July in Review

Skrulls invade our screens as summer winds down

Hi, guys. Welcome to the last summer issue of 2023. This year’s really flying by, isn’t it? But you could say that about every year, frankly. This issue’s kind of a long one, so, let’s just dive in. I hope you like it. Enjoy!

Today’s feeling: Talkative 💬

The summer I watched TV

I kept hearing about Hijack on Apple TV+, one of our Serpents 🐍 for the month, so I binged it last weekend and yeah, it’s really good! It’s about a plane that gets, you guessed it, hijacked, and we go back and forth between what’s happening in the sky and on the ground. It does a great job of creating tension while also making you feel like you’re one step ahead of the villains, because they are inept at best, and that creates a fun dynamic to watch between them and the passengers.

I also saw a clip from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds—another Serpent and on Paramount+—where everybody starts singing instead of talking and they can’t figure out why. Needless to say, it sold me, and I will be tuning in at some point in time.

Most watched TV streaming originals in July

The secret’s out and it kinda blows :/

Secret Invasion leads the serpent charge this month, managing to keep its #1 spot for the entire 6 weeks it aired. Only two other shows have done this since I’ve started tracking this stuff: The Mandalorian, which held the top spot for 8 weeks from March through April, and Ted Lasso, which took over from Mando and sat at #1 for 6 weeks through May.

That’s pretty impressive, considering how popular The Mandalorian and Ted Lasso are, but it’s also surprising because the conversation around this show—i.e. the conversation I have with myself after watching—has not been the greatest. AI opening credits aside, the show is just not…it started off with so much potential that it never lived up to. The concept of not knowing who to trust because you literally don’t know if they’re themselves or a shapeshifting alien should’ve bred a really cool paranoia-induced thriller. But instead, we got some mild tension, wasted moments, and a lot of unanswered questions.

It’s not just me. According to Rotten Tomatoes, Secret Invasion is currently the only title in the MCU that has rotten scores for both general audiences and critics. There are only 4 other MCU titles with rotten scores out of the total 44 (god)—Captain Marvel, Eternals, She-Hulk, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania—, but those are either from audiences or critics, not both. 5 out of 44 isn’t a terrible number, but it puts things into perspective when you realize 4 out of the 5 have come out in the last 2 years.

Fancy a challenge?

There’s this long-running challenge (activity??) on Letterboxd that I participate in on and off called the Scavenger Hunt, where you put together a list of movies to watch in a given month based on specific prompts created by an appointed someone.

It’s just a fun way to find and watch movies you otherwise probably wouldn’t have seen on your own. I’m back in it for August and it feels good to be “playing” again. I’ll let you know what my success rate is in September and I’d highly recommend trying it out if you’re interested!

Most watched streaming movies in July


It’s like the MCU could hear me talking about it and wanted to prove me wrong or something because Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumaniaalong with The Out-Laws and Extraction 2— earns itself a serpent crown after being reanimated as a Leap Frog 🐸 at the beginning of July. Though they haven’t been consecutive, the movie’s been on the chart for 10 weeks now. That’s the power of Paul Rudd, I guess. Even in a terrible movie, he can keep the people watching.

Recommendations from the chart and beyond

There’s not a particular story to discuss this month, so I thought I’d speed-run through my thoughts on some of the movies from this chart, as well as others I’ve watched recently. I’ll give a quick (and goofy) synopsis and then tell you why you should watch it.

  • Extraction 2: A soldier of some kind (???) saves a bunch of lives so his wife will forgive him. The 20+ minute long take alone is worth the watch, but the whole movie is full of great action.

  • They Cloned Tyrone: A drug dealer, a pimp, and a sex worker try to save their neighborhood from being cloned by white people from the government. Easily one of the funniest movies to come out this year with a super cool premise and top-notch cast.

  • 65: A man fights dinosaurs while trying to get a young girl to an escape pod after crashing on Earth. It’s like The Last of Us if it wasn’t good. Watch it for the VFX work and the time-lapse credits.

  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: A bard (???) and his band of misfits try to save the world so his daughter will forgive him. I’m not saying that Chris Pine is the only reason you should watch this movie but I am saying that he is the only reason you should need.

  • Renfield: Renfield tries to leave his abusive master, Dracula. Corny. Watch it for the two Nics, the campy action, and the vampire stuff.

  • Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Pt.1: It doesn’t matter what this movie’s about, you know what you’re here for. Watch it if you’ve enjoyed any of the others and/or want to experience what true action/espionage is.

  • Barbie: Barbie discovers the patriarchy (not fun). Ken also discovers the patriarchy (very fun). You’ve already seen it, but you should watch it again for the cast—Ryan, you’re a godsend—and the stellar production design.

  • Oppenheimer: Oppy realizes that building weapons for the government was probably a bad idea. Christopher Nolan really popped off with this one. Watch it for the craftmanship all around and for a fun game of “Oh, I know him!” with every actor that appears on screen.

  • Talk to Me: An hour and a half of a girl making the worst decisions imaginable. Also demon possession via ceramic hand. I never want to see this again, so I guess that means it was good? Watch it for the sound design and makeup effects if you can stomach it.

Support artists, watch media

Another month, another batch of releases. Off the top, I have a theater recommendation for the people: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, the boys are the best they’ve ever been, and the animation is sick.

Also, Blue Beetle comes out on the 18th and I’m excited to see it. It’s one of the few superhero films to star and focus on a Latino main character and his family (shoutout to Spider-verse!), and I think that’s important and should be supported, especially since the cast won’t be able to do press for the film while the strikes are going on.

But of course, there’s still plenty to watch from the comfort of your home.

New streaming releases for August

Listen. I have been anti-One Piece for as long as I’ve watched anime. It’s just too long! They are literally on episode 1071 as we speak. I’ve also been a devout hater of live-action anime adaptations because reality just doesn’t compare to what animation is capable of. HOWEVER…Netflix’s One Piece adaptation looks super fun.

I HATE to admit it, I really, really do. I’m already a fan of the pirate concept but it’s the cast that’s really drawing me in. They all look great and seem like they’re having a great time, which makes me feel like I’m going to have a great time, too.

Krusty Krab is unfair! Mr. Krabs is in there!

We’re gonna close out on some strike talk this month. I’m sure you’ve already heard and continue to hear details of what’s happening, but it’d be irresponsible of me not to chime in and relay the message, regardless of how small my platform may be.

The WGA, Writer’s Guild of America, and SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists both went on strike following the expiration of their contracts with the AMPTP, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and its refusal to reach a fair agreement with the unions upon contract renewal. I’ll leave the full explanation of demands and reasons for striking to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, and offer this full timeline of events throughout the duration of the strikes thus far.

To put it plainly, these are people fighting to be respected in their craft and to be fairly compensated for work that not only brings studios billions of dollars every year but also provides billions of other people with entertainment, relaxation, enjoyment, and so much more.

And this isn’t just about the writers and actors and the celebrities that we know. It’s about the directors, too, and the editors, and the producers, the composers, the production designers, the makeup department. It’s about the sound mixers, the gaffers, the VFX artists, the craftspeople, the stunt teams. It’s about all of the names and faces we don’t know that are integral to making our favorite pieces of media come to life. There are so many careers that have been created out of sharing stories with the world, and it shouldn’t be a radical statement for people to want to live comfortably and be respected while doing so.

You can support the strikes simply by talking about them and spreading awareness, and you can also donate directly to the people that need it the most.

🎤 What are you enjoying this August?

Okay, putting my blowhorn away. Thank you for reading! Let me know what you’re watching, and I’ll see you guys in September❣️.

What are you enjoying or looking forward to this month?

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