A disclaimer on the Last Jedi, art, and toxicity: you're allowed to not like this movie just as you're allowed to like this movie. You are no less intelligent based on your opinion; you are no less of a fan based on your opinion. I love this movie and I have very good friends who definitely did not. That is okay. I'm sorry if you felt the Last Jedi ruined your childhood or ruined Star Wars for you; but please don't attack the people who put every ounce of love they had into this piece of art. Don't personally attack Rian Johnson and don't attack the actors for doing their job; and certainly don't ever attack anyone because of race, sex, or just who they are as a person. You're allowed to not like this movie; just don't hate the cast and crew behind it. That way lies madness.
Now for the review:
I found this movie to be great. To people who found the Force Awakens to be too similar to A New Hope, this movie presented an alternative path. Rian Johnson delivered what any Star Wars fan would crave: an epic space opera that expands beyond its predecessors while delivering extremely satisfying visuals accompanied by a mostly satisfying story.
Writing/Direction: Rian Johnson is a Star Wars fan and it shows big time. He has a lot of love for these characters and to explain every narrative beat would be tedious and unentertaining. He took several risks with already established characters and most of them paid off. I personally like what he did with the ideology behind the legend of Luke Skywalker. In addition, his final act was classic Jedi and perfect for his conclusion. And while I wish I could have seen more of the late Carrie Fisher, I felt her lessons did not go quietly into the night. Johnson writes three plot lines that weave together coherently and cross in extremely effective ways. Poe's leadership arc was solid and I'm sure will pay off going into the final chapter. Finn's rebel arc might be my only big problem with this movie; it was not quite as resonant but it's understandable what progress he had to make to become the best kind of rebel scum. Rey's arc is wholly satisfying and creates a new path for the Skywalker saga to continue. The interesting thing is how Rian gave such an arc to Kylo Ren; villains are mostly these mysterious, intimidating badasses without much context. Darth Sidious was just some powerful Sith and Darth Vader was originally just a good guy turned bad. In this film, we see that adding multiple dimensions to Kylo Ren is satisfying in every way possible; speeding up his parallel course then shifting it shows his true character. Overall, the script takes some risks and talks about how heroes are perceived as well as how the past is seen. I'll let people draw their own conclusions, but I feel like this movie gave room for Star Wars to grow beyond what it is. Aside from the writing, the direction is excellent. Rian coaxes finely tuned career-best performances from nearly every cast member and has a visually swell time doing it.
Performances: so so so so many things to say. Where to start... Kelly Marie Tran is a fine performer and while I don't entirely agree with her character, Rose, on paper, her individual performance is convincing and just ecstatic. (Please don't attack her for who she is physically.) Domnhall Gleeson is on point as always. He takes the humorous side to his character in stride while remaining totally believable and providing some of the best humor in the film. Andy Serkis is probably one of the most notable actors of our time due to the fact that he can do so much acting with a bright light constantly shining in his face (give him an Oscar already!). Benicio Del Toro is clearly just hopping along for a nice little ride and proving his consistent acting prowess while he's at it. His stutter was an interesting choice and it doesn't exactly distract, I just felt like it didn't entirely fit in. Anthony Daniels - sir, how do you do so much acting inside that tin man suit? Well done. Laura Dern was fine enough and executed a somehow organized rebel while she was at it. Carrie Fisher will be dearly missed. She has so much love for Leia and all things around her. She chews the scenery with every word and every action. Mark Hamill gives possibly the best performance of his career; a man tired of the legend and teachings of the Jedi who gradually realizes what the force must be for balance to be properly obtained. He may have disagreed with some character choices but that didn't stop him from bringing his A-game. Adam Driver kills it in a similar way; his Skywalker is so well executed and driven. He brings a new villain to the galaxy and shows actual character growth in the best way possible. John Boyega is admirable as Finn; a rebel who gradually gains a cause and learns about the difference between fighting what you hate and saving what you love. Oscar Isaac is one of the most underrated actors of our time. He gets more to work with this time around and does not disappoint as he goes from desperate rebel to confident and understanding leader. Daisy Ridley... just wow. This heroine is my heroin. She takes her character to the best and somehow most balanced of extremes; she becomes a Jedi through the sheer power of acting. She is so good. I can't say it enough. They all were.
Anything else I had to say was said first. The production itself however was amazing. On-point visual effects, wonderful lighting and cinematography, immersive production design, well-world-worn costumes, and an iconic score help this movie to feel even more like the Star Wars we know and love.
This movie exists and it's canon. It happened in the Star Wars universe. It's not up to us, the audience, how this universe is supposed to run. We're passengers along for this incredible ride of cinema that George Lucas opened our eyes to 40 years ago. Isn't it a fun ride?
Rian Johnson's Knives Out takes cliches from murder mysteries and utilizes them to new effect. It's intricate, funny, and unexpectedly fast-paced while utilizing a hardworking all-star cast.
Rian Johnson: I'm one of those people that really loved The Last Jedi, so there were certain expectations for me going into this movie. Needless to say, Rian Johnson shattered those expectations. He wrote a complex yet good-natured murder mystery, giving you the clues throughout the story before pulling the rug out from under you. I know that expression is extremely overused, but it's really what happens. He set up expectations for what this movie was supposed to be and crafts it to be something completely different. It's Agatha Christie meets Clue meets Crime and Punishment and I love every gut-busting second of it. The best part is that on a second viewing, every single thing has a different meaning; and every second meaning promotes dual characteristics.
The Cast: Every single member leans into their characters with enthusiasm and fully commits to the roles. Daniel Craig is wonderful as the lead detective, constantly on the line between parody and real-life Sherlock Holmes. Chris Evans plays directly against his Captain America, clearly having the time of his life with it. Jamie Lee Curtis plays ruthless like no other, constantly protective yet always on offense. Michael Shannon plays a little bit into his type but ultimately shines through; he flexes his range, going from improv king to terrifying in an instantly smooth transition. Toni Colette plays comedy like no other; she somehow appropriately and sympathetically plays a spoiled rich person. Everyone else in the cast melds together perfectly. The standout of standouts is Ana de Armas. She blends drama and comedy deftly, taking her character on a wonderfully original journey. She sells every second of it.
The Lighthouse is a mix of so many things that it might be hard to slide it into one specific category. On one hand, it's definitely a horror film at heart. On another, there are supernatural, dramatic, and even comedic elements that both distract from and amplify the horror. Either way, it's interesting, visually unique, powered by two pitch-perfect performances, and a great example of cabin fever horror that is sure to illicit a reaction.
For so long, too tedious and way too little - then somehow WAY TOO MUCH.
This is a weird movie. It starts out tediously slow, building to a climax that makes the slow part worth it. That being said, the final minutes are way way way too much. The payoff is both worth it and far from worth it. Leading up to it, the whole thing is like a bloody stage play. The characters are definitely interesting and the performances are aces, but I can't help but feel off about the whole situation.
Still Witty, Still Unrestrained, Still Tarantino - Just Not As Much
I'm not going to preface this by saying I'm a diehard Tarantino fan. I'm not, though I do for the most part respect his films. Inglorious Basterds is one of my favorite movies. That being said, this was all Tarantino, just... underwhelming. I walked away feeling partially unsatisfied when it comes to Quentin Tarantino. Objectively, this was a good movie with some twists that I appreciate and I'll look at it that way. I can't help but think that while the character arcs were filled, the Tarantino action and suspense quota was left incomplete.
Paul Rudd + Decent Weekend Update + Not Bad Sketches = Goo Season Finale
America's best man, the immortal Paul Rudd, hosted SNL's s44 finale, closing it out with an episode that was genuinely funny and stayed that was almost all the way through. (Also I don't have anything on DJ Khalid, if I'm being honest I skipped over it because SNL should really start putting more underrated music artists front and center; instead they got like 20 musical guests.)
Paul Rudd was the perfect one to close out season 44; his natural charisma helped the show keep itself going. The best sketch he was in? Definitely the GoT recap rap with Pete Davidson. However, what really surprised me was Michael Che and Colin Jost; their weekend update really crushed it this week. The jokes were quite funny, the guests weren't cringey-inducing, and let's be honest, the two of them are at their best when they're taking each other down. The comedy does run itself out by the last sketch, but up until then, it's genuine laughter all the way through; it's what I wanted to see. (8/10)
I mean, Emma Thompson is a treasure and the writing was honestly better than usual. The Jonas Brothers were a fine musical guest and I have no problems with their performances. The Mother's Day monologue was perfectly timed and the sketches were well written/perfect comedic timing. Watch it, you'll see.
This is probably the best episode Brooklyn nine nine's put out since joining NBC, purely because it's the Halloween heist (better known as the event we all live for). Not only that, but it's the most bananas, energy fueled, twisty heist yet. Not the cutest, HalloVeen still holds that title. It was fantastically executed and hilarious the whole way. NINE NINE!!!
I've been re-watching Rod Serling's Original Twilight Zone and while this doesn't exactly measure up or reinvent the twilight zone, it takes it in the new direction we were promised with a new idea.
I do have faith in Jordan Peele as the narrator and host through our journey; I only wish we could see more of him throughout this episode. Hopefully more moving forward.
Kumail Nanjiani, as our protagonist in this episode, was well cast and played his part quite convincingly. The supporting cast was also great, although there's a part of me that's still curious about Tracy Morgan's character. Not any of the mystery, but why is he vaping all the time?
The writing was good. It didn't overextend it's grasp and gave an original premise along with spot on execution. The concept is definitely familiar, but the scenario isn't.
The direction for this episode was a little claustrophobic. If that's how it's going to be moving forward then so be it, but something a little less down-to-earth and more Denis V.esque would be cool.
A solid start to Jordan Peele's the Twilight Zone. (8/10)
The future is bright for the DCEU with chapters like these!
I got to see an early screening of Shazam! at my local theater, and boy did it not disappoint. It's not flawless, but the good outweighs the bad more often than not. With a bright story, boundless energy, and an irresistible sense of fun, this is certainly one of the best-if not the best-installment of the DCEU so far.
Direction: I feel like David Samberg is the DCEU's Taika Waititi. He's this movie director that really isn't known for much past some horror, which made him an initially odd choice for this movie; a choice that paid off tremendously. He helps some light shine into this world, but doesn't underplay the action. His direction and coordination through framing helps us laugh and, in some cases, feel the punches. The action isn't jolty like the other DCEU installments and due to the bright vibrant colors, we really know what's happening, where it's happening, and who it's happening to. Well done.
The writing was uneven, but definitely fun. It's a basic story that converts Billy Batson's origin into a modern-day retelling with some elements of Big in there. The humor is well-timed and consistently funny; a lot of meta jokes and inner humor help the story obtain its brighter feel. The relationships written in are heartfelt and the story itself has a lot of heart. One part that causes a rift is the central character of Billy. His two versions, between the adult and the kid, seem to be two completely different people. It's an inconsistency that's fine being just about the only part (besides typical villain problems) that bugs you about the writing.
Performances: I swear, Zachary Levi was born to play Shazam! He carries childlike enthusiasm and a heart in effortlessly. He oozes charisma and really... I won't be able to say it enough so here it is: Zachary Levi is perfection. The rest... Kid Billy was somewhat toned down but still played quite nicely. Mark Strong played a menacing villain. The child actors, especially Jack Dylan Fraiser (Grazer? I'm sorry I don't remember off the top of my head), were VERY good. Child actors really are improving. Any other supporting performance was played nicely and everyone knew who the real star of the movie was: I'm sorry, I'm gonna keep coming back to this: Zachary Levi is a national treasure.
What else... music was nice and heartfelt, I talked about the action sequences... every other part of this film is mainly there to add to Billy's story and I like it. The world is undeniably fun and we're not really pulled out of it.
The future is bright for the DCEU with chapters like Shazam! (9/10)
Legit scared to look in a mirror now, thanks Peele!
This movie is so good. Lots of people are comparing it to Get Out, but I don't understand why; they're two completely different entities. It's inventive in its approach and concept, scary without utilizing typical horror ingredients, well-acted with a powerful and moving cast, funny without undercutting the horror, and smart in its writing and direction.
Writing/Direction: Jordan Peele shows us, once again, why he's the new master of horror with an original premise and screenplay that gives chills and scares. His script mixes in comedy perfectly; not too much, but enough to give some temporary catharsis when needed. The concept he divised is so original and the steps the plot takes to get to an intriguing endpoint are well-done and carefully calculated. The monsters are explained enough that we the audience kinda goes "oh, okay, that makes sense," but not so much that we're like "PFFT THAT'S BAT**** RIDICULOUS!" Peele stepped up his direction a bit too. I'm still trying to figure out how, but now, whenever I'm walking around my house, I'm peering around corners to make sure another one of me isn't standing there. I think that was the intention, so well done, Jordan Peele.
The Performances were phenomenal: Lupita N'yongo is definitely this year's scream queen. She sells her role with a touch of empathy, realization, and in her other performance, sheer terror. Winston Duke was great, and served as a fitting and perfect comic relief; again, not too much and not too little, just enough that we're temporarily relieved. He's also a bit of a badass and one of the best portrayals of a modern day dad. And his other performance was an overbearing presence that scared in the right way. Shahadi Wright Joseph was great; a perfect mixture of teenage girl and teenage warrior (I think it's the right word.) Her other performance is suitable creepy, never faltering or changing from a terrifying face. Evan Alex might be one of the standouts. His portrayal of a little boy eerily curious of the tethered is intriguing, and he sells exactly what a little boy WOULD be thinking in this situation, which is **, ***, ****! ******** ****! ******* ***! (Ha! You thought I'd spoil it. You were wrong.) Alex's other performance as his tethered counterpart is probably one of the best ones; it's terrifying and made me shiver until I got home, and then some. The rest of the performances were fantastic, whether they were on one side or the other. I would have liked to see more interaction between Jason and his counterpart, but what we were dealt will do great as well.
The rest of the movie... how do I put this? Was awesome? Yeah, that's it. The cinematography was fitting and strategically placed; very smart in its execution and letting a few horror techniques through without utilizing typical ones. The makeup and hairstyling department deserves a win, given how they executed some parts of everyone's character. The costume department also did quite well, giving a monster that was both so palatable and so horrifying at the same time with a simple costume. The score was finely tuned and lovingly terrifying, while sometimes going overboard; but I don't mind. Just about everything in this movie was great.
Jordan Peele will make me scared to see my own reflection, and I like it. Making me terrified of Us (2019). This film gets a 10/10
Full characters, a vibrant world, and an engrossing tale.
Black Panther is one of those movies that, years from now, everyone will look back at and ask "how did this not win all the awards?" It's intricate, filled with such a world, and remains entertaining all the same.
Writing/Direction: Ryan Coogler, man. Yes. The dude really knows how to make a movie. From his directional touch that really pulls us into the world of Wakanda to the writing that creates such vivid characters that really go to their full potential, Ryan Coogler has created a masterpiece not only as a superhero movie, but as a general film.
Performances: Chadwick Boseman IS T'challa and is practically perfect in his casting. He's great, no denying it. The thing that intrigued me, however, is how he seemed a bit outplayed by his supporting ensemble. No offense to Chadwick, but there's a lot more at play than the lead in this film and I really appreciate that. The women of Wakanda are especially badass. Lupita, Danai, and Letita shine as Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri respectively. They're fantastic female characters who have fantastic performers behind them. I could say some stuff about Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis, who both give off appealing enough performances, Angela Basset, who practically plays herself (very well I might add), the formidable and capable Winston Duke, and Daniel Kalluya, who continues to hold his own. However, I firmly believe none of them hold a candle to Michael B. Jordan's performance as the central villain, Erik Killmonger. He gains our sympathy throughout the film while still being a fairly intimidating villain with complex motives and reasoning that makes the viewer (and T'challa) think. He gives a performance that puts him at the top of the Marvel villain list (not quite at the top of all CBM villains, I mean, Heath Ledger amiright?).
I still insist on praising just about every aspect of this film. Tell me you haven't listened to Ludwig Goranssen's killer soundtrack and it hasn't gotten stuck in your head. Tell me you weren't mesmerized by the production design that made Wakanda so palatable. Tell me you weren't impressed by the beautiful costumes, well-choreographed fights, and awesome cinematography that was shown throughout. (The only thing that holds merit is some CGI issues, but even then, consider their challenge and look at the beautiful establishing shots of Wakanda and tell me that's not some beautifully rendered CGI.)
Black Panther is a fully realized world with vibrant characters and an engrossing tale and serves as a new standard for filmmaking. (10/10)
As good as Creed? No. But definitely surpasses most of the Rocky movies.
Creed II is undeniably formulaic, sticking to the formula established by Rocky movies of the past and sequels in general. While it's not as good as Creed, it's better than almost every Rocky with the exception of the original.
Steven Caple Jr. delivers something poetic and while there is no particularly memorable fight scene, he does use a particular visual style to emphasize drama, suspense, and other varying emotions. Sylvester Stallone returns to his role as writer and this time, it pays off big time. While he does stick to some clear formulaic character arcs with the protagonists, the thing that makes his writing good is the way he handles the Dragos. Ivan and Viktor gain my sympathy and Stallone turns them into so much more than the cardboard cut villains we saw in Rocky IV. He writes Ivan Drago with this intense perfection that honestly left me wanting more. Well done on both writing and direction.
Stallone is great playing what he plays best: Rocky. Tessa Thompson shines as Bianca and the actor who played Viktor Drago did pretty good. Dolph Lundgren got a chance to show why he's an extremely underrated actor in his return to his infamous role as Ivan Drago. He really does kill it in every scene. And yet Michael B. Jordan still kills it more than all of them as Adonis Creed. Creed's raw intensity and hunger to continue upholding his family's legacy while creating his own is perfectly captured through MBJ's performance.
Creed II isn't as good as Creed, but it definitely surpasses many of the Rocky films thanks to confident direction, decent writing, and plethora of finely tuned performances. (8/10)
Oscar Isaac Delivers, The Music Soars in our Hearts, and The Coens bring in their Finest Work
If it was never old and it was never new, then it's a folk song. Words spoken by Llewyn Davis in this film that could not apply to it more. This film is a folk song in its structure, tone, and scope; a song that makes us laugh, think, and at times break.
Writing/Direction: Ethan and Joel Coen are two of the modern masters of cinema with works that range from the Big Lebowski to No Country for Old Men. While those are certainly good, I am firm in my stance that none of them hold a candle to the intimate character study that is Inside Llewyn Davis. Their direction paints a portrait of intimacy while sticking to a dulled color palleate that fits perfectly. Their writing is fantastic. Fun fact: they actually do not plot out their movies, they just write without having much of an idea where the story is going. It is true creative writing that allows us to spend a week Inside Llewyn Davis.
Performances: While John Goodman is typically hilarious, Carey Mulligan is accurately and rightfully dramatic, and Justin Timberlake is pitch perfect, none of the supporting characters can compare to the finely tuned performance of Oscar Isaac, who gives what may be his best work yet. There were times I forgot I was watching Poe Dameron/Nathan from Ex Machina and only saw Llewyn Davis on the screen. He portrays a sarcastic, witty, somber Folk Singer with ease and his vocal parts are off the charts. Oscar Isaac is one of the truly underrated actors of the modern day.
The music is fantastic; a medley of folk songs combined with what would be considered modern back in the 60s (Please Mr. Kennedy). The cinematography is intimate and well-framed. Every aspect of this film corresponds to the Coens' finely tuned work. (10/10)
Is it revolutionary? No. Is it bad? Certainly not. Is it funny? Oh, yes.
Preface to this review before I get to the art itself: This movie is problematic in more ways than one. Not only does it act as though it solves racism by the end (by simply suggesting that people not be racist), it also uses the concept of the white savior (an ideal that everyone should research), which is definitely a move that should be disposed of. If you're willing to ignore that idealism (although you shouldn't), there's more than a few redeeming qualities to this movie.
Writing/Direction: Who would've thought that the guy who brought the world Dumb and Dumber could deliver such a deft touch? Peter Farrely (Farelly?) gives us a mushy feeling throughout the whole picture and lets us know he's got it under control. Given the fact that the two leads are in a car the whole time, I'm impressed. The writing, while claimed inaccurate by Don Shirley's family, is definitely impressive in that it uses humor in a well-timed way. I will admit that at the end, I did have a warm feeling inside.
Performances: Mahershala Ali has proven himself to be one of the greatest actors of our time with so few performances; his performance as Don Shirley truly is the heart of the movie and succeeds as such. Viggo Mortensen is the lead actor and can hold his own as well, from eating an entire pizza uncut to going through an impressive body transformation to showing off his ability to once again master an accent. Viggo and Mahershala's chemistry just makes everything better, so thank you for that. Everyone else in the cast was just fine, they clearly knew the callibur of actors they were working alongside and let them do their thing.
Other than that, it's a relatively basic movie. Yeah, there's some fancy music and some period-accurate production design, but it's just nothing special. That combined with the issues it has socially makes this an alright piece of filmmaking.
Opinion: This did not deserve best picture.
Green book is not revolutionary, nor is it entirely bad, but it certainly is funny through and through. (7/10)
I'm not afraid to say it, John Mulaney's SNL episode is the best of s44. The cold open was normal, but the host's monologue (a taste of Mulaney's stand-up) was perfectly timed, just like the rest of the episode. The quality of writing called back to the era of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Andy Samberg; the more recent golden era of SNL. Props to John Mulaney, the cast and crew, and especially Pete Davidson, who proved he was back at full strength this week.
(Last little thing: Kate McKinnon up until recently has been a stone cold performer, which has been great, but it's honestly heartwarming to see her break sometimes. It makes me laugh so much!)
Social issues and comedy with surprising dramatic heft
There are differing reviews on this episode, and I think that was a little bit of the point; to get people to talk about this issue. However, classifying this episode as propaganda is wildly inaccurate and hating it because you can't experience it is like taking something out of context and blowing it way out of proportion. Please don't classify this as something that doesn't happen and that is completely unrealistic because you've never heard of it happening; it is a horror of the real world.
Also, just real quick: how in any way is this liberalist? Their message literally seems to be don't harass or sexually assault people and I do not understand how that is anything other than basic human values. It's not political, it's commentary on the #metoo movement and I think if anyone approaches it with an open mind, this episode can be really eye opening.
Onto the episode itself as a piece of art, now that I'm done with whatever that was.
Writing: Cold Open was hilarious as always. Kind of like Show Me Going, this episode starts out lighthearted and normal but does take a turn. SPOILERS AHEAD: The subplot with Holt and the Disco Strangler helped the captain realize he's only human and that some things disappear over time. The main plot with Amy and Jake investigating the shattered groin is somewhat bouncy but you pick up on it and get really invested in it at more than one point. It also had a very real ending and character motivations (Amy & Rosa) who are really trying to do the best they can. Amy's past experience is something that really sounds horrible and it's really more of a statement on how people really are underneath and some of the ghosts we carry. Jake realizes how much worse women actually have it off in this world and he grows a bit more in the process. I really did appreciate how this episode handled the #metoo movement.
Direction: Stephanie Beatriz is officially a rising talent in entertainment. She got through this episode flawlessly and one scene in particular caught me completely off guard and made a few tears appear. She also juggles the humor in Holt's story and the drama in Amy's perfectly. Well done, Diaz!
Performances: Nobody has had as hard a task at dramatic lines in this show quite as Melissa Fumero did and she nails it. She is the MVP and frankly caught me off guard completely. Everyone else did well as always. Rosa seemed a little sidelined, but I think it was just because she was doing so much work behind the camera. One thing I would have liked to have seen is a little more of Terry in the main plot given Terry Crews' irl personal history with #metoo, but I understand he already had a big social episode and it was Fumero's time to shine.
This issue brings social issues together with comedy and introduces some surprising dramatic heft along the way. (9/10)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a solid piece of filmmaking. It takes the life and experiences of Lee Israel to provide an engrossing, artistic, and at times entertaining cinematic experience.
Writing/Direction: The screenplay is darkly comic and brutally honest while being surprisingly heartfelt. Lee Israel's story is well-done. The direction is completely solid. Marielle Heller is an extremely underrated director (and was SNUBBED FOR AN OSCAR. I STAND BY IT). The mix of great direction and writing is great.
Performances: Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant deliver career-best performances. The two have undeniable chemistry and disappear into their parts. You truly feel the bond between them and the magnitude of what they're doing. The rest of the cast is superb, but the two leads are fantastic.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a solid cinematic experience. (8/10)
This is one of those episodes of MASH that's obviously supposed to tell a different story. We're dispensed with all the humor and wit everyone in the 4077th uses to cope with the horrors of war, and are instead treated with their yearnings and internal horrors. It's heartbreaking in the best ways. We see into their minds and gain a different understanding of the trials they go through. It's simply so much of what we would choose to ignore what we laugh at on this show. If you watch this show at all, this episode is a must see.
Science Fiction at it's most unquantifiable - that's good!
Writer-Director Alex Garland follows up Ex Machina with a smart, visually stunning, incredibly originally thought science fiction feature that engages the audience and provides an intricate exploration of themes, all brought to life by a wonderful ensemble.
Direction/Writing: The world created in Annihilation is simply stunning. Alex Garland takes his fictional "shimmer" to a whole new level and showcases some purely science fiction ideas. He also writes intriguing character arcs that evolve around the idea of Annihilation itself. He uses some biological concepts as metaphors for the characters that truly works. The story isn't completely original, sure, but the way it is executed and the steps it takes are so breathtakingly unique and interesting.
Performances: Natalie Portman shines as the Star, as she always does. Oscar Isaac showed why he's one of the most underrated actors in show biz with just a few minutes of screen time. The rest of the team was incredible; Jennifer Jason Leigh in particular left an impression. The standout of the shimmer team was Tessa Thompson, who conveys a broken, traumatized, lighthearted woman with such empathy and passion that it's hard to tear yourself away.
Other thoughts: the score was subtle, yet awesome. The visual effects were frankly stunning and off the charts. The production design was breathtakingly beautiful and, at times, fittingly eerie... and the artwork displayed was intricate and magnificent.
Annihilation is a fittingly unquantifiable piece of Science Fiction. (9/10)
The Mary Poppins from 50 years ago is such a landmark achievement that it would always be impractical to consider any follow-up perfect. Mary Poppins Returns recognizes that and decides to tell a similar, sweet tale with visual wonder, smart new songs, and well-rounded performances.
Performances: Everyone can SING! Lin-Manuel Miranda is the prologue and epilogue, a guide-yeah, okay, I'll be honest, I love Hamilton so there is no possible scenario where I can appear unbiased-a guide that takes us on a wonderous journey and reflects the audience's enthusiasm. The Banks are all fantastic, every supporting character is perfectly cast, but not of them as perfect as the casting of Emily Blunt as the titular character. Nobody could live up to Julie Andrews' performance quite like her. She is the essence of Mary Poppins in every way, with a Spoonful of sass added on for good measure.
Writing/Direction: the story is awfully similar to the first Mary Poppins in that it hits the same basic beats as its predecessor. However, there are some additions that make it unique; a different ending, a few other characters, and some magical scenarios. Also, the characters have some added character arcs that make everything better. The direction is magical. Rob Marshall truly is a fantastic director of musicals, between the way he constructs a number to the way he moves a scene.
Just about everything else was great. The CGI, the soundtrack, and (especially) the score add up to a truly magical experience.
This sequel is almost Supercalifragalisticexpealidocious, from the atmosphere of the world created to the sweet story to the on-point performances. (9/10)
This is one of the best episodes of MASH. I really don't think it was meant to be funny in any way, but to show something truly terrifying. How it must be to shout at people you may know and receive no response. The writing is what sets this apart; it's so good and heartbreaking. I just can't sometimes.
Okay, from the beginning: this movie is excellent. It is a thrill ride from start to finish, from being inventive to charting a new story to introducing so many good characters. Miles Morales' story is unique, emotional, and above all, fun.
Performances: they're voice performances, so at first glance there isn't much to consider, but once you get further into the movie, you hear these actors truly commit to their characters. Shameik Moore's voice embodies Miles Morales perfectly, and Jake Johnson finally finds a character that's not a stoner; he does have fun with it. Haliee Steinfeld is exhilarating and perfect as Spider-Gwen. The rest of the cast... they're all fantastic, I just don't have time to talk about it right now. Go Spider-Ham!
Direction/Writing: with three different directors, you'd expect this to come off as jumbled and incoherent, but it is not that at all. The scenes are well executed, the fight choreography is exhilarating, and the way they blend animation is simply stunning. The writing was soooooooo goooooooood. Phil Lord really had a story he wanted to tell, and he didn't skip out on any opportunity; somehow, we'll be laughing one minute and bawling the next. He really left it all on the field, especially with all ridiculous avenues he decided to go down with characters like Spider-Ham, Penny Parker, and Spider-Man Noire. The best part is it all works! The villain, Kingpin, is a bit sidelined, but it doesn't matter in the end because the story is about Miles and the people in his life. There's a moment in the trailer where Miles jumps off a building and we get this beautiful upside-down shot, and that moment is somehow even more satisfying given everything that leads up to it. The combo of story and characters truly does work.
There's so many things I could talk about, from the immersive world to the killer soundtrack to the fact they use sound effects that correspond to the character's respective universes. You can feel the amount of time and effort that went into this movie, and you can feel that feeling of satisfaction that it paid off. It's a truly unique movie and inventive experience that is a sight to behold. (10/10)
Seriously, Academy, look at this movie. And give it like all the awards.
The Umbara arc is fantastic; not only is it visually epic, but the narrative between the clones and Krell has such a satisfying conclusion. This storyline humanized the clones like never before and gave them diverse character arcs to explore. It also posed questions about the clones' purpose and the amount of rights they actually had. It was interesting to say the least and the best writing I believe this show has ever seen. I don't normally write reviews for this show, but with this episode arc, I couldn't resist.
While Bohemian Rhapsody will never match up to the excellence of Queen's music, it is entertaining, at times foot stomping, and slightly more often than not, fun.
The performances by the ensemble are quite fine, but they're ultimately overshadowed by the central performance by Rami Malek. I think he really found a way to find Freddie Mercury inside of him; it's an impressive performance that elevates the film so much more.
The story definitely glosses over a few things. It focuses a lot more on Freddie's heterosexual life rather than his homosexual qualities and coming out, which I don't necessarily agree with. There are times we feel disconnected from the writing, but the resolutions and climax make it worth it.
The direction... I've never been a fan of Bryan Singer, I think I'm done with him at this point. The pacing feels so uneven, the shots are at times lackluster, and the lighting just feels dreary.
One of the (surprisingly) best things in this film is the production design. It's the quality that helps immerse us in this time period as much as it can.
Bohemian Rhapsody has some redeeming qualities that help elevate its mediocre craftsmanship, the main of which is an ensemble of fine performances, lead by the fittingly brave and charismatic Rami Malek (7/10)