Since 1975’s Jaws, the Hollywood blockbuster has cemented itself as an indispensable staple of the summer. However, blockbusters aren’t the only things hitting screens. The sheer variety of movie offerings makes summer one of the most exciting times to visit the theater, as there’s bound to be something for everyone. Summer 2013 was a season of highs and lows, from superheroes to giant robots, melodramas to pub crawls. If you’re wondering what you might’ve missed out on, don’t worry – the Kabooooom crew’s here to help, covering our favorite summer movies that you’ll soon be able to catch on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Ron Ackner, Writer – Before Midnight
Before Midnight is a terrific culmination to Richard Linklater’s Before… trilogy, but is also entirely different from what a viewer might expect after having seen the preceding two films. The epic romance between Julie Delpy’s Céline and Ethan Hawke’s Jesse has aged with both the actors and with Linklater, and the story picks up as the two go on vacation with their kids in their middle age.
Before Midnight has all the hallmarks of the Before… trilogy – never being overly saccharine while still portraying an honest, funny, and beautiful romance, one that feels fully realized. As with the previous installments, the film, shot on location in Greece, is beautiful, and the cinematography only serves to accentuate the setting. Before Midnight captures everything that made the first two films great, and builds on those things. Beyond being an excellent movie, it’s also simply a fun one, and that’s why it’s my favorite movie of the summer.
Caroline Albanese, Managing Editor – The Wolverine
For all its choppiness and clumsiness, The Wolverine was unlike any other superhero movie this summer. It’s a good action film where the main character has superpowers, as opposed to a main character gaining superpowers, thus making it a fully realized action film. A fitting tone considering the plot centers around what Hugh Jackman’s character, the immortal and clawed Wolverine, would be without his mutant healing powers.
Taking Wolverine to Japan allowed for a bunch of fun scenes, including a fight on a bullet train and a hideout in a “Love Motel.” It also showed a refreshingly different dynamic between two females leads in a love triangle. Though some considered it a good movie “only ⅓ of the way through”, The Wolverine serves as both a great character movie and a perfect bridge for next summer’s X-Men: Days of Futures Past.
Matthew Charles, Writer – Fruitvale Station
I am surprised to say that my most memorable film this summer was not a box office smash but an indie film. While I loved Pacific Rim, The Conjuring and other popcorn flicks, Fruitvale Station will be the film that stays with me in the year to come. It was a challenging, unique, and masterfully crafted story. A story based in reality, familiar to many, and yet felt fresher than anything I’d seen all season. Alongside this, the story had a heart that I felt was only really matched by Pacific Rim. It was a movie that made me excited to see more films from its director Ryan Coogler, something that I haven’t felt in a movie in a really long time.
Marcus Hammond, Writer – Iron Man 3
I’m a comic book guy, so I had a lot of anticipation built up for Iron Man 3. Even though the movie didn’t toe the continuity line, I really enjoyed it. But then again,I’m not the type of comic book fan that wants to see the same stories I’ve read transposed onto the screen. Yes, there were other comic book movies that were enjoyable, but Iron Man 3 mixed the attitudes of the comic book character and an established story line while still finding a way to be original. Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark was spot on as usual, Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect casting choice for Pepper Potts, and the action was suspenseful. I know a lot of people disliked the twist in the movie, but I thought that helped make it more enjoyable.
Isabel Hsu, Movies Editor – Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
If someone put Bonnie & Clyde into the hands of Terrence Malick, it might come out looking something like Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Take this as either praise or criticism, but there’s no denying that Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is an ambitious, impressive drama, shaded with tones of action and western genres. Directed by Upstream Color editor David Lowery, the film took the 2013 Sundance Film Festival by storm with its poetic, doomed romance of Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), a young couple living on the wrong side of the law.
The premise may sound trite and cliched, but it’s exercised with a careful, deliberate precision that even the most seasoned of directors would envy. Dialogue is minimal, allowing for the visual language of the movie to speak for itself, and the quiet, barely-touched Texas landscapes look like something pulled straight out of an Andrew Wyeth painting. Big-budget summer blockbusters are a hell of a lot of fun, but Ain’t Them Bodies Saints offers perfect alternative fare for those looking for a break from superheroes and explosions.
Shannon Hsu, Writer – The World’s End
Fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz got one last triumphant hurrah with The World’s End, the long-awaited final installment of the famed “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy.” Far from the average frivolous, painfully unfunny comedy, The World’s End bursts with high-energy hilarity and heart.
Simon Pegg plays Gary King, an alcoholic stuck in the past, unable to let go of his glorious school days when he was the coolest kid in his hometown of Newton Haven. Haunted by a failed pub crawl along Newton Haven’s infamous Golden Mile, he rounds up his crew from the old days – Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and his former best friend, Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) – to reach the final pub, The World’s End, and conquer the Golden Mile once and for all. However, Gary’s epic quest, as well as all of their lives, are endangered when they discover that Newton Haven has been taken over by “robots”.
Not a dull moment is to be found between the bouts of beer-guzzling and robot-smashing. Stamped with Wright’s signature style, The World’s End is a glorious conclusion to Wright’s Cornetto-infused trilogy that is both smart and side-splitting, qualities that are increasingly hard to find in today’s typically short-sighted comedies.
Jason Hyman, Writer – Pacific Rim
What can one say about Pacific Rim that hasn’t been already been said by its rabid fanatics? Pacific Rim was truly a triumph for modern movies. It gave the summer blockbuster genre the kick in the pants it needed, and it did it without tons of sexual jokes and plots that go nowhere (hint hint, Michael Bay).
Sure, it may not have had a particularly stirring plot with deep characters and tons of twists, but it did have robots versus monsters, Charlie Day bringing in his best performance by far, robots versus monsters, a wonderful score, and robots versus monsters. Really, the only disappointing thing that came from Pacific Rim was that it somehow lost to Grown Ups 2 on its opening weekend. If you saw Grown Ups 2 instead of Pacific Rim that weekend, you owe it to yourself to see Pacific Rim on Blu-Ray or DVD when it releases on October 15th.