It is hard to believe but we are coming up to the midpoint of the summer movie season. So, considering the fanfare given Hollywood’s fare for the warmer season, how do the films rate versus expectations thus far?
May started us off with a bombastic bang. Marvel continued its domination of the first weekend of the start of the summer movie season. Where last year The Avengers saw quick success, this year found Iron Man 3 ruling the roost. And it was a great film too -- even landing in our Top 10 of 2013 So Far!
And then... the rest of the month rocked.
In a stroke of counter-programming genius, The Iceman was released. Michael Shannon previewed his uncanny ability to channel evil as he would soon need in Man of Steel... but more on that in June! The true story of a hit man and his 20-year journey was beyond electric and solidified the beginning of May as kicking off the summer in a sizzling manner.
Tyler Perry's Peeples was much better than anything the filmmaker has produced in recent memory and announced Craig Robinson as a comedic star worth watching. As our Peeples review stated, it also showcased the return of a comedy genius in David Alan Grier.
Meanwhile, The Great Gatsby failed to catch fire, but should be given mad credit for being a visual masterpiece. Leonardo DiCaprio was born to play the role and inhabited many of the qualities that would have made author F. Scott Fitzgerald proud. Sure, the movie didn’t quite live up to expectations, but it gets a solid grade for effort.
Star Trek Into Darkness was an honorable mention for our Top 10 Movies of 2013 So Far, and J.J. Abrams' latest journey into space amped up the action and gave us a villain in Benedict Cumberbatch that will surely land him on our Top 10 Villains of 2013 list.
The Hangover Part III took a chance by not involving a "hangover" in its third go-around for The Hangover franchise. And as such, we feel, it scored. There’s something about those three guys -- Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis -- that we could watch them read the phone book with delight. It was a fitting, and ambitious, closing of a comedy trilogy from creator Todd Phillips. Wherever he goes next… we will be there!
Fast and Furious 6 and Epic may have come out on the same weekend, but these two could not have been made for more different audiences. The final weekend in May provided audiences with a wide variety of options, and that was a very good thing. The sixth Fast and Furious movie managed to turn the streets of London into a racing mecca, something not easy to do. And seeing Vin Diesel’s character and Dwayne Johnson’s character on the same team was pure brilliance.
Epic wasn’t for everybody. But, when it came to animated kids' movies, the Blue Sky production house should be proud... as we reported in our Epic review.
Overall, May finished quite strong and deserved a solid B+. June on the other hand…
June was not as kind to audiences as disappointment ruled more than delight. The Internship featured the reuniting of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson after killing it in Wedding Crashers. The film was not raunchy, largely not funny and was more of a morality tale about sticking to your guns in the face of adversity than any comedy starring Vaughn and Wilson has the right to be. Many felt it was even a big budget studio advertisement for Google. They may not be far off.
Ethan Hawke scored with two movies that were back-to-back in release weekends in June, The Purge and Before Midnight. Where the latter was as perfect of a film as one can make, the former was a surprise hit, albeit a film that was largely unbelievable in premise and execution. We enjoyed it and could look past its faults, and felt it deserved a lot of credit for at least giving audiences a unique and never-before-seen idea.
Much Ado About Nothing and The Kings of Summer both came out in small release, but could not have been bigger when it comes to film quality that raises the average for this summer midterm report card.
This Is the End had no business being as good as it was... and that was largely due to the talents of all those involved from writer-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, to the cast that includes Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and an uber-fantastic James Franco -- all playing themselves.
The Rapture has never been so funny and audiences turned out in droves. The fact that a movie that ends the way this one did, garnering buzz for a sequel, speaks volumes to what magic was created when they looked into the camera and felt that This Is the End.
Then, there's Man of Steel. We adored it (as seen in our Man of Steel review), but in hindsight… we may be having a bit of a Superman hangover. The third act is not what it needed to be, but we have to give filmmaker Zack Snyder credit for giving the world a Clark Kent/Superman origins story that felt different, got Lois Lane (Amy Adams) into the action and overall, set up Warner Bros. to give us more Superman. It’s large drop-off in second week box office numbers shows that fans want a Superman movie, just not this one.
World War Z and Monsters University each had monsters in them, but where one was sheer horror, the other was childish humorous delight. Brad Pitt worked so hard on World War Z and it shows on every frame. And Pixar got out of the follow-up doghouse after Cars 2 and produced a prequel with Monsters University that popped off the screen. Was it as good as Monsters, Inc.? Not quite… but still effective.
The final weekend of June finds The Heat and White House Down. And as our reviews stated, the pair didn’t exactly close out the month with the biggest of bangs. White House Down is fun, almost daring its audience not to enjoy it. But, The Heat, where to start? Melissa McCarthy is a comedic gem, but she needs to be careful as she is starting to play the same character over and over -- and Sandra Bullock, why she is just channeling Miss Congeniality… again.
So overall, June deserves a C+ and with May getting a B+… the final grade for the midterm of summer 2013 is… B.