Hollywood in Decline: A Summer Movie Recap

illustration by Iain Duffus

For the past three months, the movie box office has been in a decline. While the summer started with some big hits like “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” July and August seem to have difficulty capturing audiences.

Decline in the box office is nothing new. Studios alternate between successful years and slightly less successful years. Yet, whenever there is a decline, the media starts to question if movies are still viable and if the medium is dying out.

While I find this argument laughable, 2017 is a somewhat special case. This year’s movies have to compete with 2015 and 2016, two years which saw the releases of 10 movies that are in the list of the top 50 highest grossing films of all time.

I think the issue in 2017 is not the quality of the films, but the type of films that are being released. Moviegoers are tired of superheroes, dumb blockbusters, and franchises. While they do still have their loyalties, as can be seen with the success of Marvel and DC movies, people don’t want a new set of sequels and worlds to keep up with. All people want are good films, and hopefully Hollywood and will take this decline as a sign of the times.

This isn’t to say everything that came out this summer was worth seeing. “Transformers: The Last Knight” is the lowest grossing film in its franchise, showing that the audiences are tired of lazy filmmaking. Universal tried to kick start a cinematic universe with “The Mummy,” but audiences responded with a similar cold shoulder.

Despite these cinematic failures, there were more high quality films released this season than not. Most films that came out were at the very least good, and at best endlessly entertaining. So if you failed to escape the heat for these films, then hopefully you’ll be able to catch them on your study breaks on your lazy nights in.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” did a lot to change the Marvel formula, focusing on characters and their relationships instead of action set-pieces and developing the other films in the cinematic universe. It’s a sequel that chooses to grow its characters, trusting the audience to enjoy dialogue and emotional payoffs rather than explosions and fights. Yet, the film still delivers on thrilling action scenes that now have more weight thanks to the developed characters. I honestly believe this is better than the first, and I think others will look back and say the same thing.

As my most anticipated film of the summer, Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” had a lot to live up to. While it’s not a perfect film, this semi-musical action film was probably the most fun I had in theaters. The writing and performances are great and the action sequences are expertly choreographed and line-up beautifully with the soundtrack. Speaking of which, the soundtrack is a mix of funk, soul and rock, making for a catchy backdrop for the action. It’s not only a great time at the movies, but it also reminded me of why I love Wright’s work and why I can’t wait to see what other films are in store.

“The Big Sick” was probably the biggest indie darling of the past few months and after seeing it I know why. Kumail Nanjiani’s story of how he met his future wife and her life-threatening illness is at once hilarious and emotional. Yet, the film manages to balance the two conflicting tones with great writing and performances that make the characters instantly likeable. What separates this film from other Apatow releases like Trainwreck is how personal it feels. This was something Nanjiani actually experienced and that was clear throughout the film.

While not the crazy John Wick-esque action flick I was expecting, “Atomic Blonde” still managed to deliver intense fights along with intriguing spy antics. Charlize Theron is great as the titular “Blonde”, managing to exude charisma despite her character’s subdued delivery and manor. The music and visuals are indicative of the dark times and setting, using the fall of the Berlin Wall as the backdrop to the amusingly convoluted plot. While the spy story can be cliched, it was still a fun time and worth seeing for fans of this genre.   


Samuel Goodrich, Staff Writer

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