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Summer Blockbusters

Friday 17 August 2012, 12:10

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Every summer the cinemas are full of big dumb movies - but it wasn't always that way and it doesn't have to be in the future. What are the best and worst summer blockbusters since Jaws?

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    Comment number 1.

    Best - Speed. One of the cheapest blockbusters and still one of the best. managing to combine thrills, a great villian and even keanu isn't that bad.

    Worst - Lost in Space. Boring, Stupid and Annoying. Gary Oldman WHY??

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    Comment number 2.

    With apologies to Mark, my favourite blockbusters are the original Star Wars trilogy, in particular The Empire Strikes Back. There are plenty of other essays out there as to why these films are great, so to simplify: The universe feels real and looks amazing, the characters are likable, and the story is engaging. The later trilogy (worst blockbusters ever) is the exact opposite.

    However I should like to add a counterpoint to Mark's assertion that the films "dumbed down science fiction": Star Wars is not science fiction, it's fantasy that happens to be set in space. Later film studios made this mistake and made films that did dumb down science fiction, but blaming Star Wars for this mess is like blaming Saving Private Ryan for 2008's abominable Rambo movie.

    (Sorry, I've been waiting awhile to get that out of system.)

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    Comment number 3.

    I absolutely stand behind the first Iron Man movie. I know the Dr K has a problem with Robert Downey Jr., but the fact that Marvel took a frankly B-List hero that few outside the comic world were familiar with and took it seriously enough to turn it into one of the most enjoyable films of 2008 was really something special. “Iron Man” is also still fun to watch today.

    “Godzilla” was the worst summer blockbuster ever! I was a huge fan of the Godzilla movies growing up (couldn’t you tell) and that schlock-king Roland Emmerich would turn Japan’s favorite indestructible, radioactive, city-leveler into an impish, evasive, T-Rex-or-whatever completely missed the point. A once great allegory was reduced to a simplistic creature flick. For shame!

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    Comment number 4.

    My favorite summer blockbuster is by far Toy Story 3. It's a film that appeals to all ages and left me with a heavy heart walking out of the cinema. It's definitely among the ten best animated films ever made.

    The worst blockbuster I've been to is The Expendables. Rather than talk about why it was so bad, I'll leave you with this statement: I envy my friends who saw Eat Pray Love on the same day.

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    Comment number 5.

    Best - The Dark Knight

    Worst - Transformers 2

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    Comment number 6.

    Best - Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Wonderful use of effects, smart writing and wonderful central performances by Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd.

    Worst - Well, the Transformers franchise is a given. I think a lot of sequels have been dreadful, Man in Black 2 springs to mind. I would suggest Speed 2 but that didn't take a great deal of money, $165m. Would that qualify? If not, then i'd go with Troy, where Peter O' Toole is the only redeeming feature. Brad Pitt is his mopey, limited best and the less said about the plank of wood that played Paris, the better.

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    Comment number 7.

    I'm with you on Forrest Gump. A much more interesting movie than people give it credit for. It's a shame that the Conservative Right of America have been able to slap their greasy hands all over it.

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    Comment number 8.

    Best-Purly personal but I love the film, The Fifth Element.

    Worst-Godzilla 2000 the fact that they took a low budget film series and put so much money into it staggers me, however I am greatful it exists. I just find it funny that Gene Siskel called out the makers of the film for putting him and Roger Ebert in it but not having the monster eat them, and that in the film Godizlla Final Wars Toho's Godizilla fought the American Godzilla and killedit in a few seconds.

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    Comment number 9.

    Starting off with my worst summer blockbusters;

    The Transformers movies: A redundant set of films that shows everything what's wrong with cinema and also shows how some filmgoers have been duped by big blazing special effects. Honestly we have gone back to the stone age. Not to mention it also shows what the usa thinks of other nations.

    Another set of films are the Star Wars films; Loved by pretty much everyone, hated by me. Sorry I don't see the so called symbolism and all I see are negatives; after all it gave birth to twerp cinema.

    However one good thing did come out of the Star Wars films, and that is;

    My favourites: Raiders of The Lost Ark; An old fashioned rollercoaster experience that ticks the boxes from stunning action sequences to paying homage to the old Republic series of the 30's and 40's. Not to mention it has a hero does get beaten and bruised one minute, and the next he's a bow tie wearing college professor who..... makes girls hearts go tick.

    Inception: As Dr. K has mentioned a brilliant, intellegent and breathtaking film. Nolan's best film to date.

    Die Hard: It was released here in February 1989, but it was released in the u.s. in July 1988. The film to end all the big, dumb, some time guilty pleasure action films of the 80s. An exciting, suspenceful film that delivers spectacle and also makes time for character development. It has a hero who is not perfect and actually bleeds, and it has a villian who is suave, intellegent and can actually take time out to exchange a few humorous quips with the hero.

    Also Speed AKA Die Hard on a bus or the American remake of Bullet Train starring Sonny Chiba. Anyhow the film is pretty good. Shame Keanu Reeves is the hero though, and its a shame Tom Hanks turned the down role to star in;

    Forrest Gump: No Dr. K, its not a great film. In fact its an infuriating film.

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    Comment number 10.

    Best: Prometheus

    Worst: Total Recall/TDKR

    face the facts nolanoids

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    Comment number 11.

    My favourite film is Jaws and I was thrilled to finally - after 30 odd years - get to see it on the big screen. I went 3 times! It did indeed look terrific. Shame it was a digital projection...but hey.

    Being as this was originally released before I was born, I'll go with The Dark Knight for best; Transformers 2 for worst (one of the most offensive, idiotic and nauseating films I've ever had the misfortune to endure).

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    Comment number 12.

    BEST: Jaws
    Hon. mention: Gladiator (does a mid May release count? It was in cinemas for MONTHS!)

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    Comment number 13.

    DR. KERMODE I SIMPLY CHOOSE THE DARK KNIGHT RISES...FOR THE EXACT SAME REASONS YOU GAVE FOR INCEPTION, I CAN'T IMAGINE MANY PEOPLE WILL DISAGREE...ESPECIALLY YOU SIR

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    Comment number 14.

    Well, I'm old enough to remember E.T., which blew me away as a kid. I also have amazing memories of Rocky III (the only time I've seen a British cinema audience jump up and down screaming in delight) and The Abyss, which I still think looks great.

    I also worked at a cinema when Jurassic Park came out. The sheer joy on kids faces means I know impressed them. I had to watch it about 500 times, so I'm jaded, but I still think it's a blinder.

    Worst? The Fifth Element comes close to being the least interesting story ever told, but surely nothing can beat the contemptuous Sex And The City 2?

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    Comment number 15.

    In recent memory, The Dark Knight is the best 'typical' summer blockbuster in recent memory. Attack the Block was by far my favourite 'blockbuster' from last year, and Scott Pilgrim from the year before that.

    The worst? Captain America was pretty abysmal, Spider-Man 3 was a car crash of poor writing, and the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean was a mis-step.

    Honourable mention also goes to Snakes on a Plane, which bundled everything that (should be) ridiculous about a summer blockbuster with a whole load of charm and left me leaving the cinema with a big grin on my face.

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    Comment number 16.

    You should above all people Mark know that in 2010 we received the best of all the summer blockbusters since Jaws. Inception.

    These would be my top three though.

    1. Inception
    2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    3. The Dark Knight Trilogy

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    Comment number 17.

    I haven't seen a lot of movies that people consider to be excellent blockbusters (Forrest Gump, ET and so on) and if truth be told I can't remember when I saw the following blockbusters.

    Best: Apollo 13, Avengers, Superman Returns (I really wish they could have kept that franchise going) Inception, Jaws, Batman Trilogy, Star Trek.

    Worst: Anything that I have seen during the summer that was a blockbuster but I forgot about because it was not memorable. Also Transformers 2 and 3 get a special mention, purely because they were exhausting to watch. Also Pirates of the Carribean 2,3 and 4 because they were just terrible. Finally, sex and the city, I didn't see the 2nd one but I was assured on good authority that it was "truly a fate worse than death"

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    Comment number 18.

    My choices are both trilogies and frankly, I think there won't be any suprises here as to which is my definitive best and worst summer blockbuster trilogy:

    The Best: Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Like Nolan's equally complex Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy are the perfect examples of great blockbuster filmmaking, helmed by someone who is a proper intelligant, sentient human being. The Dark Knight Trilogy had revolutionised, not just comic book movies, but Hollywood blockbusters as well, creating a dark dystopian view of Urban society that has been steeped in bleakness and nihilism, and littered with Nietzschean-like characters that are flawed, damaged, or even psychopathic, from Ledger's mainiacal Joker to Hardy's monstrous Bane.

    The Worst: Whilst Nolan's Batman Trilogy is the high water mark of good quality blockbusters, Michael Bay's Transformers Trilogy is at the very bottom end... by quite a long margin. Unintelligent stories with no plot, terrible acting throughout, over-sexualised characters which is deeply pornographic in every sense, racism jokes that are borderline crass, and way, way too long for me to cope. Whereas Nolan is the yin by taking iconic characters from pop culture and created a flawless franchise, Michael is the absolute yang by taking a beloved franchise and completely destroying it, just so he can make a fast buck. Shameful!

    Final Score: Nolan: 1. Bay: 0

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    Comment number 19.

    Inception stands head and shoulders above every other summer blockbuster. It is a work of genius that comes as close to perfection as some of the finest so-called "prestige" pictures. There isn't a single thing about it that I would change and that is a rare thing indeed, especially when talking about giant tentpole movies.

    As for the worst, there are so many to choose from thanks to Michael Bay, but I would probably have to go with Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End. The most overblown and yet utterly boring movie I've ever had the misfortune to watch.

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    Comment number 20.

    I’m still unconvinced by the ‘Jaws/Star Wars killed cinema by creating the summer blockbuster’ meme.
    What may have happened is that their success encouraged big budget movies to be more routinely released earlier during the summer months rather than in autumn, as happened before. Maybe teenagers had more pocket money then than before and looked for entertainment during the summer holidays and that influenced studio decisions too.

    As for the idea that all summer blockbusters are mindless CGI heavy action flicks, unworthy of serious attention (hello Michael Bay) all the below were summer movies too. Some, like The Blues Brothers may not be cerebral cinema, but they entertained. In no particular order:

    Jaws is still great cinema.
    Jurassic Park
    ET
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    Back to the Future
    Alien
    Aliens
    Lion King
    Tim Burton’s Batman
    Raider of the Lost ARk
    Dark Knight
    Inception
    Ghostbusters
    Blues Brothers
    Total Recall (Original)
    Grease
    Goonies
    Mission Impossible
    Fugitive
    Saving Private Ryan
    WallE
    Gremlins
    Shrek
    Gladiator
    Men in Back
    Spiderman
    Die Hard
    Matrix

    Worst? Transformers 2, Independence Day, Forest Gump (Mark – it’s pants), Armageddon – yes there have been some stinkers (and Waterworld wasn’t as bad as all that Mark, the first half wasn’t bad – think of it as a western set at sea) but then you could make a list of bad movies released at any time of year.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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