August 24, 2005

Top Five Films of the Summer

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Even though this summer’s blockbuster season was often tainted with tales of doom and gloom over slumping ticket sales, a surprising amount of both laughs and thrills lit up the silver screen, ranging from Steve Carell’s lack of a love life to jedis. It’s important to note that the blockbuster season still has a few films to debut, however here is a list of the top five flicks of this summer (according to me.)

5. War of the Worlds

If only Tom Cruise had avoided jumping on people’s couches, we all could have taken this movie much more seriously. War of the Worlds was a dramatic turn for Steven Spielberg. Usually Spielberg’s summer outings have been light, fanciful adventures ranging from treasure hunters to dinosaurs. Even Jaws had light hearted humor injected every now and then. In War of the Worlds, Spielberg created an adventure, highly laced with 9-11 imagery, that lacked any feel-good message. War of the Worlds’ theme was that when things go really wrong, we’re on our own. While the film’s foolish happy ending tried to reassure the audience, Spielberg’s poignant message had already been made.

4. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

In the beginning of the summer, George Lucas finally realized the importance of dialogue and almost made us forget the terrible Episodes I and II. Episode III was nearly flawless in its balance of visual fantasy and the usual hero versus villain setups that makes Star Wars such a simple delight to digest. Veteran actor Ian McDiarmid is perfect in his role as Emperor Palpatine whose power simultaneously corrupts his decision making and his physical figure. Of course, nothing beats the final fight scene between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the end scene showing the birth of Luke and Leia and Darth Vader, all to John Williams booming and perfect musical score.

3. Batman Begins

This was the great surprise of the summer season. Who would have know that director Christopher Nolan, whose very anti-blockbuster previous works of Insomnia and Memento, could tackle a movie franchise practically declared dead and create an entertaining and effective film. Nolan’s dark and forboding Gotham City followed in the footsteps of Tim Burton’s 1989 film, but everything else, the cinematography, effects and pacing of the film is a credit to Nolan’s versatility. Also worth mentioning is the great casting ranging from veterans Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Liam Neeson to promising newcomers Katie Holmes and Cillian Murphy. Of course the crowing achievement was the casting of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. Bale more than any other actor who has tackled the lead character in this series, save Adam West, communicated the inner angst and almost fanactical dedication of this comic book hero.

2. The 40 Year Old Virgin

I know that a lot of you are wondering why this comedy made the list instead of the very funny Wedding Crashers. While I highly recommend the hilarious Wedding Crashers, it was The 40 Year Old Virgin that plowed unashamedly into uncharted comedic waters. While Vince Vaughn got knocked around in a tag-football game, Steve Carrel literally almost lost a nipple screaming “KELLY CLARKSON!” during a disastrous chest hair waxing. As long as The 40 Year Old Virgin’s director Judd Apatow, who already has the equally hilarious Anchorman on his resume, continues creating films like this, we can look forward to many more summers of laughs.

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Johnny Depp got most of the attention for his almost Michael Jackson-esque portrayl of the mysterious Willy Wonka, however it is the imagination of Tim Burton that made this film this summer’s best. Burton pulled out all the stops from creating actual rivers of chocolate to choreographing squirrels to deliver the imagery of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s novel. Even more amazing was how Burton created a dark and bitter parody of societal problems underneath all the gumdrops and fantasy of the overreaching plot. Burton inexplicably molded two very different messages into one fanciful film that goes down easier than hot cocoa.

Archived article by Mark Rice
Sun Staff Writer