When it comes to movies, the summer of 2013 hasn't been that great.
Sure, IRON MAN 3 kicked off the season in entertaining style. THE GREAT GATSBY - at least in its over-the-top 3D incarnation - was dazzling. But the STAR TREK sequel wasn't as good as the original and Superman was cut down to size by the cinematic kryptonite that was MAN OF STEEL.
It was with low expectations, then, that I caught up with a couple of late entries in the summer blockbuster stakes.
PACIFIC RIM has underperformed at the box-office but it's hard to see why. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Or trailer. Or poster. 250 foot high mech warriors (or "jaegers") duking it out across the globe with equally giant-sized alien monsters (or "kaiju") Director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro has produced some of the most satisfying fantasy films of recent years - PAN'S LABYRINTH, HELLBOY, DEVIL'S BACKBONE - and PACIFIC RIM is no exception. Yes, there are nitpicks to be had. The comedy is often tone-deaf and following in the footsteps of OBLIVION, did we really need another INDEPENDENCE DAY-styled climax?
No matter. It's an assault on your senses that has to be seen on the cinema screen. In fact, the bigger the better. Forget saving this for DVD and your 65" plasma - it won't do this epic any justice.
The other film was THE WORLD'S END - five friends meeting up in middle-age for a final attempt to complete the legendary pub crawl of their hometown's twelve alehouses. There's only thing standing between them and the downing of all twelve pints. And that's the unfortunate fact that the town has been taken over by aliens that are a little harder to spot than kaiju...
I fully expected this to be a crashing disappointment. I mean - after the one-two of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ, this final part of the so-called Cornetto trilogy could surely only underwhelm?
Not a bit of it. It's smartly written, well directed and - importantly - funny. The first two acts are packed with witty one-liners and physical comedy that's expertly choreographed. The last act can't keep up the pace or the quality but by then, THE WORLD'S END has proved itself to be a worthy conclusion to the trilogy.
So - two films that, between them, manage to raise the bar of this summer's crop of blockbusters. Whether THE LONE RANGER, THE WOLVERINE or ELYSIUM continue this trend has yet to be seen...