My Top 5 Movies of Summer 2013

To top off my posts on summer 2013 I am doing my own personal top 5 list. The scores I gave these movies are off the table. I’m basing this off of my own personal retrospective on the summer.

With the Toronto International Film Festival(TIFF) underway, it’s time to move out of the time of flashy entertainment and into the time off more personal dramas. I’m very excited to move onto movies such as Gravity and Twelve Years a Slave that will be delivering deeper and more meaningful experiences. But before we get there, it’s time to reflect on my top 5 of the summer that was

Blockbusters 2013

5. The Conjuring

Summer season is known for a lot of things, but impressive low budget horror movies isn’t one of them. The Conjuring came in the front end of July just when effects driven movies were starting to wear thin. It is an atmospheric horror film that taps into a classic type of fear and dread that has been incredibly rare since the 1970s. Director James Wan has perfected his craftsmanship in horror by manipulating audience expectation and imagination to create a type of fear that intimately exists in the minds of the viewers. He uses the little creaks and eerie moments that all of us experience to build tension throughout the film and eventually delivers a pulse pounding finale that delivered some truly unforgettable moments on par with scenes from the likes of The Exorcist or The Amityville Horror. This is likely the best horror movie I’ve seen in years and it’s not an experience I’ll soon forget.

4. This Is The End

I’m a sucker for meta humor and cleverly placed celebrity cameos and fortunately for me, this movie delivers both of them. Despite my distaste for actors Seth Rogen and Danny McBride I was able to enjoy what these guys were doing by making fun of themselves, their decisions, and their careers. The “so dumb and ill informed it’s embarrasing” understanding of heaven, hell, and the Christian apocalypse mixed with the parody of a narcissistic take on movie stars made this movie something I couldn’t stop laughing at. It’s stupid, its vulgar, and full of dick jokes; but somehow this movie also manages to be incredibly witty and intelligent by being so aware of what it was. I very rarely clamor for comedies to come out on blu-ray/DVD, but This Is the End is one I’ll be watching time and time again.

3. Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim is a piece of fanboy fantasy that never should have made it past the pitching stage. By some divine miracle(or possibly a high studio exec) this movie was released to a massive budget by the biggest fanboy of them all, Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim delivers the dumb fun we all really wanted out of transformers by creating a very rich world filled with characters, history, and a premise that is ripped straight from the most popular Mech anime. The movie excels the most with an outstanding art direction and pulse pounding action that had me so engaged I was cheering along with the rest of a crowded audience. This is a one of a kind movie and experience that I don’t think can ever be properly replicated which is why this one stands above every other robot movie as the one of summer 2013’s best.

2. Man of Steel

Going into this summer, there was no doubt that Man of Steel was my most anticipated movie of the year. I’m a huge Superman fan and more so than any time in the past, I wanted this movie to articulate to the masses why he is a character that we all need on the big screen. I nervously approached the movie, and luckily Man of Steel didn’t disappoint. The character was finally fleshed out and defined for a generation who had only seen the character successfully done on TV(although I still like Brandon Routh’s Superman even though the movie was weak). I loved the use of flashbacks, the closer look at what Superman would actually look like(introverted loner), and I loved the complexity and dilemma that Zod delivered for our hero in his defining hour.

The best part of the movie is that it doesn’t feel like just another superhero movie. This is a first contact story where one of the aliens fight back…..that just happens to feature Superman as the alien. At this point I’m getting burned out on the tone the Marvel produced films are creating and it was refreshing to see a movie that did not rely on the same old formula despite knowing that the mainstream would have eaten it right up. Man of Steel delivered on everything I hoped it would which is why ranked #2 on my list.

1. The Wolverine

The Wolverine has been on my radar ever since one of my favorite directors Darren Aronofski originally signed on to direct in 2010. Since then the movie has evolved over time with various names being attached, but one thing was consistent: Hugh Jackman was ecstatic about the project; even going as far as to say that Chris McQuarrie’s original draft was one of the best scripts he’d ever read for. I was hugely skeptical, but once I saw the movie I found myself immensely satisfied in even a way that my highest expectations hadn’t hoped for.The movie focuses squarely on the character and never loses sight, de-emphasizes the mutants and X-verse, and rarely dumbed down the weight or depth of the character’s journey. This was a movie that loved its central character and made no bones about taking things slow to focus on his own internal struggle. The stakes weren’t high, but were instead intimate. The entire world may not have been in danger(cue Day of Future Past), but was instead personal. Much like Nolan’s take on the genre, this was a superhero movie that did not feel like just another comic book adaption. The final product was focused, whole, and ultimately sharper than most of us really expected.

The movie isn’t flawless and it certainly has its share of problems(pretty much the entirety of the last twenty minutes). It probably isn’t the “best” movie that came out this summer, but it’s one that I love and will undoubtedly be revisiting over and over again in the very near future. I caught this movie three times this summer and it only got better with each passing viewing. My inner critic may be damned for saying this, but  I can’t break down all of the bullets points as to why I felt this way about it, but I can tell you that it just clicked for me in the same way that Batman Begins did. At the end of the summer, The Wolverine takes the cake as my favorite movie of summer 2013

Honorable Mentions:

Star Trek Into Darkness

The World’s End

Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby(gasp!)

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