The summer movie season started with such a bang that who cares if it ended with a whimper. The months from April to August see the studios’ biggest releases, their riskiest gambles, and the films that all of us are waiting in line the night before to see. And for one studio, this summer solidified 2015 as their most successful year ever. From Furious 7, Minions, Jurassic World, Ted 2 through Straight Outta Compton, Universal Pictures churned out hit after hit. Their films were the top draws for this summer season. Jurassic World became the third highest grossing film of all time. Furious 7 became the fastest film ever to gross $1 billion. Straight Outta Compton turned a modestly budgeted film into one of the most talked about films of the year.
While there were many good films and some not so good, here is my list of my personal top 10 summer movies.
Note: I only included big budget, high profile studio movies, most of which are part of franchises. That is why films like FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD or THE GIFT (one of the year’s best) are not on here.
Minions is the movie equivalent of binging on candy. You know it’s going to make you sick to death of that candy, but for the time being, it was completely worth it. This film is an hour and a half of the side characters from Despicable Me doing what they do, which involves going from one mishap to another and of course committing really stupid acts. It’s family-friendly slapstick at its most basic form, but it was nothing short of fun.
The Edgar Wright factor may have been removed, but Marvel’s final Phase Two film works not just as a Marvel movie about one of the lesser known superheroes, but as a fun heist movie. Ant-Man is filled with great humour and a stellar cast including Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas. The film never takes itself seriously and has a lot of fun with the size of its hero. Great effects and a decent story make Ant-Man one of Marvel’s most unique outings.
- San Andreas
The film wasn’t a hit with critics, but I felt that this was the best 90s disaster movie that never came out in the 90s. Dwayne Johnson gives the film as much charisma as he needs as a family man trying to keep his wife and children safe. The film follows every member of the family, all of which are smarter than characters generally are in natural disaster pictures. Also, the special effects are fantastic.
The biggest surprise of the summer, Spy is so far my favourite comedy of the year. That is largely in part to Jason Statham’s performance in which he pokes fun at the character he typically plays in every movie. It was also nice to laugh with Melissa McCarthy instead of at her. Director Paul Feig also stages fantastic action scenes that aren’t always filled with humour. Someone give this guy the James Bond gig. He wants it bad.
- Straight Outta Compton
It’s interesting how a film that focuses so much about the music that it becomes an analysis of the music business. This is a story filled with energy and chronicles the evolution of the individuals in this group as they deal with fame, money, and the problems with both. This is a very well made movie that will be around come Oscar time.
- Furious 7
Sending a heartfelt farewell to Paul Walker is just one of the reasons why Furious 7 is one of the top films of the 2015 summer season. It’s a celebration of everything that has made this franchise last for so long. The action, the stunts, the characters, and the absolute absurdity of everything. This was the film that kicked off the summer season, and it did it in the best possible way it could.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon’s sequel to the 2012 smash hit, Avengers: Age of Ultron divided critics and audiences. I however was not disappointed in the least. With a heavy emphasis on building character along with some spectacular action scenes, Age of Ultron may not have been as good as The Avengers, but with James Spader giving an iconic performance as the villain and a couple of other great surprises, this set up Phase Three in the best way it could, proving Marvel is still a force to be reckoned with.
- Inside Out
Pixar is back at the top of their game with a film that should have fundamentally failed. But Pixar’s magic touch and absolute devotion to the stories they tell not only made Inside Out one of the best films of the summer, it made it one of the best experiences I’ve had at the movies this year. I loved this movie. I loved the way it analyzes how emotions drive us to act even when we aren’t aware of it. I loved the originality of the story and the way said story is told. Simply put, you have to see Inside Out.
- Mad Max: Fury Road
Take a 70 year old director, a property that’s been on hiatus for 30 years, go into the African desert with vehicles built from scratch, and crash the shit out of them using only practical effects, and the last thing you’d think the film would turn out to be would be a masterpiece. But that’s exactly what Mad Max: Fury Road is. It is a masterpiece of action filmmaking, a two hour assault on the senses that proves the old tricks of filmmaking are still the best tricks. Tom Hardy stars as the title action hero, but even there, George Miller undermines our expectations of what an action hero is, and hereby hands the film over to a group of badass women. Who would have thought that the most macho film of the year is actually all about girl power.
- Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
From its eye popping opening sequence where Tom Cruise holds onto a plane taking off, breaking into one of the most uniquely secure buildings on the planet, car chases through the streets of Morocco, to a stand-off that will have you gripping the edge of your seat, the fifth entry in the Mission: Impossible series is not only the best Mission: Impossible film ever, this is the best film I have seen and probably will see all year. I loved every second of it and thanks to it I also have a new favourite actress in Rebecca Ferguson. Tom Cruise leads a stellar cast of characters including Ving Rhames who finally gets to clock in some field time, Simon Pegg in one of his best roles yet, and Jeremy Renner who can pretty much play any character he wants. Featuring one of the best car chases and hand to hand combat scenes in recent memory, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation single handedly made me a believer in the continuation of this franchise to say the least.
Guilty Pleasures: Ted 2, Terminator: Genisys, Entourage
Movie I Need to See: Shawn the Sheep
Surprisingly Good: Unfriended
Tomorrow, I’ll do the worst films of the summer just in time for our TIFF coverage.