Fake some American independence pride with these movies (Wired UK)


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Fourth of July weekend. It’s a time for barbecues, fireworks,
road trips, and generally celebrating America. (Or, y’know,
‘MURICA.) But for those of us who have always been somewhat
movie-obsessed, it’s a long weekend during which we can cram in
more than a few blockbuster matinees. Hollywood, of course, has
caught on to this and turned the Independence Day weekend into an
opportunity to release what the studios hope to be one of their
most boffo popcorn flicks of the year. (Interestingly, that’s not
really happening this year: The only hyped releases this week are
the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Tammy, which is theme
appropriate because it has a lesbian July 4th party, and
Deliver Us From Evil.) Throughout the last four decades
everything from Big Trouble in Little China to The
Amazing Spider-Man
has dominated the July 4th weekend and we
here at WIRED have very emotional attachments to many of them. In
honor of the holiday weekend we decided to take a trip down
Nostalgia Way and remember how it felt to watch these summer movies
back in the day. Sit down, grab a cherry Icee, and remember the
good ol’ days with us.

Back to the Future (1985)

Back To The Future (1985) Theatrical Trailer – Michael J. Fox Movie HDMOVIECLIPS Classic Trailers

July 4 Weekend Gross: $11,152,500 (6.5
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: Fourth
of July weekend was a big one for the Rubin clan –at least
regarding the multiplex. (It was also a big weekend for almost
getting hit by a wayward firework that launched itself at me, then
veered away from my Michael Jackson muscle tee/half-shirt combo
just in the nick of time, but that’s another story.) It’s when I
saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Who Framed Roger
Rabbit?
, and Speed — for which I was on crutches and
also SUPER HIGH, though presumably my family didn’t know that at
the time. But as great as those movies were, they were all just
run-of-the-mill popcorn movies that were still in theatres when our
annual All-Family Movie Tradition rolled around. Which is what made
Back to the Future so special.

Summer matinees are about escape-from your daily grind, from the
searing heat outside, even from time itself. Robert Zemeckis knew
that, and catered to our needs on every level possible, from the
visual to the literal. For kids, there was slapstick and a cool,
relatable protagonist who gets to be a hero; for adults, there was
the ultimate nostalgia trip of rewriting the past; for everyone,
there were was an ’80s zeitgeist frappé of Libyan terrorists, Pepsi
Free, Calvin Klein, and a revenge of the nerds that blew the actual
Revenge of the Nerds out of the water. Even in its darkest moments,
BTTF was relentlessly upbeat, and Huey Lewis made damn
sure you knew it long after you left the theatre. It wasn’t long
after 1985 that action movies began to dominate the multiplex
during the holiday weekend, and family comedies went on the wane.
But that hadn’t happened yet: Marty and Doc might not have needed
roads where they were going, but they made sure we could all come
along. –Peter Rubin

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble In Little China Trailer HDFilmTrailersChannel

July 4 Weekend Gross: $2,723,211 (£1.5
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: When
Big Trouble came out I had just turned one year old, so I
wasn’t at the theatre. But if I had known then what I know now, I
would have army crawled to the nearest big screen on my tiny belly
in my tiny footy pyjamas and started my life the right way. The
Jack Burton way. Between Burton and Snake Plissken, American Icon
Kurt Russell may be one of our greatest domestically-harvested
cinema badasses. And even though Plissken has that sweet eye patch
and managed to escape the penal colonies of both New York and LA,
it’s Burton who we’d most want by our sides on a dark and stormy
night when the going gets weird. Jack might look like he’s all
swagger and no smarts, but this unlikely hero is quick on his feet
and knows how to surround himself with the right people to get out
of tough jams-just like a certain beloved home country we know!
Now, BTiLC may not be as overtly flag-waving as some other
Independence Day releases, but the Pork Chop express and its
cocksure captain are as red, white and blue as they come, and along
with his high capable co-pilot Wang Chi, they do our
apple-pie-lovin’ hearts proud. — Jordan
Crucchiola

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Official Trailer [1991]MoviesHistory

July 4 Weekend Gross: $31,765,506 (£18.5
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: It
seems almost unnecessary to explain why this film is epic, but here
we go. Seven years after Terminator, the classic (but
low-budget) ’80s film about apocalyptic murder robots from the
future, T2 was an action extravaganza of bullets,
explosions and a slippery, shape-shifting superkiller. T2
turned Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator from a villain
to a reprogrammed hero, and turned Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor
from a frightened waitress into a sinewy, shotgun-toting commando.
While its special effects may seem prosaic now, at the time they
were nothing less than astonishing. I vividly remember when my
older brother and I-who had watched Die Hard more than 50
times on a worn, bootleg VHS tape-saw the T-1000 liquid morph
through a helicopter windshield for the first time, we nearly lost
our goddamn minds. Quite simply one of the best sequels — and
action movies — of all time, T2 was the explosive apex of
the franchise from which all other entries would sharply descend.
–Laura Hudson

A League of Their Own (1992)

A League Of Their Own (HD) TrailerMovieSpoilerSite

July 4 Weekend Gross: $13,739,456 (£8
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: It’s an
unspoken truth — in both life and this list — that big summer
blockbusters tend to be bro-heavy affairs. Enter: A League of
Their Own
. This celebration/fictionalisation of the
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II
was like Orange Is the New Black for cinema in the early
’90s (it’s even directed by a woman, Penny Marshall, which is also
sadly rare among summer flicks). I don’t remember seeing it in
theatres — in fact, I didn’t remember it being a July 4th release
until compiling this list — but I’ve probably watched it every
summer since. Everyone is at their peak here: Geena Davis, Lori
Petty, Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, frigging Madonna. (This movie
came two years after Dick Tracy and Evita notwithstanding was the
pinnacle of Madonna’s acting career. It also gave us her fantastic
ballad “This Used to Be My Playground.”) Nearly every scene in
A League of Their Own is utterly perfect, and it gave us
the timeless catchphrase “there’s no crying in baseball.”
— Angela Watercutter

Boomerang (1992)

Boomerang – TrailerParamount Movies

July 4 Weekend Gross: $13,640,706 (£7.95
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: The
Eddie Murphy rom-com Boomerang might not have been epic in
the way that, say, Independence Day was epic, but it will
certainly be burned into my brain until the day I die. When it hit
theatres in 1992 I was a kid at a summer camp, where the counselors
— who undoubtedly were trying to be “cool” counselors — took all
the campers to the movies and bought us tickets to R-rated movies.
We had two choices: Universal Soldier, a story about
genetically-enhanced soldiers beating each other to death, or
Boomerang, a story about Eddie Murphy having explicit sex
with lots and lots of women.

Anxious at the idea of gory, traumatising deaths that would
haunt me forever, I did something the MPAA would never agree with:
I decided sex wasn’t as bad as violence, and chose Boomerang. It
was … a confusing two hours for 11-year-old me. First, I saw Eddie
Murphy have graphic, bewildering sex with a 65-year-old Eartha
Kitt, then Robin Givens, then Halle Berry, then Robin Givens again,
then Halle Berry again — scenes I can still recall in
uncomfortable, gyrating detail. All in all, it was a pretty good
Fourth of July for Eddie Murphy and a pretty weird one for me. Your
mileage may vary. — Laura Hudson

Apollo 13 (1995)

Apollo 13- Original Theatrical Trailerchazzwozer

July 4 Weekend Gross: $25,353,380 (£14.7
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: The
Space Race couldn’t have been better tailored to July 4
blockbusters if they’d planned for it. It’s patriotic as hell –
all about American exceptionalism without (usually) the taint of
American jingoism-aspirational and triumphant, visually
spectacular, and chock full of slow-motion hero-walk moments.

Apollo 13 brings all of that and a relatable underdog
in Commander Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks. It’s dramatic,
triumphant, really well made, and, aside from a few necessary
concessions to schedule and format (Mattingly was good, but not
that good), pretty historically accurate. For a perfect
pre-fireworks double feature, pair this with 1983′s The Right
Stuff
(not a July 4th release, but we’ll make an exception),
then cry because you are probably never going to get to walk on the
moon. — Rachel Edidin

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
(1995)

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (Trailer) 1995PakoMorientes

July 4 Weekend Gross: $13,104,788 (£7.64
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: All
hail Ivan Ooze, essentially a purple Hellraiser for the juicebox
crowd, if Hellraiser was made out of Gak™. If you were in the
target demographic when this movie came out in 1995, chances are
there was a lot of commotion around you, from your parents or your
friends’ parents or teachers or the media or whomever, about
whether the “violence” of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The
Movie
was really appropriate for young children. This
obviously made this movie the line in the playground-cred sand: The
cool parents hired Power Ranger actors for their kids’ birthday
parties; the uncool parents would forbid you from even playing
Rangers Vs. Putties with their kids in the front yard. Sure, the
acting in this movie about, seemingly, a prehistoric, purely evil
alien dude “released” from a giant, buried, purple egg to hypnotise
and dominate the human race was atrocious in every possible way,
down to the individual line. And lord knows the martial arts,
though technically real martial arts (as demonstrated by the
current profession of the White Ranger), were hilariously
vaudevillian. But in 1995 there was nothing more awesome than
watching seemingly-enormous-but-actually-miniature robots and dudes
in weird bird costumes fight to a soundtrack consisting of Devo,
Shampoo, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers covering Stevie Wonder.
Plus, the Rangers lose their powers and have to go into space to
retrieve them. Also: the scene where Ooze electrocutes Alpha and
attempts to murder Zordon, a time-warped consciousness, may have
been the first time you felt the urge to cry during a movie … I
mean, probably. I’m not crying, you’re crying. Shut up.
Devon Maloney

Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day TrailerTrailerTrashMedia

July 4 Weekend Gross: $50,228,264 (£29
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: Well,
for starters it’s called Independence Day and it’s about
the world coming together to battle an alien invasion on July 4th.
So it pretty much couldn’t hit this nail more on the head with a
laser sight. The fact that Will Smith flies an alien spacecraft and
Jeff Goldblum somehow writes an
extraterrestrial-software-compatible virus as part of this
counter-offensive is just a bonus. (Double Bonus: Brent Spiner
plays a scientist who works at Area 51.)

Independence Day came out when I was in high school.
(Shut it.) I wasn’t supposed to see it when it came out, but when
rain shut down the roller coasters at Cedar Point (the Lake Erie
amusement park in Ohio known as “America’s Roller Coast”), I poured
me and my soaked Nine Inch Nails T-shirt (shut it) into a car with
some friends and headed to the theatre. Everyone was seeing this
movie, especially since rain meant there was nothing else to do in
Sandusky, Ohio than go to the movies. It blew my mind. It blew
everyone’s mind (or at least that’s my memory of it). And when
President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) gave his rousing “today
is our Independence Day” speech, I’ve never felt more patriotic. In
fact, this entire day may have been the most American day I’ve ever
had. — Angela Watercutter

Wild America (1997)

Wild America Trailer 1 [1080p Trailer]TrailersForMe2013

July 4 Weekend Gross: $1,810,586 (£1
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: There
is really no reason for this movie-about three underage brothers
who set out into the wilderness with a Super 8 camera to capture
the country’s most dangerous wildlife for no reason other than kids
lie to their parents and are sensationally stupid should have been
included on a list of best-performing, and therefore supposedly
most beloved, Independence Day movies. I mean, firstly, it made
less than $2 million over that long weekend, which even for 1997 is
pretty terrible. (The Karate Kid Part III made $10.3
million over the same weekend in 1989, for crying out loud.
Part III.)

More broadly, though, the movie isn’t exactly one about which I
have spoken obsessively with my best milliennial buds, who are
basically the only generation to give two damns about Jonathan
Taylor Thomas. As an elementary schooler, I actually never truly
understood the JTT-as-heartthrob thing, though it wasn’t for lack
of trying; for some reason I adored that terrible, terrible Tom
Sawyer adaptation Tom and Huck two years prior, but that was mainly
for Brad Renfro (R.I.P.). Similarly, I was mostly invested in
Wild America for Devon Sawa, both adorable and the first
actor I’d ever encountered with my own name (a mix of emotions in
its own lane of narcissism). But nevertheless, the film otherwise
embodied a holiday vacation fantasy that most kids had no idea they
even had until seeing it: Chasing down wild, possibly endangered
animals; almost drowning in a river; having your siblings as
babysitters (which also means you’re likely to die); and totally
fleecing every adult in your life (except for a weird/pretty racist
character known simply as Bigfoot Mountain Man?). Watch closely,
though, and it may offer up some of the best advice you’ll ever get
— especially if you find yourself trapped in a cave full of
hungry, hibernating bears, because you are a child and therefore an
idiot. — Devon Maloney

Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon – Official® Trailer [HD]TrailersPlaygroundHD

July 4 Weekend Gross: $36,089,972 (£21
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: Even if
you don’t remember where you were physically when you first saw
Michael Bay’s masterpiece, Armageddon, you remember where
you were emotionally: wrecked. This movie had everything you could
crave in a celebration of American independence in the late ’90s:
alpha male Bruce Willis, hyper-chiseled Ben Affleck, flags!, nubile
Liv Tyler, nuclear bombs, space shuttles, an iconic skyline being
ripped apart by asteroids like it was made of crepe paper, an
ultimate power ballad brought to you by Aerosmith, more flags!, a
humanity uniting presidential speech and an ovary-squeezing
slow-motion walk by a bunch of roughneck impromptu astronauts on
their way to save Earth.

Deep Impact, which was released two months earlier, was
clearly the superior apocalypse-by-meteor movie of 1998 (of ever?),
but no one knows how to sex up the end of the world better than
Bay, and so Impact will forever live in the shadow of its
intellectually inferior, but way hotter bad boy twin. I mean, come
on? Who would you rather have as your hero? World-class deep
driller and No. 1 DILF Harry Stamper, dripping with pure Willis
appeal, or amateur astronaut next door Leo Biederman as played by
Elijah Wood? That’s what we thought.

Our hearts raced; our tear ducts nearly broke, and our knuckles
went white as Bay plucked at our every willing emotional string,
like the brilliant, evil bastard he is. Even when we could barely
see through our tears during the final act, we wanted to spend our
lives in that sweet surrender, to stay lost in that moment –
forever. — Jordan Crucchiola

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
(1999)

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999 Trailer) 40th Best Trailer Of All TimeTheTrailerBlaze

July 4 Weekend Gross: $11,335,889 (£6.6
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: Sure,
after 17 years of South Park, the antics of Trey Parker and Matt
Stone’s foul-mouthed kids may seem commonplace, but back in 1999 –
after only two years on the air — they were still controversial
and new, pushing hard on the bleeding edge of humor and good taste.
The profanity had always been bleeped on TV, however, so when the
F-bombs finally burst from the mouths of Cartman and Stan in all
their R-rated glory (in a story about censorship, naturally) it
felt like a transgressive revelation.

Thanks in part its brutal, take-no-prisoners satire and a
glorious soundtrack that included songs like “Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch”
and the Academy Award-nominated “Blame Canada,” I laughed so hard
that I fell out of my seat onto the grimy, sticky floor of the
theatre, couldn’t get back up, and didn’t care. After all, is there
anything more ‘South Park’ than realising just how funny it can be
to get a just a little bit disgusting? — Laura
Hudson

Superman Returns (2006)

Superman Returns Traileraliasmaximus

July 4 Weekend Gross: $52,535,096 (£30
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: What
could be more American than a Superman movie? It’s right there in
his job description, after all — he fights for truth, justice and
the American Way. So the prospect of seeing Clark Kent’s first
big-screen outing in more than a decade on July 4 weekend seemed
ideal, until I saw the movie itself. Perhaps Bryan Singer was
making some kind of larger metaphorical point about America’s world
standing by portraying Superman as a deadbeat dad who creepily
stalks his ex after abandoning her years earlier, while enemies
plot right under his nose, but even so. This wasn’t what anyone in
the theatres signed up for, as you could tell from the crowds
trying to convince themselves that what they saw wasn’t a massive
disappointment as they left the cinema. Sorry, all: It really was
that bad. There weren’t even any fireworks. — Graeme
McMillan

Transformers (2007)

Transformers – Official Trailer 1 [2007] [720p HD]MoviesHistory

July 4 Weekend Gross: $70,502,384 (£41
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: OK, so
I didn’t like Transformers: Age of Extinction, but the OG
Transformers still holds appeal. Perhaps it was that full-throttle
Michael Bay Burnout hadn’t hit yet, or maybe it was seeing those
Transformers transform for the first time, but whatever it was, the
first installment of Transformers was a huge thrill to see in
theatres. (Re-watch value? Eh, maybe?) Some may argue, rightly,
that 1986′s animated Transformers: The Movie is still a
better movie for fans of the Autobots and Decepticons, but as far
as live-action reboots go, this one got the job done. It also set
the precedent for Bay’s Transformers movies making buckets of cash,
a trend that continued right into this summer, with Age of
Extinction
bringing in a cool $100 million. — Angela
Watercutter

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE – TrailerOfficialTwilightFilm

July 4 Weekend Gross: $64,832,191 (£38
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July:
Somehow, for some reason, Summit Entertainment decided to make the
third Twilight installment a summer tent-pole movie when it had
previously been a November staple. Maybe because it was the
“action-packed” installment of the series? I guess when you look
ahead at the calendar and see The Last Airbender as your
only competition on a holiday weekend you seize that slot and don’t
let go. All told, Eclipse wasn’t the worst this Saga had to offer.
Bryce Dallas Howard sucked the marrow from her turn as villainess,
and the baby vampire army was a little cool. But one thing we can
never forgive or forget is that wig! For a franchise that had
already grossed half a billion dollars from its first two movies,
you’d think the hair and makeup department could have foraged a
better wig for Kristen Stewart than the sad, lifeless pelt they
glued to her head for Eclipse. Stewart was simultaneously playing
Joan Jett in The Runaways while pulling Bella Swan duty,
but even her glam punk mullet would have made more sense than this.
“It’s just her hair,” you’re thinking, “this is a non-issue.” But
the source of K. Stew’s raw awkward power is her hair: her
voluminous, always-a-little-greasy-in-the-right-way hair. It’s like
the Twilight higher-ups wanted us to know they were about to quit
trying completely, so by the time we saw the CGI catastrophe of
baby Renesmee in Breaking Dawn — Part 2 we would be inoculated against the
producers’ only thinly veiled contempt for fans. Eclipse was a
blockbuster to be sure, but should have stayed in its dreary winter
home and saved the summer fun slot for something less snowy and
sad. — Jordan Crucchiola

Savages (2012)

Savages Official Trailer #1 – Oliver Stone Movie (2012) HDMOVIES Coming Soon

July 4 Weekend Gross: $16,016,910 (£9.3
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: We
wanted Savages to work. We wanted it so badly! 2012 was
supposed to be the year our man Taylor Kitsch became a top line
Hollywood star — a bankable, biggest-name-on-the-poster kind of
guy. John Cartergot him off to a rough start, though — even if
that movie was totally underappreciated — and Battleship didn’t do
much to smooth out the ride after that. (Yeah, suddenly America got
discerning with is monster-budget action movies. Whatever.) But
Savages was going to be different. It was the credibility picture!
Kitsch hitched his wagon to Oliver Stone (probably a better choice
20 years ago than it is now) and was going to kick ass, look hunky,
and deliver poignant character drama all at the same time. But
alas, there was no saving Savages. Even if Kitsch had changed his
character’s name from Chon to Tim Riggins halfway through the movie
and brought the full cast of Friday Night Lights with him to take
down a vicious Mexican drug cartel, this movie would have still
been excruciating. It was the Fourth of July equivalent of a
fireworks boat that up and explodes before getting a single shot
off. We got to see all the pretty colors, but it was just a hot
mess of good intentions that left us feeling dissatisfied and
confused. — Jordan Crucchiola

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Official Trailer #3 (2012) Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone [HD]FilmTrailerZone

July 4 Weekend Gross: $62,004,688 (£36
million)

Why It Made for an Epic Fourth of July: There
were many reasons to anticipate this franchise reboot, despite the
fact that the first Spider-Man trilogy had only wrapped five years
prior, but it really only needed two of them to promise a success:
Gwen Stacy, and Not Tobey Maguire. That Andrew Garfield was cast in
the title role certainly did not hurt, either: Actually, the
decision was yet another addition to the case being made among some
enthusiasts that Marvel figured out that superhero-movie success
could be achieved by catering specifically to a female audience.
Truly, the screams and whoops that erupted in the theatre where my
best girlfriend and I saw this movie opening weekend seemed far
more attuned to the various contours of a certain supersuit than it
did about the appearance of the villain, as it might have in
superhero movies past (though this villain was, to be fair, Lizard,
which might have accounted for the lack on that end).

Of course, the movie ruled in other ways, too; for the first
time, a teenaged superhero actually kind of acted like a teenager,
and instead of a sort of wishy-washy Mary Jane (a very sad Kirsten
Dunst) we got an actually-brilliant, decently written character in
Gwen (the ever-endearing Emma Stone). That Garfield and Stone began
dating in real life only added to the chemistry that made the film
so much better than its 2002 counterpart. Plus, Sally Field and Jed
Bartlett as Aunt May and Uncle Ben? Could there even be any better
pairing? For a truly American weekend, the reds and blues that
comprise this particularly sad-boy origin story certainly fit the
bill. — Devon Maloney

This story originally appeared on Wired.com.

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Source: wired.co.uk
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