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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Ready Player One

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In the year 2045, reality is harsh so everyone is escaping to the virtual reality of the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS dies, he plants an easter egg within the game which one must find in order to inherit his fortune, which sends Wade Watts on a journey to win the competition and ensure a bright future in both reality and the OASIS.

Whether it’s animatronic sharks or dinosaurs, or recreating D-Day and World War II’s most frightening battles, or creating some of the most iconic action scenes and heroes, Steven Spielberg has always found ways to break ground, and here he presents us with another cinematic achievement. Ready Player One is an experience unlike any thing I’ve seen before. Like the characters in the film, you are pulled from your reality and into the OASIS as you race past worlds and characters based on your favorite films. You’ll see the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the Iron Giant, the Xenomorph from the Alien films, and many more that I won’t spoil but will definitely give your entire audience nostalgia. But it’s not the tributes to pop culture that makes this film so memorable. The visuals are gorgeous and the virtual reality is created so meticulously, scenes of cyber races, fights, and dances are absolutely unforgettable. Watching this in IMAX 3D doesn’t feel any more like looking at this movie than it did being inside this universe which is so wonderfully built. Tye Sheridan has always been a great actor and here he shines in the lead role of Wade, as well as his virtual avatar named Parzival. He’s got great chemistry with Artemis, another avatar known in real life as Samantha, played by Olivia Cooke. Also part of the cast is Ben Mendelsohn as a menacing businessman, as well as Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance as the creators of the OASIS. The story is filled with heart, and we get more of the Spielberg dynamic we’ve seen before of smart kids against greedy adults, without it feeling recycled or predictable. The adventure our characters embark on is gripping and the action scenes are no less marvelous than they should be. Spielberg has always been so great at creating wondrous worlds to behold and journeys to join the protagonists on, and it’s no less than a visual masterpiece with a soulful story and a theme about how virtual reality may impact us in the future, both good and bad.

Ready Player One is the kind of film blockbuster cinema was made for — it’s original, heartfelt, and beautifully directed, and you don’t have to be a video game fan to appreciate and enjoy the story, everyone can love this film. It’s the most fun film experience I’ve had so far in 2018, and I recommend you watch it on the biggest screen possible, preferably in IMAX 3D. You can bet Spielberg will never stop breaking the boundaries of cinema and giving viewers an incredible time at the movies — and that’s a truth in reality.

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Black Panther

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T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who believes the throne belongs to himself.

Marvel breaks ground once again with their first African superhero as the center of a film set in their cinematic universe. When Chadwick Boseman first played the role in Captain America: Civil War, I knew we should be getting a solo film for him soon, and he nails it once again as the fantastic protagonist of king T’Challa. We feel that he is conflicted about how ready he is for his new position but like those around him, would die for his country of Wakanda. We are immersed in the visually striking setting of Wakanda which is realized very well as not only a gorgeous setting, but as a country that must choose its position in the world. The rest of the cast is also outstanding, with more African Americans cast in big roles than any superhero film before. Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger steps out of medicore Marvel villain territory and delivers a complexly portrayed and excellently motivated antagonist who’s a great counterpart to Boseman. His rage is brought on so well and we actually understand why he wants to fight our heroes, and his reasons aren’t too bad. I’d be damned if this isn’t one of the best villains modern superhero films has to offer. Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s ex-lover is also a well-written character who will stand by his side and help him out at all costs, and Danai Gurira as the ass-kicking Okoye steals some of the fights. We’ve also got the awesome presence of Oscar-nominated Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, and I’m seriously convinced this guy should be in every upcoming movie, and there’s the hilarious and memorable tribe leader M’Baku played by Winston Duke, who we definitely need more from soon, and who doesn’t love some charm from Martin Freeman? However, my favorite member of the supporting cast was Letitia Wright as Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, as she’s inventive, sweet, funny, and brings lots of light to her scenes. Every member of the cast is well-realized and I couldn’t ask more from the nuanced performances and great chemistry they all have.

Black Panther may be set in the biggest universe in cinematic history, but even though the enormous Infinity War team-up is only two months away, Black Panther remembers to be its own story, free of set-ups, teases, and big characters thrown in from other films (save for an awesome post-credits scene). There are no Infinity Stones or scenes that need to hint at what’s next for the Black Panther saga, instead we get a story that stays within its 2-hour length, allowing us to really explore the themes and character motivations without being reminded too much we’re watching a comic-book film. Vivid costumes, sets, and action make this visually pleasing, but we also dig deep into why everyone does what they’re doing, and what leaders must do to help others, not just when it concerns them. We get a well-directed and written action film thanks to Creed‘s Ryan Coogler but also how Black Panther himself takes steps to make the world a better place. A couple of scenes do dive into familiar territory, but by the end, Black Panther is a new kind of Marvel movie and a spirited hero for us all to love.

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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In the final chapter of the Maze Runner trilogy, Thomas embarks on a mission to save his friend Minho from the sinister organization WCKD and find a cure for the deadly disease known as the Flare.

I enjoyed reading the Maze Runner books so when the films were announced, I was excited. Though I did enjoy the first film, the second one wasn’t very good and put the potential of this final film at risk. Though this did take much longer to release due to Dylan O’Brien’s injuries on set, the franchise has finally concluded, and though it’s often bland in its execution, it wraps things up pretty well. The cast that includes Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Giancarlo Esposito are quite good, but some of the writing, especially in the first half, is so forced it’s hard to care for the emotion they try to deliver. Too much time is spent discussing a disease and its cure and not enough about Thomas’ internal and external conflict which we cared so much about in the first film. It does recover from the mess of The Scorch Trials, which strode away from the main focus of the series and was too unevenly paced and unnecessarily crowded. This film knows which cast members to put in the center and which characters it doesn’t need, and it begins with a very entertaining action scene but then goes to the predictable “main character on a rogue mission to save the world” route. The dialogue feels either too rushed or too direct and cliche to care too much about, and though the action is quite fun, the character development is sometimes not in the right places. However, the second half does recover with a dramatic and thrilling final battle for the series, that hits the right emotional marks at the end and often keeps the viewer in their seat. As someone who is somewhat a fan of this series, I enjoyed this movie by the end and thought it was an improvement over the second one, but I wouldn’t defend it over the mixed reviews it’s getting because despite the entertaining action and cast, there isn’t much to love. It’s a serviceable conclusion to a series that wasn’t all that great but ends on a good note for the franchise. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll definitely have a lot of fun with this finale, but if you’re not a fan or haven’t seen the other films, don’t bother.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the latest installment in the most popular film franchise of all time, and I can’t tell you anything else about this one, because if you’re a huge fan like me and most of the world’s population, you don’t need a plot description to get you to go see it. This movie picks up right after The Force Awakens left off, and as soon as the movie begins, the return to the galaxy which the world has grown to love over the last 40 years feels intriguing from the first scene. Like its predecessor, The Last Jedi is completely unpredictable and this one is even more different than the last film.

The cast once again knocks it out of the park, from the original characters portrayed by Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, the returning characters from the previous sequel including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, and new additions to the universe played by Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran. Hamill is as terrific as he’s ever been as Luke Skywalker, the most beloved hero in the history of cinema. His performance and his character’s arc over the last forty years has been tremendous, and the addition to his arc here is an unexpected turn which Hamill portrays so well, as he expresses the loss of heroism and his giving up of hope after a mistake he made prior to the events of the trilogy. Fisher’s scenes are great as well, and her final film performance that was shot before her tragic death last year is poignant and the film does her justice, paying tribute to her like it should. If you loved Daisy Ridley as our new protagonist Rey, you won’t be disappointed in the path she takes in this movie, as her journey through the ways of the Force continues under Luke’s guidance. Ridley does a terrific job conveying the emotional conflict her character experiences and how she finds her place in the battle of good against evil. Driver is back as the menacing and superb antagonist of Kylo Ren, who is a complicated villain but perfectly developed, and experiences changes after he did something in the last movie that shocked us all. We root for the good guys and against him but we feel that he isn’t all-evil like his master Snoke, speaking of whom is very intimidating and well-acted by Andy Serkis. John Boyega as defected stormtrooper Finn is another one of my favorite members of the cast, and although the storyline he has with new character Rose isn’t as compelling as the rest of the film, Finn is still a character we enjoy going on an adventure with thanks to his great writing and acting from the awesome Boyega who had his breakout when he first played the character two years ago. Isaac as Poe Dameron has more to do this time around, and his clashes with authority and his morals are interesting to explore. Of course, expect appearances from your favorite creatures like the lovable wookie Chewbacca, droids such as C3P0, R2-D2, and BB-8, the adorable new birds from Luke’s planet known as the Porgs, and a shocking appearance from one of everyone’s favorite Star Wars characters.

As a middle installment that has the expectations as many set as high as Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi definitely reaches those standards for what has been set with The Force Awakens, which introduced us to this magnificent new setting within the universe we already love, and here we dive deeper into those characters and experience some dark twists and turns on the way. Many fan theories have been developed ever since everyone saw the first film in this new trilogy two years ago, but no theory was able to predict the events that happen in this movie. I loved J.J. Abrams’ direction of Episode VII, and although he will return for the last installment in the trilogy, this one is directed by Rian Johnson, who previously directed the high school mystery Brick and the sci-fi thriller Looper. Johnson does a very impressive job building on what’s already happened and bringing to life the new planets and settings. The cinematography is beautiful and so are the visual effects, capturing the memorable action scenes and sets magnificently, just like a Star Wars movie should. Reception from fans has been mixed, but I can’t see why. I was on the very edge of my seat for the entire movie, and stunned at what this had to offer. It’s risk-taking, unpredictable, and deprived of the familiar 3-act story structure, making it even more suspenseful, and it’s got plenty of originality for the eighth film in a franchise. It holds onto what people have loved about the series since 1977, but it still has room for lots of creativity and trust me, I was quite shocked by what happened in this film. It’s not the cheerful blockbuster that most big studio sequels are nowadays, but it’s a dark, thrilling epic that will have everyone, Star Wars fan or not, cheering throughout.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the movie everyone will be going crazy about, and whether or not you like these films, you really should see the definitive blockbuster of the year. As an enormous fan of the series, I was not let down by the amazement I got here. Star Wars has brought people together all around the world since the first film was released 40 years ago, and this movie brings back what fans have loved since then but also lots of surprises. Although a few minor moments/plot points were weaker than others, the cast, visuals, story, writing, and emotion redeem the film, and at best this is an epic and marvelous sequel that is strong with the force.

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Justice League

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Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

The DC Extended Universe has been on a bumpy road lately, because even though I liked Man of Steel, the films that followed, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, placed this franchise in a dark state. This year, Wonder Woman helped many regain some faith in the franchise, and although I did enjoy that movie, I was very skeptical about this one. Zack Snyder returns from the previous films to direct his third film in the franchise. However, he was replaced by Joss Whedon after leaving the post-production process to cope with the tragic death of his daughter. Although I was sad for Snyder and curious about a new style that could improve on what we’ve seen before, I was afraid the end result would be extremely inconsistent. Although as a movie, the director changes aren’t too noticeable, at times this feels like the slo-mo infested Zack Snyder movies he originally shot, and other times it’s trying to be a funny and light-hearted Marvel movie. Batman v Superman was dark and slow, and although Snyder’s directing is clealry shown here, the tone is definitely tweaked and improved for the future of DC. He should have understood we don’t need a gloomy, boring, overly dramtic/metaphorical film with no emotional payoff, when you can spend more time focusing on the great superhero characters you have. Justice League feels different from the rest of the DCEU in tone and mood, but also from the new boundaries Wonder Woman set, which is unfortunate, but I was still able to have a fun time, despite a $300 million budget that still couldn’t make good CGI and a rushed, formulaic, and uneven script.

Ben Affleck once again leads the cast as the charismatic Batman, and Gal Gadot is once again fantastic and steals the screen, although the script is too reliant on the events of her solo movie to have her character arc work, and emotionally she isn’t given anything new to work with. Ezra Miller is hilarious and perfectly cast as The Flash, with a well-established backstory and great writing and humor. However, the other two new characters, Aquaman and Cyborg, are underdeveloped and given no reason for us to care about them. The writing for their characters is occasionally humorous and effective, but we can’t get invested into them too much besides Wonder Woman, even Batman fell flat from a character development stance at most times. We should have gotten standalone movies for these three characters before they all teamed up, this culmination was too rushed and hardly set up. The reason The Avengers and Marvel’s new Netflix miniseries The Defenders felt so anticipated and great were because we had already met these characters individually, and the studio took their time to get us excited when they finally interacted and had great chemistry. Here, the characters we’ve already been introduced to have already all fought together and the rest are new to the game. If DC had waited to set up great universes and backstories for all six of the League members instead of only three, we would have gotten something even more exciting and satisfying. The chemistry between the entire team was also something I hope a lot more from, the had no time to make the team feel like a real team and interact with fun banter like the Marvel teams I mentioned, instead the team’s chemistry feels absent and rushed past.cDC has done a terrible job with their villains, such as Doomsday, Enchantress, and most recently, the dull and horrible Ares, but Steppenwolf is on a whole new level of awful. His CGI is video-game quality and his motive and posing of a threat are nonexistent. There are also some underused characters (I was excited to see J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, only for him to appear in two brief scenes), and lots of plots that are set up and go nowhere or only feel around for a short while.

The DC Extended Universe has been a huge mess, and although Justice League is a step in the right direction, it’s not as impressive as many would hope. I didn’t expect much form the movie, but the changes in tone are mostly for the better. The shorter 120-minute runtime is justified and the story feels rushed, as a plot conflict is introduced then immediately dealt with in the next scene, and although there are fun action scenes, including one taking place at Wonder Woman’s home island of Themyscira, the stakes never feel there, and the overly used slow motion from Snyder and the moral dialogue from writer Chris Terio don’t blend in well with the lighter style Joss Whedon was hoping to bring. Although I was even able to enjoy some uses of Snyder’s signature style, this feels the least like a Snyder movie like all of his films which relieved me since his style in Batman v Superman wasn’t used very well. There are scenes in which characters discuss conflicts and the ideals behind the events of the previous films, and then the comedic moments come by and that’s when it starts to not blend in. I liked the lighter, more Marvel-esque tone it was going for and it should have stuck with that. Also, a certain character’s return makes for a fun scene but definitely weakens the plot later on. When all the action ends, nothing felt emotionally satisfying or triumphant, as most of it is predictable and formulaic, and I couldn’t have cared less about the post-credits setup for who knows how many sequels. Although Wonder Woman brought this new DC universe in a much smarter direction, Justice League blends in the directing and writing styles from previous films with the positive humor and fun that fans like us were hoping for, and although this makes for an uneven and predictable plot with some fun moments and a better tone and direction than previous DC films, it ultimately isn’t a must watch unless you absolutely love these characters and the comics.

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