Summer Movies: Sharks, Surfers, Science Fiction

24 June, 2016

Summer is here in the United States. It is extremely hot in most of the country. Heavy rain storms are not unusual.

The unpleasant weather helps drive the movie business. Americans flee to cool, dark movie theaters to escape the heat and rain.

Hollywood's summer films are often based on adventure and escape.

Blake Lively attends the world premiere of
Blake Lively attends the world premiere of "The Shallows" at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

This summer's offerings are no exception. This weekend, a sequel to a popular science fiction disaster film from 1996, opened in theaters.

"Independence Day: Resurgence" stars Liam Hemsworth. Actors Vivica Fox, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pulliam returned to play their characters in the original "Independence Day" movie. Roland Emmerich directed the first film and this latest.

The story line is similar to the first "Independence Day." Space aliens are planning to destroy Earth. Humans work together to stop the attack.

Movie critics generally are not being kind to the film. A Forbes magazine review called it a "disastrous disaster movie." The Chicago Tribune critic wrote that actor Will Smith, the star of the original Independence Day, made the right decision to pass on the sequel.

But, the review in the film industry magazine Variety was more positive. The critic did write that the storytelling "tests patience." But the film gives, in his words, "generously when it comes to the goods most viewers will have come for." And what most viewers come for are explosions, destruction and wild special effects.

Another summer movie that seems to be a look to the past is "The Shallows." Could it be 2016's version of "Jaws?" That 1978 film starring a huge mechanical shark made millions of movie goers afraid to step into the ocean.

"The Shallows" is about a surfer, played by Blake Lively, who is trapped on rocks near the coast of Mexico. A giant shark waits nearby for any attempt she might make to reach land.

The movie may win some fans simply because it features Lively in a bikini. But critics are praising the film for much more.

A review in the Chicago-Sun Times says it "immensely entertaining" and calls Lively's performance "solid."

The Toronto Sun review is similarly supportive. It says "‘The Shallows"' is brisk and engaging, and a great vehicle for Lively."

For those interested in quieter adventure, Disney's "Finding Dory," might be the better choice. Tens of millions of moviegoers have seen the film since its release last weekend. The movie has made more than $200 million in U.S. ticket sales.

The animation is a sequel to the hugely successful 2003 film, "Finding Nemo." This time the fish in question, Dory, suffers memory loss and is looking for her parents.

Rolling Stone magazine said the movie is filled with "humor, heart and animation miracles." Most critics agree. The collective movie review website "Rotten Tomatoes" found that 94 percent of reviews of the film were favorable.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Caty Weaver wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Is there an American summer movie you are especially interested in seeing? Tell us about it in the Comment Section or post a message on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

adventure - n. an exciting or dangerous experience

science fiction - n. stories about how people and societies are affected by imaginary scientific developments in the future

alien - n. a creature that comes from somewhere other than the planet Earth

to pass on - phrasal verb to decide against something

bikini - n. a piece of clothing in two parts that a girl or woman wears for swimming or for lying in the sun and that does not cover much of the body

brisk - adj. done with quickness and energy

engaging - adj. very attractive or pleasing in a way that holds your attention