The Official Review Thread of 2019

Sabin
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:32 pm

At the end of Toy Story 3, I thought that I had just seen a very well done goodbye to a franchise that I had already said goodbye to with Toy Story 2. Without giving too much away, only a fool would think they had seen the end of the franchise at the end of this movie. It's a soft reboot if there ever was one. The plot of the film is that Woody needs to save Bonnie's favorite toy, Forky, from an Antique Store where he is being held captive by Gabby Gabby, a creepy old toy, and his journey to do so leads him to reunite with Bo Peep and meet a bunch of toys who challenge his preconceived notions about his life. There are a lot of problems with this film. Gabby Gabby is an uninteresting character that I didn't care about (the film just relies on her creepiness). The plot is a meandering thing that essentially serves as a team-building operation to gather up a new group of toys we're going to follow in Toy Story 5. But worst of all, this is really a film about the turning point in Woody's life as a toy where he makes the decision to go from having a child to being free, and he's largely in the backseat for most of it. Bo Peep drives the film. This is a smart choice because she has a lot of potential as a character, and I enjoyed how she came across almost as a divorcée. But by the end of it, I had seen a lot of Toys, but no Story.

Worth seeing for Forky's existential crisis.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:10 am

ROCKETMAN
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones, Stephen Graham, Charlie Rowe.
Dir: Dexter Fletcher.

This is the film biopic of Elton John which traces his humble beginnings to his rise and his struggles with his sexuality, drug addiction, alcoholism, the works. As far as music biopics go, this film pretty much hits everything you'd expect it to hit. There's nothing new here. But what sets it apart from that other cliched music biopic of another queer rock musician is that it tells its story more creatively, with more verve and most importantly, honesty. This doesn't pussyfoot around their subject matter's sexuality or vices. Most of Elton John's well-known hits make an appearance of course but they're done in more than just a "MEMBA THIS?" way (it helps that Taron Egerton actually SINGS the songs rather than lip-syncs them, which gives them all the freedom to rearrange and reimagine the songs). The result is a biopic that feels more than just a way to boost iTunes downloads.

Oscar Prospects: If Rami Malek can win, Taron Egerton sure as hell should at least get nominated. This film could get in Best Picture, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Song and maybe even Supporting Actor for Jamie Bell.

Grade: A-

TOY STORY 4
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, Madeleine McGraw, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Kristen Schaal, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Blake Clark, Jeff Garlin, June Squibb (voices).
Dir: Josh Cooley.

The fourth (and last?) installment of the franchise that launched PIXAR. This is the further adventures of Woody, Buzz and all the toys, now in the possession of a little girl who made herself a toy out of a spork named Forky. Toy Story 3, I felt, was already a great conclusion. I personally didn't need and I certainly didn't ask for a third installment (I do like the idea of having one-off shorts featuring the characters every now and then but I wasn't expecting a full-blown sequel). But this managed to prove me wrong. It isn't the best of the series for sure. But it's still one of the best films of 2019 so far and the best animated film of 2019 so far. The new characters Duck & Bunny and Duke Kaboom are all hilarious, wonderful editions to the canon. I loved it.

Oscar Prospects: Should be a shoo-in for at least an Animated Feature nomination as well as an Original Song nomination.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:53 pm

What a summer of flops this is turning into! One after another.

Men in Black International, Dark Phoenix, Shaft, Pokemon Detective Pikachu. The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Godzilla King of Monsters will break even after international. And of course, Booksmart failed to replicate Superbad's success. We're only a month and a half into summer and yet, like election season, it feels like we've never left. I'm a bit alarmed that we're heading towards a world where audiences only see ten films a year, all Disney tentpoles. But part of me looks at these titles listed above (minus Booksmart) and wonders: well, what fools did you take the audience for?

Yes, "sequels are dead" will be the spin for the five days leading up to Toy Story 4.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:41 am

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Laurent & Larry Bourgeois.
Dir: F. Gary Gray.

The fourth iteration of the Men in Black franchise has a young woman actually finding the organization and teaming up with another agent to save the world. I don't understand it. This has all the elements of what it takes to make at least a fairly decent escapist genre blockbuster: It has a good cast. Chris Hemsworth and another one of my future wives (heh) Tessa Thompson (my only reason for checking this out) make a good team. Kumail Nanjiani is charming as a tiny bad-ass alien. There's a lot of individual fun elements to it and there are scenes that are fun. But nothing was coming together. None of it clicked. Is it the script? Is it direction? Maybe a little bit of both. But yeah, this is subpar.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:29 am

TEEN SPIRIT
Cast: Elle Fanning, Zlatko Buric, Rebecca Hall, Agnieszka Grochowska.
Dir: Max Minghella.

A teenaged girl from a small town in Europe gets the chance to audition for an American Idol/X-Factor-type show, the titular Teen Spirit. A former Russian opera singer who was once famous and now lives in obscurity, takes her under his wing. Yes, the plot is just like A Star is Born minus the romance. This is the feature film debut of Max Minghella and he acquits himself very well. Elle Fanning is, as if we needed more convincing, outstanding (she even sings). You really root for her and everything. The script drops the ball a bit on the central relationship between her and her mentor. You really don't get much of a sense of it. It lacks something. That said, it's still a solid musical drama that's far better than it has any right to being.

Oscar Prospects: Elle Fanning won't actually be an embarrassing Best Actress contender for this.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:55 am

X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Jessica Chastain, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters.
Dir: Simon Kinberg.

During a space rescue mission, Jean Grey is hit with a strange-looking solar flare causing her to transform into the titular Dark Phoenix which increases her power and makes her more and more dangerous. This is an intriguing premise filled with potential. I heard from some people that this was a cool story in the comics. But writer-director Simon Kinberg does absolutely nothing with it. Zip. Nada. Pffffttt. Nothing super interesting at least. It such a waste. A lot of interesting ideas get brought up and pretty much get wasted. Also wasted are the super talented cast, some of whom seem to be phoning it in (I'm looking at you, Fassbender and J-Law). Sophie Turner is terrific though. Such a shame they didn't give her some potentially great material to work with. So, yeah, pass on this.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:12 pm

anonymous1980 wrote:BRIGHTBURN
It didn't blow me away but I am curious to see if/when they make this is into a film series/franchise.


The budget was low, but so was the box office and opinion. After a dismal C+ Cinemascore and a catastrophic 69% second week drop-off, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting a follow-up.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:21 am

ALADDIN
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen.
Dir: Guy Ritchie.

This is the unnecessary remake of a childhood favorite Disney animated feature film version of the Aladdin story. We all know it: Young man finds a magic lamp and the lamp has a genie, he wants to win over the Sultan's daughter, etc. I was bracing for the worst. I don't like the fact that Disney is remaking its classics and I'm not a big fan of director Guy Ritchie. I suppose low expectations made me enjoy this film a bit more than I expected to but it's overall surprisingly somewhat enjoyable. Will Smith's version of the genie is no Robin Williams, although he seems to try and channel him every now and then. He does also manage to sneak in some funny one-liners too. And this movie needs it since I found the leads to be kind of dull (In their small bits, both Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen manage to shine as well). Overall, it's not great but it could've been a lot worse, I guess.

Oscar Prospects: Costume Design, Production Design, Visual Effects and Original Song ("Speechless") are possible.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:18 pm

BRIGHTBURN
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Michael Rooker.
Dir: David Yarovesky.

A spaceship containing a baby crash-lands on a childless couple's farm. They adopt him and raise him as his own. But he has superpowers. Sounds familiar? That's because it's the Superman origin story.....but this Superman turns out to be an invasive alien hellbent on death and destruction. It's a concept so obvious and novel, it's strange that no one got the idea to make a movie about it until now. The film disappointingly takes the slasher film route instead of doing something a little more creative with it. But for what it is, it is an entertaining superhero horror film with a few decent scares. It didn't blow me away but I am curious to see if/when they make this is into a film series/franchise.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri May 31, 2019 6:34 pm

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Sally Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Thomas Middleditch, Ziyi Zhang, Aisha Hinds, David Strathairn, Anthony Ramos.
Dir: Michael Dougherty.

The sequel to the Hollywood reboot of Godzilla centers on an eco-terrorist group wanting the revive all the Titans (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah) in an effort to save the planet from destruction. And there's a family coping with the loss of one of their own in the mix. It's very clear this movie wants to be a fun, silly escapist film where big monsters fight, in the tradition of the old Japanese monster movies. But it also wants to have a human story at its heart and say something about the world around us. It fumbled in the latter and affected my enjoyment of the former. Only Millie Bobby Brown manages to rise above the mediocre material given, proving that her Eleven performance wasn't a fluke. The monster fighting sequences especially the ones in the end were a lot of fun. But overall, it's just pretty okay.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Mon May 27, 2019 7:22 pm

Booksmart isn't going to be the Superbad hit everybody thought it would be and I certainly understand why. While Superbad plays by the audience-friendly Apatow handbook Booksmart RESISTS -- pun intended.

Make no mistake. This is a straight (if not entirely straight) remake of Superbad, right down to casting Jonah Hill's younger sister as "him." To which I say "So what?" If you're going to remake Superbad, the question becomes can you bring anything fresh and new? And the answer here is a resounding yes. Whereas Seth and Evan are single-minded horndogs, Amy and Molly are social justice-minded feminists. The film is at its strongest when Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever (the latter of whom is just excellent) are bouncing off of each other and we learn little details about them, like when one desperately need the others' helming no questions asked they call "Malala." The film is at its weakest when it comes to emotional stakes. Seth and Evan are looking for sex but find love -- with each other. The closest moment that that for Amy and Molly happens at the end of the first act, when they realize they've wasted their high school years focusing ONLY on getting into a great school and not having a life, when all of their classmates (who they perceived as losers) did both. That scene is fantastic but nothing afterwards really cuts as deep, so their quest to go to Nick's party feels a little shambling, vignette-ish, and low-stakes. It doesn't help that while Olivia Wilde is very good with actors, she tends to over-direct her scenes and bludgeon with her soundtrack.

I liked it but wish it cut loose more.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 18, 2019 7:01 am

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Mark Dacascos, Anjelica Huston.
Dir: Chad Strahelski.

The third chapter (and looks like it might not even be the final) in the on-going John Wick series has the titular John Wick going against the entire mysterious assassin organization he was once a part in. I'm not as obsessed with this franchise as a lot of other people but I do very much enjoy it and this latest chapter is the reason why. The violence is highly stylized but you still feel the pain. The action scenes are cartoonish yet never shies away from the brutality. It goes from one imaginative action sequence to another yet there's a logic to it. It is played straight yet they manage to sprinkle some humor pointing out its silliness. It is truly a minor miracle this series is as good as it is. I can't imagine where they will take this franchise next.

Oscar Prospects: Sound Editing and Sound Mixing are deserved.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon May 13, 2019 12:25 pm

LONG SHOT
Cast: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Oedenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård, Ravi Patel.
Dir: Jonathan Levine.

A recently out of work online journalist meets up with his former babysitter who happens to be the Secretary of State planning to run for president. Of course the unlikely pair fall in love. As with a lot of Seth Rogen's comedies, this one is still around 20 to 40 minutes too long. But on the other hand, like a lot of Seth Rogen's comedies, it somehow works and is pretty good. Call me crazy but, the romance between chlubby Seth Rogen and beautifully statuesque Charlize Theron surprisingly believable. I have to also say Charlize is also great at comedy. That scene where she negotiates the release of a hostage while on molly was gold. She should definitely do more comedies. Overall, solid work.

Oscar Prospects: None but Charlize Theron definitely deserves a Golden Globe Musical-Comedy nomination.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 11, 2019 8:46 am

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chapparo, Chris Geere, Rita Ora.
Dir: Rob Letterman.

In a world where Pokemon and humans living side-by-side is a thing, a young man finds out his police officer father was killed but after finding his father's Pokemon, Pikachu, there's something more afoot. I've never played Pokemon (I think I was already too old when it became a craze). I've never played this video game. I've never seen any of the movies or the TV shows. I know only a scant few things about this franchise. That said, I found it fairly and reasonably entertaining. It didn't make me want to check out more Pokemon stuff. I know they're trying for a neo-noir for kids, a Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Blade Runner kind of vibe but it doesn't quite live up to it. The visual effects are pretty good though. I can take it or leave it.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is actually a possibility.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Fri May 03, 2019 11:51 pm

Captain Marvel is similar to Bohemian Rhapsody in that for the first twenty minutes, I said out loud "This is TERRIBLE" about ten minutes. And then after an hour I said, "Aw, crap. Do I like this?"

It's not a good movie. I don't recommend it. I didn't have an awful time, and I think the reason why is that every character in this movie wholeheartedly accepts every ridiculous thing that happens when there is no earthy reason for them to do so. It's pretty remarkable. This film's utter commitment to its own silliness becomes charming in a way. And of course, it features Marvel's battle-tested plot structure which ensures (quality-wise) a high floor and a low ceiling. So, it ends up being not as bad as it should be.

Takeaways:
* It's actually not a time travel movie. It just takes place in the 90's.
* Brie Larson is not given a character. The throughline about her not being in control of her emotions when really that's just a line by those manipulating her would track better if her behavior was discernibly different from the beginning of the film to the end of the film. Interesting idea. They didn't make it work.
* Samuel L. Jackson is very good. The VFX utilized to de-age him is remarkable.
* Being progressive means caring about refugees.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR


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