Friday, May 25, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story movie review.

Han Solo is one of my favorite characters in Star Wars history. In fact, he may well be the quintessential example of a perfect film character. A charming, but reckless smuggler caught up in the middle of a galaxy-spanning conflict he wants nothing to do with, a man unafraid and perfectly willing to get his hands dirty if it means survival, but at the core of that rugged exterior of his, lies the heart of a good man simply afraid of others hurting or betraying him. This is to say nothing of Harrison Ford's performance, whose own rugged charm has become synonymous with the character's legacy.

But if The Force Awakens understood anything, it's that Han had very little left to go at that point, sending him off on a fitting, but bittersweet note. So what do you do after one of your star characters has been killed off? In the case of Solo, the second in Disney's Star Wars Story anthology series, take us back to the past and show the origins of the infamous cad. And in all honesty, this is one step too far, because in an attempt to give a character more depth, they've actually made him less intriguing as a result.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Deadpool 2 movie review.

After a dismal first attempt in the form of X-Men Origins, cult favorite antihero Deadpool made a strong recovery in the form of his titular solo feature, which took multiplexes by storm back in 2016. Fondly regarded by critics and audiences alike, the movie was very much a passion project for star and producer Ryan Reynolds, whose enthusiasm for the character could be felt in every second, as it should, since the film was single-handedly anchored by him.

That said, while I thought it was a funny film, I continue to be put off by the origin story that dominated the first half, that played itself too sincerely for its own good, and brought the film to a screeching halt anytime it cut back. But now that audiences are caught up with his origins, and the studio finally gives the creative team a sizable budget, perhaps its sequel should fix those issues. Alas, while the film still remains funny and charming, Deadpool 2 feels like it actually doubles down on those issues.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Brief thoughts on Tully.

Our mothers: The most significant people in our lives. The most unconditionally loving souls imaginable. But also often the most undervalued. The life of a mother is rewarding, but it is also a very rough ride paved with exhaustion. Through each splinter, changes in schools, balancing work and home life, and every individual quirk in the household, our mothers are forced to don those brave faces for the benefit of their children, never letting the cracks that come with the territory show. It can be a frustrating, joyous, but also uneventful experience, one captured superbly by the Young Adult trio of Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody, and Charlize Theron in Tully.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War movie review.

There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable characters. To see if they could become something more. So that one day, when we needed them, they could launch a universe that no one else could. When Marvel set forth to do just that, everyone assumed they were crazy, and yet ten years later, they've achieved the impossible. With back to back hits Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Black Panther, culminating in two Avengers crossovers, they've turned what many thought was a surefire trainwreck into a gargantuan event series.

For ten years, Marvel has been hard at work breeding their characters for the eventual culmination of their journeys, and the steady stream of Infinity Stone introductions, at the hands of Thanos and the restoration of the Infinity Gauntlet. Gargantuan a task it was, perhaps one that could have undone Marvel despite their success. It's all inevitable that Marvel will eventually fall victim to the hype they themselves generated, and with what a bloodbath and earth-shattering climax the Infinity War would be, this could have been the place to do it. No doubt, with the sheer number of characters and personalities at play, this is an exhausting movie. But one with a titanic bravado, and even if hitting road bumps, succeeds at hitting the expectations of those devoted fans who've followed their exploits for a decade.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Isle of Dogs movie review.

Few directors are as idiosyncratic as Wes Anderson. Warts and all, his signature style is unmistakable, crafting obsessively layered films both in craft and in concept, with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Moonrise Kingdom standing out as some of his finest highlights. Given what a hands on filmmaker he is, it certainly made sense for him to venture into stop-motion, previously adapting Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox to the screen in 2009.

It's been far too long since his last feature, and now he returns again to stop-motion with Isle of Dogs. Any animal lover would likely be put off by that very premise, given the grisly fates that animals and pets in his films usually meet, which is only one area where Anderson has proven himself a distinctly macabre visionary. But even if it's likely to test your sensitivity, Isle of Dogs certainly proves no less an outstanding effort from the prolific filmmaker.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Brief thoughts on A Quiet Place.

Sound and silence are often taken for granted. With movies, in particular, since films have ironically evolved from no audio at all, to sound and dialogue becoming a huge part of our stories. Nowadays, silence tends to take a back seat to the big budget spectacles, with studios at war with and one-upping each other to see who can have the biggest explosions and mayhem. But silence is never truly gone, simply buried, waiting for a truly special film to make use of it. And so does A Quiet Place, director John Krasinski's eerie and terrifying feature.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Ready Player One movie review.

I am, and I assume many of my readers are, a nostalgic lover of the 80's and its pop culture. The decade of Duran Duran and Michael Jackson still continues to resonate with a great many for its iconic achievements and shifting social attitudes, that obsession continuing to follow us to today, as 80's franchises find new life in continuations and reboots, and generating brand new pop culture phenomenons like Stranger Things, that wear their old-fashioned setting like a badge of honor.

And if you were a lover of the 80's, chances are you were also a lover of Amblin and Steven Spielberg, for crafting some of the most endearing and memorable franchises and films of the decade. But, fun as nostalgia may be, to leap into it blissfully unaware of the world's larger problems can be a danger all on its own. That's an issue Spielberg himself tackles, in his adaptation of Ernest Cline's fanboy favorite book Ready Player One, of a world crumbling to pieces as that nostalgia dominates.