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A Summer of Movies in Review

Ben Atwater

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It has been one crowded summer of movies, with some stinkers and other masterpieces. Let us count down summer’s hot picks, ranking from worst to best. Bear in mind, I have not seen every single film that came out this summer, so the list is not truly reflective of everything that hit theaters this summer yet merely an analysis of a lot of mainstream blockbusters. Also, keep in mind the subjectivity of film. My experience watching a movie will be very different from yours. As a film enthusiast well versed in the industry, here is an in depth analysis of offerings this summer.

Inside Out stars Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith (AP photo)

Inside Out stars Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith (AP photo)

7) Fantastic Four: Here is, perhaps, the strongest example of a studio ruining its own project. Director Josh Trank spoke publicly on how Fox demanded unnecessary reshoots. While the studio is in charge of a production as they pay for it, Fantastic Four feels very disjointed. Setting up a generic yet charming character piece in the first act, the second act degrades into muddled science fiction, with the third act reeking of “let’s just get off set as soon as possible, and throw on this sloppy ending.” While there are many decent performances, particularly that of Michael B. Jordan, Fantastic Four is dragged down by a horrible screenplay, subpar visual effects, and a lack of clear direction.

6) Jurassic World: The year’s highest grossing film is also one of the most disappointing films in recent memory. Trailers promised a return to the fantastical island created by Spielberg in 1993. What we got was a film too busy trying to pay homage to Jurassic Park without being a decent standalone film. Missing was Spielberg’s diverse cast of characters and allegorical commentary that was Jurassic Park. None of the characters act rationally or are competent at their jobs at all, losing all credibility that these are real people. The dinosaurs are cool, but what makes the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park awesome is the backstory of their controversial creation behind it. Jurassic World reeks of revamping the same formula, but it does not work a second time. Jurassic Park II and III, while silly, are at least entertaining monster movies. Jurassic World is just sloppy writing cashing in on name value alone.

5) Tomorrowland: Brad Bird has reigned in some excellent films in his career, like The Incredibles and The Iron Giant. Tomorrowland is not an excellent film, but still an intriguing mystery. The plot follows a girl, Casey, seeking out an alternate dimension created by optimistic dreamers who have no limits to their ingenuity. Casey receives aid from Frank Walker (George Clooney), who was instrumental in this alternate dimension’s creation in the 1960s. Tomorrowland has a lot going for it, from a great score to an intriguing premise. Unfortunately, the time spent in the alternate dimension is far too little for full satisfaction. However, it is nice to see a film with an optimistic outlook on humanity’s fate, unlike others on this list.

4) Terminator Genysis: I will concede that Terminator Genysis is the second best Terminator film behind the original. Much more light-hearted and self-aware than any of its predecessors, Arnold Schwarzenegger finally comes into his own as the T-800. Resetting the muddled Terminator timeline, Genysis realizes its franchise overstayed its welcome and refreshes it with going to back to what made the original 1984 film work while not treading too heavy on the subject matter. That being said, check it out if you can.

3) Ant-Man: The smallest scale of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Ant-Man is about Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an ex-con recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), to bear a suit that allows the wearer to shrink to ant size. Lang’s task is to take a similar suit created by Pynn’s former protégé who intends to use the suit for world domination. Ant-Man is incredibly charming, with an engaging story and great performances, particularly one by Michael Douglas. Probably one of the funniest Marvel movies, Ant-Man delivers on all levels, lacking only on dramatic levity.

2) Inside Out: Pixar has come back from a slew of mediocre films with their best film yet, Inside Out. The main characters are emotions inside a girl’s head, with the story being a physical manifestation of the complex mental processes that is the beginning of adolescence. Words cannot describe the sheer brilliance of Inside Out; one must experience it for themselves.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road:
I do not foresee any other film, even the Oscar bait films coming this fall, being a more engrossing and invigorating cinematic experience than Mad Max: Fury Road. Set in the post-apocalyptic desert, the plot line is simple. Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, a soldier for the evil warlord Immortan Joe, acts in rebellion and flees from Joe’s citadel with his enslaved wives in hope of finding freedom and redemption. Max, played by Tom Hardy, finds himself in an uneasy alliance with Furiosa and the wives, an escaped prisoner of Immortan Joe himself. The crew flees on a war rig, pursued the entire time by Joe’s war parties. While a relatively simplistic story, the execution results in some of the best footage ever captured on camera. I have never seen a film this action packed, with sheer energy and adrenaline popping off the screen for each and every shot. Theron is at her very best, conveying conviction and passion with little speech. By far the best film in the Mad Max series, Fury Road is sure to land Oscar nominations for Actress (Theron), Sound, Directing, Cinematography, Sounds, Production Design, Costumes, Visual Effects, and hopefully Score and Picture. Having seen it three times, I am incredibly excited to watch it a fourth and fifth time at the SCOPE movie showings. Fury Road never gets old, and likely never will.

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A Summer of Movies in Review