Predicting what movies will be blockbusters and which ones will be bombs can be a tricky business. You can have a film come from seemingly out of nowhere to be a huge hit, or a film that generates a high level of buzz but doesn't live up to the hype.
However, the summer of 2014 has seemed to be a bit more unpredictable than normal at the box office. The release schedule wasn't as packed with hits as it has been in recent years, and only one movie managed to cross the magic $100 million opening weekend mark ("Transformers: Age of Extinction"). There were some surprising under-performers, and what was arguably the best movie of the summer wasn't even technically a summer movie at all — "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
My friends give me some good-natured teasing about being a movie junkie, and during the summertime it usually seems like I'm heading to the theater every weekend for a new movie. However, I only ended up going to the theater a handful of times in June and July, simply because there weren't as many big draws this summer. 2014 also seems to be a bit of a slower year overall, with "The LEGO Movie" being the only standout I can think of from early in the year.
Still, even though there were a smaller crop of movies, I did end up enjoying most of the ones I went to see. The movie that did disappoint me a little bit was "Godzilla." It was one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, and had one of the best trailers of the year. There was a lot of buzz heading into this film, but I felt the final project fell short of what it could have been. The classic "monster movie" portions of the film were great, but the human characters didn't really register on a deeper emotional level.
For me, the biggest surprises of the summer were "Edge of Tomorrow" and "The Fault in Our Stars." "Edge of Tomorrow" wasn't a huge box office hit, which is a shame because it was a fun, smart sci-fi movie. Its "Groundhog Day" meets "Saving Private Ryan" concept — about a soldier who has to relive the same battle against an alien army over and over — could have become repetitive, but the script is clever and witty enough to keep the film entertaining. "The Fault in Our Stars" isn't the type of movie I normally watch, but this film about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love transcends the "teen romance" genre. It's a mature, moving film with a bittersweet ending.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" were also highlights of the summer for me. Both had strong stories with thought-provoking concepts. "X-Men: Days of Future Past" had my favorite scene from a movie this summer: the Pentagon prison break, featuring a lightning-fast mutant named Quicksilver. It's a delightfully trippy (and fun) sequence.
Although "Captain America: The Winter Solider" — which was released in April — is probably still my favorite movie of the year, if you don't count it as part of the summer movie season, my favorite summer movie is "Guardians of the Galaxy." It's definitely the most fun I've had at the theater this year. It's Marvel's quirkiest, riskiest film so far, but it beat expectations and had one of the best opening weekends at the box office. Who would have thought that a talking, trigger-happy raccoon and a gentle-hearted walking tree would be some of the best — and most emotionally resonant — characters of the summer? The movie also is definitely worth splurging on to see in IMAX.
So, what was your favorite movie of the summer? What movie did you enjoy the least?