Friday Film Roundup: The Flash, Elemental, The Blackening, and More

EntertainmentBy 2023-09-08T16:53:53-04:00June 16th, 2023|
  • Courtesy of Lions Gate.

With the summer movie season officially in full swing, expect to see a lot of marquee releases stacked on top of each other. This weekend, we have a three-way battle between a long-awaited superhero movie, a Pixar release, and the sequel to one of the most popular Netflix originals of all time. Even the week’s “smallest” release, “The Blackening,” may already be the best horror-comedy of the season. This Friday’s releases are what the best moviegoing weekends are made of. There’s something for everyone and all of it is worth watching.

“The Flash” (In Theaters June 16th)

Although “The Flash” didn’t exactly zoom into theaters thanks to repeated production delays, internal conflicts at Warner Bros., and an inability to stick to a lane when it came to the DC Extended Universe, the day has finally arrived. Whether or not that day is worthy of celebration really depends on how much you can forgive–or at least forget–Ezra Miller’s controversial behavior throughout 2022.

For a lot of fans, however, it seems like the anticipation is outweighing the backlash. Michael Keaton’s return as Batman is pretty much irresistible to many and, as a hard reset on the entire DCEU, “The Flash” really is the end of an era. But maybe that’s for the best.

“Elemental” (In Theaters June 16th)

“Elemental,” as suggested by its title, follows the relationships between anthropomorphized representations of fire, water, earth, and air as they attempt to co-exist in the bustling metropolis of Elemental City. However, despite the announcement at the D23 convention, “Elemental” hasn’t really generated a lot of buzz one way or the other. Nothing controversial enough to keep audiences invested and nothing great enough to get them excited.

Like more than a few of Pixar’s recent releases, this one seems destined to come and go. And with “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” grossing nearly $1.5 billion worldwide, it seems like there’s a new top dog in town. Illumination, which is producing more successful films at a fraction of the budget — we’re talking $200 million for “Elemental” vs. $100 million for “Mario” — is really taking a bite out of Pixar’s core audience. Pixar still has the edge with critics and awards shows, but Illumination is raking in the dough. The problem with “Elemental” is that it doesn’t seem to have either.

“The Blackening” (In Theaters June 16th)

Historically, horror movies–especially the classics–tend to kill off the only Black character first. It’s an offensive and unnecessary genre trope that you’ll see in something as recent as the 2019 “Child’s Play” remake alongside classic films like “The Shining” and “Gremlins.” However, low-budget slashers are the worst offenders, and Tim Story’s “The Blackening” wants to reckon with some of that history. A slasher horror-comedy comprised entirely of Black characters, the film’s tagline–“They can’t all die first”–is a pretty good indicator of how confrontational the film will be toward the genre while still being a love letter to horror movies. “The Blackening” is based on a short story by stand-up comedian Dewayne Perkins, who also co-wrote the script. If writer-directors like Jordan Peele or Bill Hader are any indication, there has to be some reason why comedians make the best horror.

“Extraction 2” (On Netflix June 16th)

The post-Marvel careers of many of the original Avengers still depend heavily on The Russo Brothers, who closed out the saga of the OG superhero team by directing both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” among others. Although actors like Chris Evans have departed the franchise entirely, they seem to like working with the Russos. However, Chris Hemsworth’s starring role in the Russo-produced Netflix original, “Extraction,” is maybe the best one yet. Fully embracing the R-rating, with a series of impressive set pieces and a strong lead performance from Hemsworth, “Extraction” turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Its sequel, which debuts on Netflix this Friday, is apparently even better.

Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.