Summer movies in review
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Money movies

Grading the summer’s box office hits

By Austin Linder | Echo

This summer on the silver screen, Tom Cruise saved the world for the 86th time while California broke in half for the first. While over 50 films hit theatres between May and August, only a few were able to rack up enough tickets sales to rise to the ranks of a successful summer blockbuster.

Ultimately ruling the box office were unconventional heroes and annoying, overall-wearing Tic Tacs from hell. So before you nab these films on DVD or download them, here is our take on four of the summer’s top money-makers.


Jurassic World

Gross: $643,579,580

Grade: B

jurassic_world   Fourteen years after the disastrous Jurassic Park III sent dino-fans running, the franchise’s producers are once again tried to relive their prehistoric triumph. And according to the box office results, they succeeded.

This summer’s highest grossing movie stars Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, a velociraptor trainer and the main reason “Parks and Rec” fans everywhere pretended to like dinosaurs for a couple of hours. In the story, a few decades after the original dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar epically crashed and burned, a new super-park called Jurassic World dazzles crowds. Unsurprisingly, greedy businessmen and scientists try to boost park revenue by engineering a dangerous new creature, the Indominus Rex, which destroys the park in minutes.

Sure, the plot is routine, the characters are bland and the park spins into complete chaos so quickly you begin to wonder how it possibly survived for so many years in the first place, but the film is undeniably fun. Director Colin Trevorrow doesn’t let the film take itself too seriously and instead focuses on dino-on-dino fighting and suspenseful velociraptor chase scenes. While “World” pays homage to the first film, it also reminds audiences how much the newest installment falls short of the original.



Gross: $325,377,915

Grade: D+

minionsminions  If you thought the Minions were annoying in the first movie of the “Despicable Me” franchise, turn and run while you still can. Watching “Minions” as an adult is kind of like being trapped on the “It’s a Small World” ride for an hour and a half with the robot children singing in reverse. But with one of the highest grossing animated films of the summer, the creators clearly did something right.

This “Despicable Me”prequel follows the yellow, pill-shaped bundles of gibberish as they shriek and waddle through history seeking the ultimate villain to serve. Combining a talented voice cast including Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm and Michael Keaton with surprisingly morbid themes of torture and accidental murders (there’s a scene where the minions steal a funeral wreath from a grieving family and wear it as a hat), the film ultimately accomplishes what it sets out to do—and that’s to appeal to children, ages fetus and up.


Inside Out

inside_outGross: $344,824,515

Grade: A

For animation-lovers who prefer their brains unscrambled, Pixar’s latest creation is a worthy choice. Shying away from the fart jokes and ear-piercing noises of the Minions, this film focuses on the emotional mechanisms that make us human, providing an intelligent conversation about depression and sadness that both children and adults can enjoy.

In the film, a young girl’s emotions of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger are personified by a brilliantly-matched voice cast, including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader. When things go awry and Joy and Sadness get separated from the rest of the emotions, the two opposing characters must work together to comfort the girl and restore balance to the emotional chaos.

The animation itself is stunning, but the character development, heartfelt musical score and thought-provoking themes of vulnerability and honesty are what make this film notable beyond its visuals.



Gross: $169,812,485

Grade: A-

ant-man3ant-man3   When your protagonist is an insect-sized hero, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Thankfully “Ant-Man” manages self-deprecation without sacrificing the storyline. The latest installment in the vast Marvel superhero library, this film follows ex-burglar Scott Lang, played by the capable Paul Rudd, as he is enlisted to save the world from evil by becoming a speck with superpowers.

With a premise this ridiculous, the film’s comedic element needs to be balanced and Rudd aptly delivers, maintaining a quippy attitude without becoming the goofball character he has been in films like “Anchorman.” The cast and crew work hard to include jokes and an attitude of self-awareness without going as far into the realm of comedy as a project like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” where nearly everything is a gag. Director Peyton Reed adds a unique perspective to the project that results in memorable scenes and creative storytelling.

With enough seriousness and suspense to ground the film as a true action flick, “Ant-Man” does the impossible— making ants almost likable for an hour and a half.


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