Review : Incredibles 2

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“Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.”

That tagline would make it seem like the original Incredibles came out last week, and that this second iteration is just the next episode, and not 14 years later. This movie however, does treat it as if the original movie was a week ago, and it picks up right after the events of the last movie, and goes forward from there. 14 years is a long ass time, and that brings a lot with it. The more time goes past with a beloved movie like the predecessor to this, the more fondly we hold it, and the higher the expectations are of any sequel. The weight of expectation couldn’t be much bigger than those on the shoulders of this movie, and glad to say, it pretty much doesn’t let down. This movie takes almost everything from the original, and ramps it up. More supers, more powers, more action, more adventure, more heart, its all here. Its even more political and ideological, there’s a much heavier feminist slant, and a real great critique of the real responsibility of being a super, and what that should be and mean. We get a great combination also of old and new characters, with a thoroughly amazing voice cast of talent here, and they are all truly spot on. Brad Bird also shines here, back in animation where he probably just honestly belongs. His directing holds a great pace, and there are so many creative and stunning visual choices, especially with the use of powers on display, it really is a shame it took us 14 years to get back here. The movie isn’t perfect, and it may have some very minor detractions to it, but overall, the Incredibles 2 is pretty much everything all the fans of this franchise could have wanted and were waiting for. It also did have a bit of a feel of being a middle movie, so looking forward to not waiting another 14 years for the hopeful end of the trilogy.

Review Score: 9.5 out of 10

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Review : Solo – A Star Wars Story

“During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.”

Solo, a Star Wars story, brings us the first of the real plan by Disney to expand the Star Wars universe they acquired not long ago. It tells the backstory of one of the series’s most popular and important characters, Han Solo, and to and extent, his copilot Chewbacca and the millennium falcon. There was a lot of debate before this movie even came out, about wether it should have even been made. To many people, the mechanisms by which Han became who he did by the time we see him in a New Hope, are things that would only be ruined by showing us an exact backstory, while others thought it would be great to see what makes a man shoot first. I’m somewhere in the middle, I don’t mind seeing a well told story in this universe, but if I had to choose whose, I’d have likely chosen a different character first. That left me as going into this movie with reasonable expectations, and they were mostly met, but this movie should be better than that. We kind of have high stakes I guess, we kind of have a villain….I guess, and we definitely see the reasons for Han being Han (wether you wanted to know or not). That kind of leaves this movie in the middle for me, nothing really stands out. It’s all finely done and all that, but nothing really jumps out. There’s maybe one wow moment, but that’s also if you know what you’re looking for, the rest of it really does seem very tame. This of course is exactly the worry fans had after the Disney acquisition, and this movie seems almost as proof of this. This movie could be any space centric sci-fi movie, it just happens to have Star Wars characters in it, and even then, some people will never be satisfied with their portrayal by newer actors. I think Han and Lando come off really well in their respective portrayals, and there are definitely moments when I fully SEE Han in Ehrenreich’s performance, but without the rest of the Star Wars world and knowledge I already know and have, if you swapped these characters out, I don’t think anyone would know this was Star Wars really. All in all, Solo is a fun movie, especially for younger viewers, but I feel like real Star Wars fans will be left wanting after, and I hope that’s not how it’s going to be going forward.

Review Score: 6 out of 10

Is 13 Reasons Why Important? (and any good…)

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For the love of Jeff, if this show wasn’t already polarising after season one, season two just took a even bigger broader swing at possibly pissing a lot of people off. Now to be clear, I really do love the first season of 13 Reasons Why, and I do for many reasons. This second season however is a really different story, in almost every way I could mean that. Season one was intense, and it was emotional, it was at times very hard to watch, but it did in my opinion, a lot more right, than it did wrong. Now I don’t say all that to say that the second season does more bad than good, because I still think what this show it trying to do is the right thing, where I think it fall downs in comparisons to season one, is in its execution.

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Season one, more or less, had a singular focus. It set out a narrative about a girl who, like most young people, had a difficult go at life, and ended up taking her life, and leaving behind 13 tapes outlining the reasons why she did so. And boom, we have a full season of tv, and a lot we can learn and talk about. Season two however, starts to pull the camera back, it starts to give us a look at a bigger picture, and in trying to do that, it has to paint its narrative with a much wider brush, and that means a lot of the newest issues it raises, can’t be treated with the same fine detail as the first season. That being said, it also does allow them to do some good things also. For one, this show makes a point of really trying to give us complex characters, and then round of the edges on those characters, to try and keep them in areas of grey, and almost never in straight black or whites.

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The focus of season one however, massively helped the writing, because they could be much more subtle when and where they needed to be, this season however, falls off most I’d say in the writing. So many times the dialogue we get here has to be really “on the nose” or “hitting the nail on the head” because they have to, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to get to the end of this seasons story. Now this does help the show in its advocacy, but this isn’t a PSA, its a tv series, and the story telling still has to matter. It allows the show to have these stand out moments of “you’re never alone”, or “it will get better”, but takes away some of the dramatic impact those moments could have it they were allowed to exist as they would have in the first season. This season also is going to come under fire for what messages it is believed to be sending. And it should, these are tricky issues, and sometimes creating a discussion alone isn’t enough, and this show definitely does create some discussions it might not have planned to, or just ones that it handled poorly.

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So what does this all mean for 13 Reasons Why (season 2)? Is it an important show, and is it any good at all? Well I think the answer for those questions is mostly yes, but with some definite caveats. This is an important show, because shining a light on the darker parts of life I think truly is an important thing, and I think some of the discussions its creates are very important. I do think however, that season two tries to reach beyond its grasp, and thats where the biggest let down of this season is. It feels like the show itself almost became self aware of what it created socially with its first season, and as such, felt like it had an obligation in season two, more to creating conversation and trying to raise awareness, than it had to story telling, and the actual entertainment side of things which is a massive reason it became so popular in the first place. This season also does end on a note that, while no one can ever predict the event of real life, is tragically close to recent real life tragedies. So is 13 reasons why important? Yes it is. Is it any good? It is, but its definitely not as good as season one, and I think only really people who have strong connection to that first season and those characters will really stick through all of the episodes in season two.

#BELIKEJEFF

Review : Deadpool 2

“Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy of supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.”

The original Deadpool movie was real game changer. For the first time we got a hard R, 4th wall breaking, violent, funny, pop culture referencing, totally unapologetic movie, the likes of which we hadn’t seen before. The problem with being a game changer, is it is really hard to do that twice, and that the real story of Deadpool 2. This movie is every bit as bloody, full of swears, action packed, and somehow maybe even funnier than the first, but it can’t recreate than never been done kind of feel the first had. It seems almost like a harsh criticism, but this movie would be a better than the first, if the first didn’t exist. Everything here is done up, there’s s bigger budget, they’re more characters, more of just about everything, plus some unexpected heart. The only thing this movie doesn’t have is that now we’ve seen it before. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this isn’t a good movie, or that it isn’t super enjoyable and entertaining and all that, I’m just saying that it sits a bit below the first one, but only for those reasons. We get a bigger plot this time, and with the origin out of the way, we get to spend an entire movie basically, with the merc with a mouth. This movie is also really surprisingly good at hitting you in the feels, and really not under cutting the emotional moments with needless humor, especially as there is already so much of that humor through out, those touching moments can really breathe and they come off super sincere. In many ways, Deadpool 2 is more commercial than the first, and that might not be hardcore fans biggest wish, but it makes this movie much more accessible, and while I won’t go so far as to say it dumbs down the material, there is just that bit of the shock and flair of the original, that’s not here.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Avengers Infinity War, a Spoiler Talk.

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So if the title of this wasn’t evidence enough, this discussion is going to contain copious amounts of spoilers, and if you don’t to read any of those, click here, if not, I’ll still add some more filler line so my preview is also spoiler free. Infinity War has been out for a bit now, and while I know you might not have seen it yet with all the sold of screens everywhere, I think enough time has passed to safely have this discussion, as most of you should have seen it at least once by now. So what I want to do, is go over some of the more polarising and pivot moments and plot points of the movie, and give my thoughts as to how they were executed, my personal theories on things, and how some of the biggest spoilers are going to affect the MCU going forward. Shall we begin…

Is everything Peter Quill’s fault?

Starting off here with a real banger. The moment Star-Lord loses his shit, and prevents the team from removing the gauntlet from Thanos’ mighty purple arm is more than likely the most pivotal moment in this entire movie, for the narrative and the viewer. From the narrative point of view, it allows Thanos to regain his upper hand, and eventually get this grubby hands on the final infinity stone, and snap our favourite characters out of existence. In his grief and anger at the loss of Gamora, Quill assaults a mostly unconscious Thanos, knocking off Mantis who was able to hold him in that state and the rest, as they say is history, but, while the finger seems to be squarely pointed at Quill, is he really to blame here? Now the movie, its writers and its directors build very smartly to this moment. They don’t just let it exist in a vacuum, and thats very important to truly understanding this moment. The biggest thing we see setup before this moment, is that Gamora forces Quill to promise that if captured, he would kill her, preventing her from giving Thanos any information, a task we find out he was able to do, even with some prodding, he does eventually pull the trigger in an attempt to kill her, and in that moment, everything changes. In that moment, Quill gets the one thing, that would be strong enough to make him destroy the plan to ave to universe, and thats hope. When Thanos turns his laser blast to bubbles, and steps backwards into a portal with Gamora in tow, he leaves just enough hope with Quill, that he has a chance now to still save her, after he just allowed himself to kill her, and this hope is what I think causes his untimely and ill advises premature attack on Thanos that results in his escape. You see that bit of hope, is what propelled Quill to get to Titan to confront Thanos and save Gamora, and his then eventual realisation of her fate, takes that last bit of hope back away from him, leaving him as a man with nothing to lose in this universe, and those kinds of people seldom make good decisions. Now I know a lot of you are like blah blah blah, he still messed everything everything up, and technically he did, but couple my rational, with the cryptic words from a one Dr. Steven Strange, and I can only be led to believe that Strange himself, allowed Quill to derail the plan, as I feel like he would have been more than capable of stopping him with even a minor incantation. We are certainly in the end game now, and only the next Avengers movie can prove if I have any ground to stand on here, or I’m just trying to rationalise a jackass move.

Who’s REALLY dead?

Another huge load of spoilers here, but with so many deaths in this movie, we know most are going to be reversed some how, but for the stakes of these movies to be actually real, some of the dead, have to stay dead. To start with, I think pretty much anyone that died after the snap, is coming back, the real question, is out of the people who died before the snap. We lost Loki and Heimdall in the first like 5 minutes, and I really don’t see any way or any reason for them to come back so I think those are guaranteed deaths. I think there is a chance for them to have their cake and eat it too with the death of Vision. What I mean by that is I think they keep the stakes up by him having actually died, but get him back by basically remaking him, this time without the need of an infinity stone (which they set up for in the movie with the conversation between Vision, Banner and Cap) which basically takes away the old Vision and gives us a new one. A win win like that, I really can’t see them turning down. Then we have Gamora. Now Gamora is dead, but I think she has a special case here, as I’m pretty sure part of her still exist inside the Soul Stone, and that gives the creators here a lot of wiggle room to handle this particular death. Now I don’t think she should come back in the next Avengers movie, because I think that sort of shallows the point and emotional impact of that sequence between her and Thanos. Now I do think it would be okay if the point of Guardians 3 was trying to get Gamora back from the Soul realm, but I don’t think it should be as soon or as easy as just the next movie. I also should say that I think we’re going to lose some of the actual core Avengers roster in the next movie, which will clear up space for the new line up that we should see in the MCU going forward after the conclusion of this Infinity arch.

Why is Thanos the best MCU villain yet?

So after my review I really am ready to officially give Thanos the title of the best villain the MCU has ever produced, and the reason is a few fold. For starters, like I said in that review, the only way to get truly fleshed out characters like Thanos, is to have the time to do so. Yes some characters get helped by having a really simply but very relatable motivation like revenge or something like that, but the best villains are those who consider themselves the real hero of the story, and thats exactly what Thanos things of himself. He genuinely sees himself as the one doing the right thing here, and even in some respects you can say he is doing the right things, and its those grey areas, that allow people to connect with, understand, and relate to characters, and even though he is a villain, he is no different in his need to connect as a character, to stand out. His motivations also come out of tragedy, but with the goal of a “better” universe, where Thanos sees himself as someone who can bring about this change in the most merciful manner, and more importantly, in the most fair and just manner. To snap your fingers, and have an outcome that is indiscriminate of social status, power level, wealth, of anything, is definitely as just an outcome as possible. All of these things, combined with the additional fact that we can see some genuine emotion and connection even from a character like this, gives us the biggest treat this universe has ever seen, from a character who we have been building too for 10 years now.

Why couldn’t they just *insert tactic here* against Thanos?

So this is one of those semi annoying topics, where someone is always like, “why couldn’t they just cut Thanos’ arm off”, or something equally as annoying, and I say annoying because do you REALLY think it could be as easy as just cut his arm off. If we were talking about a gauntlet less Thanos and some Stormbreaker level weapon, yeah maybe, but you have to accept that this man has battled and been battling against some of the strongest and smartest in the entire MCU, and if they could have, they would have. And for the most part, thats the answer to most of these kinds of questions or complaints. Characters in these movies most definitely make mistakes, that does exist, but people need to consider the fact that them being competent is also an option, and as such, they most generally go for the best possible option. Case in point, blowing Ebony Maw out into space, or stabbing Corvus Glaive with his own weapon, basically always going for the most likely weakness when and where available. Now while we don’t get a real great feel for the actual power levels of Thanos, we do see that he can drop the Hulk, we see how smart he is, and the only time we see him take any kind of real damage, is when he is struck by Thor’s Stormbreaker, which seemed to surprise even him, which I think is the only reason he actually got hit. I get the appeal of thinking you would do better or have a better plan, but you also can’t just assume because some didn’t specifically say why don’t we do so and so, and someone shoot it down, doesn’t mean that didn’t happen. Also on a lesser note, when I hear people say they don’t understand why Scarlet Witch took so long to get into the battle of Wakanda, or things like that, it just shows how much people don’t actually pay attention, or they would know why those things happened. And just to clear that one so I never have to hear it again, she was up there with Vision because she was the only one with the skillset to destroy the stone, and they couldn’t afford to have her far away when they got it out because then you’re just playing hot potato with an infinity stone which is a real dangerous game.

Final thoughts I couldn’t say in my regular review.

So one of the biggest things people ask me about after movies like this about character motivations, and I think illustrates one of the biggest differences in the way I watch movies, and more casual fans watch movies. This movie is full of those kinds of moments, but what people should realise, is a movie as large and ambitious as this one really needs to make the most out of every second of screen time it has, meaning everything that they take the time to show you, MEANS something, and I think that can get lost on a lot of people. They are always setting up character motivation, so when they do something crazy, or something stupid, it isn’t just out of nowhere. Another point of contention people have is when we get footage in trailers, that is then absent from the actual movie. Now previous to some fo these newer movies, most of missing trailer footage was down to things that could get cut out of movies late in the editing process, but what we see now is a totally different thing. We are now so fully intrenched in the age of the spoiler, and when you combine that with how much detail people put into breaking down trailers now studios have different choices to make. Now we are in the era of these movies actually actively editing the footage in their trailers to avoid spoilers and most recently to actively misdirect the audience, so they can actually surprise fans in the cinema. Things like the Hulk’s story line, is a perfect example of this tactic being used properly. If these trailers were devoid of any Hulk, then the instant speculation would have been that there was some issue with him, which ruins the surprise. And for all those who think there wasn’t enough of the black panther cast here, especially after the success of that movie, need to remember the movie was written and being made before that movie ever came out.

Thats about it for this discussion, any other issues or disagreements feel free to comment below.

In Case You Missed It!

Annihilation :

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Annihilation is a film from the same writer and director as one of my favourite movies in Ex-Machina, and thats Alex Garland, this time though based of a Novel by Jeff Vandermeer. The simplest way I think I can describe this movie, is imagine if some kind of life-form crashed on Earth, creating this “Shimmer” zone as its called, causing the inevitable exploration of it. I know that sounds really vague, but honestly so is this movie.

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This movie at its core, is about a concept, a theme, a motif, whatever you want to call it, its about a solitary idea, that it spirals out into and throughout the narrative. That is to say there is a definite story here, and a genuine plot, character development and all that. Thats one of the strong point of this movie actually, as it does a really great job with its female characters, because it uses them as just characters, gender irrelevant. Each character has a unique and genuine reason to go into the “Shimmer”, and each has a certain level of expertise that prevents this all female team from just being solely a play for diversity.

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This movie also toes a psychological, and physical line, in terms of its tension and the actual danger it puts these characters in. It also helps that this movie is absolutely gorgeous, and I mean that truly. Every frame of this film is super well thought out, framed up, and executed. There is so much attention to detail here, that you can see that every single thing there is to notice, is there for some purpose or meaning, and that kind of detail is made even more rewarding with the way this movie ends, and the conclusions it forces you, the viewer to draw upon. This is by no means a passive movie going experience.

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Annihilation is one of those movies that people are going to love, to hate, and love to hate. The one thing however they can’t deny this movie of, is its ability to create and discussion, and to stay with you long after seeing it. Wether you “get” this movie or not, there will be so much for you and whomever you see this movie with to debate after, that even if you didn’t like it, its more than worth watching, even if its just for the theories of what the end means, and the looking online for sources that back up your side of the argument.

Review : Avengers – Infinity War

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“The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.”

To start with, straight off the top, this isn’t going to be full of spoilers or anything, so feel free to read this before you go if you like. That being said, WOW. You know I’m still trying to decide as I write this, if I think this is the best of the MCU movies, but I do know for sure it’s the most important. This movie shows what can be done, when you have something as vast and well done as the MCU, because thats the only way a movie like this could have ever been done. Without 10 years of build up, and brick laying, this movie could literally not exist, and that in itself I think is what makes this movie the most important. I think also maybe for that fact alone, anyone and everyone who’s a fan of this universe, should see this movie, just to see what can be done when a universe like this is allowed to build up the way the MCU has been allowed to for literally 10 years now. To the actual review now though. This movie is a lot, and I mean that in many ways. There’s so much to this story, that it literally doesn’t all, and couldn’t all, come from this movie, and in many ways that a strength and weakness of this movie. On one hand, it makes it less accessible for more casual fans, but it also shows like I said before, of how much of a win just being able to make a movie like this is. This movie also has so many characters, that it is literally impossible, for all of them to get enough screen time, and you could see that in the writing, because they really had to saddle a lot of storylines together, and characters together. This means that for a lot fo this movie, we get pockets of teams working towards the end of the narrative. It has to be said though, this genuinely is Thanos’s movie. He is the main character, and he gets the most time and development, but if we’re being honest, he needed it the most, if we were going to get what truly should have been the greatest villain the MCU has ever seen. And I do think he is the best villain thus far. We get all of his motivation, we see where he came from and how he became the mad titan, and we truly get the sense of almost impending fate that his will not only would be done, but had to be done. This movie though is also a perfect example of why so many of the MCU villains before to date haven’t been able to impress as much, as you can see just how much time and development a character like that really needs to be so effective. This movie is also a little light on story if I’m being honest, but its a two edged sword. On the one hand, it allows for the movie to keep its pace up, add a lot of great action, and be as simple and easy to get into as it could possibly be. If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be “Spectacle”. This is such a grand movie, on all scales, and it really does, at least broadly, hit all the nails on their heads. I’ve written all this, and I’m still not sure if this is or isn’t the best the MCU has to offer. On one hand, it definitely is because of what this movie is actually able to accomplish, but on the other hand, being such a massive spectacle does mean this movie has to sacrifice some things in other to keep this giant ball rolling. All in all, so much can be said about this movie, but the most important of them might be, that this movie was more or less everything I wanted it from it, and baring some small caveats, there really isn’t much missing from this.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

PS – There is definitely an after credit scene here, but like a legit one, not the mid credit ones we get also, so stay back for that, and its one of the best end credits yet.