Now that a very autumnal-feeling August is about to end, I’ve pretty much drawn a line under summer blockbuster season for the year and I’ve come to many conclusions about it. Like the fact that I’m convinced that I wouldn’t have managed to write my dissertation without Furious 7 cleansing my brain. Secondly, I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t have felt anywhere near as sane after finishing that soul-destroying project (you might be able to tell that I’m still scarred by the experience) without Avengers: Age of Ultron reminding me that good things did indeed exist in the world. And I know for a fact that my life is so much the better for having seen Magic Mike XXL not once, but three times, on the big screen.
These three films are examples of the films that have hit big for me this summer. I’ve already gone on and on (and on) about my love for Magic Mike XXL, but the point still stands. More than, y’know, all the stripping, it’s got a genuine heart to it and is keen to make that known. Everyone’s happy if they’re making other people happy. It’s become one of those films that I’ll rely on for motivation for years to come, in the same way that I’m fuelled by snacks and shows like Parks and Rec. The same dependence can be directed towards Avengers: Age of Ultron (for obvious, Marvel-lovin’ reasons), Furious 7 (because it’s awesome), and Trainwreck, which might possibly be the most unexpected treat of the summer. I’m looking forward to admitting these films into my DVD collection as soon as I possibly can because a) frankly the collection needs updating and b) I just want to watch them over and over. If I can say that about even a few films that I’ve seen this season, then that’s a good thing.
There are even more than that, though, which didn’t seem to quite fit in the same breath (or more accurately, hefty paragraph) as that bunch. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and its formatting nightmare of a title was also barrels of fun, giving me a new female hero to root for (hello, Rebecca Ferguson) and more of Tom Cruise’s ridiculous stunts (hello, hanging off a plane set-piece). I’ve seen it twice fairly recently now so I’m not rushing for the DVD as much as the films I mentioned before, but rest assured that it will be in the collection eventually. Possibly in a box set with the others in the Mission: Impossible franchise. The other exceptions are Pixar’s masterpiece Inside Out, and Mad Max: Fury Road – mentioned together because let’s face it: how often do you see those two paired together? I have seen Inside Out twice now, but I wasn’t rushing to see either more than once because of the emotional onslaught I felt as I watched both of them: a mix of anxiety and exhilaration in one and ALL OF THE EMOTIONS in the other. Both are amazing, both are unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I appreciate them both enormously. I can only explain my reluctance to revisit them because it’d cost me a fortune in tissues as I sobbed my way through Inside Out, or as I spent a few days trying to restore a semblance of calm after Mad Max: Fury Road. And I don’t have disposable amounts of either money or calm.
For all the hits, though, there have been a few…well, I don’t like to call them ‘misses’, because I know that I enjoyed them them at the time. But these films have neither lasted as long in the memory as I would have liked, or in hindsight I feel a bit like they let me down. OK, I can’t comment on Fantastic Four because I avoided it after all the hideous reviews it got (I know that I need to see it really), but I honestly was looking forward to that a few trailers ago. I wrote before about my rapid about-turn of opinion on Jurassic World, and the more I think about it the more convinced I am of my change of heart. Even if the score is still TERRIFIC. To a slightly lesser degree, I know that was looking forward to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. a little bit more than it might have deserved. I wasn’t expecting the world from it, but I wanted it to be funnier than it was. Its style – while quite something – doesn’t make up for everything else. But finally – and perhaps the most alarming of all – while I enjoyed Ant-Man at the time, I still don’t quite see where all the hype was coming from. I flat out do not understand people comparing it to Guardians of the Galaxy (which might be Marvel’s best to date). I liked it. I’m sure I liked it. But why didn’t I try and see it again? I’d say I was going off my favourite superhero studio if I didn’t turn the radio down and hum loudly (that classic cliché combo) or mute people on every social media platform I have whenever Captain America: Civil War comes up. Which happens quite a lot in my universe. Bloody hell, I am excited for that movie.
Because I was expecting to enjoy these latter movies the most, I think I was more disappointed by them when they didn’t necessarily hit those high notes. Frankly, this year’s summer offerings haven’t been quite as exciting as they looked on paper. This might be partly because the slate was RIDICULOUSLY EXCITING on paper, and that’s a pretty difficult thing to live up to. This is a bit of a contrast to last year, when everything seemed quite pleasantly surprising without the same buzz of hype beforehand. That’s might be why I’ve started talking about films from back in April, which is slightly early to be thinking about summer even by my standards of obsessive planning. Not just because for blockbusters, summer is getting earlier and earlier. It’s the fact that the films which came earlier in the season amounted to some of the best.
But while I might have felt like this summer of cinema didn’t shape up in quite the way I was expecting, it’s wrong to be disappointed by it. If certain films came out of the blue to surprise me last summer, then a similar thing can be said of 2015. If you’d told me back in January that my favourite films of the year would involve male strippers or cars wreaking havoc, I might have believed you (hey, I know what I like) but I might have had to think about it for a moment or two. While I might not have loved all the films I was convinced I was going to obsess over, I’ve found more than a few which I genuinely adore. Which seems like enough to go on.