Summer Movies Superlatives
Dissecting the best and worst of cinema’s most lucrative season from ‘Dark Shadows’ to ‘Magic Mike’
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Once again, superheros ruled the summer box office. The combination of The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises kept theaters full and critics beaming. Cape-clad leading characters dropped their archetypes, and through some impressive screenwriting, proved to have more personality behind the mask than previous summers.
While superhero movies essentially held the summer box office together, an array of other films, both small and large, left an impression on summer audiences.
Wes Anderson’s signature style succeeded in Moonrise Kingdom, a quirky coming-of-age tale that bore the distinct signature most of Anderson’s films possess.
In fact, some of the summer’s best movies came from the speciality box office.
Sundance darling Beasts of the Southern Wild continues to deliver consistent box office numbers while simultaneously being one of the best dramas of the season.
Centered around Hushpuppy, a compelling character played perfectly by Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts easily takes home the title for telling the summer’s best story.
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones charm in Hope Springs, a romantic comedy centered around the diminishing sex lives of an aging couple. With two actors at the helm of a film, one would be crazy to doubt the project in the first place.
While the summer has yet to have a breakout comedy akin to last year’s Bridesmaids, Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg’s soon to be released Celeste and Jesse Forever will be looking to fill the comedic void.
A surprise comedic pleaser came from Steve Carel’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. He and Keira Knightley proved to be a formidable duo on screen even if her romantic story line fell short.
While the Aurora, Colo. tragedy impacted the summer box office marginally, the industry’s most lucrative season avoided producing any notable flops.
After this spring’s sinking of John Carter Disney’s, studios took note and avoided the marketing mistakes.
While flops may not have been as present, there certainly were an array of bad movies to pick apart.
From the moment Rock of Ages released the production still of Tom Cruise sporting a back-length, the musical turned studio film was bound to be a stinker.
From the weak musical numbers to the almost incoherent story line, Rock of Ages showed that some productions are better suited for the stage.
Perhaps the summer’s most surprising flop came from one of Hollywood’s most trusted teams -- Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.
The duo that brought us such hits as Sweeney Todd and Edward Scissorhands failed to deliver on their take of the 1970’s cult hit Dark Shadows.
Almost everything about the movie was wrong, from the flatline jokes to the molasses paced story. Not even Johnny Depp’s heavy makeup or a rare appearance from Michelle Pfeiffer could cover up this dud.
While Pixar’s Brave is close to grossing $230 million at the box, the ironclad studio’s latest release falls short when it comes to storytelling.
Before Brave, Pixar had a near perfect record in producing animated features that pleased the viewing appetites of adults and kids alike.
However, with a lackluster lead and a cliched story arc, Brave certainly is one of Pixar’s weakest releases.
Rihanna and warships combined in the early summer sinker Battleship and just as one would suspect, Rihanna isn’t the world’s best actress.
Clad in too-tight military wear, the singer turned actress gave her best shot at making faces while shooting big guns. At times the film came across as a longer, less melodic music video for the celebrity.
Adam Sandler proved once again that his ability to make decent movies disappeared with the ‘90s as he released another bomb in That’s My Boy.
Even though Sandler paired himself with Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg, Sandler’s screwball comedy proved flat on the screen.
However, when the premise of a film is contrived in arrogance, one can’t hope for a good film.
Channing Tatum’s life story lended itself to Magic Mike even though director Steven Sondheim made it into a much deeper, darker film than what the trailer led the audience to believe.
Was this necessarily a bad thing? Yes and no.
Total Recall hit the tail end of the summer box office even though not many people wanted it to.
In an age of prequels and sequels, studios should take note that remakes like Recall won’t necessarily be tent pole hits.
Sacha Baron Cohen, known mostly for his solid character acting and jaw dropping antics, also disappointed with The Dictator.
The Dictator differed from Baron Cohen’s other movies as it featured a working script and set. Most of Baron Cohen’s previous films were the hidden camera type.
If The Dictator is any indicator, Baron Cohen should go back to his previous style.