Skip it or stream it: Summer releases


Graphic by David Lloveras

From the atrocity that is the film “Firestarter” to the genius “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” here are the films and series from Summer 2022 that you should skip or stream.

Sydney Lawson, Lifestyle Editor

Summer of 2022 saw an abundance of new releases, many of them gaining tremendous popularity. Here are some of the biggest releases from summer break, featuring film and television you can’t miss — and ones you’re probably better off skipping.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Verdict: Stream it

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is a coming-of-age drama following 16-year-old Isabelle “Belly” Conklin (Lola Tung), who is starting to discover who she is. This isn’t made easy by the sons of her mother’s best friend — Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah Fisher (Gavin Casalegno). Belly has spent every summer with them for as long as she can remember and practically grew up with them. She’s been harboring a crush on one of the boys for almost as long and hopes this is the summer he finally notices her. Distracted by this, she’s slow to notice her family is slowly falling apart around her.

Childhood best friends Belly, Jeremiah and Conrad run toward the beach together. (Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video)

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is the complete opposite of what I typically enjoy in a television show. It’s cheesy, there’s an over-the-top love triangle and it’s everything you would expect from a teen romance drama — a genre I generally hate. Yet, this show had me hooked from episode one and didn’t let go until I was in tears from the season finale. Seriously, I stayed up until 4 a.m. watching this in one sitting.

This is the perfect summer show from the upbeat, trendy soundtrack to the bright, clean aesthetic of every scene. What I loved most about this show was not the romantic relationships, but the friendships, especially between the two mothers. This show blindsided me with strong themes of familial love and sacrifice. The subplot left me in shambles and made the show deeper than others in the genre.


First Kill

Available to stream on Netflix

Verdict: Skip it

“First Kill” is one of many romance shows to come to Netflix this year. It centers on Juliette Fairmont (Sarah Catherine Hook), a smart, shy girl who has a big crush on new student Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis). The two are almost immediately attracted to each other, but unbeknownst to them, the pair couldn’t be a worse match. Juliette is a vampire, Calliope is a vampire hunter and both are eager to make their first kill.

“First Kill” is based on a short story by V.E. Schwab. Schwab is the co-writer of the “First Kill” adaptation and the author of several popular series and standalone novels, such as “A Darker Shade of Magic” and “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

I really wanted to like “First Kill,” but I was ready to stop watching by the end of the first episode. Bad acting from most supporting characters and cheesy dialogue had me cringing. I could have looked past those things had it not been for the biggest monstrosity of the show. No, not the vampires —  the special effects. They were so atrocious I couldn’t take any scene where they were utilized seriously.

Despite not enjoying it personally, I am sad to see the series canceled when there is such a lack of sapphic romances in television. Perhaps with a bigger budget, the show could’ve been watchable.


Stranger Things (season 4)

Available to stream on Netflix

Verdict: Stream it

“Stranger Things’” season four was arguably the biggest series release of the summer. The anticipation only heightened by the season being split-released in two parts. If you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen any of this show, I definitely recommend giving it a watch but skip to the next item on this list to avoid spoilers.

This season sees the characters confronting their biggest enemy yet. When a series of brutal murders plagues the town of Hawkins, the crew suspects it has something to do with the Upside Down. But, with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) powerless in California, those left in Hawkins have to come up with their own way of facing the enemy.

The beloved characters from “Stranger Things” return in season four to stop an evil from overtaking Hawkins. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

This season of “Stranger Things” has been living in my mind rent free since I watched it the moment it premiered. I would argue it’s “Stranger Things’” scariest, most gruesome season yet. Beyond just the physical horrors, this season deals a lot with trauma, grief and identity, all of which are just as complex as the Upside Down’s monstrosities. This season finally offers viewers an explanation for all that’s gone on.

While a lot is packed into this season, it definitely lives up to the hype.



Available to stream on Peacock

Verdict: Skip it

“Firestarter” is the second adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. A young girl, Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), is born to parents who were experimented on as young adults. Like her dad, she is born with psychic abilities. She can psychically create and manipulate fire, but the power is tied to her emotions which make them extremely hard for a young girl to control. When the family is targeted by power-hungry researchers who want the girl for themselves, Charlie must run away and learn to control her abilities to protect herself and avoid being caught.

Watching this film would be a complete waste of your time. If someone told me the script, director’s and production notes, set design, et cetera were entirely plotted out using a few bullet points on a piece of notebook paper, I would believe them.

Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong play a father and daughter on the run in the 2022 adaptation of “Firestarter” (Photo courtesy of Blumhouse Studios)

The plot and characters have absolutely zero depth. The villains are corny and unbelievable. The characters make idiotic decisions. The ending was random and nonsensical. The backstory is not fleshed out whatsoever, remaining extremely vague in a way that comes across as lazy rather than mysterious.

This movie is a shell with absolutely no substance. What little direction this film does have is nothing new or creative. Watch any other film with a superpowered child for a better viewing experience.


Top Gun: Maverick

Available to stream on Paramount+

Verdict: Stream it

“Top Gun: Maverick” released this summer, 36 years after the release of the original film. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) returns years after his own time at the Top Gun program to train new recruits tasked with a nearly impossible mission. Of those new recruits is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s passed-on friend, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards). Maverick grapples with training Rooster to be the best pilot he can be while navigating his grief and guilt for Goose’s death.

Maverick trains new pilots to fly a risky mission in “Top Gun: Maverick.” (Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

For me, the original “Top Gun” was an exception when it came to military films. I usually hate military-centric movies, so despite enjoying “Top Gun,” I was still worried I wouldn’t like “Top Gun: Maverick.” I was happy to be proven wrong.

The sequel is just as, if not more, fun and thrilling as the original. The characters are snarky and fun, and I found myself rooting for all of them. The film deals with themes of grief and responsibility tactfully. It honors old characters while making new ones feel just as deep and relevant. The thrilling, enrapturing flight sequences alone are enough for me to encourage you to watch this film.


Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Available to stream on Disney+

Verdict: Stream it

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” starts abruptly, when a huge monster appears randomly to terrorize the streets of New York. The monster is hunting a young girl, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who claims to be from an alternate universe. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) finds America has the power to jump between universes, a power that could be destructive in the wrong hands, and there’s already someone chasing after it.

Despite not being the titular character, Wanda Maximoff stole the show as the Scarlet Witch in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” (Photo courtesy of Marvel)

This film was easily the best I watched this summer and one of my favorites from this year. The tone was completely unique to other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. The film’s director Sam Raimi excelled at making the film dark and unsettling. The special effects were utilized perfectly to make trippy and terrifying scenes.

America is a promising new character and makes me hopeful for Marvel’s introduction of the Young Avengers. Elizabeth Olson absolutely stole the show as Wanda Maximoff, crafting one of Marvel’s best villains yet with her chilling performance. This movie keeps the quality of other top Marvel films while bringing something new and fresh to the universe.



Available to stream on Disney+

Verdict: Skip it

Buzz Lightyear is a toy we all know from the famous Pixar Animation Studios franchise, “Toy Story,” but in the original movies, he is based on a character from one of Andy’s favorite films. “Lightyear” is that film. Stranded on an unfamiliar planet, “Lightyear’s” Buzz (Chris Evans) must work to achieve hyper speed to successfully travel back to his home planet. A few minutes in space for Buzz is equal to decades on the ground, and the mission is looking more and more hopeless. Just as Buzz thinks he’s had a breakthrough, he returns to his planet overtaken by killer robots.

Buzz Lightyear returns in Pixar’s “Lightyear,” which tells the origin story of the toy we know and love. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

This film wasn’t necessarily bad. It was just unremarkable. I didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t invested in the story. There were a few amusing moments, thanks to Disney’s staple animal companion, but the film still lacked substance. I didn’t feel attached or connected to any of the characters, which is rare for me with Disney films. This is especially surprising because “Toy Story” was one of my childhood favorites. I don’t think this film was terrible, but I will likely never watch it again. I could have spent the time I took to watch it viewing something much more entertaining.