Back to school ads are everywhere, sunny days are becoming a rare treat and the cinema is full of filler before we get to Oscar season. Yup, summer's coming to an end.
From a movie perspective it's very easy to look back over the past few months (for the sake of this article, Summer is May-August) and feel disappointed. There were some great movies in there, but a lot of the films eager to be big hitters (especially in the early months) turned up dead on arrival and flopped in a way that would shock even a late-nineties Kevin Costner.
This was the summer of box office uncertainty and the fan-critic divide, and it would be very easy to just reel off all the films that wound up stinkers, but let's flip it and take a more positive angle. Which movies were lumped in with the cr*p when they shouldn't be, and which knock-outs were shrugged off? Here's the eight most underrated movies from Summer 2016.
Honourable Mention - The Nice Guys
I really wanted to include The Nice Guys on this list - Shane Black's 70s detective noir mash-up/pastiche is one of the most deliriously enjoyable movies of the year - but it's not exactly underrated, just underseen; everyone I've met who's seen it loved it, it's just that not all that many people made the journey to check it out.
So rather than placing it, I'll just say this: go see The Nice Guys (there's still a couple of screenings in London) or buy it on Blu-Ray or rent it digitally. Movies this creative and free need your backing, otherwise we'll be doomed to sequels nobody really wants, so show some love.
8. The Angry Birds Movie
The Angry Birds Movie is the best video game movie ever made.
OK, so while that's true it's a little hyperbolic - the bar is so low even the Olympic Limbo committee would call in heath and safety - it does at least imply there's something going on here. Sure, because it is primarily a branding exercise (and never a subversive musing on the intrinsic ethos of said brand like The Lego Movie) it's hard to say it's a worthy endeavour, but it's good enough to at least be called worthwhile.
The plot in particular is utter garbage - it's a stretched set-up for the game's structure that only half makes sense - but everything ultimately comes together thanks to Jason Sudeikis' Red, who meanders through it all cracking wise almost as if he's one of the adults dragged along by kids still addicted to the app, sardonically passing judgement on the ridiculousness like no animated character since Shrek. The rest of the jokes mostly concern bird puns, which is very low-level but fits the overall movie.
Angry Birds didn't need to exist and I'll be pretty disappointed if in a year with Warcraft and Assassin's Creed this winds up the best of the gaming pack, but there's no denying that, for what it is, Angry Birds ain't half bad.