With warring superheroes, dewy animated beings, and doomy monsters and aliens all fighting for the imagination of the viewers, and hackneyed rehashes betting solely on nostalgia, most summer blockbusters now have become easily dismissable.
While Hollywood’s 2017 summer season may have started on a high note with the Hugh Jackman starrer Logan—with critics claiming it may change the superhero genre for good—the cultural dominance of tentpole cinemas from major studios has seen a gradual decline in recent years.
This summer, however, does hold promise with releases like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, sequel to 2014’s acclaimed hit, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Despicable Me 3. Before Hollywood blusters the viewers with more brassy, trite releases this summer, we take a look at some of the most effective summer releases that have captured the imagination of an entire generation.
Independence Day (1996)
Arguably the most effective genre exercise in disaster movies (far more effective than this year’s Oscars Best Picture nominee Arrival), director Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day can give many recent summer releases a run for their money with its potent mix of drama and thrills.
The unlikely pairing of leads Will Smith, who plays a US Marine captain, and Jeff Goldblum, a satellite technician, fighting clumsily but eventually successfully against the green-eyed visitors succinctly summarizes the movie’s appeal; with brain and brawn working in unison.
Men in Black (1997)
Cleverly imagined and deftly realized, Men in Black has become synonymous with alien movies ever since it was released in the summer of ’97. Its metaphysical implications are grave, and performances are great throughout. However, it is the wide array for puckish aliens imagined for the movie that makes Men in Black so memorable.
The Host (2006)
If there is one movie that is fitting to the seemingly ironic phrase ‘the genius of the system’, used to refer to the mechanical structures of the studio-based system giving birth to inventive cinema, it has got to be director Bong Joon-ho’s The Host.
Essentially a monster movie, but also much more with its layered political allergies, which hold true in S. Korea where the movie is based, and also the entire world at large, The Host is a wildly inventive piece of cinema.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is often credited to having birthed the modern superhero genre with its decidedly atmospheric setting, a fitting playground for the kind of brood and menace not seen before in the genre.
While the Batman universe has always had powerful villains always finding new ways to exercise their transgressions, there has not been an instantly iconic villain like Heath Ledger’s Joker.
There has not been many animated movies that revel in quietude like Pixar’s WALL-E. While it also helps the movie that the hero, a waifish robot stranded on earth to clean up garbage, does not know how to speak, the resulting tableau of the last creature on earth soaking in the vast expanse of garbage and dust is beautifully poignant, and instantly iconic.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
What started in 2011 as a harmless reboot of the 1968 film adaptation of author Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes, the James Franco starrer Rise of the Planet of the Apes gave way to the stunning Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Following director Tim Burton’s disastrous attempt of reboot in 2001, the movie, cleverly reimagined by director Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield fame), is far more superior in its tone and resonance from all movies released in the film franchise, with its rich allegory and performances (mostly by the CGI apes!). It is also, arguably, one of the best reboot of a major Hollywood movie franchise.