It’s time for Friday Flicks, Patrick Beatty, Film Critic came by again to review the newest movies and even a new hit TV show! The great news is that you can even watch them from the comfort of your own home!
‘In The Heights’ (PG-13)
In Theaters and HBO Max June 11th
Directed By: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace
Genre: Drama, Musical
Synopsis: The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop. The likable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines, and sings about a better life.
‘In The Heights is the new musical from the great Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Jon M. Chu. This is the story of Washington Heights, a community in New York full of love, heritage, music, and life. Every person has a dream, and this musical aims to showcase each of their stories with incredible dancing, singing, and representation that makes this the standout film of the summer!
When I was growing up in St. George, I would often be backstage of a musical I was in, listening to songs from the original Broadway show created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. From that time to now, the whole world has gotten the unique and genius style of musical storytelling Miranda has shown with his follow-up smash hit ‘Hamilton’. When it was revealed ‘In The Heights’ would be getting the film treatment before ‘Hamilton’ I was skeptical that it would be as timely or impactful as it could be, but I am happy to report I was so wrong.
Anthony Ramos, who also played the lead character ‘Usnavi’ in the Broadway version, is trying to get back to his home to start his family’s business. He owns the local bodega and we are introduced to our cast through a surreal and upbeat opening number as ‘Usnavi’ serves each character at his store. The choreography in the songs matches the beat of the music right down to the smallest details like a broom sweeping, or a door opening and closing. No doubt the dancing will be one of the biggest standouts for people watching this.
The music is addicting, hip-shaking, and will be on everyone’s Spotify playlists this year. This movie has a feeling of family and community that everyone desperately needs to feel now. I loved the characters and how each of their stories was unique but all have the same theme of fighting for a dream. You will fall in love and be heartbroken in one song that is felt more than heard in a very impactful way. The ending of the movie does feel a bit baggy, where there are a lot of wrap-up moments that could’ve been condensed more.
If you haven’t seen a movie this year because you’ve not felt any have merited a visit to your local Megaplex, now is the time to go. ‘In The Heights’ is a film enhanced by a crowd and a communal experience because its themes of community and togetherness are so strong. The music will have you shaking your hips in your seat, and maybe for a couple of hours, you can escape into this beautiful world and come out learning something and emotionally filled.
‘Loki’ (First 2 Episodes)
On Disney + June 9th
Directed By: Kate Herron
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero
Synopsis: A new Marvel chapter with Loki at its center.
‘Loki’ is the newest Disney+ series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This ‘Loki’ is the one we saw in`Avengers: Endgame” taking the tesseract and vanishing. ‘Loki’ is now in the hands of the TVA, or Time-Variant Agency. Loki taking the tesseract altered the timeline of the universe, and now he will have to partner with Owen Wilson’s character to undo the ever-expanding multiverse before it’s too late.
Tom Hiddleston again is chewing up every scene in this show. I love the character of Loki and after watching the first 2 episodes I am very excited for how this show plans to utilize his mischievous ways. The tone feels like a detective mystery with time-traveling elements. Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston have great chemistry and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the cast appearing in the show.
The show is very sci-fi and even has a bit of Stanley Kubrick flare to it. The story presents more of a challenge to understand for someone not familiar with the MCU but is incredibly exciting once everything gets explained in the first episode. Overall this is Loki being his best Loki and if you haven’t been watching these Marvel Disney+ shows thinking they don’t have any significance to the films, trust me, you need to get on this show ASAP.
In Theaters June 9th on Paramount +
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson
Genre: Action, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Synopsis: A man discovers that his hallucinations are visions from past lives.
‘Infinite’ is the new film going on Paramount + and stars Mark Wahlberg as Evan, a man with diagnosed schizophrenia who discovers the visions he has are of his past lives. Now, he has to prevent the end of the world by a friend (Chiwetel Ejiofor) from his past lives turned evil, but will Evan remember enough of his past to save the world in time? This film starts as an interesting concept but falls on its face with dated characters and a seemingly uninterested lead that may be aware of the absurdity of what the films trying to accomplish.
To be honest, aside from ‘Southpaw’, I’ve not seen much of director Antoine Fuqua’s work. Training Day is next on my list. The film has a lot of action, explosions, and guns. If you want to turn your brain off to enjoy that alone you may end up liking this more than I did. There is a lot of fun Sci-Fi concepts and world-building that I liked too, this isn’t a world that I would be opposed to returning to had they nailed this first film. But in the end, what makes me recoil from recommending it is because it not only couldn’t stick the landing but in casting Mark Wahlberg sent a very clear and outdated message that Hollywood needs to move on from.
Evan’s previous lives were that of Samurai Warriors, Native Americans, and other races that he has to remember as the film progresses. To the film, this allows Mark Wahlberg to still be the lead actor while making it harmless for him to appropriate things like samurai sword-making and fighting, and not casting a lead actor of that specific ethnicity. To me, this has similar themes of when people condemned Scarlett Johansen for (Insert Film Here), Matt Damon starring in ‘The Great Wall’ or recent ‘Cruella’ star Emma Stones portrayal of an Asian-American character named ‘Allison NG’.
The point I think I’m trying to make is we can do better than what ‘Infinite’ is. The concept and story work just fine and I think if given to the right lead could have been very entertaining. The other issue is that Wahlberg just doesn’t seem to care about his performance here. It reminded me of his performance in ‘The Happening’, or any film Bruce Willis has done in the past 5 years, his heart just wasn’t in it.
Overall, ‘Infinite’ is a big whoosh that is more disappointing by the wasted potential it had. There is still some impressive fighting and action, but if you also see the issues I do it will likely leave you will a bad taste in your mouth rather than a fun dumb action sci-fi film.