Welcome to the fourth week of the L.A. Times Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown, our 16-week contest to program the greatest summer movie season ever. Or at least since 1975, the year that “Jaws” forever changed the landscape of moviemaking, gross tallying and beach bumming forever.
To recap the rules: Each week, I will present you with a list of 16 movies from 1975 to 2019, all of which were released during a particular summer time frame. You may vote for your favorites on my Twitter account, @JustinCChang; each week’s polls are posted at 5 p.m. PT Tuesday.
Our first two winners were “The Avengers” (Week 1, May 1-7) and “Bridesmaids” (Week 2, May 8-14). Last week (Week 3, May 15-21) included such popular titles as “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Top Gun” and “The Road Warrior,” but it was another George Miller-directed action triumph, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” that ultimately took the crown.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, I will be hosting a live chat on “Mad Max: Fury Road,” including Miller as a special guest, that will be streamed on the Los Angeles Times Classic Hollywood Facebook Page and YouTube, as well as Twitter.
And now we look ahead to Week 4, which covers movies that opened in U.S. theaters between May 22 and May 28, 1975-2019. It’s another robust lineup: two “Star Wars” movies, two “Indiana Jones” movies, two Ridley Scott triumphs and two gung-ho action movies, one of them a best picture Oscar winner. Here they are, in chronological order:
“Star Wars” (1977)
Or should we call it “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope”? Under any title, it belongs here, obviously.
Scott’s slow-drip science-fiction classic has lost none of its terror. Despite some vocal support, David Fincher’s “Alien 3” (released May 22, 1992) didn’t make the cut this week — but stay tuned for James Cameron’s “Aliens” in July.
“The Shining” (1980)
What a week for modern horror masterworks. Stephen King wouldn’t vote for it, but he’s doubtless in the minority.
“Return of the Jedi” (1983)
Or should we call it “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi”? Personally, I like to think of it as “Ewok to Remember.”
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)
Not a fan, personally. But many of you are.
“Rambo: First Blood Part II” (1985)
Or should it have been called “Rambo: Second Blood”? Maybe not. A nonsensical title chronology has always been one of this franchise’s ludicrous pleasures.
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)
Sure, I guess. But do stay tuned for the week of June 12, when “Raiders of the Lost Ark” will be in the running.
“Back to the Future Part III” (1990)
Between “Return of the Jedi” and “Last Crusade,” this is clearly the week for trilogy cappers. This one might be the best? Discuss. Or just vote.
Not-so-little fires everywhere.
“Thelma & Louise” (1991)
The Geena Davis-Susan Sarandon classic was my former Times colleague Kenneth Turan’s favorite movie of 1991, so I’ll let him do the honors: “Provocative, poignant and heartbreakingly funny, this neo-feminist road movie is as pointed a look at what is timidly called the war between the sexes as we have had in quite some time.”
FRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEDDDOOOOOOOM! And it’d make a nice, gristly double bill with “Rambo: First Blood Part II.”
“Mission: Impossible” (1996)
“Fallout” and “Rogue Nation” will have their shots later this summer, but Brian De Palma’s sinuous, elegantly impenetrable first installment remains one of the Tom Cruise series’ high points.
“Notting Hill” (1999)
“It’s not Jane Austen, it’s not Henry James, but it’s gripping.”
“Shanghai Noon” (2000)
The first of two Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson action-comedy pairings (the other being 2003’s “Shanghai Knights”) remains a high-spirited, unpretentious delight.
“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)
Sixteen years ago, Roland Emmerich’s climate-change doomsday epic played like a hilarious Hollywood take on an already terrifying prospect. Will it seem quite so ludicrous — or so oddly consoling — 16 years later? (Probably — but still.)
“Fast & Furious 6” (2013)
With “F9” delayed from this summer until April 2021, #JusticeForHan will have to wait a bit longer. But at least you can see him alive and well in the franchise’s Justin Lin-directed sixth installment.
How to vote: If you have a Twitter account (and if you don’t, you can sign up for one for free), you may vote in the polls that I will post this week. Here’s the schedule:
Tuesday, May 19
5 p.m.: Polls open for knockout round; voting ends at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Wednesday, May 20
8 a.m.: Polls open for quarterfinals; voting ends at 4 p.m.
5 p.m.: Polls open for semifinals; voting ends at 1 a.m. Thursday.
Thursday, May 21
8 a.m.: Polls open for final vote.
4 p.m.: Final polls close; winner announced.
Happy voting — and keep an eye out for Week 5.