It’s been quite a year for blockbuster films so far. The Revenant wowed many and finally won Leo his Oscar. Deadpool shocked and awed people to hysterics, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice shocked and bored people to almost submission, and Captain America battled Iron Man in the simply stunning Civil War in April. So as the summer blockbuster season arrived we had high hopes, and to be fair, we’ve had everything from alien invasions to forgetful fish. Here’s a quick (spoiler free) review of some of the biggest hits (and misses) of the summer.
Independence Day: Resurgence
“We always knew they’d come back” is a line uttered throughout this disaster sequel. Roland Emmerich (the man who directed the original in 1996) returns and he’s brought Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner (?) back with him. However, Will Smith decided not to take part and the film suffers because of it. But don’t worry, the Fresh Prince will appear later in this post. This disaster sequel touches on the aftermath of the ‘War of 1996’ and how the world has adapted alien technology and coped with the psychological effects of contact with the alien invaders. It’s passable. There are some silly moments and some great special effects but overall it’s a shadow of the original. Only two city-sized spaceships out of five for me.
This is a contentious one. If you’re a massive fan of the original you probably won’t like this. If you enjoy silly comedies, you’ll probably really enjoy this. This film is alright. It’s not amazing, it’s not reverential to the original and nor does it delete it from existence. I think the negativity around this film comes from the (truly awful) trailers. This is a funny film. This is probably the most tolerable I’ve found Melissa McCarthy to be and Kristen Wiig is very funny. It’s good to remember that the original is still available. You can still get it on DVD/Blu Ray and online. So if this one doesn’t charge your Proton Packs you can still check out Bill Murray and co. taking on Gozer and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. This one gets a solid three Slimers out of five.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender return as Dr X and Magneto respectively in this eagerly anticipated follow up to Days of Future Past, but it’s clear who the star of the show was seen to be. Jennifer Lawrence has come a long way since her first appearance as Raven/Mystique in 2011’s X-Men First Class and this is evident with her starring role here. The Force Awakens’ Oscar Isaac is the villain of the piece playing the all-powerful Apocalypse, the first mutant with the ability to absorb the abilities of others and he wants Dr X’s telepathic powers for his own to help him bring about the… well… apocalypse. This doesn’t score highly with me. While First Class (directed by my current favourite director Matthew Vaughan) was a really interesting reboot of the franchise, it’s two sequels have reverted back to the CGI heavy explosion fests of the original trilogy. Not one I’d recommend but if you’re a fan of the original X-Men films, maybe you’ll enjoy it. Keep an eye out for a special metal-clawed cameo too. This is a fairly disappointing two CGI fight scenes out of five.
Star Trek Beyond
When JJ Abrams beamed down from the captain’s chair of the Enterprise to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many feared a third film in the Star Trek reboot series may not happen. In stepped Justin Lin, best known for his work on the Fast and the Furious films, and people were concerned it’d become a generic action film. And then came the first trailer which was all-action and even drew criticism from the director and star/writer Simon Pegg. It all looked doomed. 2009’s Star Trek is still one of my favourite ever films simply because it’s so much fun! For me, Beyond recaptures that fun in a way it’s predecessor Into Darkness didn’t. I liked this film, a lot. It’s probably my favourite on this list – but I don’t see myself as a Trekker so perhaps those more into the TV series will disagree. The villain, the superb Idris Elba, is a powerhouse whenever he’s on screen. But this film isn’t about the baddie, it’s all about the crew, as any good Star Trek film is. They also worked in a great tribute to the late Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) who’d been a part of the franchise for 50 years, and a tribute to Anton Yelchin, who played Checkov, who died tragically just before the film’s release. This is a good popcorn film. I hope to catch it again before the end of it’s run. I’m giving this 4 photon torpedos out of five.
‘You know his name’ say the promotional materials for this sequel to the highly-successful Bourne Trilogy that ended with 2007’s Ultimatum. Jeremy Renner’s spin off The Bourne Legacy was, I think unfairly, slated by fans. So returning to the franchise is Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass – and his patented shaky-cam. Bourne is brought out of hiding by Nicky Parsons (returning Julia Stiles) to help her escape after she hacks the CIA. In the files she hacked were some interesting revelations about Bourne’s recruitment into the Treadstone program and his father. Bourne follows the clues to get to the truth about his Dad, getting in some nifty hand-to-hand combat (including innovative usage of a chair leg) and some old-school spycraft. While this film doesn’t hit the heights of Identity, Supremacy or Ultimatum, it’s still a good watch and gives an interesting commentary on issues of the day including the privacy of online social media accounts and government snooping. This one is tough to rate but I’ll round it up to four innovative if violent uses of a chair leg out of five.
You would have had one of two reactions to the news that they were making a sequel to the fabulous Finding Nemo, either excitement or dread! Rest assured Nemo fans, this does the original justice. The story this time revolves around everyone’s favourite forgetful blue tang fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). Dory, who suffers from memory loss every ten-seconds, has one long-term memory, that she was separated from her parents as a child. Enlisting her trusted clownfish allies Marlin and Nemo, Dory embarks on an epic adventure to track them down. Just as warm and funny as Finding Nemo and perhaps even more sentimental. Go watch. A solid four sharks named Bruce out of five.
After about 18 months of build up and an aggressive marketing campaign, DC Comics’ Suicide Squad finally hit cinemas. The first reviews were brutal. The only other time I saw the word ‘incoherent’ used to describe a film was for Batman v Superman back in February, oddly another in the DC Extended Universe. However, it’s really not that bad. I have issues and there are plot holes big enough to drive the Batmobile into, but overall it’s a passable watch. Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn are the two stars of the show while Jared Leto’s much talked about interpretation of The Joker is floating on the outskirts. It’s far too dark and rather grim for my liking as far as comic book films go but there are some bright moments, almost always involving Smith. I recommend you ignore the reviews, go to see this and make up your own mind. It gets three Joker tattoos out of five for me.
Well, that’s a wrap. It’s not been a vintage summer of movies but there are a couple of winners in there. There are some great films coming up between now and Christmas. Make sure you find time to see:
Inferno: Tom Hanks returns as Dr Robert Langdon in this sequel to Angels and Demons, which was a prequel to The Da Vinci Code. This one is about a virus?! Felicity Jones co-stars.
Doctor Strange: Benedict Cumberbatch stars and the titular character in the latest offering from the Marvel Studios vault of awesomeness. An arrogant, alcoholic but world class surgeon is bestowed with magical powers by an ancient being (Tilda Swinton) when he loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Chiwetel Ejiofor costars as Baron Karl Mordo.
Sully: Tom Hanks again, this time starring alongside Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart in the Clint Eastwood directed true-life tale of Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who became a hero after gliding his passenger plane to a crash landing on the Hudson River in 2009, saving all 155 people onboard.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Set just prior to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode 4, but the first film to be released… yeah?) a team of Rebels execute a daring plan to steal the blueprints for the Empire’s new superweapon… The Death Star. I wonder how that ends up?! Felicity Jones stars along side Forest Whittaker, Ben Mehndalson and Darth Vader? (hums the Imperial March)
Stay tuned for those! If you have any differing thoughts on this summers blockbusters or would like to highlight another film that we missed, please let us know in the comments section below or on social media.