Published on July 30th, 2015 | by Clint Davis
2015 Summer Movie Power Rankings
Blockbuster season is almost over and whether you spent every weekend at the megaplex, or are waiting for the year’s biggest hits to reach Blu-ray, it’s helpful to have some help navigating the annual heap of summer movies. Here, Overdue Review’s Clint Davis gives his take on summer 2015’s biggest movies, as he sees them.
The movies are ranked from best to worst, with updates coming each time Clint sees a new one. To be counted, the films had to hit American theaters between May 1 – August 31, 2015.
#1 – Mad Max: Fury Road
Director: George Miller | Screenplay: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Verdict: This reboot of the mostly forgotten Mad Max franchise got everything right. Its action sequences are intense and beautifully shot; its story is straightforward on the surface but full of feminist subtext; and it features Charlize Theron’s most exciting work in years. It follows a pair of post-apocalyptic wasteland travelers as they escape the clutches of a disgusting group of villains bent on keeping a group of women locked away as concubine slaves. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I’d call Fury Road the most essential action movie since 2012’s The Avengers.
#2 – Inside Out
Director: Pete Docter | Screenplay: Pete Docter, Meg LaFauve, Josh Cooley
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith
Verdict: Disney-Pixar’s latest masterpiece is one that you want to see again immediately after the credits roll. We go inside the head of an 11-year-old girl, where her emotions are personified as characters. It’s got imagination and heart for days, plus features perfect voice casting from a team of comedy veterans. The only frustrating thing about Inside Out is that it seemed to end too suddenly, leaving the audience wanting much more.
#3 – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Director & Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson
Verdict: After 19 years, the Mission: Impossible franchise just keeps getting better. This film is a blast to watch, thanks to geniune chemistry between its four male leads, tense action sequences and beautiful jet-setting scenery. Its storyline is easier to follow than previous installments and director Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote 1995’s The Usual Suspects, shows mastery over complicated scenes. Rogue Nation might be the funnest action movie experience of the year.
#4 – Spy
Director & Screenplay: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham
Verdict: The filmmaker who struck gold with 2011’s Bridesmaids brings the best out of Melissa McCarthy again in the hardest R-rated comedy of the summer. McCarthy is a mid-level CIA employee who finally earns a chance to do some spy work in the field. Her character is totally likable and earns credibility with the audience as her inhibitions drop and her confidence rises. Instead of being a simple spoof of the spy genre, this movie becomes a legitimate spy film itself thanks to the strength of its characters. Its main storyline is a bit cliche but Spy is one of the funniest and most unapologetic comedies of the year.
#5 – Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director & Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
Verdict: Marvel’s all-star gang of superheroes is back in a story that tests their loyalties to one another. As usual, the ensemble cast does fine work but it’s the attention paid to the franchise’s long-overlooked pair of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) that expand the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe even further. Ultron isn’t the strongest villain we’ve seen the Avengers face but the addition of the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as a supporting character is enough to keep things interesting.
#6 – Ant-Man
Director: Peyton Reed | Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
Verdict: It’s certainly Marvel’s smallest movie yet (pun intended) in just about every way, but Ant-Man has the thrills and easy atmosphere we’ve come to expect from the powerhouse studio. Paul Rudd is likable as ever, playing Disney’s G-rated version of a felon who’s struggling for redemption after serving time. The movie hardly ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe but that’s OK because Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t make a huge deal out of that either. Ant-Man works best when showcasing the shrinking powers of a suit worn by Rudd’s character — breaking tension with laughs during action scenes and reminding us just how ridiculous superhero plots are.
#7 – Trainwreck
Director: Judd Apatow | Screenplay: Amy Schumer
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader
Verdict: Amy Schumer has the talent to make a great film but unfortunately this isn’t it. The movie is funny but too long and it loses its edge in the final act when it wilts into a dopey romantic comedy. Schumer proves in several scenes that unlike a lot of standup comics, she’s capable of more than just playing a version of herself — she’s a legitimate actress. I hope Schumer can tone down the lazy tropes in her next script and most importantly, work with a director that won’t let her iconoclastic voice go quiet.
#8 – Terminator Genisys
Director: Alan Taylor | Screenplay: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Verdict: For a series that has been so full of imagination since 1984, this latest entry has almost none. We’ve seen everything Terminator Genisys has to offer in other Terminator movies — which essentially turns this into a greatest hits of the franchise. Schwarzenegger delivers some intentional laughs but he’s nowhere near the intimidating physical force he was in the 1980s and ’90s, which takes away from some of the action. The diminutive Emilia Clarke is believable as Sarah Connor and gives the character a softness not present in previous iterations, but there’s no chemistry between she and co-star Jai Courtney.
#9 – Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow | Screenplay: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
Verdict: Sure it’s fun to see incredibly realistic CGI dinosaurs rip and romp through a massive amusement park but this movie offers little else to its audience. Jurassic World is the definition of a big dumb action movie. It features a cast of one-dimensional characters in a story that’s meant to make us feel bad for our treatment of animals while simultaneously containing in-film advertisements for Jimmy Buffett’s burger chain. What it does get right is the sense of terror it instills in the audience, making its dinosaurs more frightening than Freddy Krueger and more intimidating than Jason Voorhees. There’s just no heart behind this movie.