It seems like just days ago that I posted my discussion of what to expect from the summer movies of 2013. There was no real smash hit and there were a couple of massive flops (though likely to make enough money outside the US to break even.)
Let’s see how they stacked up.
Superheroes: Nothing was as exciting as “The Avengers.” This year ranged from the pretty good (“Iron Man III”) to the so-so (“Wolverine” and “Man of Steel”).
Sequels: “Red 2” and “Kick-Ass 2” were far below the originals. Both went overboard with the violence to attempt distract audiences from the lack of attention to story and character, and the result was hollow and unsatisfying. “Despicable Me 2” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness” were also not as good as the originals. They were enjoyable but not memorable.
Monsters, Chases, Explosions, and the End of the World: Nothing really clicked in this category. The biggest disappointment was “After Earth,” a massive misfire that failed in every category. This was a movie that asked us to believe that humans with access to fabulous technology that included spacesuits that change color and holographic communications devices had developed nothing to fight the blind, fear-sniffing monsters that constantly attacked them beyond the Bronze Age-weaponry of a spear. It was painful to watch. “The Lone Ranger” was almost as bad. There were a couple of nifty train chases, separated by a long, dull, weird movie with two heroes, one too bland and one too strange. I liked “Pacific Rim,” about as good a giant robots facing giant monsters movie as anyone could hope for. I even enjoyed “White House Down,” the second blow-up-the-White-House movie of the year. But neither made much of an impression. “Elysium” was excellent but didn’t get a lot of love from audiences.
Middle school books to movies: “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” and “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” pleased fans of the books but not much more than that.
Animation: Nothing this summer came close to the level of “Toy Story 3” or even “Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted” or “Brave.” “Monsters University” was another sequel that never matched the first one, with a weird ending that seemed anti-school. “Planes” should have stayed, as originally planned, as a DVD release. “Turbo” and “Epic” were pleasant but not much more.
Indies: There were no breakout hits like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” but it was the small independent films that were the summer’s most refreshing and captivating surprises. If you have not seen “The Spectacular Now,” “The Kings of Summer,” “Short Term 12,” “20 Feet from Stardom,” “The Way Way Back,” “Fruitvale Station,” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” add them to your Netflix queue right now.