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Your Summer Streaming Guide: 10 Essential Blockbuster Movies

From 1970s Classics to 2020s Hits, Enjoy These Perfect Picks for Hot Days and Cool Nights


Welcome to Part 2 of my summer series! If you haven't read the first part, which covers the history of blockbusters, you can check it out here. With about 10 weeks remaining of summer, it's the perfect time to queue up some classic and newly reimagined blockbuster films.


From the timeless thrills of Jaws (1975) to the exhilarating adventure of Top Gun: Maverick (2022), these ten summer blockbusters are perfect for streaming until fall arrives. Whether you're into action, thriller, fantasy, or sci-fi, there's something for everyone on this list!


Remember, with nearly 50 years of blockbuster history, this list barely scratches the surface, so feel free to share your recommendations in the comments. I'm excited to watch them!


So grab some popcorn and a cold drink, get comfy, and let's dive into this collection of summertime favorites!


A collage of summer blockbuster movies from 1975-2022.


Jaws (1975) theatrical poster

Jaws (1975)

When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper and grizzled ship captain Quint offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.


Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenwriters: Peter Benchley & Carl Gottlieb

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary & Murray Hamilton

Where to Watch: Amazon 


Why It's Essential: Jaws is widely considered the OG summer blockbuster. Spielberg's masterful storytelling, intense suspense, and unforgettable characters have left a lasting impact on pop culture. John Williams' iconic score, featuring the menacing "shark theme," has become synonymous with impending danger.


Additional Viewing: Jaws 2 (1978) | Deep Blue Sea (1999) | The Meg (2018)


Did You Know? Decades after Jaws' release, Lee Fierro visited a seafood restaurant and saw an "Alex Kintner Sandwich" on the menu. She mentioned that she had played Alex's mother many years ago. The restaurant owner, Jeffrey Voorhees, came out to meet her. It turned out he had played her son, and they hadn't seen each other since the original movie shoot.




Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) theatrical poster

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

The Imperial Forces—under orders from cruel Darth Vader—hold Princess Leia hostage in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, work with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.


Director & Screenwriter: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, Kenny Baker &Anthony Daniels

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Disney +


Why It's Essential: A New Hope made a huge impact on the film industry by introducing groundbreaking special effects, including innovative techniques like motion control and optical compositing. The film also changed how movies are promoted by showing how merchandise, tie-in promotions, and sequels can make a film successful. As a result, A New Hope led to the creation of the Star Wars franchise. This franchise has become famous worldwide for its great stories, memorable characters, and innovative use of technology. It has left a lasting mark on movie history and pop culture.


Additional Viewing: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) | The Return of the Jedi (1983) | Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)


Did You Know? George Lucas and Steven Spielberg planned to skip the Star Wars premiere and take a vacation in Hawaii. But before they left, they heard the movie was doing really well. Alan Ladd Jr. reportedly told him, "It's a fantastic hit! Every single paper! There are lines around the block. You can't believe this." Lucas and Spielberg still went on their Hawaiian vacation instead of staying.




Jurassic Park (1993) theatrical poster

Jurassic Park (1993)

Paleontologists Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler and mathematician Ian Malcolm are among a select group chosen to tour an island theme park populated by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. While the park's mastermind, billionaire John Hammond, assures everyone that the facility is safe, they find out otherwise when various ferocious predators break free and go on the hunt.


Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenwriters: Michael Crichton & David Koepp

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight,

Joseph Mazzello & Ariana Richards

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Peacock | Tubi


Why It's Essential: Building on the progress achieved in the 1970s and 1980s, Steven Spielberg's utilization of groundbreaking special effects and a thrilling storyline makes Jurassic Park a cornerstone of summer entertainment. The film redefined summer entertainment, setting new standards for visual effects, suspenseful storytelling, and captivating audiences worldwide.


Additional Viewing: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) | Jurrasic World (2015) | Jurassic World Dominion (2022)


Did You Know? During the Atomic Age and Space Race, interest in paleontology waned. However, Dr. Nate Smith from the Natural History Museum's Dinosaur Institute pointed out that the release of "Jurassic Park" sparked a renewed interest among young people in becoming paleontologists and pursuing careers in the field. Consequently, approximately 50 new dinosaur species have been discovered each year, or about one new discovery per week.




The Lion King (1994) theatrical poster

The Lion King (1994)

This Disney animated feature follows the adventures of the young lion Simba, the heir of his father, Mufasa. Simba's wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa's throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. But Simba escapes, and only Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa.


Directors: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff

Screenwriters: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts & Linda Woolverton

Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Niketa Calame, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings & Madge Sinclair

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Disney +


Why It's Essential: The Lion King is an iconic animated film produced by Disney that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. With its captivating storyline, breathtaking animation, and unforgettable soundtrack, The Lion King has earned its place as a cherished classic that continues to inspire and captivate generations.


Additional Viewing: The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride (1998) | The Lion King 1½ (2004) | The Lion King (2019)


Did You Know? Sir Elton John was given a special screening of the film a few weeks before its release. He noticed that the film's love song had been left out and successfully lobbied Jeffrey Katzenberg to put the song back in. Later, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.




Men in Black (1997) theatrical poster

Men in Black (1997)

They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Agents Kay and Jay are the Men in Black, providers of immigration services and regulators of all things alien on Earth. While investigating a series of unregistered close encounters, the MIB agents uncover the deadly plot of an intergalactic terrorist on a mission to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently residing in New York City.


Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Screenwriter: Ed Solomon

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio & Rip Torn

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Peacock


Why It's Essential: Men in Black is a well-loved blockbuster because it perfectly blends science fiction, action, and comedy. Based on the comic by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers, the movie's creative plot and impressive special effects make it an exciting and enjoyable watch, whether it's your first time or a rewatch. The dynamic chemistry between Jones and Smith even led to two sequels and an animated series.


Additional Viewing: Independence Day (1996) | The Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) | Men in Black: International (2019)


Did You Know? The American Humane Society ensured no animals, including cockroaches, were harmed during filming. Instead of stomping on "bug aliens," Will Smith was actually crushing mustard packets. At the end of the day, the film crew had to count all the roaches and confirm none were missing.




The Dark Knight (2008) theatrical poster

The Dark Knight (2008)

With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon and DA Harvey Dent, Batman has been able to keep a tight lid on crime in Gotham City. But when a vile young criminal calling himself the Joker suddenly throws the town into chaos, the caped Crusader begins to tread a fine line between heroism and vigilantism.


Director: Christopher Nolan

Screenwriters: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal & Morgan Freeman

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Hulu | Max


Why It's Essential: The Dark Knight was a game-changer for the superhero genre with its gritty and realistic approach, raising the bar for future films. Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker was nothing short of legendary, as he brought depth and complexity to the character that has solidified its place as an iconic part of film history. Ledger's performance continues to be celebrated for its impact and influence on the landscape of superhero movies.


Additional Viewing: Batman Begins (2005) | The Dark Night Rises (2012) | The Batman (2022)


Did You Know? The Dark Knight made cinematic history as the first comic book movie to surpass the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office revenue.




Marvel's The Avengers (2012) theatrical poster

Marvel's The Avengers (2012)

When Thor's evil brother, Loki, gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract, Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Joining Fury's "dream team" are Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye.


Director & Screenwriter: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård & Samuel L. Jackson

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Disney +


Why It's Essential: The Avengers was a groundbreaking movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It featured an ensemble of well-known characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk. The movie entertained audiences with its action-packed scenes and engaging story. It also set a new standard for superhero movies by demonstrating how different superhero stories can be successfully combined. The Avengers showed the potential for integrating multiple superhero stories while keeping the audience engaged with its dynamic and coherent storytelling.


Additional Viewing: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) | Avengers: Infinity War (2018) | Avengers: Endgame (2019)


Did You Know? At the end of the movie, there's a short, funny scene of the whole Avengers crew eating shawarma. This scene was added late and was filmed on April 12, 2012, just one day after The Avengers premiered in Los Angeles. The idea for the scene came from a line in the movie spoken by Tony Stark.




Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) theatrical poster

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress, the Citadel. When the warrior Imperator Furiosa leads the despot's five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky, a loner and former captive. Fortified in the massive, armored truck, the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland.


Director: George Miller

Screenwriters: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee & Courtney Eaton

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Hulu


Why It's Essential: Mad Max: Fury Road captivates viewers with its stunning visual effects and exhilarating action sequences. The film seamlessly weaves in powerful feminist themes, portraying strong and independent female characters who defy traditional gender roles and challenge oppressive systems within the post-apocalyptic world. The blend of exciting action and meaningful social commentary makes Mad Max: Fury Road an impressive addition to the Mad Max franchise.


Additional Viewing: Mad Max (1979) | Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) | Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)


Did You Know? It took 15 years of planning and false starts to get Mad Max: Fury Road made. After filming, filmmaker George Miller and the crew had 480 hours of footage, which editor Margaret Sixel had to condense into a two-hour movie. Her exceptional work won her an Oscar.




Incredibles 2 (2018) theatrical poster

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Telecommunications guru Winston Deavor enlists Elastigirl to fight crime and make the public fall in love with superheroes once again. That leaves Mr. Incredible with one of his greatest challenges ever—staying home and taking care of three rambunctious children. As Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack offer him a new set of headaches, a cybercriminal named Screenslaver launches his dastardly plan—hypnotizing the world through computer screens.


Director & Screenwriter: Brad Bird

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener & Jonathan Banks

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | Hulu


Why It's Essential: Pixar's Incredibles 2 is the perfect summer movie that expands on the beloved story of the original Incredibles. It's great for both die-hard fans and a broad audience looking for a family movie. The stunning animation brings the superhero world to life in a fantastic way. The movie's story is engaging and goes beyond the typical superhero storyline, exploring deeper themes and characters. Incredibles 2 skillfully builds upon the superhero archetypes of earlier blockbusters.


Additional Viewing: The Incredibles (2004) | Big Hero 6 (2014) | Lightyear (2022)


Did You Know? Over the years, filmmaker Brad Bird has stated that he would only create a sequel to The Incredibles (2004) if he could develop a story that was as good as or better than the original film. The concept of Bob (Mr. Incredible) becoming a stay-at-home dad while Helen (Elastigirl) becomes the breadwinner was present from the beginning, but it took several years for Bird to develop the perfect story around this idea.




Top Gun: Maverick (2022) theatrical poster

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it.


Director: Joseph Kosinski

Screenwriter: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer & Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer & Lewis Pullman

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video | MGM+ | Paramount+


Why It's Essential: Top Gun: Maverick is an exciting sequel that brilliantly weaves nostalgic elements from the original 1986 film with exhilarating, adrenaline-inducing action sequences. The movie takes the essence of the first film and elevates it with fresh excitement and energy, delivering a captivating experience that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats. The seamless integration of classic and modern elements creates a compelling and dynamic cinematic journey for fans and newcomers alike.


Additional Viewing: The Right Stuff (1983) |Top Gun (1986) | Crimson Tide (1995)


Did You Know? The actors who played pilots had to film themselves, turning the camera on and off. They also had to apply their own makeup, set up their own lighting, and manage their own sound. At times, director Joseph Kosinski had to wait on the ground for hours for the actors to return with the footage. After reviewing the footage, adjustments would be made, and the actors would have to go back up in a fighter plane for another take.



 

From thrilling action and mind-bending sci-fi to heartwarming animation and epic adventures, you're sure to find the perfect addition to your next movie marathon. So gather your friends and family, beat the heat, and enjoy these summer classics. Happy watching!


P.S. Do any of these films deserve a spot on your ultimate blockbuster list, or are there any gems I've overlooked? Let me know in the comment section below!

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