It’s that time of year again. Yeah football season! No wait I mean the end of the Summer Blockbusters. As the studios start throwing out whatever is left for one last cash grab before the kids go back to school and we unfortunately have to start wearing pants again, myself and a group of other Boston based writers decided to share with you what we liked, hated it and man, how did we miss that, from Summer Explosion Shoot’em Up 2013! Joining me are Kevin Finnigan of Comic Book Therapy, James Shotwell at Under the Gun Review, Evan Crean at Starpulse and Matt Anders at Sumo Skinny.
Best of Summer:
Ken - I thought long and hard about this one. Was considering a comedy, but that’s not Summer to me. I liked Star Trek Into Darkness a lot. Fast & Furious 6 is real good. But no other film captured Summertime awesomeness to me as much as Elysium. Mind blown.
Kevin - If I had to choose, purely for entertainment purposes, I'm going to say This is the End. I was talking about it and referencing it all summer. Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness were great, but This is the End just stuck with me more.
James - I am going to be the guy that calls this category a tie, but I will split it between theatrical and VOD. The best movie in theaters this summer was, without hesitation, The World's End. The writing team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have delivered their funniest, not to mention most inventive film to date. For VOD, I have to mention Rewind This! If you love movies about movies, this one is a must see.
Evan - The Way, Way Back. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big popcorn movie guy and I love my blockbusters, but this film is hilarious, poignant, and best of all, it actually takes place during the summer. It captures the frustration of teenage angst, while reassuring us that things do get better when you find the right friends. Also, it nicely bottles nostalgia for a simpler time and the joys of the season.
Matt - Of everything I’ve seen that’s been released in the US during the summer of 2013, Something In The Air was by far the best - a beautifully rebellious semi-autobiographical coming-of-age masterpiece from French director Olivier Assayas
Worst of Summer:
Ken - The Purge. Absolute joke of a film. A 99%’ers movie meets The Strangers. Just a ridiculously terrible movie with an ending that made me laugh. To be fair I didn’t see After Earth.
Kevin - The Lone Ranger. Disney could have done something fun and old school, but instead they went the Pirates of the Caribbean route. There is some fun to be had, especially in the ending.
James - This summer boasted at least four complete cinematic disasters (Oblivion, Lone Ranger, RIPD, Kick-Ass 2), but it's the flop that started it all that I loath the most: After Earth.
Evan - Kick-Ass 2. R.I.P.D. may be a bland rip-off of other movies, although at least it is well-paced and over fast. Kick-Ass 2 is just prolonged suffering. I cringed as I watched the movie destroy Hit-Girl as a character by turning her into a stupid emotional teen. It also ruins every other opportunity it has with female characters by making them oversexed or overly butch. I think its true low point is trying to make humor out of implied rape. Not cool, especially after they let the victim blame herself in the next scene.
Matt - I think We’re The Millers may have been the most offensive of the year if it weren’t for The Heat – but at least the latter kept me laughing a bit.
Ken - Tie: The World’s End and This Is The End had me laughing throughout and I can’t wait to own them both on DVD. Must own comedies.
Kevin - This is the End. I'm sure The World's End would be up here, if I had seen it. This is the End had me laughing the entire movie, and then for days. I already have This is the End pre-ordered on Blu-Ray.
James - The World's End. Read my response to the first question for reasons.
Evan - The World's End hands down. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost never disappoint. Not only is their film a riot, but it's a terrific, action-packed sci-fi adventure. I didn't find This is the End nearly as funny as everyone else. I think it's too self-indulgent and that its gags are uneven.
Matt - The World’s End and This Is The End were by far the two best lighthearted comedies (even though they were both semi-apocalyptic), but the best dark comedy was Pain & Gain. Give Michael Bay a small budget and good actors and he’ll produce; give him a big budget and iffy actors and he’ll destroy – LITERALLY.
Ken - Monsters University. I liked it, but I LOVED Monsters Inc. Plus Despicable Me 2 is the best animated film of the year and miles better. Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel might be a close second because I didn’t love either and wanted so much more.
Kevin - Man of Steel. Superman is a great character, and the perfect one for a big budget character study. Instead, Warner Bros decided to make an average superhero movie. Superman deserves better.
James - Tie between the emptiness of Monsters University and the shortcoming of Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. Both should have been highlights of the seasons, but sitting here I struggle to remember anything worth writing home about.
Evan - Kick-Ass 2 for reasons previously stated. R.I.P.D. was a big letdown as well. Same with World War Z, which is a decent action film that disappointed me because it has nothing to do with the book.
Matt - World War Z could have been AWESOME if it was rated R. Instead, the execs went the money making route and cashed in pretty damn well with a PG-13 rating, too. I enjoyed the film, but I know I could have enjoyed it more if there was a sense of brutality to make it more chilling.
Ken - Grown Ups 2. The fact that I’m in the movie and that I love these guys shouldn’t make it a surprise, but to be honest, the trailers looked terrible and I was worried about seeing it. I had a lot of fun with it and laughed way more than I expected. The Internship and We’re the Millers are both a close second in a positive way.
Kevin - Nothing comes to mind. Every movie met my expectations for the most part. Nothing stuck out to label a "surprise".
James - The biggest surprise of the summer for me was not a film, but a performance. Amanda Seyfried is absolutely stunning in Lovelace. She becomes the character, and even though the film doesn't work that well (for me, at least) her acting could not be better.
Evan - Tie between 2 Guns and We're the Millers. I knew I would like 2 Guns, because I really enjoy Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington separately as actors. I had no clue that their chemistry would be so amazing as a buddy cop duo and that I would laugh as much as I did. The story is surprisingly sharp and well-written even if it is a bit overcomplicated. On the other hand, I worried that We're the Millers could be the stupidest comedy of the summer, maybe even of the year. A large part of me thought it would be one of those movies where all the best lines/scenes would be the trailer. Although the plot is predictable, the film really caught me off guard by how consistently hilarious it is and how genuinely the characters connect with each other. The best part was seeing everyone rebel against familial stereotypes and then quickly fall right into them without even thinking about it.
Matt – Guillermo Del Toro is undoubtedly a great director, but I didn’t think that Pacific Rim was going to legitimately be one of the best films of 2013.
Best “Indie” Film:
Ken - The Way Way Back has everything I want in a Hollywood “indie”, great acting, great characters, relatable story and fun, witty dialogue. Plus Dean Pelton!
Kevin - Have to agree with Ken. The Way Way Back was a pure treat. Amazing character work, sharply written and directed very well for first time directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
James - This is easily the toughest choice for me, so I'll pick a feature and documentary. For features, The Kings Of Summer floored me to no end. For docs, Blackfish.
Evan - The Spectacular Now. This film deserves some love too since it's such a raw, honest picture about adolescent romance. It's the right blend of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe teen movies for a modern day audience. I love that it tackles serious issues without ever getting preachy. Woodley and Teller prove that they are great actors. I'm excited to see what they do next in their careers.
Matt – This is the toughest category for me – it’s either Fruitvale Station or The Bling Ring. It would depend whether I’m in the mood to cry over the incompetence of public officials or laugh over the superficial Los Angeles lifestyle.
Ken - Much Ado About Nothing. Joss Whedon is my savior and this movie is absolutely fantastic. I wish more people saw it.
Kevin - Again, I'm agreeing with Ken. Much Ado About Nothing is pure film lovers delight. A lot of the enjoyment comes from knowing the history of the actors with Joss Whedon, but the film stands alone as a great recreation of Bill Shakespeare's work.
James - Jug Face (on VOD) features a hell of a performance from Lauren Ashley Carter, as well as a great story.
Evan - Much Ado About Nothing. I agree with Ken. I think this movie makes Shakespeare very accessible and adds some great modern flourishes, but I feel like it totally flew under everyone's radar.
Matt – Pretty much no one got to see Drug War, directed by Johnny To, because it opened in one theater in the United States. It’s an exceptionally non-objective look at China’s War on Drugs which eerily parallels the US’ War on Drugs.
Movie You Missed But Wish You Saw:
Ken - Mud. I heard it’s really good and that Matthew McConaughey is fantastic in it. I’ll have to seek it out on DVD.
Kevin - It was never in the theaters, but I'm going to count it: Sharknado. I love B-movies and need to find time to see this piece of crap.
James - Still haven't seen The Spectacular Now. Need to. Soon.
Evan - Mud as well. I've heard nothing but positive things about McConaughey's performance. Definitely plan to rent it.
Matt – I’m So Excited, the newest from Pedro Almodovar. I’ve been a huge fan of this Spanish director ever since he scarred me for life with 2010’s The Skin I Live In.
Biggest Shocker at the Box Office (Good or Bad):
Ken - Now You See Me. I didn’t hate the film, but it’s SO not a Summer Blockbuster to me. I thought it fit an October release better, but man did it make some bank at the box office.
Kevin - I can't believe The Purge made as much money as it did. Shows that people will see any sort of crap these days. Also shows that October isn't the only time when studios will put out terrible horror movies.
James - I have two (surprise, I know). I don't know why more people didn't lose their minds over Pacific Rim. It made money, but not the kind it deserved. Maybe the story was a bit generic, but the display of technical and digital filmmaking capabilities was jaw-dropping. Also, why didn't more people see Elysium? IT'S AWESOME.
Evan - Pacific Rim. I can't believe that Grown Ups 2 beat the crap out of it at the box office. It was a depressing time for me as a critic.
Matt – Did CBS forget that they have a marketing department? Did they not notice that The Kings Of Summer could have been HUGE if they just simply hired a competent intern to cut together 30-second trailers of Nick Offerman and the Biaggio character simultaneously doing bizarre things?
So folks what are your picks? Agree or disagree with my guests? If you like our picks feel free to follow us on Twitter.