I am so, so sorry for my chronic elusiveness. I’ve been dealing with personal issues that should’ve ended months ago. But now the coast is truly clear; I’ve made irrevocable life changes and am starting over. Cheers to that! And cheers to summer films!
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Rating: PG-13 | Rotten Tomatoes: 92% | Metacritic: 73
Spider-Man is now a pseudo-Avenger nerd/scrub/genius millennial with no social abilities, one ludicrously high-tech suit, and a little too much personality. I love it! Plus, you don’t need to know Peter Parker’s story to enjoy the story (which deviates into its own humble, yet creative, rabbit-holes). He has his own epic Breakfast Club-like squad via academic decathlon. Tony Stark and his futuristic technology allow fun, innovative action scenes. Michael Keaton thrives yet again as a bird, though this time as a sardonic family-man-by-day and villain-by-night. Heck, even Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) shows up—so you should too.
Rating: PG-13 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93% | Metacritic: 94
Rather than serenading us with his typical cinematic grandeur, Christopher Nolan shoves us directly into this bleak, apocalyptic WWII scene. For 1.5 hours, we are soaked; we are pissed; our lives are fading time-glasses; and our hearts are ripping out of our chests. Why? All we hear is the ominous hum and drum of enemy planes. All we smell is the idle stench of dead flesh soaked in sea salt. All we see is the sea: An empty sea, with perhaps nobody there to save us—we are sitting ducks for Hitler’s pilots. This film is not the type of film that I enjoyed per se, but it certainly is one that I respect. Its storyline is pinpoint clever, while its production is flawless. And its reproduction of a historical moment (Battle of Dunkirk) is spot on, as well as Harry Styles’s performance.
2. Baby Driver
Rating: R | Rotten Tomatoes: 95% | Metacritic: 86
The Mad Max of bank robbery films, Baby Driver drives through a modern world with the confident carelessness of Pulp Fiction. And yet—with the frantic obsession of Miles Teller in Whiplash (replace drums with driving)—Baby is quite good at steering his way out of trouble. But what even is “trouble”? I don’t know; it’s a pretty nihilistic film anyway. But more than anything, it is well-crafted and exhilarating. Last reference: It is this year’s Hell or High Water. I mean, the trailer speaks for itself.
1. War for the Planet of the Apes.
Rating: PG-13 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93% | Metacritic: 82
Here’s all you need to know:
- Each Planet of the Apes film released between 1970 and 2001 was absolute trash (so don’t watch them—or think that I’m a biased PotA fan). The first two of the modern PotA series were okay, but this one is a masterpiece.
- In the series’s pilot episode, a scientist created a substance that helps the brain repair itself. He then tried it on his chimpanzee, Caesar, whom he raised like a son as Caesar—the pulse of this entire series—gradually became humanlike.
- Long story short, the substance led to a vast colony of genetically evolved chimpanzees and other apes in the woods around San Francisco. Soon thereafter, an apocalyptic virus (to which the apes are immune) eradicated most of humanity —hence stripping it of governments and most modern technology. The setting is similar to that of I Am Legend.
- Perceivedly threatened by the superior species, a troop of autonomous humans still in the Bay Area wage war on the apes. But the apes, whose side we follow and support, are far more human than the humans themselves. The depth of their emotional intelligence is devastatingly real, especially that of Caesar (Andy Serkis deserves the Oscar for Best Actor).
- Caesar’s raw emotional intelligence flickers across every scene’s dialogue. His wisdom and compassion show to both family and strangers, apes and man. His empathetic heart guides his misconstrued soul in his journeys. But, most importantly to his journeys, he is also a TOTAL BADASS. Get your ticket!
Quite forgettable: Despicable Me 3. No match for the original.
Quite overrated: The Big Sick. I don’t hate the movie itself as much as I hate that it failed to meet its potential—despite having all of the ingredients to be marvelous—and yet critics, whom I almost always agree with, are praising it because it “provides an important platform for cultural dialogue.” Indeed, good social, political, and/or cultural platforms of this type are ever-important to humanity. That’s why, among many other reasons, I love Carol, Fruitvale Station, Moonlight, 12 Years a Slave, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, etc. Those films facilitate important exchanges about issues and cultures with which many are unfamiliar BUT are also simply incredible films—besides, quality helps authenticate those exchanges! The Big Sick, while funny at times, isn’t nearly as good as those. If you want more, here’s part of a rant I wrote after seeing it.
Quite decent: Wonder Woman. First half was lively and phenomenal. Second half was a bit of a drag; they should’ve just trimmed the script. Still a good, important film.
Quite underrated: It Comes at Night. This is an eerie deconstruction of human nature in times of peril. Audiences were frustrated by the predictable ending, but the ending wasn’t the point. It was about how it got there. And the etching of this point was well facilitated by the sharp craftsmanship & cinematography.
Quite streamable: Get Out. It truly is shocking that a comedian like Jordan Peele could randomly direct such a unique, creative standalone masterpiece. It’s shocking that he was able to make a mystery/drama/horror/action/sci-fi film so consistently hilarious. And it’s shocking that he indeed made the best film of 2017 thus far. It’s obviously not in theaters anymore, but you can stream Get Out on Amazon Video!
Hope you got some useful recommendations out of this. I would love for you to comment with your thoughts, opinions, and/or recommendations!
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