Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews

Abby Greenberg and Adina Cazacu-De Luca

     Summer is over, which means summer movies will be available for streaming in the coming months. Which ones are worth seeing? Well, there are two types of movies in the world: originals and remakes (including sequels and spinoffs). Unfortunately, the latter were released abundantly in the box office this summer. Since remakes are irrelevant projects that serve as money-makers rather than additions to the American canon of film (see Ali Zolman’s piece for more), we will instead by focusing on the original movies that were released this summer:

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The ninth film from acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained”), “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” released in late July with one of the top box office openings of a non-franchise movie this summer, focuses on the lives of fading TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his faithful stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) amongst the backdrop of 1960s Hollywood and all the atmosphere that comes along with it. Unlike every other Tarantino movie you’ve seen, this one isn’t driven by a twisted revenge plot or cinematic violence at every turn: rather, it’s motivated by the sun-saturated, transfixing lives of the characters inhabiting the all-too-real streets of Hollywood. Being a fi lm person, I loved this movie, but if you’re looking for plot, this is not where you’ll find it. Almost nothing happens in this movie, and it’s pushing three hours. That being said, the characters deserve every bit of screen time they get.
Booksmart
Finally, a high school movie without (unironically) cringey dialogue and flat characters. “Booksmart” came out in late May with the premise of making the most of the last weeks of high school. We meet Molly and Amy, two bookworms who have spent their high school years working towards their Ivy League dream schools, only to realize that their partying classmates are heading there as well. To make up for lost time before graduation, the girls party on a yacht, crash a murder mystery theater party, take MDMA (causing them see each other as bratz style dolls), and more. The message was clear: High school is meant to be a time of multifaceted learning, for introspection and experimentation as well as academic growth.
Detective Pikachu
If you grew up playing Pokémon games, you have no excuse not to see this movie. I saw it in an empty theatre with my cousin, and we spent the whole fi lm talking over the dialogue about the Pokémon onscreen, arguing about which generations were which. This movie, for the audience over the age of 12, finds its value in the nostalgia factor. The plot and script is what’s expected from a kids’ movie about a video game, though Ryan Reynolds’ Pikachu (yes, you read that right) is a rare delight. If you’re looking to embrace your inner (or outer) nerd, this feel-good fl ick is where it’s at.
Yesterday
If you liked “Mamma Mia,” you’ll probably enjoy this one. Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) wakes up in a world where the Beatles never existed, and no one’s ever heard their songs. Naturally, being a struggling songwriter, he capitalizes on this and re-releases as many Beatles songs as he can remember, catapulting him to stardom and launching his career. It’s a funny, lighthearted journey with some pretty good music and perhaps too much of Ed Sheeran trying to act. It’s not a standout fi lm or particularly memorable, but not a bad watch when you’ve got nothing else to do.
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Yes, reviewing this movie breaks the sequel rule. Yes, I’m still going to review it because this is the one you probably all saw. Following the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame,” Peter Parker (Tom Holland) continues his superhero-ing, with healthy side helpings of teen angst and romantic subplots. Peter and his class travel to Europe for a school trip, where they naturally encounter the same amount of supervillainy they regularly see in New York. Between high school hijinks that feel John Hughes-esque, and a breakout performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, this movie lives up to its hype. “Spider-Man: Far from Home” provides a lovely cherry on top of the 22-part sundae of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and continues the franchise’s growing dominance of the Hollywood scene.
Rocketman
It’s glitzy; it’s glamorous; it hits every single music-industry trope you know; it’s Elton John! Taron Egerton (yes, the guy from “Kingsman”) stars in this biopic directed by Dexter Fletcher. Following the life of Elton John, Fletcher spares no detail as he creates a fantastical world that doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s a musical. Rather than being grounded, it kicks off and sets its sights high, buoyed by sparkling musical numbers and a story told in just the right way to pull on your heartstrings. Though Elton John’s sway as a producer comes through, especially in the third act, this mostly-true story makes for a visually gorgeous film with some bopping tunes.
Men in Black: International
Look; this movie is fine if you’re only trying to look at attractive people in well-tailored suits and see some weird aliens cracking jokes that don’t land as well as they should. When I saw this in theatres, I watched the first thirty minutes, got bored and fell asleep, and woke up for the last thirty minutes. The fact that I still understood the plot probably means it wasn’t very complex or interesting. There are big weapons, big special effects, and big situations that distract from the grayscale characters and dialogue. Thompson and Hemsworth’s chemistry is without a doubt the best part of this movie. Overall, it’s entertaining for a bit, but an utterly forgettable film.