I watched 17 movies in the theater. The total running time (not including the endless minutes of commercials and trailers) was 1,986 minutes. That’s just over 33 hours of time spent sitting on my butt, usually by myself, in a movie theater this summer. The average was 116.82 minutes per movie or about one hour and 57 minutes per film. But those are just the stats. How do I rank them now that it’s all said and done? From worst to first, here we go!
17. After Earth – I had a lot of fun watching this movie because Brian and I saw it together. We laughed through much of it and the conversation on the walk to the parking lot made it all worth it. Still, easily and obviously the worst movie I saw all summer. The weird accents, strange plot choices and cheesy flying scenes did it in. I can’t recommend it at all.
16. Epic – Epic was a kids cartoon movie by the makers of Ice Age and Rio. The story about a hidden race of micro-sized forest dwellers who live in the trees at a different vibration from humans was a good one. The execution was a bit lackluster despite it looking really great.
15. The Wolverine – I love X-Men movies. I love the trilogy and I love the prequel. I didn’t love this odd movie that featured Wolverine as a side character to a Japanese family story line.
14. R.I.P.D. – Here come the watchable movies that deserve run on TNT but shouldn’t cost you money in the theater! R.I.P.D. was derivative and a bit directionless, but it was totally watchable. You’ll love it on TNT when you have some time to kill, but you’ll be happy you didn’t pay full price to sit in the theater to see it.
13. Kick-Ass 2 – The final movie of the summer turned out to be a little too dark for the tone that the original film set. I’m not a prude. I enjoy some violent movies and have a special place in my heart for revenge flicks, but this was supposed to be more fun than dark. It turned out to be kind of disturbing in spots due to the tonal schizophrenia.
12. The Internship – Is there anything that screams watchable cable movie than Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson? This movie also doubles as an infomercial for Google. I laughed at this movie and it had a bit of heart, but it isn’t memorable like Wedding Crashers. Think Black Sheep instead of Tommy Boy.
11. The Great Gatsby – I knew better than to trust Baz Luhrman. I knew that when I turned off Moulin Rouge the minute I heard the bastardization of Smells Like Teen Spirit come through in a cheesy Broadway-ified medley a few minutes into the film. Gatsby was far better than that, of course. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan guaranteed that. Still, I’m left with the lasting memories of Jay-Z songs being shoehorned into the middle of what should have been a stylized period piece.
10. Despicable Me 2 – Not as good as the first one, but really a lot of fun. I know better than to trust my own instincts on kids movies. My son Ben’s attention and enjoyment of this movie really tells the tale. You know just how funny Steve Carell is when his mere voicing of a character can draw laughs out of an audience.
9. Fast 6 – This movie was far better than I thought it was going to be. I struggled to get through the back catalog of “Fast” movies in order to prepare to watch this movie. In the end, while it isn’t high quality cinema, this was one of the best movie-going experiences of the summer for me. It was a completely packed audience and they couldn’t have enjoyed every cheesy moment more if they tried. In terms of setting expectations and delivering, Fast 6 was about as perfect as it could be.
8. World War Z – This wasn’t nearly as good as I hoped it would be, but my hopes were way high. What we got from Brad Pitt was ultimately a very different take on the zombie movie genre. It spent a lot of time acting like an outbreak movie as much as it did acting like a zombie movie. I think it will get better over time.
7. Man of Steel – This is the only movie of the summer that I watched twice. The first time I saw it, I was really tired and it was late at night. I also think I was too rigid in my view of what the movie had to be. By the time I saw this movie a second time, I’d lightened up a bit, was less tired, and allowed Zach Snyder to mold his own Super Man story. I enjoyed it a lot more. Great action and perfect CGI gave us a really great version of the physical world of Super Man even if Snyder took some liberties with the back-story and character.
6. Elysium – This movie was heavy-handed in its message, but ultimately I liked the two versions of the world built in the film. Matt Damon was predictably good and overcame a really weird performance by Jodi Foster.
5. Star Trek – I honestly can’t remember much about this movie right now. That’s not a cop out either. I remember feeling the same way about the first film from 2009. I remember liking the movie and having good thoughts about it even as I couldn’t remember a lot of specifics. My take-away from this film was that I just had a lot of fun, the CGI was perfect, and I feel really good about JJ Abrams taking on Star Wars for Disney.
4. Iron Man 3 – Iron Man 3 ended up delivering the most evil villain of the summer with The Mandarin played by Ben Kingsley. Sure, Iron Man 3 had some strange plot twists that didn’t make total sense. Yes, it tried to hard to be everything to everyone with love stories and even turning Tony Stark into a weird mentor to a younger kid. It was also a bit too long, if I’m being perfectly honest, but none of it mattered. Iron Man works because Robert Downey Jr. is so great as Tony Stark. The action is perfectly executed and for as many people who seem to hate Gwyneth Paltrow, she makes movies better. I will definitely see this one again at home.
3. Pacific Rim – In a lot of ways Pacific Rim is like Fast 6. Pacific Rim defied its overly serious marketing and established itself as a movie that didn’t take itself too seriously. It was a movie about giant robots vs. giant monsters and provided just enough other plot elements around those things to deliver perfectly.
2. Monsters University – Pixar rarely fails. This might be an artificially high ranking, but I don’t think so. This was the first theater movie experience for my son and me. We watched it in 3d and laughed our way through the whole thing. John Goodman and Billy Crystal deliver belly laughs as cartoon characters somehow. And at the same time, they managed to create a sequel (prequel, really) that doesn’t hurt the franchise. This one won’t ever rise to Toy Story proportions, but really a near-perfect family film that takes cues from the original Monsters Inc. and also Revenge of the Nerds. It worked.
1. This is the End – Seth Rogen absolutely killed it with this movie. He, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride parodied themselves and the lives of all their friends. Every worst idea you ever had about young Hollywood stars is played out and exaggerated including one of the funniest and most surprising performances you’ll ever see by actors like Michael Cera and Emma Watson. This movie looked great, was hysterical, had surprisingly good action and didn’t torture its audience with a bloated running time. It was the most fun I had in any movie this summer and I think will also be the movie from this year that has the most legs as a movie that people will quote and watch in the future.
There you have it. This isn’t totally comprehensive. These are just the movies I saw. (Sorry White House Down.)
What did you think of my rankings and reviews? What unbelievably great movie did I miss?