Summer movie season is officially here, which means audiences can expect a slew of exciting, new films to choose from in the coming months. This week’s staff picks for best movies include the long-awaited sequel to a 1996 sci-fi classic, a historical recounting of a legendary rebellion, and a nail-biting thriller starring Blake Lively. Let’s jump in and talk new releases, shall we?
1. Independence Day: Resurgence
It’s been 20 years since Independence Day arrived in theaters and shattered every box office record we had at the time. Of course, Titanic arrived on the scene a year later to subsequently blow that out of the water, but for a brief time, Roland Emmerich’s alien invasion flick was the hottest ticket in Hollywood.
Knowing that, it’s shocking that it took all of two decades for a sequel to make its way into theaters, and yet here we are. So, welcome, Independence Day: Resurgence. It’s about damn time.
Early returns for the film are mixed at best, with its Rotten Tomatoes score hovering around a less-than-stellar 52% positive rating. It’s not all bad for Independence Day: Resurgence though, with the The Hollywood Reporter noting how it “reasonably successfully” delivers “bang-for-buck entertainment.” The Wrap provides a far less generous take, citing the lack of true stakes despite the massive CGI carnage we see throughout the film.
“Scene after scene of the stuff becomes repetitive due to its victimless violence,” The Wrap points out. “It feels like no one ever gets hurt, despite the destruction of half the planet.” Either way, it sounds like it’ll at least be fun for fans of the original Independence Day, and that’s all anyone can really ask, right?
2. Free State of Jones
If bombastic sci-fi isn’t quite your speed, how about a trip in the opposite direction? Matthew McConaughey stars in Free State of Jones, telling the true story of a group of farmers, deserters, and escaped slaves who rose up against the Confederacy in the South during the Civil War.
Naturally, the film embellishes many of its more fantastical elements, but it’s still an interesting look at a story many have never heard before. Rotten Tomatoes isn’t particularly friendly to the movie right now, giving it 29%. As an alternative to Independence Day: Resurgence though, it fits nicely into that niche, while serving the dual purpose of scratching your itch for Civil War history.
3. The Shallows
Of all our staff picks, none even come close to the positive critical reception of The Shallows. The Blake Lively-led project is hovering around a 77% rating right now, despite its shoestring budget and tidy 87-minute runtime. When the simplest movie of the weekend also happens to be the best one, it says something about its overall quality.
The story is Jaws-like in nature, following a lone surfer on a remote beach being terrorized by a shark. With a chewed-up leg and no easy way back to shore, she has to figure out a way to survive long enough for help to arrive. All in all, it sounds like a fascinating and exciting thriller amidst an already-busy weekend of new releases.
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