JULY 8 — After more than three years of muted summer blockbuster seasons, 2023 finally sees Hollywood coming back with a bang, bombarding us with one big movie after another this summer movie season.
Even last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were more or less lifted worldwide and cinemas reopened, the amount of big Hollywood flicks opening in cinemas back then were still nowhere near the numbers usually drummed up during the summer movie season before the pandemic hit.
We’re only entering July, which is typically the peak of the summer movie season and we’ve already got tentpoles like Fast X, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Elemental done with in June, not to mention the three films I’m writing about here, and we’ve yet to greet the deadly duo of Barbie and Oppenheimer (which will be opening on the same weekend) and of course Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1.
And I haven’t even thought about upcoming August titles like Gran Turismo and Meg 2: The Trench!
So, this summer is definitely the summer where we finally start to feel that the pre-pandemic normality (which I’m sure some of us have forgotten) is back when it comes to movie-going.
To say that I’m excited about it is definitely an understatement, because three years of muted summer movie excitement is more than enough, so let’s hope this is only just the beginning of the yearly madness that is the summer blockbuster season!
Despite the mixed reviews and the disappointing box-office performance (currently US$247 million or RM1.153 billion collected from a budget of US$220 million, which means that it’s a bomb), I actually liked The Flash, which I think is one of the most entertaining movies in the DCEU yet.
The fact that I’m not much of a comic book fan and have absolutely no interest in the ongoing DC vs Marvel wars probably helped, as I viewed this purely from the perspective of a moviegoing neutral.
And from that perspective, I think this one rocked, whatever the baggage it might carry in terms of behind-the-scenes drama.
Ezra Miller does perfectly fine in a dual role as he plays two versions of the Flash, thanks to a time-travel plot which means that one is stuck in the other’s timeline/universe.
It has enough heart to make you care for the film’s human drama, in which the Flash aka Barry Allen goes back in time to try and save his parents, and the whole story is told with efficient clarity, propulsion and emotion by director Andy Muschietti (of Mama and the new It movies fame).
This movie is more or less the Flash character being put in the Back To The Future trilogy, and if that doesn’t sound fun to you, then maybe it’s just not your kind of movie.
Insidious: The Red Door
The fifth film in the Insidious franchise, which sees lead actor Patrick Wilson also sitting in the director’s chair for the first time, has no business being this good, especially not after the pretty forgettable fourth instalment Insidious: The Last Key.
A direct sequel to the first two movies, Insidious: The Red Door, picks up nine years after the events of the first two movies, with the little boy Dalton now all grown up and going to college.
It’s watchable and enjoyable enough, possessing all the traits of a mainstream horror movie nowadays, with plenty of well-telegraphed (and therefore predictable) jump scares, but if you really think about the movie’s plot, it really is just another retread of the first two movies, in which Dalton again finds himself trapped in The Further and it’s up to his dad Josh to again save him.
Being a fan of the franchise, I’m not complaining, as it would be just like complaining that the Final Destination sequels are all a rehash of the first film. It is what it is, and Wilson has done swell enough to make what’s probably my third favourite movie in the franchise.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Ahhh, good old Indy. It’s no coincidence that the cinema I went to watch this movie in, which is the fifth movie in the Indiana Jones franchise, was unusually full of people from the older generation, with uncles and aunties probably excited to see how a much older Indy would fare in a new adventure, and what age and maturity will bring to this beloved character.
This being a franchise, of course the plot will involve another adventure about the search for an archaeological relic, which is what these Indiana Jones movies have been about since the first one.
There are even remixed/rebooted versions of the Marion and Short Round characters in this new film, in the form Indy’s goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and her sidekick Teddy (Ethann Isidore), but there’s a mournful and ruminative air that pervades the film, thanks to the fact that not only is the Indy character growing old but the actor playing him, Harrison Ford, is facing the same thing too.
This extra factor injects a whole new dimension into the film, making it a more than worthy entry into the Indiana Jones franchise, and certainly a much more enjoyable film than the previous one, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
If, like me, you grew up with these movies, this one’s a no-brainer.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.