Saturday, April 20, 2019

Incredibles 2 Review

Incredibles 2, 4/20/19, 94%, A, 4.5 Stars
Not as incredible as the original, but thankfully its own thing.
The plot moves swiftly, immediately setting the stage for Violet’s trouble with Tony and giving us the first look at the fight we’ve been waiting 14 years to see, as well as distracting me with Rick Decker’s new voice that is obviously a recast. After a quick reintroduction, we finally see the Underminer fight, then get swept up into “Make Superheroes Legal Again,” all of which is consistent with the universe it exists in and features a believable, well-set twist.
The family is as perfectly relatable as ever, but the character development just isn’t the same. They don’t really go through arcs, even Mr. Incredible, who would seem to have to accept Elastigirl’s place in the spotlight, but is more frustrated with his not being able to go out right away. They did a great job of reintroducing us to them, developing the Screenslaver’s backstory, and other minor details, but they failed to give the main characters any meaningful arcs.
The animation was gorgeous as always, with realistic enough backgrounds, but not so realistic the animated characters become distracting like The Good Dinosaur’s animation did. Everything adds to the story, and there’s no fluff here, just hard story matter.
As for Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack, there’s kind of a muted quality to it that negates the flare of the first one. It’s great in most action scenes, but seems a bit restrained somehow and just doesn’t do it for me like the first one’s does 14 years later. It all fits the scenes, but it just doesn’t do it for me the same way.
The humor is kind of lacking, or not the subtle kind Pixar’s known for. I still get a smile out of it, but not as much in terms of laughter. There’s also kind of a colder edge to this movie that Cars 2 got hell for, because this movie features actual gun violence in a more solemn way than scenes like the Nomanisan scenes or the robbers from the first movie’s intro. It works out for the tone, especially for the real world commentary on society and screens, but it’s something I realized upon this viewing.
Overall, Incredibles 2 is not an incredible drop in quality, but a slightly different kind of movie that just isn’t the same. I still recommend it to those who waited nearly a decade and a half to see how the Underminer fight went, just don’t expect anything as deep as the first one.

Plot
-Pacing 10/10
-Coherence 10/10
Characters
-Relatability 10/10
-Development 8/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 10/10
-Purposeful Content 10/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 9/10
-Appropriate Use 9/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 8/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Passion of the Christ Review

The Passion of the Christ, 4/19/19, 88%, B+, 4 Stars
Even the greatest story of all time can only be told so many times. It’s great at depicting the event, but only good or not-too-good at drawing in the viewer.
Right off the bat, I just have to say Mel Gibson should have stuck to just doing it in English, then dubbing it in Hebrew with subtitles available. I say that because when I watched in English, I either looked for how they edited for the dub, or was distracted by the subtitles that cannot be removed.
Technical complaints aside, the plot makes sense from beginning to end, and is consistent within the body of itself and the previous tellings of Jesus’ crucifixion. I’m a little mixed on the pacing because it’s slow at times, then fast, then slow. At least it’s focused on Jesus’ crucifixion and doesn’t dive too deeply into other stories one could mine from the Bible.
Honestly, Jim Caviezel does a great job with the material, but this movie doesn’t really make Jesus that relatable. They never betray his personality like Judas betrayed Him, but they only got Him as human in the literal sense. I feel like I should have been crying at the 1 hour, 52 minute and 20 second mark, but I didn’t really feel a reason to care for this portrayal in a deeper way, and felt more emotion for the trailer for Patriot’s Day I watched right after as part of my post-Friday-Movie protocol.
The visuals were great except for a very few VFX shots. The practical effects for the mangled Jesus were incredibly realistic, I just hope it was more guesswork and they didn’t have to study real injuries to know what to do, but it was all for a reason: show Jesus’ suffering.
John Debney’s soundtrack definitely captures that ancient vibe, but gets a little repetitive. It was all for the good of the story.
There could have been a little more humor in Jesus flashbacks, but I understand too much more would have undersold the tragedy of the Passion. The overall tone was appropriately grim and consistently so.
My biggest complaint is that Mel Gibson went a little too far with accuracy, and I’m the kind of guy who got pissed off at various book-to-movie changes over the years. Whoever dares attempt to make a movie on this subject again, please do it in English, or at least let us turn off the subtitles if you go that route. Otherwise, this was a great depiction of a monumental religious story.

Plot
-Pacing 8/10
-Coherence 10/10
Characters
-Relatability 8/10
-Development 8/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 9/10
-Purposeful Content 10/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 8/10
-Appropriate Use 8/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 9/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Captain Marvel Review (Project: Henry's Endgame)

Captain Marvel, 88%, B+, 4 Stars
The 21st entry into the MCU is a marvelous blast to the past. It has its flaws, but is still a good time at the movies. If your goal is to have a good time, this is the movie for you.
The story flows well. I checked my watch a few times, but thought “wow, it’s already been that long?” not “it’s only been this long!” It starts fast with the Kree homeworld, and doesn’t waste time introducing the Skrulls in what proves to be a mislead and before long, we zoom to the main body of the story on Earth.
From beginning to end, the movie makes sense. There were no plot holes, and for those who might say that Carol’s climactic charge up came from nowhere, it’s a movie about space aliens and shape shifting lizard aliens, I bought the hyper charged version because I can believe there was untapped potential. My major complaint is how she was able to conveniently mod C-53 tech from 1995 to work with her Kree tech, and the unclear nature of the post-credits scene, which I learned took place in 1995, which lines up with the timeline appropriately.
I didn’t get a universal relatability vibe off Carol, those were reserved for residents of C-53 like Fury, Coulson, and newcomer Maria, who helped give Carol’s Earth backstory. They acted as eyes and ear of the audience, and they pretty much summed up what we thought. The filmmakers used the flashbacks to develop her as a strong woman who gets back up on her feet in the face of adversity, more on that in a bit, which I think men and women alike can find admirable.
Like I said in the previous section, the flashbacks were used to develop Carol as a strong woman who gets back up on her feet despite the odds. Her motivations were made clear by the time the truth of the skrulls came out, and while I didn’t feel this deep connection I have to other female characters like Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars or the MCU’s own Agent Carter, both through TV admittedly, I did like the way she wouldn’t back down. The family stuff could have been explored more, but that may have bloated the movie itself, so I’ll take the throwaway line Maria gives.
The CGI was heavy, but the skrulls and other aliens were very believable. The CGI deaging of Clark Gregg and Sam L. Jackson were beautifully rendered to the point that if I hadn’t known they were deaged like that and those actors were actually 56 and 70, I would not have thought they were that old at the time of production. This technology has come very far, and I can’t wait to see it used for responsible prequel stories.
There were some moments where I was like “I’m not surprised they went there,” and the trailer gave away how the flashbacks the skrulls uncovered were used to show Carol get back up on her feet. Those would be the moments where one guy out of nowhere told her to “smile” and the truth about Nick Fury’s missing eye. Major spoiler alert: he lost that eye because Goose scratched it out when he was horsing around with her, and it was almost as dumb as Star Lord’s temper tantrum in Infinity War, and that dragged that whole movie from a potential A+ to a B+ for me.
The soundtrack fit each scene appropriately, especially the “I’m Just a Girl” song in the climax. There was also some fun 90s grunge use and light techno on the Kree homeworld scene. It all expressed the appropriate emotions.
The “I’m Just a Girl” song didn’t have the beautiful symmetrical use “Immigrant Song” from Thor: Ragnarok had, but it was very appropriate and completed the feminism circle this film was going for. The techno was light enough to give an otherworldly feel to it, but didn’t go over the top since most of it’s set on Earth.
As I mentioned before, the truth about Nick Fury’s eye was played for laughs, but it felt inappropriate because of how dumb it played in my opinion and murdered the mystery of it in ice cold blood. I’m watching through all 21 movies leading to Endgame over the next six weeks, so I’ll see how I feel when I watch him in those movies knowing that. Anyway, the rest of the humor was good, especially with the way that Carol got back at the “smile” creep, and was a better balance than Infinity War and other prior installments.
Sam L. Jackson still doesn’t get to go all-in, but the rest of the language feels right.
Captain Marvel is a good time at the movies, with just a few eye rolling moments and one major revelation about Fury’s bad eye to bring it down a few points. I hope to see more of Carol Danvers because her journey is just getting started.
For the larger MCU, I wouldn’t say this is critical to understanding Endgame, but if you want to go to that saying “I’ve seen it all,” I can say you won’t be wasting your time.
Plot
-Pacing 9/10
-Coherence 9/10
Characters
-Relatability 9/10
-Development 9/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 7/10
-Purposeful Content 8/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 9/10
-Appropriate Use 9/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 8/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10

Monday, April 15, 2019

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review (Project: Henry's Endgame)

Ant-Man and the Wasp, 3/2/19, 92%, A-, 4.5 Stars.
A reminder that solo superhero movies are still a thing after the massive epic of Infinity War. It also shows that solo superhero movies can be more focused. Who needs massive blockbusters when smaller blockbusters can be more fun and consistent?
The plot is simple and fast. Scott has to violate house arrest to help Hope and Hank from the previous movies rescue Janet the first wasp from the quantum realm. Some movies move so slowly you check your watch and think “it’s only been this long?” but this one moves so fast, you check your watch and think “it’s already been that long?”
As for tone, it didn’t seem to be able to choose between heist movie or something else. I’d say it was more of a sci-fi romcom than a heist movie.
For the most part, it makes sense and doesn’t have any obvious plot conveniences like Infinity War did with Iron Man’s plot-convenience suit or Star Lord’s temper tantrum. It’s full of scientific mumbo-jumbo, and aside from a simple fix or two, it’s a consistently fun ride.
The characters are great, with perfect relatability right after the Marvel Studios fanfare with Scott being an amazing daddy for his daughter. It’s also a great parallel for the hide-and-seek sequence Janet goes on to show Scott so Hope knows it’s her, and is just some down-to-earth fun to flesh out the characters.
As for development, the mains are well developed and the antagonist of Ghost is given a compelling backstory relevant to the overall plot, but it gets bogged down by the persistence of the weapons dealers who follow throughout. They’re so forgettable, I literally couldn’t remember the southern dude’s name and referred to him as such even after his name was explicitly stated.
At the very least, the visuals were great, and while I still didn’t like the extreme close-up shots, I loved the quantum realm’s design. Give us more quantum realm in Avengers: Endgame!
The dealers led by Sonny Birch, whose name I now remember, represent unnecessary fluff likely added to bring this movie closer to two hours than ninety minutes, but they were entertaining enough and everything else added to the whole quantum realm rescue, which would sum up the movie because it couldn’t seem to choose between heist movie or other. It was also great how they handled dealing with Infinity War without referencing the events: have the Pyms/Van Dynes turn to dust while Scott’s in the quantum realm, and have him trapped there, likely sucked into a time vortex Janet mentions in said scene, which would play into the time jump theory that’s going around.
Christophe Beck provided another awesome soundtrack. It was thrilling at the car chase scenes and serious in the quantum realm. He clearly upped his game from the first movie.
The movie was as funny and clean as the first one, so the humor was appropriate for the not-so-serious tone, but still stake-filled enough for tension to need breaking.
Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the cherry on top of the MCU sundae, and is a fun, relatable time for kids and adults alike. Marvel brings their A-game to what others may consider their B-level flicks, and this is no exception.
Plot
-Pacing 9/10
-Coherence 8/10
Characters
-Relatability 10/10
-Development 8/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 9/10
-Purposeful Content 8/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 10/10
-Appropriate Use 10/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 10/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Avengers: Infinity War Review (Project: Henry's Endgame)

Avengers: Infinity War, 93%, A, 4.5 Stars.
I finally get it. I still think the ending was kinda rushed, obviously not gonna stick and too convenient, but I get it now.
This movie wastes no time getting to the point: Thanos’ quest. So fast in fact, we start with him acquiring his second stone, and then it briskly moves between narratives that converge and diverge well enough, culminating in the biggest lie in cinematic history. I still have to ask why Bruce had Hulktile dysfunction and how the whole thing even works at this point based on the fact he was Hulk for years straight, but otherwise, it makes sense, I still don’t approve of certain parts though.
The best part of these movies are the characters, and they are as well developed and relatable as ever. They’re consistent with what we’ve seen before, and the ultimate crossover is more of a character study of Thanos because of how much development he gets and the fact that he succeeds proves this was less of an Avengers movie, and more of a Thanos movie. They should have just called it “Thanos” instead.
The visual effects on Thanos, Rocket, Groot, and all the other CGI characters except for the Children of Thanos are amazing, but live action characters and green screens still don’t blend that well. Might just be my thing where I can just tell green screens, but the rest of the movie looks great, especially with the practical effects.
Most of the content on screen is there for a reason, I’m still not happy with the rushed convenience of Star Lord ruining his own plan and Doctor Strange going back on his word. I just think Nebula shouldn’t have been right there to be able to restrain him because it makes it too easily preventable, and Thanos should have just been able to take it off Doctor Strange the first time. I get they needed to have Thanos acquire all six stones and give the Avengers something to avenge, but come on, you’re just handing HISHE material to work with at this point.
Regardless of story issues, Alan Silvestri returns to provide an epic score. Nuff said.
The humor gets misplaced here and there, but it’s not as overbearing as the first four times I watched this. Also, it’s appropriately edgy enough without Batman V Superman levels of edge.
That movie had “Save Martha” and this one has “No you didn’t!” With better consistency in this one compared to that, Infinity War has its flaws, but I get it now: the Avengers needed something to avenge in Endgame, and even if it’s so preventable that Nebula was right there to restrain Star Lord, they did whatever it took. The only way Endgame could improve this movie is if Nebula’s let in on Doctor Strange’s vision and give more clarity to the Hulk-Banner relationship.

Plot
-Pacing 10/10
-Coherence 8/10
Characters
-Relatability 10/10
-Development 10/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 9/10
-Purposeful Content 7/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 10/10
-Appropriate Use 10/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 9/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Incredibles Rating

The Incredibles, 4/13/19, 97%, A+, 4.5 Stars
This movie holds up incredibly well, from the animation to the story, and most importantly, the characters.
The movie moves a bit fast for my taste, which is weird when you consider this is the longest of Pixar’s movies, and I thought it moved kind of slow last time. Then again, I was in more of a Dash mindset last time. This time, I was not, and found it barely gave room to breath, but in the end, the plot makes sense and is consistent with its own universe.
The best part of any movie is the characters, and Brad Bird nails it with this cast of characters. You got the family dynamic working with their super powers by reflecting the character’s personality or family role that I didn’t realize until a friend pointed it out to me a few years back, and while I don’t overthink it, I do appreciate it. It’s typical family stuff taken to new heights that most of the population can relate to, whether it’s Dash’s impatience and pent-up energy, Violet’s shyness/awkwardness, Mrs. Incredible’s flexibility as a mother and super, or Mr. Incredible’s shape and power.
Even Frozone’s superpower plays into his personality: he’s super cool and chill, so he’s got ice powers. A cool power for a cool guy. There’s something for everyone to relate to in the main cast, and they’re all shown to be what they are, making for a nice collective character arc.
The animation holds up very well almost 15 years later, the same amount of time it was between the opening set-piece and the movie’s main setting. The textures look real enough to touch, but not so real they cross the uncanny valley. The only way this is actually better than newer CGI movies is that the backgrounds aren’t so realistic that they look like live-action shots, which just makes the stylized animated characters look silly, something I’m realizing with The Good Dinosaur, but that’s a topic for another day, great animation.
Of course, everything adds to the story, such as the aforementioned superpowers reflecting character traits, Mr. Incredible creating his own demons, and enough relatable situations to ground the characters in reality.
Michael Giacchino hits it out of the park with the soundtrack. It’s fast as Dash, fitting for the 1960s setting, and just as great to listen to separate from the movie as it is in the movie.
The humor is great, and unlike some MCU films, doesn’t get all that invasive. While the humor doesn’t get edgy, some of the story takes a dark turn that works out in its favor, which made me wonder why such a tone turned people off of Cars 2, until I remembered the Mater antics. They were smart to move the Jack Jack scenes of this to a short film of its own, and it’s consistent throughout.
Overall, The Incredibles is still an incredible movie for the young and the old alike. Pixar works its magic and gives us a movie that kids can enjoy, but I wouldn’t say it panders to kids. Also, when I saw the end this time, when Violet and Tony set up their movie date, I couldn’t help but think about how that ended up going in Incredibles 2, but more on that next week.
Plot
-Pacing 7/10
-Coherence 10/10
Characters
-Relatability 10/10
-Development 10/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 10/10
-Purposeful Content 10/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 10/10
-Appropriate Use 10/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 10/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10

Friday, April 12, 2019

The First Purge Review

The First Purge, 4/12/19, 86%, B, 4 Stars
So this is how it all began.
The First Purge moves along well, but stumbles when it comes to coherence, such as an out of left field revelation that Nya was in a relationship with Dimitri prior to the events of the movie. Otherwise, it made sense, but didn’t move as swiftly as a 100 minute movie usually does.
The characters are well developed for the most part, and they do a good job of showing how something like The Purge would be perceived at first.
The visual believability is perfect as usual, but the amount of action gets overstimulating at times.
The soundtrack just does its job, with the rendition of “America the Beautiful” acting as the social commentary of violence in America.
The humor is appropriate, the only laugh I got was when they showed some public adult time to show how some people would use a night of lawlessness for more innocent purposes. It was a nice moment of “not everyone is a violent lunatic deep down” and showed the Purge itself isn’t all for murder.
Overall, this is thought provoking enough, and gives insight into how the NFFA rigged the Purge, so all dramatic tension’s gone.

Plot
-Pacing 8/10
-Coherence 8/10
Characters
-Relatability 8/10
-Development 8/10
Picture
-Visual Believability 10/10
-Purposeful Content 8/10
Soundtrack
-Emotional Resonance 8/10
-Appropriate Use 8/10
Dialogue
-Appropriate Humor 10/10
-Appropriate Cursing 10/10