2021 Summer Movie Awards

After a summer blockbuster season at home, audiences were able to return to something closer to normal in 2021 with a mix of digital and theatrical releases.

Great movies were available both at home and the cinema in the last several months and with the season now over, it’s time to look back and give credit to the best of them.

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REVIEW: Poor ending negates potential of ‘Night House’

There are some movies where the execution of an ending can be so integral that it can make or break the feature.

That’s the case with “The Night House,” and not in a good way.

Rebecca Hall plays Beth in this thriller, a high school teacher who recently lost her husband to suicide. Beth is trying to move on from the tragedy, but she continues to reside at the home her husband, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), built on the lake, which leaves her with constant reminders.

Those reminders begin to manifest as visions for Beth, who begins to see frightening things related to her late husband in the midnight hours. Because of what she sees in the night, she begins looking into whether her husband had a secret life or not.

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REVIEW: Compelling and creepy ‘Candyman’ is a success

Sometimes, modern horror sequels to older properties can be massive disappointments, such as 2013’s “Texas Chainsaw.”

Fortunately, that’s not the case with the new “Candyman,” penned by Jordan Peele.

This film serves as a sequel to the original “Candyman” from 1992. This time around, the protagonist is Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist living in Chicago with his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris). Finding himself in artist block territory lately, McCoy decides to visit a northern Chicago housing project for inspiration.

While there, he meets a local named William (Colman Domingo), who tells McCoy the legend of the Candyman spirit. The legend ends up being a spark for McCoy who begins making art based on Candyman. However, his spark of creativity ends up reigniting the old Candyman spirit itself.

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REVIEW: ‘The Protégé’ provides thrills despite plot issues

More action movies with Maggie Q please.

Anna (Q) is the protagonist in “The Protégé,” an elite assassin who works alongside her friend and mentor Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). The two are exceptionally efficient in their work and the film picks up with them successfully completing another mission.

As the film gets underway, Anna begins researching a new job, but soon after finds Moody murdered. With revenge in mind, Anna travels back to her homeland of Vietnam, where there may be some clues as to who killed her mentor. During her journey, she comes across Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), an assassin who works for another involved party.

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REVIEW: Hudson’s stunning performance not enough to fully salvage generic ‘Respect’

Aretha Franklin was a powerful force in music and Civil Rights, and this movie certainly touches on both of those aspects.

One just wishes the quality of the film had been above that of a standard biopic.

“Respect” mainly follows Franklin’s (Jennifer Hudson) childhood and roughly the first 10 to 15 years of her career. The film opens with Franklin losing her mother and the impact the death leaves on her.

From there, it follows how music helped Franklin open up again after her mother’s death. Then, the picture focuses on how Franklin went from a lead singer at her father’s (Forest Whitaker) church to a struggling singer, and then finally breaking through to success.

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REVIEW: ‘Suicide Squad’ succeeds under Gunn’s direction

Considering there was another movie released just a few years earlier, I figured they would have come up with another title to set this “Suicide Squad” apart than just adding a “The.”

But it works for Ohio State, so, maybe it’s fine here.

The Suicide Squad” follows a new group of convicts turned mercenaries working for government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) for a chance of reducing their sentence. This group includes a pair of top tier elite assassins in Peacemaker (John Cena) and Bloodsport (Idris Elba), as well as a human shark hybrid (voice by Sylvester Stallone), a woman who has a device to control rats (Daniela Melchior) and a man who can shoot colorful energy bolts (David Dastmalchian).

Along for the ride with this Suicide Squad team is their government chaperone Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and the infamous Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). This time around, the crew is tasked with taking down the dictator of a remote island who has fallen into control of a dangerous scientific research facility.

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REVIEW: ‘Stillwater’ stalls due to poor narrative choices

Films inspired by a true story often take artistic liberties, which is perfectly fine. They better be well executed, though.

In this case, “Stillwater” was inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, an American woman falsely convicted on the charge of murdering a fellow exchange student in Italy. Abigail Breslin portrays Allison in “Stillwater,” an American woman in France who’s been in prison for four years.

Allison was convicted of murdering her roommate and classmate from a French university, although she maintains her innocence. Also convinced of her innocence is her dad, Bill (Matt Damon). The movie picks up with Bill visiting Allison in jail. During his stay, he learns there might be more evidence to prove her innocence and decides to stay, in case a development happens.

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REVIEW: ‘Green Knight’ is a strong, melancholic medieval feature

As an American, I’m not too versed in legends from the British Isles. Fortunately, the themes presented in “The Green Knight” are universal.

Dev Patel stars in the medieval fantasy as Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur. After accepting a challenge one fateful Christmas, Gawain is set on a path where he must go on a quest and face the mysterious Green Knight.

Gawain sets off on the adventure knowing full well that he may likely perish in the journey. However, with greatness at stake, he continues forward with the quest.

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REVIEW: While flawed, ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ gives audiences a fun experience

The title “Gunpowder Milkshake” makes sense, because like the cold drink, it’s an enjoyable summer treat.

Karen Gillan stars as Sam in “Milkshake,” a young woman who works as an assassin for a mysterious agency known only as The Firm. The agency is helmed by a man named Nathan (Paul Giamatti), who sends Sam out on her assignments.

While her latest mission seems straightforward, though, it turns out to be anything but. Caught in a conflict between two violent faction related to Sam’s assignment is a young girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman). Sam decides to get involved and protect Emily, but it only complicates things as hitmen are sent after her. In response, she looks to get help from her past.

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REVIEW: ‘Snake’ origin film is an eye sore

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” from 2013 threw out nearly 80% of the characters from 2009’s “G.I. Joe: Rise of Corbra.”

This movie, in turn, throws out  all of those films’ lore and a plethora of characters.

Get rid of what you think you know about Snake Eyes from the previous movies, because this is a completely different universe. In this movie, Henry Golding portrays Snake Eyes, a young man who witnessed his dad getting murdered when he was a kid. The film picks up with him fighting in an underground circuit, making just enough money to get by.

That chapter of his life comes to a close as he’s recruited to the Yakuza because of his fighting ability. That doesn’t last long, though, as he’s not cut out for the job and instead finds himself working alongside a man named Tommy (Andrew Koji).

It turns out Tommy is a member of a secret ninja clan known as the Arashikage and he wants Snake to be a new member. However, his loyalty to the clan becomes challenged when he’s offered information about the man who killed his father.

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