Summer Movies Review

Summer+Movies+Review

Oliver Folan, Arts and Entertainment Editor '22

CRUELLA- 5/10

Synopsis- In 1970s London – amidst the punk rock revolution – a young grifter named Estella is determined to make a name for herself with her designs. This forms into a competition with Baroness von Hellman, a villainous fashion legend.

I don’t really know what to make of CRUELLA. I enjoyed watching it for how colorful and dumb the film felt, but at the same time this still shares most of the same problems I have with every other Disney live action remake. The film never convinced me that it has any reason to exist beyond making money and setting up its inevitable sequels. The costume design was great, however, and the film’s energy did feel sort of infectious at times.

 

A QUIET PLACE 2- 6/10

Synopsis- Following the events of the first film, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

A QUIET PLACE 2 is a solid film that improves on its predecessor in just about every way. There wasn’t anything in this I found to be particularly dumb or poorly thought out like there was in the first film, and while A QUIET PLACE 2 feels significantly less important or memorable than that first film, John Krasinski refines the story in a way I found to be refreshing and intelligent. I’d gladly give this a rewatch in the future.

 

IN THE HEIGHTS- 5/10

Synopsis- A bodega owner named Usnavi has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic or staying in Washington Heights.

Coming from someone who didn’t particularly enjoy HAMILTON, I can confidently say that this film was better than that musical. That being said, IN THE HEIGHTS still comes with many of the same flaws that can be attributed to Lin Manuel Miranda himself. Without a doubt, Lin Manuel Miranda’s greatest strength is his ability to write good, catchy music. MOANA, for example, has some of my personal favorite music of any animated Disney film. However, I find the overall experiences of both HAMILTON and IN THE HEIGHTS to be incredibly pandering. There is a reason why this man has become such an icon and so beloved by so many people, and it’s because his musicals tend to market themselves to the widest audience possible without taking any risks whatsoever, which I absolutely hate. I feel as if Lin Manuel Miranda is convinced that IN THE HEIGHTS has this undeniable cultural significance, when in reality, it is a very uninspired and unimportant film that will be forgotten almost immediately. That being said, IN THE HEIGHTS does benefit from some very energetic direction, and the music was also incredibly fun, so I certainly wouldn’t call this film bad. My favorite scenes included the pool scene as well as the whole blackout portion of the film.

 

F9- 6/10

Synopsis- Dominic Toretto and his crew battle the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: his forsaken brother.

F9 is one of the dumbest films I have ever seen, and I had an absolute blast watching it, but that’s coming from someone who has never seen another FAST AND FURIOUS film. There were multiple moments in the film that genuinely took my breath away just because of how bafflingly ridiculous they were, moments I refuse to spoil in this review. Just watch it for yourself. It’s a great comedy.

 

ZOLA- 8/10

Synopsis- A waitress agrees to accompany an exotic dancer, her boyfriend, and her mysteriously domineering roommate on a road trip to Florida to seek their fortune at a high-end strip club.

ZOLA was refreshing to see in theaters because it was the first theater experience I’ve had in a very long time where I was watching a film that was not a large Hollywood production. It was a film that actually took risks and was different. The performances were fantastic, especially from Colman Domingo who is proving himself to be one of the finest actors working today. The score was surreal, the cinematography captured Florida excellently, and the sequence of events was wild and surprising. It is a true story based off of the viral twitter thread written by the real A’Ziah “Zola” King, and the film captured that vine/twitter era of social media in a way that never felt pandering or cringe. ZOLA isn’t the most interesting or mind blowing film I’ve seen, but it was incredibly consistent and entertaining from start to finish.

 

THE FOREVER PURGE- 1/10

Synopsis- All the rules are broken as a sect of lawless marauders decides that the annual Purge does not stop at daybreak and instead should never end.

Since watching THE FOREVER PURGE I’ve been trying to erase it from my mind completely, but every now and then scenes from the film flash before my eyes and I am struck down by its cancerous energy. Maybe the worst political commentary I have ever seen in a film. It felt like a direct response to the financial success of JOKER with its commentary on class warfare, but unlike JOKER, THE FOREVER PURGE’s social commentary felt so disingenuous and laughably inconsistent. Even from a “so bad it’s good” point of view the film fails miserably. There wasn’t anything all that ridiculous or over the top and all of it just felt incredibly boring. If for some reason you have been dying to see this film, please watch it illegally. It does not deserve your money.

 

BLACK WIDOW- 3/10

Synopsis- Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. 

BLACK WIDOW is an incredibly boring film that does nothing remotely interesting or exciting, which is a shame because Black Widow is an awesome character and has deserved a movie for quite a long time now. I must admit I have become sort of disinterested in the MCU since Disney started milking all of their intellectual properties on Disney Plus. It’s an awful situation because no matter how much audiences are sick and tired of the overwhelming amount of new content, people are going to keep consuming it and Disney is never going to stop making it. It’s sad because I feel like a lot of the magic and excitement of the MCU, as well as STAR WARS, has been lost.

 

PIG- 7/10

Synopsis- A truffle hunter – played by Nicolas Cage – who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.

PIG is a testament to how simplicity can be an important tool to work upon when creating a compelling film. Nicolas Cage was wonderful in his most reserved role yet, and I even liked Alex Wolff’s performance quite a bit. His character arc was a highlight and his relationship with Cage’s character was beautiful. PIG, while very well done, didn’t really stick with me perhaps as much as I had hoped it would. There was nothing about the film’s ideas or themes that I found to be particularly thought provoking, they were just incredibly well executed and well developed within the story. I couldn’t help but find the film to be a bit forgettable. That being said, Nicolas Cage is in it, so you have to see it.

 

OLD- 3/10

Synopsis- A family on a tropical holiday discovers that the secluded beach where they are staying is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.

Night Shyamalan is a director who has made a lot of great films, and even a handful of films that I find to be quite underrated. Whenever he puts out a film I am always excited for it, because you never really know what to expect from him. That being said, OLD was pretty terrible. The writing especially felt unrealistic and weird, but in the most intolerable way possible. Characters say things that normal people would never say. Any quirk that a character might have that takes me out of the film only exists to advance the plot in the most shameless way possible. The acting was horrible as well, but I can only imagine how hard it would have been to give a good performance while reciting such terrible and awkward dialogue. What’s so disappointing about this film, however, is that it could have been great. For a good 10 minutes towards the middle of the film I was enjoying how silly the tone was and how much it felt like an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, but there were just so many things holding it back from being enjoyable. I can’t say I was ever bored, however, which has to account for something.

 

THE GREEN KNIGHT- 7/10

Synopsis- THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.

THE GREEN KNIGHT is a wonderfully hypnotic, provocative, and challenging film that deserves multiple rewatches to fully understand. The film has a very unique way of communicating its ideas and themes, never lending the viewer any concrete answers. It’s not perfect, however. I do think certain portions of the film run a bit long and this film doesn’t set up the story in a particularly interesting way, but overall, I found THE GREEN KNIGHT to be a really strong film – one that deserves the hype.

 

ANNETTE- 4/10

Synopsis- ANNETTE tells the story of Henry, a stand-up comedian with a fierce sense of humor, and Ann, a singer of international renown. In the spotlight, they are the perfect couple: healthy, happy, and glamourous. However, with the birth of their first child, Annette, a mysterious girl with an exceptional destiny, their lives will change significantly.

ANNETTE is unlike anything musical I have ever seen, I’ll give it that, but narratively this film falls apart to an excruciating degree. Even thinking about this film just gives me a massive headache. The story is so painfully incohesive and I never cared about anything that was happening. It’s hard to take anything in this film seriously, which might be the point since I don’t think the filmmakers are taking this story too seriously either, but even films that don’t take themselves seriously have the ability to tell a compelling story with compelling characters. The music in the film was also not great. It’s cool that the Sparks brothers have had somewhat of a comeback recently, but the songs here did very little to propel the story forward in an interesting way. I do commend Adam Driver for his performance in this film, however. He’s giving it his all, and even when his acting doesn’t work for me, it is always interesting at the very least. In a lot of ways, he feels like the glue attempting to hold this film together, despite being ultimately unsuccessful. Marion Cotillard is also massively underused in this film, which is sad because she is easily the most talented singer in the entire cast.

FILMS RANKED

  1. ZOLA
  2. THE GREEN KNIGHT
  3. PIG
  4. A QUIET PLACE 2
  5. F9
  6. IN THE HEIGHTS
  7. CRUELLA
  8. ANNETTE
  9. OLD
  10. BLACK WIDOW
  11. THE FOREVER PURGE