Film junkies highly anticipated the summer of 2022. Here is a closer look at five of the greatest new releases. 

Elvis

The movie Elvis adds a modern flair to the story of Elvis Presley by incorporating loud CGI visuals and new pop music, like Doja Cat’s song “Vegas.” I really enjoyed this film; the cinematography was engaging and the progression of Elvis’s life was interesting to watch. However, I wish the movie had more discussion on Elvis’s controversies, like his relationship with Priscilla Presley and his appropriation of African American music. All in all, the flashy visuals, Austin Butler’s charismatic performance as Elvis, and Tom Hanks’ vileness as the Colonel makes Elvis a must-see.

Movie rating: ★★★★✬ (4 ½ stars)

Thor: Love and Thunder

It was a big summer for Marvel fans. Thor: Love and Thunder is the fourth Marvel movie that features the hunky God of Thunder. This movie brings back some of the hard rock from the 80s, featuring multiple songs by Guns N’ Roses. While Thor: Love and Thunder had some amazing visuals and clever one-liners, I found the plot too predictable and the emotional impact fell short when compared to other Marvel films such as Infinity War and Endgame. Thor is an entertaining watch but not remarkable. 

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 stars) 

Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick was arguably the most anticipated movie of the year. The original Top Gun was a huge blockbuster hit back in 1986, so naturally lots of people had high expectations for the new film. Tom Cruise returned as Maverick, teaming up with Rooster, played by Miles Teller. People were worried that Tom Cruise would not live up to the high expectations set for the movie due to his age and some recent box office failures, such as The Mummy (2017), but the final product pulled in fans from all ages. From teen boys obsessed with planes to middle-aged moms who swoon over Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick intrigued people across the board. I thought this movie was well-produced and it lived up to my expectation: the film included some stunning footage of live fighter jets that the original lacked. The story was meaningful and paid homage to the original, even including the Top Gun anthem “Danger Zone” by Kenny Logins.

Movie Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars) 

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Minions: The Rise of Gru was the fifth movie in the Despicable Me franchise. Young kids were excited to see the funny yellow minions on screen again and I loved the movie due to my own childhood nostalgia as well as the “memability” of the movie. In fact, TikTok trends quickly emerged following the release of Minions. For example, many teens dressed in suits to see the movie in theaters and tried to sneak in as many bananas as possible, in reference to the minions’ love of bananas. This movie was really cute to watch, although it was not as good as its predecessors, lacking the emotional complexity in the original Despicable Me movies.

Movie Rating: ★★✬☆☆ (2 ½ stars)

Honorable Mention: Stranger Things Season Four

Although not a film, Stranger Things earns an honorable mention on this list because it is one of the biggest shows on Netflix. I had to include Season Four due to its explosive impact on viewers this summer. The new season tied up loose ends from previous seasons with some intriguing backstory and brought back the Dungeons and Dragons theme that was a staple in the first two seasons. Writers Matt and Ross Duffer highlighted the Satanic panic of the 80s this season, which added an extra layer of tension for the D&D-loving main characters. Season Four introduced interesting new characters and villains. The new villain in particular, Vecna, made some waves on the internet by sparking some hilarious memes on Instagram and Tik Tok. The soundtrack was also steller. Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” the featured song on the soundtrack, skyrocketed to number one on top music charts 37 years after Bush first released the song due to Stranger Things’ worldwide popularity. The age jump of the characters worked really well, allowing for more mature themes of trauma and depression. The ending of this season left me in complete shock and I am thoroughly anticipating Season Five.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars) 

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