I'll be honest, I’m a huge movie buff, I love going to the movies. However, this summer I didn’t go as often as I did in the past. My family and I agreed, there really weren’t a lot of great movies that came out this summer. We had a lot of sequels, prequels, and I’m guessing midquels. But there were seven movies I did see this summer, which I am going to rank from least awful to best.
WARNING: This is a review, there will be SPOILERS! Staring with:
7. Cars 3
Cars has never really been my favorite Pixar movie, but I am never one to miss a Disney movie, so I went anyway. Cars, good but not great. Cars 2, awful movie. Cars 3….eh, okay? I didn’t go in with high expectations for the franchise, but I did for Pixar in terms of storytelling, and Cars 3 just dragged. The premise was interesting: Lightning McQueen is past his prime and has a Rocky-style comeback story with the help of a new trainer, yet the trainee ends up teaching Lightning more about himself and he becomes her coach. It could have been a great story, but the execution just wasn’t there. I cared more about the new character, Cruz, than the original characters, and the whole tribute to Doc Hudson subplot went from touching to stale. It was just a slow build up to a very predictable ending, that could have been a great closer to the franchise. I know it’s a movie geared towards children, but this is Disney and Pixar after all, and we can do better with animated features (looking at you Emoji Movie.)
6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Normally sequels fail in comparison to the original, but I think this sequel built upon a very successful movie. We got a new character, Mantis, who was a great edition to the Guardians. We got a lot more emotional depth from Gamora and Nebula, and their relationship as sisters. Rocket really got more of a story opposite of Yondu, which oddly worked. The whole storyline of Yondu and Starlord’s father/son relationship was very well written. While the movie was about Starlord’s origin story in finding his birth father, I can also see this movie as Yondou’s redemption story (which was more interesting. I didn’t like the whole “look we got Kurt Russell in a Marvel movie” shtick.) This movie really set up the Guardians debut with the rest of the Avengers in Infinity War next year.
5. The Big Sick
I have been getting more into Indie movies lately and many people recommended The Big Sick. I thought it was interesting to bring up Pakistani culture from a comic’s point of view. We don’t see enough Middle Eastern characters depicted in smart, enlightening ways, and when The Big Sick did movie to a more satirical view, the writing balanced out our own perceptions with his family’s interaction with these stereotypes. That side I enjoyed, as well a lot of the comedy and Kumail’s relationship with Emily’s parents. The reason this movie is lower on my list is because the plot, which revolves around Kumail navigating his relationship with Emily while balancing his family’s traditional values, had a lot of holes in it. It wasn’t a finished script. I also thought Emily’s character was very unlikeable, and it’s horrible to say, but I never felt bad for her during the coma. They broke up, Emily got ill, and she went into a coma. She wakes up after Kumail cared for her this whole time, only for Kumail to find out Emily doesn’t want to be with him. While there was hope given to the audience they might get back together, why should they? She was in a coma, her last memory of him was Kumail hiding secrets from her, why should she love him? Then after he moves, she goes out to see him in New York, and the movie ends implying there’s a chance they will get together? It just made zero sense.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
While many thought the fifth Pirates movie was stale, I would have to disagree. I thought this was the best movie in the franchise since Curse of the Black Pearl. Jack Sparrow’s conflict in the last two films weren’t as tied to his backstory. When his story is: Jack Sparrow gets kidnapped and escapes to get the treasure the antagonist wants first, it really doesn’t give him much to do. However, in Dead Men Tell No Tales, the villain is directly tied into Jack’s backstory, thus giving him more of a reason to find the treasure, thus making the plot more interesting. Plus, Captain Armando Salazar is one of the greatest antagonists in the series, Javier Bardem was a great addition to the Pirates films. We also got Henry Turner, which brings Will and Elizabeth Turner back into the franchise, and Carina Barbossa, who we find out is Hector Barboassa’s daughter. These family ties not only brought the original cast back into the story, but also gave us new characters with more depth. Carina is an astronomer and fearless, and while she falls for Henry, Henry really depends on her help to break his father’s curse. It was a fantastic film overall: defined characters, Pirates nostalgia, and giving Johnny Depp’s character acting more focus.
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spiderman has really been the bastard child of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bounced around from remake to remake. Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was good, didn’t much care for Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, and when they announced Tom Holland I was skeptical for Homecoming. However, this has been my favorite Spider-Man movie, because he wasn’t this teen heartthrob bad ass superhero, he was a just kid finding his way. Spider-Man: Homecoming really is an origin story, because it shows the superhero in his humble beginnings, a kid wanting to fight crime with his newfound powers but lacks the guidance. I also thought it was great that Robert Downey Jr. was there as Iron Man to be his mentor. Tom Holland really got the character right, and you see Spider-Man majorly grow up by the end of the film and take full responsibility for his actions. With great power comes great responsibility. Michael Keaton was a great villain (even though he was playing Birdman again) and there was a great ensemble cast of Peter’s friends like Zendaya as MJ. Marvel, please keep the origin story writing and the diverse casting up!
2. Wonder Woman
After the failures of Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, many thought D.C. Comics couldn’t stand up to the all-mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then we got Wonder Woman. In Hollywood, where we have seen many female superhero movies fail, we finally get it right with Wonder Woman. Diana’s storyline was just incredible and I thought Gal Godot was perfect in balancing her strength with her curiosity of the modern world. Chris Pine played great opposite to her and had a great storyline. They didn’t really force them falling in love, it just sort of happened. The scene where Wonder Woman crawls out of the trenches and runs across the No Man’s Land, dodging bullets, and taking down the enemy. It was incredible. The movie had a great message of an outsider looking in on war and how humanity can really do better to promote peace, which is very timely with today’s current climate. We saw the video of the little girl dressed as Wonder Woman crying when meeting Gal Godot at Comic-Con, showing that more female superhero led movies are needed. Ms. Marvel, Harley Quinn, even Squirrel Girl, we are looking at you.
1. The Glass Castle
I read this book by Jeannette Walls in college for a class and never really got into the story. Like some other people pointed out, this story was very much from the perspective of a traveling, hillbilly family from middle America and I found it hard to connect with them. However, after seeing the movie, I could look past the surface and really get into these characters. The heart of this memoir is a message of finding your self-worth and a deeper perspective into the American Dream we all take for granted. Rex and Rose Walls aren’t the best parents and let their own dreams come in conflict with the well-being of their family. However, they chose to raise their kids the best they knew how: with independence, motivation, hard work, and determination. Jeannette’s parents are blind in the ways they hurt their family, but in turn Jeannette forgets how much her father cared for her and supported her in school. This weird juxtaposition throughout the novel is reflected in the film perfectly, between the flashbacks and modern day. I thought all the characters were portrayed as I remember them in the book and actors like Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson brought more depth to the characters than the novel originally could do. The moral is the pursuit of happiness, and the consequences we pay for that happiness, always remembering where you came from.
Summer Movies I Still Want to See:
All Eyez on Me