There’s less than two weeks left in June, and I’ve only seen two genuinely fun movies this summer. One was Iron Man 2, which semi-officially kicked off the summer blockbuster season more than a month ago, and the other was The A-Team, which was a metric ton of fun, but is also already considered a box office disappointment. Aside from Shrek and the Karate Kid remake (both kiddie movies, you’ll notice), this summer is widely considered a weak one so far in terms of both box office and quality. Now, obviously, money isn’t everything, but it’s not like there’s been a pile of critical hits so far either; perceived financial disappointments like Sex and the City 2, Marmaduke and Prince of Persia all received so-so reviews at best.
By this time last summer we had already seen the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Angels & Demons, Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Up and The Hangover, all of which, regardless of your feelings about the respective quality of those films, are considered to have at least been moderately successful. Everyone knows there are flops every summer, but this year looks more packed with them than usual. Despite the studio trying to convince everyone it’s a huge deal, I know absolutely nobody who is the least bit interested in the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz action-comedy Knight and Day, and I don’t even think Warner Bros. expects the critically-savaged Jonah Hex to do much business this weekend.
The big hope, aside from the guaranteed hit that is Toy Story 3, is Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which, as intriguing as it looks (I’ve always got time for ambitious, thinky sci-fi movies filled with striking visuals), is still a big mystery. It’ll obviously open big based on post-Dark Knight hype alone, but whether or not its (presumably) more challenging subject matter turns off audiences in the long term remains to be seen. (Movies like Watchmen prove you can use marketing and buzz to get people into theaters opening weekend, but if people walking out of the movie afterward didn’t enjoy it, that’s pretty much the end of that.
There are still a few movies I’m really excited about seeing in the coming months, like Inception, Predators, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg cop comedy The Other Guys, but I can’t help but think this summer will go down as a let-down in terms of the quality of the big movies released, and so far, it appears audiences voting with their wallets for the most part agree.