The 2015 summer movie score-card: And the winner is…

Well, the summer officially finished a few weeks ago and the big winner has been Universal Studios, with Jurassic World, Furious 7, Minions, Pitch Perfect 2 and Straight Outta Compton. Disney as always was a strong performer with animation and Marvel properties Inside Out, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. And ranked 3rd was Warner Bros. with San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road.

After kicking off my summer viewing with the Avengers sequel, I had listed 10 other films that I wanted to watch over the remaining 4 months. Technically, I didn’t complete my mission, because found Tomorrowland to be unwatchable after about 20 minutes. I mentally swapped that movie for Inside Out in my list, but will only be watching that this weekend.

Nevertheless, here are those 11 films ranked on my intuitive sense of which movie I would be willing to go back to theatre to watch, or would stay tuned to watch if it was running on TV. I’ve put the Metacritic scores next to each film, as a point of comparison and linked to my individual posts on each movie.

#1 Mad Max: Fury Road (89) – My #1 movie of the summer, this was always guaranteed to be a dazzling visual treat, but what surprised critics and viewers like me was the depth of the characterization. I really hope there will be another film in the series, and that Charlize Theron is in it. Tom Hardy was almost incidental as Max!

#2 Jurassic World (59) – Yes, the third act became too generic, but the first two-thirds of the film including the set-up, the new characters and the new dinos all made it worthwhile. Newbie director Colin Trevorrow was rewarded with a Star Wars directing gig for 2019, but before that it’s very likely he will be involved in the next Jurassic movie, scheduled for June 2018.

#3 Ant-Man (64) – This was the doubtful Marvel entry that ended up being unexpectedly enjoyable. Everything just clicked somehow. Worth watching again just for Michael Pena and his ‘tip montages’.

#4 Avengers: Age of Ultron (66) – This is one of those movies that is really enjoyable when you watch it, but sort of fades from memory towards the end of the season as it gets crowded out by more innovative or enjoyable fare. Once again, the first two-thirds had some real emotional heft, but it descended into action CGI overload in the last half hour.

#5 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (75) – Not quite as enjoyable as the previous entry Ghost Protocol, but still strong enough to set up a possible 6th film in a couple of years.

#6 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (55) – This smart and extremely stylish thriller sadly never found its market, although it’s possible that it may thrive on TV and Home Video. Even so, hopes of starting a franchise are surely dead. Elizabeth Debicki plays one of the most deliciously evil on-screen villains I’ve seen in years.

#7 Furious 7 (67) – Having kicked off the early summer and riding on the Paul Walker sympathy wave to a record high box office for the franchise, it now seems rather generic with the benefit of a few months of hindsight. The producers have still not locked down a director for Furious 8 although they have announced a release date in April 2017.

#8 Entourage (38) – I thought the Metacritic score was a bit harsh. What were critics expecting from the big-screen version of a ‘guilty pleasure’ show like this? Impossible to watch on big screen with all the nudity and language, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending a 100 minutes with Vince and the boys.

#9 Fantastic Four (27) – Another film at the receiving end of an unfair Metacritic score, this is the movie that critics loved to hate; after all its own director hated it as well!

#10 Terminator: Genisys (38) – This film was a big disappointment vis-à-vis the promise of the first trailers and the strong cast of Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke and the returning Arnold. But eventually it just turned out to be a product of lazy scriptwriting that just took events from the first 2 films and shuffled the characters and the situations around in the name of time travel paradox. What a wasted opportunity.

#11 Tomorrowland (60) – Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all, because this was from one of my favorite directors who has not put a foot wrong in his career; Brad Bird, the man who made The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I started watching this on a flight and had to switch off after 20 minutes because every character on screen was so irritating and the story seemed muddled and pointless. Is this what happens when a filmmaker becomes so successful that a studio will allow him to make whatever he wants? Feels like the misstep that M. Night Shyamalan made with The Village and Lady in the Water passion projects. I sure hope Brad Bird comes out of this one.

I imagine Inside Out will rank in the Top 5 after I see it on Sunday. Other fun movies during the April-August period included San Andreas, Ex Machina, Minions, The Age of Adaline and Woman in Gold.

Now, on to more serious fare in the next few weeks; Everest was absolutely worth the IMAX ticket prices. Next in line will be Sicario, Black Mass and The Martian.

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