September is here, folks! And even though fall doesn’t start for a few more weeks (right around my birthday, as always!), I’m still compelled to throw my hands up and wave goodbye to heatwaves and overloaded sweat glands when this month starts up. Yes, temperatures are still hovering in the upper 80’s, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go ahead and start dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves.
This summer flew by, didn’t it? And while the box office seems to have took a nosedive, good times were had here at the podcast, as just about every week we were at the theater, taking in superheroes and heists, car chases and world takeovers. Ultimately, it was a satisfying summer, low box office numbers and all.
Here are my top 5 movies of the summer, spoiler-free.
5. Logan Lucky
I can’t express how great and refreshing it was to see this unique take on the heist genre. It’s just ridiculous enough to work. The trailer doesn’t exactly evoke the charming nature of this one enough, and so it would certainly be excusable to simply skip out on Logan Lucky for the simple fact that the trailers don’t sell how engaging and thoughtful this film really is. I consider it to be well-written and well-acted. It’s clear as day that the actors had a blast with this one, and that makes it that much more enjoyable. You’ll go because of Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, and Adam Driver, and you’ll stay for the solid execution of the concept. The thick accents are absolutely part of the charm of this one. I love that this movie doesn’t play up the hillbilly stereotype as much as it pays homage to it.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
The hype for this one was oddly all over the place. There were actual complaints from people about Tony Stark being featured so prominently in the marketing. Well, yeah, of course! Hello, this is what we wanted! We were craving Spider-Man in the MCU. What, they weren’t going to use the character that effectively started this whole shebang to continue Peter Parker’s initiation to the universe?
I loved every aspect of this film; Tony Stark was in it enough to remind us that, “Oh yeah, all of this is connected,” and Peter’s struggle to juggle real high school elements with his desire to become Spider-Man was interesting. There is also an emotional depth at play here that we have rarely seen from most of the MCU movies. I was taken back at just how invested I was in the levels of emotion in the characters. And let’s give a huge shout-out to Michael Keaton, who brought a great performance as The Vulture. There is a solid twist in this film that brought an audible gasp throughout the crowd that I’ve never, ever heard in a Marvel movie before. It’s moments like this that enable this movie to be so effective in the story it is telling.
3. Wonder Woman
We could write and podcast for days about our issues with the DC Extended Universe, but that’s not what this is about. This is about the great film that is Wonder Woman. I love that this is standalone. It isn’t trying to be overly connected to everything else that has come before. It is trying to establish its own characters without the crutch of the past, and it does so admirably, as we really learn to embrace the world that we’re given on screen. It’s insanely fun to watch, and it has a ton of heart to boot. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, and she owns the role. She has become priority #1 for each collaboration moving forward, starting with Justice League. Make sure that her role is at the forefront of this one; she deserves it. She is what the fans want to see. This movie packs a solid punch of excitement and story and gives us a sense that what we’re witnessing is on a level of epicness that we absolutely must tune in to.
2. War for the Planet of the Apes
A film that is dark and full of dread doesn’t exactly spell out fun, summer blockbuster, and it’s not a fun film at all. In has a moment here and there where it tries to break up the insane tension, but that’s not what the tone is about. This is a film lynched to the ideas of abandonment and the forsaking of human decency. The people have effectively taken on the role of savage beasts, while the apes have become the species of peace and forgiveness. It’s an odd dynamic, but we find ourselves totally rooting against the humans from the word, “go.” Each of the movies in this trilogy has created a different enemy, and Woody Harrelson takes it upon himself to become the most ruthless of them all, showing no signs of empathy or remorse for his actions. The character of Caesar has become iconic in my eyes. Andy Serkis brings his all to this character, and if you trace the genealogy of this role back to the start, the journey of Caesar has been amazing to watch unfold. This is a fitting and sublime end to a wonderful trilogy of films.
1. Baby Driver
It’s hard to top a movie like Baby Driver, which has just about everything going for it: A creative director, a unique take on a tried and true genre, a fun romantic component, solidly written characters, and top notch people to play those characters. At the top of all that is the soundtrack, which becomes its own character and just as important as any actual person in the movie. How cool is that?
This movie is not only a ton of fun, it is tense and unnerving at times but it never loses track of the type of film that it is, an action movie with heist elements that focuses on the charming personalities of its characters to take it to another tier. This tier is reserved for films that are expertly crafted from start-to-finish, functioning like a well-oiled machine designed to bring the viewer pure enjoyment and excitement. Baby Driver is a cinematic treat, and not only is it my number one film of the summer, it’s my favorite movie of the year.
Thanks for reading!