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The Summer Movie Season: A Retrospective

The summer is over, and with it the ‘summer movie season’ has come to an end. From eagerly anticipated sequels, a horror movie dubbed ‘the scariest ever’ and a promising selection of comedies and dramas, there was a lot of potential for a fantastic season of movies, but how did it shape up?

Numerous sequels dominated the box office this summer, but perhaps the most highly anticipated summer sequel was Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. Despite some apprehension about this release (“Haven’t they used up all the good songs?!”), the movie achieved the fourth biggest opening of the year in the UK, and has received positive reviews from critics and cinemagoers alike. It could have been a massive flop, but its upbeat atmosphere, charming lead performance from Lily James, and feel-good tunes have made it a surprisingly good standalone piece of cinema rather than just a movie to placate die-hard fans of the original.

Pixar’s Incredibles 2 also performed very well at the box office, with adults and children flocking to view the long-awaited sequel. Released 14 years after the first, Incredibles 2 managed to retain the excitement, joy and humour of the original whilst bringing a new exciting story to the screen. Children were delighted and adults who adored the first showered it with praise. And Bao, a short film about a protective Chinese mother and her son which played before each screening, was an added quirky bonus for audiences. 

Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom were the big action sequels of the summer. Infinity War took in $640.5 million on its worldwide opening weekend, the biggest of all time, and has gone on to become the fourth highest grossing film of all time and the top grosser of 2018. It might not be my type of movie, but I can admire its sheer ambition, and it’s clear that critics and audiences responded well to it. Fallen Kingdom, the fifth entry in the Jurassic Park series, also raked in impressive amounts of money, grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide, despite the slightly disappointed response from many regular cinemagoers and committed Jurassic fans.

The Meg and Hereditary were the two big horror releases of the summer, but their similarities end there. The Meg is a horror comedy, starring a ginormous shark and Jason Statham. The foolproof combination of Statham’s charisma and a ridiculously large CGI shark makes for great, if slightly ironic, viewing.

On to what I would personally consider one of the best movies of the year, never mind just the summer. Hereditary, directed by Ari Aster, was not only the scariest film of the summer, but produced some of the finest performances of the year. Toni Collette and Alex Wolff were outstanding and turned what was already an excellent piece of cinema into one of the most acclaimed horror movies of the 21st century. No matter your expectations, Hereditary will not disappoint.

Two major dramas released this summer were Adrift, a movie inspired by a real life story of a couple sailing to Hawaii who run into a hurricane, and The Children Act, an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 2014 novel, and each film squandered their enormous potential. Despite an able and nuanced performance from Woodley at the centre, Adrift was unfortunately neither as riveting nor as moving as I’d hoped. As for The Children Act, Emma Thompson the best thing about the film, but McEwan’s writing does not translate well to screen. Despite a very respectable cast that includes Stanley Tucci and Fionn Whitehead alongside Thompson, it failed to be the dramatic masterpiece it wanted to be. Lacking in pace, clarity and plausibility, The Children Act was possibly the most disappointing film of the summer.

On a lighter note, let’s turn our thoughts to this summer’s most popular comedy. The Festival, directed by The Inbetweeners’ Iain Morris and starring Joe Thomas, was a hit with critics and viewers alike. There’s a reason why The Inbetweeners was so successful, and Morris uses the same crude boyish humour to great effect here. Full of cringe moments and hilariously specific gags involving festival fun, it was certainly a huge hit for the teenage audience, Inbetweeners fans or not.

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