By Anthony J. Machcinski
As Labor Day weekend comes and goes on the calendar and the leaves on trees begin to turn, the 2011 summer movie season comes to a close.
This year, moviegoers have seen everything from romantic comedies like “Friends With Benefits” to science-fiction thrillers like “Super 8.”
With quality films coming out nearly every week, creating a top five list for the best movies of the summer is as tough as it has ever been. Several good movies ended up outside the top five.
The much talked about “Hangover: Part II” missed the list because it failed to live up to the standard the original created. “Green Lantern” also missed because, although the film was stunning visually, the mixture of comedy and action was not the right blend for the Green Lantern character.
Coming in at No. 5 was “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Captain America came into theaters July 22 and did not disappoint. While the film comes out of the same mold of other super hero films, the ending puts enough of a twist on the film to crack that mold and keep the audience waiting for “The Avengers” movie next summer.
Another hyped film that lived up to its billing was “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” What made the latest “Apes” movie a thrilling and interesting prequel to the original “Planet of the Apes” was a story that was the focus of the film. While all the action and cinematography were brilliant, the story remained the core of the film, as it should be.
No. 3 could have easily been No. 1. Shia LaBeouf identified with people searching for a purpose, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley successfully replaced Megan Fox as LaBeouf’s love interest and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” pulled in $97 million on the opening weekend to create a film that was successful in both money and story.
After a subpar second film, the third installment of the “Transformers” series included many things an audience could hope for: a love story, explosions, comedy and depth to many of the characters.
The second-best film came a bit early, having been released April 29, but it soon became the Rickey Henderson of the 2011 summer movie season, leading off the season with a bang.
“Fast Five,” the fifth installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, starred its consistent cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster, as well as adding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix. The story continues as the audience meets up with Walker, Diesel and Brewster on the run in Brazil and trying to find a way out.
“Fast Five” could have easily been the No. 1 movie, with all the action, thrills, and drama that have been in the series since the first film nearly 10 years ago. What holds “Fast Five” back from being the best on the top five is the inconsistency. “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift,” released in 2006, seems to have been ignored, since one of the main characters in “Tokyo Drift,” who dies in that film, is alive in “Fast Five.” While many defending the franchise will say the films are just out of sequence, the ending of “Fast Five,” which alludes to a sixth film, has audiences too focused on how to piece the storyline together, instead of leaving the theater appreciating the story itself.
As for the top movie of the summer, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” takes the cake. Audiences flocked to theaters to view the most anticipated movie of the season, and it did not disappoint, as evidenced by an opening weekend of $169 million and an estimated overall gross of $906 million in the first month. The film wowed audiences, with action, suspense, great visuals, and great acting to go along with all that.
The 2011 summer movie season has been as good as any in the past. One can only hope that the 2012 season will follow suit, filled with blockbusters such as “The Expendables 2,” “The Dark Night Rises,” “Star Trek 2” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”