For most people, the ideal vision of ”summer fun” usually amounts to theme parks, road trips to National Parks, or perhaps Europe, if you have the pockets for it. I, and many college kids like me, however, do not have such pockets for any of the aforementioned activities. In fact, the only quintessential summer activity I can swing, and by default is my favorite past time, is hands-down going to the movies. The Regal by my house has recliners, so I just lug my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blanket, smuggle a snack in my backpack, and I’m set for a fantastic journey in another world— or at least that’s how it should be. Below I’ve offered my pretty much meaningless opinion on some of the most talked-about flix of the season as well as a few I have yet to see (but nevertheless am super excited about). No, you did not ask for this, but you are very welcome. #thankmelater
Rocketman - Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard
If you loved Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ll LIVE for Rocketman. Sharing a director and the phenomenal costume designer Julian Day of last year’s Queen biopic, this Elton John odyssey ups the stakes by spinning the effort as a “musical fantasy,” which honestly just seems like a cop-out label to justify singing some songs out of chronological order and having an abundance of sensory overloading dream sequences. These fresh quirks, however, are actually what makes the film work better than most biopics as the 2-hour running time seems to fly past thanks to great pacing and Taron Egerton’s admiral turn in the titular role. Still, the pulse of this film is John’s quest for unconditional love through the ubiquity of some of the most recognizable songs (and outfits) of the 20th century. This film had me in tears before the thirty-minute mark, so I think it’s safe to say it’s gonna be a long, long time (sorry, had to) for another biopic to hit such emotional high notes with so much grace and heart.
Toy Story 4 – Directed by Josh Cooley, Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Keanu Reeves
Leave it to Pixar to continually tread the fine line of whimsical entertainment and philosophical introspection. We all already know that what makes Pixar films work better than any other brand of animated films, including standard Disney movies, is its ability to equally entice children while simultaneously catering to their parents. The latest installment in the Toy Story canon is no exception as cinema’s most iconic gang of toys, and new (and slightly terrifying, mostly endearing) friends such as Forky, embark on a road trip that quickly turns into a literal trip down memory lane as reunions take place, the past is reminisced upon, and the sheer nature of existence is pondered. Yeah, if you’re in the midst of an existential crisis maybe wait for this one to hit Netflix, but just know that you’ll always have a friend in these lovable toys.
Spiderman: Far From Home - Directed by Jon Watts, starring Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya
I absolutely adored Homecoming, the first installment in the latest Spider-Man film saga. I’m not a huge Marvel person, but I really connected to this rebooted series for a number of reasons. The first three of which all amount to Zendaya’s turn as MJ, the fourth is Tom Holland’s doe-eyed take on Peter Parker, and the final being the irresistible teenage charm unique to this series alone. What I love most about this slew of Spider-Man films is its lightness in comparison to the majority of the films in the MCU canon, most notably the Avengers series. The best part of Homecoming was its blending of John Hugh’s style of the teen genre (as apparent by obvious notes of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club) with typical superhero tropes standard to Marvel films. What makes Far From Home even more exciting is that uprooting the narrative from Parker’s native Brooklyn to a trip around Europe not only gives the film a dash of Lizzie McGuire Movie (which I know we’ve all been needing), but it also allows Holland’s Parker the chance to prove himself as a heavy-hitter in the new era of MCU following the epic and emotionally trying events of Endgame all while trying equally as hard to impress the notoriously unimpressed MJ. A win for Peter Parker is a win for us all.
Midsommar – Directed by Ari Aster, Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor
My best friend Alexa and I stumbled upon this movie on a boring Thursday night. We both had already seen Rocketman , Toy Story 4, and Far From Home, so we decided to venture into the indie-horror realm typically reserved for rainy days via Netflix. It would be harsh to say that we should have picked something else, but less than an hour in we were both kicking ourselves for spending $15 that could have been used on a fancy bowl of ramen noodles and a side of edamame on this film. Ari Aster’s follow-up to his directorial debut Hereditary (you know, the movie with one-third of The Naked Brother’s Band, a bunch of moody establishing shots, and a hazardous number of candles) is a beautifully crafted, acted, and produced piece of art. But, like Hereditary, the audience response to this film has been… mixed, to say the absolute least. Without spoiling the plot that I genuinely did not understand to begin with, I feel like it is my duty to warn any prospective viewers that if graphic depictions of suicide, torture, and orgies involving a lot of elderly Swedish women sounds unsettling to you, then sitting through this film may be impossible. Otherwise, please go ahead and enjoy over 2 hours of lovely scenery coupled with douchey one-liners from ignorant travelers that mistreat women! But seriously, if you hated Hereditary, you’ll loathe this film. Personally, I am somewhat in the middle about this one.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – (July 26th) Directed by Quinten Tarantino, Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and literally everyone else that matters in Hollywood
I COULD PEE MYSELF IM SO EXCITED. It’s right around the corner! Like most edgy college kids, I’m a HUGE Tarantino stan. His mix of brutality and comedy and just master-class filmmaking will always be a spectacle. It is truly a gift that I am of an age to be receptive to the magnitude of one of the most anticipated and best-reviewed films of the year (possibly of all-time) as the still yet-to-be-released feature is being hailed as one of the director’s finest— and it’s not hard to understand why. At nearly three hours in length and taking place near the end of one of the most esteemed eras in Hollywood and starring two of the most arguably idolized figures in films, this is a movie of epic proportions. The stakes are high, but I truly doubt they will not be met, if not exponentially exceeded.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold – (August 9th) Directed by James Bobin, Starring Isabela Moner, Eva Longoria, Michael Pena
Look, I get that I may be the only person over the age of 11 that will be in the theater for this, but mark my words I will be there! Growing up, Dora the Explorer was probably my favorite show. I dressed up as her for multiple Halloweens, had many a backpacks and lunchboxes, and even forced my mom to take me to the stage show in Chicago. Therefore, I find it important that I honor my roots and indulge in this nostalgia. Plus, the trailer makes it look like a cross between Indiana Jones and the latest Jumanji movie and a supporting turn from Michael Pena (Ant-Man) as Dora’s dad offers the promise of truly comedic moments. But even if the reviews turn out poor, like recent remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King, I’ll take solace in having younger siblings to use as an excuse to still attend. The CGI work on Boots and Swiper does look a little scary though.
Good Boys – (August 16th) Directed by Gene Stupnitsky, Starring Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, Keith L. Williams
The prospect of 6th-grade boys cursing like sailors and performing crude pranks on each other sounds like anything other than a hell of a lot of fun then you need to lighten up! If Booksmart is the Superbad for girls, then Good Boys should be just that for the tiniest members of Gen Z (it does boast Seth Rogen as a producer). I anticipate it will be highly unrealistic as the R rating kind of alienates the depicted demographic (the official poster takes a cute jab at this inconsistency) but my forecast also guarantees this movie will be ridiculously fun and laugh-out-loud funny. Plus, Jacob Tremblay! I stan, you should too.
words & photo_shianne salazar