What I appreciate about director Sam Mendes’ war drama 1917 is that it has all the urgency, suspense and sense of brutality you’d expect from a World War 1 film without glorifying war itself. The focus of 1917 is not on a particular battle or military campaign but on the harrowing mission of two British soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake and Schofield, to deliver a message through enemy territory to save a battalion of 1600 men, including Blake’s older brother, from being massacred. I didn’t mind at all that the story is straightforward, light on dialogue and has only two lead characters. Where 1917 shines is in its immersive direction, hauntingly beautiful cinematography and earned emotional moments.
An early funny moment in Parasite which encapsulates Ki-taek and his family is when the pest control exterminator comes to their poor neighborhood, he leaves the windows open in their half-basement apartment for the “free fumigation”. Not knowing much about the story beforehand, I mistakenly thought that Parasite would be a horror film like Director Boon Joon Ho’s previous hit The Host. Instead, Parasite is harder to categorize. I would say it’s a comedy thriller with a dark edge to it. The black comedy is used to put the spotlight on social issues in a way which viewers can easily see the faults of the system and people. Ki-taek’s family are opportunistic and cunning but not unsympathetic as they worm their way into the Park family’s lavish home.
The first thing that stands out about Uncut Gems is Adam Sandler’s genuinely solid performance in a non-typical role. Sandler plays as Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler who weaves a tangled web of high stakes risk and frantic desperation when scrambling to pay off a gambling debt. Sandler brings a sense of amusement and authenticity to heightened moments in Uncut Gems. The tightly written script is very good at capturing how Ratner’s business, family and personal life collide and unravel before his eyes. Despite his poor decision making, the well-rounded character driven story and performance makes you want to see Ranter succeed.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a summer blockbuster that makes sense as a sequel and epilogue to Avengers: Endgame. Far From Home’s affable, good-nature isn’t exactly the Spider-man story that I find most compelling. It will take a 3rd or 4th installment in the franchise to build up and earn darker moments with emotional resonance. However, Far From Home’s light tone is perfectly in line with a teen-aged Peter Parker and what was previously established in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Putting aside what I personally want from a Spider-Man movie, Far From Home delivers a decent teen-comedy with ample comic-book action. Playing it relatively safe, director Jon Watts avoids the mistakes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and moves the franchise a step in the right direction.
Avengers: Endgame is one of the most anticipated movies in recent memory. From the start, Marvel Studios made fans aware that the movies were building towards an epic story as part of their ambitious, shared cinematic universe. Respecting the source material, Marvel Studios adapted a roster of comic book superheroes for a modern audience. As fans became more invested which each new franchise, including superheroes that were not widely popular, Marvel’s momentum continued to grow. With Endgame, not only has the anticipation greatly risen so has the expectation for an emotionally satisfying and meaningful conclusion to the Infinity Stones story line.
Upgrade (2018) is a cyberpunk thriller that paints a murky outlook on technologically enhanced humans in the near-future. Self-driving vehicles, VR technology and artificial intelligence are already a reality today. Just imagine how much further we will have developed and integrated these technologies in the years to come. The believable aspects to the futuristic setting in Upgrade adds to the disconcerting anxiousness to what could be in store for the next stage in humanity.
Ranking 2018’s superhero movies is a fun way to take a look back at this past year. This list is for live-action superhero movies, so animated films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Batman Ninja aren’t included. The rankings are simply a personal take on how the superhero movies stacked up. Your own opinions may be very different. Relax and share your own rankings in the comments below.
And now for something completely … well different. Nicolas Cage’s latest film Mandy is a wild, captivating trip. More specifically it’s an acid trip filled with hallucinatory visuals and an otherworldly vibe as if torn from the pages of a cosmic horror novel.
Tom Cruise may be in his mid-fifties but there is no slowing down the Mission Impossible franchise. Mission Impossible: Fallout, the sixth film in the series, brings plenty of excitement which fans have come to expect: high speed chases through iconic cities, a nail-biting race against a countdown clock, and spy thriller twists.
Deadpool 2 is an enjoyable diversion. The sequel improves upon the box-office winning formula of rapid fire humor and hyper violent comic book action. This time there’s even more super powered characters including the heavily armed Cable (Josh Brolin), lady luck Domino (Zazie Beetz) and the hot-tempered Firefist (Julian Dennison).
The main plot involves Deadpool protecting a teenage mutant from Cable. The story is like an ever-growing snowball that picks up more and more characters as it rolls along but never goes over the cliff. Deadpool is trying to figure out where he belongs and what family means to him. Is Deadpool an X-Men or should he assemble his own superhero team? Or is he better off dead?
A key ingredient in the first film that is carried over is Wade Wilson’s relationship with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Ryan Reynolds is a natural fit as the wise-cracking Deadpool and Vanessa’s playful charm is the ideal compliment to Wade. The romantic chemistry in many other superhero films aren’t as authentic as Wade and Vanessa’s. As zany and crass as things gets, what’s going through Deadpool’s head and heart, albeit some times a bullet, feels genuine to me.
Josh Brolin is a great casting choice as Cable, a super soldier from the future. The film takes its time before bringing Cable into the fold and he could have been served better with a memorable introduction. I like Brolin’s version of Cable, but there is opportunity to do even more and expand on the buddy cop relationship with Deadpool.
The new personalities who stand out immediately is the very cool Domino and fiery Russell. Domino isn’t exactly well-developed either, it’s just really fun to see how her good fortune plays out in dangerous circumstances. Julian Dennison as Russell is funny and at the same time can be taken seriously during the dramatic moments. The chemistry between Wade Wilson and Russell works really well.
The running jokes featuring taxi-driving Dopinder, Blind Al and sidekick Weasel are essentially reworks of similar gags. I don’t mind this type of humor, I just don’t find it to be laugh-out loud funny. The funniest part is seeing Deadpool’s team in action for the first time thanks to a lot of visual humor. Further, breaking the fourth wall didn’t have the same novelty for me.
I liked that Colossus has his moments and his fighting sequences are very good. I could have used more Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio. There just wasn’t enough screen time to showcase all their talents. A noticeable improvement from the first film is that director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) amped up the action set pieces. There’s a tonne of action and it’s on a much bigger scale.
The irreverent humor, gory action, and big super powered personalities confidently hit the mark for a second time. If you liked the first film, you’re going to enjoy the sequel. For my own tastes Deadpool doesn’t capture my imagination like some of the other Marvel films and heroes. But the non-stop entertainment and all around silly fun make it worth watching. Deadpool 2 is a solid steel 3 katanas out of five.