Greatest Summer Blockbusters Of All Time
You know the elements of a great summer film: Action. Explosions. And very good looking people. These are movies that can entertain a theater full of viewers desperate for an escape during some precious time off from work or school. Movies that go well with sugary snacks, buttered popcorn, and air conditioning. These movies don’t make us think too hard. This isn’t the existential winter of Oscar season- it’s blockbuster time.
As Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, and The Amazing Spider-Man duke it out for our attention, I present my personal list of the top five greatest summer blockbusters of all time (so far, that is… there might be an addition or two after this year):
5. Independence Day
Because not ever entry on this list can be a Steven Spielberg/George Lucas film. But seriously, this is where Roland Emmerich perfected his world-destruction formula, before it became a running joke. And maybe the idea of the world coming together to defeat a threat that is so clear, immediate, and without nuance is an inspiring idea- one that might not seem so realistic anymore.
4. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
If you can hear the theme music in your head, you know the power of this film. Invigorating 80′s cinema with a dash of Golden-Era-of-Hollywood glamour, Raiders is an exotic, swashbuckling adventure that reminds audiences why we love big films.
Without Jaws, there might not be such thing as a summer blockbuster. Director Steven Spielberg (again!) turned this difficult production (running long and over budget) into a Hitchcockian thriller, giving Hollywood some if it’s most memorable images, lines, and scoring (duh-DUH) ever. Combine that with a huge marketing campaign and a massive theatrical release, and the modern summer action spectacle was born.
2.The Dark Knight
How do you make the greatest superhero movie ever? By making a great film that defies genre. Leave it to Christopher Nolan to create a universe where epic villians in clown makeup actually seem feasible, and a guy in a cape becomes the starting point for an exploration of the most essential questions of right and wrong in our society.
1. Star Wars (A New Hope/The Empire Strikes Back)
Why number 1? Because Star Wars has become so much more than a film. The cult-like devotion it has inspired has become the golden standard for fantasy films, not to mention its (somewhat less amusing) influence on merchandising, marketing, and stretching out film franchises. I was torn about which film to put here: Empire may be superior cinematically, but A New Hope is the one that started them all.