In case you missed it: Five summer films worth your time


Image via Skydance Media Press Kit

Tom Cruise plays Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

By Jacob Mraz, Staff Writer

Since “Jaws” debuted in 1975 and created the archetype for modern blockbusters, people rush to the theater when the weather’s hot to see something spectacular. 

Summer 2022 saw releases from franchises like Jurassic World and Marvel, as well as new features from acclaimed directors like Baz Luhrmann and Jordan Peele 一 each surrounded with their own hype and expectations. This list combs through the mediocre and showcases those that exceeded, or at the very least met their expectations and provided a thoroughly entertaining experience. 

Another summer gone, another string of movies you forgot to see 一 here are a few worth the rewind. 

  1. “Top Gun: Maverick”

Maybe not a summer release in a technical sense, “Top Gun: Maverick” exemplifies everything one could want from a summer blockbuster — exciting visuals, stellar sets and breakneck action. 

After 36 years, Tom Cruise returns to the big screen as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, now a test pilot for the U.S. Navy on an experimental project named “Darkstar” — an SR-71-like aircraft designed to reach Mach 10.

The film opens beautifully, with Maverick repairing his own P-51 Mustang in a private hanger. But Maverick’s peace evaporates when one of his men informs him that Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer”’ Cain (Ed Harris) is on his way to shut their program down. Maverick rushes from his hanger atop a sleek Kawasaki Ninja H2 and blazes down the runway toward base to keep the project alive. But Maverick fails in his mission and receives a demotion to a teaching position. His first assignment is to prepare an elite group of pilots for a near-impossible bombing mission with a time frame of three weeks. 

Though the film takes little risks with its formulaic approach to integrating Maverick with his new team, viewers will be anything but disappointed with the spectacle on screen. Those who haven’t seen the original need not worry as “Top Gun: Maverick” takes time to explain the events of the previous movie sufficiently. 

  1. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” 

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie that feels like a warm hug? That movie exists, and its name is “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”

The A24 film is a mockumentary, following the life and rise to fame of Marcel, voiced by Jenny Slate. For those unaware, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” was originally an award-winning animated short made in 2010. This is a continuation and further exploration of that story. 

The film opens with Dean Fleischer Camp, a documentary filmmaker and real-life director of the original short, who has recently gone through a divorce and moved into an Airbnb in Los Angeles. He quickly discovers Marcel, a talking shell, and his grandmother, Nannie Connie, voiced by Isabella Rossellini, living inside. Dean decides to follow Marcel around and record his day-to-day activities. What follows are humorous shots of Marcel confused by documentary filmmaking or explaining how he completes certain activities, such as climbing the wall using honey on his shoes. Marcel later explains to Dean that he once had a much larger family but after the separation of his owners, Larissa and Mark, they disappeared. Dean and Marcel then decide to use videos on the internet to help find Marcel’s family. 

Though an unconventional movie, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” will make you smile and probably cry. 

  1. “Nope”

After the lukewarm reception of “Us” in 2019, many people wondered how the acclaimed director of “Get Out” would move forward. While Jordan Peele may admittedly never top his first release, “Nope” is a film absolutely worth the watch. 

Set in the deserts of Los Angeles County, California, “Nope” focuses on the Haywoods, a family of horse farmers and animal handlers for the film industry. Otis Haywood Sr. (Michael Wincott) runs the ranch with his children Otis “OJ” Haywood Jr. (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer). But when a nickel inexplicably falls from the sky and kills Otis Sr., OJ and Em quickly find themselves in charge of the business. 

Without the charisma of his father, OJ struggles to keep work sufficient with the demands of the ranch and sells horses one by one to a nearby Western-themed amusement park for money — on the condition that he can buy the horses back. One evening, while out tending the horses, OJ notices a strange light in the distance which rushes past and into the clouds faster than anything human. As it flies overhead, the power goes out in the house, and Em, dancing to a record inside, looks out the window at the commotion. The horse in OJ’s grasp lashes and flails about, rushing off into the darkness and disappearing forever. OJ and Em, prodded by the idea that what they saw was a UFO, begin their investigation into the dark and horrifying unknown.  

What follows is a heart-pounding treat for the eyes and an intriguing exploration of exploitation in film. 

  1. “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

The second A24 release on this list is an instant cult classic black comedy slasher film. 

Director Halina Reijn’s film “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is a fever dream of a “whodunnit” rife with satire, dripping with dark humor and sleek visuals. The film is like a modern-day Agatha Christie novel and features a party game similar to Murder In the Dark called Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, which gives the film its title. But the game quickly becomes reality when one of the players winds up dead and the group scrambles to find the killer. “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” is a mystery like Christie’s “And Then There Were None” paired with scathing criticisms of Generation Z and children born in the age of the internet . 

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is an excellent addition to the slasher genre and pairs excellently with classics like “Friday the 13th” or “Halloween.” It is the perfect film to watch in the dark with your friends — just keep a close eye on them. 

  1. “Barbarian”

In this surprisingly good horror flick, Zach Cregger of “The Whitest Kids You Know” dons the director’s cap and combines horror and comedy in grotesque and jaw-dropping ways. 

Set in Detroit, “Barbarian” opens with Tess Marshall (Georgina Alice Campbell) trying to get into her Airbnb. The night is dark and foreboding as rain falls hard on Tess when she discovers the key to the door is missing. Frustrated, she bangs on the door to discover a light switch flick on. A man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) groggily opens the door to ask what she wants. The two then realize the property management double-booked the Airbnb. Keith then offers Tess to come inside for the night so they can figure out what to do in the morning. Tess reluctantly agrees and spends the night. But Tess soon finds that something sinister lingers in the house and more is wrong with the neighborhood than the vacant, hollowed out buildings. Deep in the basement, they discover a shocking truth and a twist the audience will never see coming. 

“Barbarian” is a film best watched without much background to reference. The synopsis is intentionally vague for this reason. Even a trailer could skew the idea of what the film is supposed to be — a frightening but at times hilarious horror film which plays with conventional tropes to keep the audience on its toes. Those who take the cold plunge will find it more than satisfactory and perhaps find new appreciation for the genre of horror.