By Dan Bayer
Well, it’s that time of year, and I’m sure back in March none of us expected this series to get to this point. But here we are in blockbuster season without theaters to provide the popcorn entertainment (and air conditioning) that we all have come to associate with the summer months. But that doesn’t mean we have to go without – there are plenty of summer blockbusters past to stream in the comfort of your own home! So wire up those surround sound speakers, fire up your biggest flat-screen TV, and let’s watch things blow up!
Super 8 (2011)
Let’s begin by going back in time. J.J. Abrams’ homage to the Spielbergian family films of his youth is nostalgic in all the best ways. Predating the similarly-vibed “Stranger Things” by five years, “Super 8” finds a bunch of midwestern kids making their own little monster movie only to find a real, live alien hiding in their town after having escaped from the government. Abrams captures something ineffable about the time period and the films that inspired it, and even though it can’t fully recreate that magic, that ends up being part of its charm. “Super 8” is the movie about our childhoods we would probably make if given the chance.
Streaming on: Hulu & Netflix
Back To The Future (1985)
Okay, now let’s really go back in time, when Marty McFly inadvertently uses his friend Emmett “Doc” Brown’s time machine to go back to 1955. He accidentally stops his parents from meeting which could potentially erase his entire existence. Now, he must get them to meet and fall in love before he can go…back…to…the future! Great Scott! With iconic performances from Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, Robert Zemeckis’s zippy comedy is pure entertainment from start to finish, one of those rare moments when everything is working so perfectly in sync that you can’t imagine it being any different.
Streaming on: Netflix
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
A stuffy, glasses-wearing archeology professor is also a bad-ass adventurer who knows his way around a whip? Yes, please! Leave it to Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford to make digging for ancient artifacts sexy and exciting as hell. The first installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise is a perfect update of the adventure serials from the 1930s, sending Ford’s Indiana on a globe-crossing quest to find the biblical Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. The whip-smart screenplay gives him a perfect foil in Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood, a strong, smart woman who can drink almost any man under the table. The swashbuckling action and snarky humor make for a thrilling time, providing excitement that only movies can provide.
Streaming on: Netflix
The Avengers (2012)
Looking at the bajillion-dollar behemoth the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become, it’s almost quaint to look back on the halcyon days of 2012 when all Joss Whedon had to do was bring together characters and plot threads from five feature films in one two hour and twenty-minute film. Yeah, the climactic battle may be a bit uninspired and the plot isn’t nearly as involving as later MCU installments have been, but the way Whedon handles the character interactions is where the real money is. The actors sink their teeth deep into the savvy dialogue and bring the comic book dream team to vibrant life. Pair that with some of the most iconic comic book blockbuster imagery in cinematic history, and “The Avengers” becomes a piece of pop art of the highest order.
Streaming on: Amazon Prime & Disney+
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
Summer just isn’t summer without Tom Cruise pulling some crazy DIY stunt – and they just don’t make ‘em any crazier than this right here. The climactic helicopter sequence is the kind of nutty, jaw-dropping action sequence we expect from the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, but it’s the mind-boggling HALO jump sequence that most people immediately think of when they think of this sixth installment. Cruise may be a crazy person, but he’s always great fun to watch in these films, and “Fallout’s” increased focus on Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa means the two of them get numerous chances to showcase their incredible chemistry. The plot is the same double-triple-crossing, MacGuffin-driven nonsense that all “Mission: Impossible” films are, but no one remembers a “Mission: Impossible” film for its plot. They remember them for their action sequences, and “Fallout” has the most wall-to-wall superb run of them in the series.
Streaming on: Amazon Prime & Hulu
At the end of the day, a good bit of silliness is what we need, and you won’t find a bigger, better bit of silliness than Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker’s brilliant parody of ‘70s disaster films. In one of Hollywood’s biggest strokes of genius, the comedy team took the deadly serious screenplay of 1957’s “Zero Hour!” and transformed it into a comedy by stuffing it full of jokes and visual gags. The result is a laugh-a-minute comedy classic, one that made a star of Leslie Nielsen in the straight man role of a doctor aboard the doomed flight who would greatly appreciate it if everyone would just stop calling him Shirley. Surely, we must be serious. We may have picked the wrong year to quit sniffing glue, but “Airplane!” will always be here to remind us of the absurdity all around.
Streaming on: Netflix
Check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 & Day 4 of our NBP Quarantine Film Festival programming if you’re looking for more themed options. What are your favorite summer movies? Any suggestions for an upcoming theme day for our stay-at-home quarantine film festival? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Dan and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars & Film on Twitter at @dancindanonfilm