Summer Blockbuster isn’t an accurate term anymore, is it? We all know what those words suggest, great-big, expensive, FX heavy genre flicks, but they’re not wedged into a summer schedule anymore, they’ve started trickling their way in at March and fading out by the end of September, just in time for the Christmas Blockbusters to start at the end of October, probably to run through to February.
I thought it would be fun to run through 2013’s biggest blockbusters to date as a sort of opinionated overview, recalling those you may have already have forgotten about and sorting the wheat from the chaff.
So we’ll start way back in March and bring you through to now.
Jack The Giant Slayer: Shelved for some time and seemingly released in the wave of fairy tale acceptance post the much superior Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer was mostly forgettable due to its poe facedness, with the only really memorable elements being the horrible CG giants.
G.I Joe – Retaliation: A reboot in every way but intent by forgetting selective parts of the first film, Retaliation tried to serious up the Joes while keeping the villains as stupid as ever, creating a feel that two very different films had been smashed together, a blend that striped all the fun from the franchise.
Oz the Great and Powerful: The first big surprise of the year and a total joy. Sam Raimi is back on his very top form and clearly having a great time crafting visuals that stun and a climax that is spectacular but entirely none-violent, with a cast having as much fun as he. He’s also given us the only decent reason in years to go to the effort of seeing a film in 3D, he’s really used the format to the film’s improvement.
Oblivion: One of those comic adaptations that you didn’t know was a comic adaptations, Oblivion would have perhaps been better served if it was more low key, a la Moon, but the inclusion of Tom Cruise meant it had to be a big money blockbuster. It’s very impressive looking but never really that exciting, a fact only worsened on the realisation that the trailer gave away some very important plot twists.
Iron Man 3: Loved and hated in equal measure, mainly due to the way the villains were written, I found the third instalment of the franchise breakneck paced funness of a very high order. Indeed, I was hard pressed at the time to say if I enjoyed it more than the first instalment, but on reflection can state that the first is a more solid film, though 3 is better than 2 in every way and has the best action sequences of the bunch.
Star Trek – Into Darkness: Spectacular looking and action heavy, Into Darkness was quite the cinematic experience on the first watch, in hindsight though the plot is too unnecessarily convoluted for its own good; still, it’s certainly not a write off, as well as all that spectacle the characters are all as likable as ever.
Fast and Furious 6: As a recent convert to the Fast and Furious franchise due to its relatively new, total lack of anything resembling pretension, I loved this film for that very reason. It’s macho and it’s stupid but it doesn’t care because it’s exciting, funny and brilliantly realised, sense doesn’t apply, the rules of physics don’t apply, but who cares?
After Earth: The last chance for M. Night Shyamalan to rectify the sins of the past in the hearts of many a film fan, After Earth, a film co-written by it’s co-star, Will Smith, fails woefully. This beautifully designed film skips from set piece to set piece via a nonsensical narrative that’s main intent seems to be making a star of Smith’s son, Jaden, but he simply doesn’t have the charisma to pull it off yet.
Man of Steel: Another one that split the fanboys, Man of Steel was in actual fact everything that I’ve wanted to see in a live action Superman film; a scale that befits his iconic status, action that no other superhero could deal with and a modern twist not only on his origin as a costumed character but also the origins of his moral standing. Read THAT ending however you will, but I know what I think it adds to a character that’s more three-dimensional now than he’s ever been.
World War Z: Practically based on the bestselling book in name only, World War Z actually started out much more promisingly than could be expected, providing more punch and edge than its certification would suggest. A zombie flick than can be enjoyed by all the family seemed like the final nail in the coffin for the waning sub-genre, but it very nearly pulled it off, that is, until the last act, which was wholly misjudged.
Pacific Rim: A slight plot and a cast of TV actors gave way to the real stars of this film; big-giant robots and monsters, kicking the living crap out of each other, and we shouldn’t want it any other way. Pacific Rim, in its execution, reached a scale unheard of in cinema to this point, it’s awe-inspiring. The bigger the screen you saw it on the bigger the treat you had. a God honest reason to choose the theatre over an illegal torrent. Unfortunately its impact on home systems is guaranteed to be muted but perhaps this’ll build an audience for cinematic re-screenings?
The Wolverine: By far the smallest feeling entry to this list, The Wolverine, in this era of blockbusters, can barely be described as a blockbuster at all. Though it’s one of the better film in the X franchise and vastly superior to Origins, it skirts a fine line between enjoyable and slightly dissatisfying, an apt description for the franchise as a whole.
Lone Ranger: Though almost universally panned and undoubtedly bloated, Disney’s (perhaps final) attempt to kickstart a new franchise was actually quite enjoyable. Grizzled Leone-like characters combined with a desolate environment provided a solid western backdrop for a fun, over-the-top romp, but there’s just no getting around that running time.
Elysium: Despite its wonderful visuals, Neill Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9 turned out to be a fairly standard and derivative sci-fi outing. It’s all very stern, so the lack of fun meant you concentrating more on the plot, which didn’t make too much sense.
Riddick: Setting the franchise back on track after the terrible Chronicles of Riddick, this latest adventure of the space badass started out, surprisingly, as a very original and entertaining survivalist story. It eventually becomes a bit of a re-hash of Pitch Black, but that’s not so bad, it’s still worth giving a look.
R.I.P.D: Based on the Dark Horse comic and seemingly a Men In Black-alike, R.I.P.D is fun and funnier than it has any right to be, with Jeff Bridges’ character taking Ryan Reynolds’s usual role of the chatter box of the film. Unfortunately it’s hampered by some awful CG, chiefly on the fully CG characters, who could quite easily have been prostheticed-up actors… It went and did an I Am Legend.
Which brings us up to date. Thor: The Dark World is just around the corner, which looks very good, and we’ll have another Hobbit film before Christmas, so the cycle rolls on. Whatever your opinion on the blockbusters their quantity is only going to increase year on year, with 2015 set to be THE year of the blockbuster (seriously, check IMBD to see what’s scheduled for that year), so get used to it and strap yourselves in.