(Insert Shitty Boys of Summer Pun Here)

Published on August 19th, 2011

Alex looks back at the summer that was, both at the cinema and at The MacGuffin Men.

Today, the big releases will be Fright Night and the reboot of Conan the Barbarian hit the silver screen. To me, that basically means the summer movie season is over. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark might be a ‘surprise*’ hit next Friday, but since the most interesting thing about Conan the Barbarian is how his name is now pronounced, the last real blockbuster of the season was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Or as I prefer to call it: James Franco Takes a Nap. Anyway, since I pride myself (for some reason) on caring about blockbusters, I feel as though I should relive the summer by looking back on what we wrote/podcasted, as well as reconsidering what the good and bad movies of the summer were.

*Quotations because I don’t know why anybody considers a
low-budget horror movie becoming a box office hit a surprise.
THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS.

The season began in earnest with Fast Five, and then Thor, both of which I passed judgment on months ago. It turns out that the first blockbuster released this year, Fast Five, ended up being the most purely entertaining movie of the year. It was awful (but in the funniest way possible), excessively manly (but in the funniest way possible), and the action was fucking insane (in the most awesome way possible). It never lagged, it never tried to be legitimately good, and Vin Diesel never tried to look any more fit than a fat guy who does a lot of bicep curls. The best.

A week after Thor saw the release of Bridesmaids, the movie that was probably the best comedy of the summer (other than Fast Five). Kristen Wiig got Wiigy with it, Melissa McCarthy tried to steal the show, and Maya Rudolph was there. I was pleased, but the movie made me wonder why anybody was surprised it was such a success.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover Part II came out a week apart from each other, which seemed to amplify each movie’s lack of necessity. So, of course, I wrote about why each movie has a reason to exist, despite finding each movie pretty mediocre.

Super 8 was released on June 10th, and we apparently decided it should be the focus of a two-part podcast, part one of which was about Super 8 itself. It was without a doubt the most interesting blockbuster of the summer (I probably monologue about it in the podcast), despite not really being a massive financial success. In part two of the podcast, we look at the Steven Spielberg films that were JJ Abrams’ main influences when making Super 8: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T. The Extraterrestrial.

I didn’t see Green Lantern, but our contributor Travis was kind enough to be the sacrificial lamb, discovering that the movie really wasn’t that bad. You just got to see more of Ryan Reynolds’ junk than would be expected in a movie that is essentially for kids.

The next blockbuster on deck was my most anticipated movie of the year, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. In May, I wrote about why Michael Bay is an interesting cultural figure, but I thought his new movie was even more incoherent than the previous one. That being said, I loved it the first time I saw it, and still think the second half is extremely entertaining (mostly because the first half is all ridiculous setup and bad jokes, and the second half is just SHIT GOING DOWN). I was extremely excited to watch T3 for the first time, and when I got home from that first screening, I wrote this.

Did you think I forgot to mention X-Men: First Class? Well, I didn’t. James and I decided to compare it to Captain America: The First Avenger in a podcast to determine, once and for all, which of the blockbusters had the most unnecessary punctuation in its title. While I don’t want to spoil it who won that battle, the podcast also touched on how each blockbuster used real-world history for its main conflict, and we of course looked at the future of superhero movies, with a focus on next year’s The Avengers. And, we talk about how ridiculously massive Chris Evans is; he has a ham for each boob. HAM.

And that was pretty much all of the summer stuff we found interesting enough to write or podcast about. There were other summer movie-related posts as well: James looked at the Batman franchise’s growth over the past few decades, whether or not (the sure to be shitty*) Austin Powers 4 is worth making, and shares his thoughts on another burgeoning quadrilogy with (the sure to be shitty*) Jurassic Park 4.

*These are simply my opinions. I don’t speak for James. But if he disagrees, he’s incorrect.

As for the best movie of the summer, I think the crown has to go to Super 8, if only because it was the only movie I saw more than twice. I also loved Tree of Life, and really loved Midnight in Paris, but Super 8 is probably top of the heap as far as I’m concerned. Of course, there were some movies I didn’t see, but I doubt Larry Crowne or Bad Teacher were ever really in the running for something I would call the best movie in a four month span. It wasn’t a great summer for movies, but it wasn’t an awful one. Next summer has more possible great movies, but who knows if the great, smaller movies like Midnight in Paris and Tree of Life will show up next year. The worst movie I saw this summer, though? Conan O’Brien: Can’t Stop. Don’t see it; the more I think about it, the angrier I get that I paid five bucks to see it. I no longer think you changing the public’s perception of how the name Conan is pronounced is cool, you pasty bastard.

So what do I do with my time now, you ask? Honestly, I’m excited for September. Every year, there are a couple of gems that get released just after the summer because they’re not easy enough to sell as blockbusters, but are still really enjoyable movies. Last year, we had The American, Easy A, The Town and Going the Distance. This year? Likely contenders include Drive, Killer Elite (STATHAM!), and 50/50, but Contagion could be good as well, and despite how formulaic it might be, Moneyball looks pretty interesting as well. Hell, even A Good Old Fashioned Orgy looks like fun. Either way, fuck blockbusters. I’m done with this summer. I’m onto the second string, and Jerome Williams was always one of my favourite ballplayers.

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