Warm weather, the sound of laughter in the air – summer is a great time to hide in a dark, quiet theater and watch a movie.
Summer blockbusters are some of the highlights of the season. Some of these movies build anticipation for months or even years before their release.
The big hit of the summer is a memory many of us share and it sort of brings us back in time to that summer when it was released. I haven’t had a summer movie make a strong impression on me for years, so it’s no surprise that I recall films that are a decade old or older more clearly than some I’ve seen recently.
Here are a few of my favorite memories of beating the heat in the theater:
"Independence Day" was everything a summer blockbuster is supposed to be. It had a big star in Will Smith, tons of explosions and a tie-in to the Fourth of July right in the title.
My grandma Gene Anderson brought me to the Max Theatres in Sibley to see this one when I was 10 years old. She actually introduced me to quite a few films I still love today, such as "The Monster Squad" and "Terminator 2." She had good taste and wasn’t above the occasional action flick.
"Men In Black"
Another Will Smith movie, because he was on a roll through the late '90s. That is until "Wild Wild West."
Looking back, "Men In Black" was a pretty cynical anecdote about distrust from the government in the public’s ability to handle difficult truths and the public’s distrust in the government’s transparency or lack thereof. All of this was portrayed with the comical flashy thing memory eraser and the elaborate lengths the MIB would go through to hide the truth.
Watching Smith – Agent J – try to fit in with the hard-nosed veteran agents played by Tommy Lee Jones and Rip Torn would have made a movie work regardless of its setting. The special effects and outrageous nature of what the MIB were tasked to do just put it all over the top.
The effects, satire and overall cinematography still hold up in my opinion.
Like probably most people, I knew the bare minimum about Iron Man before the first movie was released in 2008. Aside from Batman and Spider-Man, superheroes weren’t that prominent on the big screen at the time.
A few friends and I decided to see "Iron Man" on a whim and walked away pleasantly surprised. I didn’t expect that movie to grow into this giant powerhouse that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Robert Downey Jr. has been a highlight in each of those films that he was a part of, even if the second and third "Iron Man" movies weren’t great on their own.
"The Dark Knight"
"Iron Man" may have kick-started the "Avengers" movies, but "The Dark Knight" my favorite comic-inspired movie of all time.
Following up on 2005’s "Batman Begins," which was criminally overlooked, "The Dark Knight" showed us Batman in his prime. Christopher Nolan grounded the world of Batman in comparison to previous iterations, but the themes of his movies were just as big.
If any of my friends, acquaintances or a random person on the street needed someone to see this movie with, I was there. I hit the theater five times on opening weekend and a few times after that. Yvonne and I would later watch a marathon at the Cinemagic Great Lakes 7 in Spirit Lake when "The Dark Knight Rises" was released in 2012. The six-plus hours flew by.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought "Inception" was great. But the way the film made an impression on me wasn’t in the mind-bending storytelling and special effects or the performances of its all-star cast. This movie showed me that no matter how much I might want to see a movie in the theater, I might not always make it through.
Yes, I fell asleep. An $8-10 ticket was spent to take a nap in the theater. It wasn’t a late show. It started at maybe 8:30-9 p.m., but the movie was about sleeping and dreaming. It wasn’t a fair fight.
This wasn’t the first time I fell asleep in a movie theater – that happened during "Van Helsing" which I don’t regret sleeping through.
Now I’m aware that excitement and anticipation isn’t enough to keep me awake in a theater, nor is an uncomfortable seat. Caffeine it is!