The Kenblog: Top Ten Films Of The Summer!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog with another edition of The Kenblog!
The summer is behind us and while there were more than a few flops (“Ben Hur,” “Alice Through The Looking Glass”), This actually turned out to be a pretty decent summer at the movies in terms of quality. You just had to look a little harder than usual to find them. Some of these movies have been criminally under seen, but a lot of these flicks are still in theaters so you have some time to catch them before they eventually make their way to video. Listed below is my list of the ten best films of the summer. Feel free to comment below if you disagree!
Number 10 – “The Nice Guys”
Shane Black, after a brief yet profitable visit to the world of Marvel movies, made a triumphant return to R-rated action comedies with the seventies themed gem about a lazy detective (Ryan Gosling) and a veteran leg-breaker (Russell Crowe) who team up to find the missing daughter of the District Attorney (Kim Basinger). Crowe and Gosling are terrific together and the seedy side of 70s Los Angeles has never been so effectively sleazy. It’s one of those films that didn’t attract a big audience, but deserves a look. It’s now available on home video, so do yourself a favor and check it out!
Number 9 – “Don’t Breathe”
Fede Alvarez’s follow-up to his remake of “The Evil Dead” is a taut, twisty thriller that makes great use of confined spaces and features a brilliant performance by Stephen Lang as The Blind Man. The third act reveal may put some off, but for me it was consistent with the Blind Man’s character and his motivations throughout the picture. It’s been a good summer for horror and “Don’t Breathe” was one of the best of them. Great work from Alvarez regular Jane Levy as the ultimate woman on the run.
Number 8 – “Kubo And The Two Strings”
Laika Studios continues to be one of the most underrated animation outfits in the business, coming up with inventive stories to compliment their unique form of stop motion animation. “Kubo And The Two Strings” combines a uniquely Japanese themed story with some jaw dropping visuals and some wonderful voice work from the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron and Art Parkinson. This is an animated gem that will gain a following with time!
Number 7 – “Star Trek Beyond”
The third entry into the “Nu Trek” is definitely the charm after the somewhat disappointing “Into Darkness.” This time the crew of The Enterprise is forced to fight for survival against a powerful enemy named Krall (Idris Elba). The chemistry between the crew of the enterprise has never been better, especially between Zachary Quinto’s Spock and Karl Urban’s McCoy, and the set pieces are exciting and involving. New director Justin Lin picks up the reigns from J.J. Abrams and delivers an adventure fitting for the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. The fact that this wasn’t bigger is mind boggling to me.
Number 6 – “Pete’s Dragon”
This gentle fable improves on the 1977 original in everyway while at the same time honoring portions of the original tale, specifically the relationship between the boy (Oaks Fegely) and the spectacular creature Eliot. Add fine performances by Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, and Karl Urban and you have a film that is destined to become a family classic. Eliot is so much more than a CGI creation: he serves as part father-figure, part friend, and full-time protector. One of the great creatures to grace the silver screen!
Number 5 – “The Conjuring 2”
James Wan’s follow-up to his massively successful original is the rare sequel that is just as good as the original. Changing the setting to London and providing the scariest demonic nun ever to hit the screen are just two of the elements that make this film so thrilling. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as Lorraine and Ed Warren, the true life paranormal investigators who soon find themselves in over their heads when they investigate the possible possession of a little English girl. Like the first film, “The Conjuring 2” builds layer after layer of suspense that results in a series of terrifying payoffs. Here’s hoping there’s enough in the creative tank for a third film!
Number 4 – “Finding Dory”
Pixar is at the top of their game again with a sequel thirteen years in the making and it’s though we never left the oceanic world of Nemo, Marlin, and of course, Dory. Andrew Stanton and his team have taken a character trait designed as a joke in the first film and have crafted an emotionally resonant, heart tugging, and still funny character study. Ellen DeGeneres is in even better form here than in the first film and the supporting cast is first rate, especially Ed O’Neil’s Octopus Hank. The animation is stupendous and if you aren’t reaching for a Kleenex near the end of the film, you need to see if you left your heart at the door. A terrific sequel!
Number 3 – “The BFG”
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book is a true marvel of gentle storytelling, using modern motion capture techniques and a terrific performance by Mark Rylance as the title character. It’s in the marketing where this film failed. The BFG sounds like a bad bit of text speak, and although that is the title of the book, perhaps the movie should have been titled, you know, “The Big Friendly Giant.” That said, if you want a gentle fable you can feel comfortable taking your kids to see, “The BFG” is a pure delight!!
Number 2 – “Hell Or High Water”
David Mackenzie’s modern western is a triumph of style and character. Chris Pine and Ben Foster are terrific as siblings who are robbing banks in Texas for a very specific reason and Jeff Bridges is just as good as the grizzled Texas Ranger trying to take them down. The Texas landscape itself is a character and the economic downturn serves as more of a villain than any of the human characters. Taylor Sheridan’s script takes its time in getting to know the characters before throwing them in the narrative blender with explosive consequences and the result is one of the best films of the year!
Number 1 – “Captain America: Civil War”
The Russo Brothers follow their first triumphant entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with an even more elaborate, more entertaining story involving Captain America. Managing to include almost every character in the MCU without giving any of them the short shrift is a miracle in and of itself, but weaving in a compelling tale of revenge and redemption makes this film the best of the glut of superhero movies that hit the multiplexes this summer. Not only that, “Civil War” also introduced the best version of Spiderman put on screen so far. A wonderful cinematic experience!