Now Playing! May 2023

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May’s films are action-packed and full of thrills. If spring’s selection is any indicator of what’s to come, we’re in for a great summer! Many of the films this month are playing in theaters, but there’s still plenty to stream, too. In fact, Netflix’s new mini-series Beef may be my favorite new release this year. A psychological thriller that follows a road rage incident that spirals way out of control, the series is gripping from the start. For more nail-biting action, adventure, and drama, read on. 

The Super Mario Bros. Movie 

2023, Dir. Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic – In Theaters Now – Children’s Animation – PG

Nintendo’s classic has made it to the big screen, and its breaking box office records in the process. Will it be winning any awards anytime soon? Probably not, but the film does manage to capture the game’s sense of adventure. When Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are transported into a mysterious world, they are instantly separated and must find each other before it’s too late. To make matters worse, Bowser (Jack Black, whose performance gives the film an extra star) is waging a battle against the Mushroom Kingdom. The movie has garnered criticism for casting Chris Pratt in the starring role, and I agree that there had to have been a better choice. Despite its flaws, the movie’s vibrant recreation of its source material will make you want to go home and play the video game.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves 

2023, Dir. John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein – In Theaters Now – Fantasy/Comedy – PG-13

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a dynamic, humorous tale without a single dull moment. The movie follows Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), a charismatic thief who loses everything after a heist goes horribly wrong. Edgin vows to make it up to his daughter with the help of his friends (a great supporting cast including Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, and Sophia Lillis). The movie’s sense of humor and fun were expected, but I was struck by the film’s complete hold over its story and sharp wit. When I learned that Freaks and Geeks alum John Francis Daley was one of the movie’s directors, I wasn’t so surprised. 

M3GAN 

2023, Dir. Gerard Johnstone – Streaming on Peacock – Horror – PG-13

2023’s most viral horror movie is an instant classic with plenty of modern twists. 

After a family tragedy, Cady moves in with her aunt Gemma, a successful toy designer. When Gemma invents M3GAN, an interactive robot doll and technological feat, she believes her niece is the perfect candidate to test out the prototype. The film brings to mind horror staples like Gremlins and Child’s Play, two films that manage to be funny while also being downright terrifying. It’s the story’s use of artificial intelligence (and M3GAN’s penchant for modern pop ballads) that makes the movie distinctly contemporary. If you didn’t get a chance to catch the film in theaters, now is your chance to stream it. 

John Wick: Chapter 4 

2023, Dir. Chad Stahelski – In Theaters Now – Action – R

Does the fourth chapter in this series hold up to its predecessors? As John Wick would say, “Yeah.” After facing the darkest depths of grief and betrayal, John Wick is back for his ultimate revenge against the High Table. 

The movie’s action sequences begin only a few seconds into its nearly three-hour runtime, and they rarely cease until the credits roll. Keanu Reeves plays the role with equal parts mystery and sincerity, a defining characteristic that’s made his performances as an action hero so endearing. Musician Rina Sawayama also gives a fantastic debut performance as Akira, a role she plays with a sense of drama and tenacity. Will there be a 5th chapter? We can only hope.