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Tag: Best Summer Blockbusters (1-10 of 21)

EW presents 'Summer Blockbuster: The Movie'

Twenty-nine days, 30 movies, and innumerable explosions later, EW has finally revealed our full list of the Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time. Each and every film we named — and dissected in loving detail over the course of April — is an iconic gem; the flicks we honored are memorable not only as great popcorn fare but also as great movies, period.

As of today, you’re free to peruse each of the honorees in our handy Best Summer Blockbusters photo gallery. Starting tomorrow, we’ll hand the reins over to you in our Ranker Tool, which will allow you to make your own version of the list.

But considering that one of the best things about summer movies is their sheer excess — More laughs! More special effects! More shark shots, unless the mechanical beast is faulty and you’ve got to think of a Plan B! — we had a thought: Why not take characters from each film and smoosh them all together onto one glorious Frankenposter? READ FULL STORY

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Jaws' is No. 1

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When I was growing up on the Jersey Shore, mere miles from the 1916 shark attacks that Peter Benchley used as inspiration for his best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws had a profound effect on my summers. Whenever I was alone in the water, I inevitably began to fear that I was being stalked by something beneath the surface. The panic would grow and grow — as John Williams’ daaa-dum music grew louder in my head — until I finally felt compelled to make a break for it. Swimming for my life, my flailing arms furiously pounded the water and my lungs felt about to burst because my face never turned to gulp more air. In my mind, the Great White from Jaws was inches behind me, his mouth wide open, about to turn me into lunch. I never dared slow down or look back until my entire body was out of the water… and safely back on the deck of the pool.

See, that was the thing about Jaws. The fear was so visceral — and irrational — that even a dip in a chlorinated swimming pool seemed like a risky proposition to a kid whose imagination was much deeper than the pool’s diving well. READ FULL STORY

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Star Wars'

Star Wars was a movie once. This is a basic fact that we all know. It was a single film released in theaters: A story with a beginning (kind of), a middle, and an end (kind of). There was a relatively small cast, composed of up-and-comers, unknowns, and one well-regarded British actor overdelivering on what looked to him like thin material. The film, released in theaters in 1977, had a simple story. There was a MacGuffin (The Death Star Plans!) and there was a Rescue Mission (Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, You’re My Only Hope!) and there was a Final Battle. It was shot on actual sets. It was filmed on film. It had a working title (The Star Wars). It was a movie; they made a lot of them, back then. READ FULL STORY

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Jurassic Park'

More than two decades later, and we still can’t look at a cup of water the same.

Just as the rippling water in that now iconic scene signaled the T. rex’s grand entrance, so did Jurassic Park usher in a new era of cinematic innovation. Making a reality of so many childhood dreams, it marries moviemaking wizardry and emotional complexity to electrifying effect. Park also straddles a number of genres (action-adventure, family, thriller, and sci-fi, to name a few) on top of its ready-made merchandising and theme-park ride potential, ultimately offering something for everyone. But the leaps and bounds made by director Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning special affects artist Stan Winston aren’t solely accountable for the film becoming a global phenomenon.

At its core, Spielberg told EW’s Tim Stack and Keith Staskiewicz, Park is also “a helluva yarn.” Screenwriter David Koepp improved on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel about the foolhardy hubris of eccentric mogul John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), who built a theme park after recreating dinosaurs from DNA extracted from an amber-preserved mosquito. During the first — and last — tour of Jurassic Park, a bit of corporate espionage by a crusty computer programmer (Seinfeld‘s Wayne Knight) causes the power to go out, which allows the prehistoric predators to run amok and terrorize the park’s inaugural guests: child-averse paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his paleobotanist girlfriend Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), snarky- yet-stylish math wonk Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and Hammond’s grandkids Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello).

Without further ado, let’s continue EW’s Summer Blockbuster Month with a start-to-finish thrill ride and an undeniable game-changer. Open the gates to the utterly dino-mite (sorry, couldn’t resist) Jurassic Park!

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The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

In 2014, it’s difficult to appreciate the awe felt by uninitiated audiences who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in theaters in 1981. Think about the film’s opening scenes, which introduce Indiana Jones and his now-iconic fedora in the jungles of South America. He narrowly avoids getting shot in the back by his mutinous guides, proves his Zorro-esque expertise with a whip, cleverly maneuvers through the deadly booby-traps of an ancient Peruvian temple, flicks away tarantulas like they’re gnats, nabs the prized golden idol but sets off a chain-reaction of destruction that includes a giant boulder chasing him back out into the sunlight, finds himself surrounded by angry natives and a smug Eurotrash rival, outruns them and their poisonous darts to an idling sea-plane that barely gets him in the air in time — only to find himself sharing the front seat with a giant snake, which we soon learn, is his kryptonite.

In just 12 minutes and 47 seconds, audiences experienced more pulsating action than most action movies stuff into two full hours. It was exhilarating. And it only picked up steam from there. Indy fought Nazis in Nepal and re-teamed with lost love Marion (Karen Allen), infamously dueled with an Arab swordsman in Cairo, discovered the Well of Souls where the mysterious Ark was hidden (guarded by hundreds of slithering asps), and then stole the Ark back from the Germans in the death-defying stunt that had Indy being dragged underneath and behind a speeding truck — a clever homage to the classic scene in John Ford’s iconic western Stagecoach. READ FULL STORY

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial'

There were movie aliens before E.T., and there were movie aliens after E.T., but none were as memorable (or weirdly adorable) as Steven Spielberg’s 1982 creation.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial told the story of a young boy who discovers an extra-terrestrial — often referred to as a goblin before they find out its true origins — and forms a loving, brotherly relationship with it as he struggles with his parents’ recent separation. Between the amazing child acting in the film (more on that later), the wonders of an animatronic alien with facial expressions as real as mine or yours, and the tear-inspiring story, E.T. wooed audiences in the summer of ’82.

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The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Forrest Gump'

Before he was Tam Honks, he was Fahrst… Fahrst Gump. The Greenbow-born-and-bred witness to history may not have been the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was all heart — and (once those braces fell away) legs. Based on Winston Groom’s fantastical novel, Robert Zemeckis’s decades-spanning movie touched on nearly ever major cultural milestone in the second half of the 20th century: Vietnam and the March on Washington, Watergate and “S— happens” shirts, Elvis and world-class ping pong, and on and on. Yet, it was solid as a rock while feeling light as a feather. It was also Baby Boomer bait that also introduced a new generation to America’s — and the world’s — mid-century struggles, as well as the songs that embodied them. Sure, it was more fantasy than fact-checking, but Forrest is just so darn charming.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the movie is grounded in performances that hit every note on the emotional spectrum. Robin Wright, then still known mostly as Princess Buttercup or Kelly Capwell Perkins Conrad, displayed range that we’ve since found anew in House of Cards. Gary Sinise used his theater roots to bring pathos to the surly Lieutenant Dan. Mykelti Williams’ Bubba is probably still listing shrimp preparations in the great bayou in the sky. Little Haley Joel Osment was just a few years away from booking The Sixth Sense. And Sally Fields’ Mama didn’t spare a single tear duct, whether she was exchanging favors to get little Forrest into school or bidding her boy a final goodbye.

At the center of it all: Tom Hanks. Forrest Gump couldn’t have been any different from Andrew Beckett, the AIDS-afflicted lawyer Hanks had portrayed all the way to the Oscar podium the year before. Perhaps, he had a childlike quality in common with Hanks’ first foray with Oscar, playing Big‘s Josh, but… similarities or not, it was a transcendent, transformative performance that made Hanks one of the very few actors to strike Academy Award gold two years in a row. Forrest was such a glorious anomaly, in fact, that Roger Ebert admitted in his review, “I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before. … Tom Hanks may be the only actor who could have played the role.”

But storytelling innovation and elegant acting were just a few of the ways in which Gump changed the cinematic landscape. More on that below as we continue EW’s Summer Blockbuster Month with a retro-tinged runaway success: Forrest Gump.

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The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Ghostbusters'

Every summer has a dominant blockbuster, but it’s not every year that the season’s biggest movie inspires a legitimate mania. Ghostbusters, which surrounded some of the funniest guys on the planet with expensive — though slightly cheesy — special effects, was a certifiable phenomenon. In 1984, your classmates, your teacher, your pen-pal in Nairobi, even your half-deaf grandmother knew the emphatic, enthusiastic chanted response to the winking question, “Who you gonna call?” Thirty years later, everyone still knows the answer. READ FULL STORY

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Animal House'

Fat, drunk, and stupid may not be the best way to go through life, but it sure does create one memorable film character!

Movies have often been set in and around college campuses, but none quite like Animal House. From toga parties to food fights, the film not only introduced us to many collegiate cinematic clichés, but pretty much reinvented the entire genre. When you think of a college movie, you think of Animal House. READ FULL STORY

The 20 Best Summer Blockbusters of All Time: 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'

The Terminator came out in 1984. Terminator 2: Judgment Day arrived seven years later. In the interim, Arnold Schwarzenegger became a new kind of action megastar, headlining a string of era-defining beefcake blockbusters. Commando, Predator, The Running Man, and Total Recall: The very titles echo down through history, dripping with gunsmoke and bicep sweat. But that era was coming to an end. The ’80s were over. Always a savvy operator, Schwarzenegger was already planning his pivot: Twins and Kindergarten Cop offered a kinder, gentler Arnold. (He loves kids! He loves De Vito!) READ FULL STORY

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