Can you believe we’re slip-sliding into summer once more? Yes indeedy. So while you’re breaking out your shorts and T-shirts and waiting for the official start of the sunshine season on June 21st—not to mention anticipating the upcoming blockbuster movie season—let’s see what’s new in the realm of streaming this month.
Netflix will be streaming some pretty big-name pics that you and yours might want to see for the first time (or again for a second or third time).
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (PG-13, 2001) This Steven Spielberg-helmed pic tells the story of a robotic boy named David who’s one of the first robots ever programmed to actually love others. But what happens to a totally dedicated robot boy who’s not loved in return? In fact, where is the line between artificial … and real? Plugged In’s Steve Isaac noted that this well-made film deals with some thoughtful and very emotional issues, both philosophical and spiritual. But he also warned that along with some more adult-minded content, “A.I. isn’t at all designed for young children. A heart-wrenching scene of abandonment will prove unsettling to almost everyone who watches it.”
And here’s another blockbuster pic with more edge than some kids might be able handle:
Batman Begins (PG-13, 2005) A young Bruce Wayne, plagued by fear and guilt, wants justice after his parents’ murder. So he travels to the Far East, where he’s trained in the martial arts by the mysterious League of Shadows. But once he returns home to fight crime as the Batman, he realizes that the League of Shadows has dark plans of its own. Our reviewer Bob Smithouser said, “Christian Bale is perfectly cast as the caped crusader. He has the presence, dry wit and smoldering intensity to make Bruce Wayne believable, whether he’s being tormented by personal demons, assuming the role of spoiled playboy, creating his cowled alter-ego or taking out the bad guys with brute force.” But Smithouser warned that there is plenty of brute violence for mom and dad to be aware of.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG, 2019) Video game bad-guy-turned-good-friend Wreck-It Ralph accidentally helps break his pal Vanellope’s racing game. So he has to bash his way into the internet to find the necessary part to fix things. As I said in my review of this pic, Ralph Breaks the Internet raises some great questions about friendship and making good choices that kids can chew over with their parents and pals on the ride home from the theater. And this animated flick also takes a couple humor-packed swings at issues such as cyberbullying and being consumed by a viral-video world.
And later in the month, superhero fans will want to be on the lookout for:
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PG, 2018) In this animated super-flick, a bunch of alternate-reality Spider-Beings are dragged into our dimension. Now it’s up to a kid named Miles to take charge and help them all get home. Oh, and save the world, while he’s at it. This was another pic I had the pleasure of reviewing, and with its animated charm and lots of fun action and adventure, “pleasure” was the operative word. “Now, I won’t call it Amazing or Spectacular, or go so far as to say this is the Ultimate in superhero movie fare,” I said in the review. “But it’s safe to say this is one of the very best Marvel movies my editor has had the good spider-sense to send me to see.”
If one Marvel movie isn’t enough, you can always venture over to Amazon Prime if you decide to catch one of this year’s biggest superhero blockbusters:
Captain Marvel (PG-13, 2019) Carol Danvers, a skilled fighter pilot working on an experimental science project, is accidentally exposed to an incredible power source. And she becomes one of the most powerful, high-flying superheroes in the Marvel universe … even without a plane. This female hero-centric movie wowed moviegoers and was certainly super-powered at the box office, too. Our reviewer, Paul Asay, wasn’t quite as high-flying in his praise, though. He said it was “a little less violent, but a little more profane [than other flicks in the Marvel canon]. It gives us an inspiring protagonist—the first female superhero to get her own movie in the MCU—without giving her a chance to transcend the traditional superhero story.” So Paul thinks it’s pretty good, but don’t expect great.
And if you want something geared for the youngest kids in the fam, you can flip over to Hulu for:
The Ant Bully (PG, 2006) A destructive boy named Lucas gets shrunken down to the size of an ant to learn the error of his anthill smashing ways. Plugged In reviewer Christopher Lyon suggested that some parents may shake their heads at the magicky silliness in this flick, as well as the anthropomorphization of the ants in the yard. But if looked at from a purely kiddish fantasy perspective, he says you can’t miss the applicable lessons about bullying and the potential teachable moments “about how we ought to both respect and reach out to those who believe differently than we do—without compromising our own convictions.