47 Movies Like The Flash (2023) (Page 2)

Staff & contributors

Based on four different books by Colombian author Mario Mendoza, The Initiated (or Los Iniciados) is perhaps too much of a good thing at times, as it struggles to have its many different pieces cohere into one thematic idea. These separate pieces are intriguing on their own, for sure: poisoned water supply, underground activists, the mayor potentially being involved in mysterious disappearances of bodies. But by the end, the film's noir elements seem to be mostly ornamental in nature, with the supposedly twisty narrative arriving at an overly tidy conclusion.

With that said, even just spending time in The Initiated's gloomy city streets and grimy underbelly should be a joy for anyone who already enjoys hardboiled crime dramas. Solid performances and strong technical craft all around keep this world immersive no matter if the central investigation is actually progressing logically or not. It's a film that, impressively, manages to still be suspenseful just on the strength of its mood and atmosphere alone. All the danger feels raw and threatening, and leads us to imagine an even harsher world outside of what we see on screen.

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Ana Wills, Andrés Parra, Aria Jara, Francisco Denis, Jorge Cao, Juan Pablo Urrego, Julio Pachón, Patricia Tamayo

Director: Juan Felipe Orozco

The tired stereotype is that in horror films, it’s always the Black characters who are the first to die. The Blackening turns that on its head and gives us an interesting premise by asking, what if all the characters are Black? While it’s not the first film to do this (in fact, a lot of Black creatives are reclaiming horror and dominating the genre), it just might be the first to tackle the issue in a smart and funny way. This is a ridiculous parody filled with outsized performances and observational jokes, but it’s equally meta and socially aware as it literally (and thankfully) beats the stereotype to its final death. 

 

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Actor: Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins, Diedrich Bader, George Fisher, Grace Byers, James Preston Rogers, Jay Pharoah, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, Sinqua Walls, X Mayo, Yvonne Orji

Director: Tim Story

Rating: R

The latest installment in Netflix'S “Unknown” docuseries, Unknown: Killer Robots puts the evolution of artificial intelligence under an ethical microscope. Although the title could be misleading, it does cover the possible dangerous applications of AI as it forces us to question the growing divide between human morality and machine efficiency. With advances in war and medicinal applications, the capabilities of AI to heal, save and destroy are terrifying and awe-inspiring in equal measure. Like the previous films in the series, it is hyper-concentrated to an almost-stifling degree, but it’s also powered by the passionate subjects on either side of these advancements. Forgoing sensationalism, this digestible documentary questions intention over the technology itself. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Jesse Sweet

With a forest home destroyed, leaving an adorable cat spirit child displaced, The Legend of Hei seemed like a Studio Ghibli-esque tale, at least in themes, child protagonist, and fantasy flying. There’s charming moments where Hei appreciates the day-to-day– moments where he diligently learns his powers, enjoys the simple human pleasures present in the modern world, and of course, feels at home in the stunning natural spirit places. However, it’s not quite Ghibli as there are plenty of wuxia-inspired fight scenes, with as many flying kicks involved. That being said, there is a pro-peace message here, that at face value, is probably a good message for children, but this film’s peace comes without clear details about Hei’s displacement, or the general condition of the spirit world at large. The Legend of Hei’s charming animation is lovely, but this push for peace could have been more meaningful if it also considered justice.

Genre: Action, Animation, Fantasy

Actor: Ding Dang, Hao Xianghai, Liu Mingyue, Shan Xin, Sheng Feng, Wang Youji, Yang Ning, Yeqiao Yan, Yuntu Cao

Director: MTJJ, Mtjj Mutou

Rating: PG

Stan Lee, the documentary, is a charming introduction to the iconic creator. He enthusiastically narrates his journey into comics – from lowly intern to famous publisher – giving a seemingly modest account of events. With his voice making most of the narrative, Lee’s voice reveals his creative process and mindset, detailing the day-to-day writing process and the Marvel method. However, the documentary isn’t Lee’s voice alone. Director David Gelb brings a charming approach to this documentary, as seen in his previous work, that helps turn his subject palatable, despite the disagreement displayed by other people. Overall, the film is an okay introduction, though the full story behind Lee’s most contentious events, deserves a documentary of its own.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Jack Kirby, Joan Lee, Joe Simon, Kevin Feige, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee

Director: David Gelb

Rating: TV-14

It’s best not to overthink the details of No Hard Feelings, an uproarious comedy that benefits from the lead actors’ physicality. It’s meant to be enjoyed as it happens, at the moment, with Lawrence lighting up every scene with full-bodied commitment and Feldman, a worthy co-lead, delighting at every turn. They’re playing stock characters, and the script doesn’t give much beyond the usual backstories, but Lawrence and Feldman play them with so much heart and gusto, knocking every scene they’re in out of the park. Everything else plays second fiddle to their two-hander show. The cameos are star-studded but forgettable (except for Kyle Mooney, who I wished was onscreen more as Percy’s male nanny), the character development is heartwarming but predictable, and though it bills itself as a sex comedy, the film never really touches past third base. But all that is water under the bridge when you’re watching Maddie and Percy flirt and fumble their way through the film.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alysia Joy Powell, Amalia Yoo, Andrew Barth Feldman, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Hasan Minhaj, Jennifer Lawrence, Jordan Mendoza, Kyle Mooney, Laura Benanti, Luca Padovan, Matt Walton, Matthew Broderick, Matthew Noszka, Natalie Morales, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Scott MacArthur, Victor Verhaeghe, Zahn McClarnon

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Rating: R

After more than six years in the making, The Little Mermaid should be a spectacle for the ages, but even the magic of Rob Marshall (Chicago) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) cannot save the live-action remake. The film feels at once too stunted for an actual musical and too expansive to be just another movie. There's something uncanny, too, in how the humans look underwater and inland so that the wetness of the characters (of all things!) becomes a weirdly icky factor. Not to mention Scuttle the diving bird who looks more like a demonic creature than a feathery companion, or the flat disappointment that is Flounder. If that's the price we must pay for reality, we don't want it.

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Music, Romance

Actor: Art Malik, Awkwafina, Christopher Fairbank, Craig Stein, Daveed Diggs, Emily Coates, Halle Bailey, Jacob Tremblay, Javier Bardem, Jessica Alexander, Jodi Benson, John Dagleish, Jon-Scott Clark, Jonah Hauer-King, Jude Akuwudike, Kajsa Mohammar, Lorena Andrea, Martina Laird, Melissa McCarthy, Noma Dumezweni, Russell Balogh, Simone Ashley

Director: Rob Marshall

Rating: PG

Between Air, Pinball, Blackberry, and Tetris (is nothing sacred anymore?), 2023 has seen its fair share of business biopics. Unfortunately for The Beanie Bubble, it’s coming at the tail end of a trend that has overstayed its welcome in theaters. The Beanie Bubble isn’t very different from its predecessors in that it depicts its product as revolutionary and game-changing for the industry (it’s really not) and attempts to simplify the business phenom via cute graphics and quirky dialogue. Those aspects of the film are fine, if a bit forgettable, but The Beanie Bubble deserves some praise for exploring the power imbalance between Warner and his female partners, whose ideas he milked to no end. Robbie (Elizabeth Banks), Sheila (Sarah Snook), and Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan) are the ones telling this story, and even though the constant time hopping can get irritating, there are times when it feels inspired, like when Robbie starts one sentence and Maya ends her thought. They may be years apart but they’re all falling victim to the same greedy man who has a pattern of exploiting the talented women around him. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adelle Drahos, Ajay Friese, Brian Troxell, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Chris Mayers, Delaney Quinn, Elizabeth Banks, Geraldine Viswanathan, Hari Dhillon, Jason Burkey, Javier Vazquez Jr., Jeff Schine, Julia Farino, Kurt Yaeger, Laura Palka, Laura Whyte, Madison Johnson, Mariana Novak, Myke Holmes, Paul Kim, Paul Ryden, Robert Mello, Sam Salary, Sarah Snook, Scott Hanson, Stephanie Hong, Sweta Keswani, Tracey Bonner, Veanna Black, Vince Pisani, Zach Galifianakis

Director: Damian Kulash, Kristin Gore

Rating: R

More streamlined and more technically ambitious than its predecessor, yet even less interested in developing an interesting setting or characters, Extraction 2 takes the most predictable route available for an action sequel. The first film's attempts to center its narrative on the unnecessary loss of life of children is nothing but an inconsequential footnote in this movie—which gestures toward the same ideas but never actually allows its already generic characters to be emotionally affected by anything.

So thank goodness that Extraction 2's action is so frequently fun to watch, proudly wearing its influences from movies like The Raid, and from the most relentless of video game set pieces. There's genuine inspiration behind how creative and how brutal the violence can get here, brought to life by crisp sound design and production design that the characters can constantly interact with. So while all the halfhearted character work doesn't give the action any extra weight, the action on its own is already so dynamic, that every set piece is still worth the wait.

Genre: Action, Thriller

Actor: Adam Bessa, Andro Japaridze, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bernhardt, Dato Bakhtadze, George Lasha, Golshifteh Farahani, Idris Elba, Irakli Kvirikadze, Justin Howell, Levan Saginashvili, Olga Kurylenko, Patrick Newall, Sam Hargrave, Sinéad Phelps, Tinatin Dalakishvili, Tornike Bziava, Tornike Gogrichiani

Director: Sam Hargrave

Rating: R

Escape from Mogadishu follows diplomats from the North and South Korean embassies as they put aside their differences and work together to escape from an outbreak of civil war in Mogadishu, Somalia. Director Ryoo Seung-wan provides thrilling, high-budget action, especially intense car chases and suspenseful escape scenes that pump you with adrenaline and leave you on the edge of your seat. However, the Somali side of the story leaves much to be desired. Only existing to kill or be killed, the depiction of the Somalians is distasteful, and the country it’s set in seen as nothing more than a senseless warzone.

It’s in crafting a political thriller where Ryoo strikes a chord, following the tradition of South Korean films and dramas that question the current South/North relations. It’s also the aspect that pushed this film to win awards, given that it’s based on a true story from the 1991 civil war in Somalia, albeit with blockbuster flair. Sure, it’s a highly fictionalized story, but the political tensions and heightened atmosphere make good entertainment. And, as with all Korean thrillers, you’ll have to get on a certain wavelength of melodrama to be fully on board with the bonkers yet emotional escape.

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller, War

Actor: Ahn Se-ho, Han Chul-woo, Heo Joon-ho, Jeong Man-sik, Jo In-sung, Joo Bo-bi, Kim Jae-hwa, Kim So-jin, Kim Yoon-seok, Koo Kyo-hwan, Park Kyung-hye, Park Myung-shin, Yoon Kyung-ho, Zo In-sung

Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Despite what its title suggests, the real thrill of this documentary isn’t the mysterious 1998 robbery of a royal Austrian jewel, but the many other criminal escapades of Gerald Blanchard’s that are chronicled here. Blanchard, who appears on camera for much of the doc, remains cagey (for legal reasons) about how exactly he orchestrated the titular crime, but even if he divulged his secrets, the jewel theft pales in comparison to his earlier exploits: his ballsy teenage shoplifting, slippery escapes from police custody, and subsequent spree of audacious bank heists.

The Jewel Thief benefits from a wealth of remarkable footage thanks to Blanchard's penchant for videotaping his criminal antics. This exhibitionist tendency is corroborated by testimonies from the many other interviewees featured here, including the two policemen who received taunting photos of Blanchard’s loot during their years-long cat-and-mouse chase. As indicated by the opening titles — “This is a true story… Mostly” — Blanchard also has a tendency to embellish his stories, which makes the fact-checking provided by these other participants a wise inclusion by the filmmakers. Ultimately, though, having such an unreliable subject isn’t a handicap — it’s a blessing, giving the documentary a winkingly ludicrous edge that helps it stand out in an overstuffed genre.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Director: Landon Van Soest

Rating: R

After Nimona's long journey to the big screen (involving the shutdown of animation studio Blue Sky, and Disney's resistance to LGTBQ+ themes), the fact that the movie has been completed and allowed to tell its story at all is something to be celebrated. The film itself is pretty standard fare for American children's animation, with a script that spends far too much time on quips, and visuals that don't take advantage of the movie's science-fantasy world. But if you can get beyond its more ordinary aspects, Nimona becomes a surprisingly thorough metaphor of Otherness and queerness—best represented in the title character's shapeshifting abilities, and how people fear and become violent with her before even trying to understand her. It's a film that's sadly become more relevant than ever now, addressing how prejudice is something that's taught and passed down, packaged in an easy, entertaining manner for younger audiences.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Beck Bennett, Chloë Grace Moretz, Cindy Slattery, Eugene Lee Yang, Frances Conroy, Indya Moore, Julio Torres, Karen Ryan, Lorraine Toussaint, ND Stevenson, Nick Bruno, Riz Ahmed, RuPaul, Sarah Sherman, Troy Quane

Director: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

Rating: PG

While marketed as a family drama, Long Live Love! plays out more like a romance film between parents Sati and Meta. Where Meta has dived in, and accepted her role as a wife and mother, former model Sati still clings to the immature lifestyle he’s used to, to the glimmers of fame that he used to have. The premise is genius– there’s something poetic in the way someone who’s constantly obsessed with the look of a photo now has to go on the quest for its behind-the-scenes. There’s something here that questions previous portrayals of toxic masculinity and of marriage primarily because of how they’ll be perceived. However, there seems to be some missing sequences that could have made the ending more devastating.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Araya A. Hargate, Becky Armstrong, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri, Niti Chaichitathorn, Nopachai Jayanama, Panissara Arayaskul, Pannawit Phattanasiri, Paweenut Pangnakorn, Sadanont Durongkhaweroj, Sunny Suwanmethanon

Director: Piyakarn Butprasert

Seven years after Zootopia, Pixar takes another crack at a racial prejudice metaphor — but, while the analogy is less creaky here, it’s still an awkward one, as diametrically opposed elements like fire and water stand in for human beings. The gaping flaws in its central concept aside, Elemental does wring something compelling out of its story: an exploration of second-generation immigrant guilt.

That might seem like an oddly specific and complex topic for what is ostensibly a kids’ film to grapple with, but this is the Pixar of Soul and Bao, not Finding Nemo and Toy Story. Ember (Leah Lewis) is an anthropomorphized young flame whose parents migrated from their home in Fireland to run a store in the NYC-like melting pot of Element City; she’s keenly aware of the sacrifices they made to give her a better life and believes the only way to repay them is to abandon her own dreams and run their store. This is the one part of Elemental’s metaphor that really lands, but it’s unfortunately sidelined to make way for an inter-elemental romance between Ember and a water-man that only pulls the focus back onto the film’s biggest weakness. Still, its emotional specificity and beautiful animation prevent it from being a total washout.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Actor: Alex Kapp, Catherine O'Hara, Joe Pera, Jonathan Adams, Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Mason Wertheimer, Matthew Yang King, P.L. Brown, Ronnie del Carmen, Ronobir Lahiri, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Wilma Bonet

Director: Peter Sohn

From the moment it begins, The Monkey King hardly pauses to take a breath. The characters are always frantically jumping into the next scene, the action is nonstop, and the jokes, though juvenile, arrive one after the other. This is okay if you’re looking for a brisk viewing experience, but not so if you’re prone to vertigo. It moves at a relentless pace, which doesn’t just make the film a dizzying watch; it also robs the animation’s beautiful details of the time it needs to be appreciated. The movie’s core message, too, is buried under all the film’s pizzaz, which is a shame considering its refreshing pragmatism. When all the other kids’ movies are promoting courage and confidence, The Monkey King actually warns against the dangers of an inflated ego. The Monkey King is passable entertainment for the family, but with a better pace, it could’ve been great. 

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Kids

Actor: Andrew Kishino, Andrew Pang, Artemis Snow, BD Wong, Bowen Yang, David Chen, Dee Bradley Baker, Hoon Lee, James Sie, Jimmy O. Yang, Jo Koy, Jodi Long, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, Kaiji Tang, Mark Benninghoffen, Robert Wu, Ron Yuan, Sophie Wu, Stephanie Hsu, Vic Chao

Director: Anthony Stacchi

Rating: PG