Summer has ended. At least the summer movie season has ended. September 21st is the actual end of the season but school has started and the theaters will soon be bombarded with filler films of the Fall (before the big push for Oscar season) so I think we can officially say it’s over. With that sad thought here are my Top Five Films of Summer 2013.
Disclaimer: The actual best movie of summer (The Way Way Back) is not on the list because it was included in my Top Five Sam Rockwell Performances list two weeks ago.
The basic qualification for this list is a simple question: Would I pay to see it again?
5. The Lone Ranger, July 3, 2013
This should irritate quite a few people. Before you get angry, I will ask, “Did you see the film?” Apparently I am one of ten people that actually paid to see it. This was the biggest surprise of the summer for me. I didn’t expect anything from it (in fact I expected it to be terrible) and what I got was one of the most entertaining, funny and action-packed experiences of the summer. It was over-the-top, a little weird (in a good way) and simply enjoyable. Most of the hate I have seen has come from those who haven’t watched it. That is one of the most irritating things. How can you say something sucks without seeing it? You never know what you might get from a film and I think The Lone Ranger is a prime example. It is the stuff summer blockbusters are made of. It’s a popcorn-flick thrill ride. I’m not sure I understand why it was doomed from the start. Perhaps audiences these days only relish the things they know (the next three on my list are sequels). Perhaps the original source material has reached the end of its relevance to pop culture. Whatever the reason it is a shame because this film was hilariously entertaining and well worth the price of admission.
4. Despicable Me 2, July 3, 2013
Despicable Me was a charming discovery of 2010. It was unexpected and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I was a bit wary of a sequel. The greatest way to ruin something is to overkill it with sequel after sequel (I will point out this is the first of three sequels on my list). However, the second film matched the charm and originality of the first and even added a bit to it. I don’t believe there was a moment I stopped laughing the entire time. They didn’t overuse the minions but added enough to their storylines and characters to make them different than the last time around. The most important thing is that they didn’t try to remake the original story. Gru, the main character, has developed further from the first film and his motives have changed. The end result is a wholesome family film that is enjoyable for all ages.
3. Kick-Ass 2, August 16, 2013
I will say this straight out. If you didn’t like the first film, then you won’t enjoy this one. The second film does the best it can to carry on the story and do justice to the first. It baffles me that people who don’t enjoy a film (or filmmaker) will continue to see the sequels, expecting something different each time. The point of a sequel is that enough people enjoyed the first so the filmmakers decided to make another. Why would they mess with the formula? Kick-Ass 2 is violent, vulgar and exactly what a fan of the first film, and graphic novel, could ask for. Some new and colorful characters are added and the tone is a bit more serious but it still address the same themes. What would happen to real life superheroes if they ever met real criminals? The answer: a whole lot of bad things.
2. Star Trek Into Darkness, May 16, 2013
I grew up on Star Trek. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an episode of Deep Space Nine, Next Generation, or any of the other later series but I’m pretty sure I was put in front of reruns of the Original Series as soon as I was able to sit up. My parents even joke that had I been a boy I would’ve been named “James Tiberius” Kirkham (my parents have a sick sense of humor). When the first J.J. Abrams film was set to come out, I was more than enthused. Of course, I loved it. It was my favorite film of 2009 (I think I saw it a total of six times in theaters). So, when a sequel was announced, I was both very excited and very nervous. What if this one didn’t live up to my expectations? I had no need to worry. It’s filled with elaborate action sequences, excellent special effects, and even a strong emotional story to give it depth. Very few sequels live up to the original, and even fewer surpass it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Into Darkness is better than Star Trek (it isn’t) but it certainly matched the tone and entertainment value. And, most importantly, it wet our appetites for future Abrams Treks. Really, what more could you ask of such a film?
1. The Conjuring, July 19, 2013
I am a huge horror fan. Some of my favorite films include John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) and I fervently look forward to the newest horror flicks. However, recent horror films have been quite disappointing, so my anticipation of this film was not enthusiastic. That attitude changed the minute the film started. This is one of the scariest things I have ever seen. I literally (and I use that word in its true meaning) only saw half of the film due to the fact that my hands were covering half of my face the entire time. The filmmakers do an excellent job of balancing the parallel stories of the haunting victims and the paranormal experts. Both are uncomplicated, intertwine in the right ways, and have scary things happen. It’s exactly what a horror film should be; a simple idea that relies on the human imagination to induce fear, rather than elaborate computer graphics. This makes the fear more real and intense, and the film so much better.