La La Land, Titanic, Spiderman Among Summer Movie Favorites

In June, I made the goal to watch five new movies by the end of the summer. But as I soon found out, five wasn’t enough to satisfy my cinematic appetite. My picks were all over the place- from an R-rated science fiction movie to a documentary to a musical to a superhero flick. These are the 12 titles that I watched for the first time this summer and my thoughts on each.

Note: For the Riker Scale, an 84 rating or higher merits a spot on the Top 50 list.


Cars 3 (2017)- I didn’t come into the theater with huge expectations, and I left slightly satisfied. As I said in my review of the movie, I’d say that this Cars movie was the best of the trilogy and it did pick up speed late in the end. And I loved the pre-movie short film “Lou”.

Riker Scale Rating: 70


Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)- My dad loves Lord of the Rings. My brothers love Lord of the Rings. But the Lord of the Rings gene definitely wasn’t expressed in me, because I’ve struggled to get through the LOR film trilogy. After finishing the extended edition of the third movie, I left my couch feeling accomplished. Not a Riker Scale-level movie, but I thought it was the best of the trilogy due to its epic conclusion[s].

Riker Scale Rating: 73


The Matrix (1999)- Since The Matrix is woven deep into pop culture, I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while and finally got a chance in June. The film is one of the stranger movies out there, but the last hour of action sequences is awesome to watch. There’s this one scene in particular that is particularly epic that is one of my favorite action scenes of all-time.

Riker Scale Rating: 81


Titanic (1997)- Titanic is another pop culture favorite that I knew I needed to watch this summer. The film was long and I knew that the ship was going to sink, but I was engaged in the characters’ storylines and could see why some believe it to be the greatest movie of all-time.

Riker Scale Score: 93


Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)- The third rendition of the superhero Spiderman was the movie I’d eagerly awaited for months and it lived up to my expectations. Actor Tom Holland was excellent and blew the previous Spiderman actors out of the water, while Michael Keaton killed it as the villain Vulture. But what made the movie a must-watch was its comedic tone and high school setting.

Riker Scale Score: 93


Spellbound (2002)– My homework for my research project-based class. This award-winning documentary followed the 1999 National Spelling Bee, focusing on several of the young contestants. Since I was taking notes during the movie, it wasn’t a great movie experience, but it’s as thrilling as documentaries get.

Riker Scale Score: 75


The Fault in Our Stars (2014)- Prior to watching this movie, I read the bestselling novel by John Green that is the film’s basis. The movie was everything I expected but was nevertheless a solid pick.

Riker Scale Score: 75


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)- I watched this 80’s flick during my beach vacation and loved it. Yes, the plot is goofy and the movie can’t seem to figure out its age demographic, but the legendary character of Ferris Bueller makes the movie an delightful watch.

Riker Scale Score: 88


Queen of Katwe (2016)- Based off a book by former SI writer Tim Crothers, whom I met at my journalism camp this summer, Queen of Katwe focuses on the rise of a young girl, Phiona, as she learns the game of chess and becomes a champion. To me, it wasn’t the most captivating movie, but I enjoyed the tale.

Riker Scale Score: 77


Sully (2016)– This true story of Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed a plane in the Hudson River in New York City, was really compelling because it focused on the controversy that took place after the landing instead of the landing itself.

Riker Scale Score: 79


La La Land (2016)– I’m not a music-oriented person, but even I could appreciate the stunning artsiness of the Oscar-winning musical La La Land. Visually and musically, this blockbuster is second to none, and the plot had enough to keep me interested for the whole two hours.

Riker Scale Score: 92


Eight Men Out (1988)– As a sports enthusiast and baseball fan, I’d heard the tragic tale of the 1918 Chicago “Black Sox”. This 1988 drama recreated the biggest scandal in the history of baseball in engulfing emotional depth. I hated the events as they played out and the shady characters that were wheeling and dealing, and that drew me in even more. Eight Men Out is baseball’s answer to the Titanic.

Riker Scale Score: 86

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