35 Essential Summer Blockbusters From the Past 20 Years

35 Essential Summer Blockbusters From the Past 20 Years

A still of Tom Cruise in battle armor from the movie Edge of Tomorrow

Screenshot: Edge of Tomorrow/Warner Bros. Pictures (Fair Use)

Remember movie theaters? Remember movie theaters in summer?

It’s been a long time (463 days as of this writing) since I last sat in a big, darkened room with strangers to experience a grand entertainment on the big screen (in that case, Cats). I truly hope to do so again soon—but sadly, I don’t know if that’s going to happen this summer, as I’d like to wait to do so until my kids can get vaccinated. And that’s a shame, because there is nothing quite like seeking a respite from punishing summer heat within the frigid confines of a movie theater—especially if you’re there to watch something big, loud, and over-the-top.

Yes, ever since Jaws made people afraid to go back into the water in 1975, summer has been considered prime moviegoing season, at least for a certain flavor of film: Usually loud, often heavy on the thrills, and more likely than not, loaded with special effects. Summer blockbusters have a reputation for being silly and superficial; though that need not be the case, it’s certainly true that the defining examples of the form favor wowing you with spectacle over making you think (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

To celebrate the post-pandemic return of Hot Weather Movies with the impending U.S. release of Fast 9 (which is definitely going to be very loud, and guaranteed to be more enjoyable the less you think while watching it), the Lifehacker staff is sharing our favorite summer blockbusters of the past 20 years. To be considered, a film need not have topped the box office (though most of these did), nor been released during what the calendar strictly defines as summer—I think we can all agree that as far as the movies are concerned, the high season begins in May and ends in August. What they do have to offer, is a ride.


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