Summer blockbusters: were they worth the anticipation?

An understanding is formed between Eugenia (Emma Stone), Minny (Octavia Spencer) and Aibileen (Viola Davis) in The Help.

By Ryan McAdams

Summer is a great time for movies to create a lot of buzz before award season. This summer in particular was as highly anticipated as any in recent memory.

The crop of movies that came out this summer as a whole was excellent, with some breaking multiple records. As usual, there were plenty of bad movies that came out as well, but there were more than enough good films to counteract those.

Three films surpassed the billion-dollar mark, the most ever in a single year. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II was the big winner this summer, grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide and breaking plenty of records in the process (largest single day gross, largest opening weekend gross home and worldwide and becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time). It also earned an exceptional 96% approval rating on and a solid score of 87 on

Rider students seem to agree with these scores.

“Harry Potter was definitely the best movie of the summer,” said freshman Steve Schwartz. “I’m kind of sad that it’s over, but Part II was the best movie of the series because of its storyline and its truth to the book.”

Another film that grossed over a billion dollars was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Despite the money made, reviews were generally poor. Rotten Tomatoes ranked it as just the 37th best summer movie at 36%, yet still many say it should have been ranked lower.

“At a certain point, special effects can’t carry a film,” said freshman Jenn Schneider. “The story line and acting fall short and the movie ends up boring.”

The third movie to break the billion-dollar mark was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Again, reviews for this movie contradicted the earnings with an average of 45 on Metacritic and an even worse 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. A reason for this discrepancy could be the fact that 77% of their earnings were from outside of North America.

The Hangover Part II fared well enough as it ended up being the sixth highest grossing movie of the season. Although it was very similar to its prequel, it received a low rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

There has been much debate over whether the second installment of The Hangover was as good as the first.

“The way I think about the film is that Part 2 is the same plot, story and mainly the same characters,” said junior Travis Hastings. “But in my opinion, if you saw the second one before the first, you would feel that the first film was not as good.”

Another comedy that received a lot of praise is Bridesmaids. With a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, it didn’t quite match the box office success of other films but still saw plenty of good press. 30 Minutes or Less and Horrible Bosses were both well-received, well-reviewed and raked in decent amounts of money.

As a precursor to the much anticipated Avengers movie set for release next year, there were many superhero features this summer. X-Men: First Class, Captain America and Thor all hit theaters and earned relatively positive reviews. Thor had the best worldwide gross of those films, while X-Men had the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 87%.

Four of the top 10 grossing films this summer were animated films. Kung Fu Panda 2 was ranked number four on the Top Earners list, with Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic affirming this with ratings of 83% and 67.  Cars 2, Rio and The Smurfs were seventh, eighth and ninth on the Top Earners list, all with solid profit. Finally, one of America’s childhood favorites Winnie the Pooh received great reviews all around.

Fast Five was fifth this summer at the box office, keeping with the trend of high-grossing action movies. Super 8 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes both saw decent earnings but perhaps not as much as had been anticipated. Crazy Stupid Love, Cowboys and Aliens and The Help were other movies that can be considered successes.

Overall, it was a solid summer for the movies. It might be hard for next summer’s film line-up to top this year’s, being that we’ve had to say our goodbyes to the Harry Potter series. We’ll have to wait and see what exciting new films the movie industry has in store for the future.

The hilarious cast of Bridesmaids poses in their fanciful dresses.
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