The Ithacans Life and Culture staff review a selection of films that defined the 2021 summer film season.
Avery Alexander, Editor-in-Chief
“The suicide squad”, 5/5 stars
It would be an understatement to say that DC’s “Suicide Squad” in 2016 was a big disappointment. Fortunately, the soft reboot of the movie “The Suicide Squad” is much more impressive.
Well known for his work on the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”, director James Gunn is embarking on the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) with guns. Its signature combination of scorching comedy and over-the-top comedic violence makes for a sickening yet satisfying viewing experience.
“The Suicide Squad” is made even more magnificent by Gunn’s use of practical effects. The director brings audiences into his world with brilliantly constructed landscapes and keeps his use of CGI until absolutely necessary. Specifically, Gunn uses CGI for some of the film’s most exaggerated murders. The result is gruesome and incredibly entertaining.
Each actor brings their own charm to their roles, but the stellar performances come from Daniela Melchior (Ratcatcher 2) and Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn). This is the third time that Robbie has played Harley and, like in all previous films, she embodies her character perfectly. Melchior is a pleasant surprise and establishes Ratcatcher 2 as the undeniable heart of the team. With that equally obnoxious and hilarious cast, The Suicide Squad is just the terribly fun movie the DCEU needed.
“Luca”, 5/5 stars
Pixar films like “Toy Story”, “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters Inc.” have a special place in the hearts of millions of people. This reputation has left his last film “Luca” big shoes to fill.
“Luca” delivers all the heartbreaking whimsy that is synonymous with Pixar while maintaining a refreshing sense of individuality. Much of the film’s distinctiveness comes from its animation style – “Luca” is visually different from any other Pixar film. It’s all thanks to director Enrico Casarosa who first dipped his toes into Disney with his critically acclaimed Pixar short “La Luna”.
The plot has notable similarities to the classic “The Little Mermaid” – a fishy person aspires to live with humans and goes on a journey on her own.–Discovery. However, the characters are so endearing and the setting so enchanting that these similarities are charming rather than repetitive. The tritagonists Giulia, Alberto and Luca bring a nice dynamic to the film. They fight for each other and stand together in a way that will make everyone smile.
The Italian culture present in the film practically jumps off the screen. Enough to make the public nostalgic for the post-war Italian seaside, even though they have never been to Italy.
Sydney Brumfield, Editor-in-Chief
“Black widow”, 4/5 stars
With witty dialogue, gripping visuals, and intense action sequences, “Black Widow” is the closest thing to an origin story the hero has received. After years of Natasha being an oversexualized one-dimensional character throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe film series, director Cate Shortland turns her into a, badass woman that fans know and love from the comics.
As he fled the United States ggovernment, Natasha Romanoff, or Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), is forced to confront her past to bring down The Red Room, a odious organization that kidnaps young girls and trains them to be murderers. “Black Widow” is fast paced, keeping viewers enthralled with Natasha’s fight for revenge.
Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Alexei, or the Red Guardian (David Harbor), steal the show as two anti–hero. Both actors find moments to express the tenderness of their characters, while later being able to deliver electrifying one-liners in fight sequences. Pugh shows his range with the company of this project. Less than two years ago, she dominated the screen in the horror and drama genres, and “Black Widow” proves she can now add action to that list.
Both actors are the backbone of brilliant comedy nuggets as they walk through contradictions that put viewers in stitches. They share an outward contempt for superheroes – Alexei hating Captain America and Yelena mocking Black Widow’s performative nature in fight sequences – but both retain a childlike glee when offered the chance to do stunts. developed in combat. This self-aware humor reinforces the excellence of “Black Widow”.
“On the heights”, 3/5 stars
“In the heights”, a movie adaptation of Lin–Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical is a haunting journey following members of the Washington Heights community. in new York City as they struggle to make their dreams come true.
Some of the original songs and scenes were cut from this adaptation, which is a bummer. This makes some of the plot conflicts stretched and weak, as the movie tries to tell the stories of a large number of characters, which is not easy. This is made especially difficult when the songs that build characters and their motivations are cut.
Abuela Claudia’s solo number (Olga Merediz), “Paciencia y Fe” is the strongest of the whole film. Merediz, who created the role of Abuela when “In the Heights” was on Broadway, delivers a profound performance; she is humorous and compassionate in her acting. In his solo number, Merediz captures a huge range of emotions – the set design skillfully shows the passage of time throughout the number – and the choreography creates a transformative vibe without distracting Merediz’s performance.
Director Jon M. Chu went above and beyond To to doe the musical sequences of this adaptation are larger than life. Through smooth camera movements and using lighting and framing to make a individual stand out in the crowd, the dance and large ensemble numbers draw the audience into the film.
Elijah de Castro, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Life and Culture
“Bo Burnham: inside”, 5/5 stars
Comedian Bo Burnham’s new special ‘Inside’ is an assortment of comedy, music and pandemic soliloquies this is as versatile in its emotional range as It is in its ability to merge genres. As Burnham explains at the start of the 87-minute special, the production of “Inside” was an act of desperation for Burnham to fill the long days of post-March 2020 quarantine.
Stuck in his bedroom with a pandemic raging outside, Burnham exorcises in front of a faceless audience. Many of the songs Burnham sings – especially “Comedy,” “Don’t Wanna Know” and “All Eyes On Me” – reflect the insecurity of performing without the concessions that a live audience offers. The collapse of face-to-face life and its conversion to a digital world is the backdrop to “Inside,” where Burnham satirizes the absurdity of Internet culture. Ironically, despite Burnham’s criticism of the “insect-eyed Silicon Valley salamanders” for the growing influence of social media on daily life, the songs on “Inside” have been a resounding success. through the internet.
Trying to put your finger on what exactly “Inside” is would be a paradox; the fact that the special is a rambling mishmash of random ideas and skits is the point. The result is Burnham at its peak, delivering the most humane work of art on life amid the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
“Summer of Soul”, 4/5 stars
The latest documentary to restore a long-forgotten movie in razor-sharp clarity, Modern presentation is “Summer of Soul”, performed by musician Questlove. Bringing new life to the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival – often referred to as “Black Woodstock” – “Summer of Soul” is modern documentary at its best.
Questlove, beyond simply showing perfectly restored images of the event, interviews people who attended the concert in their youth. Today, some 50 years later, they reflect on what was a turning point in the Black Power movement and the 1960 with sentimental pride.
The documentary also offers the best–tier tributes to artists who have performed, like Sly & the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight & the Pips. The film’s biggest moment is its presentation of Nina Simone singing “Backlash Blues”, demonstrating a deep respect for Simone’s cultural significance in the civil rights movement. and the festival.
Evan Miller, Editor-in-Chief
“Jungle cruise”, 3/5 stars
from disney “Jungle Cruise” presents the public with an exciting experience, adventure–completed movie with funny characters. Inspired by the popular Disney theme park attraction of the same name, the film follows two scientists (Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall) who enlist the services of a steamboat captain (Dwayne Johnson) to transport them through the ‘Amazonia in search of a mythical tree. who holds magical healing powers. As the trio continue their quest, they face off against German mercenaries, cursed Spanish conquistadors, and the dangers of the Amazon itself.
One of the greatest strengths of “Jungle Cruise” is the way Blunt and Johnson display a great commitment to their characters and turn them into fun and engaging performances filled with heart. Whitehall, which offers some of the film’s best comedic relief, is a big part of the film. The chemistry shared between him, Johnson, and Blunt makes their camaraderie natural as the film unfolds. Sadly, aside from one major case, the villains of the film never make audiences fear whether their heroes will come out unscathed or not.
While “Jungle Cruise” is an adventure that all age groups can enjoy, it doesn’t quite hit the mark, especially when it comes to its antagonists. Either way, it does its eponymous theme park justice by giving the public a fun ride.