Summer 2014 in Entertainment

In the wonderful world of entertainment, summer begins in May. This is convenient for college students, because our summer break also begins in May. This means we have three glorious months to appreciate all the action and cheesy goodness that summer entertainment provides. If you were busy working an internship or a regular job – or both – I’m sure you made the time to get out to movie theaters and see the plethora of superhero movies available. If not, here’s a brief recap.

If there is a word to describe this summer’s movie offerings, I would say “meh.” While “meh” is not technically a word, it does convey feelings of neutrality or vague dissatisfaction. That’s because for every good movie that came out, there was a bad one. There was Lucy, which was original and interesting and had a kickass lead female. But then, there was also Hercules. There was Guardians of the Galaxy, which was the most fun I had at a superhero movie all summer, but then there was also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes showed us what a good sequel is. The Expendables 3? Not so much. Snowpiercer was a brilliant social commentary disguised as a dystopian action-adventure science fiction indie film, but no one saw it. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction was bloated, ridiculous, sexist, and racist, and everyone saw it.

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Guardians of the Galaxy was possibly my favorite movie of the summer. Image courtesy of Marvel/EW.

Then you had your tired comedies, such as Tammy and Blended, which tried to be funny but didn’t quite succeed. Godzilla and Maleficent were fun when you watched them because of the special effects and acting, but when you started thinking about the plots they both fell through. The Amazing Spiderman 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past were both pretty good, for sequels. Of the two, X-Men was better, but it was too busy trying to fit in all of the characters to really develop any of them fully. Honestly, it’s no wonder the July box office underperformed. For the most part, it just wasn’t worth spending $12-$15 on this lot.

And then you have summer TV. Television in the summer is weird, because most shows wrap up their seasons in May and go on hiatus until autumn. The summer is a great time for less conventional shows to air because they won’t have to face the competition from NCIS: San Francisco or whatever.

It was a really good summer for brilliant and thoughtful historical dramas. I have friends who started watching Masters of Sex for the title and stayed for the insight into ’50s-era American society. Its second season premiered in July, and has received rave reviews from everyone who watches. This summer, there were a lot of cable networks attempting to become the next HBO with quality historical fiction shows. I’m pretty sure no one had ever heard of the channel WGN America until Manhattan premiered this summer, telling the story of the people who created the atom bomb. Clive Owen and director Steven Soderbergh collaborated to make The Knick, a turn-of-the-century medical drama released by Cinemax. Ronald D. Moore, who developed the superb Battlestar Galactica reboot, brought another series to television with Starz’s Outlander. Outlander is great because it’s a time travel romance featuring a really attractive guy with a Scottish accent. And the plot, of course. The plot’s good too.

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Outlander’s main character Claire is confused by the rock that sends her back in time. It makes more sense if you watch it. Image courtesy of EW.

If you’re not into historical fiction, you were a bit out of luck, because the rest of the summer’s TV offerings just weren’t as good. You know something is wrong when the fourth season of Teen Wolf is considered to be a major summer event. Don’t get me wrong, Teen Wolf is surprisingly fun and well made, but the fourth season has been unnecessarily dark and increasingly ridiculous. Sean Bean, he who dies in basically every movie he has ever appeared in, has a new show on TNT called Legends. It’s fun and over-the-top, and he probably won’t die in it. So that’s good.

This summer in TV and movies was made a little darker by the passing of Robin Williams, who had illuminated both the big and small screens with his presence. His loss was nothing less than a tragedy.

This summer definitely had its ups and downs, but there was quality entertainment to be found if you knew where to look. Hopefully, the fall will continue to provide good stories for us to marathon and obsess over.

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