Baltimore’s Top 5/Bottom 5: Summer Films

Summer Blockbusters fail almost as much as they succeed. For every great, worthy inclusion into the Top list, there are at least 3 or 4 doomed blockbusters laying on the ground. The buttery promise of high adventure, beautiful actors/actresses and incredible special effects leads thousands to the darkened, air-conditioned theaters to suspend their disbelief for an hour or two. Here are Baltimore’s list of Best and Worst Summer Blockbuster Films.

The Best 5 Summer Films

Terminator 2 (1991)
Schwartzenegger at the height of his career, back in the role that made him. This time, he’s not the villain, he’s the hero. What a great switch. And Linda Hamilton…. Oh, man – she is an amazing heroine here. Tough, independent and bad-ass! This Sarah Conner is taking the future’s doom as her sole mission to prevent. A fun story, filled with enough explosions, car chases and emotional connections to make this film stand superior to the first film. Sadly, no other entry in the Terminator franchise has risen to this level.

Independence Day (1996)
The image of the White House exploding was enough to secure its place on this list. How do you get the world to come together? Give us a common enemy. In this film and alien invasion threatens the earth and Will Smith comes in to save the day – er – world. Incredible effects and great connective relationships allow this film to really shine.

Jurassic World (2015)
While the original Jurassic Park almost made the list, this (essentially) reboot took its place. The previous sequels dulled the polish from the first one, but Jurassic World gave us everything we really want in a dino feature. Thrilling chases. Incredible dinosaurs. Overwhelming odds. Relatable characters. Tying nicely to the first film we get to see the natural conclusion to what happens when you mix science with commerce. Give us more, dinosaur!

Spider-Man (2002)
While it did not start the super hero craze (thank you Blade and X-Men), it certainly cemented it as a movie fixture for the foreseeable future. I am not a huge fan of Tobey’s Peter Parker or Kirsten’s Mary Jane, but this film really worked on many levels. It gave us a fantastic origin for the webslinger, but the villain was incredibly maniacal and intimidating. Sam Raimi delivered in spades everything that was needed to make Spiderman work.

Batman (1989)
Year of the Bat indeed. Tim Burton sealed the summer blockbuster with his incredible telling of the Dark Knight. With stellar performances by Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as Batman and Joker respectively this film ruled the summer. Not since ’78s Superman did audiences fall so deeply for a super hero. With the right mix of Burton wackiness and seriousness this film set the tone for which all 90s super hero films were measured against.

The Worst 5 Summer Films

Transformers (2007); Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009); Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011); Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014); Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Rather than go into individual reasons why these are the worst summer blockbusters ever, I will lump them together and berate Michael Bay and his incessant need to destroy our childhoods (see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Start with a less than coherent story (pick a film) and add awkward performances by the cast (see Shia Lebouf and Mark Wahlberg) plus CGI that makes every single action sequence hard to follow and nauseating to watch and you have a film(s) that are intolerable. Even having Peter Cullen reprise Optimus Prime’s voice does nothing to save the Transformers from doom.