Labor Day is the weekend, and even though summer isn’t officially over, the summer movie season is. This year saw the release of big budget superhero flicks, cheesy action movies, intense dramas, charming animated features, and more. This weekend is a good time to reflect not just on what’s ahead—from more superhero movies to the start of award season—but also on the great movies that came out in the last few months. Below, I have listed my picks for the five best movies of summer 2013. They include everything from fast cars to space adventures to little yellow minions. So check it out, and be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this article letting us know what your picks for the best summer movies this year are.
The movies are listed in order from least best to best. Click the links to read my full review of each film.
Fast & Furious 6
Unlike most film franchises, “Fast & Furious” just seems to get better with age. This sixth installment of the series is the best by far, including some thrilling action sequences that just get crazier as the film progresses, but also, most surprisingly, a decent story. Sure, a lot of it was cheesy; some of it just plain didn’t make sense (like the seemingly never-ending runway in the film’s climax)—but if you didn’t see this movie in theaters, you missed out on one of the best times at the movies this summer.
Despicable Me 2
“Despicable Me 2” isn’t as good as its predecessor story-wise, but character-wise it is every bit as charming, if not more so. Gru is every bit as interesting as a good guy as he is a bad guy, and there are big laughs at every turn. Combined with a sweet finale, this movie is a perfectly good time for kids and adults alike.
Star Trek Into Darkness
This sequel to 2009’s “Star Trek” takes the series to new heights, as Kirk and Spock must deal with moral dilemmas while a mysterious new villain threatens to destroy Starfleet and Earth—or does he? A twisty plot makes this movie thrilling and suspenseful, while the development of the relationship between Kirk and the seemingly emotionless Spock is great to watch, whether you’re a Star Trek fan or not. It’s a deeper, more thought-provoking summer movie than we’re used to seeing, while also delivering on the blockbuster thrills.
It’s been a long, long time since “Monsters, Inc.” was released in theaters (12 years, in fact), but Pixar managed to keep up the spirit of the characters in this prequel. Again, it lacks much of the cleverness of the original, but you’ll be rooting so hard for the determined little Mike Wazowski to succeed that that almost isn’t so important. The protagonists are lovable, the villains are ones you’ll love to hate, but most strikingly of all, it ends on and unexpected, unconventional, but great and hopeful, note, making it an important movie for all young people, even adults, to see.
“Pacific Rim” was the big surprise of the summer. While the previews made it look like a mediocre Godzilla knockoff, it turned out to have a unique, solid story, and characters, both main and supporting, who were developed as that story progressed. Most importantly, you cared about them. Watch it once for the fun of it, then watch it again and read more into it—you’d be surprised at how deeply the story’s themes (of doubles, for instance, and its roots in Japanese anime) are developed. Stellar visual effects make it all the more stunning. It truly is a perfect summer movie.