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In Search Of The Perfect Summer Blockbuster Movie


Every summer, Hollywood tries to lure us out of the sun and into cool theaters with over-the-top films.


MICHAEL J FOX: (As Marty McFly) Doc, I'm from the future. I came here in a time machine that you invented.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Vigilante) What's the difference between you and me?

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Batman) I'm not wearing hockey pads.

WESTERVELT: This summer movie season, there may not be a deadly shark, a DeLorean or even a dark knight. But there is a lot of action. Fighting for the box office this weekend, it's man versus machine, "Magic Mike XXL" and "Terminator." Kofi Outlaw is editor-in-chief for the movie news website We asked him whether either of these films are worth seeing.

KOFI OUTLAW: With "Magic Mike," you have this sequel that kind of brings back these group of male strippers from the first film. And this time, they're going on this road trip for one last blowout - stripper blowout as they kind of go across country and compete in these competitions to win money. And I think for that film, what they've done is kind of gone back to the first film, directed by Steven Soderbergh. This one isn't directed by him. And they've kind of stripped away some more of the artsy, serious, post-recession commentary in the first film, which did have those elements and just focused more on kind of the bro-buddy workplace comedy and beefcake dance numbers to kind of just distill it into more of entertainment, not so much artsy or commentary.


CARRIE ANNE HUNT: (As Megan Davidson) I've got a little treat for y'all tonight. It's a man I knew as white chocolate.


HUNT: (As Megan Davidson) Some might know him as Magic Mike. We're going to see if he's still got some magic in that mike.

OUTLAW: On the other hand, we have "Terminator Genisys," which is a movie that kind of takes the mythology of James Cameron's first two "Terminator" films and remixes it all while kind of throwing away some of the later sequels that weren't so popular. And it adds a new cast, but brings Arnold Schwarzenegger.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: (As Guardian) I've been waiting for you.

OUTLAW: If you've been invested in this franchise thus far, it may be worth a look. It's kind of an entertaining blockbuster sci-fi film that does some interesting things. It's not perfect by any means. There are a lot of things that will never equal Cameron's films. But in terms of putting new life into this franchise and giving a little bit more warranty on these machines, I think it does a suitable job, so it might be worth checking out.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Character) Yeah, I think this guy's a couple cans short of a six-pack.

SCHWARZENEGGER: (As Guardian) You're clothes, give them to me now. You won't be needing any clothes.

WESTERVELT: Kofi, for those of us looking for more than naked muscular men this holiday weekend, what's a good alternative movie to see?

OUTLAW: If you're a family and you want to see something else, go check out "Inside Out," the new Pixar film or "Jurassic World." Those are two great films. If you're looking for something a little more off the radar, you're not into blockbusters or things like that, two that really struck a chord with us are "Me, Earl And The Dying Girl," a story of a young man, a kind of detached young man, who is pushed into this friendship with this young lady dying of cancer and how he and his friend help her deal with that. The other one is a movie called "Dope" that was a Sundance hit, which is about three atypical young teens living in Inglewood, Calif., who are very kind of nerdy and smart and quirky. And they want to get out of their neighborhood and go to college and do all these things that are not the usual expectations of these neighborhoods. But they get caught up in this kind of half-comedic, half-serious scheme involving a lot of drugs and things like that. And it is a very fun kind of teen odyssey in the spirit of John Hughes with a kind of modern, urbanized twist.


BRUCE BEATTY: (As Mr. Bailey) You go to high school in Inglewood. You think you're going to get in to Harvard?

SHAMEIK MOORE: (As Malcolm) I'm from a poor, crime-filled neighborhood, raised by a single mother, don't know my dad blah, blah. It's cliche.

WESTERVELT: Finally, Kofi, to put you on the Fourth of July spot, any favorite patriotic movie or favorite scene?

OUTLAW: Absolutely, "Independence Day" I saw in the mid-'90s with my family in Washington, D.C., on opening day, on Independence Day, after waiting in line for movie tickets all night. We were tired; so was everybody in the theater. But that movie played and it was rousing. And we all swelled with Americana pride, fighting off aliens. And I'll just remember there just the reaction when Will Smith brings down one of the enemy spacecrafts with his plane, and he has to finish the job on foot. And he runs up to the cockpit and opens it and sees this horrible alien come out and punches it in the face.


WILL SMITH: (As Steven Hiller) Welcome to Earth. Now that's what I call a close encounter.

OUTLAW: And everybody in the theater was just clapping and cheering. And needless to say, that was a crowd experience, that movie.


WESTERVELT: Kofi Outlaw is editor-in-chief at Thanks so much and happy holiday.

OUTLAW: Thank you very much and same to you.


WESTERVELT: B.J. Liederman didn't write the music for "Independence Day," he doesn't fight aliens, but he did write our theme music. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Eric Westervelt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.