It's Memorial Day Weekend in the US and that's generally the start of the blockbuster summer movie season. This year that means there's a lot expected from two films Furiosa, which I have seen and review below and Garfield, based on the newspaper comic strip that's become just a one-joke feature these days. Predictions I've seen say that even the two of them together won't be enough to stir up more than a bleak theater-going weekend. Not like The Little Mermaid did last year or Top Gun: Maverick did in 2022. We'll see.

In theaters or not, these are new right now:

Furiosa A Mad Max Saga: 3 stars

Plastic People: 4 ½

The Beach Boys: 3 ½

Atlas: 2

FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA: Near the end of this over-long movie a character expounds like this: "All of us seek sensation to wash away the cranky black sorrow.” That's a pretty good summary of what George Miller's 5th in his wasteland dystopian films is all about. Sensation is what it gives you. Spectacular action. Speedy chases. Hundreds of motorcyles coming across the desert. Monster trucks crushing over others. Great fun if you're into that. It gets the adrenaline acting up almost non-stop for 2 ½ hours. However, at that length there should be a clearer story to tell.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

This is a prequel with Anna Taylor-Joy taking over from Charlize Theron who was Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) to show how she became such a tough woman. And how she lost part of an arm. She's captured at age 10 by a horde of motorcycle riders and taken to their leader Dr. Dementus played with messianic relish by Chris Hemsworth. He rides a chariot pulled by two motorcyles and carries a teddy bear. Typical weirdness in these films. He puts Furiosa in a cage. But there's a war going on, a truce is shaky and Dementus has to hand her over to his rival Immortan Joe. Who's the main villain? We know Joe will be in the future (in Fury Road) but how all this connects here is a bit obscure. No matter. Revenge is the point. Furiosa lost her childhood and her mother when she was captured 15 years earlier. Now she works on escaping and going after Dementus. The film is hot, colorful and berzerk with energy, if short of logic. (In theaters) 3 out of 5

PLASTIC PEOPLE: THE HIDDEN CRISIS OF MICROPLASTICS: It's only in a few theaters, already finished in some, but look out for it. It's important. It may add to all the things you have to be scared about these days but there's satisfaction in getting to know the facts, even if they're unsettling.

Courtesy of White Pine Pictures

We already know a lot about the plastic that collects in the oceans and what it does to fish and other creatures. This is about what it does to us. Micro-particles are collecting inside all of us. They've been detected in cells, brains, placenta, even mother's milk. They're getting passed on to newborns even before they start drinking out of plastic cups or those ubiquitous water bottles. Two million of those are used every single minute around the world, and, suprise, not recycled. The medical effects aren't clear yet but cancers have risen along with plastic use and nylon has caused lung damage. Single use is now under attack and some towns, like Bayfield in Ontario, have declared themselves plastics free.

The film is a Canadian production, directed by Ben Addelman and former TV science personality Ziya Tong. They get facts, microscope views and comments from scientists in the U.S., England, Italy, Turkey and Holland, and even from victims. They give the history, how the oil industry created the plastics industry, and the urgency. As one scientist says: plastic is useful; the problem is how it's used. He's against “stupid ways like making plastic bottles for soda or water.” (In theaters: Vancouver's Rio and VIFF Center now, Toronto's Royal Theater Tuesday and Hot Docs Cinema and Revue Theater soon) 4 ½ out of 5

THE BEACH BOYS: Here's a nice celebration of the legendary band and if you're new to their story you'll find it informative. If not, because it's already been told in two TV movies, a lengthy documentary and in print, you may not find too much that's new. Brian Wilson's mental decline, that led to a court-ordered conservatorship just two weeks ago, isn't mentioned, though his dabbling with LSD is. Also not here is the current version of the band, led by Mike Love, that's on tour right now (tonight: Bridgeport, Conn.) Not even that Mike Love has performed with them at Donald Trump rallies. The film is almost all about the early years.

A picture sleeve from one of their first records

The Wilson Brothers, Brian, Dennis, and Carl, formed the band with Love, their cousin, and their friend Al Jardine. Brian came up with that signature tight-harmony sound after studying the vocal group, The Four Freshmen. He was the creative leader and a driven perfectionist. It took him three months to get California Girls just right. The Beach Boys and The Beatles influenced each other.

But cracks developed. The Wilsons' father was the manager. He got their record deal but also interfered. We hear bits of studio arguments. Later he caused a major rift when he sold their songs without telling them. Brian who was termed “a homebody,” stopped performing live with the group, got more and more grumpy but kept artistic control. Love sued at one point. Dennis got to know Charles Manson who had musical ambitions of his own. You get some of the bad along with the “joyfulness,” as it's termed, of the Beach Boys' music. (Disney+) 3 ½ out of 5

ATLAS: Jennifer Lopez is not someone you'd expect to star in a space travel movie but here she is going out there in an ambitious tale about Artificial Intelligence. It's another prompt for us to think about the technology, rather obvious and simple but direct. She plays a data analyst who fears AI and is assigned to re-capture one who has gone rogue. In human form he's Harlan and played by Simu Liu (remember the Canadian actor as one of the Kens?) and he actually has a connection to Lopez's character Atlas. He was also created by her mother and so in effect they're related. Harlan has an idea to end all war: kill all the people on earth and start again. (A Marvel Films villain recently had the same idea).

Courtesy of Netflix

Atlas is known as rigid and hostile. But a general (Mark Strong) gets her to go to outer space to capture Harlan, who having already killed three million people is described as “the most wanted AI terrorist in history.” That brings more unexpected scenes for JLo. She sits in and operates a giant space suit that looks like a robot. She has to ally with an actual AI who calls himself Smith and is voiced by Gregory James Cohan. Their vocal interaction is droll and funny. She gets to a flying city and is urged to get to an ecape pod. But oxygen and battery power are running low. Typical movie sci fi stuff but one speech makes a strong point: “Since humans threaten every other species as well as their own planet it is only a matter of time before they destroy themselves.” That's better put than the muddled warnings about AI. (Netflix) 2 out of 5