Crazy Rich Asians

ratings3

Rachel agrees to go with her boyfriend to meet his family in Singapore, not knowing the rich lifestyle and reputation they have there.

An all Asian cast is a great move for diversity in film when we need it, to help make everyone feel represented on screen. There’s some solid casting with an especially great turn from Michelle Yeoh, and the leads played by Constance Wu and Henry Golding are impressive as well. By having both Asian-American and Singaporean characters, the script has some interesting ideas about how different Asian cultures see each other and how their lives differ. Unfortunately, it’s not until the last act that the film realizes this, and the road there is a poorly directed and edited series of extended party scenes, unnecessary subplots, and an overabundance of pathetic supporting characters, especially an annoying role played by Awkwafina. Not much of the film focuses on the chemistry between these leads which is unfortuante because everything else is either repetitive (a 20-minute party scene dedicates most of its runtime simply to Rachel’s boyfriend introducing her to side characters that are useless and quickly forgotten about). Sometimes the dramatic moments feel unauthentic or too over-the-top to fit the rest of the film. The editing is all over the place and doesn’t know how to stay focused, and whenever the dialogue thinks it’s being funny, it’s actually insufferable. The movie compromises itself too much to please a wider audience simply looking for cool party aesthetics and happy moments instead of going for a profound journey for its main character. Just when the ending seems figured out, the ending feels like a cop out because the film is too afraid to take any risks. With the ideas this film had, it’s a pity the director made poor choices to focus less on the meaningful substance I’m sure they were aiming for. This is a step up for diversity in movies but not for mainstream comedy filmmaking. Keep in mind that the majority of audiences seemed to have loved this film, but I personally was not impressed by what I saw. If you want a film about what’s really important in the world today, I’d strongly recommend BlacKkKlansman.

Crazy Rich Asians poster.png

Advertisements

Sorry to Bother You

ratings4

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.

Sorry to Bother You.png

Ant-Man and the Wasp

ratings3

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.

Ant-Man and the Wasp poster.jpg

Incredibles 2

ratings4

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.

The Incredibles 2.jpg

Deadpool 2

ratings4

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.

Deadpool 2 poster.jpg

Love, Simon

ratings4

Simon is a teenager who has a loving family and a great group of friends, and he’s doing great in school, but he’s got one big secret: he’s gay. One day, Simon becomes pen pals with a boy at his school who comes out anonymously and tries to find out who he is, but soon another classmate finds out about Simon’s secret and threatens to reveal it to the whole school.

Love, Simon tackles what is obviously an important topic in our world, but would it be able to capture these themes realistically or would it try too hard to be a “message” film? Thankfully, it’s the former that we get here. This movie doesn’t get too unbelievable trying to convey the struggles of gay teens to come out to even the people closest to them, and instead presents it as a realistic story of a teen living life in the closet. It’s less about accepting others for being “different” but more about accepting yourself for who you are and being yourself. Simon feels like a person teenagers can relate to if they’ve ever struggled with their sexuality or identity, or if you’ve ever had a secret you’ve felt uncomfortable sharing with others. Nick Robinson is superb as Simon, delivering a humanly nuanced performance as a character you could believably buy as an everyday guy with a secret. His acting is very well-realized in every scene and he brings out a very heartfelt character to follow. Also great is Katherine Langford (who you may remember as Hannah Baker from the powerful Netflix series 13 Reasons Why) as one of Simon’s best friends, as well as Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as Simon’s parents.

Love, Simon has a clever story and smart way of tackling its themes, with nearly every scene entertaining and many moments being touching, and though it’s a topic not everyone may love, it’s important to discuss in today’s world, and thankfully it doesn’t feel like propaganda for equality, and instead like a touching and authentic teen love story. We see the love Simon gets from his family and his friends, and one of the most powerful moments is when Simon reminds us that he’s still him, no matter how he chooses to live. Many scenes may get some viewers emotional, especially the heartwarming ending that everyone, regardless of sexuality, can be touched by. It’s a film that even as a critic I can agree is not just a movie with a good message to the world, but also a great film with a powerful story, as we feel for our protagonist as he goes through the film, and ultimately Love, Simon is worth checking out, even though it’s mostly centered towards teens, it’s funny, touching, and emotional for those who choose to see it.

Love, Simon poster.png

 

The Disaster Artist

ratings4

In 2003, Tommy Wiseau released his film The Room, which in wrote, directed, produced, and starred in — and today it is widely considered to be the worst movie ever made. If you’ve seen The Room and want to learn about the disastrous making of it and how Wiseau made it to Hollywood, or if you haven’t seen or heard of The Room but want a hilarious but inspiring comedy about dreams, this is the movie for you. James Franco directs and stars as Wiseau, the odd and mysterious man behind this “so bad it’s good” movie, whose age, birthplace, and source of his “bottomless pit” of money he used to fund the film himself, are unknown. Wiseau was rejected and laughed at a lot by everyone he worked with or tried to work with, and Franco blends in to the role so well, and we can’t even see him, we only focus on the weird personality he portrays so accurately and wonderfully. Wiseau is a terrible filmmaker and made a widely hated movie, but he was able to succeed (not in the way he intended) with the film’s awfulness which it’s so well known for and laughed at even today. The movie doesn’t just see Wiseau as a bad person, but as a person with a dream and a passion, and uses his story as a message that even the biggest failures can be successful. Dave Franco plays Greg Sestero, Tommy’s best friend and costar of The Room, and the fact that they are real brothers makes their onscreen chemistry even more fun to watch. We feel for Sestero has he is dragged into Wiseau’s mess of a dream and his career is affected by it. Seth Rogen is also awesome in his role as Sandy Schklair, the script supervisor of the film, who’s always pointing out Wiseau’s behavior and antics.

The cast, especially Franco as Wiseau, help make the movie as hilarious and entertaining as it is, but Franco as a director was aiming for a little more than just entertainment. Franco was passionate about making a project on this film, which did so badly it’s become a cult film, and of course he wanted us to laugh at the project and how horrible and nonsensical it all was, but maybe he was aiming for a little more. Franco wanted us to still feel for these characters, including Wiseau, as real people, and understand that you have to aspire for success, even though you may end up failing hugely. There’s definitely plenty to enjoy, however. Franco as Wiseau is almost life-like and made me, and the entire sold-out audience of the film, crack up about every 5 seconds, whether its a humorous line or just laughing at the stupidity of it all, which was part of Franco’s goal. The whole audience went wild at the outrageous humor and fun you’ll have with the nonsense going on with Wiseau, but Franco was also able to make these characters connect to the audience as real people. This film was definitely a true story about failure, but it’s a reminder that everyone has dreams, and no matter how far you go to achieve them, you should always reach out for them. Franco definitely achieved his goal with The Disaster Artist — making a fantastic movie about a terrible movie.

The Disaster Artist is an absolute blast to watch, from the constant, non-stop humor to the excellent writing and cast, and it’s a small but inspiring film, and don’t worry, you don’t have to see The Room in order to enjoy it. It’s one of Franco’s best roles and films, and I recommend you see this in theaters with an audience to simply have an awesome time with a very entertaining and hilarious yet heartfelt true story.

A group of people in tuxedos in a theatre watching a film.