- Universal Pictures, Amazon Studios and Hulu
- Cinematic Spillover is back with bite-sized reviews of new releases.
We’re back with Cinematic Spillover — a run-through of as many of the new movies hitting theaters and streaming platforms we can watch and review each week. At the start of July, we have four new films — the horror sequel The Forever Purge, music documentary Summer of Soul, sci-fi action flick The Tomorrow War and road-trip-turn-dark-comedy Zola. We also look back a couple of weeks to give a short review of one of the best films of the year thus far: the musical In the Heights from Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Forever Purge
The fifth and final installment of The Purge horror franchise might end up being the best of the bunch, but that’s not saying much unless you are a true fan of the dystopian film series. The newest sequel takes viewers to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas where a group of marauders decide that the Purge, an annual 12-hour event where all crime is deemed legal, just isn’t sufficient enough time for mass murder. So, they call for a Purge that never ends. At the center of the narrative are two undocumented immigrants, Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta), trying to cross into Mexico to escape the killers hunting them down. Directed by Mexican filmmaker Everardo Gout (TV’s Mars), The Forever Purge is thought provoking at times when it confronts some social issues, but, like its predecessors, the ugliness of the narrative eclipses much of the film’s messaging. What’s left is another blood-soaked thriller that is far less clever than it thinks it is. The Forever Purge is currently playing at theaters. 2.5 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
Summer of Soul
In the opening scene of Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson’s documentary Summer of Soul, audiences get a glimpse of iconic musician Stevie Wonder sitting on stage behind a drum set banging out a percussion solo. From that moment, it’s impossible not to be hooked. Summer of Soul is a collection of never-before-seen footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a six-week-long concert that took place at Mount Morris Park in Harlem and featured musicians like Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Sly and the Family Stone, among others. The footage that Questlove has unearthed from someone’s basement to create this documentary is awe-inspiring and remarkable. Knowing these performances have never seen the light of day until now makes you feel like you're somehow part of this groundbreaking history. Summer of Soul is currently playing at theaters and streaming on Hulu. 4 out of 5 stars (highly recommended)
The Tomorrow War
The sci-fi flick The Tomorrow War might have a few exciting scenes for its star Chris Pratt (Jurassic World) to show off the reason he’s been the go-to action star in Hollywood in recent years, but screenwriter Zach Dean (Deadfall) doesn’t push any limits. By the final act, it feels like a generic attempt at recreating something like the underappreciated 2014 sci-fi movie Edge of Tomorrow. Unfortunately, Dean and director Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) aren’t equipped with the best storytelling devices to make something as silly as this work. Pratt plays a high school teacher who is drafted into the military to time travel to the future and fight off an alien race that will ultimately destroy the planet. Pratt holds his own, but The Tomorrow War gets zero points for originality. The Tomorrow War is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. 2.5 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
In the Heights
Let’s add actor Anthony Ramos (Hamilton) and supporting actress Olga Merediz (The Place Beyond the Pines) to the short list of performers who should be receiving an Oscar nomination at the end of the year. Both are incredible in their roles. Ramos plays Usnavi, a bodega owner who dreams of going home to the Dominican Republic. Merediz plays Abuela Claudia, the Cuban matriarch of the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan. Directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) and written by playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the original book, In the Heights is a joyful celebration of culture and family that is creative, spirited and sincere. Plus, with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s memorable soundtrack and some magnificent choreography throughout, it’ll be hard not to keep this one playing on a loop. In the Heights is currently playing at theaters and streaming on HBO Max. 4 out of 5 stars (highly recommended)
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