Review : The Equalizer 2

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“Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?”

So I literally after this movie was done, waited for the credits to see who made this movie because I was sure it wasn’t the same team from the first movie. Thats how different of a movie The Equalizer 2 is to the first in many ways. First off, this movie has no where near the same scope and scale of the first movie, it has some of the action, but only some. The first movie had a more complex plot, and not the paint by numbers action thriller plot that we get here, and this movie is so much slower than the first. To be honest, it felt like this movie was made because they had some money left over from the first, and asked Fuqua if he could somehow convince Denzel Washington to return to but this time with probably half the budget of the first movie. If this movie wasn’t called The Equalizer 2, it would still be a full movie from start to end because it makes pretty much zero reference to the first movie, other than I guess the introduction of Denzel’s character, but really and truly you wouldn’t even need that here. There are a handful of moments where I can maybe see why he wanted to make this movie. Some moments where he really does get to flex his acting muscles, and give some genuinely gripping performance, but for most of it he’s just silently running around the place doing as he pleases. All in all,  this is one of those sequels that just should have left well enough alone.

Review Score : 6 out of 10

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Review : Hotel Transylvania 3 – Summer Vacation

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“While on a vacation with his family, Count Dracula makes a romantic connection.”

I have to admit, I do have a big soft spot for Genndy Tartakovsky. He created one of my favourite cartoons of all time (Samurai Jack), as well as many of my generations most fondly remembered cartoon network hits. Finally he made the jump the big screen with he first Hotel Transylvania, which I honestly didn’t have that high of hopes for, but it really surprised me in a good way. Fast forward to now and we have the third instalment in this series, and to be very honest, you wouldn’t think theres anything left for them to go to, but they still manage to squeeze a surprising amount of entertainment out of this movie. The gangs all back here, and they all do lend perfect voices to their characters. This movie also goes some places I didn’t think it would, which was nice and refreshing. There are also some choices they made in this movie that I really appreciated, and that allowed for some of the better jokes in this movie. The character design though might be my favourite thing about this movie. There was good design from before, but I feel like they really ratcheted it up for this movie, especially with the new characters, which really kept them feeling fresh and new and entertaining. This movie isn’t revolutionary in anyway really, and its not breathing fresh air into the animation space or anything like that, but it is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. Great fun, especially for the whole family.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Review : Ant-Man and the Wasp

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“As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.”

The first Ant-Man, was a movie that almost became a train wreck, but managed to really stick the landing and surprise us all. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a very similar movie, but no pun intended, its a really small one. So this movie picks up before the events of Infinity War, and ends basically right where that movie also ends, which was nice to see. It gives us our first real “couple” team of the MCU, and they are a really good team, with great chemistry, and great interplay between the two. We also get back most of the cast from the first movie, that helped build out that world and make it feel really real and lived in. This movie is also I’d say funnier than the first, and packs just as much heart. That leads us to where it lacks, and thats in a few categories. For one, we get another average villain (gladly at least not one with the same power set as our heroes), we get spots of good action, but this movie is much more geared to the adventure side of things than the action side. Like I said before also, this movie is really small, but in scope and seemingly impact, and that makes the movie feel like it has surprisingly low stakes. That lack of stakes also makes it feel like this movie was almost shoed into this spot on the roster because otherwise it wouldn’t fit anywhere, and I think it suffers a bit for that. All that being said, this movie is pretty funny, and definitely fun an entertaining, and worth seeing especially if you’re taking the entire family, just don’t expect one of the best of the best the MCU has to offer here.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Review : Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

“When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.”

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom in many ways, goes both backward and forward in the stylings of the Jurassic Park and World movies we’ve gotten so far. The first Jurassic World was like the blockbusterfication of the franchise, and Fallen Kingdom takes some of that, but then also tries to take the movie back to its Jurassic Park roots in its philosophy and horror beats. It’s starts off in the future of the end of Jurassic World, but quickly shows that much of the movie will be in a more suspenseful and stripped back styling of the original. A lot more tension, much more of a horror feel to certain events, and less mass dinosaurs, more meaningful dinos. This movie also did well its advertising to mislead where it was really taking the story, so for that I was greatful, as it lead to some nice set pieces I had no idea were coming. I think also the film makers knew creating the same spectacle over and over wasn’t possible, and that they would have to adjust the narrative to fit. The story here is both smaller and yet still broader, as the main narrative is a small self contained story, but it has much larger over arching implications going forward. Those larger story points were also established well, as they didn’t seem just shoe horned in to allow for a third film. Part of the cast is back here, and you do miss some of those who have been left out, but the new additions do a good job also, it just would have been nice to have some of the more memorable characters from the previous film here too, but maybe they will return in the third movie. All in all, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom isn’t any better or worse than the first Jurassic World, it’s just different, and how you feel about it is likely up to which camp you find yourself in more. If you’re spectacle over subtle, you might prefer the former, if you’re suspense over sensation, you might prefer the latter, but if you just like dinosaurs, you likely enjoyed both.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Review: Ocean’s 8

“Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.”

The biggest problem with this movie, is that it isn’t the original. Now I know what you’re saying, “but stef, the most recent oceans movie is a remake”, and you’re right, the problem is, it’s a remake of a terrible movie and thus made itself the de facto original. I’m definitely getting ahead of myself though, let me start over. Ocean’s 8, is for all intents and purposes, a sequel or a continuation of the recent Ocean’s franchise, if maybe at a tangent. To start with, this movie does everything those movies did, except not as good, and well, not as originally. We get the same first third of character introductions, followed by the heist, the antics, and the escape. That in itself would be enjoyable enough, but the movie tries to take things up a notch, but all it does is make everything seem way too easy, and way too convenient. This has less characters, but somehow less character development than those movies, it has a great heist, but no stakes, and there is no real antagonist here. If anyone is wondering, there is a reason for this team being all women, even if it’s delivered in a single throw away line, and the team do all seem very capable and good at what they do. The issue is, we’ve seen it all before, and we’ve seen it better. There are some nice twists and turns, but you never feel like things could fail, and you need those stakes to care. This movie is also too long, and it might not literally be too long, but it feels too long, and that’s not a good thing. There definitely is no shortage of acting talent here, and everyone really does embody their roles and their individual quirks (even if some seem like straight carbon copies from the last films), but to me, the real stand out here is Anne Hathaway. She is given the PERFECT role, and just hits it out of the park and I think will be what most people remember this movie for. All in all, Ocean’s 8s biggest flaw, is that it’s the 4th movie in this franchise, and not the first. That being said, they knew it was the 4th, and they knew a lot of people were ready to write this movie off from the jump due to its all female cast, and it’s a real shame that I can’t recommend this movie higher, because individually all the parts are here, in some form or the other.

Review Score: 5.5 out of 10

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

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