Pacific Rim is pretty much exactly what a fun summer blockbuster should be. It doesn't require much thought, necessarily, but it also doesn't require its audience to roll its eyes at gratuitous nudity or juvenile potty humor. Yes, it's about giant robots punching monsters in the face, but it's also about empathy and teamwork. It may have more flash than substance--a little more character development (or, in fact, character) in its hero would've helped--but in a film peopled with characters named Stacker Pentecost and Hercules Hanson, that's about in line with expectations. It was never going to be the best film of the year, but it's an original story with original characters and original villains. That's got to count for something.
The World's End
The third of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Cornetto Trilogy, following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Each follows the same basic premise: friends in a seemingly normal town surrounded by seemingly normal people when things start to go weird. Maybe supernaturally weird. Shaun saw itself populated with listless zombies, Fuzz took off on buddy cop comedies. The World's End follows five old friends trying to relive one glorious night from their youth by hitting all twelve pubs in the hometown they've all left behind. Throw in a touch of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you've got yourself a very fun film. TWE may not have as many laughs pound for pound as the other two films, but its bittersweet story and a very strong performance by Simon Pegg make it a very strong addition to the trilogy indeed.
The Way, Way Back
This summer coming-of-age story from the Academy Award Winning writing team behind The Descendents isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it doesn't pretend to be. Its story isn't filled with twists and turns and shocking revelations; instead, it focuses on its smaller, more human moments. Liam James stars as young Duncan, dragged along for a summer with his mother (an always-excellent Toni Collette) and his mother's boyfriend (Steve Carrell). He finds refuge from the adults in his life at a local waterpark, where he immediately finds a new idol in slacker Owen (Sam Rockwell). The Way, Way Back doesn't have anything new to say, but its strong performances and well-written smaller moments make it worth consideration.