In case you haven’t noticed: summer is over.
Most of you have figured this out because A: The leaves are now earth tones. B: The modern day equivalent to gladiatorial games but with more head trauma, Football, is back on TV and C: Pumpkin Spice everything from lattes to Shredded wheat to tampons.
Living in LA, where there is no discernible season changes, I know summer is over because the temperature has dropped from one hundred and five to a balmy one hundred even, Spirit Halloween stores have opened in all former Toys R Us and the TV show I work on already has the Halloween episode edited and is prepping to shoot the Christmas episode next week.
If you’re a movie fan you’ll know that we’ve transitioned to fall because the movie theaters are filled with stuff that couldn’t hack it during the air conditioning months and aren’t prestige enough to come out closer to awards season. Oh and scary movies… ostensibly scary movies. You’ll also note that the typical big budget fare is fading to second run theaters or is already available for digital purchase three weeks before you can buy the 4K/3D/Blu Ray/DVD/Digital in an exclusive collector’s steel case from your favorite retailer.
How did the summer movies fare? Did most, or any, live up to the hype? What were the lessons learned by Hollywood from the successes and the failures? And why did it all seem so familiar?
Cultural Junkdrawer is here to help with a month too late recap of the summer movies of 2018. It’s a month late because a particular amount of time was needed to give proper perspective, I have the new cartoon I’m doing and that Halloween episode was an ass-beating for the crew.
FEB 16 – Black Panther: A superhero adventure about identity, colonialism, rising above, pet rhinos and what I’d be like if James Bond had limitless resources in addition to all those cool gadgets. You might think that I’ve disqualified myself right out of the gate by listing this as a summer movie. Especially since most of the country still had snow on the ground. I disagree purely from the conceit that “Summer movie” can be a state of mind more than a temporal location. Black Panther certainly checked all the other boxes apart from release date; big budget tent pole movie with special effects and crowd pleasing action, cultural impact that only a massively popular movie can still do and it made a kajillion dollars.
Did it live up to the hype? – Um, yes! Exceeded it in some areas. We all figured this was going to slay, Marvel has the source code for entertainment down cold, but to also be an superhero/action film with a lot more on its mind than punching shit and the chops to deliver on the deep thoughts and the explodo.
Lesson Hollywood learned – Uuummmm, how ‘bout we create a new category for the Oscars “Best popular film”? The academy is gonna have some serious optics problem if this doesn’t win SOME award other than technical stuff! At least this way we can have a separate but equal type of thing going… oh damnit!
Why it seemed familiar – Captain America Civil War had a guy who dressed Iike that too Becki!
APRIL 16 – A Quiet Place: A tense monster movie that made sound and that one jackass who doesn’t turn his phone to silent for the movie the enemy!
Did it live up to the hype? – The smug dude from The Office and future Mary Poppins sign language to each other for an hour and a half? A drama, right? Holy shit, keep quiet or that monster will eat us!
Lesson Hollywood learned – Coming to redbox in 2022 “A Quiet Place 4: Quiet night, Deadly night” starring Dean Cain and Danny Trejo!
Why it seemed familiar – That asshole that was talking to his friend Steve in this movie was also at the same showing I went to of…
APRIL 27th – Avengers: Infinity War: A genocidal space god gets the ultimate murder macguffin, hilarity and the death of half the universe ensues.
Did it live up to the hype? – Amazingly, yes! That was no easy task considering this has been building for five, no six… er, ten years (retconned). The level of expectation for this movie was unlike anything in nearly a generation and as opposed to the last movie expected at this level (Rhymes with Glamton Venice) this one delivered.
Lesson Hollywood learned – Ok, how ‘bout a Jason Statham shared universe we can have “Crank”, “The Transporter” and even “Snatch” all connected with this MultiStatham – Verse theory some guy on reddit came up with! WE CAN’T LOSE!!!!
Why it seemed familiar – I HAVE been reading comic books all my life. Seeing Iron Man getting punched through buildings since I was, like, seven.
MAY 18th – Deadpool 2 – The Merc with a mouth meets his perfect foil in Cable, gets humor from mayhem and finds a makeshift family. Plus The Juggernaut!
Did it live up to the hype? – Fun, funny, infantile, considered like the first movie only turned up to 11.5 still had a beating heart too.
Lesson Hollywood learned – Batman can say “Fuck” in his next film.
Why it seemed familiar – It was the first movie only turned up to 11.75!
Showdogs – Don’t… just don’t.
MAY 25th – Solo: A Star Wars Story – The much anticipated explanation of how Han got his blaster is finally put on digital video! Oh yeah the gal from game of thrones is in it too.
Did it live up to the hype? – A lot of “Drain Dagobah” types felt vindicated when this film didn’t have an opening weekend equal to the GNP of Ecuador. Only a Star Wars movie could have a 101 million dollar opening weekend and be considered a failure… unless you count the DCEU.
Lesson Hollywood learned – We’re still going forward with that “McClane” Die Hard spinoff/prequel movie because, fuck it!
Why it seemed familiar – Maybe we don’t need to see the Millennium Falcon every six months. It doesn’t feel as special.
JUNE 1st – Action Point – Since his attempt to remake “Gandhi” was a non starter Johnny Knoxville goes back to what he does best – getting hit in the junk!
Did it live up to the hype? – Ya’know, Bob, I just haven’t seen enough of that jackass guy receiving head trauma. I hope he puts something out every eighteen months to two years where I can see that till he dies!
Lesson Hollywood learned – Knoxville wants to come in to pitch “Jackass 4” but we don’t have wheelchair access.
Why it seemed familiar – 2000 – 02 – Knoxville gets hit in the balls, 2002 – Knoxville gets hit in the balls on the big screen, 2002 – Knoxville metaphorically hits us all in the balls with Men in Black two, 2006 – Knoxville gets hit in the balls for a sequel to getting hit in the balls four years previous, 2010 – Knoxville gets hit in the balls in 3D this time!, 2013 – Knoxville dresses up like a grandpa and gets hit in the balls…
JUNE 1st – Upgrade – A SF cyberpunk revenge thriller about a guy who gets a computer chip put in his head and has cool, visually exciting fights.
Did it live up to the hype? – There was little or no hype. That will be different for Director Leigh Whannell’s next film though.
Lesson Hollywood learned – We can’t wait to tether Matt Damon to an iPhone for EVERY fight sequence in Bourne 6!
Why it seemed familiar – Black Mirror is readily available on Netflix.
JUNE 1st – Adrift – Don’t, just…don’t.
JUNE 8th – Oceans 8 – Hollywood continues its nefarious plot of marginalizing men by having women steal shit in convoluted ways.
Did it live up to the hype? – Nobody got cooties like Return of Kings.com probably claimed.
Lesson Hollywood learned – Let’s do a gender swap version of Steel Magnolias next!
Why it seemed familiar – Like the last six or so Oceans movies but with Dolce & Gabbana dresses instead of Tuxedos.
JUNE 15th – Incredibles 2 – Pixar hits box office platinum with the little utilized superhero genre.
Did it live up to the hype? – Even with every action set piece being a variant of “Preventing big thing from smashing into other big thing” the movie still worked pretty much one hundred percent.
Lesson Hollywood learned – Let’s have more films indirectly touting the philosophy of Ayn Rand while stuff explodes.
Why it seemed familiar – Plot is a beat for beat gender swap of the first movie.
JUNE 22nd – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Dinos have made transition from eating machines to exploited eating machines that eventually eat their exploiters. I’d consider some political allegory if there weren’t so many herbivores this time around.
Did it live up to the hype? – Meh, serviceable movie. Didn’t set the world on fire. Would’ve been less satisfying if the Dino’s DIDN’T eat the bad guys. Goldblum bookending the movie helped.
Lesson Hollywood learned – When can we work out a talking Dino? Have Morgan Freeman spout Dino catchphrases!
Why it seemed familiar – It wouldn’t be fun if the Dinos just went about their business of daily Dino life now would it?
JULY 6th – Ant Man and the Wasp – After breaking an airport in Civil War, Scott Lang dials it back with this marvel universe pallet cleanser. A (relatively) low stakes adventure that owes more to Tracy/Hepburn than Iron/Vibranium. First post credits sequence snapped you right back to MCU situation and raised stakes big time.
Did it live up to the hype? – The first Ant Man got by on charm. This one had only itself to blame if it faltered. Fortunately it didn’t adding laughs, a weirdo story and more of that charm into the mix.
Lesson Hollywood learned – People love this shrinking shit! Lets do a fantastic Voyage remake and announce an Atom movie for the DCEU!
Why it seemed familiar – Paul Rudd is too damn charming in everything.
JULY 13 – Skyscraper – Even pitch lines are getting rebooted now AKA: Die hard in a… Die Hard?!?!? Except bigger and dumber!
Did it live up to the hype? – If we ain’t sick of Dwane “The Rock”Johnson by now we probably won’t be ever. That’s just fine.
Lesson Hollywood learned – Let’s have a reboot of “Speed” but in a double decker bus this time and starring Michael B Jordan! Keanu can make an Easter egg cameo! Plus if we can set in CHINA we got a huge market to tap!
Why it seemed familiar – Didn’t The Rock knock buildings over just a few months before with a giant gorilla?
JULY 27: Mission Impossible: Fallout – Tom Cruise tries to kill himself on film again with crazy action and stressing out the bond completion company with every mention of a helicopter.
Did it live up to the hype? – This was, what the sixth one of these? Christ how are they still this fucking good?
Lesson Hollywood learned – I spy, nope… Man from UNCLE… didn’t work…We just need to do a 60’s spy TV show remake that will catch! Get Smart! Oh shit, that’s right… can we try “The Saint” again?
Why it seemed familiar – Tom Cruise running… always running…
AUGUST 10th – The Meg – Statham vs ancient shark if THAT doesn’t define a late summer movie I don’t know what does.
Did it live up to the hype? – Did I mention Jason Statham vs a giant shark? What the hell do you want in freggin August?
Lesson Hollywood learned – The first entry in the massive crossover Jason Statham-verse first conceived of in April.
Why it seemed familiar – Weren’t we all a bit surprised that this is the first time Jason Statham has fought a giant shark? Doesn’t it seem like that happened, like August 2016?
AUGUST 15 – Crazy Rich Asians – I hear RomCom tropes are to a lot of women what Iron man getting punched through buildings by aliens is to me. This movie proved it. The movie that proves that Rom Com tropes can cross racial and cultural boundaries. This will bring us closer together.
Did it live up to the hype? – Dunno, I don’t really like Romcoms. It made ass loads of money, though. Michelle Yeoh is always great.
Lesson Hollywood Learned – I’m sure there will be a Crazy Rich Asians 2: Crazy Rich Asian Christmas or some shit like that.
Why it seemed familiar – The good looking rich stud, the hesitant romantic lead, the wacky sidekick… it’s universal… it doesn’t matter if they’re black, white, asian… whatever! Henry Golding is the next Hugh Grant… sure!
AUGUST 24 – Happy time murders – Don’t, just… don’t.
That was the summer movie experience in a nutshell. I know we barely scratched the surface but really; things just fizzed out after M:I 6 and the fall hasn’t been any great shakes. Of course we have the holiday movie season coming up always an interesting mixture of big budget crowd pleasers and Oscar bait. I’m sure as hell going to avoid any of the latter if I can.
Odds are I’ll on Speechless working on the Easter episode.