This March acted as an early summer with five anticipated blockbuster films crammed into just one month. With movie prices skyrocketing and reboots galore, it’s becoming more difficult than ever to decide where to invest your money. That begs the question: what should you see?
By giving a studio your ticket sale, you’re giving up more than your time and money, you’re also giving your support. Studios practicing whitewashing and promising representation that fails to deliver ought to be more courteous to the fans who are expected to pay that support. While some studios are delivering a refreshing change of representation, others stick to those unfulfilling practices.
5) ‘Ghost in the Shell’
Based on the 1995 anime and hit manga series, the film depicts Scarlet Johansson as Major, the cyber-enhanced super soldier who must stop a terrorist organization from controlling and hacking minds. In her pursuit, Major discovers her dark past and vows to seek revenge on those who wronged her. The story itself has promise and was well-directed with top notch visual effects yet even Johansson couldn’t save the film from its overarching whitewashing. Major’s real name is Motoko Kusanagi and when she visits her mother, she’s played by actress Kaori Momoi providing a real gut punch of Asian erasure. With the film earning far less than expected, I hope Hollywood sees the effects of whitewashing and will instead aim for authentic representation.
4) ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Three words: exclusively gay moment. I was apprehensive over this early announcement from Disney and realistically didn’t expect much from the “moment.” However, when I actually saw the movie, I was irritated. The moment is literally a split second of Le Fou in the arms of another man after being demeaned by Gaston for almost two hours. What I’m sure Disney thought as a revolutionary moment, I found minimal and even offensive. Le Fou fawns for the overly masculine Gaston (even gets bitten by him) and this small moment was supposed to be a victory for The Fool’s humiliation? No, Disney, no. If you’re going make a big deal over your first openly queer character, I’d have recommended someone far different than The Fool. Instead of the breakout representation intended, I was left with the sour taste of a homophobic cliché. Lastly, Audra McDonald’s line (where she told Le Fou that he was too good for Gaston) felt far more victorious that the “exclusively gay moment.”
All in all, the casting was great (though I was a bit underwhelmed by Watson and Stevens — who can and have done better *cough, Legion, cough*) but the live-action animation couldn’t quite capture the emotions of their original animated counterparts. However, “Be Our Guest” was an extravagant and beautiful experience. My hat’s off to you, Ewan McGregor.
I’m disappointed that Beauty and the Beast is the highest-grossing film on this list as I found the tale as stale and old as time.
3) Kong: Skull Island
I’ll admit, I didn’t have the highest hopes for Kong: Skull Island (with Peter Jackson’s absurdly long King Kong still lingering in my mind) but knew I had to see it to prepare for 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong. Boasting an impressive cast of Academy Award winner Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Riley, and Tom Hiddleston, Kong: Skull Island demolishes any negative notions almost immediately with truly awesome performances. The visually exhilarating experience straps the viewer in for a non-stop thrill ride previously exclusive to summer blockbusters.
Be sure to stick around for the post-credit scene for this one!
2) Power Rangers
Casting. Done. Right.
Being a ’90s kid who dreamt of being a Power Ranger, it’s hard not to be biased with this one but objectively speaking, Power Rangers is one of the most satisfying reboots I’ve ever seen. With an incredibly inclusive cast, Power Rangers captures the heart and values of the original series while incorporating original material that seamlessly fits the film.
The original series encompasses the values of diversity, friendship, and teamwork above all in the never-ending battle between good and evil. It’s here that Power Rangers soars new heights for the superhero genre. RJ Cyler (Billy the Blue Ranger), Becky G (Trini the Yellow Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberly the Pink Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack the Black Ranger), and Dacre Montgomery (Jason the Red Ranger) embody those values and teach their audience the importance of authenticity and cooperation. Even more impressive, Billy is the first autistic superhero and Trini is the first openly gay superhero. While also advertised ahead of time, unlike Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers delivers its promised representation by showing the struggles of these characters and embracing them as no different than the other rangers. A true victory in representation as Billy becomes the central hero of the story rather than the leader, Jason. It’s also worth noting that 4/5 of the rangers are heroes of color which is unheard of in any other current superhero series.
The Rangers themselves have also been altered to fit modern times and build off their original tropes making for more of a Breakfast Club gets superpowers mash-up rather than an unnecessary reboot. With Bryan Cranston (Zordon), Elizabeth Banks (Rita Repulsa) and Bill Hader (Alpha 5), the film begins a fresh new franchise of inclusivity and cooperation that lifts its audience’s spirits in a dark time of divisiveness.
Stick around post-credits for this one as well for a green treat!
Who would’ve thought that subverting the overused superhero formula would result in something completely innovative and unique? That would be director James Mangold who brought us the cinematic, bloody, and necessary end of Hugh Jackman’s Logan in a two hour heart-stopping adrenaline rush.
Dafne Keen deserves all the awards in her jaw-dropping performance as X-23 alongside screen legend Patrick Stewart in his final performance as Charles Xavier. I can’t say more about the plot without giving away crucial details but I will say, with its X-Men roots and staggering social commentary, Logan effortlessly slashes its way to the #1 spot of this list.