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The Best and Worst Summer Blockbusters of 2011

August 30, 2011  |  9:30am
The Best and Worst Summer Blockbusters of 2011

This summer provided the typical group of superhero adaptations, an ungodly amount of sequels and prequels and very few original stories. Now that September is just around the corner and of the summer blockbuster season is officially over, we take a look back at the best and worst films of recent months.

The Bottom Five

5. Cars 2
It’s not that the latest Pixar movie was unbearable, but it failed to live up to expectations. Film after film the studio has produced hits that both critics and children held close to their hearts. However, critics hated this movie, and though the film is currently the seventh highest grossing film of the year, many who saw it felt cheated by the stale sequel.

4. The Hangover Part II
The original was one of the best R-rated comedies in recent years. If this list was compiled in 2009, it would definitely have been on the Best of Summer list. What worked so well for it was the originality. The lack of originality was what failed Part 2 on every level. Every step of the way was watching recycled scenes with all of the funny sucked out of it.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Each film in this series never stacked up to the one before it, but only barely. On Stranger Tides is the worst of the bunch. The fourth installment jumped off the deep end from the very beginning and had no chance of being good on any level. Three films based on an amusement park ride was enough, but four? Come on, Disney.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Let’s start with the good news: this was better than Revenge of the Fallen. However, that’s not saying much. Michael Bay has become synonymous with lots of action and explosions. Dark of the Moon is no exception. The story almost works, but of course fell apart before the first 15 minutes of the film. At least we are (almost) 100 percent certain there will be no more giant robots running around with a shrieking Shia LaBeouf

1. The Green Lantern
Remember when the first trailer came out and everyone thought, “Man, this looks awful.” The graphics looked cheesy and Ryan Reynolds didn’t seem to hone this character like he did Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Then another trailer came out and it looks a little better so everyone was back on the bandwagon. Well, we were all duped. Let’s just all move on and hope that superhero films aren’t dead.

The Top Five

5. X-Men: First Class
What’s this? A prequel and a superhero movie that was actually good? Take a moment to celebrate. We can sit and complain how the X-Men film series doesn’t follow the comics and that First Class goes even further away from that cannon, but aside from all of that rubbish, this prequel is able to tell a fresh story as well as bridging the gap for what happens later in the series with a good story (notice the Martin Luther King Jr./Malcom X parallels?), fun action sequences and great graphics.

4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Another prequel? 2011 holds the records for most prequels/sequels/reboots in the history of cinema, so it’s not surprising that some of them were bound to be terrific. Aside from a so-so title (Rise of the Apes would have been exponentially better) Rise is a tremendous film that does everything First Class did, plus pay homage to the original Apes films allowing new fans as well as old fans to enjoy a fresh take on monkeys taking over the world.

3. Bridesmaids
This was the female version of The Hangover, and we’re fine with that. It was crude, smart and hilarious enough to make it the highest grossing Judd Apatow produced film ever. Kristin Wiig has been a fan favorite on Saturday Night Live for years and finally got her time to shine. If the R-rated version wasn’t enough, an unrated version is being released on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 20. We can only imagine what had to be cut and are a little bit afraid of how raunchy it will be.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
It was marketed as the end of an era. After a decade of following the Boy Who Lived, fans expected brilliance and this finale didn’t disappoint. Tension grew quickly and continued to tighten every minute of the film. The entire story of Part 2 takes place over the course of a single day, most of it during the battle at night, but the story never lags. Though some fans felt disappointed in the changes made from the book (like Harry not fixing his wand, which was very symbolic and touching in the novel), everyone was satisfied and in tears at the screenings. We finally got to witness one of the greatest scenes from the book, Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tale, unfold and make grown men weep uncontrollably. JK Rowling created a world millions fell in love with, and this film was an epic way to end an era.

1. Super 8
Did anyone not feel warm, giddy and reminiscent of their childhood? Even younger fans can look back to the ‘80s or ‘90s with nostalgia and Super 8 does that. JJ Abrams set out to make a film along the lines of Spielberg classics like The Goonies and E.T. and didn’t fall short. The first half of the film shows how close-knit a group of friends can become and Elle Fanning emerges as a real powerhouse. When action picks up in the second half, a real sense of danger left audiences on the edge of their seats. Sure there were a lot of lens flares and the monster didn’t look all that scary, but do they ever? Abrams delivered a film that was gripping and enchanting with a great theme of finding yourself in a crazy world.

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