3 Best Movies in Theaters Right Now: ‘Escobar: Paradise Lost’ and More

Every week, the Cheat Sheet Entertainment staff selects the top three movies to catch in theaters. Here are our top picks for this week.

1. Escobar: Paradise Lost

As the title suggests, notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar is one of the main characters in our top movie to see this week. Escobar was Columbian cocaine trafficker who had built a multibillion dollar criminal empire by the time he was gunned down by the police in 1993. However, this movie isn’t a typical Scarface-like tale of a drug kingpin’s rise and fall. Although Escobar (Benicio Del Toro) is a major character in the film, the storyline is mostly about a naïve American surfer named Nick (Josh Hutcherson) who becomes romantically involved with a young Colombian woman named Maria. Unfortunately for Nick, Maria turns out to be Escobar’s niece and the young American slowly begins to be drawn into the family business.

Escobar: Paradise Lost is the first feature film directed by Andrea Di Stefano, an actor-director who may be best known for his roles in the films Life of Pi and Eat Pray Love. While Escobar currently only has a 58% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, it has a high “want to see” rating (88%) from users, which suggests that this may be a film where word of mouth from moviegoers may offset any negative reviews. However, regardless of how they felt about the overall film, most critics seem to agree that Del Toro turns in a riveting performance as the menacing drug lord.

In a review that called Escobar: Paradise Lost “an enterprising B-movie,” Variety’s Scott Foundas wrote that the film is “never better than when Del Toro takes center stage.” Similarly, the critics’ consensus at Rotten Tomatoes noted that one of downsides to the film is that “Its focus drifts frustratingly away from the titular druglord.” So although this film may frustrate some moviegoers who may have wanted to see more focus on Escobar, this movie’s unique take on the world of drug trafficking and the strong performance from Del Toro make Escobar: Paradise Lost our top movie to see this week. Escobar: Paradise Lost hits theaters on June 26.

2. Batkid Begins

Our second selection this week is a documentary movie about a child’s Make-A-Wish request that captured the imagination of the world. In 2013, cancer survivor Miles Scott’s wish to be Batman for a day went viral and soon became one of the biggest and most widely publicized events in the history of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This movie traces the evolution of the project and touches on the reasons why this child’s request became a worldwide phenomenon. Batkid Begins has a 74% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes who call it “an uplifting look at a selfless act that brought a city together.” Batkid Begins opens in theaters on June 26.

3. Big Game

Big Game, our third selection this week, sounds like a movie that was conceived by pulling random cards out of a hat. In the film, young Finnish teenager Oskari (Onni Tommila) is on a traditional coming-of-age hunting quest to prove his manhood when he sees Air Force One crashing in the wilderness. After Oskari discovers the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) in an escape pod, his quest becomes protecting the President from terrorists looking to kill their own “big game.”

While the synopsis alone should make you curious to see this movie, Big Game isn’t just a curiosity – it’s also a highly entertaining and well-made action flick. Big Game currently has a solid 70% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, who noted the movie’s “enthusiastic throwback vibe will appeal to fans of low-budget ’80s action movies, but co-writer/director Jalmari Helander adds a level of smarts and skill that make it more than just an homage.” Big Game will land in U.S. theaters on June 26.

All movie cast, crew, and awards information courtesy of IMDb.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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