The screening of Incredibles 2 began with an apologetic thank you from the cast. Yes, it has taken 14 years for Pixar to construct a sequel for their fan-favorite of a film that perfectly blended the family dynamic with superhero theatrics. But as Samuel L. Jackson assures us, it will be worth the wait. He’s not just tooting the Disney horn, nor is the cantankerous writer/director Brad Bird, who returns to the franchise with fresh ideas to flex those old animated filmmaking muscles. And it is every bit as brilliant, exciting, and dazzling as its predecessor.
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Hotel Artemis depicts an eerily believable future of water conglomerates, dwindling resources, and uncontrollable riots that it’s a very plausible vision of Los Angeles in 2028. But this isn’t about finding a solution to the water shortage or toppling the empire that hordes. Those are far too lofty ambitions for the wealthy residents of the Hotel Artemis, where criminals come for the best healthcare, no questions asked. There are far too many chaotic characters of deception, guilt, and violence stirring inside to be bothered with the outside world. Any more arcs and this unique sci-fi action picture would overdose.
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It should go without saying that there didn’t NEED to be a Han Solo prequel movie. It’s not exactly enthralling to watch the meetings of when Han met Chewy, his blaster, and the Millenium Falcon. I especially didn’t need to know how he got his name. These aspects are as underwhelming in the film as they are in theory. But when the story finally puts down the Star Wars nostalgia guide, it occasionally turns into the enjoyable sci-fi heist picture it should have been.
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It’s time to make the chimichangas once more, but Deadpool 2 doesn’t exactly bring a new recipe to the table, more or less reheating his fourth-wall breaking insanity with discerning splashes of new characters to ally and assault. Is it still as funny and biting as the previous film was with savaging the unstoppable superhero cinema franchises? Absolutely, but between the laughs is a lingering element of sequel-itis and overstuffing, a common trait of most superhero sequels that could use a good ribbing. The film may be knowing enough to mock Fox’s lack of character licensing and their poor decisions with previous Marvel movies, but it could stand to defy convention a little more as it defies just about all other expectations of the genre.
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Few films of action and revenge come with a genuine sense of terror and pathos. Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here has enough faith in the audience to piece together its broken hero, his traumatic history and a commentary on his nature of violence with hardly a word. In the tired and formulaic format of action-oriented revenge and rescue films, Ramsay has found something more artful and meaningful past the usual gun-toting. Here is a film that takes its time with its gripping violence, where every kill carries more weight than a rush of adrenaline. Rarely have I received such chills with the tale of a man killing people to save a little girl.
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Color me impressed that Ben Falcone has managed to conceive a film for his talented wife Melissa McCarthy that gives her a platform to be funny AND likable. She plays a woman so full of charm and pep that it’s easy enough to pull for her plight while she saunters through with silly. She’s perhaps too adorable in her Back to School style narrative, but after suffering through her most unlikable of characters in Tammy and The Boss, a comedy this light in premise and whimsical in humor is a breath of fresh air. The third time is most definitely a charm.
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It was so refreshing to see Adam Sandler in a capable comedy of The Meyrowitz Stories that something as tedious as The Week Of is a depressing return to form. It’s back to basics for Sandler’s Happy Madison production template, pursuing family-centric comedy that outdoes itself to be as obnoxious as possible for replicating Father of the Bride. The shift in stories that an older Sandler can relate to proves that the aged comedian is maturing in premise but still stuck in the low-brow mud.
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If the abundance of superheroes at the cinema has fatigued audiences, Avengers: Infinity War may be the most exhausting of the subgenre, albeit the most satisfying of the Avengers films. There are well over 30 heroes present, multiple arcs that splinter and crossover, and the grandest of action scenes in a superhero ensemble to end all superhero ensembles. It’s a mighty ambitious project with a budget as monstrous as its casting, but it’s a relief to report that directors Anthony and Joe Russo have proven once again they can juggle dozens of characters and twice as many plotlines. There isn’t much time for the audience or the characters to catch their breath in this mad dash of an event picture, but the amount of chemistry and pathos weaved into this oversized action picture is an amazing enough feat in itself, daring enough to dizzy even the most astute of Marvel fans.
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The return for the raunchy highway patrolmen that functioned more like a fraternity doesn’t come roaring back with a timely new story to tell. It doesn’t even return with an original premise, adopting the same simple staging of a drug conspiracy to keep the boys busy. Clearly, the Broken Lizard troupe wanted to return to their most notable theatrical comedy because they had a new batch of Canadian and sex jokes they wanted to sling on the big screen. Despite a handful of duds, there’s some clever comedy of mustaches and Canadians that hits high enough to improve the troupe’s laugh average.
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Psychopaths is a pointless display of cruelty and violence that cakes on artful cinematography and relentless savagery in place of plot and purpose. But it’s a script that seems somewhat aware of its toxic nihilism, where a death-row killer admits in an interview that evil is evil, not needing a purpose to exist. The same sentiments can be applied to this film. Writer/director Mickey Keating perhaps wasn’t seeking to make a film that had some theme or characterization to a series of serial killer murders. He probably just wanted to film very vile acts for the sheer pleasure of watching people suffer. Evil is evil after all.
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