Sorry to Bother You

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In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.

Sorry to Bother You marks the directorial debut of Boots Riley, who offers his unique voice to a world crowded with single-genre pictures meant to please a wider audience. Riley knows how to make a film his own and dive into many genres, like dark comedy and character-driven drama. He offers dialogue that doesn’t hold back on being extremely dark and bizarre yet humorous and entertaining. The movie gets so weird that eventually everyone will just have to sit back and enjoy whatever new ideas the director throws at you. This is a film that knows when it’s okay to move outside the lines of regular filmmaking and screenwriting, and try something new. Lakeith Stanfield was able to yell the titular phrase in the movie Get Out is now in the spotlight as the lead role of Cassius. He’s skilled, talented, and keeps the viewer into the film with his wide range that he brings into Cassius. Tessa Thompson once again proves herself as Cassius’ fiance Detroit and Armie Hammer has a phenomenal supporting role that’s hilarious and full of energy. The music is vivid and adds another layer to the film, and the writing is always unexpected and engaging. The movie knows when to be impactful, haunting, and thrilling but at the same time doesn’t take itself too seriously and still completely works on both aspects. While this movie is very unique, some may not like this movie or find the insane aspects to be laughable. It’s not a film for everyone, but thankfully my audience loved it so maybe you will too. Sometimes the ideas in different acts of the story don’t really act together to present a common goal or clearly feel interconnected, but I still enjoyed Sorry to Bother You from start to finish. It’s odd and nonsensical but presents itself as a deep story about people living in the modern world, and about the love, hate, hard work, and statements these people express every day.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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Ethan Hunt and the IMF must race against time to prevent global chaos after a mission gone wrong.

What most action franchises are missing by the sixth installment is the jaw-dropping thrills, and wracking action sequences and the passion and dedication from a lead star that Tom Cruise still delivers after 22 years. Like expected from this series, the action is like nothing before, with realistic stunts requiring little to no computer generated effects that only a star like Cruise would be willing to pull off. Whether it’s on a motorcycle, helicopter, or jumping off a plane, Cruise’s love for authenticity pays off and every scene is not only shot unbelievably and must be watched on an enormous screen, but the suspense and incredible sound editing will keep you on the edge of your seat. Tom Cruise achieves what no action star would achieve, let alone at age 56, and not only does he leave a mark with his name in action history, but the writing for his character is better than it was before in the series. Henry Cavill is a great addition to the franchise who has notable chemistry with Cruise and a very well-written character. Simon Pegg is once again great comic relief, and Ving Rhames is a memorable supporting character who’s been in these movies for as long as Cruise has. Rebecca Ferguson is also a pleasing return from Rogue Nation and so is Alec Baldwin as the new secretary of the IMF.

Director Christopher McQuarrie, who returns from the previous installment, once again proves that he’s got a terrific realization of the scale and excitement of the Mission: Impossible franchise and delivers top-notch fights that will glue your eyes to the screen throughout the whole runtime, even though some moments don’t reach the heights of Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa or holding onto a plane in the previous movies. The story is filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing. However, my main problem with the film is also in the story — it often borrows too much from the 5th movie, Rogue Nation. For example, Solomon Lane returns after being the main villain from the last movie, but nothing new is done with his character to make his return feel necessary. However, the exciting action is what has made this series so much fun over so many years and is why fans of Cruise and the genre should not miss this one on the big screen.

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Skyscraper

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Dwayne Johnson stars as a former FBI agent who must save his family from a group of terrorists on a skyscraper in China.

Skyscraper feels like the least unique or memorable thing the studio could go for — the plot feels the exact same as Die Hard and there’s nothing about The Rock’s character to distinguish him from every other role he’s ever played. Even the action often feels effortless and tiring when they could have at least put thought into that aspect. The villainous characters feel cliched and flat while none of the heroes feel interesting either, and the only thing clever about the lead is his backstory. The Rock always gives it his all but continues to find himself in the same recycled role these last few years, and this one is unfortunately no exception for his character. Every move the script makes is predictable and done many times before. Nothing is invented to make the film stick out or feel different from any action film set on a large building or in real-time, and the dialogue and writing are mostly weak and bland. The CG-structure of the skyscraper feels visually engaging in a few shots that should be experienced on the largest screen possible, but that’s about as much as the film has to offer that will keep you amused.

Skyscraper is a dull, generic action movie with nothing to offer other than a few cool visuals, and the only excuse for it to be made is so that kids don’t have to watch Die Hard.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Scott Lang, now under house arrest after helping Captain America protect Bucky Barnes from the law in Captain America: Civil War, he is approached once again by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym, who present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a sequel that has the great laughs and entertainment that has always made the MCU great, but doesn’t learn from some of its predecessor’s mistakes and fails to stand out from the rest of the Marvel universe. However, the bright tone delivers a fun 2 hours that will please fans of comic-book movies and action films. Paul Rudd delivers a charismatic performance as Scott, who’s not only a great hero but a loving father, and Evangeline Lilly finally suits up and does a much better job than she did in the last film. Michael Douglas is also a welcome return as Hank Pym, and you can count on Michael Pena to make you crack up in every scene he’s in. The humor is memorable and well-written (which isn’t a surprise when it comes to Marvel films as they always nail their comedy wonderfully) and the action isn’t unforgettable but is able to be fun and engaging enough to entertain.

Ant-Man was a fun and lighthearted action flick from Marvel but I feel it lacked anything to make it deep or unique — and this sequel unfortunately has that same problem. We don’t get enough new depth to Scott and the only thing that felt emotional is the plot involving someone from Hank and Hope’s past. I don’t feel like this movie or its predecessor added anything new or outstanding to the MCU, which I feel every Marvel movie has been able to do in the last 4 years except these two. These films feel like great surface-level action comedies, but lack the humanity, creativity, and ambition I’ve seen in every film in this universe since The Winter Soldier — I’m used to seeing each Marvel movie have fleshed out characters and rare directing and writing that feel different from other franchises — and usually we see the main hero learning a life lesson or having an emotional arc that you can only find in these movies. However, Peyton Reed doesn’t really dig under the surface for Scott and make the story feel meaningful or resonant like Black Panther and Infinity War. It feels fun and holds its ground but doesn’t have as many important themes that have made me love the other MCU movies. The villain has a good backstory and motive but this character’s conflict with the heroes didn’t feel as enticing as it could’ve been and the well-realized plot takes a few detours with unnecessary side characters or events. We dive deep into the Quantum Realm and the science behind it, as well as the history of the Pym family, but not very much into these character’s souls and emotions like many Marvel movies have done to make us think and look back for so long.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is another fun and appealing Marvel action movie, but doesn’t reach the standards many Marvel Studios films have set so high, and doesn’t feel as blod and delightful as other installments. It’s got nice action and memorable laughs but the script doesn’t feel as well-realized and profound as it could have been and this cinematic universe has seen much brighter stars. However, all Marvel fans like me will have a good enough time to be worth the ticket, and also stay for a great post-credits scene as always.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado

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FBI agent Matt Graver teams up with operative Alejandro Gillick to prevent Mexican drug cartels from smuggling terrorists across the U.S. border.

Sicario director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins, who helped make the first one feel so special, are absent this time, but Stefano Sollima and DP Dariusz Wolski still hold their ground to create beautiful production and violent sequences that nearly hold up to the first one’s glamour. The sound editing is harrowing and elevates the terror of sequences that could feel like real-life combat, and the gunfight choreography and use of blood to elevate terror are fitting. Like the first film, even with a slight amount of violence the stakes can be gripping, which is strong for a world with movies filled with loud sound effects and explosions. Even without Emily Blunt, the cast is great, particularly Benicio del Toro once again as a complex lead who isn’t all heroic and also dark at times. Josh Brolin also has a great return as a man trying to get the job done, and this actor never seems to disappoint or perform under your expectations, as he’s able to embrace every one of his performances to the fullest. Some of the powerful writing from the first film is present — like exploring the children of drug lords and their experience in the crosshairs.

Like its predecessor, Day of the Soldado is very well-shot, with night vision scenes to intense shootout sequences in the desert, and the music is as awe-inspiring as in the first. However, there are some scenes that feel unnecessary to the plot or don’t lead to many places, and the movie introduces some great ideas in the first two acts that are ignored towards the end. The ending feels like its teasing what could be next in Sicario 3 which is fine but it ends a little too abruptly to be taken in. I’m glad it’s unpredictable and well made like the first movie but it doesn’t feel as motivated and suspenseful, and it hardly felt like a complete story because a little too much was left open for the next movie and there wasn’t edge of your seat tension and shock in the climax or most importantly emotion like the first film’s insane final minutes. It’s still got a dark story and themes like the first one that work very well, and holds its ground in terms of style, but in the end never justifies its existence other than promising a hopefully better Sicario threequel.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado feels as well-done and harrowingly violent as its predecessor, with great performances as well, but doesn’t completely embrace its themes and saitsfy in terms of substance by the end. Recommended for action fans who will likely enjoy the  thrilling and violent fight sequences like I did.

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Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

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Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot follows the true story of paraplegic John Callahan and his dealing with alcoholism, as well as his cartoon drawing which made him famous, and his journey of coming to terms with the people in his life.

This movie promises a great cast as well as an interesting premise from a talented director, and it mostly lives up to the promise. Joaquin Phoenix is one of my favorite actors right now, and it’s hard to find a film where he doesn’t deliver. Here he plays a real-life paraplegic alcoholic so well that you constantly feel his depression and regret present in certain scenes and his brightness in others. Phoenix portrays a physically and emotionally damaged man from real life very intimately and carries the film better than any other actor would have. Also great in a supporting role is Jonah Hill who’s character plays a key role in John Callahan’s recovery. The story is at its strongest when the actor’s performances are at their best, as many scenes’ dialogue are delivered very well by the actors and certain scenes do have an emotional impact. However, the story structure starts to feel weaker in the middle act when not much emotion is present and some scenes didn’t feel too necessary. The story is at its best when it digs deepest into Callahan but sometimes the writing didn’t hit its mark, and the occasional non-linear storytelling felt unjustified and distracting whenever it was hardly there. When the movie focuses on its core themes of recovery and forgiveness, it succeeds greatly but sometimes it focuses more on dark humor or repetitiveness. Thankfully, we do get some great scenes thanks to top-notch writing and acting, and some strong delivery of story and themes.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is elevated by a superb performance from Joaquin Phoenix and a great emotional arc for his real-life character, and though the second act feels lesser to stronger parts in the beginning and end, it’s an often fascinating true story you may want to check out for its cast and writing, and those who like biopics will especially enjoy it when it’s released this July.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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Three years after the fall of Jurassic World, Owen and Claire return to the island to rescue the dinosaurs from a volcano that will cause the extinction of all the dinosaurs on the island.

There’s no surprise that audiences, including me, will continue to go pay watching dinosaurs wreak havoc on the big screen, not just because I enjoy it, but also because Jurassic Park is still on my top 10 favorite movies and I continue to have high hopes for the franchise. Unfortunately, Fallen Kingdom ditches a lot of the heart this series used to have for new high-paid cast members and plenty of scenes dedicated to rich corporate officials talking about dinosaur genetics. Jurassic World was far from perfect but still really enjoyable and had tons of edge-of-your-seat suspense, and one of the best parts of that movie was Chris Pratt’s protagonist, Owen Grady. Last time we met him, he was a unique dino trainer who knew the creatures better than anyone and took on threats in style. Here, there’s nothing heartfelt or fun to his role that all of Chris Pratt’s other performances seem to possess. His character is hardly developed this time around and his connection to Bryce Dallas Howard’s character is done the exact same way as in the last movie. The new characters played by Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, and Toby Jones are anything but engaging and a large subplot involving a young girl made zero impact on the film’s plot. The child protagonist subplot didn’t work well last time, so why try it again with a new child character? Also, if the movie can afford Jeff Goldblum in its budget, why only have him in two scenes instead of having him be a main character again like the old times? The movie’s character roster could have really used a lot more of him as none of the characters outside of Pratt and Howard are interesting at all.

If you’re looking for some monster fun, don’t worry, this will probably please you as plenty of scenes are entertaining for a wide audience. The CGI is great, and even better than the last time around. Every dinosaur has a fun look and characteristic to it and the dinosaur action is quite pleasing most of the time, especially a scene on the island which has been highly teased in the marketing. Viewers new to the franchise and those who love the fright the previous films offer won’t be let down on an action standpoint, and director J.A. Bayona quite delivers with some great shots and visuals. The story does start off with a nice concept that raises the question of whether these creatures that us humans created deserve to live — but it rushes to the action without much meaning or strong buildup. Soon the plot becomes too uneven and it focuses not enough on its main characters and too much on useless or boring parts without moving forward into new ideas the franchise hasn’t explored before. The trailer makes this seem like the Empire Strikes Back of the Jurassic Park movies but there isn’t much tension or suspense besides the constant dinosaur noise after dinosaur noise, and even the action scenes have the familiar “characters making dumb mistakes near monsters” tropes. At the end, it didn’t feel like I had watched a complete movie because though the story could’ve been something very thrilling, there isn’t much depth to it. This could’ve worked really well and even been one of the best Jurassic movies, if only there was a reason to care and get invested into the plot aside from great CGI and chases. The ending is an interesting choice that teases a (hopefully) better final installment, but there wasn’t much of a reason to get excited when it ends. I remember at the end of Jurassic Park, I felt like I had seen something magical like never before, and at the end of Jurassic World, I felt like I had to catch my breath after all the intense and awesome action, but here, there’s no reaction or takeaway that I felt like I did with previous installments of the saga.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom works on the surface as a good looking dinosaur extravaganza with action that will please many wide audiences, but the story has nothing fresh to the franchise and the character focus is out of place. I would recommend it for its action but as a film with real quality, not much is offered that will resonate. It doesn’t reach the heights of what’s been done before and I feel that this saga has much more to it than what’s offered here. It ends up being a mediocre monster movie that many can still have fun with, but won’t be remembered as one of the greats.

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