A Double Feature Review! 2 Great Superhero Films.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
I got choked up a couple of times in this one. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a wonderful conclusion to James Gunn’s trilogy: engaging, heartfelt, and beautifully done. Gunn has completed his Guardians trilogy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), leaving viewers with a satisfying conclusion to one of the best comic book trilogies to ever come out. Vol. 3 is the most mature feature of the three Guardians movies. Gunn delivers poignant and heart-strung storytelling through our beloved group of misfits. Vol. 3 follows Rocket's (voiced by an incredible Bradley Cooper) storyline, digging deeper into his past. Lylla, Teefs, and Floor (voiced by Linda Cardellini, Asim Chaudhry, and Mikaela Hoover): you will be forever loved. In addition, actors Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Maria Bakalova, and Chukwudi Iwuji all showcase their great acting chops.
Vol. 3 is top-notch acting that's also backed with vibrant action and witty humor. Not to mention, another killer soundtrack that keeps things rockin' and rollin' throughout. Vol. 3 was refreshing to see on the big screen after getting the terrible Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania earlier this year. Vol. 3 is absolutely Gunn's movie, avoiding any Marvel pitfalls or formulas that have hindered past MCU productions. Gunn uses the two hours and 30-minute runtime to his advantage, gifting us with a well-paced feature full of visual splendor and emotional heartache. As of today, Gunn's final Guardians film has grossed $830 million worldwide. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a swan song for our band of misfits that's written with heart and soul.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) For Intense Sequences of Violence | Action | Strong Language | Suggestive/Drug References | Thematic Elements
Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Maria Bakalova, Linda Cardellini, Asim Chaudhry, and Mikaela Hoover, and Chukwudi Iwuji.
Here's my current film ranking of the MCU: Click Here
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is an incredible accomplishment for cinema. Across the Spider-Verse boasts gorgeous animation that pushes the boundaries of the visual medium. I was in awe from the first frame to that final cliffhanger. Across the Spider-Verse moves fast with its plot but never loses its heart. Possibly one of the greatest sequels and animated films I have ever experienced on the big screen. 2018 gifted us with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a picture full of heart and love for The Amazing Spider-Man comic book storyline. The animation was stunning because it showcased a blend of both 2D and 3D animation. Now, 5-years later, we meet back up with Miles Morales (voiced by a great Shameik Moore), Gwen Stacy (voiced by a wonderful Hailee Steinfeld), and other friends (or possible enemies).
Miles is trying to balance life of being a son, a student, and Spider-Man. Balancing all of this is pretty challenging, and Miles feels the pressure caving in on him. Enter his greatest nemesis to come... Spot (voiced by a vibrant Jason Schwartzman). And don't let a bagel hit you in the head, or you could go down a rabbit hole like Spot did. Miles also misses Gwen, who is from Earth-65, while he is on Earth-1610. When Miles finally sees Gwen again, he finds out that she is part of an elite team of Spider-People who protect the multiverse. This Spider-Society is led by Miguel O'Hara / Spider-Man 2099 (voiced by a sly Oscar Isaac). As we leap into the Spider-Verse, our heroes will clash, and Miles must redefine what it means to be Spider-Man. So this is as far as I will go with the plot. Across the Spider-Verse also boasts an excellent voice cast consisting of Moore, Steinfeld, Schwartzman, Isaac, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Daniel Kaluuya, and Mahershala Ali.
In addition to the voice cast is the absolutely stunning animation. Here we continue to get blends of 2D and 3D animation, plus additional styles of breathtaking visuals. There were six different types of animation styles used throughout this film. The animators have gotten bolder and more abstract, pushing boundaries to greater heights. My favorite style was the watercolor paintings presented in Gwen's world: beautiful, bold, and some of the best sequences of animation I have ever seen. Clocking in at 140 minutes, Across the Spider-Verse is the longest animated film to date. The film has already made $560 million since its June 2nd release date, and I really hope that this movie can get recognized by The Academy next year. Across the Spider-Verse deserves to be nominated for Best Picture. In the end, Across the Spider-Verse is one of the best films of 2023. Five-stars.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is rated PG (Parental Guidance) For Some Language | Animated Action Violence | Thematic Elements
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson
Starring Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Schwartzman, Oscar Isaac, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Daniel Kaluuya, and Mahershala Ali.
Here's my current Spider-Man franchise ranking: Click Here
Evil Dead Rise is a wild film from start to finish: intense, gory, and emotionally grounded.
Evil Dead Rise is bloody thrilling and layered with the sick and twisted nature this franchise has provided before. Lee Cronin’s film is a roller coaster of horror and visual trips. I had a blast. I have always been a big fan of the Evil Dead franchise: from the gory mayhem unleashed on our characters to the black comedy hiding around every corner. This franchise has continued to thrill and surprise me over and over again. With the exception of Army of Darkness, most of the Evil Dead movies (1981's The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and 2013's Evil Dead) have taken place with a group of friends in a cabin in the woods. While Evil Dead Rise does start out in a cabin in the woods, but it quickly changes settings to a condemned Los Angeles apartment complex.
For me, this was a refreshing change of pace that made the newest horror picture feel more fresh and exciting. Here, we follow a family consisting of two estranged sisters and their children. Actress Lily Sullivan plays Beth, an on-the-road guitar technician who has recently found out that she is pregnant. Actress Alyssa Sutherland plays Ellie, the other sister who is a tattoo artist and single mother to three children (Danny, Bridget, and Kassie). Ellie and her kids currently live in the condemned L.A. apartment complex and are packing to move out. So, Beth comes to visit her sister's family, an earthquake happens, and Danny finds the Book of the Dead in the rubble. Of course, Danny stupidly opens the Book of the Dead, and the mayhem is unleashed. There's blood, more blood, and then there's tons of blood.
Yet, what made this film so thrilling was the way that Cronin moved that camera around. He also used some incredibly brilliant camera techniques like shooting through a peephole in the apartment door. This type of camera technique and style made the film all the more intriguing. On top of the great camera movements and bloody thrills; are the excellent acting chops from actors Sullivan, Sutherland, Morgan Davies (Danny), Gabrielle Echols (Bridget), and Nell Fisher (Kassie). Evil Dead Rise also had one of the coolest opening title sequences in recent memory. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw that title appear on the screen. Plus, I don't think I can ever look at a cheese grater the same. For me, this film is one of the biggest surprises to come out in 2023. Evil Dead Rise bloody came, conquered, and left me wanting more.
Evil Dead Rise is rated R (Restricted) For Some Language | Gore | Strong Bloody Horror Violence.
Directed by Lee Cronin
Starring Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, and Nell Fisher.
Here's my current Evil Dead Ranking via Letterboxd.
Want to hear more of my thoughts? I spoke with my good friend Matt on his podcast, Mashley at the Movies, about Evil Dead Rise. Listen Here.
David Lowery (The Green Knight and Pete's Dragon) is very good at reimagining and remaking classic Disney films.
Just like he did with Pete’s Dragon (2016), Lowery’s artistry is overflowing in this picture. Peter Pan & Wendy is fun, charming, and delightful. The diverse cast shines along with a great Jude Law as Captain Hook. Though Lowery's newest feature should have received a theatrical release, it is still worth your time to stream on Disney+. The story of Peter Pan & Wendy is nothing revolutionary or game-changing; it is still very much a by-the-books adaptation of the boy who never grew up. However, what I admired in this newest version of Pan was a more mature sense and structure to our characters and their stories. Lowery's picture is very much grounded in realism and wonder, while the scenery and visuals will sweep you off of your feet. Plus, Lowery approached this film through a more modern lens and avoided past racial stereotypes that plagued the 1953 animated film.
I loved seeing that Peter Pan and Tinker Bell were both played by actors of color (Alexander Molony and Yara Shahidi). On top of the diverse cast of actors, I loved seeing Lost Girls (Diana Tsoy, Florence Bensberg, Kelsey Yates, and Skyler Yates) as a part of the Lost Boys group and that one of the Lost Boys has Down's Syndrome (actor Noah Matthews Matofsky). This has made Matofsky the first actor with Down's Syndrome to land a major role in a Disney film. I loved that they made Tiger Lily a three-dimensional character and not a caricature like in past productions. Cree actress Alyssa Wapanatâhk (Bigstone Cree Nation) brought her own indigeneity to the role of Tiger Lily. Wapanatâhk also spoke her own native language during the film, and all of the background actors in her village were of Indigenous talent, including Wapanatâhk's stunt doubles.
One can see the authenticity of Tiger Lily and her tribe throughout this picture. Sadly, there has been a bigoted audience campaign of review bombers for this film, flooding movie sites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. These negative reviewers who have flooded these sites with their racist reviews should be ignored and not hinder you from watching this movie. Not liking a movie is okay, but attacking it because the cast is more diverse is not okay. Looking past this, I hope you find the same sense of wonder and magic as I did while watching it. I am always excited to see what Lowery does next with his career. Lowery's craftsmanship with fantasy and adventure continues to grow and expand. Lastly, both the score (composer Daniel Hart) and the cinematography (Bojan Bazelli) helped excel the picture as a whole. In the end, Peter Pan & Wendy is a film that the whole family can and will enjoy. For now, sit back and watch the magic unfold with the boy who never grew up.
Peter Pan & Wendy is rated PG For Peril | Violence | Thematic Elements
Directed by David Lowery
Now Streaming on Disney+
Starring Jude Law, Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Yara Shahidi, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Joshua Pickering, Jacobi Jupe, Molly Parker, Alan Tudyk, and Jim Gaffigan as Mr. Smee.
For Your Consideration:
Analysing Horror w/ Lauren
Cup Of Soul Show
Female Gaze: The Film Club
In Their Own League
Mashley at the Movies
Mike, Mike, and Oscar
The Movie Oracle
Next Best Picture
Reel and Roll Films
Reos Positive POV
The SoBros Network
Untitled Cinema Gals Project