ADAM GRAHAM

Are movies... back? Five films worth seeing on a big screen right now

Been a while since you've been to the movies? Here are five non-franchise offerings that are worth a night out.

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Not to jinx it, but it's been a pretty good year at the movies so far. 

Audiences are feeling more comfortable returning to theaters, two years after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Hollywood and studio scheduling. 

Michelle Yeoh in "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

And it's not just superheroes and blockbuster films that movie fans are embracing. The multiverse madness of "Everything Everywhere All at Once," which hit the Top 5 at the box office last weekend, is showing the drawing power of original filmmaking, movies that aren't based on comic books or old sitcoms or dusty toys that have been sitting in someone's basement since the Reagan administration, but rather fresh ideas born out of the human imagination. What a concept!

Sure, "The Batman" is the No. 1 box office moneymaker of the year so far, and the new "Dr. Strange" film brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe back to theaters in early May. 

But there's plenty happening beyond the franchises, and now is a particularly good time to go back to the movies, especially if it's been a while since you've been to your local movie house. Here are five films currently in theaters that are well worth a night out. 

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" — The title says it all. Michelle Yeoh stars in this brain-melter that feels like 10,000 movies happening concurrently, all on top of one another. Yeoh plays an overworked wife and mother who, during a routine tax audit, is introduced to the concept of the multiverse, where across infinite realities she's tasked with saving the world. It sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo but at its core it's a movie about family and understanding, and it plays out in epic, hilarious, action-packed fashion. It's a movie that's worth seeing on the big screen, in a crowd full of people who also can't believe what they're watching. It's a ride. 

Stephanie Hsu in "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

"The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" — Nicolas Cage, master thespian or living meme? Well, why can't he be both? In this meta comedy, Cage stars as himself, the most eccentric and absurd actor of his generation, and he reclaims his narrative by embracing his cult status and showing why there will only ever be one Nicolas Cage. With references to his work in "Leaving Las Vegas," "Con Air," "The Rock," "The Wicker Man" and many more, this is a fun, surprisingly sweet-natured look at Hollywood, stardom and the one-of-a-kind career path of one of the wildest to ever do it. 

Pedro Pascal and Nicolas Cage in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

"The Northman" — Picture "Hamlet" meets "Braveheart," with Vikings. That's the pitch for this brutal, blood-caked epic starring Alexander Skarsgård as a 9th century warrior prince who watches as his father (Ethan Hawke) is beheaded by the sword of his brother and vows to avenge his death. Rich, poetic language and wicked violence ensues, as writer-director Robert Eggers ("The Witch," "The Lighthouse") cooks up a tale of destiny and vengeance and manages to coax Björk into making her first on-screen appearance in ages. It's a healthy way to tap into your primal side. 

Alexander Skarsgård in "The Northman."

"X" — It's Texas in the late '70s and a crew of young filmmakers sets out to make a porn film in a rented cabin. Yet they end up taking on more than they bargained for in writer-director Ti West's homage to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and other slasher films of the day, which builds on moody atmosphere, inventive slayings and a killer double performance from star Mia Goth. It's a gory horror film so it's not for everybody, but fans of the genre will lap it up. 

This image released by A24 shows Mia Goth in a scene from "X."

"Dog" — Channing Tatum co-directs and stars as an Army Ranger tasked with delivering a military dog to the funeral of its handler in this comic drama that has laughs, heart and a big ol' dog at its center. See, it doesn't have to be complex or mind-blowing or involve multiverses of storytelling. When executed the right way, the basic elements still deliver. 

Channing Tatum in "Dog."

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama