Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. It’s actually been a while since I’ve done Movie Talk. The last time I posted it was back in January when I was talking about the 88th Academy Awards nominations. For this episode, I want to make it up to you guys for not posting my “Top 10 Films of 2016 So Far” list. Since the summer movie season is over and kids are heading back to school, I want to do something different. I will be showing you, the readers, my “Hits and Whiffs of Summer 2016”. In other words, for each month of the summer (May-August), I will be listing off the top three films that I liked and the top three films that I disliked. This summer has been filled with a lot of sequels, remakes, adaptations, and reboots, with most of them underperforming in terms of box office and critical reception. I haven’t seen anyone make a list like this before, so it looks like I might be the first person to make it. As always, this list is from my personal opinion and for fun. With that said, let’s end the summer with a bang instead of a whimper.
Top 3 Hits
3. Money Monster - B-
Director Jodie Foster delivered a decent financial thriller thanks to some solid performances and its amount of intensity. Not the best film of the year, but it does offer some nice entertainment.
2. Captain America: Civil War - B+
Once again, the summer movie season kicks off with a Marvel film that’s filled with characters that we grew up with since the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With its political themes and some amazing action sequences, “Civil War” marks a strong start for Phase 3 even though it came close to being as great as The Winter Soldier.
1. The Nice Guys - A-
I really didn’t expect this film to be that good, but after watching it for myself, it surprisingly surpassed my expectations. Shane Black, the man behind Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, delivered a fantastic action comedy thanks to its witty screenplay, the chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, and its slick 1970s feel. If you still haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch.
Top 3 Whiffs
3. The Do-Over - C+
Another Adam Sandler film that once again didn’t achieve the “Good Comedy” status, but it does have some passable moments. Available to watch on Netflix.
2. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - D+
Quite possibly the most disappointing sequel I’ve seen this summer. Don’t get me wrong, it was a bit funny. It just didn’t make me laugh out loud that much. It certainly doesn’t help that the film suffered from an unoriginal plot and the lack of heart. At least Seth Rogen recovered with the raunchy animated comedy, Sausage Party.
1. The Darkness - D-
I’m not even sure whether it’s supposed to be a horror film or a Lifetime drama with supernatural beings in it. “The Darkness” not only shows a poor example of horror filmmaking, but struggles on what it’s trying to be. I don’t know about you guys, but this film looks more like a January release than a May release.
Top 3 Hits
3. The Conjuring 2 - B
James Wan is back in the horror game with this creepy follow-up to the 2013 horror hit, The Conjuring. “The Conjuring 2” is an impressive horror sequel filled with believable characters, effective jump scares, and its sense of creepiness.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - B+
The Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen and once again, they did not disappoint. Not only is it better than the 2014 film, but it offers plenty of nostalgic moments, such as Bebop and Rocksteady, that might impress some long time Ninja Turtles fans. In other words, it’s a fun sequel. Too bad we won’t see a third movie because of its underwhelming box office results. I would’ve love to see more Ninja Turtles characters make their big screen debut.
1. Finding Dory - A-
Pixar has done it again. Although not as memorable as the first film, “Finding Dory” is a beautiful animated film that showcases themes about disabilities and family while also delivering a story that’s suitable for all ages.
Top 3 Whiffs
3. Free State of Jones - C
It’s a history book. That’s all I can say about this film. It’s overlong and slow. What kept it from being a huge disappointment were the performances (mostly from McConaughey), the cinematography, and its well crafted Civil War era.
2. Warcraft - C
“Warcraft” is the type of film that fans of the source material might enjoy in terms of the visuals, the character designs, and its concept, but doesn’t do that much to impress those outside of its target audience.
1. Independence Day: Resurgence - C-
The long-awaited sequel to the 1996 disaster film is about as cheesy as a room full of melted cheese. The visuals and its amount of entertainment value were pretty much the good things I can say about this underwhelming disaster sequel.
Top 3 Hits
3. The BFG - B
This is a very sweet movie that got overshadowed by talking fishes, CGI apes, and the ‘Purge’. Director Steven Spielberg delivered a magical and imaginative family adventure that would make Roald Dahl proud. Definitely watchable for families.
2. Ghostbusters (2016) - B+
Come at me, haters, or better yet, get your stinking butts out of your computers and let people enjoy things. The 2016 version of “Ghostbusters” was a lot of fun thanks to its likable cast, some hilarious humor, and its visual work on the ghosts. The original still remains my favorite of the franchise, but this one serves as a respectable introduction to a new generation of fans and proves that everyone can be a ghostbuster, not just men. I’m glad that Sony is still committed to the franchise, with an animated film coming out in 2019 plus a new animated show in 2018, but I am very disappointed that we won’t see these talented actresses in their ghost-hunting suits again. I’m also extremely upset at the people’s immature actions before and after its release, especially the Ghostbusters fan base. Seriously, what the heck is wrong with them?
1. Captain Fantastic - A-
Viggo Mortensen leads a very talented cast in this heartwarming and well-told independent film about family and coping with the loss of a loved one.
Top 3 Whiffs
3. Jason Bourne - C
Not the best way to reintroduce the popular action thriller franchise, but engaging nonetheless thanks to Matt Damon’s portrayal as the title character and its action sequences.
2. The Legend of Tarzan - C
This latest take of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fictional character has a very interesting story, but I was expecting a bit more since it is directed by David Yates, the man behind several Harry Potter films. There were some things that I liked, such as the performances and the action, but the film didn’t swing as far as I would had imagined.
1. Ice Age: Collision Course - D
The Ice Age franchise just took a major detour with this generic, cartoony sequel that went a little too far in impressing its very young audience. Aside from its decent animation, the film suffered from its lack of charm, its over-the-top humor, and its new one-dimensional characters. If Blue Sky wants to continue the franchise, I suggest they either work on a more suitable story for both kids and adults or make it into an animated television show.
Top 3 Hits
3. Pete’s Dragon (2016) - B+
Disney is keeping the live-action train going with the remake of the 1977 film. “Pete’s Dragon” offers a lot of heart and a big dragon to satisfy viewers of all ages.
2. The Little Prince - A-
If you’re looking for something to watch with your kids on Netflix, one of the possible recommendations I can give you is my number two hit of August. Despite its third act, “The Little Prince” is a gorgeous and relatable animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s 1943 novel. Available to watch on Netflix.
1. Kubo and the Two Strings - A
Hard to believe that I would find this better than Pixar’s Finding Dory. “Kubo” is, by far, the best animated film that’s made by Laika. The characters are lovable, the storytelling is captivating and clever, and the animation is superb. If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you do so.
Top 3 Whiffs
3. Mechanic: Resurrection - C-
I’m not sure why they made a sequel to The Mechanic (probably never will). It was an OK action sequel that has Jason Statham kicking some butt. The rest of the stuff that happened? Not that special.
2. Nine Lives - C-
Probably not the type of film that will make you want to be a cat person. While it does have some harmless qualities that will make younger viewers smile, it does have its flaws that will make you cough up a hairball, such as its uninspired story and some noticeable CGI. It doesn’t really stand out in the midst of other films made for families, but as I said in my review, it’s dumb, but harmless.
1. Hands of Stone - D+
Even with a good cast and concept, this film got knocked down immediately during the first round, which pretty sucks because I adored a couple of boxing films like Creed and Southpaw. “Hands of Stone” is clearly one of my biggest disappointments of the year due to its generic narrative and its poor execution.
So, that’s my list of my hits and whiffs of Summer 2016. Here's hoping that next summer will be much different. If you have a certain amount of summer hits and/or summer whiffs that you want to share, leave them in the comments section and stay tuned for more of my upcoming movie reviews.