Incredibles 2

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After defeating Syndrome, the Parr family continues to balance their superhero lives with their civilian lives as Elastigirl is recruited to help legalize superheroes.

Since The Incredibles was released 14 years ago, it’s become one of Pixar’s greatest sensations and it’s no wonder everyone anticipated this sequel for so long. Having grown up with the first movie, I was one of the people waiting so long to see this one. I loved the action, heart, and approach to the superhero genre the first one offered, as well as the brilliant style we always see from Pixar. Thankfully, a lot of that returns in Brad Bird’s long-awaited follow-up that carries down all the heart the first film had. It’s not just a movie about superheroes fighting villains, but a movie about being a family while having superpowers. The terrific cast from the first movie is mostly back — Holly Hunter is wonderful as Elastigirl with plenty of fun to her character once again as she takes on new duties in the spotlight, and it’s also great to see Craig T. Nelson back as Mr. Incredible as he strengthens his bonds with his children after being away in the first movie, and learns to take care of the home life as a father. It’s also great to have Samuel L. Jackson back as the lovable and awesome hero Frozone, and director Brad Bird once again voices the hysterical suit designer Edna Mode. New additions to the cast are Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener who are both great as siblings who are advocating to legalize supers.

Another element worth noting is how the animation has stepped up since 2004 which really shows in every frame. The years worth of animating work pays off with the stunning detail in every picture. Another welcome return is the brilliant and exciting score by Michael Giacchino, who also composed the first movie, arguably his best film score. The jazz feel to the music makes it feel different than any superhero film or animated movie. The villain definitely isn’t as memorable as Syndrome from the first movie or even close, the rest of the script feels interesting and engaging enough despite a predictable villain reveal. Though the action isn’t as memorable as in the first, some are so great you could even expect to find them in a Marvel movie. Even though so many superhero franchises have started since the first movie was released, none of it feels affected by the fact that we get so many superhero films a year, and it still feels like the Pixar family adventure we got in 2004. Every character feels unique and heartfelt once again — Elastigirl is determined to make the world a better one for supers, Mr. Incredible is determined to take care of his children on his own, Violet has boy problems at school, Dash needs help with math homework and enjoys annoying his sister, and Jack-Jack — you’ll just have to see. These characters don’t just feel like action heroes working together — they feel like a real family. And that’s what this movie is, a family movie. It’s not just about fighting crime, but also getting along as a family and helping the ones closest to you. This also feels like something even adults could enjoy — one could see it as much of an action superhero movie as something like Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers. At no point does the movie feel compromised to impress children, all of it feels like it could be pleasing to the most mature of viewers but kids can also love it. Basically, this movie is for all ages, and definitely one to go watch with the whole family.

Incredibles 2 is another fun animated movie built for all ages, with great animation, action, cast, characters, and music. You can count on Pixar to make the 14 year wait worth it.

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Upgrade

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When Grey Trace’s wife is murdered and he’s left paralyzed after an assault, he is offered a piece of technology that helps him walk again, which sends him on a path to avenge his wife.

Upgrade has a clever science fiction concept boasted by great action and directing. It takes a while for the adrenaline to kick in, as the first 20 minutes aren’t interestingly written and feel dull in terms of style, but when the story really begins, the movie picks up and becomes and engaging ride. Logan Marshall-Green isn’t one of the biggest Hollywood stars right now but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen him in a leading role and he impresses me every time. He not only brings charisma to the main character but also emotional strength which he demonstrates in some scenes. The action is very well done and always entertaining, as the cinematography is creative and the over-the-top blood is fitting and adds to the excitement of the violence. The movie raises some interesting questions about technology and how far its usage could go, and though it struggles with making its villains and side characters as strong as the hero (none of the characters besides the lead are any memorable), it’s got some note-worthy action sequences and suspense, as well as a brilliant twist ending. I was also amused by the quality of the visual effects for such a low budget film. Upgrade looks impressive and also has a solid plot and thoughtful elements that fans of action and science fiction can enjoy.

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Hereditary

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After the death of her mother, Annie Graham must shield her family from the psychological and supernatural demons she believes she’s inherited from her mother.

A24 continues its streak of truly disturbing, frightening, and upsetting movies that redefine the horror genre as we know it. This movie has a layer of terror that no other horror film I’ve seen lately has offered. Not only does it offer scares, but the emotional depth and damage the characters have is the most terrifying part of it because it feels more grounded than what comes later. What’s so disturbing about Hereditary isn’t just the supernatural aspect but also everything that our characters are already put through before, which could be a tragedy on its own. Ari Aster does a terrific job creating suspense and placing the camera in creative angles, without using too many cuts within scenes. He also elevates tension with effective use of music. He writes a nightmarish family drama that escalates into screams, visions, and paranoia in nearly every scene. You can never tell what will happen in the movie, from a scene in the first 30 minutes that’s so unthinkable and disturbing it makes your jaw drop. Toni Collette is not to be ignored in her deep and unsettling performance as a woman dealing with grief and loss, and her character acts somewhat insane at some points, but Collette’s performance is believable enough to be taken seriously and she brings chills down the viewer’s spine in some scenes. There are some truly terrifying sequences that will have your heart racing and some gory imagery, and I should warn you that if you don’t like gore or slower, less conventional horror movies, then you should probably stay away from this one. This movie has strong psychological fright and themes about grief and broken families, but I feel that the ending decided to go more supernatural and I hoped for a more emotional blow that stuck true to the themes rather than the scares, like most A24’s horror movies have done. Other than that, Hereditary will live up to the expectations of those hoping for scares, but it’s also got the depth that fans of the studio will be looking for.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

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The lastest Star Wars prequel tells the story of the galaxy’s greatest smuggler and what he was up to before he teamed up with Luke and Leia in the original movie. We follow Han as he meets his best friend Chewie, and makes new alliances as he pulls off heists and fights new enemies.

If the record-breaking sequels weren’t already enough, Lucasfilm has decided to come up with spin-offs that take place after the prequels but before the original trilogy. First we had Rogue One, about how the rebels got the plans for the Death Star, and now Solo, focusing on the past of one of cinema’s most beloved heroes. I can’t say these Star Wars Stories are the strongest of the franchise (though definitely better than the George Lucas prequels), but they’ve still got plenty for fans to enjoy. I still feel that these spin-offs are missing the heart and emotional strength that the main installments currently have, but so far they have the right mix of fun and nostalgia to be worth the trip to the theaters especially for fans, and Solo is no exception. It’s got plenty of entertaining action sequences and brings back some of the memorable characters we love from the original films, which includes not only Han and Chewie but also Lando Calrissian. Alden Ehrenreich, who you may remember from the Coen brothers’ recent work Hail, Caesar!, doesn’t perfectly capture everything Harrison Ford brought to the role but on his own he carries the movie with charm and spirit. The bar is set high for a performance of a legendary character from a legendary actor, and it’s tough when you’re expected to imitate another performance, and though he’s nowhere near as charismatic and fun as Ford was so brilliantly, he still was a good choice and did a nice job bringing the adventurous sense to the character. Also great is Donald Glover as Lando, who’s probably the standout of the film, as he gives a strong interpretation of the character with also lots of enjoyment to him. Woody Harrelson is always great, and here is no exception and Beckett, and Emilia Clarke as Q’ira is a well-realized partner and anchor for Solo’s character. Also worth-noting are Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jon Favreau in noteworthy voice roles, and of course, don’t forget to be on the lookout for the once again lovable and awesome wookie Chewbacca.

Ron Howard directs Solo with a beautifully realized visual style and excellent CG-planets and settings created in front of your eyes. The cinematography and color palette is marvelously done and the screen is always filled with wondrous settings and creatures. The action is very entertaining, from heists to chases on the Falcon, some moments will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. Despite the fun action, filmmaking, and cast, I feel this movie could’ve used stronger writing. We see how Han does things like meeting Chewie and Lando, as well as getting the Falcon, but most of the notable events that Han does in the movie have already been explained through exposition in the original trilogy. There isn’t much change for Han on an emotional level to justify why we need this movie to precede the original film. I expected to learn more that’s new about Han that we haven’t learned about already and that’s important to know about his past, but nothing really powerful impacts Han on a substantial level that brings him to be the person we’ve come to know in the originals. Despite a connection to a lover that is established well, there aren’t too many strong character relationships that he has, and some of the story arcs aren’t really figured out by the end and feel a little contradictory to what’s set up earlier. There’s also a cameo at the end that shocked me but doesn’t do much else other than set up who knows how many more spin-offs.

Solo is definitely a fun time that offers a lot of entertainment and many Star Wars fans like myself will enjoy, but I felt it was missing the strong script and heart that the sequel trilogy installments like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have both realized so fantastically. Solo misses some of its potential to be as great as I was hoping, and though it’s definitely a fun ride that I’d revisit sometime and future generations will enjoy watching along with the other films, doesn’t completely justify its existence and misses some emotional marks that I think it could’ve gone for (which I feel Rogue One missed some of as well). Definitely watch it if you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s a solid film with good work from Ron Howard and the cast, but it’s far from the franchise at its best like we’ve known to love it in the past.

A group of people standing in a row, in the middle stands Han Solo pointing his blaster. The background is divided into blocks resembling a cockpit window.

Deadpool 2

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Ryan Reynolds returns as the Merc with a Mouth, who this time must defend a young mutant from a time-traveling soldier named Cable. Deadpool 2 offers more laughs, fourth wall breaks, and action than the first film, and pays off almost as well. The first film was definitely a game-changer for R-rated blockbusters and superhero films and didn’t flinch to go for all the laughs and content it had too. This time we’re reminded once again why Ryan Reynolds is so great as Deadpool, and the R-rating and comedic style definitely pay off. Deadpool constantly makes references to other movies and always reminds us that we’re watching a superhero movie, poking fun at the structure and familiar faces from other films in the genre. Reynolds always delivers as the comedic mercenary who he was born to play. He won’t only make you crack up every minute, but he’s also got an emotional arc in this movie which without a doubt works. If you loved Josh Brolin as the menacing but layered CGI villain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, then he isn’t finished fighting supeheroes this year yet — here he plays Cable, who is also given a strong motive (as well as a CGI arm) and Deadpool even pokes fun at the fact that he feels straight out of a Terminator movie. I wouldn’t say he’s as good as Thanos, but Cable definitely shows his strength in battle and that he’s got emotional motivation too. Another standout is Zazie Beetz as Domino, who’s superpower is that she’s lucky. I know that sounds laughable on paper (Deadpool even calls it “not cinematic enough”), but wait until you see her in action. Also expect some funny and unexpected cameos, some you may catch and some are so brief you may miss them.

Deadpool 2 definitely tries what most sequels try — bring back what made the first film great and up the ante. Most of the time this works, and I’d even say a lot of the aspects of the film are better than the first movie. The development for the main character of Deadpool and of the themes and story overall work better than the first movie (which was great but had the somewhat familiar origin story formula), and the directing and characters work better this time around for the most part. It’s also definitely funnier than the first movie, even though a few jokes go on for a little too long, there are many lines that will have the entire audience bursting into laughter. Sometimes the script and pacing feel a little uneven, but in the end you can forgive that because of the purely over-the-top and insane fun you’ll end up having. Whether or not you follow the X-Men universe, the Deadpool movies offer a unique feel to the superhero genre and do not flinch to be as raunchy as they want to be. Audiences will definitely have a fun time with Deadpool 2, as Reynolds brings back all the fun we wanted from the character, with great laughs, action, pop culture references, and enjoyment like we loved in the first movie, and also remember to watch the mid-credits scene that’s funnier than any of the other Marvel post-credits scenes.

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Avengers: Infinity War

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Six years ago, at the age of 10, I started this website, hoping to share my love of movies with the world, and my first review was for a film I had recently watched and loved — that film was The Avengers. I can’t believe it’s been so long since then, and growing up with this franchise, it’s amazing to see how it’s grown from 6 superheroes fighting an alien army to the extraordinary team-up of Infinity War. Marvel has always been my favorite film studio around, as their blockbusters always astound viewers and bring us together a few times a year. Their movies have rocked my world and are the reason I got so into action and superhero blockbusters. And after 10 years and 18 films, the buildup of the Marvel universe has finally paid off as Thanos begins his journey to find all 6 Infinity Stones in order to wipe out half the universe. If you’re not familiar with any of Marvel’s movies, don’t count on the film to help you catch up, and it doesn’t only require you to watch The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, it also brings together the events of Captain America: Civil WarGuardians of the GalaxyDoctor StrangeThor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther. The cast is exceptional, as they are in every Marvel movie — Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, and Chris Pratt all reprise their roles (among many others) as the heroes who have become among my favorite film characters through the decade. It’s plenty of fun to see these characters interact — particularly those who meet for the first time, such as Iron Man and Doctor Strange, Thor and the Guardians, and Spider-Man and Star-Lord. Like I said, many plot details involve knowledge from the previous film so I strongly recommend you watch all the previous Marvel films before watching this one. The humor is also a big part of many Marvel movies and here it once again doesn’t disappoint. Every member of the enormous cast does an excellent job bringing their characters back to the big screen, but the standout is the one we haven’t seen much of before — Josh Brolin as Thanos. Thanos is not only a threatening villain but also a complex one who is developed thoroughly and isn’t just another CGI alien trying to get control of the universe. He also shows complex emotions and sees his actions not as acts of villainy, but acts of sacrifice to save the universe.

The action is always spectacular, with gorgeous visuals and setting painting the screen in every shot. The stakes are always high for the Avengers and the fate of humanity, and the unpredictability takes the film to surprising places. Many have criticized Marvel’s villain problems or lack of risk-taking, but their villains this year — both Thanos and Killmonger — have become the best in their universe, and Infinity War may be the biggest risk ever taken for a blockbuster. Years of buildup over so many films — it could have gone wrong early on if any of their movies failed — but so much faith and effort was put into this project and it pays off perfectly. None of it feels unbalanced or crowded, and though my one complaint is that a few of my favorite characters ended up getting no development, and a few of the arcs from the previous films weren’t quite carried on, it’s forgivable because of how much action is already going on and how the main focus of the film is developing the villain. Infinity War is so much to take in not just because it’s different from any Marvel movie, but because it’s different from any movie that’s been released before in cinemas. With Infinity War, Marvel will not only have fans clapping and cheering, like I found myself doing in many of the awesome moments in the film, but they also break ground in the opportunities of high-budget filmmaking and create something truly unique for audiences to enjoy. Not to mention that incredible and shocking ending that’s one of the most brilliant cliffhangers in cinema history.

Avengers: Infinity War is not only another step up for Marvel, but also an achievement for Hollywood and action films that’s bigger than anything a studio has produced before. The gripping conflict, action, visuals, and entertaining cast and humor will satisfy all who have been waiting for so long, and assembles the world’s favorite movie characters for an epic battle you won’t forget.

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A Quiet Place

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This apocalyptic horror film focuses on a family who is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound. Starring in the main roles are John Krasinski (also the director of the film) as the father of the family, and Emily Blunt (his real-life wife) as the mother. With A Quiet Place, Krasinski not only crafts a great edge-of-your-seat thriller with plenty of scares for wide audiences and horror fans to enjoy, but also makes excellent use of suspense with the sound, directing, and acting. Every noise is made to feel loud enough to pose a threat and surprise us at certain moments, and the sound editors knew very well which sounds they needed to make louder than others and how loud each sound needed to be. The tension is built effectively in every scene, as we get character development with each member of the family while the danger around them quietly builds. Small moments like a lamp falling and breaking or a toy making a sound will frighten you, and whenever it gets too noisy you’ll even start getting stressed just by the thought of what what be about to happen to our characters. None of the intensity feels fake and you’ll definitely be as anxious as the characters in some of the most scary scenes in the film. Krasinski and Blunt are both splendid as the parents; Krasinski’s character clearly showing fright but also leadership of his family through the everyday hours and protecting them with everything he can. His love for his children is the strongest part of the film and his acting is always spot-on. Blunt also can’t be ignored; she’s a fearful and also protective mother who demonstrates pain and terror excellently.

A Quiet Place is not only a great showcase of acting and directing but doesn’t forget to be an entertaining horror flick; you don’t have to worry about this one being too boring or stretched out even though most of the film is in sign language rather than spoken dialogue as the device the family uses to survive against the creatures. The visual images are always conveying of the conflict and emotions the family faces, and we though we never see too much about how the creatures got there or what’s going on in the rest of the world, that’s what makes everything more mysterious. My one problem is the ending, which though I didn’t have something strong against, I feel the ending had a more light and even comedic feel to it, and I hoped it would’ve stopped at a place a little more powerful, like the rest of the film. Otherwise, horror and science fiction fans won’t bed disappointed by this short but noteworthy thriller that won’t fail to keep you thrilled and entertained.

The film poster shows a close-up of Emily Blunt in-character with her hand over her mouth.