2015 Summer Movie Recap

2015 Summer Movie Recap

The 2015 summer movie season has come and gone.  As the dust settles, we look back on an explosive collection of blockbusters.  Cinematic Universes were shaken up and expanded upon. Old franchises made triumphant returns.  There were critical darlings and box office bombs.

There were surprises and disappointments, visual spectacles and touching character moments.  It’s hard to decide where to start…   No it’s not let’s start with the top three stories of the season:

3 BIG STORIES

Jurassic World Indominates

Jurassic World became a box office phenomenon setting countless records throughout it’s historic theatrical run.  Among them, the biggest opening weekend of all time (208.8 million) and the fastest film to earn 1 billion worldwide. (13 days)  The film also managed to do what two sequels failed to accomplish.  Recapture the magic of the original.

Marvel Wraps Phase 2

With The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, Marvel closed the book on it’s phase two slate of films.  We now have an entirely new team of Avengers and a Cival War looming in 2016.  With an even bigger and more ambitious slate of films planned in the coming years, all eyes will be on Marvel’s seemingly endless winning streak.

Mad Max-imum Action

Mad Max: Fury Road reminded action fans that practical effects can be extremely effective and entertaining in a world dominated by CG effects.  The action is relentless, the characters are memorable and director George Miller demonstrates flawless directorial precision.  Has a new era of practical effects begun?

UNIVERSAL BLOCKBUSTERS!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was already filling Disney’s pockets with cash when they purchased the Star Wars empire. (Breaking the internet in the process)  You would assume a year that featured Age of Ultron AND a brand new Star Wars would keep the spotlight on the mouse house right?  Wrong.

Universal Studios proved they have a stable of solid franchises of their own.  One by one, they unleashed remarkable success stories starting with Furious 7.

Paul Walker’s tragic death forced Universal to push back Furious 7 an entire year while the filmmakers planned how to pull it off without a pivotal character.  Eventually, James Wan delivered a fitting farewell to Walker and a worthy addition to the Furious family of action films.

Furious 7 was a critcal success despite the road blocks and wowed audiences with it’s unique brand of stylized action sequences.  The film went on to become the fastest film to reach 1 billion dollars world wide at the box office.  A record that would later be obliterated by ANOTHER Universal Film, Jurassic World:

These two franchises have combined to earn nearly 3 billion dollars worldwide for Universal Studios.  Those numbers don’t include other notable releases like Fifty Shades of Grey, Pitch Perfect 2, Ted 2, Minions, Straight Outta Compton and upcoming films Steve Jobs & Crimson Peak.

It’s been an incredible year for the studio as they delivered sequels to beloved franchises under intense scrutiny and pressure.  Where they take these franchises next is anybody’s guess but, for now, 2015 is a big win for Universal.

QUESTION | Should Fast & Furious and Jurassic World begin shared universes of their own?

SUPER SUMMER STUNNERS

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION – After 5 amazing installments, this franchise has never been stronger.  M:I 5 was fun from start to finish.

THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON – Marvel brought their mightiest heroes back to save the world from falling cities and an army of Ultrons.  New heroes and villains combined for a truly entertaining entry into Marvel’s expanding universe.

ANT-MAN – I think people who doubted Ant-Man’s potential will be pleasantly surprised by the balance of action and comedy it achieved.  The villain may didn’t pack a big enough punch but Paul Rudd is a welcome addition to the MCU.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Opening credits.  Two hours of absolute insanity.  Closing credits.  Wow.

JURASSIC WORLD – You can never duplicate Jurassic Park but thanks to Jurassic World, we now know you can come close.

FURIOUS 7 – The usual cars, chases, fights, explosions and stunts are here but the franchise has always been about family and the 7th installment hits the mark beautifully.

INSIDE OUT – Forgive the pun but this is easily Pixar’s most thought provoking film to date.

TRAINWRECK – Amy Schumer fans already know shes funny but it’s her emotional acting ability that surprised me.  Prediction:  Amy Schumer will join the all female Ghostbusters lineup when the inevitable sequels are announced.

PIXAR POWER

2015 proved yet again that nothing beats an original film from the studio that created Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-e, Up, The Incredibles and more.  Their unique brand of original storytelling was dearly missed after 2014 saw ZERO releases from the studio.

With Inside Out, the studio delivered another entertaining world full of imaginative ideas and characters.  Once again they delivered touching and emotional moments all wrapped in state of the art computer animation that never looked better.

Hype has now skyrocketed for their next original tale The Good Dinosaur arriving late in 2015.  For the first time, we are treated to two original Pixar films in the same year!  Bring on the next adventure.

BLOCKBUSTER BUSTS

Genisys Terminated

The Terminator franchise just can’t seem to get it together.  One sequel and two reboots later and fans are still left questioning studio choices.  Terminator: Genisys had a lot of positive elements but, personally, the marketing showed too much.  It’s always bad news when you unveil your biggest twists and they are… Underwhelming.

Pixels Is Donkey Wrong

Pixels was a charming short film and that’s where this story was supposed to end.  Instead, Adam Sandler came on board an alien invasion story featuring classic video game characters invading the Earth.  Pixels features fun set pieces but little to no connective thread to make this box office bomb worth the ticket.

Fantastic Four Fizzles

This production was…  doomed…  from the start.  We may never truly understand all the problems that plagued the set of Fantastic Four during production.  For now, what is certain is Marvel’s first family is arguably 0-3 in the live action world.  Will they join Fox’s X-Men universe?  Will the rights revert back to Marvel?  Does anyone care?

TOP 5 MOMENTS

5. Mad Max Tornado Fire

So…  A bunch of armored vehicles are in a brutal car chase that features a deformed human playing a flame throwing guitar.  And THEN they journey into a giant sandstorm where explosions and mayhem ensue.

4. Jurassic World's Big Death

This moment makes the top 5 because of plain old fashioned shock factor.  By far the worst death scene in perhaps the entire series features a secondary character getting tossed around by pretty much every dinosaur on the island!

3. Hunt vs Lane

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation features a back and forth strategic battle between Hunt and Lane.  Throughout the film, Lane always remains two steps ahead but it isn’t until a fantastic restaurant showdown that Hunt turns the tables.

2. Veronica vs Hulk

One of the best action scenes of Age of Ultron features Iron Man and Hulk battling in the streets of South Africa with the help of some cool anti-hulk defense technology.

1. Farewell Paul Walker

Whether you’re a fan of the Furious franchise or not, you can’t help but feel the emotions of the cast and crew as they say goodbye to a dear friend.  Paul Walker’s presence will be missed and the final moments of Furious 7 encapsulate that feeling perfectly.

THE BEST SUMMER MOVIE OF 2015

It was a close battle but Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was simply too much fun and deserves a spot near the top of everyone’s summer favorites list.

In the end, it came down to MI:5 vs Mad Max: Fury Road. Mad Max was an extremely entertaining and wildly original summer movie.  It deserves every ounce of success it achieved.  Other contenders included Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 7 but I adored Rogue Nation’s story above all.  It’s exactly what you would want in a Mission Impossible film.

Looking back, this summer felt a bit…  Off…  We were treated to some pretty amazing stories on the big screen in all of our favorite genres but overall this summer felt light.  The reason?  I believe, the summer of 2015 has been overshadowed by the behemoth that is the 2016 summer movie season.

Marvel has pulled the curtain back on their Phase Three slate of films.  The Infinity War is coming and it all begins with Civil War next spring.  We will also meet Doctor Strange in 2016.

DC’s cinematic universe explodes when Batman and Superman collide on the big screen for the first time.  That film will be followed up by the incredibly intriguing Suicide Squad which looks amazing.  Those 4 films alone make 2016 a contender for biggest summer ever.

But let’s not forget X-Men Apocalypse, Warcraft, Ghostbusters, Independence Day: Resurgence, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, Finding Dory and more!

Having said that, 2015 did provide some much needed thrills and movies worth experiencing.  I may be looking ahead but I had a blast in theaters this summer.  I’m looking forward to second, third and fourth viewings of my favorites.  Especially Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Be sure to check out our 2015 Fall Movie Preview featuring over 40 films with trailers!

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