Abhijeet Singh ‘15
As the onset of fall is fastly approaching, it seems time to look back at the summer movie season of 2013.
Amazing Spider-Man 2
This year, the first Hollywood blockbuster to grace the summer theater screen was The Amazing Spider-Man 2. While it featured the classic formula for a box office hit— a sequel brandishing a well-recognized brand name and teasing numerous action-packed sequences, it fell short both critically and commercially. The reasons are in ample measure. The fatigue from Spiderman, who had been a part of five films, including an unnecessary reboot, since 2000, was beginning to show. Moreover, the overuse of villains, which was reminiscent of Spiderman 3’s woes in 2007, created a convoluted plot that was scant on character development. Additionally, the narrative often seemed unfocused and seemed more concentrated on setting up for a sequel than creating a strong stand-alone film. Ultimately, in a time where superheroes movies are becoming increasingly saturated and are forced to distinguish themselves, The Amazing Spider Man 2 failed to do so. This showed in the film’s earnings as well, as it became the lowest grossing film featuring the hero.
The disappointment continued with Godzilla. While it featured some strong action set pieces and top-notch acting from the likes of Bryan Cranston, it seemed that the fable monster became a side character in his own movie. The addition of extra monsters, which led to few appearances from Godzilla himself, and some other flat characters, contributed to a somewhat lackluster release for the film. The film lineup did however receive a bolster from How to Train Your Dragon 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, both of which boasted strong stories, well-developed characters, and strong visuals each in their own ways.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
In June, Transformers: Age of Extinction dominated the box office, going on to make a billion dollars. Despite new protagonists and a different direction for the plot, the film lost its fresh feel through the familiar flaws of its predecessors— an underdeveloped and flawed plot, an over-emphasis on special effects, and cliche characters. Despite all of this, its explosive action and slapstick humor drew the desired summer crowd and led to a box office success.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Shortly afterwards, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. As someone who was positively surprised by the prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, one could immediately point out the same strong elements showing themselves in this one.The film was intelligent, fun, maintained a constant and unbreakable tension throughout, improved on already-strong characters, and delivered numerous subtle messages about the state of humanity, its animalistic tendencies, and its stranglehold on the Earth. Altogether, it seemed to be a smart, sleek, and enjoyable summer blockbuster, as reflected in its 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and over $600,000 at the box office.
Guardians of the Galaxy
August was headlined by one film: Guardians of the Galaxy. After the success of The Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, the studio could have easily avoided risks and pulled off another generic sequel to an already well-known brand name. Instead, they took characters that few outside of the Marvel fanbase had ever heard of, and pulled off the surprise of the summer. On paper, the plot of Guardians is nothing particularly exceptional. A rag-tag team of misfits and underdogs team up, travel to different places on a variety of vague missions, and eventually find themselves facing a power much greater than themselves— the same description could fit countless films. Yet Guardians takes this formula, adds wit, stellar acting, surprisingly deep characters, and a warm, touching feel to make this arguably the most enjoyable film of the summer. It has surpassed half a billion dollars less than a month into its release, and its acclaim from casual moviegoers and established movie critics alike is symbolic of the film’s mass appeal. Nobody can doubt Marvel after this one.
Overall, the summer movie season featured disappointments, surprising successes, and its fair share of mediocre films, only buoyed by their appeal to summer moviegoers. While The Amazing Spider-man 2 and Godzilla both failed to reach their hype for their own respective reasons, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy showed that films can balance brains (an intelligent plot and strong characters) and brawn (special effects and sheer action). One can only wait in anticipation for the onset of 2015’s summer movie season.