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15th September 2013

Summer 2013: A Review

Robbie examines the highs, the lows and the even lower lows of Summer 2013

So that was summer 2013. If you missed it, you didn’t miss much. It was summer of high expectations and low delivery. There were the odd gems scattered around the mediocrity, but generally we can safely say the summer of films was just a bit rubbish.

Before the condemnation begins, its only fair to clarify that by ‘summer movies’ we more specifically mean the mainstream studio movies. As ever there were some excellent independent movies which, as ever, never got the attention they deserved – but that’s for another time. For now we run through the bad, the bad and the ugly.

Things started off bad. Marvel’s followup to last year’s monster hit, The Avengers, saw the return of Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jnr (the two are indistinguishable at times) in Iron Man 3. Despite reuniting him with his director from the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, ol’ ironface failed to make an impression. Maybe that was to do with the fact that Iron Man was hardly in the film. Or maybe because the villain turned out to be more parody than pariah.

And so the trend began. Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby was more like an extended music video than an original take on the classic novel. The comedy offerings were even less inspiring: The Hangover Part III was worse than any hangover you’re likely to suffer this Freshers’ Week. The Internship was similarly painful, as the writers seemed to have been obliged to promote Google over any actual laughter.

2013 was the year that proved that even big Hollywood movie stars can’t sell everything. Will Smith and Johnny Depp had the great misfortune of being saddled with blockbusters so bloated and misconceived that even their personal selling power couldn’t stop them from bombing at the box office. After Earth and The Lone Ranger are unlikely to enjoy any sequel prospects to the delight of film goers everywhere.

The biggest disappointment of this summer of disappointments was Man of Steel. Not for many years had a film with so much promise turned out to be such a crushing let down. Whilst other superhero films like The Wolverine never looked much good, Man of Steel looked like it could be our new ‘Dark Knight trilogy’. With Christopher Nolan part of the creative team and the best trailer of the year, we had reason to be hopeful. But perhaps we should have seen it coming: Zack Snyder was the director and Zack Snyder can’t direct. He can cut scenes so rapidly that characters are practically cut off mid-sentence. He can lay waste to cities with as much emotion as a sledgehammer. But can he make Superman actually interesting? No.

But maybe I’m being too harsh. 2013 wasn’t all bad. The return of the Enterprise and her crew in Star Trek Into Darkness was an unadulterated joy. Elysium had a great premise but was let down by too much of what we’d seen a hundred times before. This Is The End and The World’s End provided enough belly laughs to necessitate a second viewing.

Despite the lack of original content this summer, box office revenues rose by 10.2%. Audiences seemed to be quite happy to sit through the inane displeasure of the likes of Pacific Rim and Fast and Furious 7. So who am I to chastise? I did it myself! But the summer’s over and awards season approaches. Some much needed respite. Until next year…

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