Summer 2017 has been described as one of the worst in 25 years when it comes to box office numbers. It seems that the studios didn’t learn many lessons from last year’s season, but viewers certainly did, choosing to stay home instead of spending their hard-earned dollars on every tentpole film. And with Labor Day well in our rearview mirror, it’s time to reflect on the best offerings of the otherwise lackluster season.
5. Baby Driver (Director: Edgar Wright/Release Date: June 28)
Rounding out the bottom of my list is Edgar Wright’s stylish heist movie with a decidedly dumb name. Seriously, many of my non-film buff friends thought this movie was about babies driving cars when they heard the title. I think the name hurt this movie with general audiences, but those that did see it enjoyed a fast-paced movie with interesting characters and a great soundtrack. Kevin Spacey has a way of pulling off these despicable characters you can’t help but love to hate, and Jon Hamm proves once again that he can pull off any role you throw at him. But the best character in the whole movie, and the reason I love it so much, is Joseph, played by CJ Jones. He’s an actual deaf actor and it definitely brought something special to the role. His relationship with Baby was just wonderful, and I was legitimately nervous that Baby’s antics would get Joe killed. The film is not without its flaws, but compared to many other offerings this summer, it stands out for being an original IP.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Director: James Gunn/Release Date: May 5)
The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 jump started the summer season with Little Groot dancing away to ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky. Having proven themselves worthy of the highly coveted early May Marvel movie release, Guardians Vol. 2 was definitely gunning to be the number one movie of the summer, but missed that mark by about 20 million dollars. While it was fun, it lacked the magic of the first installment. Sequels are hard and very few can capture that lightning in a bottle. Despite it not being as good as the first, however, it’s still a fun movie. I really enjoyed seeing Drax more relaxed and making inappropriate jokes, especially when it made Peter uncomfortable. Plus, Mantis was just the most adorable character I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie, and her lines are the ones that really stick with me. And while it was no, “We are Groot,” Yondu’s speech to Peter about fathers versus daddies made me tear up just a little.
3. Spider-Man Homecoming (Director: Jon Watts/Release Date: July 7)
My number three choice coincidently came in third place for the summer box office. It’s also the third time we’ve seen the character of Spider-Man brought to life on the big screen in a new franchise. The first time we actual met Tom Holland’s version of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was in Captain America: Civil War, and he certainly stole the show for the brief moment he was in that movie. And he’s great in his own movie too, despite what many naysayers said about it being Iron Man 4 featuring Spidey. I truly think Homecoming gets everything right about the character and I’m glad they didn’t do yet another origin story. I loved seeing Peter Parker navigate the typical high school situations, all while trying to be Spider-Man. It was nice to see that as much as Peter tried, things didn’t go perfectly and he often needed help because he was in over his head. The school parts were well done too. The students felt realistic to today’s kids versus what screenwriters think kids still act like. Also, I wish my school had Captain America PSAs! For the first time in a long time, I felt excited to see Spider-Man on screen. It wasn’t perfect, but it felt like it was a step in the right direction.
2. Logan Lucky (Director: Steven Soderbergh/Release Date: August 18)
Based on what little I saw in the trailers, I didn’t know what to expect from Soderbergh’s comeback film. This one really snuck in at the end of the summer and I was blown away by how heartfelt it was. I love a good heist movie, and the set up for this was great because going in you didn’t know how all the parts were going to work. The entire ensemble was amazing and so delightfully southern. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver worked well together as the Logan brothers and Riley Keough was equally impressive as their sister, Mellie. She was definitely the brains of that family. Rounding out the main ensemble were the Bang Brothers, who fit every redneck stereotype you could think of, played by Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, and Daniel Craig. Yes, that Daniel Craig! Who knew that he could pull off that accent so well? He was certainly the standout character in the group and makes the movie worth seeing more than once in the theater. There were some minor pacing issues in the third act as the movie wound down, but overall it was fun and action packed with a great payoff.
1. Atomic Blonde (Director: David Leitch/Release Date: July 28)
I didn’t expect this to be my favorite movie of the summer. I had heard so many bad things about it from other people. Plus, the trailer was definitely pulling that style over substance trick that has been burning me bad since Age of Ultron. But knowing that Charlize Theron had done some training with Keanu Reeves while he was working on John Wick 2 pushed me over the edge to finally see this before it left theaters. And the trailer was right on one point, this movie absolutely oozes style. Which makes sense because like many movies, it’s based on a graphic novel. It’s set in the late 1980s, but isn’t a hyper-color love letter to the decade. It’s appropriately dark and gritty just like you’d expect most films set in East Germany to be. The song choices fit very well with the time period and setting, with almost all the featured artists being European except for Public Enemy. The action sequences are top notch and at times gruesome. Espionage is the essence of the film, so the plot can be hard to follow at certain moments, but in the end it all made sense. I wanted to immediately purchase another ticket to see this again! But I guess I’ll have to settle for Blu-Ray.