What’s new to theatres this weekend: July 29-Aug 1

DC League Of Super-Pets has more fun than Justice League, and Ron Howard dives into the Thai cave rescue in Thirteen Lives


DC League of Super-Pets is covered in this weeks movie reviews
Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

DC League Of Super-Pets

(Jared Stern)

Seems DC could have saved a lot of pain and aggravation trying to make a good Justice League movie by just making it about cuddly animals instead of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman from the get-go. It’s much more fun this way. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart lead the instantly recognizable voice cast playing household pets with powers who have to rescue the Justice League from a maniacal guinea pig (Kate McKinnon). Super-Pets has that Lego Movie brand of irreverent humour but with one too many uplifting monologues meant to make kids go “aww.” 105 minutes. Now playing in theatres everywhere. NNN

Thirteen Lives is covered in our weekly movie reviews alongside DC League Of Super-Pets
Vince Valitutti / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thirteen Lives

(Ron Howard)

Apollo 13 director Howard has made another rescue movie starring white men fumbling in the dark. Instead of reaching for the moon, Thirteen Lives takes us deep into a flooded cave in Thailand, dramatizing the miraculous mission to rescue a Thai soccer team whose nearly month-long ordeal captivated the world. Unless you were living in a cave at the time, the story will be familiar, especially for those who have seen Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s documentary The Rescue. The earlier film was an interesting case; all the terrible directorial decisions couldn’t undo a story as compelling as this.

Howard benefits from the same circumstances as well as his ability to dramatically recreate the claustrophobic experience those heroic divers from the UK and Australia endured to save the boys. It helps that the divers are played by talented, self-effacing actors like Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen. Howard also resists the urge to emphasize the true story’s white saviour element. Maybe he noticed the wariness on that front, which was expressed very directly by filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who is producing an upcoming Netflix miniseries from the Thai perspective.

The best thing about Thirteen Lives is that it mostly stays out of the way of its own story, and makes sure to recognize the team effort, including the contributions of Thai engineers and farmers who worked diligently and made huge sacrifices to reroute flooding water and keep the boys alive longer. They made the rescue possible. Howard does a better job than The Rescue to honour that. 122 minutes. Some subtitles. Now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. NNN

Vengeance starring B.J. Novak
Patti Perret / Focus Features

Vengeance

(B.J. Novak)

Novak follows his The Office co-star John Krasinski (A Quiet Place) behind the camera, making a noirish comedy about true crime podcasts that often pauses to question its own appeal. Vengeance has philosophical ambitions – trying to deconstruct modern storytelling and what it says about us as a society – that are greater than its grasp. Though I did enjoy watching the movie chase its own tail with that pursuit.

Novak plays an arrogant writer for the New Yorker, representing the worst kind of liberal. His Ben Manalowitz heads to small-town Texas to record a podcast about the people he sees as bumbling Southerners. They believe Ben’s ex-fling was murdered. He chuckles at their presumably broken, right-wing, conspiracy-theory-addled minds. The movie comes front-loaded with so much cynicism that its charming cast (Boyd Holbrook, Ashton Kutcher and Succession’s J. Smith-Cameron) have an easy time warming thing up and flipping the rather thin script on their caricatures. 108 minutes. Now playing at the Cineplex Varsity. NNN

Also opening theatrically this week

Ali & Ava

Adeel Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook; directed by Clio Barnard. 

Resurrection

Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth; directed Andrew Semans

My Old School

Alan Cumming; Directed by Jono McLeod

Streaming guides

Everything on streaming platforms this month:

Netflix

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