3 Movies Like Dune: Part Two (2024) On Amazon Prime

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On the one hand, American Fiction is a razor-sharp satire that pokes fun at the hypocrisy of the literary and entertainment industry. It's only when Monk (Wright), a genius but esoteric writer, decides to pander and give in to what publishers have come to expect from Black authors (that is: trauma porn) that he is finally celebrated for his work. But on the other hand, the film is also a tender family drama. Monk sells out, as it were, partly because he’s fascinated by the stupidity of decision-makers and supposed intellectuals, but mostly because he needs to pay for his ailing mother’s care. His relationship with his siblings and deceased father likewise informs much of his character, and they complicate what could’ve been just an intellectual approach to a social issue. This is an educational and entertaining film, yes, one that looks at the complex intersection between identity, craft, and profit. But it’s also an empathetic film, told with a big heart and a surprisingly light touch.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adam Brody, Alexander Pobutsky, Bates Wilder, Becki Dennis, Celeste Oliva, David De Beck, Dustin Tucker, Erika Alexander, Greta Quispe, Issa Rae, J. C. MacKenzie, Jeffrey Wright, Jenn Harris, John Ales, John Ortiz, Kate Avallone, Keith David, Leslie Uggams, Michael Cyril Creighton, Michael Jibrin, Michael Malvesti, Miriam Shor, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Neal Lerner, Okieriete Onaodowan, Patrick Fischler, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Skyler Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross

Director: Cord Jefferson

Rating: R

Set in the British colonial era, Captain Miller is more unapologetically violent than its counterparts, but it’s not mindlessly so. Sure, the film has plenty of spectacle with numerous battles between townsfolk versus British colonialists, some scenes having gruesome, gory deaths. But in between these battles is Dhanush as the central character, contemplating the oppression from his fellow countrymen, the dignity denied to him from both the colony and more privileged locals, and the choices he chooses to make in spite of this. It’s not a straightforward bad versus good anti-colonial film like RRR, and it may not be as emotionally compelling, but Captain Miller is certainly a unique take on British colonialism with all of director Arun Matheswaran’s signature style.

Genre: Action, Adventure, War

Actor: Abdool Lee, Aditi Balan, Alexx O'Nell, Ashwin Kumar, Bose Venkat, Dhanush, Edward Sonnenblick, Elango Kumaravel, Jayaprakash, John Kokken, Kaali Venkat, Mark Bennington, Nivedhithaa Sathish, Priyanka Arul Mohan, Shivaraj Kumar, Sumesh Moor, Sundeep Kishan, Swayam Siddha, Viji Chandrasekhar, Vinoth Kishan

Director: Arun Matheswaran

Surrounded has the bones of a revenge-style Western. It turns the table on the white cowboy hero and gives us (on paper, at least) complex leads in Mo and Tommy. Mo is a young Black woman whose experience as a Buffalo Solider lends her not only the skills of an expert gunslinger but also the anger and motivation to push through any obstacle, while Tommy is the enigmatic thief who Mo reluctantly relies on in her quest for freedom. With all this pent-up tension, the film should work, and it does occasionally thanks to Wright and Bell’s deft performances (Bell is especially exceptional), the stunning mountainous terrains, and the worthy attempts at race and class commentary. But for the most part, the film's ambitions fall flat. The monologues are overlong and too evocative of modern speech to be historically believable. The action scenes, while exciting, only sputter here and there and never gain the momentum the film needs to genuinely thrill. And the thin backstories of Mo and Tommy raise more questions than answers. More often than not, Surrounded looks like a couple of good scenes strewn together on a lousy string; the foundations are off but there’s some enjoyment to be found.

Genre: Action, Drama, Western

Actor: Austin Rising, Brett Gelman, David Manzanares, Jamie Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Keith Jardine, Kevin Wiggins, Letitia Wright, Luce Rains, Lyle Sandoval, Mark Dalton, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nathaniel Augustson, Peter Diseth, Tatanka Means

Director: Anthony Mandler

Rating: R