Summer movies have reached the point of such saturated stupidity that it's now extremely difficult to determine how to take them. In the past, a film like The Goonies was obviously not meant to be an adventure film as realistic as Raiders of the Lost Ark (which has supernatural elements in it, though treated seriously), so Data's ridiculous rescue by his "Pincers of Peril" in The Goonies could be enjoyably laughed away.
Now every summer movie has its own "Pincers of Peril" regardless of the overall tone of the film. This destroys the suspension of disbelief in films that absolutely require it while simultaneously dumbing it down even more than the source material already does. It confuses the tone of a film, and in the process confuses audiences. Given the limitless possibilities of CG, summer films now seek out "cool" moments rather than a cathartic release derived from good storytelling.
It's the difference between the masterful build up of tension in the trench run finale of Star Wars and the rushed, "fly the nuclear bomb out of Gotham" crap in The Dark Knight Rises. It's the difference between the logical, character-driven motivations in Alien and the moronic, happenstance machinations in Prometheus. It's the difference between the earned emotional payoffs in Superman: The Movie and the phony, superficial attempts at such in Man Of Steel. Hang on -- let me get back to that one in a bit.
The movies this summer weren't ALL bad. I thought Evil Dead was a decent-enough remake of a film that definitely did not need it (although the original is scarier). Oz: The Great And Powerful surprised me quite a bit for a film that seemingly had no chance of success. Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University were worthy companions to their original films. I liked The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers as purposely-shallow examinations of youthful decadence, selfishness, and greed. Pacific Rim and The Wolverine were okay, I guess.
With my good will now exhausted, let's dig into the five dumbest things we saw this summer. But first, here are some awful moments that narrowly missed the cut:
RUNNER-UP #4: Raleigh detonating a nuclear weapon at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and rising to the surface without oxygen or decompression problems in Pacific Rim. Yeah, I realize this is a kid-flick homage to Godzilla/Ultraman films, but almost everything about that sequence was bad, from the physics to the editing to the conception of the alien portal itself. Does it really need to be THAT dumb?
RUNNER-UP #3: The battle in the Presidential limo on the lawn of the White House in White House Down. I'm sure this goofy movie is not meant to be taken too seriously, but it makes little sense that Channing Tatum and President Jamie Foxx cannot get out of the White House yard despite numerous tanks and assault vehicles surrounding the area that could punch a hole in the reinforced fencing.
RUNNER-UP #2: Brad Pitt manages to comprehend the mechanics of a zombie outbreak during a 30-second run to a van in World War Z. The finale had to be reshot, but the opening minutes are among the film's dumbest. Apparently a global zombie apocalypse can happen within one hour while Pitt and his family make pancakes and leisurely go about their morning. And Pitt has the power to look through a charging horde of rubbery CG zombies and figure out their life cycle while trying to rescue his family from the attack. Ludicrous.
RUNNER-UP #1: Bruce Willis leaps from a building in Chernobyl and lands in a swimming pool in A Good Day To Die Hard. I'm rating this moment in a throwaway movie higher than others because of what it represents to the greatest action film in history -- Die Hard. In this unnecessary third sequel, the gritty, very human John McClane from the original classic has been transformed into a rampaging cyborg who easily kills more people than any of the Russian baddies. This stomach-turning atrocity features two versions of the hoary movie cliché of a hero blindly leaping off of a tall building and being saved by obstacles on the way down, but the second one is the worst. A swimming pool? Next to an abandoned warehouse building? In CHERNOBYL? Bruce Willis, you should be ashamed of your whoring.
With those out of the way, here are the summer's top 5 worst moments: