Photos: Courtesy of Prime Video / Alejandro Lopez Pineda AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC
This weekend goes out to the Latinos in a major way. Seriously, all five of the movies we’re highlighting this weekend were made by, for, about or in collaboration with at least one notable Latino celebrity. In most cases, though, it’s a lot more. We have a documentary about one of the greatest Mexican guitarists of all time, a biopic about a hugely influential Mexican wrestler, and the fifth installment of what is probably the best Latino-led children’s movie franchise ever. Let’s dive in!
“The Expend4bles” (In Theaters)
For some reason that evades all practicality and logic, there is now a fourth “Expendables” movie. Nearly 10 years after the disastrous third installment, which attempted to bring in a wider audience with a PG-13 rating but actually just alienated the existing fanbase, the titular team is back for (hopefully) one last outing.
It doesn’t really matter what they’re doing at this point. All you need to know is they’re saving the world and trying to look cool doing it. The problem is, Stallone officially looks like an anthropomorphic Madame Tussauds figure and nearly every other castmember has been playing more appealing versions of their characters in this franchise since before the third one came out.
Look, it’s not fair to hate on a movie before you see it. It’s also not fair to hate on a group of people who seem to like working with each other on fun, silly action movies. But going to the movies ain’t as cheap as it used to be and there’s no reason to bank a franchise installment’s success entirely on the good will of its fans.
We try to keep things positive here, in the spirit of discovering new movies you may not have thought to see in the first place. But there’s something about this one that just feels kind of…irresponsible? If you expect people to drop at least $20 on a ticket plus another $78 on concessions, at least show them a good time.
“Casssandro” (Amazon Prime)
Next up, we have what looks like a pretty great biopic that you can watch from the comfort of your own home. Amazon Prime’s “Cassandro” tells the real-life story of Saúl Armendáriz, better known by the luchador alter ego that lends the film its title. Originally, Aremendáriz presented himself as a fairly straightforward luchador before his trainer Sabrina convinced him to embrace his identity both in life and in the ring.
The one and only Gael García Bernal stars in the film with Bad Bunny appearing as his lover, Felipe. The film got a warm reception when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. 2023 seems to have had no shortage of excellent LGBTQ+ stories and “Cassandro” looks like yet another one to add to the list.
“Carlos” (In Select Theaters – Wide Release September 29th)
Carlos Santana is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest guitar players of all time and a documentary comprised of stories told by Santana himself almost seems overdue. Where many celebrity documentaries feel overly-dramatized for the sake of keeping the audience’s attention, “Carlos” has the good sense to just let the man speak for himself with some archival footage to complement his storytelling. If you’re a fan of Santana (or, really, just music in general), this is an unmissable opportunity to learn more about what made him the musician he is today.
Although the resurgence of the murder mystery genre seems to be winding down, there’s still a little bit of gas left in the tank. The latest high-profile Netflix original, “Reptile,” stars the inimitable Benicio Del Toro as one of four detectives working to find the person who killed a local real estate agent. There are four major suspects: her boyfriend, her friend, her ex-husband, and a mysterious stranger whose involvement in the case remains uncertain.
Audiences might be getting a little bit sick of the whodunnit now, six years after “Knives Out” singlehandedly brought the genre back to life, but “Reptile” has one thing all those other movies don’t have – Benicio Del Toro. The guy was built to be on movie screens and every time he shows up in anything, he immediately elevates it just by being there. And that’s good for all of us considering Del Toro hasn’t starred in a movie since 2021.
“Spy Kids: Armageddon” (Netflix)
Robert Rodriguez’s inventive and hilarious “Spy Kids” movies were, love ‘em or hate ‘em, a pretty big deal for the young millennial/elder Gen-Z crop of moviegoers. Rodriguez’s films made kids feel like they could take on the world and helped us all envision a world where we could make full-sized meals out of tiny, microwaveable cubes. Now, a full 12 years after the fourth “Spy Kids” movie, Rodriguez is rebooting the franchise for Netflix with a new cast including Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi.
After the admittedly disappointing fourth film, “Spy Kids: Armageddon” looks like a return to form for the franchise, which always focused heavily on the battle between family values and technological advancements that made it increasingly difficult for families to connect. That idea has only grown more relevant over time, and the last 12 years have given Rodriguez a lot of material to work with. It’s time to hand Spy Kids down to the next generation.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.