Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Director: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Isabella Sermon, Daniella Pineda
There are two things that ultimately keep Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, from becoming something greater. First and foremost, the movie feels like a placeholder for the third entry. Secondly, and tied into the first, is its story. The story here, doesn't always quite work. It may not help matters much, when the film feels like two different movies crammed into one. It's a weird situation to be in, as both halves of the movie work really well. However, the mechanics of each half are what ultimately don't always run smooth. The gears aren't quite greased all the way. However, Fallen Kingdom is able to keep on chugging along thanks to director J.A. Bayona and his leads. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, are really solid here. Young Isabella Sermon, also adds some nice work to help sell all of this. The other lead characters here, are the dinosaurs. My word, some of the dino work here is impressive. You really feel for these things, and you have to in order for the story to work. Shout out to Blue, who is once again a standout. While I had some problems with the movie, my inner geek was so entertained I really didn't mind them much. I had a blast with a lot of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The second half of the movie, is so well done (just ignore some of the corporate smorgasbord). There are sequences here, that had me cheering. And I legitimately want to see how this all wraps up. The score by Michael Giacchino, is also fantastic here. In the end, despite some problems, I had a lot of fun with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. In fact, I may just love it.
Director: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro
I am abstaining from reviewing this movie. Some people will like it, a lot will hate it. It's a thing that was made.
Title: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clark, Donald Glover, Paul Bentany, Joonas Suotamo
While Rogue One was wholly unnecessary as a film, Solo is even less warranted. However, Solo wins points on sheer entertainment value. No film is really "necessary" and I feel, that is not a valid criticism of any film. Sure, nobody needed to see a backstory for one of the greatest cinematic characters of all time. Nevertheless, Disney made a film about it. And you know what? It's highly entertaining. Almost every frame of Solo: A Star Wars Story, oozes charm. Everyone seems to be having a great time on screen, and it's infectious. Alden Ehrenreich, is actually really good in the titular role. While he will never be Harrison Ford, he does a great job with the character. Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover are fantastic supporting characters here. Glover, is doing a bit more of a Bill Dee Williams impression, but it works for him. While there are some elements of the story that feel like we are merely hitting predetermined beats, for the most part it works. The third act drags a little and it's a bit predictable, but it doesn't take away from the film as a whole. I found myself smiling a lot throughout Solo. It's a very lighthearted film and in a way, Star Wars needs that coming off of The Last Jedi. It's a very enjoyable film and I wish it had done better because, no joke, I kind of want to see more. I am just as surprised as any at how much I enjoyed the film.
Title: Deadpool 2
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller
So the biggest issue with Deadpool 2, is how loose it is. The first film, was a tightly wrapped ball of energy. It was a ball that was being pushed along by the charisma of Ryan Reynolds. While Reynolds, doesn't disappoint here, the film is constantly being threatened to come unraveled. For the most part, somehow, Deadpool 2 never crosses that line. However, there are moments that never quite land and the film can feel crammed; in particular with its jokes, which sometimes feel too forced. That being said, Deadpool 2 is just as entertaining as the first. When the shtick is working, it's really working. Josh Brolin, is also really solid as Cable. I may even prefer his Cable, to his Thanos. The aforementioned Reynolds, was simply born to play this character. His charm and wit, once again make this movie work. The story doesn't always land, but the sheer entertainment value of the film overshadows the problems. The supporting cast of characters, also help the film a lot. If you liked the first, you will like this one. I wish it was a little bit tighter though. Still, it's really entertaining.
Title: Avengers: Infinity War
Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch
For most of its hefty running time, Avengers: Infinity War feels like Marvel is playing catch-up with its own universe. It's kind of a miracle that this film works at all. There's so much happening in this movie, yet so little. There is very little story to go around here, and most of the film just skips along to the next beat the screenplay has to hit. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes the film feel more bloated and than it actually is. That being said, enter the characters. The reason this film works, is the ingrained attachment we all have for these characters. The 10 years we've spent with these characters and actors, in this universe. When the film isn't trying so hard to be epic, it's the small character moments that work the best. Brolin, is fine as Thanos. While the effects on the character work, they don't work all the time (including his cronies). It feels like they were perfecting it as they went along. Which means by the end, when it matters most, they got it right. Brolin's performance is able to shine through some of the more "Uncanny Valley" moments of the character. When it's over, how you feel is going to depend on how invested you are with these characters. I want to see where this goes, even if I'm not jumping out of my seat. Avengers: Infinity War is an entertaining, often times muddled, hefty mess, but entertaining nonetheless.
Director: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwyane Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy
Oh, my. Rampage suffers from a severe identity crisis. The question is, why? And how? This should have been an easy layup. A slam dunk. Instead, I'm left trying to figure out who blocked the shot. This film reeks of studio meddling. Either that or, Brad Peyton is one of the most incompetent filmmakers on the face of the planet. To which I know, he CAN pull of a fun, not take itself too seriously, action film starring Dwayne Johnson. He did it before with San Andreas. Someone NEEDS to explain to me why this film feels like it should have been rated "R". Someone NEEDS to explain to me why the first act of the film, feels like a different movie? Whose idea was it to play things "serious" with this movie? Someone NEEDS to explain to me whom came up with the idea of the Wyden siblings? These "characters", may be two of the worst film characters ever to be put to film. EVER. To that point, why is there any other humanoid person in this movie besides Dwayne Johnson, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan? Every other person here is DREADFUL. Jefferey Dean Morgan and Dwayne Johnson, are in a totally different film here. It's the one we paid to see: a movie about giant, mutant monsters, attacking cities. When Rampage stops trying to be something "serious", we finally get what this whole film should have been. Unfortunately, by then, it's too little too late. While the actual rampage in Rampage is the movie we came to see, the rest of the film isn't worth your gas money.
Title: A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Milliicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
One of the big questions I had going into A Quiet Place, was if the film would betray its premise. A lot of times with these "high concept" type films, they will abandon the rules set up for the sake of the plot. Miraculously, inexperienced filmmaker, John Krasinski, manages to come out of A Quiet Place virtual unscathed. I said virtually. There is one element which I didn't quite buy fully (And sneezing. How does one sneeze?!). That being said, A Quiet Place is a nearly flawless powder-keg of tension and originality. Despite a few flaws, Krasinski, keeps his film moving. He opts for the creative license approach, which works in favor of the film. The entire cast here is great. Emily Blunt and Krasinski, do a wonderful job being emotional anchors to their kids, who are also great. The story doesn't really have much, and this can slow the pacing of the film down at times. Sometimes, things can feel repetitive, especially as we approach the climax. However, for A Quiet Place, less is more. It's a simple story, which is more than made up for in its execution.
Title: Ready Player One
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Ty Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Mark Rylance, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg
As Ready Player One unfolds, you can literally feel Steven Spielberg, nudging and winking at you. This is where the film succeeds the most. Ready Player One, is Spielberg, just having fun and taking you along with him. I personally have not read the book, so I didn't quite know what to expect with this. I knew it was chock full of references and Easter eggs, but damn. There's so much fun to be had with this film and Spielberg, masterfully weaves so much in, without it being overpowering. Sure, there are the blatant references. However, most of them are crucial or have relevance to the plot, or a scene. The rest is more blink and you miss it. Or is it more like try and pick out EVERY- SINGLE-THING-HAPPENING-IN-THIS-SCENE-RIGHT-NOW-OMG-WHAT-THE-FUCK-IS-HAPPENING... The cast is great, with Olivia Cooke being the strongest here. Where the film suffers, is in some of its story. It doesn't always quite work, and the film can get bogged down, which makes the movie feel long. That being said, Spielberg, knows where the money is and he gives it to you. What we are left with, is a fun, classic, Spielbergian, 80's, feeling romp. And it will make you leave with a wide grin on your face. This movie, is helluva lot of fun.
Title: Pacific Rim: Uprising
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing, Rinko Kikuchi
Pacific Rim: Uprising, is not good. There is some goofy-ass shit going down in this movie. However, there is a lot to like about what's happening here. One may admire how the film just lets go, to be as stupid as it possibly can be. The first Pacific Rim, was always teetering on the edge of this. What Uprising is missing, is the master hand of Guillermo del Toro, from doing such things. Steven S. DeKnight, is just not that skilled to pull off such feats. In fact, a lot of Pacific Rim: Uprising, feels like the pilot to a TV show rather than a movie. It feels more suited for something on SyFy, or TNT. What keeps Uprising from totally losing its footing, is John Boyega. He's really good here and anchors the film nicely. Scott Eastwood, is having fun as the lovable jackass, Nate Lambert. The "young" cast here, is well, not good... The film also has its battles. The things you paid to see. The battles, are quite good. The finale is pure nerdist joy. The problem, is pretty much everything else around the battles. And the plot to get us to these points, is weird with a side of head-scratching. Still, while half the film is bad, the other half is entertaining. And there is something to be said about a film which embrace's its weird, goofy-ass shit. Pacific Rim: Uprising, does just that.
TITLE: BLACK PANTHER
DIRECTOR: RYAN COOGLER
STARRING: CHADWICK BOSEMAN, MICHAEL B. JORDAN, LUPITA NYONG'O, DANIEL GURIRA, DANIEL KALUUYA, LETITIA WRIGHT, MARTIN FREEMAN, ANDY SERKIS
Black Panther is a shot of fresh air, for a franchise that started to feel awfully familiar a long time ago. Despite some glaring faults, Black Panther entertains. The film has a bad pacing problem. It's just over 2 hour runtime, is felt- hard. The narrative struggles to keep pace throughout its bloated middle section. Keeping the film afloat, is Chadwick Boseman as the titular character. Michael B. Jordan does a solid job, although, he tends to delve into hammy territory at times. Given Marvel's track record with its villains, he fits right in. Lupitia Nyong'o and the rest of the surrounding cast, help out Boseman along the way. However, it is Letitia Wright, who steals the show here. Martin Freeman, has a surprisingly juicy role along with Andy Serkis. And with Serkis, twice in one film, Marvel cements their villain problem as more of a plague. Disney also needs to consider hiring better CGI people. Some of the work here, is just awful. The soundtrack to the film, is probably the best in the library of Marvel films to date. Black Panther succeeds on more levels than it should. It's one of the stronger entries in the MCU, as its content and message add more to the film at its core.