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Summer Blockbusters

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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 11:10 UK time, Friday, 17 August 2012

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??

  • 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.)

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Comment number 5.

    Best - The Dark Knight

    Worst - Transformers 2

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Comment number 10.

    Best: Prometheus

    Worst: Total Recall/TDKR

    face the facts nolanoids

  • 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).

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.


  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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"

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    Back to the Future
    Lion King
    Tim Burton’s Batman
    Raider of the Lost ARk
    Dark Knight
    Blues Brothers
    Total Recall (Original)
    Mission Impossible
    Saving Private Ryan
    Men in Back
    Die Hard

    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.

  • Comment number 21.

    Any chance of laying off Waterworld? Looking back, is it not nice to see a studio take a big risk on something that wasn't originally a comic book, with a minimum of CGI and a shoot as ambitious and grueling as Fitzcarraldo? Will this ever happen again? No.
    Anyway, to answer the question:
    Best: Jurassic Park. Does everything a blockbuster needs to do and still holds up 20 years later.
    Worst: Predictable, but POTC 2 or 3.

  • Comment number 22.

    Jaws remains the original and best, though Jurassic Park must be up there (and remains terrific fun to announce in the style of Alan Partridge).

    Worst? A-wikedy-wikedy-wikedy-Wild Wild West

  • Comment number 23.

    One blockbuster film that really stands up well for me is Gladiator, a film with action sequences where you really believe that the people fighting are getting badly hurt, fantastic central performances by Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix and a very poignant story about death and people facing up to death. What more could you want in a blockbuster?

  • Comment number 24.

    Best: I know this is a thoroughly pretentious route to take but you didn't say they had to be in the English language so i'm putting forward Akira Kurosawas' Ran. It had a big budget (from the look of it anyway), it's made a fair bit back and was released on the 1st of June.
    If that doesn't count E.T, Gremlins, Aliens or Jaws

    Worst: Revenge Of The Sith, Pirates 3 or transformers 2
    Just because they sum up everything that can go wrong when money is the sole aim.

  • Comment number 25.

    Steven Spielberg is often credited as the master of Summer Blockbusters but the one that is, for me, a mostly forgotten masterpiece was Minority Report.

    Like Inception, Minority Report was a film based around ideas with special effects backing it up and Spielberg created an incredibly gripping and intelligent futuristic Neo-Noir blockbuster with ideas about destiny, choosing your own fate and becoming the thing you hate; and, of course, he made a film which requires the audience to use their heads.

  • Comment number 26.

    The Best: "Back to the Future." I've loved it ever since I was a kid, and it's still my favorite blockbuster movie of all time. Why? Well, it's smart, funny, heartfelt, charming without being annoying, and with a few life lessons here and there if you wish to find them. Or in other words, it has all the great things the majority of blockbusters today seem to forget--or ignore.

    And speaking of ignorance...

    The Worst: Anything by Michael Bay in the last 15 years. I wish I could be more creative with this answer, but I simply can't. Then again, I wish Michael Bay could be more creative with his career, but he simply can't.

  • Comment number 27.

    Purely judging by ones I have seen..

    Best: Iron Man, The Dark Knight, POTC, X Men 1 and 2

    Worst: POTC3, Star Wars prequels, anything by Michael Bay

  • Comment number 28.

    Best blockbuster? The Empire Strikes Back. Without doubt the best of the Star Wars films, and one of my all-time favourite films. Although Kermode may find it overrated, it is in my view one of science-fiction's greatest achievements. It also reminds one of a time when George Lucas was a story-teller and not a money-grubber.

    Worst blockbuster? Battlefield Earth. I know it's more popular to say the Transformers films, but at least the action in those films is passable (although everything else is atrocious). Battlefield Earth is unbelievably horrendous with a ridiculous plot and one of the worst villain performances in John Travolta's Turl, who looks like the three-way lovechild of Bob Marley, a vampire and a Klingon from Star Trek.

  • Comment number 29.

    Great blog. Best, there is really only one winner, Terminator 2 Judgement Day, brilliant movie, packed full of great special effects and action, I've seen it so many times I've lost count but every time it’s a joy.

    Honrable mentions, Speed, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Rock, Con Air (yes Con Air, 'I'll show you god does exist'), The Matrix (summer here, spring US), Gladiator, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Inception. Plus I’ll stand up for Waterworld; it wasn't that bad, critics focused way too much on the budget rather than the film itself, which was pretty good.

    Now worst, it’s a tossup between Mission Impossible 2, Attack of the Clowns & Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, almost unwatchable, I felt like leaving before the end but I just can’t do that, I wish I had, they were just terrible, worse than any Transformers film. Also I like to stick in Saving Private Ryan, not because it’s a completely awful movie but because first it’s not a summer movie but a winter Oscar contender but they got greedy and wanted to make tons of money off the story of dead soldiers, it was so manipulative, it pandered easy patriotism and it got way too much credit that it deserved, when it came out I thought no other WW2 movie exist!

  • Comment number 30.

    Best: Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Worst: Batman and Robin, the film that killed a dozen careers.

  • Comment number 31.

    Best- Inception, Any Of The Nolan Batmans, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Terminator 2, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Spiderman 2, Wall-E, All The Toy Story's, Kick-Ass (if it counts it didn't take much cash)

    Worst- Spiderman 3, Batman And Robin, Independence Day, Pirates 2 And 3, Alien 3, Oh And Anything By Mr Bay

  • Comment number 32.

    Mark, you once said, while talking about the success of INCEPTION, that there was now no excuse for blockbusters to be dumb. You cited Michael Bay as an example, and presumably you also meant McGee. Well, sorry but just because INCEPTION did so well (and it is indeed a fantastic film, easily one of the best films of the last decade), it does not mean that idiots like Bay or McGee will suddenly be endowed with intelligence and make clever blockbusters. They make dumb blockbusters because they are, err, dumb. Even if they've seen INCEPTION a hundred times it will not make them or their films any cleverer.

  • Comment number 33.

    Best summer blockbusters:

    Ster Wars, The Empire strikes back, Jaws, Raiders of the lost ark, The Batman trilogy (Nolan), Alien, Aliens, Superman 2 (not 1 coz that was released at xmas!) E.T, The Avengers.

    Worst summer blockbusters

    Twister, Speed 2, Armageddon, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (one of the worst films of all time btw)

  • Comment number 34.

    Best? Jurassic Park. Proper movie magic.
    Worst? Indy 4. Proves even the best can be terrible on a bad day.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'll cast a vote for best behind Jurassic Park as well. There was a bit of a delay between its opening in the US and the one in Romania so I kinda got to to experience today's teaser/trailer/prefilm hypefest while being in the mid 90s. And to the kid that I was, Jurassic Park lived up to it beautifully.

    But the reason I post is to bring to your attention something which you may find amusing. In their review of Avatar, Red Letter Media mention how one of the causes of Titanic's massive box office success may have been that it opened in winter. Avatar also opened in winter, and RLM went on a slightly conspiracy-tinged flight of whimsy. If "big" movies (those that draw in crowds) open in the summer, then one should open in winter when the competition is Alvin and the Chipmunks. "Winter time will be the new summertime", RLM predicted, tongue in cheek.

    It's funny to me to find out (learn a new thing everyday) that actually summertime is the new wintertime, and that this has been going on since Jaws.

  • Comment number 36.

    Can I have Scott Pilgrim Vs The World as my best, despite the box office failure? It's one of my very favourite films, it's spectacular and heartfelt and funny and just generally wonderful. The problem is that it seemed to fall between the cracks and not appeal to that wide an audience, even if those like me who did get it felt compelled to go again and again and again.

    And by picking a worst I would be singling out one Michael Bay film as being better than one of the others and I couldn't bring myself to be even the slightest bit positive about one of them.

  • Comment number 37.

    Best blockbusters

    Gold- Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Silver-Die Hard
    Bronze- Terminator 2

    Worst blockbuster

    Toilet paper -Pearl Harbour ( DONT GET ME STARTED ON WHY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  • Comment number 38.

    Argh!! Only 22 seconds in & Dr K mentions Inception. We know you like it, to be honest I like it though didn't think it lived up to the hype. Basically its not as much fun as Dreamscape, no Snake man for one! Is Dreamscape a summer blockbuster?!?

  • Comment number 39.

    Best - The Dark Knight, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Avengers, Jurassic Park, Spiderman 2, X Men 2, Batman Begins

    Worst - Batman and Robin, Armageddon, Spiderman 3, the two Fantastic Four movies, the last two Pirates of the Caribbean movies, X Men: The Last Stand

  • Comment number 40.

    Best- The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, King Kong, War Of The Worlds, Moonrise Kingdom, Ferris Bulller,The Terminal, Source Code, The Bourne series and The Great Escape,with the Harry Potters

    Worst- Hitch, G-Force, Daddy Day Camp/Care, Collage Road Trip, Shrots, Spungbob Square pants movie, Oceans, Alice In Wonderland and Alice in wonderland, Yes The Original isnt great either. And Its intresting that most of these movies are dumb kids movies

  • Comment number 41.

    Worst - the Star Wars prequels

  • Comment number 42.

    My favourite, The Dark Knight. Traditionally summer blockbusters have to be family friendly but this film alienates the family audience with its nasty malevolent tone, how many children had nightmares after seeing that?. I know Mark likes to cite Inception as the first intelligent blockbuster but The Dark Knight proved that they can be grown up films as well.

    The worst, Superman Returns a complete misfire of a movie that defies belief that anyone read the script and thought it would work. Film students will study this movie as an example of how not to do a mainstream film.

  • Comment number 43.

    Best - Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in my opinion still James Cameron's greatest film and a real action masterpiece. With several exciting and memorable action sequences, special effects that still look fantastic, some solid acting and an excellent villain, this is a summer blockbuster done right.

    Worst - I would have to concur with you on the truly dreadful Pearl Harbor, still one of my most hated films. To take such a tragic event that left such a profound mark on the world, and turn it into this terribly conceived, awfully written, poorly acted piece of cheese is something that could only be accomplished by Michael Bay.

  • Comment number 44.

    The gauntlet has been thrown down.

    [Lots of ellipses/eliding of thoughts] Blockbuster does not have to be stupid (god I hate the use of dumb!) but it does not have to be clever either. It does have to show epic artistry and lack cynicism of it's viewing public!!

    Heat (Michael Mann, Feb 1995) does not count but this blockbuster has style and gritty super-realism that made me feel like I was inhabiting an enormous and epic drama of cops vs robbers. So a blockbuster with action but grounded in human cost. So a blockbuster is for me a simple tale that is turned into an epic story successfully more via grand designs of visuals and production quality (eg great charisma in the cast etc).

    The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 were all super-blockbusters of the highest quality (add Star Wars but before my time). These take the CGI and take you to another world (and Avatar but for Xmas), and are great examples of the Blockbuster which takes you on "the ride of your life!" :) I'd add The Fifth Element as well because of the weird vision of Luc Besson + Eric Sera music + Jean-Paul Gautier costumes and the Production power of Gaumont. The simple good vs evil in a really surprising/funny vision with sumptuous quality and quirks.
    I'd add that Waterworld and Pirates of The Carribean (1 & 2) also. Harry Potters seem to be Winter releases but those were jolly (good).


    For the worst that I can think of, I made the worst mistake of watching Independence Day - A sick mixture of sentimentality and patriotism given an epic and candy-flavored canvas. That Bill Paxton speech! Those meteorite movies with a bunch of drillers going onto Nasa also gargabe!

    But I leave the most disgust for Blockbusters which:

    1) Derivative: IP/franchise vehicle
    2) CGI heavy: flashing-lights and large noises
    3) Remake/sequel/prequel/Reimagining -> cash cow
    4) Effectively !only juvenile tropes for a story.

    And there's a lot of them: Transformers, Prince of Persia, Spiderman (Toby Maguire)...

  • Comment number 45.

    My favourite blockbuster is the quite literally perfect Raiders Of The Lost Ark, with perhaps Jurassic Park nipping at it's heels. I also have very fond memories of Roger Moore era Bond movies having summer release dates, with school boy arguements over whether For Your Eyes Only was better than Raiders (both released in '81).

    The worst blockbuster is the quite literally appalling Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. One can only imagine what Frank Darabont's version would have been like.

    The Phantom Menace comes a close second; so close infact that to this day I still haven't bothered with Attack Of The Clowns or Revenge Of The Unfortunate Anagram. Sometimes a director, say George Lucas for instance, can get it so wrong, and misjudge everything so badly, that you wonder what you ever saw in them in the first place.

    At the end of the day, the worst thing a blockbuster can be is boring.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Mark, I'm a regular at the blog but sadly i've never been chosen for one of your youtube videos, ah well, hope you consider my comment this time around.

    Mark, i'd proudly argue with you that not all summer blockbusters have to be stupid, because some blockbusters released in the summer have actually gone on to recieve a huge amount of critical success for being intelligent and thought provoking and made a lot of money back. I'd include obvious examples, Jaws, The Thing and Jurassic Park which I suspect were never really intended to attract that sort of attention in the first place but did by mistake. Nevertheless, they made a lot of money. More recently examples of that would include The Bourne Identity and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. But even they swept the awards ceremonies, I dont think movies should be judged just becasue they recieve a summer release date.
    The worst blockbusters however, I would easily incude the Transformers trilogy, The Rock, Armageddon, Last Airbender and the whole of Roland Emmerich's terrible back catalogue. The worst in my opinion being 10000 BC. I think that film is just one massive unoriginal investment contract deal made to make money.
    So yes, I agree entirely that the summer blockbuster season means dumb films will end up being rleased in an attempt for distributors to make money but I also think that it's something to look forward to if we get to experience films that are a lot like Inception.

  • Comment number 47.

    Dear Mark,

    The best summer blockbuster for me personally would have to be 'Jurassic Park', with 'Raiders' a close second. Whilst these films never set out to be anything more than summer entertainment they are great films and I would challenge anyone to say otherwise.

    However that was then and this was now, and despite not having been born when those films came out, comparing them to today's blockbusters shows a steady but sure decline into the idea that cinema audiences aren't intelligent.

    Nolan is changing this, but he alone will not be able to change it completely. But why oh why are films like 'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen', possibly the worst film ever made, reaping millions and millions? It is also my vote for worst blockbuster film ever made.

    The same people that watch films in the summer will watch them in December and January when the nominations period is closing, and they can comprehend and understand them then. Studios need to wake up.

    Keep up the excellent work good doctor.

  • Comment number 48.

    Lots of people are, and quite rightly, mentioning the Nolan films so I don't feel the need to do so as well.

    Best: Scott Pilgrim vs the World - the film was everything I wanted, and I'm also not surprised that it did not do well at the box office.

    Worst: Transformers 2 - Not really surprising, but it really was a painful film to watch. Also the extended slo-mo of Megan Fox was not needed.

  • Comment number 49.

    ScottfromTO, I loved Rambo! Yes, it was just violence for the sake of it but I was surprised by visual and over the top it was in portraying the violence. It was very unusual for a modern film to have an approach to carnage that ripped bodies to pieces without apology. Claret all over the shop and a justified 18 rating. Well done Sly!

  • Comment number 50.

    To me, the greatest summer blockbuster has to be "Back to the Future". It has all the things you could want from a great summer film - clever writing, charming performances and a sense of adventure that you just don't get from most big-budget behemoths. A timeless classic.

    The worst movie? Although there are a lot of contenders, I don't think any of them come close to the sheer horror of "Batman and Robin". Horrible acting, terrible writing, cheesy special effects and Arnold Schwarzenegger with his endless puns about ice. Also, when you watch that film, you get a sense that the people involved in the making of it just wanted to earn a paycheck, not to make a good film.

  • Comment number 51.

    The irony is without Batman and Robin, which a few people have already mentioned as the worst, we may never have had Batman Begins, such was the damage done to the character that it required a left-field choice like Christopher Nolan to resurrect it and make it fresh. And of course without Batman Begins we may never have had Inception. So maybe we should thank the stinkers for paving the way for the masterpieces of the summer blockbuster season.

    And in ten years time a young indie director with a maverick vision will amaze the world with Transformers Begins.

    Or not.

  • Comment number 52.

    Best: The Dark Knight.

    Worst: Norbit.

  • Comment number 53.

    Its subjective faults aside, I for one grasped upon the Star Wars prequel trilogy's 'problem-reaction-solution' through-line. As did the corporate media ;)

  • Comment number 54.

    Best- The Empire Strikes Back and Back to the Future.....saw them both at the cinema as a kid and both blew me away,I mean really blew me away. Incredible films that still more than stand up today. Infact, most summer blockbusters of recent years depress me as they have zero imagination, wit or intelligence.

    Have to agree with #2ScottFromTO it also really annoys me when anyone calls Empire,'s NOT science-fiction! all the original Star Wars trilogy is pure, wonderful,escapist FANTASY. You watch it to escape from the dreary here and now. It did not 'dumb down' anything, least of all science fiction. Empire is a work of genius. Just sit down right now and watch it, it's unrivalled. Fantastic action,fx, wit, characters,story,music....this is what cinema can do so well when the right ingredients come together, as they did in 1980.

    The Worst? all three Star Wars prequels. Utter rubbish. Proving just how difficult that kind of film is to pull off.....oh, and every single Michael Bay film, but that goes without saying.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    The sixth sense fits the description of a summer blockbuster (it was released in August, cost 40 million, made more than 600 million). The sixth sense has to be one of the good ones, I think.

  • Comment number 57.

    I'll skip past the bandwagon jumping that my tastes reflect many of the popular favourites above, to have a go at one of the worst not mentioned yet:

    Top Gun -- misguided gung-ho testosterone militarism, cardboard thin characters, and that eighties trope of the-sympathetic-sidekick-character-that-must-die so that the "hero" can pull it together and stop being an a--hole and win. I saw it on a free preview stuck onto the second half of a double bill, the film broke about 2/3rds of the way through and we were stuck for about 45 minutes in a theatre with a dim red light on, and packed up air con, nearly Lynchian hell in its sense of uncomfortable dread as we waited for the indeterminate ending of the film to play out. I know that it's considered a classic, perhaps partially for the homoerotic kitsch factor, or for its plain old OTT blockbuster kitsch factor, and it has a good cast doing their worst work. Looking back, the film breaking was the best part, and sadly that version isn't available on DVD.

    To add briefly to the Jaws love fest -- I found it so gripping the first time, that during the scene of the attack on the crowded beach (before you get to THAT shot of Roy Scheider going all wide angle), I fumbled for a chocolate bar and bit into it, instantly realizing the metallic taste in my mouth wasn't blood, but that I had forgotten to unwrap it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Well Dr Kermode, there are so many bad and quite a few good to choose from. I will start with the good. My favourite blockbuster to this day is the earliest recollection I have of being astounded at the cinema. It was 1980 and the much anticipated sequel to Star Wars had arrived. I watched in wonder as the huge 4 legged ATAT walkers came across the snow and that is the moment I fell in love with cinema. It didn't hurt that I saw it at the luxurious Civic Theatre (the theatre used in Jackson;s wretched King Kong remake). Next best would probably be Jaws which I hope to see at the cinema this year.
    Worst however would be a tie with the two worst films I have ever seen in the 6-7000 films I have viewed. These are Transformers 2 & 3 and you may well ask why I saw the 3rd one after the abomination that was the 2nd? Well a month after the 3rd came out and it had already made a silly amount of money some bored friends and I went with vouchers just to see how spectacularily bad it indeed was, it was funny how bad it was .. for about 45 minutes and then after that I tryed to sleep.

  • Comment number 59.

    The best blockbusters would encompass most of the films that opened in the fantastic summer of 1982. Because of the Actors strike of 1980 and the Writers Guild of America strike in 1981 you effectively had 3 years of summer blockbusters released during the summer of 81.

    The worst would include the majority of so called summer blockbuster films post 2000.

  • Comment number 60.

    Best summer blockbuster: Inception, for all the reasons that Mark said plus the fact that it features Marion Cotillard.

    Worst: Dark Knight Rises. Now hear me out here. It's not a bad film. On many levels, it's an extraordinary film. But does it fulfil its brief to be a summer blockbuster? The serious tone and the need to rationalise everything (up to and including Catwoman's ears) suggest that it's a superhero movie made by someone who doesn't really like superhero movies. After all, it's a Batman film lasting two hours and forty minutes in which Batman himself is on screen for - what? - twenty minutes? A summer blockbuster to me is submental brainrot like Transformers; Dark Knight Rises is an introspective art film on the subject of identity disguised as a summer blockbuster. That is its genius - and its failing. But it does, at least, feature Marion Cotillard...

  • Comment number 61.

    Some of my favourites, a few of them admittedly nostalgic choices:
    Star Wars, naturally.
    E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is, of course, a fantastic tale by Steven Spielberg. It's funny, exciting, scary and heartbreaking, a perfect film for the whole family.
    Ghostbusters still holds up today even though its effects look very dated, why? Because of the amazingly funny dialogue (Bill Murray was never funnier) and the charming characters.
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit, genius combination of live action and animation, and it still looks good! Also a very funny film and a nice homage to Film Noir.
    Die Hard, one of the quintessential action films.
    Terminator 2, sadly tarnished by the unnecessary extended versions on DVD. The theatrical cut is perfect as it is.
    Jurassic Park, I still remember marvelling at the screen in 1993. Granted, I was 12 years old and at the height of my dinosaur fandom. But it's also a film that holds up quite well, except for the annoying kids.
    The Fugitive, one of the greatest chase movies. A shame that the big waterfall stunt looks incredibly fake.
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the best of the bunch.
    The Dark Knight of course.
    Toy Story 3, the best Pixar film to date.
    The Avengers was pretty much all I hoped for from that film, great fun!

    And now for some of the worst, aka the Michael Bay memorial list:
    The Nutty Professor (1996), Batman and Robin, Godzilla (1998), The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Pearl Harbor, Planet of the Apes (2001), Star Wars Episode II, Bad Boys II, The Day after Tomorrow, The Da Vinci Code, Pirates 3, Transformers 1 and 2 (haven't seen 3), Indiana Jones and the Crystal Clusterf*ck.

  • Comment number 62.

    Batman and Robin, Speed 2 or The Avengers- What needs to be said about these train wrecks, I won't get the image of Sean Connery dressed as teddy out of my head soon

    Transformers Dark of the Moon- Saw this on the IMAX in 3D, and even then I started to fall asleep by the climax... no matter how big and loud you get, doesn't change the fact it's crap at the end of the day. I used my Odeon premiere points to get myself in for free for it, and still felt ripped off

    The Truman Show- Don't need to go into depth about how much of a masterpiece/ triumph this is, and though it came out here in Oct 1998, I recall it showing while I was in the US in May of that year, so it certainly counts and could easily be up there with the tip top

    Back to the Future- Bit of a no brainer really this one, as it's my all time favourite film and like Truman it was out stateside in July before coming out here in December, oh how times have changed!

    Nolan's Batman trilogy- These have really changed the landscape for the better, big bombastic superhero movies with a hidden agenda... the big action movie with smarts and heart

    T2 and The Matrix- Special effects milestones that have real smarts and a story, a bit like Batman matched a big brand with some real heart, these films were landmarks in groundbreaking tech but proved more than just a pretty face and are now real renowned classics

  • Comment number 63.

    Overlooking the obvious best & worst, that Mark has already mentioned, how about...

    Best - Batman Begins. Nolan owned the summer of 2005 with his virtually flawless reinvention for a discerning audience. His epic enthralled, surprised, stunned and absolutely rewarded those who engaged their brains to immerse themselves in the Gotham darkness.

    Worse - Indiana Jones and the Travesty of the Crystal Skulls. Spielberg broke Indy. Forgiveness will be difficult.

  • Comment number 64.

    As for good summer blockbusters it's hard to look past most of Nolan's work, and the group of Pixar films released in the summer (although unfortunately my favourite; A Bug's Life, was released in November.)
    My very best would have to be Wall - E. Absolutely one of my favourite films of the last ten years or so.
    As for the worst? Well, the worst blockbuster that I've seen in a cinema during the summer was last year: Sucker Punch. Yes, it was released in April but I can't forget being dragged by a group of friends to go and see it during an incredibly sunny, warm weekend. I loath that film, very much. Probably the worst film I've seen in a cinema.

  • Comment number 65.

    Far too many contenders for title of the worst summer blockbuster, but as for the best? Well, I too enjoyed Inception. A jaw-dropping, head-scrambling, mind-melting, ear-splitting, thought-provoking, ground-breaking evening in the cinema (oh, and it was also fun. Very, very good fun). I would also like to echo one or two other posts on here and flag up Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Although it might not be an obvious choice for a conventional summer blockbuster, it cost 70-odd million dollars, it took an awful lot more than that when it opened in June 1988, it had stars (both 3 and 2-dimensional), and it has stood the test of time, and then some.

    But, my absolute top summer blockbuster? A.I. Artificial Intelligence. I remember going in expecting a reasonably diverting 90-odd minutes of sci-fi hokum, I came out of the cinema after two-and-a-bit hours of terrific entertainment, genuine emotional turbulence and classic blockbuster spectacle. The ending of A.I. Artificial Intelligence remains the only time that I have ever cried during a film. In addition, the film (in my opinion) boasts one of the very finest scores of the decade, and one of John Williams' most significant and most underrated achievements.

  • Comment number 66.

    It's been said already, but Raiders of the Lost Ark is my defining moment (I'm a few years younger than Mark so I was a little too young for Jaws.) It's smart, funny and, whilst slightly slower-moving than we might be used to today, is utterly engrossing from start to finish.
    Spielberg is underappreciated for what he has done in his career - and yes, I know he's one of the most respected film-makers ever, he's still underappreciated because there are simply no superlatives good enough for him..!

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm struggling to think back to my childhood and what I saw at the cinema during summer holidays, so will have to stick to more recent years.

    Amongst the best: Inception and Nolan's Batman trilogy, Toy Story 3, WALL-E, Gladiator and Jurassic Park

    Amongst the worst: the Transformers trilogy, the Sex and the City trilogy, the Star Wars prequels and Judge Dredd.

  • Comment number 69.

    Best: Dark Knight trilogy (especially The Dark Knight, still the highlight of theWo three for me, though Rises comes close) and, of course, the classic Raiders.

    Worst: Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (though I did enjoy the first one), Transformers

  • Comment number 70.

    I want to nominate a summer film that falls into a strange grey zone between the typical parameters of good and bad in film: SPEED RACER. The film was a complete marketing nightmare, mish-mashing its expensive, hallucinogenic visuals and chop-socky action with strangely intricate plotting and surly characterisation. It's a total anomaly, and it completely failed to cater to the family audience that would have made its enormous budget back...

    ...and yet, this doesn't matter one squit. Through its sheer guile and commitment in mimicking the warped charm of the original cartoon, the film reaches a kind of compelling, hypnotic nirvana that is increasingly appreciated on repeat viewings. Detached from its original summer-season context, it will undoubtedly go on to become a cult classic.

  • Comment number 71.

    Inception is a great film and I'm pleased that it has brought intelligence back to the blockbuster but, as with all Nolan films (and Nolan himself), it lacks humour. It's the only film of his I own. Batman Begins bored me to tears. Batman portrayed as dark and serious works within the graphic novels but on film I still find his portrayal slightly laughable. A man dressed as a giant bat speaking like a man gargling razor blades? hard to take seriously really. The current Nolan love-in is slightly absurd. Comic book fans trying to prove how 'intelligent' they are, he is held aloft like some kind of justification for their obsession.

    Films such as Back to the future are sadly missing today. Entertaining films with fantastic imagination and entertainment in spades. Infact, since the early 90's and Jurrassic Park,99% of summer blockbusters have been utter dross. Star wars and its like cannot be blamed for the rubbish that has been released since the early 90's though. It's lazy to blame them. They were great films that will always remain popular and it's akin to blaming The Beatles for Oasis or Jimi Hendrix for Lenny Kravitz! You cannot stop the pale imitations that follow.

    Where is the imagination,the characters, the humour, the spectacle in today's blockbusters? And while we're at it, where is the wonderous music?
    Hans Zimmer? please! His music is as dull as dishwater. Like David Arnold's unimaginative Bond scores, I can barely remember a single melody. John Williams and John Barry tower above these guys. Memorable music that perfectly encapsulate the film with emotional, unforgettable melodies. Their best music was so powerful that it IS half of the film!

    On a different note. How about summer blockbusters that flopped but were actually very good films? I'd go with Return to Oz....scared the life out of me as a kid and I still really enjoyed it when I watched it recently.

  • Comment number 72.

    Hi Mark, first of all, i'm glad that you took the time to mention the re-release of Jaws, it was amazing to finally see it on the big screen and it still holds up today as one of the greatest movies ever made.

    Now, i'll start with what i think are the worst summer blockbusters since Jaws and they are as following:
    Independence Day
    Pearl Harbour
    Iron Man II
    The Expendables
    The Avengers (yes, it sucked imo)
    Jurassic Park 2 & 3
    Pirates Of The Carribean 4 On Stranger Tides
    Terminator 3
    Batman Returns
    Batman Forever
    Batman & Robin
    Jaws 3 & 4
    All Transformers movies
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 & 3
    Robocop (not sure if it came out in the summer but i think its one of the stupidest films ever made)

    Now, for the best:
    The Dark Knight Trilogy
    Die Hard & Die Hard 2 (the other two were just ok)
    All Rocky movies except 5
    Back To The Future
    All Rambo movies except 3
    Terminator 1 & 2

  • Comment number 73.

    Best- well any from Inception, Toy Story 3, any from Nolan Batman trilogy, Super 8, and I have to admit I love Armageddon.
    Worst- Transformers 2 and 3, Batman and Robin, either of the Fantastic 4 films, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 or Kingdom of Heaven

  • Comment number 74.

    Tough question Mark. Although this has already been mentioned, Independence Day is one of the worst summer movies I've ever seen. It's a film made by people who seem to dislike the genre of Science-Fiction. Will Smith's character seems completely disinterested in the Aliens (along with every other character besides the scientist) and the entire film has a jingoisitc attitude that's extremely offputting. As for my favorite summer blockbuster, it's easily Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It's creepy, funny, magical, suspenseful, and really poignant.

  • Comment number 75.

    1) Jurassic Park
    2) The Dark Knight
    3) Inception
    4) JAWS

    1) Transformers trilogy (wish it would remain so)
    2) The Postman

  • Comment number 76.

    Alien and Aliens. Classic stuff. Truman Show was good aswell. Also Up, The Incredibles, Toy Story are timeless. Also True Lies tongue in cheek big budget blockbuster. I haven't seen it in years so maybe im looking at it with rose tinted glasses..... remember Speed? sure over the top but still enjoyable.

    Worst: Armageddon, Batman and Robin, Lost in Space, all the usual suspects and personally for me i hate all the Star Wars.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'd love to say 'Battlefield Earth' for the worst ever block buster, but sadly (or happilly) crowds didn't flock to it and it bombed... so the rules do not permit it mention.

    I guess the worst blockbuster I've unfortunately seen that has been a financial success is 'Transformers' - gladly I have avoided the sequels so cannot comment on them - their only saving grace being that they prompt some funny Mark Kermode videos which my wife and I both enjoy.

    As for bests... I don't believe in bests when the field is so wide. I think claiming 'bests' in cinema is a folly. Favourites is fine, so I'll name a few favourites.

    'The Empire Strikes Back'
    'Raiders of the Lost Ark'
    'Back to the Future' (Trilogy)
    'Star Wars'
    'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan'

  • Comment number 78.

    Say what you will about Nolan films but he knows how to deliver a hell of a film going experience. Three Batman films with entirely different feels. A beginning. A middle. An end. A comic book film. A crime drama. A war film. Each deliver story, top acting, gripping characters and massive realistic spectacle. Then in the middle of those to deliver an original and complex film that doesn't look down to its audience with Inception is something to admire. Great on Nolan's part you also have to admire Warner Brothers to allow a small independant filmmaker to have such a big budget with one of their prized franchises. However, his successes in big-budget mainstream cinema makes me feel we may no longer see smaller films like the absolute gem The Prestige.

    So it makes it hard to believe that the same studio released Green Lantern. A CGI-fest with dull characters and uninspired action created by filmmakers clearly with no appreciation of the source material. It just doesn't make sense.

  • Comment number 79.

    PS... I rather like 'Waterworld' and, when I saw 'Pearl Harbour' I thought it was not nearly as poor as I had been lead to expect... reviewing might prove different.

  • Comment number 80.

    Dr K! My favourite Summer Blockbuster is Luc Besson's Sci-Fi epic "The Fifth Elemanet". It's got everything, comedy, tension, drama, Bruce Willis doing Space Die Hard, Gary Oldman in a wig that would make Christopher Walken scream, a fine turn from Milla Jovovich and Ian Holm as a priest... great fun well dressed stuff.

    The Blockbuster I hate the most has to be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It might not be as bad as Michael Bay's out put but with Bay you can expect utter garbage, with Spielberg, the Summer Blockbuster father you expect something more than just Shia LeBouf swinging with Monkeys. Not even John Hurt gone mad and an all too small turn from the terrific Jim Broadbent could save me from yawning and when the ending came I was left rolling my eyes in anger.

  • Comment number 81.

    The best - Inception. It's a beautifully constructed, wonderfully written and perfectly captured work of art. Head and shoulders above the competition in both blockbuster and arthouse terms.

    The worst - Batman and Robin/Battlefield Earth. There simply aren't enough words.

    Thinking about this makes me miss 2010; that was a great year for big, expensive American cinema. Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network...

  • Comment number 82.


    Totally agree, the reason blockbusters are so dumb is that dumb people make them.

    The problem is also that there is a snobbery of summer blockbusters that many people look down on them. Some of it is true but there are many great films highlighted here that have been overlooked.

    It is this snobbery that puts off serious intelligent film makers from making blockbusters.

    Even Dr K is guilty of this choosing Howard the Duck as the best blockbuster over the likes of so many other here before.

    I don't doubt he likes the film but I always felt he choose it as something odd rather than be seen picking something like Back to the Future therefore being above the whole blockbuster thing.

  • Comment number 83.


    Agree. Trying to appear superior has ruined many art forms. Honesty, is rare. I mean, do you really think BFI members watch Japanese silent films from 1929 when they're at home and away from judgement? I bet they stick on Back to the future and whoop along to it.

  • Comment number 84.

    The best blockbuster experiences, to me, depend on one's age when one first sees them. For example, my answer to this question is the two Dalton Bond films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. I was 7 and 9, and they made a big impact on me (despite being regularly in the mid-range of fan appreciation). And yet, GoldenEye, which I dislike, is highly favored. But I was 15 at the time, and GoldenEye is arguably aimed at a much younger audience than Dalton's films. My point is that appreciation of blockbusters depends on the age and circumstances around which you see them. (I realize GoldenEye was not a summer blockbuster; it was fall release, but I needed it as a contrast to make my point.)

  • Comment number 85.

    Despite them being some of my favourite movies I feel the films of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy don't work too well as summer blockbusters. Their dark tone, heavy moral dilemmas and sophisticated narrative suit the winter far better. As Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) made me appreciate my bleak surroundings, showing the cold snow-worn Sweden off as something quite beautiful by being released in late December so should the icy city of Gotham, as Batman shines through harsh weather to prove a very valuable lesson to every Englishman; even with bad weather there are good times to be had.

    And, as much as it saddens me to say, perhaps they would have had better luck at the Oscars if they'd been released later in the year.

  • Comment number 86.

    Are the Bourne films summer blockbusters? if so I'll take them and 12 Monkeys.

    As for the worst where do you start

  • Comment number 87.

    As the usual suspects are pretty well covered, I'd like to throw in "Hellboy 2 the Golden Army" as a favourite blockbuster... characters you care about, spectacle, humour, an environmentalist subtext, a small homage to LOTR and a fantastic tour de force from Guillermo Del Toro.
    I'm actually going to buck the trend here and say I was quite disappointed by Scott Pilgrim.
    Partly because I expected more from Edgar Wright based on Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but mostly because computer game references don't lend themselves to multi-faceted characters that you care about.
    The videogames that translate into good movies can be counted on the fingers of one foot, and whilst technically it took a graphic novel as scource material, it felt like a succession of beat-em up rounds that you're watching someone else play. After a while it just gets repetative and dull.
    I wouldn't say it's the worst blockbuster ever but it was a much bigger disappointment then Transformers 1, 2 & 3 which I expected to be crap from the get-go.

  • Comment number 88.

    Best is a difficult one but it would have to be between Die Hard, Jurassic Park and Speed.

    Worst - Jurassic Park III, Men In Black 2, Speed 2. Pretty much sequels to great movies.

  • Comment number 89.

    My first and favorite one is Jaws but here are some other good summer movies that I liked: WALL·E, Indiana Jones trilogy, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, You Only Live Twice, Predator (I know you hate it Mark but to me it was good fun and that's what I need from summer BB), War of the Worlds (enjoyed it even more when I watch it again on dvd in November), Total Recall, Back to the Future. and now movies that I didn't like at all and this is not easy to say because I know you are a big fan of Christopher Nolan but for me Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and here is why, now I'm not saying this are bad movies but to me they were flat, didn't enjoy them at all I was bored most of the time it's like it doesn't stink but it doesn't smell good either, Independence Day (it was so pathetic so I rolled my eyes a lot of the time), The Blues Brothers (it's just nothing in this movie that I liked), National Lampoon's Animal House (was'nt funny to me at all I maybe had one laugh), Mission: Impossible III (I got free ticket and a date for this one and I lived to regret it)

  • Comment number 90.

    No,Sorry I couldnt keep my big mouth shut about Pearl Harbor

    Pearl Harbor the event was a terrible tragedy ,where thousands of innocent sailors died. The film is the stupidest ,most vomit inducing,false love story I have ever seen. I`ve said it before,that dialogue could have been written by a ten year old for a six year old. The film insults the dead. It should be renamed ` I SPIT ON YOUR WAR GRAVE `

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm not sure if it can be classed as a blockbuster but for me one of the best films that I saw in the summer a couple of years ago was Moon.

    That was the year when I had sat through the multimillion dollar crap storms of Terminator: Salvation and Transformers: Revenge of the Moron (sorry, Fallen). I was completely blown away by Moon because it didn't cost a lot of money to produce and yet it had the things utterly missing from Terminator and Transformers which were heart and intelligence and a character (played by the brilliant and under rated Sam Rockwell) that I cared about.

    Another film that opened in August but could not be said to be a huge summer blockbuster is The Usual Suspects. It's a brilliant film and I still think it looks like it cost more to make than it actually did (and that's a compliment in my book).

    Speaking of Summer blockbusters (and I'm getting ready for people to start hooting with derision and throwing things at me), one of my favourite summer blockbuster movies was The Rock. Yes, a Michael Bay film that doesn't make me want to pull my eyes out of my head and use them as a couple of marbles!

    Other honorable mentions include 2 Spielberg movies that people seem to forget about and yet are big budget movies with intelligence and brains behind them and they are AI: Artificial Intelligence and Minority Report.

    Mission Impossible (which I loved but my Dad said of the climax "either that's a very big tunnel or a very small helicopter!" Knickers to my old man, I still like the movie).

    Event Horizon and Death Race (I think they opened in August/September but I still think of them as Summer movies and I love them).

    Finally on the subject of Summer blockbuster movies, I have to mention Batman. Not the Chris Nolan films (brilliant though they are) but Tim Burton's 1989 film. It's a vitally important film for me because if I hadn't seen that as a 13 year old I would never have fallen in love with films or studied the medium at Post Graduate level.

    Now for the crap!

    Spielberg's War of the Worlds. How can people like this movie? The FX are dismal, Cruise is rubbish and the whole film flaps along in a haze of misery. It just doesn't have the intelligence of AI or Minority Report.

    All Transformers movies. Enough has been said on these cinematic Richard the Thirds that I will waste no more time on idle abuse.

    Braveheart. Yes, it opened in August. Yes, it won lots of Oscars. But it is historically inaccurate , it's 3 hours long and it makes me want to jump stark naked into Loch Ness. In December. With a concrete block tied to my leg.

    The final, absolute stinker. Battlefield Earth. Travolta, you're a jerk for believing all that Scientology cobblers and you're an even bigger jerk for not recognising that the book was a load of pulpy drivel and spending 20 years trying to turn a turd of a book into a turd of a movie!

  • Comment number 92.

    Waterworld didn't break even Mark. I understand that it made $264million , more then its alleged $175m budget. Generally speaking however, a film needs to gross roughly twice its production budget to genuinely break even. Would make an interesting blog post for yourself, what it actually takes for a film to break even etc

  • Comment number 93.

    I forgot to add Battleship, it is the worst summer bb ever it is worst than John Carter by far

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm going to say, somewhat controversially, that one of the best was Superman Returns. I watch that film on a regular basis, as it's one of the best Superhero films out there. It's bland at points, yes. But bland in all the ways a character as boringly powerful as Superman needs to be, in order to pull him off cinematically. It carries on from a great trilogy, and Brandon Routh was brilliantly cast, as he was charmless enough both as Superman and Clark Kent, which is how he should be. That film was painfully underrated. And with that, plus X-Men 1 and 2, Brian Singer has done as much - probably more - for comic book films as Christopher Nolan and Joss Whedon etc. Which is why he should be hired for the Justice League film, which, otherwise, is set to be a total failure.
    In conclusion, shut up everyone who's giving that film a hard time.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hello Dr K,

    One of the best all time summer blockbusters: 'Die Hard' (Dir. John McTiernan, 1988); and

    One of the worst: 'Catwoman' (Dir. Pitof, 2004).

  • Comment number 96.

    We're going to need a bigger marketing campaign.

  • Comment number 97.

    Transformers 1. Can't comment on 2 and 3 as I found 1 to be a very compelling reason not to waste time or money on the sequels. To this day I have no idea what happened in that film. All I saw was spinning metal.
    The Avengers. Contrary to what the earlier commenter said, Sean Connery in a teddy suit was the highlight. It was THAT bad.
    Jurassic Park. I can tell it's very well made, but I just hated it, can't really put my finger on why.
    Batman & Robin. Truly the very pinnacle of bad franchise films.

    Inception, for reasons already gone into in greater detail than I can manage.
    The recent Marvel movies. They varied a little in quality, but I've never not been entertained in a suitably dumb but fun fashion. They're not art, best picture Oscars are not in their future, but I think everything Marvel has done from Iron Man onwards has been the very epitome of what a mindlessly entertaining spectacle movie should be. I also like the idea that The Avengers is both among the best and the worst.
    All of the Indiana Jones franchise (yes, I actually liked all bar the last 15 minutes of the Crystal Skull one)
    And yes, I know it just missed a summer release in the UK, but Serenity also has to make my list.

  • Comment number 98.

    The point about Christmas period not getting blockbuster films anymore isn't true as Lord of the Rings and a bunch of the Harry Potter films were released around that time but anyway

    Best: Star Wars A New Hope & Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien 1 & 2, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and The Dark Knight

    Worst: Batman & Robin. I could write a book about everything wrong with this and film and Independence Day. I know some people will disagree with this but anything that launches the career of Roland Emmerich is not a good thing

  • Comment number 99.

    the best summer blockbuster for me is the BOURNE triology all came out between june and august cost alot of money made lots of money had your explosions your crashes but they seemed to mean something and the crashes had weight and when people were getting hurt you felt something the series which made the audience happy and the producers as it would tick their boxes as well as ours if you know what i mean.
    as for the worst lets not dwell on the majority

  • Comment number 100.

    Best - Spider-Man 2
    A complex character study of a young man struggling coming to terms with the responsibilities and sacrifices of adult life wrapped up in a colourful, exciting and visually thrilling comic book movie.

    Worst - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
    As a 28 year old man I felt embarrassed that I could not follow the plot of a children's movie, no adult should have to feel that way.


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