The Film Fix: Previewing May’s Top Films in Theaters, Streaming

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By JONATHAN W. HICKMAN, Special to The Paper

Below are reviews and capsules of various films this month in theaters and/or streaming. Review rating … A “Fix” is recommended with a rating between 6 and 10. A “No Fix” is not recommended with a rating between 1 to 5.

In Theaters

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5) – Fix Rating 8/10 – After seeing a franchise low with the lackluster “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” that limped just over $200 million domestically earlier this year, Marvel Studios is in desperate need of a bonafide hit. And the ensemble “Guardians” series has been a dependable property, with the 2017 sequel managing to enchant viewers with comic action thrills. Director James Gunn, who now makes his home helming the DC universe, infuses “Vol. 3” with the goofy comradery that’s made the previous movies so entertaining.  

There might not be a dry eye in the house as the story focuses primarily on instantly endearing Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the cocky raccoon with an attitude who can make and repair almost any machine. When he’s mortally injured and dying, the other Guardians span the heavens to save him. This quest leads them to a megalomaniac named The High Evolutionary (a fantastic Chukwudi Iwuji), the man responsible for Rocket’s mutated existence.

This sweetly sentimental film is immensely entertaining as Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Kiementieff), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), even Gamora (Zoe Saldana) crisscross the universe to help a member of their extended family. Will “Vol. 3” save the MCU? Let’s say that it’s a step in the right direction.

Sisu (now playing) — Fix Rating 7/10 — Writer/Director Jalmari Helander (see 2010’s Christmas/Santa Claus-themed “Rare Exports”) and his team know how to make a genre action picture. The WWII set “Sisu” is another hugely entertaining example of Helander’s work. This guy would be right at home helming a “John Wick” spin-off. 

We’re told that the Finnish word Sisu has no literal translation, but it refers to “a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination in the face of overwhelming odds.”  And in Helander’s film, several men possess it, even the bloodthirsty Nazis.

This import from Finland has Nazi soldiers in the waning days of WWII running afoul of a lonely gold prospector. Of course, that prospector, Aatami (Jorma Tommila), isn’t who he appears to be. Much blood is spilled as Aatami works through the German ranks with everything from his trusty pickaxe to an array of guns.

Evil Dead Rise (now playing) — No Fix Rating 5/10 – “Evil Dead Rise” is an unpleasant film. While this is by design, the morbid elements dominate, making it a tough movie to recommend even to franchise fans.

In this “Dead” installment, the action occurs in Los Angeles, where an evil supernatural force visits a family. When the evil possesses a poor soul, they become an entity known as a “Deadite.”

There’s little joy associated with the possessions we witness in “Evil Dead Rise.”  Part of the problem is that despite actress Lily Sullivan’s heroic turn as Beth, even with the franchise’s signature shotgun and a chainsaw, she isn’t given any of the vicious wit Bruce Campbell (the star of the first three “Dead” entries) capably commanded. Everything is handled with deadly seriousness resulting in another sad and ugly horror movie about a family torn apart in the most unimaginable way possible.

In “Evil Dead Rise,” Beth is emotionally tortured with no levity to relieve all the horrible silliness around her. And make no mistake, the stupidity of the Deadite possessions is so absurd that a bit of humor is essential. Sadly, that necessary ingredient is absent.

Streaming Selects

PARAMOUNT+

The Family Stallone (Season 1 starts on May 17) — Sylvester Stallone and his attractive family open up in a reality series. This show appears to feature a celebrity family’s “unscripted” day-to-day life. Some big names drop in, as Dolph Lundgren and Al Pacino appear in the trailer. Can they be the next Kardashians?

HBO MAX

The Other Two (Season 3 starts on May 4) – This show is a funny reality parody about two siblings, Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke), who inanely try to find their footing in shark-infested celebrity waters. And their little brother, Chase (Case Walker), has become a big internet sensation. This loopy series makes a good time waster and features a deep comedic cast, including Molly Shannon and Wanda Sykes. 

NETFLIX

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (series premiere May 4) – This “Bridgerton” spin-off follows the life and rise of a young Queen Charlotte (India Amarteifio). The popular “Bridgerton” universe, from super-producer Shonda Rhimes, captured youthful imagination in 2020 and has shown little sign of diminishing. It’s a historical romance blending sexual orientations and racial identities and mixing in modern pop music unusually.  

APPLE TV+

Platonic (series premiere May 24 – The team behind the “Neighbors” movies reunites to give us this new romantic comedy that holds back the romance.  Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play childhood friends that reconnect as adults. But instead of falling madly in love, they decide to be besties. Rogen is a bachelor who owns a microbrewery, and Byrne is a mother of three. Will their platonic friendship last? I’m not counting on it.  

DISNEY+

Crater (May 12) – When a boy loses his father, he leaves the safety of a lunar mining colony to explore a legendary crater. He takes four of his best friends with him. This science-fiction fantasy (set in the year 2257) looks like great fun. 

AMAZON PRIME

Primo (series premiere May 19) – Watch this on Prime’s free channel. “Primo” comes from the producers of “Parks & Recreation” and “The Good Place.” The San Antonio set coming-of-age story tracks a teen coping with his varied, busy family while also balancing his social life with college right around the corner. It’s based on the life of bestselling author Shea Serrano.

Theatrical Teasers

Hypnotic (May 12) – Ben Affleck plays a detective investigating an enduring mystery involving his lost daughter. Secret government forces may be using hypnotic mind control in this slick-looking conspiracy thriller. Robert Rodriguez directs from a script he co-wrote.

Fast X (May 19) – The 10th movie in the bombastic, over-the-top, high-octane franchise isn’t the last. “Fast X” is just part one of a two-part grand finale. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family confront a new danger in Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), the son of the drug kingpin Hernan Reyes killed in 2011’s “Fast Five.” 

The Little Mermaid (May 26) – Disney continues to recycle its animated properties in live-action format with a reimagining of their 1989 Oscar winner. In this version, Halle Bailey inhabits the iconic role of Ariel, the young mermaid who makes a deal for legs so that she can explore life on land. Naturally, she falls for a handsome prince who finds her equally irresistible. Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy lead an all-star cast.

Jonathan W. Hickman is an entertainment attorney, filmmaker, college professor, and novelist. More about Jonathan can be found by visiting: filmproductionlaw.com. Folks can also follow him at dailyfilmfix.com.

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