This is a monthly movie review column by Anoka resident Alex Suzko, who has a bachelor’s degree in film and TV production from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He works as a media producer for the community TV station NineNorth in Roseville and also produces independent content, including locally shot short and feature films.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’

3.5/5 Stars

After 36 years, Tony Scott’s smash hit, “Top Gun” returns to the big screen with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell. With a bigger budget and more advanced effects, this sequel finds Maverick back in the danger zone with even more epic bombast than last time.

The movie centers around Maverick who has a tense relationship with his superiors due to his reckless actions and risky impulses. Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky (Val Kilmer) insists on keeping Maverick around, and much to the chagrin of a number of the other officers, they enlist Maverick to train a group of young pilots to accomplish a seemingly impossible mission: to destroy an enemy uranium facility laced with anti-aircraft weaponry.

Among the trainees is Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s wingman, who died in the original.

“Top Gun: Maverick” doesn’t, for better or for worse, pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s a vehicle for spectacular aerial action sequences with nostalgic nods to its predecessor.

The human drama is a nice supplemental narrative addition, but the focus is on achieving the highest level of excitement and bombast from Maverick’s, well, maverick approach to things. It’s a movie that never makes any promises it doesn’t expect to deliver on.

And it delivers every scene with a patriotic machismo that seeps through every air-tight cockpit we see. For all its impressive visual stylings though, the movie is ultimately a safe sequel. It doesn’t challenge audiences in any intellectual way and, in turn, it shirks the responsibility of elevating itself too far beyond standard sequel conventions.

The overall narrative structure feels familiar for a long-awaited return to a movie or franchise of old. However, even in some big-budget mainstream franchises, we see more risks being taken. Last year’s Bond effort, No Time to Die, saw the writers boldly taking risks with the characters and story. Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t do the same.

It’s not a movie that will likely stand the test of time as an all-time great but, for what it is, Top Gun: Maverick delivers and matches expectations. If any lovin’ feelin’ was lost by fans over the years, this sequel is bound to bring it back.

‘Men’

2.5/5 Stars

I’ve said previously that I don’t really like to talk politics in my reviews and I have generally tried to stay out of the current political discourse due to the hostility present in it, but there are some movies that so heavily push a political message on the audience that to not discuss them would serve to not present readers with the proper expectations.

“Men” follows Harper (a fantastic Jessie Buckley), a young woman on a retreat to clear her mind from a tragic accident involving her husband, James (Paapa Essiedu). While on her retreat in the English countryside, she encounters a bunch of, well, men (all played marvelously by Rory Kinnear).

These men each torment Harper in a different fashion.

I don’t know if the opinion of ‘all men are the same and bad’ is a proudly proclaimed position — or if it’s a fringe opinion held by a few resilient extremists — but that’s essentially the point of this movie. The message is delivered allegorically in a final half hour of body horror excess that will have your date either heading for the exits early or blocking your number and never contacting you again.

The grotesque imagery and heavy-handed execution is so in-your-face that you’ll begin to wonder whether it was worth it for the movie to abandon all narrative coherence for it.

Perhaps my biggest problem with the movie though, is that everything on the technical side is so good. The acting is brilliant, the cinematography is nothing short of beautiful and the atmosphere will have you squirming in your seat.

On all objective technical measures, the movie can’t be faulted and, for people who dissect movies on that technical level like myself, the viewing experience is worth it.

‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’

2/5 Stars

Your enjoyment of “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” will come down to your enjoyment of the show. It offers some nice fan service but all others will find it dull and juvenile.

The Belcher family attempts to save their restaurant when a sinkhole forms right in front of the entrance.

After one of the kids falls into the hole, an elaborate conspiracy is uncovered with the people involved going so far as to commit murder to get what they want.

I’ve seen a number of episodes of the show and it really isn’t my kind of humor.

It tries to balance juvenile slapstick with insightful satire on the mundanity of lower-middle class life but rarely is it successful .

More often than not, the sophomoric gags far outweigh whatever nuanced, social commentating subtext is present.

With adult animation, I’ve found that people are often very polarized: They either love it or they can’t stand it. I’ve known this to be true with “South Park,” “Family Guy,” “Archer” and many more. “Bob’s Burgers,” I imagine, is no different.

I give it a low rating because it’s not really my thing, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that previous fans will find raucous enjoyment in its zany, high-energy execution.

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