Happy June! Summer is nearly here, and with that, plenty of summer blockbusters. What’s the catch? With the writers’ strike looming large over the entertainment industry, the state of film and TV couldn’t be more uncertain. Members of the Writers Guild of America are on strike for higher wages, more job security, and other demands that mirror similar issues affecting the workforce in the U.S. What makes this writers’ strike unique from the last in 2007 is the question of streaming services and artificial intelligence. How can writers be paid residuals in the streaming era? Can AI capture a story the same way a human can? They’re questions worthy of their own movie (one that would probably need human writers to get made). Tune in next month for an update, and keep reading for summer’s latest offerings in action, drama, and horror.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
2023, Dir. James Gunn – Superhero/Marvel – In Theaters Now – PG-13
The guardians of the galaxy are back and cruising through outer space with a stellar soundtrack. This time, the gang is on a mission to save a beloved member of their team before it’s too late. The film’s writing is strong, with a bittersweet tone that packs an emotional punch that doesn’t feel forced. The chemistry among the cast (including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, and in a fun cameo, Sylvester Stallone) is top-notch as well. My only critique would be the film’s epic runtime: a whopping 2 and a half hours. Did the movie need to be that long? I don’t think so, but it was still a great time, nonetheless.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
2023, Dir. Kelly Fremon Craig – Coming of Age – In Theaters Now – PG-13 (Common Sense Rating 11+)
This film adaptation of the 1970 Judy Blume classic is sweet and wholesome without being sentimental. The movie follows Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson), an eleven-year-old girl who is curious, smart, and a little unsure of herself. As she grows up and begins to explore her feelings about friendships, relationships, and religion, her world opens up and changes course. The movie is enhanced by the wonderful performances of her family, including Rachel McAdams, Benny Safdie, and Kathy Bates. With an acoustic guitar-driven soundtrack and seventies setting, the film has a magical tone that’s perfect for summer.
2023, Dir. Niki Caro – Action/Thriller – Netflix – R
There’s no denying Jennifer Lopez’s talent as an action star. That’s apparent in The Mother, even if the movie doesn’t give her enough to work with. In the film, Jennifer Lopez plays an assassin (referred to only as “the mother”) who is forced to part with her daughter Zoe to protect her safety. When Zoe’s life is put in jeopardy years later, only the mother has what it takes to save her. The film is certainly entertaining and has enough drama to be worth a watch. Much of that is thanks to Lopez’s sharp performance and chemistry with the supporting cast (including Paul Raci and Edie Falco). Still, I couldn’t help but wish there had been more excitement in this slow-paced thriller.
Evil Dead Rise
2023, Dir. Lee Cronin – Horror – In Theaters Now – R
Are you ready to be terrified? The Evil Dead franchise has never been for the faint of heart, and the latest iteration is no different. When siblings Danny, Bridget, and Kassie find an old vinyl record, they accidentally awaken ancient demons as soon as the needle drops. What follows is a truly grisly gorefest. The film stays true to its predecessors with its shocking use of special effects, which will make even the most seasoned horror fan balk. What’s missing? Much like the 2013 reboot, the film lacks the eccentric sense of humor that made the originals so special. What results is a movie with a much darker tone than fans may expect.