Well, Labor Day has now come and gone, and, with it, the summer movie season. Kind of went out with a whimper, didn't it? A One Direction concert film (This Is Us) and the worst reviewed movie of the summer (Getaway)? That's it?!!! No wonder I went to see The World's End again. But, even before that, the summer movie season was limping to its conclusion. The last big film we had was back in July with The Wolverine. Other than maybe Elysium, there were no event movies in August. It's almost as if the studios just gave up. Given their output in the earlier months, however, maybe they were wise to do so.
Quality studio films were a rarity this summer, while indie films soared. One bad buzz tentpole bombed (The Lone Ranger), while the other prevailed (World War Z). Some films did poorly in the U.S., but proved to be big hits internationally (After Earth, Pacific Rim). And, curiously/stupidly, after months without any animated films, the studios released five major kid pics all within weeks of each other. That worked out fine for the first two (Monsters University, Despicable Me 2), but not so good for the latter three (Turbo, Smurfs 2, Planes).
I've seen them all (or most of 'em anyway), and there's plenty more to discuss. So, in true yearbook-style, let's deal out superlatives for the summer class of movies 2013.
First, my April predictions for the Top 10 highest grossing movies of summer:
- Man of Steel (projected gross: $400 million)
- Star Trek Into Darkness (projected gross: $350 million)
- Iron Man 3 (projected gross: $330 million)
- Fast & Furious 6 (projected gross: $280 million)
- Monsters University (projected gross: $250 million)
- Despicable Me 2 (projected gross: $240 million)
- The Hangover Part III (projected gross: $200 million)
- The Wolverine (projected gross: $180 million)
- The Heat (projected gross: $160 million)
- Pacific Rim (projected gross: $150 million)
Your actual top 10 (grosses as of 9/2):
- Iron Man 3 ($408 million)
- Despicable Me 2 ($355 million)
- Man of Steel ($290 million)
- Monsters University ($260 million)
- Fast & Furious 6 ($238 million)
- Star Trek Into Darkness ($228 million)
- World War Z ($200 million)
- The Heat ($157 million)
- The Great Gatsby ($144 million)
- The Conjuring ($134 million)
Looks like I got 7 out of the 10. I'm particularly pleased with my The Heat prediction, which many others didn't call and which I pretty much nailed. I think I let my enthusiasm for Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness get the better of me - turns out the two I wanted to see most may not have been on everyone's list. I also underestimated the appeal of Minions.
The big surprises here are the ones I missed. World War Z - I still can't believe it overcame all that bad buzz and problematic production to become a genuine blockbuster with sequel potential. The Great Gatsby came out on what is typically one of the worst weekends of summer (2nd weekend in May), but overcame that stigma thanks to fantastic marketing on the part of Warner Bros. That trailer killed. Plus, Leo and Baz Luhrmann are a must-see combo. And, kudos to James Wan and The Conjuring. That movie was original, scary, and just plain great. It will be interesting to see what Wan does with the Fast & Furious franchise next summer.
Now, let's see how I did with my predictions for the 6 biggest bombs:
- RED 2 - yup
- R.I.P.D. - yup
- The Lone Ranger - yup
- The Internship - yup
- After Earth - yup
- 300: Rise of an Empire - moved to March '14
BEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER: The World's End. The first (and only) 5-star movie of the year.
BEST SEQUEL: Star Trek Into Darkness. Fanboys complained (too noisy! too much like Wrath of Khan!), but J.J. knows how to stage (and pace) a blockbuster spectacle like nobody else. I saw it 5 times in theaters.
WORST SEQUEL: Grown Ups 2. Make that worst movie of the year. Period. An abomination.
BEST INDIE: Fruitvale Station. Powerful, haunting, wonderfully acted. Important.
RUNNER-UP: The Spectacular Now. Teen romance done right.
BEST PERFORMANCE: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine. She just owns that movie. One of Woody's better efforts.
RUNNER-UP: Sam Rockwell, The Way, Way Back. Somebody nominate this man! Please!
WORST PERFORMANCE: Jodie Foster, Elysium. That accent. That cadence. I couldn't even focus when she was on screen. Razzie bad.
BEST REVIEWED (studio): Star Trek Into Darkness, with 87% on rottentomatoes.com
BEST REVIEWED (indie): Before Midnight, with 98%
WORST REVIEWED: the aforementioned Getaway, with 2%
MOVIES I REGRET MISSING: Blackfish, Frances Ha
MOVIES I REGRET SEEING: R.I.P.D., The Purge
THE MAGIC IS GONE: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn "crashing" the system in The Internship.
RUNNER-UP: The Hangover Part III. A shadow of its former self.
BEST ANIMATED MOVIE: Monsters University. Sweet, charming prequel - a return to form of sorts for Pixar.
BEST SURPRISE: 2 Guns. Denzel and Wahlberg have a lot of fun in this clever, 90s-style action comedy.
RUNNER-UP: We're the Millers. A come-from-nowhere comedy hit that's really funny no matter what the critics say.
MOST DISAPPOINTING: Man of Steel. The trailer was so amazing. The movie was so...Transformers.
1st RUNNER-UP: Only God Forgives. This is no Drive. There's a reason it went straight to On Demand.
2nd RUNNER-UP: Elysium. It's no District 9.
MOST SPOILER-ISH TRAILER(s): Fast & Furious 6. Every money shot from the film was spoiled by the time it came out.
BEST END CREDITS STINGER: Fast & Furious 6. The series ties back in to Tokyo Drift, while introducing Jason Statham as the new villain. Awesome sauce.
BEST SOUNDTRACK: The Great Gatsby. Can Jay-Z produce every soundtrack? Love that Lana Del Rey song that plays for half the movie.
MOST UNNECESSARY: RED 2. Seriously, who wanted this? Raise your hand.
BIGGEST GEEKGASM: Pacific Rim. The human characters suck, but the monster/robot clashes are truly something to behold.
MOST OVERRATED: Before Midnight. Don't get me wrong. It's good. Sometimes really good. But, what is going on with Julie Delpy's character? She cray cray. Fails to reach the heights of its predecessor, Before Sunset.
BEST GENRE: Apocalyptic comedies. Between The World's End and This Is The End, comedy audiences had it pretty good this summer.
SAME PLOT: Planes and Turbo. Seriously - they're the exact same movie!
JUST DO WHAT WE LIKE: Will Smith, After Earth. We want cocky, funny Will. Not muted, solemn Will.
STOP DOING WHAT WE LIKE: Johnny Depp, The Lone Ranger. Just stop. Remember when Depp tried to act? Me neither.
And, finally - here's the ranking of all the movies I saw this summer (with star rating included):
- The World's End (*****)
- Fruitvale Station (****1/2)
- Star Trek Into Darkness (****1/2)
- 2 Guns (****)
- The Spectacular Now (****)
- Monsters University (****)
- Pacific Rim (***1/2)
- We're the Millers (***1/2)
- This Is The End (***1/2)
- The Conjuring (***1/2)
- The Way, Way Back (***1/2)
- In a World (***1/2)
- Iron Man 3 (***1/2)
- Blue Jasmine (***1/2)
- Before Midnight (***1/2)
- The Bling Ring (***1/2)
- Fast & Furious 6 (***)
- Man of Steel (***)
- The Heat (***)
- You're Next (***)
- Now You See Me (***)
- The Wolverine (***)
- Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (***)
- V/H/S 2 (***)
- Lee Daniels' The Butler (***)
- Despicable Me 2 (***)
- Turbo (***)
- Kick-Ass 2 (**1/2)
- The Great Gatsby (**1/2)
- RED 2 (**1/2)
- World War Z (**1/2)
- Elysium (**1/2)
- The To Do List (**1/2)
- After Earth (**1/2)
- White House Down (**)
- Drinking Buddies (**)
- Ain't Them Bodies Saints (**)
- Epic (**)
- The Hangover Part III (**)
- I Declare War (**)
- Planes (**)
- Only God Forgives (*1/2)
- The Internship (*1/2)
- The Lone Ranger (*1/2)
- The Purge (*)
- R.I.P.D. (*)
- Grown Ups 2 (*)
What are your thoughts on Summer Movie Season 2013? Faves? Disappointments? Chime in on the comments section below...
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