters, it has to be planned out like this. I also think that this film is actually better than the arc in the comics because each side has motivations that seem believable. Unlike the book (which, I did like on the whole) where one side is villainized, here Iron Man and Cap’s struggles both make sense. While I would go with Steve in the comic, Tony seems a bit more with it here. He seems to be thinking it out more. The film also has some great action scenes, including the epic airport battle. Spiderman and Black Panther are also both introduced and leave great first impressions. I can’t wait to see both of them expanded upon in future films. Civil War worked on most levels, and isn’t just one of my favorite films of the year, but also one of Marvel’s best films (yet).
- Swiss Army Man
This year has been dominated by an astounding amount of sequels and reboots. Not all were bad- the good ones have mainly been on the list. However, the world is not void of originality, and my top pick, Swiss Army Man proves this to be true. The film is a buddy comedy where a guy stranded on an island befriends a corpse. Their exploits range from being hilarious to touching to strangely profound. Daniel Radcliffe delivers a stand-out performance as a dead body. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, but it’s a testament to Radcliffe’s acting skills that he can do so much with a role where he plays a farting corpse(the corpse farts and drives the action in many ways). Paul Dano, also did a good job as Hank, a paranoid man trapped on the island. The film set itself up for a few endings that wouldn’t have worked at all, but the one it choose was the one that fit best. If you think there are no more original films in the world, look no further than Swiss Army Man.
There you have it. The summer movie season in a nutshell. While we did have many sequels this summer, not all were bad. As for the original films, what we did have was certainly original. The world is not devoid of original ideas, and even some of these sequels and reboots had original ideas with the established properties. It goes without saying that I think these films should be seen. If your local cinema is still playing them, give them a watch. Whether you like superheroes, family comedy, or farting corpses, you’re sure to find something for you.
Image from Flickr user Blondinrikard Fröberg