By Christian DiMartino
The summer movie season is wrapping up, and after seeing 20 movies, it is about time for a summary. Yes, there were some that I missed out on, from blockbusters (The Wolverine, Pacific Rim) to indie hits (Blue Jasmine, The Bling Ring). But summer is over, and it is time to move on. Here are the high and low points of summer 2013. *Note* If Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra was considered an actual movie (it was an HBO movie), it would certainly make the list.
5. Before Midnight: Most probably do not even know what this is, and it is a pity. Richard Linklater’s third chapter in the Before Sunrise trilogy is one of the best written and acted movies of the year so far. This time around, it has become more obvious that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have developed into bona fide actors. Yes, the movie is a talk fest, but it is worth it.
4. The Conjuring: The Conjuring is a movie that has been done before, but not much better. It is a good old fashioned haunted house movie that takes its time delivering the chills, rather than constantly making the audience jump. It also helps when actors as good as Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor are involved. It is not the scariest movie, but it is among the best of its kind.
3. Iron Man 3: Iron Man 3, the first movie of the summer, kicked the summer off right. Often hilarious, with Robert Downey, Jr. doing what he does best, making people laugh, not to mention the special effects, Iron Man 3 is a total blast.
2. The Great Gatsby: Ignore the critics. Baz Luhrman’s latest film is a visual marvel that captures the era and the essence of the novel well. Gorgeous and well acted, The Great Gatsby is as enchanting as movies get. Leonardo DiCaprio and crew could not have done better. Great job, old sport.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness: J.J. Abrams’ previous Star Trek movie found a new fan (guess who?). After waiting four long years , the sequel finally came along, and it was well worth the wait. Star Trek Into Darkness puts the word “spectacle” into “spectacular.” The visual effects are marvelous and there are some nice references to previous movies. But what the crew really nails is letting the audience know these characters better, especially Spock (the terrific Zachary Quinto). Besides Quinto, the best actor involved is Benedict Cumberbatch, who steals the show as the villain. Star Trek 3 can’t come sooner.
Honorable Mentions: This is the End, Man of Steel, Monsters University
After Earth: Of 20 movies, none of them deserved annihilation as much as this one. M Night Shamylan’s latest disaster is a 100-minute talk fest rather than a cool sci-fi movie. It is incredibly dull, and if Will Smith does not look interested, the movie is doomed from the start. The saddest thing about it is that it is not even Shamylan’s worst (Reigning champion: The Last Airbender).
Tie: Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III: After giving up on both franchises, it is nice to say that both movies were pleasantly surprising. The well-reviewed Fast & Furious 6 is dumb fun, and proud of it. The poorly reviewed Hangover Part III is a bit different from its predecessors, and it is for the best. It is not as wild, but it is still funny and it ties the trilogy together well. Neither movie is amazing, but both are better than expected.
Kick Ass 2: It is sad to say that The Lone Ranger, which was torn apart by the world, was better than Kick Ass 2. The first hour of it lives up to the original. It is funny and fun, and Chloe Grace Moretz steals the show once again as the foul mouthed Hit Girl. But the sequel takes a wrong turn in the last 40 minutes, and it is a turn for the worst. It is also a waste of what could have been a great Jim Carrey performance. At the end of the day, it is a wasted opportunity.
Well, there it is. This summer was not the best. But it was a decent one. There were only two bad movies the entire summer, and some were borderline bad but shamefully enjoyable (White House Down, The Lone Ranger). It was also a good summer for comedies, such as This is the End, The Heat, and We’re the Millers. All this summer needed was another Batman movie and it could have been perfect. If the summer didn’t meet expectations, there is still a lot to look forward to in the rest of the year, such as The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Gravity, and Her. Count me in.