This summer, cinemas took film-goers on thrilling rides through the magical worlds of orcs, aliens and giants, down the city streets with heroes and villains and into car chases of criminals and secret agents. With popcorn and candy in hand, audiences saw some great hits on the big screen as well as a few tragic misses. Whether you saw these films in theaters or spent your time swimming in the ocean, we wanted to share with you the hits and misses of the 2016 summer movie season.
Kubo and the Two Strings:
A unique story of an unlikely trio was not only beautiful, with striking stop-motion animation, but intense action scenes and delightful laughs as well. Kubo and his two strings brought audiences a story so intricate and moving, that even the title symbolizes more than mere strings on a guitar. It appealed to film-goers of all ages, with magic that both excites and scares you. Laika Productions hit a home run with Kubo and the Two Strings. “And that really is the least of it.”
Star Trek Beyond:
Star Trek Beyond was released a few months ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise. This latest continuation of the franchise was a fun, action-packed addition to the corporation. Though it may not have left audiences clinging to the edges of their seats, Star Trek Beyond launched fans at warp speed through the cosmos on another highly entertaining journey. Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban continue to deliver comedic and emotional chemistry between their characters never leaving a dull moment for audiences and helping the franchise to “live long and prosper.”
This sequel to Finding Nemo was a family film that was both adorably sweet and hilarious. Dory took audiences from under the sea to inside an aquarium as she searched for her lost family with old and new friends. With popcorn in one hand and a box of tissues in the other, viewers rode on high tides of emotion as Finding Dory taught us the importance of family and belief in one another. This story, similarly to Finding Nemo, also contained an overriding message surrounding disabilities and how differences can actually be strengths in the face of adversity. This was a beautiful movie both in lesson and animation and was a worthy addition to this beloved fish franchise.
Captain America: Civil War:
Marvel’s favorite heroes divided and collided in this summer’s latest Avenger’s film. Friendships were put on the line as Iron Man and Captain America chose opposing sides in a political conflict that threatened to destroy the Avengers from the inside out. With marvelous fight scenes and plot twists that nobody saw coming, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans battled armor to shield in the Russo brother’s latest addition to the Captain America film. Captain America: Civil War is perfectly balanced by action, wit and emotion offering audiences more than just fight scenes and villains. Though the plotline was complex, it was easy to follow and focus was fairly even between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. The Russo’s hero versus hero plotline gave Marvel one of its most mature films to date.
Hell or High Water:
Hell or High Water is one of the most surprising gems of the year. It is a story about two brothers who, in order to pay off the loan that the bank provided for their dead mother, begin to rob banks. This is probably one of the most personal and impactful films of the year. Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Pine all give amazing performances, with this being Pine’s best performance to date. It deals with themes such as poverty, crime as a necessity, and corruption in fantastically subtle ways while also being a film that is filled with taut and thrilling sequences and extremely human moments.
Despite the truly breath-taking CG and motion capture of the orcs, mystical animals and magic that makes up the world of Warcraft, this is a property best kept as a video game. The complexity that is told to players throughout the game gave producers an incredible challenge of condensing Warcraft into a two hour film. In an attempt to appeal to fans, director Duncan Jones packed this film full of references that, unfortunately, made the movie more difficult to follow for those who don’t play. The plotline was uneven and left audiences riddled with confusion. Save for Toby Kebbel and Travis Fimmel’s inspiring performances and witty humor and the visuals that brilliantly drew you into this mysterious and magical land, the film failed to live up to expectations.
Independence Day: Resurgence:
Fans high hopes came crashing down harder than the alien mother-ship this summer as Independence Day 2 was a film fueled only by nostalgia. Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch reprising their roles were the only highlights of an otherwise cinematic tragedy. This carbon-copy of the original Independence Day combined 90s alien infatuation with today’s CGI. The story was messy, the acting was far less believable than the 1996 film, and the beloved Will Smith is only an oil painting hung in the White House. Though fans might have enjoyed the nostalgic feel of Resurgence, this movie a joke and we can be sure that this sequel did not abduct new fans into the Independence Day circle.
Not taking into account the original Bourne trilogy, this film was, by all means, very good. Matt Damon’s acting was excellent, the car chases and fight scenes were gripping, and the controversy within the CIA was believable and very intriguing. However, fans have seen this before. Next to the previous films, Jason Bourne was just another film about a rogue CIA agent on the run. The film follows the same pattern, starting out with Bourne remembering additional information from his past, consisting of fight scenes and car chases along with a woman who somehow changes the circumstances for Bourne, ending with Bourne getting what he came for and then disappearing back into oblivion. Despite being entertaining and well made, the story lacked a unique angle and the film suffered.
This film perhaps came too early in the DC film universe. With such interesting characters elaborated on so poorly in the beginning of the film, it might have been better to follow in Marvel’s footsteps and create individual films for each character before throwing these villains together so quickly. Character development was lazy despite having spent the first 30 minutes doing so. With a weak villain and sloppy storytelling, Suicide Squad did not have consistent tone or much substance beyond entertaining character interactions. Harley Quinn and Deadshot stole the spotlight leaving other characters as mere background noise. Other than the epic soundtrack and creative action scenes, this movie was considered a disappointment by many and all that’s left to do is hope for better from DC’s future films.
With the revivals of classic Disney films, it was only a matter of time before directors looked to children’s books for cinema inspiration. The BFG, based off the beloved children’s classic by Roald Dahl, is a film that came too late to be appreciated. Steven Spielberg brings childhood magic to the silver screen with out-of-this-world effects along with praise worthy acting by Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. The story of The BFG is, however, childish consisting entirely of the developing friendship of a young orphan and a friendly giant and doesn’t offer much more to the story. Though it stays true to the book, this is a movie better suited for young children who don’t wish to be scared and just want a sweet story with pretty colors floating before their eyes.