The fall movie season has officially arrived, which means audiences can expect a slew of exciting, new films to choose from in the coming months, as each studio ramps up for a late-year Oscar push. This week’s staff picks for best movies include an anticipated remake of a classic Western, a tense new thriller starring Nick Jonas, and the inspiring story of an unlikely chess master. So let’s dive in and talk new releases, shall we?
1. The Magnificent Seven
Remakes are always difficult to nail when it comes to bringing back a classic. When your source material is a film directed by John Sturges (The Great Escape) that starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, the job becomes that much more difficult. Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua leads a Magnificent Seven remake effort that looks to measure up to the original. Helped by an A-list cast of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Matt Bomer, it’s managed to generate a fair share of positive buzz leading into its release this week.
Early reviews seem to generally like the movie, with The Magnificent Seven hovering around a respectable 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critical consensus call its “a moderately diverting action thriller on its own merits,” so clearly it’s not exactly drawing rave reviews. Still, it’s worth pointing out that the bar set by the original is impossibly high. Anything that manages to even approach the level of Sturges’s own effort is worth seeing, and that’s exactly what the remake appears to do.
Fraternity culture and hazing have walked hand-in-hand for a century. Becoming a member of a campus’s Greek house is often a taxing process that involves weeks of rushing that can be arduous at best, and downright cruel in its worst form. Goat shows us the extreme side of the latter end of that spectrum, diving into a hellish pledge process for a fictional frat. Things quickly spiral out of control for the young pledges, as they’re subjected to all manner of horrors in the name of brotherhood. And while this is obviously not representative of a majority of Greek houses throughout the country, it sure makes for good drama.
Rotten Tomatoes agrees too, with Goat scoring a stellar 78% rating, along with a critical consensus pointing out how its “thought-provoking themes, talented cast, and all-out intensity offer rewards for viewers willing to tough it out.” Most reviews agree that much of the hazing often stumbles into “hard to watch” territory, but is balanced out by a solid story and a chilling message.
3. Queen of Katwe
Disney loves a good inspirational story, and when they make Marvel or Star Wars movies, they’re making space for true-story underdog tales like Queen of Katwe. The film follows a young Ugandan girl growing up in the streets of rural Katwe, who discovers her talent for the game of chess. It’s not long before a mentor takes her under his wing to teach her the finer points of the game, putting her on a upwards track she never could have imagined. As her family and community rally around her, she embarks on a journey to defy the odds and become an international chess champion.
Queen of Katwe currently sits at 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it our highest rated staff pick of the weekend.
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