Summer 2013 sucked! Okay, maybe “sucked” is too harsh a term. As my friend and colleague Ruben Rosario put it – “‘twas the summer of meh.” Even if the summer isn’t historically known for quality cinema, there always tends to be at least one or even two breakout blockbusters that are unanimously loved by audiences and critics alike. Last summer, we had The Avengers and, to an extent, The Dark Knight Rises. The year before that, it was the last Harry Potter film, X-Men: First Class, and the big surprise –Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In summer 2010, we were gifted with Inception and Toy Story 3. But this summer… nothing! At least where studio tentpoles are concerned.
Both Man of Steel and Elysium – the two studio blockbusters I was most excited to see this summer were disappointments. The former erased all the good-will it earned during its first two acts with a abhorring demolition derby third act whereas the later squandered a fascinating concept with a rote and derivative plot. Star Trek Into Darkness, the most critically loved of the major blockbusters this summer, may have delivered on the thrills but it felt like a major step down from its predecessor. Even Iron Man 3, by my account the best of the big summer tentpoles, suffered from a little bit of been there, done that Marvel fatigue.
And that was probably the key takeaway of this season: fatigue. As Matt Singer of The Dissolve eloquently put it in his box office wrap-up article last week, “There was a glut of sameness.” If a movie wasn’t a sequel, it was a reboot, remake, or prequel. For instance, the top five movies of the summer (Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Monsters University and Fast and Furious 6 were a sequel, sequel, reboot, prequel and sequel/prequel respectively).
As for the movies marketed as “original” – The Lone Ranger, After Earth, R.I.P.D.,Turbo, White House Down, Elysium, The Internship – they were mostly expensive flops. Pacific Rim would have joined that list if it weren’t for the gangbuster business it did overseas. In fact, Guillermo Del Toro’s monster mash made more money in China than it did over here in the States. And people question why Hollywood has been transferring their marketing dollars to international markets instead of domestic audiences.
Anyway, on to the top five.