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Average User Score: 8.4Jun 16, 2018It's very rare that Pixar has a misstep. Thankfully, Incredibles 2 is not one of those missteps. It's a riveting, fun adventure for kids andIt's very rare that Pixar has a misstep. Thankfully, Incredibles 2 is not one of those missteps. It's a riveting, fun adventure for kids and is just as entertaining for the adults, even if it never reaches the masterful heights of its predecessor.
I think that the first Incredibles film is a masterpiece. What made it so great is that it had--in addition to its eye-popping beautiful animation and action--an emotionally affecting story about a married couple that rediscovers how much they rely on one another, how neither one of them is complete without the other. This made it so much more powerful because it was deeply resonating for adults while still being very entertaining for the whole family. Incredibles 2 is certainly still a lot of fun for the family, but I just didn't feel that it had the emotional heft that was boasted by its predecessor. There are some sweet scenes that explore the dynamic of the Parr family that elevate the story, but they feel much more forced with dialogue that often doesn't come across as natural.
The weakest aspect of Incredibles 2 is its story and villain. Neither of them is bad by any means, but there's just nothing unexpected about it. 15 minutes into the movie, it's clear what the direction is and the plot then proceeds to follow expectations beat for beat.
That being said, Incredibles 2 is another fantastic achievement from Disney/Pixar. The animation is so fully realized that I could not believe my eyes. The color perfectly sets the tone of the scenes, the action is perfectly choreographed and constructed, and while some of the humor feels shoehorned into the script, the vast majority of it works very well and it all adds up to make this sequel a great summer film and a crowd-pleaser.
Entertainment Value: 7.5
Overall Score: 7.4/10… Expand
Average User Score: 4.5Jun 12, 2018This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Get ready to read. I have a lot to say. When Supreme Leader Snoke said "Darkness rises and light to meet it," he wasn't kidding. Never before have I seen a film that is such a bewildering blend of brilliance and idiocy. Half of Star Wars: The Last Jedi works wonderfully and the other half is just brainless. I don't understand people who refuse to admit that there's anything wrong with the movie not do I understand those who refuse to admit that anything about it was good.
There's a lot to say and I won't get to all of it here, but I'll start with what worked. By far the best aspect of The Last Jedi is the character arcs of Rey and Kylo Ren. The bond that they form is an intellectually gripping one. Kylo Ren is a fantastic villain because he is so easily understood. It's elaborated in great detail how everyone in his life has failed him and in the end he really comes across as sympathetic and his goals make a lot of sense--so much so that Rey is tempted to join him. When evil is able to take the form of something logical and enticing, that's when you know it's been portrayed in the most effective possible way. Rey's character serves to anchor the film in its themes of disappointment, failure, redemption and heroism. Throughout the story she comes to realize that she has been placing her hope in false perception of others and that she--despite her humble origins--is no less valuable or capable than even the highest-ranking leaders. She acknowledges, like Kylo Ren, that the past certainly has its moments of shame and failure. But she goes beyond his mindset of "killing the past" by recognizing that there are still good things worth protecting and she takes the responsibility of protecting the light upon herself. It's a powerful character arc--one of the best in the entire saga--and makes the film's deep themes all the more thought-provoking.
The Last Jedi is a gorgeous-looking movie. I believe it to be the most visually stunning of the franchise. Rian Johnson's use of color, sound, and diverse camera work makes the galaxy look better than it ever has before.
Many people dislike the humor of the new Star Wars films, but I enjoy it. What's wrong with injecting a little lightheartedness into the story? The original trilogy had its dark moments with some humorous moments thrown in there as well. The jokes in The Last Jedi are mostly funny but also are never excessive to the point of losing out on the poignant narrative.
Everyone seems to think that there are a ton of plot holes in The Last Jedi, but what they really mean is that there are some unanswered questions, and that's not the same thing. Just because things are left unexplained does not make them plot holes, and if you need to be spoon-fed the deeper logic of every single additional force power and space warfare tactic explored here than thinking critically about them, then you are a dumb viewer. The Star Wars universe is rich with lore from novels, guides, the animated series' and more. Nearly all unanswered questions can be answered by these things. If every odd-seeming thing were to be completely elaborated upon in this film, it would have made the movie several hours longer. After a lot of thinking, I don't think any of the new abilities or aspects added in The Last Jedi are problematic in any way, except for maybe hyperspace ramming. If this is possible, why hasn't it been used before, if it's so effective? But I digress. Now for what didn't work.
The entire subplot on Canto Bight in the casino was completely unnecessary. It made the film about 20 minutes too long and added nothing to the characters' development or even to the plot itself. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who believes otherwise.
The character of Rose is by far the worst character in the film, arguably the worst in the entire saga. She's unfunny, annoying, underdeveloped, and obliterates Finn's potential-filled character arc. Finn should have been allowed to follow through on sacrificing himself when he was doing the suicide-run to destroy The First Order's cannon. It would have been a spectacular farewell to him as he has spent the last two films learning to overcome fear and to embrace selflessness and would have died completing his journey. Instead, we get the half-baked line about how we need to "not kill what we hate, but save what we love," even though the only way to save what you love is by killing what opposes it, but whatever. There are so many parts of this film that were building up to something incredible and moving that just don't follow through--characters that could have been so much more compelling but were missing something essential (motivation, resolution, etc.). It makes the Last Jedi a very disappointing film because it does have some ingenious aspects but just missed the mark on so much that is ends up being just okay.
Entertainment Value: 7
OVERALL SCORE: 7.5/10… Expand
Average User Score: 6.9Jun 6, 2018Though it never manages to reach the heights of storytelling prowess and cinematic glory of the original trilogy, Star Wars: The Force AwakensThough it never manages to reach the heights of storytelling prowess and cinematic glory of the original trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens succeeds in just about everything it could be asked to do: it pays homage to the legacy of its predecessors and passes the torch to a new generation of surprisingly realized characters.
There is a great deal of personality brought by the script, with sharp humor and characters that have unique and relatable issues and desires. Some of the dialogue is clichéd, but it's leaps and bounds better than that of the prequels. The characters and their personal arcs are very well-established on screen, even if they all seem a bit too good at everything, always able to get out of any situation with little-to-no difficulty. There are some times where this makes for a less-compelling story as tension gets drained from the action, but there is still a great deal of personality and heart in the script that largely makes up for this. The story is where The Force Awakens really shows glaring weakness. The entire plot is a recycling of A New Hope, and although the lack of originality is somewhat helped by the unique tone and characters, the movie still fails to provide the thrills that it could have because it's all just something that we've seen before. The Force Awakens is a fun, humorous, action-packed adventure that's certainly elevated to status of greatness by its well-written characters. It’s refreshing to see more of a reliance on practical effects that made the originals so stunning. It’s a remarkable return-to-form for the franchise after the dud of the prequels even if it is somewhat flawed in its development of plot and characters.
Entertainment Value: 8
OVERALL SCORE: 8/10… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Jun 10, 2018What a spectacular conclusion to a superior trilogy. It may not be the bombastically action-packed finale that would be expected from a titleWhat a spectacular conclusion to a superior trilogy. It may not be the bombastically action-packed finale that would be expected from a title like "War for the Planet of the Apes," but this film finishes the Apes origins saga in a way that's far more gripping, intelligent, and thought-provoking than a blockbuster could ever be expected to be.
Caesar ought to be cemented as one of cinema's most memorable characters. This movie completes his arc so powerfully as he--for the first time in the trilogy--confronts his demons and learns what it truly means to lead. The motion-capture is perhaps the best ever put to film as the apes' emotions are so effectively portrayed. Caesar is old, tired, and battle-hardened, as are his primate companions, and it shows. The human characters here are also arguably the best of the three films as the morality of all sides of the conflict are explored. Rather than painting this war as a black-and-white good ape vs. evil human sort of struggle, the story shows it to be a psychological war. It's a deeply complex political tragedy where evil deeds are done with the best intentions. It's thought-provoking in a way that is rarely seen in cinema today
Although it is the most effective of the trilogy, War does suffer from some very sluggish pacing. Slow-burning stories are not always bad, but this one does not have enough locations or differing events to keep it engaging throughout the entire runtime. The dialogue is sufficiently intelligent to mostly make up for it, but the film seems to end in a disappointingly abrupt way that doesn't quite serve as a payoff for the long, bleak drama that led up to it.
Nitpicks aside, War for the Planet of the Apes is an emotionally exhausting sci-fi tale that adds the perfect cap to the provocative themes and poignant character arcs of its predecessors and makes this trilogy one of the best sci-fi series ever put to screen.
Entertainment Value: 8.5
OVERALL SCORE: 9.2/10… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Jun 8, 2018Serving as a sequel that improves upon its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes adds resonant depth to the complex political tragedy toServing as a sequel that improves upon its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes adds resonant depth to the complex political tragedy to the narrative of a long-living franchise. It's a gorgeous-looking movie and nearly everything about it works.
It takes a while for the story to really get going, just as it was with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the previous film. But once the action starts, the cinematography really starts to shine. The action sequences are some of the best I've seen in a long time. The vibrant colors bring out incredible detail and the camera follows everything perfectly. Once again, Andy Serkis is magnificent as Caesar. Really, all of the motion capture imagery is just beyond stunning. There's so much behind the facial expressions and mannerisms of the apes: brotherhood, pain, etc. It's incredible how much emotion is evoked in the actors' performances when they hardly even speak!
The script does a wonderful job at developing the apes as characters, but Dawn suffers from the same problem that Rise had: clichéd and underdeveloped human characters. Gary Oldman makes the most of his smaller supporting role, but the rest of the human characters behave in ways that are quite illogical that make it difficult to really care about them or understand them. Some of the human characters don't even do enough to justify their large presence in the film.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes mostly overcomes what flaws it has with an intelligent story, engaging political drama, and beautiful, smooth direction. It improves upon its predecessor in every way and enriches the drama of an enduring saga.
Entertainment Value: 8.5
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5/10… Expand
Average User Score: 5.5Jun 9, 2018An uneven but mostly enjoyable summer flick, Ocean’s 8 is a well-written comedy but fails to serve as a consistently engaging, thrilling heistAn uneven but mostly enjoyable summer flick, Ocean’s 8 is a well-written comedy but fails to serve as a consistently engaging, thrilling heist film.
It’s a charming and witty movie thanks to its characters that are all well-established as unique individuals with fun, quirky personalities and skills. The script capitalises on this and incorporates fast-paced humour that never gets old because the hilarity is always as different as it’s characters.
But this is where the film’s success about stops. Like most heist movies, Ocean’s 8 sets up various problems for the thieves as things start to go wrong with the plan or the actual heist. But rather than expanding on these plot points to build thrills and suspense, the story resolves every single issue that comes up in a matter of seconds. This completely deflates any sense of tension and also makes the characters less interesting because the protagonists can get out of anything with incredible ease while the antagonists come across as unfathomably stupid and gullible.
Ocean’s 8 is good enough to be a welcome addition to the franchise it builds upon. It’s funny and entertaining and is well-directed and acted. But it’s clumsily conceived, half-baked plot makes it a mostly forgettable, average crime film.
Entertainment Value: 6.5
OVERALL SCORE: 6/10… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Jun 7, 2018I don’t give out perfect 10’s easily, but Unbreakable is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated movies of all time. It's unfairlyI don’t give out perfect 10’s easily, but Unbreakable is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated movies of all time. It's unfairly compared to M. Night Shyamalan's previous film, The Sixth Sense, when the two films could hardly be more different. The only thing they have in common is their tone and comparing them is an unfair and unproductive thing to do. In my opinion, it's M. Night's best film and one that may not have met audiences's expectations but is far more intelligent and powerful than it gets credit for being.
Shyamalan has a particular style to his direction that subtly adds certain aspects to the plot through visual cues. Everything has its purpose in the story. For example, the use of contrasting clothing colours adds to the nature of the characters. Scenes of dialogue are filmed in long, uninterrupted takes that make them so much more engaging because they flow so smoothly and are so well-acted. In every scene, the camera moves to follow its subject in a way that’s seamless—mesmerising, even. The score by James Newton Howard, once again, fits the film like a glove and sent chills down my spine during the climactic final scenes.
This film is remarkably well-acted. Bruce Willis gives arguably the best performance of his career, as he and every other character evoke the fullness of possible emotion—sadness, rage, hopelessness, and eventually happiness—in even the most subtle of facial expressions. The actors are aided by a clever script that explores the complexities of power, good and evil, tragedy, love and loss, and what it means to be a hero. It’s ambitious, and it balances its many themes with genius dexterity.
I would describe Unbreakable as the smartest superhero movie ever made. It’s twist ending—contrary to popular opinion—is not intended to be a “WHAT?!” moment, but instead it adds another thought-provoking layer to the beautiful character arcs. The film was well ahead of its time, written long before the superhero genre was thought to be full of potential, and it still holds up to this day as a masterfully-told story of ordinary-to-extraordinary.
Entertainment Value: 10
OVERALL SCORE: 10/10… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Jun 7, 2018In recent years it has seemed that at least half of cinema has consisted of reboots, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, etc. It's easy to becomeIn recent years it has seemed that at least half of cinema has consisted of reboots, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, etc. It's easy to become skeptical of films like those of the Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy and write them off as unnecessary cash-grabs. But Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a film that knows how to overcome genre tropes through intensely gripping character-driven drama and it starts off the trilogy in an enthralling way.
Andy Serkis is a motion-capture acting genius. As Caesar the ape, he clearly conveys the intense psychological divide between the character's animal instinct and humanistic intelligence. His performance breathes life into a story that could be a very dull, generic sci-fi origin story. The journey of self-discovery and self-sacrifice that Caesar endures is so well-captured by the script and it's done with so little dialogue. The visual storytelling is remarkable and it's by far the best part of the movie.
But deep drama and pulse-pounding action aside, there are some very underdeveloped aspects to the film. While all the performances are impressive, nearly all of the supporting characters have muddled motivations and all seem very stereotypical in the way that they're written into the story. There's not much about them to care about as they're all treated as mere story props to move the story of Caesar along. The plot is not as compelling or thought-provoking as it could be because there isn't as much development to the human side as there is to the ape side.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a solid introduction to a superior trilogy. It's a bit too slow-paced and it can't help but feel like a prelude for something better to come, but it's more than engrossing enough to convert new fans to an old franchise.
Entertainment Value: 8
OVERALL SCORE: 8.1/10… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Jun 4, 2018Maybe Poltergeist's status as an endearing horror classic made my expectations too high, but for me it's just a slightly above average horrorMaybe Poltergeist's status as an endearing horror classic made my expectations too high, but for me it's just a slightly above average horror that possesses smart writing and gorgeous direction style but is hindered by its flagrantly incoherent, sometimes lazy storytelling.
The film's greatest strength is its characters. A horror movie can only be truly scary if viewers can connect with and care about the characters, and Poltergeist establishes them as intelligent, genuine people rather than just pawns for the script to kill off or otherwise torment. Many films try too hard to sell their protagonists as real people and the dialogue ends up coming across as forced and rushed, but Poltergeist takes its time and it pays off. The Freeling family is written into the story in such a way that they are authentic, admirable, and capable. The fear that the actors display is thus much more powerful and makes for a much more affecting viewing experience.
While the characters develop beautifully, the plot develops in a much less sharp way. It doesn't really feel like a cohesive story with one event leading to another, but rather a series of paranormal events that don't have any logic or motive behind them and aren't connected to each other in any way. When it's finally revealed at the end what the root cause is of the neighborhood's great disturbances, the whole story disintegrates because all the scattered events throughout the movie appear contradictory in their causes and their intended purposes.
Poltergeist does have some effective aspects to it and is a satisfying horror outing, but the chilling visuals, compelling characters and engaging dialogue just aren't enough and the suspense crumbles under the burden of a scatterbrained story.
Entertainment Value: 6
OVERALL SCORE: 6.6/10… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Jun 3, 2018Being the chronological predecessor to 1977's A New Hope, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story proves to be everything that a prequel should be. ItBeing the chronological predecessor to 1977's A New Hope, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story proves to be everything that a prequel should be. It adds a richness and depth to the story of the original Star Wars while still serving as an engaging, character-driven drama with a leg to stand on its own.
As is to be expected at this point, Rogue One brings the world of the original trilogy into the 21st century with realistic, action-packed spectacle. The CGI blends in seamlessly with the practical sets and effects and gives an epic, lifelike, colossal scale to the galaxy far far away.
Although the characters are not as fully realized as they could be, the film sets them all up in such a way that it is understood who they are and what is important to them. It makes the most of the limited room for character arcs by establishing their individual goals and priorities and basing the story around their collective journey toward redemption and personal sacrifice. It's a unified character arc that is shared by the entire team of protagonists, and it's very touching. The story succeeds because it does what the Star Wars films have always done so well: it tells a complex story about people and their nature, not just about political events.
Where the film suffers most is in its antagonist. The Empire and its leaders make some unfathomably incompetent decisions that deflate a great deal of the tension from the story, particularly from the climax. Some of the dialogue is also a bit heavy handed and overly-dramatic, but most of it works quite well. It doesn't detract too much from the experience as the actors' competence largely makes up for the few screenwriting flaws.
Rogue One does drag a bit at times and is not quite as compelling as it could be, but it has plenty of charm, humor, and eye-popping action to make it fun. In addition to that, the themes of redemption and selfless sacrifice are handled with somber tact that makes this among the most thought-provoking and endearing of the Star Wars saga.
Entertainment Value: 8.5
OVERALL SCORE: 8.1/10… Expand