This summer was one of the most anticipated in movie history, thanks largely to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. But quite a few other blockbusters debuted this summer. Here’s my take on each of the films, along with links to my original reviews, if I did one. These are only the big-budget blockbuster films, so even though films like Ted, Brave and The Campaign did big numbers, I’m not including them.
The first block-buster of the year was one of the all-time best. Joss Whedon masterfully created a film that was the culmination of five years of planning and films, and he did not disappoint. Nearly every aspect of The Avengers was pitch-perfect. The characters were better in Whedon’s team-up than they are in their own films. It’s a perfect comic book movie.
Oh, and Hulk Smash.
Verdict: If you haven’t seen this by now, you must live on the moon. Go see it at the second run theater. It’s worth it on the big screen. You’ll buy it on DVD/BluRay too. Trust me.
Battleship came out the weekend after Avengers. Either because everyone was still going to see The Avengers or because Battleship is based on a board game, no one saw it. The film’s dismal boxoffice performance killed any chance of a sequel.
Thank God. This film was horrible. Yes, the visuals were great. But the story was awful. It was almost hilarious how hard they worked to incorporate all the game elements into the film. The dialogue was horrendous. And the story was just stupid. Not only did I not care about any of the characters, but the blatant, forced patriotism felt wholly manipulated, not earned at all.
Verdict: Skip it. Spend 90 minutes playing the game. You’ll have way more fun.
Men In Black III
If you’ve seen Men in Black, you’ve seen the sequels. Neither II nor III really tried to break any new ground. This movie was fine for what it was. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one, just not quite as much. It was nice to see Will Smith back to being sassy, and Josh Brolin’s Tommy Lee Jones impersonation was inspired. The monsters looked great. What else do you want from an MiB sequel?
Verdict: A fine movie, but wait for it to show up on Netflix.
Another film that was visually stunning but didn’t quite deliver in the story department. Chris Hemsworth was great as the Huntsman (good enough to get his own spin-off). Charlize Theron was amazing as the Evil Queen – the film’s worth watching for her alone. But Kristen Stewart was so dull in comparison it was hard to root for her. While the story adapted most of the fairy tale’s essential elements cleverly, the Prince Charming character was a total waste.
Verdict: Definitely worth seeing, but probably only once. Save it for a rainy day.
Once Ridley Scott finally admitted Prometheus was a sort-of prequel to Alien, we all freaked. And even The Dark Knight Rises hasn’t sown as much dissension as this film. Somehow, Prometheus managed to ask some big questions – Why are we here? What is God like? – without sacrificing horror.
The debate is over whether the film actually answers any of the questions it raises. And while that’s going to be kicked back and forth until the inevitable sequel comes out, these are quibbles you have after the film is finished. Watching it is a fun, furious, terrifying ride.
Verdict: Watch this film. On the big screen and in 3D if possible. It’s great, and you’ll have fun arguing about it later.
I wanted this film to be better than it was. Unfortunately, the script went for spectacle over story, sacrificing most of what made the book so good. It’s not the worst film of the summer, but it could’ve been an instant classic. Instead it’s just okay.
Verdict: Wait for Netflix. And read the book first.
This film could’ve been a lot worse – the first of Rami’s Spider-man films only came out 10 years ago. But overall, it turned out not half-bad. Andrew Garfield is a great Peter Parker, and he ‘s still learning his lessons. Emma Stone was an excellent Gwen Stacey. The villain was okay. And we probably didn’t need to see the origin story again. But overall, it’s worth seeing, and I hope they get the kinks worked out before the sequel.
Verdict: There’re going to be two more of these, so you might as well see this one. It’s not too bad, though far from the best film of the summer.
Not only the best film of the summer, but easily one of best conclusions to the best trilogy of all time. Was it too audacious? Not for Batman. Did every single beat work? Maybe not. But Bane is terrifying. Blake rules. And hope rises.
Seriously, this film works on just about every level. And it’s got way more to chew on than any of the other summer films (possibly save Prometheus). The evil is real and profound. Bruce’s Hero’s Journey is amazing. The redemption of Catwoman is incredible. It’s a modern marvel of storytelling.
Verdict: Go see it. Then see it again. And again. And again. An epic masterpiece.
A remake that didn’t need to happen. As Matt Singer put it in the Slashfilm podcast, instead of remaking the wacky, mind-bending spirit of the original film, Total Recall remade the individual beats. So a bunch of stuff happened for no good reason other than Arnold did it in 1990. But at least it looked really cool when it did.
Verdict: Worth seeing for the visuals, but try not to think about what could have been.
I had high hopes for this film – I liked the Bourne films just fine, and I am a huge fan of Jeremy Renner. But this film was slow. It played essentially like a bridge between the original trilogy and the fall of the CIA. By the time the film was over, I was excited to see what happens next. But I just didn’t have that much fun during this one.
Verdict: Surprisingly slow. Wait to see if they make anymore, then catch it on DVD.
I haven’t gotten to see this one yet, but from everything I hear, it’s just terrific summer fun.