What a weekend we have ahead of us. This weekend is the best kind of grab-bag, with each subsequent entry in this week’s list bearing little similarity to the last. We’ve got a mini-Barbenheimer here with “Saw X” and the new “PAW Patrol” movie. It’s called, you guessed it, “SAW Patrol.” We also have a somewhat low-budget sci-fi blockbuster from the director of an acclaimed “Star Wars” movie, a must-see New York indie, and one of the greatest boxing matches we’ve seen in years.
“The Creator” (In Theaters)
There’s something kind of special about “The Creator” – it’s an $80 million sci-fi movie that isn’t based on anything. There aren’t any comics, movies, books, or cinematic universes to worry about. The studio is even marketing it as an “Original Motion Picture Event,” which is pretty crazy if you think about it.
The film stars John David Washington as Joshua, a soldier who is tasked with finding and delivering a weapon to the US military that could end a decades-long war between AI robots and the humans that created them. Unfortunately for him, the weapon is a life-like robot that looks like a really adorable little kid. Naturally, his hands are a bit tied.
Even if movies like “The Creator” aren’t your thing, movies like this could mean a resurgence of original storytelling. It’s getting difficult to track all of these massive universes across every artistic medium with hundreds of characters to keep track of. Movies are supposed to be fun, not homework. If “The Creator” does end up being successful, it could be a much-needed reminder that most people just want to go sit down in a movie theater and watch something fun. If not, theaters might want to start thinking about handing out timelines and character maps at the door.
“Dumb Money” (In Theaters)
After playing for a couple of weeks in just a handful of theaters, “Dumb Money” is finally making its wide release debut this weekend. The film tells the story of the GameStop stock revolution with an ensemble cast of characters, including the Wall Street analyst who made it all possible. “Dumb Money” is the latest film from director Craig Gillespie, who’s been spending the last few years making dramatic retellings of recent pop culture history with projects like “I, Tonya” and “Pam & Tommy.”
What makes “Dumb Money” especially interesting is that it literally just happened. The film is set during the middle of the pandemic and much of what happens during the movie will, at the very least, provoke an, “Oh yeah, I remember that,” from just about everyone in the audience. For those who followed the story a bit more closely, “Dumb Money” does the story justice on more than a surface level, humanizing many of those who made (and lost) their fortunes within the span of just a few months.
“Saw X” (In Theaters)
Ten entries deep, you either like “Saw” movies or you don’t. But there’s a reason why they’ve endured for nearly 20 years. The lore, the mythology, the timelines, the traps. The creative – and possibly sick and twisted – minds behind this long-running franchise just refuse to quit. There will always be another way to dismember a human body. There will always be another layer of story of which we are unaware. However, this latest installment is unique in the fact that it’s resonating with more than the diehard fans.
The new film is…well, it’s not a prequel because it takes place after “Saw” but before Saw II. It’s not really a reboot, a sequel, a requel, or a reimagining. It’s more of a chapter? An addendum, perhaps? Regardless, it’s pretty clear that everyone here wanted something like a fresh start, or at least some distance from all the convoluted twists and twistaroos that end each film. Instead, it looks like “Saw X” will be more of a celebration of Tobin Bell, the franchise mainstay who has portrayed John “Jigsaw” Kramer in many of the films.
The story, like we said, goes back to “Saw” and “Saw II,” where John is still suffering from terminal cancer. In a last ditch effort to find a cure, John travels to an experimental hospital in Mexico to undergo treatment but, upon learning that he’s been scammed by a team of medical frauds, decides to teach them a lesson instead. Bell’s performance as Jigsaw always served as the glue holding the franchise together, but Saw X puts him front-and-center, giving him the starring role he’s been preparing to play for the last two decades.
Story Ave (In Theaters)
Up next we have a homegrown New York indie about a talented, high school graffiti artist torn between a life of crime and a life of art after he unsuccessfully attempts to rob an MTA employee who ends up becoming a mentor. There’s nothing quite like a born-and-bred New York film, many of them from hungry new directors looking to make a name for themselves. Movies like “Story Ave” are a great way to identify exciting, up-and-coming talent. Plus, it co-stars Luis Guzmán in what looks like one of the best roles of his career, which is really saying something because that guy is in “everything.”
“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” (In Theaters)
Alright, well. It’s the second “PAW Patrol.”Unless you have children under five or are part of an online movie meme group, there’s really no reason for you to see this. This new movie takes an “Air Buddies” approach, giving the entire PAW Patrol crew superpowers and having them duke it out with two supervillains who also have powers. You know the drill.
“Canelo vs. Charlo “(Pay-Per-View)
We’ve never done this before, but we couldn’t end this article without at least mentioning the Canelo vs. Charlo fight this weekend. Unfortunately, the storms over here in New York might make it a bit difficult to spend the entire weekend at the movies, but the most cinematic thing out this weekend might actually not be a movie at all. Instead, it’s a middleweight championship bout against two of the greatest boxers in the world – Mexico’s own Canelo Álvarez and American fighter Jermell Charlo. Both are undisputed champions in their respective middleweight divisions.
If you’re not into fighting, this is why this is such a big deal. Since 2004, boxers have been fighting in what’s known as the “four-belt era.” Long story short, this means there are four governing bodies that decide on fights, giving every fighter an opportunity to hold four different belts within the same weight class, simultaneously. So, with Canelo being a super middleweight and Charlo being a junior middleweight, one of these fighters will walk away with an additional belt. And for two undisputed champions, this is as close to life-and-death as it gets.
Long story even shorter, this is a Tyson vs. Holyfield level fight. It will most likely go down as one of the greatest fights of all-time, something that transcends boxing to become part of sports history.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.