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The Incredibles 2 (8/10)

Dare I say that this film is, ahem, "incredible?'

Well, maybe not. Being "incredible" would require at least a 9 by my recknoing. But is it "super?" Yeah, pretty much. Super enough that, caveats aside, I can confidently declare that it's better than the first film.

Funny thing about that, but I never really got why The Incredibles was so beloved by fans. Is it a fun film? Well, yeah. I enjoyed it when I saw it, and I've visited key scenes on YouTube numerous times. But I never got the hype behind it, why it was this film, of all of Pixar's, that people were salviating over. I certainly never got the themes people claim to be present in the film, said themes pretty much being the opposite of the real world. But, hey, film was fun, so when the opportunity came to see this film with my dad (who saw the first film with me back in the day and liked it as well), I figured "hey, why not?" Father-son bonding and all that. So, did I enjoy it?

Hell yes.

This film succeeds in almost every aspect, and succeeds so well that it exceeds the first film in almost every aspect. Action? Great. Comedy? I was laughing throughout the film. Characters? Great. It's in this realm that I feel Incredibles 2 really succeeds over its predecessor, as Incredibles 1 was first and foremost Bob's story. That's not to say the other Parrs didn't have a role, but it was a role that was comparatively minimized. In contrast, the limelight is shared more equally among the family here, and I'd say the film is better for it. Also helps that every family member bar Dash (who's fine, don't get me wrong) has a...not necessarily a character arc, but certainly a character trajectory, if that makes sense. Oh, and the pacing. This film never slows down, and in a rare case, this makes it even more enjoyable. I could have seen this film going wrong so easily (especially with the idea of Bob being a stay-at-home dead, and Jack-Jack's powers leading to antics, but no, they pull this off (and other plot points) perfectly. And if we're talking about themes, while this film doesn't really have any big theme to it, if you found the first to be thematically rich, then you'll find this one to be as well (though apparently some people find it too feminist because Helen's the one out in the field this time. Sigh...) Oh, and this sequel feels natural. While the first film didn't need a sequel IMO (I don't think there's ever been a Pixar film that actually "needed" a sequel per se), similar to Pixar sequels that have worked (Toy Story 2/3, Finding Dory), Incredibles 2 succeeds as both its own thing, and as a sequel, building naturally off the first film (mostly - the Underminer's there at the start, but never appears again, which I think is a wasted opportunity), but also being its own thing. I takes the setting forward. The setting can have more stories. But the film is perfectly stand alone, with great storytelling and great characters. No cinematic universe nonsense needed thanks.

Oh, by the way, am I the only one who think that the red/black suits are the least interesting visually, and the classic suits of Bob/Helen are better?

Chimpzy:

EscapistAccount:

Chimpzy:
they recycled the "train the dinos to be bioweapons" subplot from the previous one.

Which makes zero sense anyway, there's very little the dinosaurs do better than soldiers, soldiers with dogs or soldiers riding the far cheaper trained elephant.

Yup, Chris Pratt's character actually pointed out how bad of an idea weaponizing Raptors is in Jurassic World, saying "a drone doesn't try to eat you when it gets hungry". The guy he says that to then goes "then we'll promote only loyal bloodlines", like it would be as quick and easy as training a dog. Except dogs have been around humans for some 15,000 to perhaps 36,000 years, so that's likely thousands of generations of selective breeding for desirable traits. The Raptors at that point have had 0. Bad guy tries anyway. He gets munched.

At least it's not as bad the Alien franchise, where the xenomorphs have shown themselves to apparently be nothing but entirely antithetical to humans (until Alien Covenant made that by design).

Yeah, it's kind of weird that nobody ever really gets the idea that no matter what you try, the dinos will always get loose and eat people, because it happens every single time. Except for the few people who insist it's a bad idea and are ignored. At some point you'd think someone would realize this probably isn't gonna work out well, let alone negate any profit you might hope to make from this.

Jurassic World also hit what I like to call "The Jaws Trope"(I'm sure it has a much cooler name), that is "We can't shut down because it would be bad for business". You know what's really bad for business? Dead people. Lawsuits from surviving relatives. Government legal action.

Chimpzy:
Yup, Chris Pratt's character actually pointed out how bad of an idea weaponizing Raptors is in Jurassic World, saying "a drone doesn't try to eat you when it gets hungry". The guy he says that to then goes "then we'll promote only loyal bloodlines", like it would be as quick and easy as training a dog. Except dogs have been around humans for some 15,000 to perhaps 36,000 years, so that's likely thousands of generations of selective breeding for desirable traits. The Raptors at that point have had 0. Bad guy tries anyway. He gets munched.

At least it's not as bad the Alien franchise, where the xenomorphs have shown themselves to apparently be nothing but entirely antithetical to humans (until Alien Covenant made that by design).

I cut the Aliens franchise some slack up til Resurrection, because until then no one official is actually trying to bring the aliens back to civilisation to experiment on. The first film WY picks up a signal and sends a tow truck out to investigate because they're in the area. Aliens has a single employee, with no sign that he's got higher ups backing him, chasing them down for his own profit. The third film has WY come in at the end because they want a sample of a creature they still have no real idea about. The real stupidity only starts after there.

The one that confuses me about the Jurassic world films are that a PMC is commissioning dinosaurs rather than buying off the shelf equipment (how I wish the post 9/11 shift from critiquing the government to critiquing PMCs as a proxy hadn't happened, this storyline makes sense when it's DARPA but not Blackwater) and how weirdly cheap the stuff in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is being sold. I mean honestly, far before this point InGen should just have sold the rights and product to Biosyn and wrapped up the whole dinosaur theme park boondoggle.

EscapistAccount:

Chimpzy:
Yup, Chris Pratt's character actually pointed out how bad of an idea weaponizing Raptors is in Jurassic World, saying "a drone doesn't try to eat you when it gets hungry". The guy he says that to then goes "then we'll promote only loyal bloodlines", like it would be as quick and easy as training a dog. Except dogs have been around humans for some 15,000 to perhaps 36,000 years, so that's likely thousands of generations of selective breeding for desirable traits. The Raptors at that point have had 0. Bad guy tries anyway. He gets munched.

At least it's not as bad the Alien franchise, where the xenomorphs have shown themselves to apparently be nothing but entirely antithetical to humans (until Alien Covenant made that by design).

I cut the Aliens franchise some slack up til Resurrection, because until then no one official is actually trying to bring the aliens back to civilisation to experiment on. The first film WY picks up a signal and sends a tow truck out to investigate because they're in the area. Aliens has a single employee, with no sign that he's got higher ups backing him, chasing them down for his own profit. The third film has WY come in at the end because they want a sample of a creature they still have no real idea about. The real stupidity only starts after there.

The one that confuses me about the Jurassic world films are that a PMC is commissioning dinosaurs rather than buying off the shelf equipment (how I wish the post 9/11 shift from critiquing the government to critiquing PMCs as a proxy hadn't happened, this storyline makes sense when it's DARPA but not Blackwater) and how weirdly cheap the stuff in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is being sold. I mean honestly, far before this point InGen should just have sold the rights and product to Biosyn and wrapped up the whole dinosaur theme park boondoggle.

In the first one doesn't Ash the android mention that the Nostromo had been slightly diverted from its actual course, knowing that it would then pick up the distress signal and the crew would be forced to act? Its why Ripley is so pissed of in the second one, because they're trying that "capture the bioweapon for study" shit and getting people killed for it again.

I forget who, but someone did point out that the total money made from the dino auction in Fallen Kingdom actually came out to less than it took to make Fallen Kingdom. CGI dinos cost more than the real ones apparently do, which honestly just makes me laugh

Palindromemordnilap:

I forget who, but someone did point out that the total money made from the dino auction in Fallen Kingdom actually came out to less than it took to make Fallen Kingdom.

Chris Stuckman.

Palindromemordnilap:

In the first one doesn't Ash the android mention that the Nostromo had been slightly diverted from its actual course, knowing that it would then pick up the distress signal and the crew would be forced to act?

From what I remember from Alien

-Their normal science officer was replaced by Ash a couple days before leaving on this run, which implies WY suspected something and wanted someone loyal to deal with the issue.
-The special order only Captain Dallas(and presumably Ash) had clearence to read said "Retrieve Lifeform. All other priorities secondary. Crew Expendable". Though it's not clear if that Special Order was written specifically for this case or had been there for a long time and was meant to go into effect for special circumstances such as the Alien Signal.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) - 3/10

The previous Jurassic World film was dumb, but wow, this goes on a whole new level.

Best thing going for it is the direction. J.A. Bayona really knows how to make great shots throughout unlike Trevorrow (I'll get to him in a minute) and the effects were alright. The cast was a mixed bag. The little girl was pretty good in terms of performance.

Too bad its wasted on this terrible script and nothing characters doing the most moronic mistakes ever. The film is basically the Lost World again except much worse and I wasn't even the biggest fan of Lost World. While the destruction of the island is done well, it pretty much stops being interesting after that.

Hawki:
I gave a more detailed review of Ready Player One in this thread, but I liked it myself. Which is odd, because I really wasn't fond of the book.

I guess the thing is that the film removes the worst elements of the book. However, it also removes its best ones.

I thought it was meh, but yeah, pretty much the same thoughts

The Bookshop (4/10)

Boring, tedious, melodramatic, clich?...all these words are apt descriptions for this film.

If you haven't got the hint, no, I didn't like this film, and no, I don't think it's very good, and the words used up above should give you a good idea as to why. But to elaborate, let's go into them.

For starters, this film is slow. Not that that's a bad thing in of itself, but if you're going to have a slow film, you really need to pack it full of interesting material. And it doesn't. More on that later, but even the directing seems off. The acting seems off. Some of that is probably intentional, but there's a sense of this film being a bit amateurish. And yeah, of course it's better than I could direct, but the directing here feels so basic, that cinematically, this film is a dud. It also commits the sin of using a voiceover (that's likely taken verbatim from the book it's based on). Now, a voiceover is again, not a bad thing in of itself, but it's used irregularly, without rhyme or reason. There's some at the start, some at the end, and some scattered around throughout. If anything, it feels to the film's detriment because it's using descriptive text. I don't need to be told a character is sad if the actor (or actress in this case) is conveying that sadness through body language. I imagine if this film was judged on book loyalty it would pass with flying colours, but as a film in its own right? Not so much.

So, alright then, even if the directing's bad, what about the characters? Well, rest assured in this world, you're either a paragon or the scum of the earth, with nothing in-between. No prizes for guessing which character is which. But funny fact, if you ARE a terrible person in this story, you're going to be upper class, while the good people are working class. That's not entirely accurate, but it rings true when the protagonist is pure of heart, action, and mind, while the antagonist is bereft of any morality or conscience. And look, I can enjoy this kind of stuff (see Midsommer Murders, where class snobbiness is alive and well), but something like Midsommer has good writing and characters to elevate the episodes above their clich?s. This doesn't. What character development does exist is rushed, and calling it "character development" at all feels generous. Bear in mind, I can't fault the cast here, but they can only work with what they're given.

So, yeah. Don't go to this bookshop.

The Last Jedi

Finally saw this now that it's on netflix and I liked it, but it's a giant goddamn mess which somehow manages to do some things very right.....as well as a bunch of things wrong. So my feelings on it are very mixed.

I liked the fact they had the guts to show the good guys losing and losing hard, as well as showing Luke's transformation into a bitter, crusty old fuck. The battles were entertaining, as always and the chase sequence was interesting. Poe was probably the most interesting part of the entire movie for various reasons.

With that out of the way, I still don't particulary care for Dark Helmet or Rey. I don't hate them but they don't really leave much of an impression on me despite 2 movies. Snoke ended up being...Emperor Part 2 and that's really all there is to say. The Resisty and the First Order both come across as morons in the warfare department with the First Order only slightly less then the resisty(though considering they have a lot more resources maybe they just have more to toss into the grinder and that's what's making the difference). Scenes that should have had impact(such as Snoke and Rey) came across as super narmy to me, especially rey getting float-slapped around the room half the time. Admiral Holdo(?) comes across as only having the job because all the competent officers above her were already dead and the peter principle hit her hard(and since we know nothing about her it's hard to say otherwise).

Not to mention it felt like about halfway through the movie the writers just kind of gave up trying to have anything make sense and shit just happened for reasons because the script said so. At that point I gave up trying to take it seriously and I think that's why I enjoyed it, because if the writers aren't taking it seriously, might as well enjoy the spectacle.

I could go a lot more into detail but this would be an entire essay which I don't feel like writing right now.

Oh, rating.......(Banana/Metal Gear). There, deal with it.

Isle of Dogs

From auteur director Wes Anderson comes the least subtle Holocaust metaphor in a a stop motion movie since Chicken Run. All things considered it was pretty enjoyable but I was left with the same feeling I had after watching Fantastic Mr. Fox, namely that animation isn't really Wes Anderson's strong suit. Which isn't to say that he's bad at it but you compare Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs to something like Moonrise Kingdom, which just happens to be one of my favourite movies of the decade, or even Grand Budapest Hotel or Royal Tenenbaums it just doesn't hit the same notes emotionally. They sure showcase Wes Anderson's skill as an aesthet, perhaps more so than anything else, but its visual indulgences don't quite manage distract from the fact that it's not exactly prime Wes Anderson. It's cartoon Wes Anderson. They have the visuals, they have the humor, they have the characters but it's all just a bit more shallow and artificial than in his better live action movies. Now, a weak Wes Anderson movie is still a really strong movie overall so it's not like I wouldn't recommend it but it's not really up there with his best works.

PsychedelicDiamond:
least subtle Holocaust metaphor in a a stop motion movie since Chicken Run.

That's a, um, interesting interpretation. 0_0

Though a quick Internet search indicates that apparently it's a fairly common one, so, go figure.

Ant-Man and the Wasp.
It was a pretty boring movie. The enemies are little more than inconveniences, the whole movie is an unending juggle act of McGuffins that keep switching hands and there're little to no stakes. I like Rudd and I like Michael Douglas and (underused) Michelle Pfeiffer and every other visual is used creatively, but it's the most uninvested I've been in an MCU movie in a while.

Johnny Novgorod:
Ant-Man and the Wasp.
It was a pretty boring movie. The enemies are little more than inconveniences, the whole movie is an unending juggle act of McGuffins that keep switching hands and there're little to no stakes. I like Rudd and I like Michael Douglas and (underused) Michelle Pfeiffer and every other visual is used creatively, but it's the most uninvested I've been in an MCU movie in a while.

I gave up by Age of Ultron, only saw Black Panther to see what all the hullabaloo was about and was unimpressed by that one too.

Samtemdo8:

Johnny Novgorod:
Ant-Man and the Wasp.
It was a pretty boring movie. The enemies are little more than inconveniences, the whole movie is an unending juggle act of McGuffins that keep switching hands and there're little to no stakes. I like Rudd and I like Michael Douglas and (underused) Michelle Pfeiffer and every other visual is used creatively, but it's the most uninvested I've been in an MCU movie in a while.

I gave up by Age of Ultron, only saw Black Panther to see what all the hullabaloo was about and was unimpressed by that one too.

Ultron was subpar as well but at least the heroes were up against a decent opponent and fighting for something that was easy to get behind (ie. mankind's survival). Ant-Man 2 is exclusively about saving a character 1) we don't know, 2) have never met except obtusely in a couple of flashbacks, 3) is in no inherent peril and 4) is of no special use to the plot. And the enemies don't know or care about any of it, they're just a pest that keep getting in the way for irrelevant reasons.

Batman Begins -

Been a while since I watched this and still pretty good.

Really solid script, the characters are well defined, the performances are pretty good (I'm one of the few who doesn't mind the Batman voice), the action is well directed with a few issues in terms of editing and dug the psychology into Batman's character.

Only complaints are the editing in the action scenes. A lot of the fights have too much emphasis on close ups or quick cuts that can make it a bit difficult to tell what's happening.

Other than that, still holds up well.

9/10

Natemans:

Only complaints are the editing in the action scenes. A lot of the fights have too much emphasis on close ups or quick cuts that can make it a bit difficult to tell what's happening.

Holy shit it was awful:

Like this a thing in the early 2000s where people do this horribly shot scenes of "fights", ironically this is done because the actors in question have no fighting skills and choreography.

I think it was the Bourne Identity movies that made it popular? And this is why I prefer slo mo than shaky cam because at least you can see the action first hand.

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

Only complaints are the editing in the action scenes. A lot of the fights have too much emphasis on close ups or quick cuts that can make it a bit difficult to tell what's happening.

Holy shit it was awful:

Like this a thing in the early 2000s where people do this horribly shot scenes of "fights", ironically this is done because the actors in question have no fighting skills and choreography.

I think it was the Bourne Identity movies that made it popular? And this is why I prefer slo mo than shaky cam because at least you can see the action first hand.

The Russos managed to really kill the action sequences in CA:Winter Soldier and Civil War with that gimmick. Funny, they dropped that business in Infinity War so maybe they finally had someone teach them how to do an action scene properly.

Getting back on topic, I just saw Ant Man and The Wasp. Kind of torn. I liked it, maybe not as much as the first Ant Man. Lots of You Tube videos and interviews and things kept saying this movie was big... important to the MCU in the aftermath of Infinity War.

Those were complete lies to sell tickets. Its not. Its a side story with no connection to the events Infinity War. Yes there's a post credits sequence that addresses the events of Infinity War. And that scene itself basically disconnects Ant Man and cast from the Infinity War ongoing storyline.

And as much of a dick move as that was... I'm kind of glad. Ant-Man is a different kind of superhero franchise. Its lots more light hearted, and very kid friendly. It probably should remain separated from the rest of the MCU. I just wish they had gone that way honestly instead of the marketing swerve they pulled.

Otherwise, it was a decent movie. Funny moments, a few pretty cool action scenes. The villain wasn't very interesting, but neither was the bad guy in the first one. Ultimately it was just "another Ant-Man movie." Just another episode in the story, good if you liked the story and its characters. If you don't, skip it. You won't miss anything in the overall MCU story.

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

Only complaints are the editing in the action scenes. A lot of the fights have too much emphasis on close ups or quick cuts that can make it a bit difficult to tell what's happening.

Holy shit it was awful:

Like this a thing in the early 2000s where people do this horribly shot scenes of "fights", ironically this is done because the actors in question have no fighting skills and choreography.

I think it was the Bourne Identity movies that made it popular? And this is why I prefer slo mo than shaky cam because at least you can see the action first hand.

Its more tolerable than some editing in films these days.

A Good Day to Die Hard, Assassin's Creed, Taken 3. Heck, the shaky cam in Man of Steel gives me a bit of a headache.

Slow mo is annoying to me these days, but I'll take it and the action in Batman Begins over the shaky cam or editing in the films I just mentioned.

Two is a Family (8/10)

To be honest, this is more like a 7.5/10, but as stated elsewhere, only go for whole numbers. I fluctuated between 7 and 8, but while I'd give it a 7 in a more objective sense, given the feeling I was left with after seeing the film, I'd say it deserves an 8. An 8 which is more than a lot of critics have given this film on Rotten Tomatoes, even if audiences are more accomodating (insert cries of shills, critics out of touch, something-something-Last Jedi, etc.). That said, I can kind of understand why critics are more mixed because this film does have a shift in tone. It supposedly bills itself as a comedy, but while it certainly starts as one, by the end, it's more akin to a tragedy. While I'd say that's easily a case of this being a dramedy, the shift from one to the other style and tone could be the reason why many are put off. That, or the apparent lack of any international boundaries, in that our protagonist gets stuck in the UK without his passport, but has no problem remaining there for eight years, even when going into the court system. Likewise, after 'kidnapping' his daughter, he has no problem making it back to France. Oh, and the gay character, whose recurring character trait is hitting on every male he comes across saying (paraphrased) "he's gay, just hiding it." I mean, I laughed, but the kind of jokes do feel antiquated.

But, anyway, really enjoyed this myself. It's a solid exploration of fatherhood/parenthood, how after being left with his daughter, the father turns his life upside down to accomodate her, grows to love her, and becomes a better person as a result. Is that plotline predictable? Well, yeah, but it's executed adroitly, and there's two plot twists that I absolutely didn't see coming, so there is that. Also helps that all of the characters are endearing. I really have to give props to the child actor who plays his daughter, who manages to deliver perfect French and solid English, quickly switching between the two when she has to translate for her father, or interact with her long absent mother when she comes back into her life.

So, yeah. This film was an absolute joy to watch. Joy in the "damn, you hit me in the feels you cruel bastard" sense towards the end, but joy all the same.

Natemans:

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

Only complaints are the editing in the action scenes. A lot of the fights have too much emphasis on close ups or quick cuts that can make it a bit difficult to tell what's happening.

Holy shit it was awful:

Like this a thing in the early 2000s where people do this horribly shot scenes of "fights", ironically this is done because the actors in question have no fighting skills and choreography.

I think it was the Bourne Identity movies that made it popular? And this is why I prefer slo mo than shaky cam because at least you can see the action first hand.

Its more tolerable than some editing in films these days.

A Good Day to Die Hard, Assassin's Creed, Taken 3. Heck, the shaky cam in Man of Steel gives me a bit of a headache.

Slow mo is annoying to me these days, but I'll take it and the action in Batman Begins over the shaky cam or editing in the films I just mentioned.

I am still baffled there was shaky cam in Man of Steel from Zack Snyder of all people. He's supposed to be the Slo-Mo Matrix Fanboy guy.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (7/10)

...huh.

I really wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did. I wasn't really expecting to like it at all. After all, not only is this an MCU movie, but it's an MCU movie off the heels of Infinity War, which is still in contention for a place in my "top worst films of 2018" list. Still, Rotten Tomatoes labels AMAW as a "palette clenser," and in this sense, they're right. Because not only is this an example of an actually good, if not great MCU film, it's actually now my #2 MCU film. All this in spite of having not seen the original Ant-Man. Which wasn't an issue, as the film quickly gets you up to speed on the MCU context, and I got a sense of where the characters stood in regards to each other early on. So, why do I like this film so much?

Well, as we all know, the MCU has a reputation for wisecracks, quips, and not taking itself seriously. That applies to this film as well, but the difference here is that it knows it's a comedy, so the tone and small stakes suit the plot. Also helps that the characters are all endearing - certainly the protagonists. Cassie is adorable, Scott is adorkable (yes, that's a word), his co-workers are hilarious, his FBI handler is a laugh, Hope and Hank are good, and, yeah. This is family film through and through, one that, unlike Deadpool 2 (which I also liked), doesn't involve a four-letter f word. And if we're talking about villains, well, there's two. One of them is a sleezy businessman who's there for laughs, and laughs is what ye shall receive. The other is Ghost, who while not the best villain in the world, at least has motivations beyond "I'm evil." Find it funny that she's played by the same actress who depicts Dutch in Killjoys - both are 'damaged' assassins who got screwed over in childhood. She's certainly a threat physically, and her motivations are understandable. Oh, and the action is great. There's a car chase towards the end that's up there with the Matrix Reloaded in regards to how creative it is, only replace "red pill magic" with "shrinking/growing magic."

However, this is also where the movie has a flaw, namely that the ending (not the post-credits scene, the actual ending) feels far too neat. Let's just say that everyone walks away happy. This film can't overcome the MCU's predeliction for lack of consequences. You may point to Infinity War, but you know that the deaths there (least those caused by Thanos's cull) will be returned to life, so seriously, where's the investment? Also, some of the CGI on the ants is wonky, at least when they're in the same frame as a human. The characters do their best, but you can tell that they're looking at things that aren't really there.

Still, I enjoyed this. While not a "great" film, it certainly is a "good" film. I think it's the kind of film that plays to Marvel's strengths at this point. If they can't (or won't) do serious films with actual gravitas, then go for the comedies like this and Homecoming. I'd take these kinds of films over the Avengers bloat.

Sicario - 8/10

Having seen the trailers for the sequel, I gave this a spin. It wasn't quite what I expected, but that's a good thing. A tightly focused, white knuckle crime triller full of moral ambiquity and bleak atmosphere. Good performance from Blunt and Del Toro. Great cinematography from Roger Deakins, as usual. I've heard this movie described as the Apocalypse Now of the War on Drugs, and while I don't think it quite reaches those heights, I can sort of see it.

Skyscraper - 3/10

It's Die Hard if Nakatomi Plaza was on fire but there was nobody inside, just the lone 'murican cowboy saving a family too cute to consider any serious peril. For novelty, The Rock gives himself a prosthetic leg. It never hinders him and saves the day twice, so it's really just there for the brownie points. I guess there's a Sesame Street message about you too can be a badass even if you're short one leg, but um, dude, you're the fucking Rock. You make like 50 shitty action movies every year. You could chop off all four limbs and it wouldn't make a difference.

Nice to see Neve Campbell though.

Hawki:
Ant-Man and the Wasp (7/10)

...huh.

I really wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did. I wasn't really expecting to like it at all. After all, not only is this an MCU movie, but it's an MCU movie off the heels of Infinity War, which is still in contention for a place in my "top worst films of 2018" list. Still, Rotten Tomatoes labels AMAW as a "palette clenser," and in this sense, they're right. Because not only is this an example of an actually good, if not great MCU film, it's actually now my #2 MCU film. All this in spite of having not seen the original Ant-Man. Which wasn't an issue, as the film quickly gets you up to speed on the MCU context, and I got a sense of where the characters stood in regards to each other early on. So, why do I like this film so much?

Well, as we all know, the MCU has a reputation for wisecracks, quips, and not taking itself seriously. That applies to this film as well, but the difference here is that it knows it's a comedy, so the tone and small stakes suit the plot. Also helps that the characters are all endearing - certainly the protagonists. Cassie is adorable, Scott is adorkable (yes, that's a word), his co-workers are hilarious, his FBI handler is a laugh, Hope and Hank are good, and, yeah. This is family film through and through, one that, unlike Deadpool 2 (which I also liked), doesn't involve a four-letter f word. And if we're talking about villains, well, there's two. One of them is a sleezy businessman who's there for laughs, and laughs is what ye shall receive. The other is Ghost, who while not the best villain in the world, at least has motivations beyond "I'm evil." Find it funny that she's played by the same actress who depicts Dutch in Killjoys - both are 'damaged' assassins who got screwed over in childhood. She's certainly a threat physically, and her motivations are understandable. Oh, and the action is great. There's a car chase towards the end that's up there with the Matrix Reloaded in regards to how creative it is, only replace "red pill magic" with "shrinking/growing magic."

However, this is also where the movie has a flaw, namely that the ending (not the post-credits scene, the actual ending) feels far too neat. Let's just say that everyone walks away happy. This film can't overcome the MCU's predeliction for lack of consequences. You may point to Infinity War, but you know that the deaths there (least those caused by Thanos's cull) will be returned to life, so seriously, where's the investment? Also, some of the CGI on the ants is wonky, at least when they're in the same frame as a human. The characters do their best, but you can tell that they're looking at things that aren't really there.

Still, I enjoyed this. While not a "great" film, it certainly is a "good" film. I think it's the kind of film that plays to Marvel's strengths at this point. If they can't (or won't) do serious films with actual gravitas, then go for the comedies like this and Homecoming. I'd take these kinds of films over the Avengers bloat.

I was going to do my own write-up about Ant-Man and the Wasp, but you've pretty much already done all the work for me.

So, eh, what he said.

Although I'd also add that I like the smaller scale of this movie (pun intended). There's no grand plot/conspiracy for global domination, no world-ending sky beam, no imminent doom of mankind, no cosmic scope. It's about saving one person (Well, two people actually). About losing and reuniting family. The stakes, while pretty much free of consequence like you said, are easy to fully grasp. More relatable and grounded than most other recent MCU movies, despite all the magical tech in this movie.

The Animatrix (3/5)

While this is a collection of shorts, some of which I'd seen before, I finally got round to actually sitting down and watching the whole thing through. In this case I'm going to evaluate each short independently.

Final Flight of the Osiris

This might be the most 'vanilla' of the shorts. There's nothing particuarly memorable about its story, its characters, or its animation. While it's not the worst short of them all, it's the most...bland, I guess? It's also worth noting that while the short does depict the final, ahem, 'flight' (and fight) of the Osiris, it doesn't tell us anything that it's covered in The Matrix Reloaded. Furthermore, it's so short that there isn't enough time to flesh out the characters, so seeing them die isn't some heartbreaking moment. And seeing the machines swarm after the Osiris doesn't come close to the Hammer chase in The Matrix Revolutions (yes, believe it or not, there are good things in that film). So, this short is...fine. Average. Okay.

The Second Renaissance

My favourite of the shorts, and from what I can tell, this isn't a popular opinion. A lot of people have compalined that Operation Dark Storm (humanity's 'scorching' of the sky to rob machines of solar power) makes no sense, or is at least a death sentence for all life on Earth. While I can understand and agree with this point, I can easily give it a pass if either:

a) Humanity intended for the shroud to dissapate after awhile

b) Humanity decided that the machines were a greater threat

There's other plotholes as well, or at least issues people have raised, namely:

-The short states that the machines aren't heavily affected by nukes because extreme heat and radiation aren't really issues for them, but what about EMPs?

-Why would Zero-One need to trade with the world at all? Also, if humanity was so bent on exterminating their robot servants, why let them build the city in the first place.

-Not really an issue, but it has been claimed that the machines shouldn't be able to stand up against the entire world's militaries.

But all that aside, I think this short is bloody brilliant, as it tells us of the origin of the machines, how humanity turned against them, how this led to war, and how the Matrix came to be. Imagery is great, story is great, even now, watching this again, I still find it chilling. I won't deny that the action scenes are great, but it's the context and themes that elevate this to art. Granted, the premise itself is hardly unique to the Matrix, even by the time it was made, but the imagery and plot elevate it past its origins.

Kid's Story

Watching the short this time, I found myself enjoying it far more in the past. The main reason why, I think, is the animation.

In terms of plot, this is similar to Final Flight in that it ties in directly with The Matrix Reloaded, only it does a better job of it. It shows us the backstory of Kid, and immediately this is a better premise because Kid is a character in Reloaded/Revolutions, unlike the Osiris crew. Also, it adds more weight to his interactions with Neo in Zion, in that we see how he was able to leave the Matrix without taking the red pill. But more than anything else, there's the animation. I could be reading too much into this, but I actually doubt it this time. The actual animation style is 2D and weird-looking, but something interesting happens at his school when he flees the agents, how the animation becomes blurred. My view on this is that this is representing himself 'freeing' himself. After all, his feats with the skateboard are well beyond what would be considered normal, so I'm wondering if this is Kid 'freeing his mind' and all that. When he stops at the top of the building, the animation becomes normal, but becomes a bit more blurry when he literarlly lets go.

But if that's the case or not, I quite liked this shot.

Program

I found myself liking this far more than I thought it would, as the first scenes are mounted samurai firing flaming arrows at what we can guess is a redpill (a guess that's correct, but not that you'd know it from the outset) in a highly styalized Japan-inspired landscape. This becomes a duel between her and what we guess is her captain, as both are plugged into a simulation. However, it's revealed that the captain has done what Cypher did in the first film, that he's contacted the machines and that they're coming for the ship. He offers her a chance to come with him, having stated earlier that every redpill contemplates their choice to leave the Matrix at least once, along with entertaining living a simple life. She's not too big on the captain's plan, but she can't contact her ship's operator (communications are blocked), so all that's left is a samurai duel, Matrix-style. Which is pretty cool actually. It ends with her killing her captain...only to wake up and be told that it wasn't her captain at all, it was a simulation. One that she passed. Suffice to say, she's not happy about being fooled like that.

So, yeah. I really liked this short, in terms of both imagery, and the ideas it touches on, even if it doesn't explore them as well as the first film or some of the tie-in comics. I can't help but wonder if in-universe this is taking place after the first film, that Cypher's betrayal prompted Zion to test the loyalty of redpills or somesuch. For better or worse, it's never explained. But regardless, this short was really good.

World Record

This is another short that I liked more this time than in the past. The premise is really simple, in that we have an Olympic (or what we can assume to be Olympic) runner trying to beat his, well, world record, even if he risks pushing his body too far. Turns out that agents have taken an interest in him, even if they're literally watching from the sidelines as he competes in the race. Problem is, he's going so fast that he's breaking the barriers of the Matrix. So, even after the agents possess the other runners to chase after him (which apparently no-one notices somehow), he still runs so fast that he wakes up in his pod, scrambling away. However, his 'freedom' isn't long as the docbot not only plugs him back into the Matrix, but lobotomizes him as well. Which makes me wonder even more why the machines just let redpills go into the sewers rather than killing them if they wake up - maybe it's because they don't want to kill the One by accident? But agents shoot willy-nilly so...okay, let's be honest, this series has dozens of plotholes.

So, he's back in the Matrix. He beat his record, but now he's a physical and mental cripple. He does get up from his wheelchair, whispering "free," but, yeah, good luck with that. But all in all, I liked this. Simple premise with a simple story, but the idea of 'breaking out' of the Matrix through pushing one's body to the limit while inside it is one that I like.

Beyond

Easily the weakest of the shorts - unfortunately, the dregs of the Animatrix are clustered near the bottom.

So, the premise is quite good actually - there's a haunted house in Tokyo (or what I assume is Tokyo - certainly is in Japan at least) that isn't actually haunted, it's rather just a glitch in the Matrix. So when some kids stumble across it, they get to have fun playing fast and loose with the laws of reality...

...which is all they do. Kids having fun. They have fun until evening when health officials arrive with agents, under the premise that the site is contaminated. The kids are led away, the site is 'decontaminated', and the glitch is removed, so no more magic stuff. Um, yay?

While other shorts have simple plots, this one doesn't have anything else. It's just some kids goofing around. That's it. There's nothing else to discuss. No clever ideas, no clever imagery, it's just...bleh.

Detective Story

This one is weird to talk about. I mean, a lot of these shorts are weird, but they're at least weird within the context of the Matrix mythos. This one doesn't really fit in.

So for starters, it's presented like a noir - black and white and all that. Not an issue in of itself. What's more iffy is that the level of technology appears anachronistic - the Mega City is portrayed as being akin to the 1930s in terms of technology and attire, yet Trinity is still around, so this can't be taking place in some distant past of the Matrix. But that aside, the plot is...kinda off. I mean, it has a promising premise, in that agents (not revealed from the outset, but you know it's them), contract a private detective to find Trinity. As he tackles the case, he learns that other detectives have gone after as well - one disappeared, one committed suicide, and one went insane. But eventually he finds her on a train, and she reveals that agents planted a bug in his eye (similar to the one the agents used on Neo in the first film). With that, the agents possess people on the train (and are implied to harm others because...reasons) in order to apprehend them. Which makes me ask why the agents don't just possess the guy - even without the bug, they can apparently trace Trinity to an extent. Similar to the first film, how the agents never possess Neo when he's still plugged in, even after the bug is released. That's a plothole from the first film that I can live with, but here, it's weird. Especially when the detective starts to get possessed, but Trinity shoots him, preventing the possession...um, how? It isn't mortal, but while she escapes, he's left there, pointing his gun at the agents, implied to be a dead man soon. Again, not sure why he throws in his lot with Trinity so easily - she's the one who shoots him. To his knowledge, the agents were on the train already (they possess people in an adjacent car), so why does he automatically assume that Trinity is a 'good gal?' Maybe because of the bug thing I guess, but it's a bit of a 180.

So, mixed. Decent visuals, but unlike Second Renaissance, the plotholes really bog things down for me. Also, what is it with the Animatrix and cats? There's a cat companion in Beyond, and a cat companion here, and both of them are implied to know more than they let their masters know they know (being programs and all).

Matriculated

And here we have it. The last short, and one of the weakest, though again, this seems to be an unpopular opinion.

The premise of this short isn't too bad, in that we have a bunch of Resistance fighters operating on the surface that capture machines and insert them into a small Matrix of their own, in a bid to get the machines to embrace humanity and turn against Zero-One. They won't reprogram them because of vaguely explained reasons, but we can see that they've done this to a number of machines. However, I have to question how effective this is - there's over 250,000 Sentinels in existence, you think half a dozen is going to make much of a difference? When the machines attack, they and the reprogrammed machines are both wiped out, as are all the Resistance fighters, so so much for this plan. Also, they've got a monkey thing somehow. This might be during the first Matrix cycle, centuries before the films' timeframe, because otherwise, I've no idea how this mutt is even still alive.

But back to the premise of hooking the robot into a pseudo-matrix, or, in this case, a warning against doing drugs. Yep, the landscape's quite psychadelic. In fairness, this short does use a lot of visual storytelling. There's stuff you can analyze thematically in terms of how the imagery represents the robot's stages of development as it comes to empathize with the humans and whatnot, but while I can appreciate that, it wasn't so engaging that I didn't find the experience tedious.

Conclusion

So, all in all, the Animatrix is a net positive, but if I had to give arbitrary negative or postiive grades to the shorts, it would be 4 positive (Second Renaissance, Program, World Record, Kid's Story) and 4 negative (everything else). Overall enjoayable, but if I ever went back to it, there's some shorts I'd be far more eager to see than others.

In Bruges -

So I've seen Seven Psychopaths and loved it. Three Billboards was alright. Finally got around to watching this.

Really dug it. Well-written, the direction was solid, the acting's fantastic especially Ralph Fiennes and the characters were interesting.

9/10

Tomorrowland

A wonderful little adventure movie, the kind Spielberg wishes he was still capable of making. In fact of you do compare it to the feature length advertisement that was Ready Player One you can't help but notice how far ahead Brad Bird is of him. Tomorrowland is an impressive little piece of futurism from one of Hollywood's last great dreamers, his love for the George Jetson future of the early 60s as apparent as his nostalgia for that kind of idealism. As to where Spielberg chose to depict a world where everyone has given up on fixing things and people stopped believing in a better future Bird tells us to start believing again and even more so, to pull back our sleeves and work for it.

Tomorrowland rules, okay?

The Wolf of Wall Street 8/10.

An excessive movie in which you can't help but laugh at the obscenity of it all. Plenty of that stuff actually happened too, and that brings me to a weird point: the last fuck/divorce scene. If it was made for the film to make Belfort a more villainous character then I think it was a weird, unnecessary choice. For the whole film the marriage is presented as something that's inevitably going to end anyway. Of course if it's something the real Jordy wrote in his book then I'm fine with it.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (9/10)

I think there's some exaggeration regarding this movie's place in the franchise, not to say movie history. But it's definitely a safe bet for best action movie of the year. Action scenes are fast, intense, clean-cut to the point the use of space is like what you'd find in animation and they're all strung together quite seamlessly at the service of plot. The whole movie is a gigantic set-piece. Now I think they overdo exposition (5 minutes of tech babble before that one character just summarizes everything in one incredulous line) and Ethan's ex has no rightful place in the movie, but those are nitpicks.

Mission Impossible: Fallout (9.5/10)

I really dig the franchise despite II sucked and Rogue Nation was kinda underwhelming. This was fantastic though. Really solid screenplay, a terrific cast, incredible action scenes with tight editing and slick direction and fun characters.

I'm still trying to figure out if this or Ghost Protocol is my favorite of the series.

Natemans:
Mission Impossible: Fallout (9.5/10)

How many scenes does it have of Tom Cruise balls out running?

Not being fascetious here. His insistence on doing his own practical stuntwork, putting himself on the line, is on of his most admirable qualities as an actor.

Chimpzy:

Natemans:
Mission Impossible: Fallout (9.5/10)

How many scenes does it have of Tom Cruise balls out running?

Not being fascetious here. His insistence on doing his own practical stuntwork, putting himself on the line, is on of his most admirable qualities as an actor.

There is a bit where he has probably his best foot chase in the series. He runs a bunch of times, but there's an extended sequence where he goes after the villain through the city.

Chimpzy:
How many scenes does it have of Tom Cruise balls out running?

About one. It's drawn out and tedious. Like most of the film.

(Yes, I saw it - I'll try and post a full review later, but god damn it this was a letdown.)

The Cell (USA, 2000) - 7/10

This one had been on the back of my mind for a while, despite pretty much everything I'd heard about it being negative; finally got around to watching it.

It's definitely a case of style over substance, I'll say that. The plot, while serviceable, was clearly just an excuse to string together a bunch of striking set-pieces and visual references. It actually works, though, and while it feels like a two-hour music video, I found it to be a pretty enjoyable one.

Plus, I don't think I could possibly dislike a film that references Rene Laloux's La planete sauvage.

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