Columns & Blogs

Summer films fizzled and flopped

We’re halfway through the middle of September and people still can’t get over how disappointing summer movies were. Both critically and commercially, the summer movie season was an endless flop. A lot of big-budget flicks did underwhelming business, disappointed the heck out of critics and moviegoers – or both.

It’s gotten some film writers to woefully go off on the current state of cinema. Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr made a lot of cinephiles on Film Twitter angry when he complained that movies were pretty much dead in a piece earlier this month. “Someday we may look back on 2016 as the year movies died,” is how Burr started the piece. Burr when on to shout-out other things in pop culture – from buzzworthy TV shows to playing “Pokemon Go” in public to griping about Donald Trump on social media – that made people far more excited than what was playing in the multiplexes.

Far less bleaker but just as damning was an essay writer Jessica Ritchey wrote about this summer’s movies, which was really an excuse for her to proclaim her love for Netflix’s sci-fi mindbender “Stranger Things.” “Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ is a love letter to genre movies of the ’70s and ’80s, the kind of blockbusters like ‘E.T.’ that you saw and you left immediately wanting to make movies and act them out in your backyard,” Ritchey wrote. She’s not the only one who thought “Things” was a better summer blockbuster than the actual summer blockbusters. Washington Post writer Emily Yahr straight-up called the show “the blockbuster we need.”

Summer is always littered with movies that are basically expensive, junky cash-grabbers, whether they’re sequels or remakes or reboots or just another superhero movie to add to the pile. Unfortunately, with this summer, there weren’t any across-the-board, not-at-all-bad hits to remind us that good blockbusters can still be made. There wasn’t a “Mad Max: Fury Road” like last year. Heavily anticipated sure things like “Jason Bourne” and “Suicide Squad” made a ton of money, but their wall-to-wall mediocrity crushed those who thought the movies would save them from these doldrums. There were good films that came out this summer – I was a huge fan of the Russell Crowe-Ryan Gosling detective comedy “The Nice Guys,” for example. Unfortunately, these movies didn’t do that well at the box office. Their lukewarm success is no doubt collateral damage from a downright dismal and depressing movie season.

Of course, there’s is still a reason for hope: After all, summer always leads into fall when studios atone for the cinematic sins they’ve committed earlier in the year – and give us movies they hope will win acclaim and awards.