We're now well into September. Trees are showing signs of fatigue. The air is growing colder. Days are becoming more vulnerable to darkness. And cinema has lost its big hitters. Huge hitters. The summer blockbuster season has come and gone and, as silver screens around the world prepare for an impending onslaught of Oscar bait, now is as good a time as any to evaluate the past few months.
It has been a very good summer, too. Those which promised mightily often delivered with rigour, some even more than expected. The odd disappointment did rear but not with any significant frequency. The good undoubtedly outweighed the bad in 2014, so much so that "the bad" mightn't even really be bad.
A forewarning: I did miss a few, therefore the likes of Maleficent, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Transformers: Age of Extinction won't be ranked.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
After an energetic re-boot helmed by the promising Andrew Garfield, a ramped up second Spidey installment fell victim to over consumption. There were too many villains, a narrative that unevenly jumped around various would-be focal points and more minutes than required. But The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn't a complete failure. Rather, it was quite fun and boasted a lead couple beaming with chemistry.
7. 22 Jump Street
It is very possible that this time next year we could be referring to the pair of leads in the Jump Street franchise both as Academy Award nominees. That's right, armed with Bennett Miller's upcoming amateur wrestling biopic, Channing Tatum may well be on the podium come February. But 22 Jump Street wasn't about any of that nonsense. It threw darts at humour and hit bullseye often.
Perhaps ill-fated from the get-go, Godzilla hit cinemas burdened by a heap of expectation that had been formed over the course of fifteen years. We all knew Gareth Edwards' re-imagining of kaiju lore was going to right the wrongs of Roland Emmerich, and the director's more suspenseful flick certainly did just that. The film sadly suffered under the weight of its rather bland human characters though.
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
James McAvoy delivered arguably his best performance to date - certainly my favourite - as Charles Xavier's run down younger self. The rest of the cast weren't bad either in Bryan Singer's total non-stop action extravaganza. Who cares if the science is slightly flabby when the fun is as fluid as it is here?
4. Edge of Tomorrow
Speaking of science, Edge of Tomorrow injected this summer with a healthy dose of Groundhog Day-esque science-fiction. Emily Blunt kicked ass alongside her Tom Cruise-shaped sidekick in a smart and relentlessly engaging action outing that always kept us on our toes. Eat. Sleep. Die. Repeat.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This ain't the first time The Winter Soldier has appeared third on one of these lists, and for good reason too. In April, The Russo Brothers gathered all that was good about The First Avenger and tossed it aside for stuff that was better. We shifted from the Marvel norm and instead spent a few hours enticed by a sleek espionage-like thriller containing a more fully realised Cap'n than ever before.
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The heart-thumper of the summer award certainly goes to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Matt Reeves' picture nodded graciously towards the past whilst having enough faith in its own sturdy convictions, and the result was quite special: a socially and politically relevant piece with a filling of entertainment to match. Andy Serkis astounded.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Forget film of the summer, this has one hand firmly grasped around the film of the year trophy. Guardians of the Galaxy was amusing and emotive, a gorgeously realised piece delivered with aplomb by its unassuming, versatile cast. It was infectious - an old soul - and Marvel's highest cinematic point to date. This summer is Groot.
How would you rate summer 2014? Let me know!
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