3 Upcoming Must-See Movies of 2023


Photo courtesy of IMDb, Lion’s Gate, Universal Pictures

Santiago Vargas, Staff Writer

John Wick Chapter 4 – March 24

Ever since John Wick came out in 2014, which was well received by the audience and a decent box office success, it inspired a new franchise following the story of John Wick. A professional, highly-skilled assassin on his path to defeating the High Table (leaders of criminal organizations whose influence has expanded all around the world), and freeing himself once and for all from the people that have put a bounty on him. The John Wick franchise is generally action-packed with creative fighting sequences, gun-fu action scenes, mostly likable characters, and a narrative that gets a little more complicated and convoluted as the franchise goes on. It is no masterpiece to behold, but if you are a person who likes action pack movies, done with some creativity, and effort, then John Wick Chapter 4 is a movie you would like to include in your watchlist.

Since the events of the second movie, Wick has been on the run, with a huge bounty on him. He is now the prey of many other assassins and an enemy of the criminal organizations he used to work for. The fourth entry continues the story of John Wick on his path to defeat the High Table, looking to retire once again after he was pushed to go back to his assassin roots in the first movie. But before he gets to do that he has to defeat a new enemy who has challenged Wick to single combat. Keanu Reeves creates an iconic character with John Wick, portraying a highly skilled assassin who can overcome even the deadliest of all enemies and still gives some emotional weight to the character to keep us invested. 

The franchise is packed with imaginative action pieces, showing some of the craziest fighting scenes done in one shot from start to finish that make the action feel fluid and the kills satisfying to watch. Over-the-top action sequences with creative angles and good use of colorful scenarios. But as the franchise has gone on, the plot also starts to feel a little convoluted, and some stuff just happens for the convenience of the plot. Nevertheless, Reeves does his best to make John Wick an iconic character, carrying the franchise with his gigantic talent as an action star. 

The trailer shows even more over-the-top gun fu sequences, and all the action seems to be brought to eleven. The franchise might not be a king in storytelling but delivers the best in action, charismatic characters, and colorful locations, that make the movies fun and exhilarating to watch and most importantly entertaining. The movie will come with supportive new performances from Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, and Hiroyuki Sanada, and is scheduled to premiere in theaters on March 24.


Oppenheimer – July 21

Christopher Nolan is a big name in cinema. He has been recognized for his grandiose scale of cinematography and storytelling in filmmaking. Giving us outstanding films like The Dark Night (2008), Inception (2010), and Dunkirk (2017). His newest film Tenet (2020) wasn’t his best work, to be honest, yet Nolan still is a director in whom I could put faith to deliver something good, and unconventional. The new movie intends to take us to the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer during his role in the Manhattan Project.

The story will follow Oppenheimer and how he gave creation to the first atomic bomb in the years of World War II. The trailer shows that the film will go deeper into his mind to explore the concepts, ideas, and philosophy of this enigmatic man. There is not much to say about this one aside from expecting a movie that can bring back what we like about Nola’s filmography. Great visual set pieces, enigmatic quotes, great performances, and an immersive story that goes beyond the spectacle to bring us within the enigmatic mind of the Father of the Atomic Bomb. And don’t forget his usual love for using practical effects instead of CGI.

For this film, production has assembled a long array of great actors, starring Cillian Murphy in the main role, together with Emily Blunt, as his wife, Katherine. Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, and Robert Downey Jr are said to have supporting roles, among others. The movie releases in theaters on July 21. 


Dune Part II – November 3

As a sci-fi fan, one of the biggest surprises that I encountered in 2021 was Dune, a film adaptation of a 1965 sci-fi novel of the same name, written by Frank Herbert. Denis Villeneuve who previously directed Blade Runner 2049, has signed up to write and direct this two-part adaptation. A sci-fi film following the story of a gifted young man and the fulfillment of a prophecy, set in a universe of powerful houses fighting between each other at an intergalactic scale, all governed by an imperium with primitive laws. Powerful families and shadowy organizations plot and scheme with each other looking to end enemy houses, increase their power and wealth, as well as accomplishing plans for their own purposes. The first movie covers only half the story of the book. I personally haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve seen in the movie, I’m confident that Villeneuve and company are really putting the creativity and effort to make Dune Part II something really special. All the work that has been put on to bring this adaptation to life seems to come from a team that actually cares to make an outstanding film. But if you haven’t watched it yet, maybe I should give a brief insight to understand the story of Dune.

The universe of Dune is set in a distant future when humanity has evolved technologically allowing them to expand across the universe and conquer other planets. Everything is run by a feudal, primitive government led by an emperor (yet unknown in the movie), who rules above important houses of rich and powerful families who possess planets as a territory or assets on their own. They also made use of a special psychedelic substance known as spice, which extends life span, enhances awareness, and expands the mind. Plus makes it possible to travel intergalactically. This makes it the most valuable substance in the known universe, and the only planet that possesses this kind of substance is the desert planet of Arrakis also known as Dune. The plot revolves around the conflict between House Atreides and House Harkonnen, a conflict of hundreds of years. And at the center of the story is Paul, a gifted young man, son of Leto Atreides and his concubine Lady Jessica, whose been having dreams and visions (some of which come true others not) along with abilities that make many believe him as a prophetic Messiah, and powerful being, leader of an upcoming war to overthrow the Harkonnens and the emperor himself. Will Paul become the powerful leader of his prophetic visions and lead a war against his father’s enemies? How many of his visions will become true? How will all these schemes and plots play out in the end? Guess we’ll have to wait.

There is a lot more going on in the story than my simple descriptions, you have to pay close attention to get the full experience of it. The sheer beauty and scale of the universe of Dune are perfectly captured by the incredible cinematography. The different planets of this universe range from dry, hot deserts, with harsh environments, and deadly sandworms swimming in the sand like sharks in the sea. Green ecosystems, with great forests, blue rivers, and towering mountains. And dark and obscure worlds consumed by smoke, and pollution with slavery and oppression. All the action scenes look incredible as well, the film is a visual spectacle that encapsulates great use of color, CGI, photography, and production design. The movie does a very good job showcasing the distinctive technology of this universe and the different factions of families and organizations at play. How each of these operates, and their intentions are all explored in the movie. From the Atreides, being a well-respected family, with loyal soldiers, and a good political image; and the Harkonnen as a brutal ruler who enslaves, tortures, and massively oppresses and exploits their people to get the best production out of them. All this is achieved by a carefully crafted narrative that takes its time to introduce us to the universe, and characters, while also developing different plot lines throughout the story. It’s a slow pace narrative that delivers a genuinely smart, immersive, and ambitious film. The ensemble cast and performances in general are outstanding and solid. And every character gets to have their time in the spotlight.

The movie keeps surprising you and leaves you wanting more and wondering what might come next. From what I’ve seen in the first movie, I’m totally confident that the director and the studio are really trying to put a lot of heart into crafting something that will deliver an equally spectacular movie with Dune Part II. There is no trailer yet but the movie is set to release on November 3, and Dune Part I is streaming right now on services like BHO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.