Summer Film Recap: Anna Harman’s summer of nostalgic, moving and eye-opening movies

By Anna Harman

Despite all of the great films and TV shows that came out over the summer, three movies stuck out to me the most: “Barbie,”  “The Little Mermaid” and “Sound of Freedom.” 

Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) did a fun dance number at the beginning of “Barbie.” 

“Barbie” was arguably the movie of the summer. I saw so many people of all ages dressed up in elaborate all-pink outfits and they’d come with huge groups to see the movie.

The first thing I appreciated about this movie was the soundtrack. It was so upbeat, happy, and overall on-theme for the Barbie world. Ryan Gosling’s song in the movie, “I’m Just Ken,” was one of my favorites. It added comedic relief to the film and was extremely catchy. Another favorite of mine was “Pinkby Lizzo, which is a very creative song that narrates ironic parts of Barbie’s life in the Dreamhouse. 

I also enjoyed how the filmmakers made sure to include nostalgia for everyone who grew up with Barbie. You could hear both adults and children in the theatre gasp as they saw their favorite Barbies pop up on the screen. It was so cool to see things come to life that we would act out with our dolls as kids, like Barbie (Margot Robbie) floating down from the roof instead of using the stairs, and I think it brought everyone together in a sense knowing we had these shared experiences. 

The only complaint I had leaving the theatre was the intense focus on “girl power.” The movie was full of feminist ideas weaved throughout, and at times I found it to be too much. I think men and women should have equal opportunities, but we need to leave room for both men and women to use their unique gifts. The issue with focusing too much on women being made powerful or rallying together to go against men in power because of injustice in the past is that we’re moving too far in the opposite direction where we look down on men. 

Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King did a wonderful job depicting the “Kiss the Girl” scene in “The Little Mermaid.” 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when they announced “The Little Mermaid.” A live-action version of Sebastian and Flounder sounded really corny and I just couldn’t picture it. In the theatres, it turned out to be just as corny as it sounded. There’s no real way to make a talking crab and fish seem lifelike, so I can appreciate the effort, but it was definitely weird to see those two characters in that format. 

I thought they did a good job with casting. Ariel (Halle Bailey), Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) and Scuttle (Awkwafina) were some of my favorite characters. Halle Bailey has the personality of Ariel naturally, and Jonah Hauer-King did a great job as Prince Eric, bringing life to a character that didn’t have that much of a strong personality in the original animated film. Awkwafina obviously plays every character flawlessly, and she adds an aspect of comedy that is unique to her as an actress.

My favorite song from the film was “Wild Uncharted Waters” by Jonah Hauer-King, his ballad about wanting to find the girl who saved him from the shipwreck. I thought it was a unique addition to the movie and a powerful and beautiful song. I also liked the song “Scuttlebutt” by Awkwafina and Daveed Diggs (Sebastian). It was upbeat and super catchy. I think the music in this movie was essential to the story and overall quality of the movie. 

Tim Ballard (Jim Caviezel) assured Miguel (Lucás Ávila) that he would find and save his sister, Rocio. 

“Sound of Freedom” is not a movie I took lightly. I saw it twice, and it was definitely a hard watch. There are so many things that I could say about the movie, but I will only hit on a few important points.

The goal of this film was to raise awareness about the horrors of child trafficking. One moment that caught my attention was when they played real security camera footage of numerous children being taken off the streets. This was extremely important to include in the film because it threw the audience into the reality of children being ripped away from their homes. 

Another moment in the film that really struck me was when Rocio (Cristal Aparicio), the girl that was taken from her home, was reunited with her father and she just held his face and studied it as if she was trying to make sure he was real and that this was a safe man, after all the men that had hurt her while she was a victim of human trafficking. It was intensely emotional and heartbreaking to see a child possess that much pain and trauma. 

What also hit me during this scene was the fact that this isn’t a common thing that happens with human trafficking victims and their families. Most children are never found, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. 

I thought the cast was great. Even the children were phenomenal actors that really made you feel like this was really happening. It was a riveting film that gripped my heart the entire time and it was an overall really powerful, emotional, and honest film. 

There are two million kids trafficked every year. Two million innocent children are being bought and sold like property. There are unspeakable things that these children have to endure, and it shatters my heart. Most of these children are never found, and if they are rescued, they will have wounds that will stick with them forever. 

I’ve been interested in this issue for a long time, but this movie really hit hard on the depth of it and does a phenomenal job shedding light on the reality of human trafficking. It may make you sad, angry or even afraid when you watch this movie, but if these young children have to endure horrific trauma, we can be uncomfortable for two hours for the sake of raising awareness. 

“Barbie” is playing in theatres.  “The Little Mermaid” is now available to buy or rent and will be on Disney+ on September 6th.  “Sound of Freedom” is playing in theatres.

Anna Harman is a senior Christian Education major and also a reporter for Cedars. She appreciates writing, chai lattes, flowers and going to concerts.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros, Walt Disney Pictures and Angel Studios.  Header created by Ben Konuch.

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