Summer movie season puts the bust in blockbuster


Luke Dudrick, Entertainment Editor

Ever since Steven Spielberg’s thriller Jaws smashed box office records in 1975, the summer blockbuster has become a Hollywood staple, but this year’s blockbuster season was a bit of a let down.

The summer blockbuster season was off to a promising start as Captain America: Civil War, the latest film of Marvel’s cinematic universe, was a hit at the box office. The film pleased both fans and critics as it was action-packed and at times humorous, but ultimately an emotionally resonant film. Captain America: Civil War dealt with more complex themes such as friendship and loyalty – concepts most superhero movies either avoid or fail at presenting realistically.

Following up on the success of Civil War proved to be a difficult task for the other hotly anticipated blockbusters of the summer, as films such as X-Men: Apocalypse and Warcraft failed to impress critics and received strongly negative reviews. Despite some strong performances from an obviously talented cast, X-Men: Apocalypse centered around a hackneyed villain and emphasized action sequences over plot development. Warcraft was similarly panned for valuing CGI-laden effects and actions rather than any real substance or content.

Perhaps most disappointingly, though, was the critical failure of Independence Day: Resurgence, a sequel to 1996’s beloved sci-fi epic. Jeff Goldblum reprises his role from the original film, but even his superb acting cannot redeem this overstuffed, overblown mess of digital effects. For a film that ostensibly centers around an alien invasion based end-of-the-world story, there is a severe lack of emotional and narrative heft and the film seems to focus more on spaceships and explosions rather than the fate of the planet and its people.

The final nail in the 2016 summer movie season coffin was the strongly negative reception of DC Comic’s Suicide Squad. This film was a follow-up of sorts to the dismal and generally hated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. DC is understandably trying to emulate the success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, but whatever formula DC chose to adhere to has yet to please any critics. Each film in the DC universe has garnered successively more negative feedback.

Suicide Squad has a comparatively lighter tone than the overly brooding tone of Batman v. Superman, but it still failed to have any legitimate cinematic value. The characters are both poorly written and developed, and the plot is jumbled and erratic. The general lack of positive success of these films really makes one question the future of the DC cinematic universe.

The summer of 2016 exemplified an unfortunate trend in Hollywood cinema as so many films, especially the big blockbusters, are emphasizing CGI and special effects over the qualities that truly make a great film.