“Luca” showcases their film with a quote from Rotten Tomatoes.
Photo: @lucapixar on Instagram

Luca:

Pixar released “Luca” onto Disney+ on June 18, receiving a 91% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and starting off everyone’s summer with a bang. Set in the fictional town of Portorosso, Italy, this film takes you alongside Luca’s coming-of-age story. 13-year-old sea monster Luca Paguro, voiced by Jacob Tremblay, dreams of breaking the surface and exploring the mysterious human world.

Filled with despair at the thought of his lost dream, a sudden pull out of the water makes Luca’s whole world change. Looking back at him is 14-year-old Alberto Scorfano, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, a fearless sea monster already accustomed to life on land. Scales to skin, the pair venture out into Portorosso, immediately enamored by the thought of owning a Vespa scooter. 

Luckily they stumbleupon 13-year-old Guilia Marcovaldo, voiced by Emma Berman, and the Portorosso Cup Triathlon. Not knowing about the scales underneath, Guilia joins the boys to defeat the reigning champion, Ercole Visconti, and win the prize money. 

Director Enrico Casarosa takes these characters on a journey of friendship and adventure as they train, compete and surprisingly win the Portorosso Cup! Along the way, secrets are revealed as Alberto and Luca, caught in the rain, become sea monsters once again. However, this only strengthens the bonds created throughout the course of the film and forms a sweet storyline. 

Luca, now having a new dream of attending human school to live an above water life, parts ways with Alberto. This bittersweet farewell pulls at the heartstrings and ends yet another wonderful Pixar movie. “Families with kids of all ages will enjoy this adorable addition to Pixar’s excellent list of films,” says Common Sense Media. Lively, kindhearted and amusing, “Luca” is sure to become your next family favorite! 

Black Widow hit theaters July 9, 2021. Photo: @marvel on Instagram

Black Widow:

“Black Widow’s deeper themes are drowned out in all the action, but it remains a solidly entertaining stand-alone adventure that’s rounded out by a stellar supporting cast,” said Rotten Tomato critics when finalizing their review on the Marvel Studios’ film.

Premiering in theaters July 9, 2021 and directed by Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow. She “confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises,” says Internet Movie Database (IMDB). After the battle between the Avengers at Leipzig, Romanoff is declared a fugitive by the government. She escapes from US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross and flees to a safe house in Norway, where she reunites with her contact Rick Mason.

Elsewhere, her arranged sister Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh, is still working for an operation called the Red Room, in which mentally gifted girls, Black Widows, are selected from birth to be trained, controlled and fight under their leader Dreykov, who is still alive in spite of Romanoff’s attempt to kill him in an explosion. 

Belova comes in contact with a substance called Red Dust that removes the Red Room’s control over her. She sends the antidote to Romanoff’s safe house in the hopes that she will return to help her. Romanoff and Belova then reunite in Budapest, where they decide to track down their former arranged parents in order to defeat Dreykov and save the Black Widows once and for all.

Receiving an 80% score, “Black Widow” had some negative and positive feedback from movie critics. “It’s a strange movie: front-loaded with its best action, its zippiest writing, its canniest pleasures, then derailed by exposition that only serves to let the air out of the room for being so obvious rather than deepening what’s there,” said Rolling Stone critic K. Austin Collins. Whereas Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal claims that “Black Widow” is full of “superb and perfectly complementary performances in a story that is, in its essence, about sisterly love.”

While critics’ opinions were mixed, the movie received a 91% audience score. The movie does adequately portray a more personal, familial and surprising look into an Avenger’s past while also continuing to deliver an adventurous and thrilling film.

A pivotal scene from season two showcasing the main characters.
Photo: @obx on Instagram

Outer Banks Season 2:

The long-awaited second season of the quarantine hit, “Outer Banks” finally hit Netflix on July 30. After an action-packed and invigorating first season, this Netflix Original grew a massive following. 

Written and directed by Jonas Pate, the first season introduces two groups of teenagers living in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The focal group is the Pogues, the working class, and they are led by John Booker Routledge. 

Seventeen year old John B., played by Chase Stokes, has been a Pogue his whole life. Having unexpectedly lost his father, he is now an orphan searching for answers surrounding the mysterious death. Accompanied by his three best friends, they begin digging up the clues to a never-ending summer. 

John B.’s fellow Pogues are JJ Maybank, played by Rudy Pankow and Pope Heyward, played by Jonathan Daviss. The crew is completed by Kiara Carrera, played by Madison Bailey, a rebellious Kook who has been adopted by these Pogues. Together they discover the sunken Royal Merchant ship, finding a possession belonging to John B.’s father on board. Now knowing of the hidden gold that once was on the ship, only one thing stood in their way, the Kooks.

The Kooks are the rich class, living in their own world of luxury. The show focuses on the Cameron family. The father, Ward Cameron, played by Charles Esten, is portrayed to be a rich family man with a wife and three kids. However, his seemingly perfect life is used to cover up the fact that he is actually evil. 

His children also take on big roles, mainly focusing on 19-year-old Rafe Cameron and 16-year-old Sarah Cameron. Rafe, played by Drew Starkey, takes after his father in every way. But, Sarah, played by Madelyn Cline, is the opposite. 

The first season, consisting of 10 episodes, takes you through an ever anticipating and twisting quest for lost gold. The Pogues find, lose and rediscover the gold again as the Kooks are always plotting against them. Unexpected romance, juicy drama and exciting cliffhangers are what make “Outer Banks” such a hit!

Quickly renewed for a second season, “Outer Banks” spills the drama from season one right back into season two. John B. and Sarah have fled to the Bahamas due to the framing of John B. for a local town sheriff’s murder and partly because they believe Ward hid the treasure there. 

The first six episodes deal with tying up loose ends from season one and finally, spoiler alert, finding the gold. After that, the show pivots into a new, more heightened treasure hunt. New characters are introduced, such as Cleo, played by Carlacia Grant, a friend sought out by Sarah and John B. in the Bahamas who helped them get back to their friends in the Outer Banks. 

“It’s a heightened version of season one,” said Madelyn Cline in an interview with Glamour Magazine. 

“One thing Outer Banks never fails to be is fun, and with a plot so far-reaching, this counts for a lot,” said Daily Express (UK) movie critic Loma Codral. The expression of satisfaction and intrigue was present among almost all critics and fans, making it out to continue hopefully with a third season.

Get the discussion going! Leave a comment or reply below.