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 include the latest from Pixar animation studios, a Kevin Hart/Dwayne-Johnson-led comedy, and a stunning documentary on the most ambitious fan film ever made. So without further ado, let’s jump into this week’s releases!
1. Finding Dory
After taking a year off in 2014, Pixar found itself at a crossroad. Its last three projects (Cars 2, Brave, and Monsters University) all underwhelmed both critically and at the box office, and the studio was in need of a refocusing. Then came Inside Out in 2015, and it was clear that the studio had officially returned to form. Now we have Finding Dory, a sequel that captures every bit of the charm of its 2003 predecessor, while providing us with some of the studio’s more stunning visual elements. As Supervising Animator Michael Stocker told us in an interview:
We had to rebuild and remake Marlin and Nemo; all the characters we had to start over and make them again. It’s like if you typed a Word document 13 years ago and tried to open it, it’d just be a mess. And that’s exactly how this is. If we try to open these old characters up again they’re a mess. Everything’s different.
Trending right around 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, the early reception for the film has been overwhelmingly positive. With Disney firing on all cylinders for its own in-house animation department, it’s nice seeing Pixar back on top where it belongs.
2. Central Intelligence
Here you find us a little torn. On one hand, Central Intelligence checked in at No. 5 on our list of movies that don’t deserve to be summer blockbusters this year. It features Dwayne Johnson in some of the hokiest, poorly constructed fat-suits we’ve ever seen, with Kevin Hart assuming the throne left by Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 3 as “that dude who won’t stop doing mediocre buddy cop movies. On the other hand, it’s also a slow weekend for even halfway entertaining movies in the non-Pixar department.
The film itself seems like a perfectly decent way to spend your time at the movies, albeit in a generally rote story we’ve seen in a hundred different buddy cop films. But if you’re a Kevin Hart fan, you could do worse than Central Intelligence, described by Variety as “an action-comedy utensil, like ‘Rush Hour’ crossed with an old Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot-’em-up, with a few goofy added sprinkles of ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.'” That can’t be all bad, right?
3. Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Fan films are considered to be fairly commonplace in today’s age of technology. Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo have made it easy to get them out into the world and seen by millions, while affordable cameras and professional editing software have streamlined the production process by leaps and bounds. It wasn’t always this easy though, shown to us by Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.
The documentary profiles a group of friends who, after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, took it upon themselves to recreate the entire film shot-for-shot. Since it was the ’80s, dependable technology was scarce, stretching the project out over years and year, before finally calling it quits after a dispute between two of the friends. Now years later, they’re finally united to finish it once and for all, with the help of a fully-funded camera crew, and the support of luminaries like Eli Roth. Variety seems to like it, dubbing it “often poignant, occasionally pathetic, but never short of entertaining, ‘Raiders!’ captures the obsessive hold movies have on young people’s imaginations.”
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