Spray Painted, Neon Action
Action movies—particularly the R-rated ones—have been going through something of a transition recently. While the past decade was dominated by the shaky camera work and rapid editing popularized by the Jason Bourne movies, movies like 2011’s The Raid: Redemption and 2014’s John Wick have returned action movies to a time when the camera followed the action, rather than took part in it. While looking back, these films have also moved the genre forward by adding a definite, almost balletic style to the action and a smoothness to the images presented on screen. The latest example to hit theaters is Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron, shortly after she completely stole Mad Max: Fury Road from its title character.
A Whole New World
In a box-office world dominated by sequels, reboots, and cinematic universes, it is refreshing to get a movie that strives to be something completely new, at least from a visual standpoint. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is just that, as director Luc Besson returns to the sci-fi fantasy genre he previously succeeded in with 1997’s The Fifth Element. Unlike that movie, though, the ambitions of the story cannot quite match the ambitions of the visuals in Valerian, but the visuals alone are certainly worth checking out.
A Time Puzzle of a War Drama
Director Christopher Nolan has made some bulky movies in his career, with the last two—Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises—clocking in at closer to three hours than two hours. So it was a bit of a surprise to find out that his new World War II drama Dunkirk had a runtime of only 106 minutes. That runtime makes Dunkirk the second shortest of all Nolan’s features, longer only than his debut Following, which clocked in at a brief 96 minutes. The movie also has a PG-13 rating, a rarity among recent war films. But Nolan’s purpose with Dunkirk is not to tell a bloated drama graphically depicting the horrors of war, but rather to tell the true-life heroic story of survival in the time needed to tell the story. For the most part, Nolan succeeds with Dunkirk, but time factors into the film more than just its runtime.
Return of the Webslinger
The character of Spider-Man is a huge part of the Marvel universe in the comics, but because his film rights were held by Sony and not Marvel Studios, he could not be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe shared by the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. But after Sony’s last two Spider-Man films performed poorly, the studio executives there decided to make a deal with Marvel to share the character. This latest version of the character, now played by actor Tom Holland, made his MCU debut to great acclaim in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. Now the rebooted Spider-Man is back to make his solo debut in this summer’s delightful Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Summer’s Most Genuine Comedy
The summer movie season is typically filled with big-budget action spectacles, animated kids movies, and broad comedies. But every good summer movie season also usually has at least one breakout independent movie that serves as counter-programming to the blockbusters. Typically, these movies become big hits in their own right thanks mostly to good word of mouth and The Big Sick has been getting good word of mouth ever since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.