Rapid-Fire Reviews: Summer Movie Season So Far

Skipping beyond my usual excuses and apologies, I finally felt invigorated and inspired to write a little something about all of the movies I’ve seen lately. There was quite the lull for me in movie-going until recently, and by the time I was seeing a different new release every weekend, I couldn’t keep up!

First, I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. I thought it was enjoyable, perhaps even more so than the first film. But, like the first film, I found it forgettable– and I’m not just saying that because it’s been a while since I actually saw it. I also could have done without the romantic subplot that felt forced and awkward and rushed between Black Widow and Hulk; no complaints about Black Widow’s feminism, such as those that many other people seemed to have with the storyline, it simply didn’t feel natural and wasn’t given enough time to seem anything but hokey. I did love James Spader as Ultron’s voice– sassy and sarcastic and hilarious, albeit a little thin on motivation (a common problem, I think, for Marvel villains in the cinematic universe, anyway– but I will say Ultron and Iron Man have the ultimate Frankenstein story going on, filled with creator-god and creation-scorned angst). Dir: Joss Whedon

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Then, I saw Pitch Perfect 2. I did not stop laughing basically for the duration of the film. I was in pain, not kidding and not ashamed to say it. The musical numbers were greater in quantity and scale, the stakes higher but the plot simplistic and underdeveloped but it doesn’t matter– you get the point, you move on to the next song, you get a couple of one-liners in there, and you forget that movies ever have scenes with just dialogue in them. I loved the feminism of this film, with the Barden Bellas really looking to each other and seeking solace in their friendship as they face whatever is to come post-grad. But, mainly, this film is just a ton of fun, from Fat Amy’s solo to the hilariously stereotypical German team Das Sound Machine; I don’t know if I liked it better than the first, but I will say that with an audience full of hysterically-laughing people of all ages, I’ll need to see it again anyway to catch some lines I missed. Dir: Elizabeth Banks

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Speaking of feminism once again and once and for all, really, there’s Mad Max Fury Road. What can I even say about this modern action/sci-fi masterpiece? Charlize Theron’s Furiosa is a force to be reckoned with, a quietly intense badass saving a bunch of girls who’ve been sexually used and who just couldn’t take it anymore (and for the most part, they end up proving pretty badass themselves on their road to freedom). Sure, maybe some men’s rights activists thought it was feminist propaganda but if anything, that only made us feminists even more eager to see the film. Beyond this, it’s simply stunning to behold, especially in 3D. The film is really just one beautifully composed chase scene; it is intricate and unrelenting in its fierceness. It’s smart and singularly fantastic, like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Dir: George Miller

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And, lastly, Ex Machina, a smaller sci-fi release with almost equally impeccable reviews from critics. This film exceeded my fairly neutral expectations. Oscar Isaac is a brilliant and fascinating actor, playing a character who is somehow intriguing and repulsive thanks to his intense and dynamic performance (that strange, almost disturbing dance scene cannot be unseen)– he’s a tech genius billionaire who created a massive internet enterprise, think Google or Facebook a few years from now, and who has now secretly created an artificial intelligence who is beautiful and increasinly manipulative. Cue Domhnall Gleeson, the young programmer meant to test her human qualities. The script unravels like a tightly would coil slowly and carefully coming undone, and there is a sense of dread that mounts, thanks to the setting’s inherent claustrophobia and the deliberate pace of the action. I loved it. Dir: Alex Garland

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This has been your redhead rapid fire review session for the month of June, ladies and gentlemen! Thanks for reading and for being willing to go with the flow as I slowly but surely change up how, how often, when and what I write on here.