As a movie lover, it pains me to say that, up to this point, this summer’s movie season has been surprisingly sub-par. We’ve been subjected to largely mediocre and predictable movies like Star Trek: Into Darkness, World War Z. and Man of Steel. And we have been outright disappointed with a few others (Iron Man 3 comes to mind). I never saw, nor do I even want to know how bad the likes of R.I.P.D. or After Earth were. With August quickly approaching, it appears that this summer will not give us the great summer movie of years past. This pedestrian blockbuster season has led me to some reflection, which has led me to this list of the five best summer movies of the last five years.
1. 'The Dark Knight' (July, 2008)
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Despite being a blockbuster film about a superhero, DK is a damn good film. The movie follows Bruce Wayne’s struggle to not only save his city from the Joker and Two-Face but also to salvage the notion of what a hero is supposed to be. The movie is rife with allegories of the war in Iraq, acts of terror, and questions of morality, helping reinvent how audiences view blockbusters. Who said a superhero blockbuster can’t be dark, or political, or intelligent and not be a smash-hit? DK changed that, and blockbusters really haven’t been the same since. DK gave us one of the best summer movies of all-time, along with one of the best villains of all-time, one of the best action movies of all-time and the best comic book movie of all-time. This film is The Godfather of our generation.
2. 'Inception' (July, 2010)
The most convention-defying movie on the list, Inception is a film that is somehow concurrently mind-boggling yet makes perfect sense and action-packed yet absolutely original. The film follows a group of “extractors” who are able to enter one’s dreams in order to conduct corporate espionage. An all-star cast, a unique storyline, a killer score by Hans Zimmer, and an ending that people still discuss make it one of the most memorable movies of any time of year in the last decade.
3. 'Star Trek' (May, 2009)
JJ Abrams somehow pulled off the impossible with this one: He made a movie that was true enough to the original series to appeal to fanboys yet fun enough to appeal to everyone else. The film’s plot, which is cliché (young, inexperienced, beautiful people must overcome the odds and save the planet from aliens ... yeah, yeah) adds a time-space continuum for good measure in which old characters co-exist with their new counterparts. With just enough action-sequences to not be too much, the film was more than your average space flick.
4. 'The Avengers' (May, 2012)
In many ways, this is the superhero movie that other superhero movies wish they could be. Shallow yet engaging, redundant yet continually entertaining, action over plot and character development. With little more to be said about the film’s story aside from the fact that it is 2 hours of pure fun, it certainly lacks the substance and depth of DK (or even Iron Man I or X-Men 2) but it more than makes up for this with awesome action sequences and the most ambitious collection of characters ever assembled for a movie. Despite the film being little more than a showcase for how cool superheroes are, the film easily gets away with this formula because Marvel did a fantastic job leading up to this movie. This movie didn’t need to develop the characters, that’s what that character’s movie was for. Simply put, this movie just needed to show how badass these superheroes are together and it did just that.
5. 'The Hurt Locker' (June 2009)
This film accomplished an almost unheard of feat for a summer movie … It won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The movie, which follows a unit that disables bombs in Iraq, is one of the most intense you’ll see. The film is full of intrigue and tension-filled moments, which leaves you wondering if/when one of the film’s characters will be blown up by a bomb they are disabling. Couple these moments with masterful direction from Kathryn Bigelow (who also won the Academy Award for Best Director) and a tour-de-force performance by Jeremy Renner, and you have one of the best films of the decade. This movie probably belonged at the end of the year with the rest of the films vying for awards, but it was released in the summer and barely edged out both Iron Man I and Rise of the Planet of the Apes for the number 5 spot on the list.
6. Honorable Mention: '500 Days of Summer' (July 2009)
Certainly not the type of movie associated with the movies this time of the year, 500 Daysis also not your typical light-hearted comedy.Uniquely made and incredibly entertaining, it follows the beginning and end of a romance through the good times and the bad. With a great soundtrack, fantastic performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel, a great low-fi soundtrack and innovative direction by Marc Webb (which catapulted him all the way to the Amazing Spiderman series), this is a must see that guys and girls alike can appreciate. The movie is, in my opinion, the best romantic comedy of the 2000s.