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Why are the blockbusters this summer not up to snuff?

Suicide-Squad 2016
I’m hardly the first one to mention it, but it’s clear to me that the summer blockbusters this year have been, well…lacking. That might be being kind too. It feels like one of the worst slates ever, at least the most disappointing. Almost every single week, something comes out that was either hotly anticipated and then underwhelms, or just wasn’t needed at all and performs as such, both critically and commercially. What are we to make of all this? Is it just the perception of the season, or is it actually our reality? Well, let’s discuss a bit now for today’s article…

This isn’t a new trend either, as we have seen in recent years the quality seem to just plunge downhill. We’re a long way from the days when Jaws created the summer movie season. In fact, we’re now a long way from the best titles actually coming out in the summer. Last year, the biggest film of the year was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and that was a winter release. This year, successful blockbusters like Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool were late winter/early to mid spring releases, alongside unsuccessful yet large scale ones like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Look no further than to later this year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is also a winter release. The summer just isn’t what it used to be, and that certainly sets the flicks up for failure, at least to some degree.

If you look at some of the biggest 2016 titles that actually came out in the summer, they are not exactly the cream of the crop. The BFG, Ice Age: Collision Course, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Legend of Tarzan, Now You See Me 2, Pete’s Dragon, Suicide Squad, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and Warcraft all were duds, to one degree or another. Now, one or two of them weren’t bad, quality wise (like The BFG and Pete’s Dragon), but a number of them were outright atrocious. Look no further than the recently released Suicide Squad to see how something many were looking forward to can just come out and die on arrival. That film more or less encapsulates this summer in particular.

secret life of pets
On the flip side, the summer successes this year have been smaller or just less anticipated. The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory, Sausage Party, and The Secret Life of Pets are probably the only undisputed successes, with Ghostbusters, Jason Bourne, and Star Trek Beyond coming in somewhere between success and failure. The trend here has animation doing better, while certain sequels managing to break free from the black hole of quality that most summer titles fall into. Mostly, it seems to me like they’re just not particularly risky projects (except for Sausage Party), so aiming low in a way is what’s being rewarded. Honestly, that’s not a great sign either.

Overall, I think this likely isn’t going to be changing anytime soon. Maybe the yet to be released Ben-Hur, Kubo and the Two Strings, or Mechanic: Resurrection can save the day, but it does appear like this is going to be another summer movie season that fails. One day we might get better films hitting during these sweltering months, but it doesn’t seem likely to me. It just now is what it is. It’s a shame, but as the flicks get bigger and bigger, the surprises get fewer and further between. Alas. At least we know that the fall festival season is soon to be upon us, and hey, there’s always next year, right? Well, maybe not…

Stay tuned to see if any of the remaining summer releases can be up to snuff!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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