Five Alternatives to This Year’s Summer Blockbusters
It’s hot out, really hot. What did you expect? It’s summer. This happens to us every year and we always forget. The silver lining to your skin sticking to your car’s seat (and every street downtown either smelling like trash or being on fire) is that we, as a country, rekindle our love affair with the cinema. Or, more realistically, we remember that movie theaters have industrial air conditioning.
Major studios know this and double down on this need for escapism with big-budget shoot ’em ups and star-studded sex romps to lure us into theaters and screening rooms across the country. But how many of these films remain in our psyche after we leave the theater, let alone longer?
This year, don’t give your money to the blockbuster machine. Here are the best film alternatives for your summer viewing (and air-conditioned sitting) pleasure.
Instead of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, see Swiss Army Man
The buddy pic is a time-tested genre for big and small filmmakers alike. That doesn’t mean that all of these silly duo comedies are created equal, though. What Mike and Dave has going for it is pure star power. Zac Efron (Dave) has pretty successfully traded in his Disney musical past for a raunchy comedy career and people seem to really like Workaholics’ Adam Devine (Mike), but we’ve all seen this movie before.
You know what movie you haven’t seen before (and probably never will again)? Swiss Army Man. The latest film by Daniels — Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — tells the story of a man trapped on a desert island (Paul Dano) who befriends a rotting corpse that he names Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). With a farting dead guy as one of its leads, Swiss Army Man is as raunchy and foul as Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but it has more heart and real emotion, which is exactly what you want in a movie about best friends.
Instead of Star Trek: Beyond, see Equals
If you’re a Trekkie, nothing’s going to dissuade you from seeing the new Star Trek sequel (even though the blatant misuse of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotoge” within its trailer should). However, if you’re just a sci-fi fan looking for a new flick this summer, grab a ticket for Equals instead. Drake Doremus’s (Like Crazy) latest film takes place in the future when all emotions have been erased along with all war and diseases. Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult become “infected” with an illness that gives them back their ability to feel and they fall hopelessly in love with each other. Major emphasis on the hopelessness of the couple’s situation, especially when the dystopian leaders figure out that they have emotions again. There might be no Spock in Equals, but it’s bound to surprise you more than Beyond.
Instead of Jason Bourne, see The Founder
Jason Bourne is back! But…wait…isn’t he always back every few years? If you really want to watch a film about a cunning and highly intelligent individual who changed the country with his stealthy-yet-controversial skills, watch The Founder. Michael Keaton stars as Ray Kroc — the man who launched McDonald’s nationally — in the origin story of one of the biggest companies worldwide. Whether you love or hate McDonald’s, The Founder is a complex film that tallies up the winners and losers of this seismic deal. Remember, it’s just business.
Instead of Suicide Squad, see Captain Fantastic
Beyond copious amounts of CGI, the A-list ensemble is another Hollywood tent pole. Vying for the top spot in that category this year is DC’s mega-watt “super hero” grab bag Suicide Squad. Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and so, so many more, the supervillain showdown promises Deadpool-quality edge with Avengers-style action, but DC’s blockbuster track record has been pretty damning as of late. (Just ask Ben Affleck.)
Instead of gambling on another disappointing superhero flick, pledge your allegiance to Captain Fantastic. Viggo Mortensen is a father of six in Matt Ross’s (Silicon Valley) newest project, but, more importantly, he’s their reluctant leader on a trip out of their forest home and into society again. Captain Fantastic’s ensemble includes Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn and the always-underappreciated Steve Zahn. Both Suicide Squad and Captain Fantastic follow a ragtag bunch as they try to learn how to interact in “normal” society again, but only one will probably be in the running for Oscars later this year.
Instead of Independence Day: Resurgence, see The Duel
Let’s get right to the meat of the problem with Independence Day: Resurgence — Will Smith is not in it. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence for the long-awaited sequel to the 1996 smash hit. Yes, the film still has Bull Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, but Resurgence just doesn’t have that same swagger that Smith brought to Independence Day as Steve Hiller. Also, are we really as scared of alien invasions in films as we were in the ’90s, especially without Smith at the reins?
The Duel captures the uneasiness and fear of the first Independence Day film without the dated visual effects. Woody Harrelson’s turn as a terrifying preacher in an old-timey western town plagued with murders and vanishing citizens is as spooky as any trumped-up alien invasion. Also, if for some reason you were only going to see Independence Day: Resurgence for Liam Hemsworth, don’t you worry. That fresh piece of eye candy is starring in The Duel too.