By Alice O’Donnell
With over 100mm of rain falling in the month of August alone, unfortunately, this summer was one better spent in the cinema. And boy, did the film industry supply. With a mix from Disney remakes to real life documentaries to superhero films, we saw it all. And with every hit, there was a regrettable miss. So, what were the very best, and worst, films of summer 2019?
Hit – Aladdin
With Disney ramping up production of their remakes, we were treated to not only one, but three childhood classics this summer. Aladdin was undoubtedly top of the list, combining a mixture of the classic animated film with new material such as a feminist re-imagining of Jasmine and freshly added songs. The actors are excellently cast – Will Smith shines as the genie, not replacing, but enhancing Robin Williams’ original character. While not exactly pioneering, it cheered up a rainy afternoon, and, based off the box-office returns, was a hit with young and old.
Miss – Detective Pikachu
Before you light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks, let me explain myself. I know, I know, Detective Pikachu was one of the hottest anticipated releases this summer. A movie based off our childhood? Where do I sign up? However, I left the theatre more than a little disappointed. While the Pokémon themselves were amazing to see on screen, other elements of the film fell drastically short. The plot wove confusingly around, almost tying itself in knots, with major twists making little sense (I mean, *spoiler* how the heck do you not recognise your own parent’s voice?!) A film where live action Pokémon are one of the more realistic elements? It goes on the Miss list for me I’m afraid.
Hit – Avengers: Endgame
Whether you’re a die-hard Marvel fan or not, it seemed to have been a rite of summer passage to have seen this movie. And the box office reflects this, with the film fast becoming the highest-grossing film ever made (finally knocking Avatar of the top spot). The film breaks away from its previously comfortable trope and brings surprising depth and humour to the final chapter of the Avengers franchise. From its realistic portrayal of PTSD, to that moment at the end I know even you shed a secret tear at; this film pulls, tugs, and damn-near does a jig on the heartstrings.
Miss – Dark Phoenix
It would be impossible to discuss cinematic flops and not mention Dark Phoenix. It’s ranking of 26th of the biggest box office flops of all time is, regrettably, one of the most impressive things about the film. Characters seemed not to have aged, despite nearly two decades passing (although it’s not too much of a complaint that Michael Fassbender as Magneto is still as fine as ever).The plot is a loose occurrence of events, and characters, who are so ingrained in the X-Men history, are seemingly unnecessarily killed. The film did not have issues, it was the issue – and seems a sad and disappointing way to end this near-decade old X-Men franchise.
Hit – Us
Jordan Peele can do no wrong in the horror genre. After such major success with Get Out, it was inevitable that his latest release, Us, would be a box-office smash in the opening nights, making over $50 million in its first week alone. However, it stood alone against Peele’s previous works, and attracted thousands of viewers for its own merit. The film itself is surprisingly more complex than its predecessor, addressing issues not only of race, but of classism, free will and the American dream (pointed at in the title itself). While providing jump scares and goring deaths for those hard-core horror fans, it is also deeply unnerving, and wow, let’s not even talk about that twist at the end. Making over $250 million against its $20 million budget, Us, is certainly one of the major hits of 2019.
Miss – Child’s Play
Oh dear. The webs have been dusted off this tired franchise, and Chucky is once again presented as the evil, homicide doll. The film itself, which was a modest success in the box office, isn’t the worst remake. Humour is drawn on often, and the new theme of technology is now majorly involved. However, the plot is, at best, a mashup of previous cult classics, and leaves you with a sense you’ve seen it all before. While the film is moderately enjoyable, it feels more like a Black Mirror episode rather than the attempt of a reboot to the franchise, and unfortunately does not quite justify the fact it was made in the first place.