Ranking the top summer blockbusters, from 'Jurassic World' to 'Mad Max'

"Straight Outta Compton" documents the story of rap group N.W.A., and how its members rose from wannabe rappers and gangsters to national prominence. (Courtesy Universal Pictures)

Huge summer blockbusters are far from rare in the summertime, but this year brought an especially interesting and diverse crop of excellent movies.

No. 1: Straight Outta Compton

The story of how rap group N.W.A. and its members rose from wannabe rappers and gangsters to national prominence was always ripe for a film adaptation. It is clear, however, that special care was given to accurately telling the story of the group, limiting the sensationalism that could easily overtake such a project. That carries over to the production team as well, as the film was produced by Dre, Ice Cube and Easy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright.

What this film did, better than any other this summer, was have a soundtrack that not only immerses the audience in the world of the film, but guides the tone of the scenes as well. The scenes that look at major events like the Rodney King beating and its subsequent trial also give the audience pause, as the parallels between Rodney King and the shootings of Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin are impossible to ignore. Although the film becomes a bit like “The Rise and Fall of Easy-E” towards the second half, this is one of the best films about a musical group to come out this decade.

No. 2: Jurassic World

“Jurassic Park” was always one of those franchises that fell off a cliff after the first movie, in terms of quality and box office numbers. But after more than a decade, the franchise returned with a film that may not even need to rely on nostalgia to be considered as good as the original film. Years after the original Jurassic Park was shut down, a new group of people has decided to tempt fate by not only creating a bigger and better park, but also creating a new species of dinosaur. 

Movies tend to have a poor relationship with child actors, and the “Jurassic Park” movies have been no exception. The dynamic between two brothers caught up in the park’s inevitable breakout, however, is genuinely heartwarming. In addition, Chris Pratt may not be as good as he was “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but he nonetheless delivers a solid performance. 

The real stars, of course, are the dinosaurs, including newcomer species “Indominus,” which is not only strong and massive enough to kill anything in its way, but is also intelligent enough to outwit most of the human cast. Then again, when the female lead is wearing heels while sprinting, hiking and running away from monsters the entire movie, maybe that’s not such a huge accomplishment. Nevertheless, “Jurassic World” is one of those monster movies that almost makes you wish you could visit the real thing, even though no sane person should be going near that place after this. 

No. 3: Mad Max: Fury Road

It’s hard to decide what I like the most about “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the latest entry in the “Mad Max” franchise. It could be the excellent female lead, Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, or it might be how the story stays true to Max’s character. Really, though, I think what I liked most about this film was that there was a truck with giant speakers and a guitarist that would play heavy metal in the midst of battle. 

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is one of those action movies that has more going on than just violence and fighting. It has good characters, a compelling villain and gripping plot. Even though most of the scenes in this movie are far less visually impressive than other films to come out this summer, such as “San Andreas,” they were more interesting and entertaining to watch because I cared about the characters. Based on this revival of the “Mad Max” franchise, fans should be eager to hear plans for a sequel. 


Edward Pankowski is the life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.pankowski@uconn.edu.