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Summer Movie Review

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

By Maggie McAteer

Due to the pandemic, the past few years haven’t been quite normal for movies. Theaters got shut down, and fewer films were released. Last year was the beginning of the return back to normal, with summer blockbusters such as Top Gun: Maverick, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Jurassic World: Dominion bringing us back to the worlds we love, and films like Elvis and Nope bringing us into new ones. This past summer was packed with a variety of captivating movies that took us everywhere from Barbieland to Utah, filling the hours with stories that made us laugh, cry, and question the world we live in.

Would it really be summer without action packed sequel films? While last year took us back to Tom Cruise flying planes, this summer we got to relive the thrill of Tom Cruise riding motorcycles off of cliffs, with the newest film in the Mission: Impossible franchise. From Paramount Pictures, Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One (July 12) starred Tom Cruise as the infamous Ethan Hunt and Hayley Atwell as Grace, the morally ambiguous “destructive force of nature.” The tenth Fast and the Furious movie was also released (Fast X, May 19), which once again brought the public more dramatically unrealistic (but really awesome looking) car explosions and stunts. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny came out June 30th, giving the franchise its first movie in fifteen years, and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts was released on June 9th, featuring Hamilton and In the Heights star Anthony Ramos.

Disney once again entered the realm of summer remakes with a second attempt at a movie adaptation of the much beloved Haunted Mansion ride from Disneyland. The first Haunted Mansion movie came out in 2003, and has since been followed by several comics, a Muppets special (Muppets Haunted Mansion, 2021), and a video game. Unfortunately, while fans of the ride seemed to enjoy the film, many critics expressed their disapproval of it’s sloppy plot, with one proclaiming, “'Haunted Mansion passes like a ghost through the audience and disappears from memory shortly after.”

Another high-profile Disney remake, this one a live action remake of an animated classic, starred Halle Bailey, alongside Melissa McCarthy as Ursula and Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, in The Little Mermaid, which was released on May 26th. Reviews of the film praise Bailey’s performance, with one critic from Variety even stating that, “Halle Bailey is all the reason that any audience should need to justify Disney revisiting this classic,” although others criticized Disney’s sloppy VFX work.

Pixar also released their new film Elemental this summer (June 16th) to mostly positive reviews, with many saying it wasn’t great, but not a complete disaster either. It was accompanied in theaters by special short film “Carl’s Date,” based on Pixar’s 2009 movie Up, the first Pixar film to have a Pixar produced short since 2018’s Incredibles 2.

D.C. and Marvel both had movies coming all throughout the summer, with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse on June 2nd to Blue Beetle on August 18th. Spider-Verse is the sequel film to the critically acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), and made $120.5 million in its first weekend, as well as opening to positive reviews. D.C. 's The Flash premiered on June 16th, to high anticipation from fans and critics alike. The movie brought back former Batman (1989) star Michael Keaton in his original role and costume, as well as introducing Sasha Calle (The Young and the Restless) as the DCEU Supergirl in her feature film debut. Blue Beetle, D.C.’s other movie, featured Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai) as the titular superhero. In addition, August 2nd brought us Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, giving us a fresh take on the classic pizza devouring superheroes. It has been receiving positive reviews both from critics and casual viewers, with many applauding its distinctive animation style and vibrant comedy, and leading one reviewer from USA Today to write, “This is a movie to say cowabunga for.”

Filmmaker Wes Anderson, famous for his unique visual aesthetic and storytelling, also released a movie this summer under Universal Pictures. Asteroid City (June 16th) featured an all-star ensemble cast, including Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, and Tom Hanks, and told the story of a Junior Stargazer convention circa 1955 that is “spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events,” according to IMDb.

Christopher Nolan, who is also known for his innovative stylistic and narrative choices, has his new historical drama, Oppenheimer, hit theaters July 21st. The film starred Cillian Murphy in the eponymous role as J. Robert Oppenheimer, a scientist integral to the development of the atomic bomb. Appearing alongside the highly esteemed Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and Florence Pugh, Murphy finally had the chance to play lead after having previously only worked under Nolan’s direction in supporting roles. Notably, the film carried Nolan’s first R-rating in over 20 years, since 2002’s Insomnia, and will be his 13th film.

The highly anticipated Barbie movie was also released on July 21st, sparking the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, in which people went to see both films as a double feature, a trend encouraged by the casts of both movies. Based on the Mattel brand of the same name, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie featured Margot Robbie as the magnificent Barbie herself, and Ryan Gosling as her boyfriend Ken. The two traveled together out of Barbie Land and into the Real World in a 100-minute whirlwind filled with musical numbers, an outstanding cast, and, of course, lots and lots of pink. Barbie has received overwhelmingly positive reviews for its empowering messages about womanhood, as well as Ryan Gosling’s four minute power ballad, and has grossed over $1.3 billion at the box office worldwide.

Joy Ride, another comedy, came out July 7th, and starred Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, and Sabrina Wu as four friends on a journey of self discovery as Audrey (Ashley Park) tries to find her birth mother. The film has received largely positive ratings with a 91% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

Even though some of these films have now passed off of the big screen and onto various streaming platforms, it’s still important to support local theaters and upcoming films. Watching movies in the theater gives you an entirely different experience than just watching them at home, and some movies, like Oppenheimer or Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse, cannot be fully appreciated without being viewed on a big screen. And with exciting new films like the ones released this summer sure to grace the big screen in the near future, now is a better time than ever to buy a movie ticket.


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