Posts Tagged ‘marvel’

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Avengers: Endgame (2019)

May 9, 2019

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Director: The Russo Brothers (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Starring: The whole squad

Anticipation Level: Epic

How Was It? This was execution at its finest. I absolutely loved it and you really have to admire what Marvel has accomplished, not just in this film, but in what they’ve created with their entire cinematic universe. It is truly unprecedented in the history of movies. Not every film has been great, or even good, but they’ve landed far more hits than misses and Endgame is a perfect conclusion to it all. It is pure fan service and a total crowd pleaser with many laugh-out-loud, surprising, and fist-pumping moments. Thor was a total scene-stealer; Chris Hemsworth is a riot in this movie. Even at an incredibly steep 3+ hour run time, it zipped by and I was thoroughly entertained all the way.

Prior to this movie, I was starting to feel that superhero fatigue. I didn’t like Ant-Man and The Wasp and I was lukewarm on Shazam!, Aquaman, and Captain Marvel as well, so I was really happy Endgame knocked it out of the park. I think the Russo Brothers get it. You take a look at their directorial credits and all their movies are in the upper tiers of the MCU, with The Winter Soldier possibly being my favorite.

I think Marvel did a great job with the roll out of this movie. I loved the trailer. Well, the one that I saw anyway. It gave away nothing. They knew the movie would crush no matter what and didn’t have to spoil anything to get people in the seats. I mean… how much cooler would it have been if we didn’t all know beforehand that The Hulk was going to show up in Ragnarok? I had no clue the direction Endgame was going to go and I have to admit I was shocked by a lot of it, particularly the whole first act.

I won’t say Endgame is one of those superhero movies that transcends the genre – like The Dark Knight – but it’s one of the best movies in the MCU and considering the scope of it all, it’s an immensely impressive achievement. I’ve already seen it twice and I’d probably enjoy a third viewing as soon as tomorrow, so it should hold up well over time. Endgame was about as good as I could have hoped for, managing to wrap up a 22-film arc, with plenty of laughs and maybe a few tears.

Replay Value: For a three hour movie, the replay value is insane.

Sequel Potential: They will probably still be making movies based on these characters a hundred years from now.

Oscar Potential: Infinity War got a nomination for Best Visual Effects, so consider that a lock for Endgame. I suppose there’s some outside chance this could get a Best Picture nomination, but it’s more popcorn film/blockbuster awesome than Oscar worthy storytelling.

8/10 (Must See)

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Lazy Movie Reviews: Into the Spider-Verse and more!

December 19, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – I absolutely loved it. Everything in this movie is so well done – from the story to the animation to the voice acting (especially Nicholas Cage). It’s all top notch. I thought there might be potential for things to get really convoluted with merging universes and multiple Spideys but it’s easy to follow and all the various characters give us reasons to care about them. This movie also had me laughing pretty much from start to finish and the story actually packs quite the emotional punch. It’s not just a strong animated movie… it’s one of the best movies of the year. Period.

8/10 (Must See)

Creed II (2018) – A decent follow-up to the first Creed but doesn’t pack nearly the same emotional punch. Still, for the 8th installment in the Rocky franchise, one can hardly complain. If you’ve enjoyed the story up to this point, this is more of the same.

5/10 (Decent)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald (2018) – This is the worst thing J.K. Rowling has ever written – that I’ve read or seen (I have not read her books for adults). I thought the first Fantastic Beasts was decent enough, although a far cry from the quality seen in the Harry Potter movies. My problems with the sequel are the same as the first movie, only much worse this time around. The characters in these movies are just so brutally hollow and uninteresting. The story is extremely weak here and the pacing is unreal slow. Creedance Bareback is one of the worst villains ever. Wait, is he a villain? Who knows. Who cares? Johnny Depp brings absolutely nothing to the role of Grindewald, but I did think Jude Law was fine as a younger Dumbledore. The creatures play a much smaller role in this movie and that’s a shame because they were the best thing about the first one. My interest level in this franchise has gone from middling to hanging by a thread

3/10 (Bad)

Widows (2018) – A captivating thriller with surprising twists and real world relevancy, plus top notch performances from Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki. One of the more enthralling movies of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Mid90s (2018) – A nostalgic trip through my early teen years. This movie was like reliving my past, albeit without the actual skateboarding. From idolizing kids that are only a few years older (or in my case, the same age) to trying drugs, alcohol, and girls for the first time, this is a coming of age flick for kids that grew up in… the mid90s.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Overlord (2018) – I’m not sure I’m on board with calling this a B-movie as the special effects and cinematography were pretty good.
The actors are mostly unknown, but I didn’t think there was anything overly cheesy going on here. It’s a fun super-serum fueled zombie flick with Nazis as the bad guys.

6/10 (Fun)

The Christmas Chronicles (2018, Netflix) – I probably wouldn’t have watched this without seeing a strong recommendation from someone I knew. It is a welcome addition to the existing library of fun Christmas movies. This one gives Santa an upgrade in abilities and Kurt Russell is surprisingly great hamming it up as our favorite holiday folk hero.

6/10 (Fun)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018, Netflix) – I’m not sure how it happened, but this movie charmed my pants off. Wait. That sounds bad. The movie doesn’t start strong and the event that gets things rolling is a little dumb, but once the two leads start interacting with each other I think it gets quite good, as long as you can get past the fact that these are stupid teenagers acting like stupid teenagers.

6/10 (Fun)

Mandy (2018) – This movie was a total trip. If you ever wanted to drop acid and watch a movie… this would be a good film to go with. It feels like a mash-up of Hellraiser and Mad Max with a sprinkle of Evil Dead and a Nicholas Cage hell-bent on bloody revenge. Plus it has some funky camera work and cool music. Mandy gets a very strong recommendation from me, but you have to have an open mind and a thick stomach.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Incredibles 2 (2018) – We had to wait 14 years for this? As a huge fan of the original movie, I was really disappointed with this sequel. With such a long break in between films, you’d think they could come up with a more interesting story. I had the villain pegged the first time I saw them. In fact, I thought it was so obvious that I probably had to be wrong. Nope. Jack Jack the baby is easily the highlight of the movie. The rest of the main characters, aside from Elastigirl, aren’t given much room for growth. This movie isn’t nearly as funny or as charming as the first. Aside from the Toy Story movies and Finding Dory, Pixar has mostly fallen flat with their sequels.

5/10 (Decent)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – This was a massive disappointment for me. I liked the first movie and this sequel seems to bring nothing new to the table. This movie isn’t nearly as funny as it wants to be and while I won’t call it outright bad, it was pretty boring and unmemorable.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting much. I would have been less surprised if this sucked than if it was really good. It has been a couple of weeks since I saw it and nothing really stuck with me, so that says something. I thought dude playing Han did an fine, but unremarkable job. There were some easter eggs for franchise fans, but there was probably a ton of stuff that this semi-fan missed. I imagine Star Wars will be mostly pleased, but this was nothing special.

5/10 (Decent)

Replay Value: Into the Spider-Verse, Widows and Mandy are movies I’d happily watch again right now. Mid90s is worth seeing again. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Christmas Chronicles have some replay value, but the rest of these movies I’d never need to see again.

Sequel Potential: Into the Spider-Verse should definitely get a direct sequel. Fantastic Beasts, Creed II, and Ant-Man and the Wasp are all part of ongoing franchises. Solo is a spin-off that will probably get its own sequel. I would imagine Widows and Mid90s are standalone films. The Christmas Chronices has potential for future films.

Oscar Potential: Into the Spider-Verse is a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination. I haven’t seen many animated movies this year, but I can’t imagine anything winning the Oscar over this one. I thought it was good enough to warrant some long shot Best Picture consideration, but that isn’t going to happen. The Crimes of Grindewald is on the short list for Best Score, but already whiffed on Visual Effects and Make-Up. I guess it is still a contender for Costume Design. Widows should get Viola Davis another Best Actress nom and some Best Picture consideration. I thought Elizabeth Debicki was worth consideration for her supporting role in the movie, but the competition is looking too stiff for a nomination. Incredibles 2 will probably get a Best Animated Feature nomination because Pixar movies basically always do, but it would have to be a very weak year for it to be deserved. I’ve actually only seen two animated features this year, so I have no idea. Solo: A Star Wars Story and Ant-Man and the Wasp are on the short list for the Visual Effects category.

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

May 2, 2018


Director: The Russo Brothers (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: Winter Soldier)
Starring: Half of Hollywood

I’m going to attempt to do something difficult and review a movie that a) I feel like I need to see again before I have a firm grasp on how I feel about it and b) I’m not sure I can say much about without spoiling things. Here goes…

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. If you’re still with Marvel at this point, then Avengers: Infinity War is as big as it gets. My friend I saw this movie with is a comic book fanatic and I’m pretty sure seeing this movie ranked somewhere in the top five most anticipated moments of his entire life. This is where we’ve been headed since Robert Downey Jr. first became Iron Man all the way back in 2008 – when Marvel completely changed the movie-going experience by creating a massive shared universe that has stretched over a decade now. And if you’re still eagerly awaiting Thanos’ arrival on Earth then chances are it’s going to be very hard for Avengers: Infinity War to disappoint you.

But that didn’t stop Age of Ultron from disappointing, did it? Admit it, that was arguably the worst and most forgettable film in the ten years of Marvel’s nearly flawless run of box office dominance. It was also at that point that Joss Whedon passed the directing baton to the Russo brothers, whom have proven to be the most adept filmmakers in the MCU, with both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War ranking in the top five Marvel movies to date.

I’ve actually read some criticism of Infinity War saying that it lacks character development. Something along the lines of the characters just show up and get involved in the story. What. Yeah, I forgot about the last ten years and previous 18 movies that have led up to this point too. Outside of Thanos, basically everyone else involved has had multiple movies worth of character development. We don’t really need it here. Hush.

So the basic premise here is that Thanos is the biggest and baddest dude from space and he has obtained what I believe is called the Infinity Gauntlet and he is after the six Infinity Stones that can be placed in the Infinity Gauntlet and when that happens, he can unlock unrivaled universe-erasing power. Not that he needs it: in the first sequence of the film, Thanos puts a severe beating on a few heroes and proves that The Avengers are already no match for him, Infinity Gauntlet or not.

It’s pretty easy to see how earth’s mightiest heroes get pulled into the fracas. If you’ve seen all the movies that have led up to this point (and you should have) then the following are not spoilers: Vision has an Infinity Stone in his forehead; Loki likely has an Infinity Stone and he’s currently traveling through space with Thor and the few surviving Asgardians; Doctor Strange has the Time Stone; and two other Stones are in space with people we’ve seen the Guardians of the Galaxy interact with. Needless to say, Thanos will have to go through some Avengers and possibly some Guardians to get all the Stones.

So that’s the gist of the plot and I have to say the execution mostly doesn’t disappoint. Infinity War is wonderful cinematic spectacle. At over 150 minutes and with a massive amount of characters to include, the film manages to be engaging and juggle screen time quite effectively. Sure, some of our heroes get less screen time than others, but when it comes down to it, this is Thanos’ movie anyways. I think I actually may have stepped out of the theater to use the bathroom at an inopportune time – particularly, when Thanos explained his reasoning for wanting to obtain the Stones and erase half of the universe’s population. So I really can’t comment on his motives, but if anyone wants to destroy half the universe, there’s probably a good reason for it, right?

I definitely enjoyed my first viewing of Infinity War. Like most Marvel movies, it blends action and humor to perfection and all the key players have an opportunity for a WOAH moment.

While Infinity War packs all the necessary punches, it also had a number of eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling moments. There are quite a few moments in the movie where a character has to make a tough (yet incredibly easy, all things considered) decision and makes an idiotic choice. What kind of hero would jeopardize the fate of the entire universe for one life? A shitty one. One that will be hard to root for in the future. Also, there’s a point where Doctor Strange looks into the future and says something along the lines of in 14 million possible outcomes, The Avengers only win in one of them. Is that really necessary? 1 in 14 million? When everyone in the theater knows the actual chance of an eventual Avengers victory is 100%? Do we need to be insulted like that? And if Doctor Strange can see into the future, and knows the one path to victory, then what is really at stake here? Nothing.

And that brings me to something I can’t really talk about. What I will say is that the film had no emotional impact on me. There are supposed to be huge moments of shock and sadness and I felt nothing. Because none of it seems real. None of it seems final. Because of the Soul Stone and the Time Stone and the nature of comic books, I just have a hard time believing that anything of massive consequence that happens in this movie can’t just be overturned at the snap of a finger. And because of that, my only emotional response was PFFFFFFT.

Still, I definitely enjoyed the movie. Fans of the genre should love it – and they do: it’s currently sitting in the top ten all time on IMDB’s Top 250 list (and that’s just absurd). If you haven’t been a fan of the MCU, this movie won’t change your mind. I’m looking forward to seeing it again and wonder if my opinion of it will change at all.

Replay Value: I’m ready for my second viewing already!

Sequel Potential: Avengers 4 has already been shot, I believe.

Oscar Potential: None?

Dina Meter: My wife enjoyed it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Black Panther (2018)

March 1, 2018

Directed by: Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman

Thoughts: What a huge movie. An absolute colossal success and a groundbreaking film in terms of showing that an almost entirely black cast can produce monster box office numbers. Ugh. I hate typing that sentence. I shouldn’t have to. But one can’t ignore the fact that this sort of opportunity has been sorely lacking in the past and Black Panther will surely open doors and possibly knock them completely off the hinges.

Ryan Coogler and his team really did a wonderful job creating this film. The fictional nation of Wakanda is stunning and fully realized and does as much for empowering women as it does for black people. In Wakanda, women are the fiercest warriors and protectors of the realm, and T’Challa’s sister is the head engineer in advanced weaponry and gadgetry. There’s been some buzz in the industry the last few years about casting a black James Bond, and Black Panther has a lot of 007 in it.

The main conflict in the film is that Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger believes that he has a claim to the throne in Wakanda and challenges T’Challa. Killmonger’s motives and backstory provide some conflict in the viewers as he’s a rare villain that you can possibly sympathize with.

The cast in this movie does a brilliant job, with Jordan being the highlight and Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright also giving strong and fun performances.

Black Panther is a film that fires on all cylinders and provides a thoroughly entertaining film experience. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser. I had a blast watching it and I hope it’s just as much fun over multiple viewings. I can confidently say Black Panther ranks in the upper echelon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – possibly as high as #1 – and the presentation of Wakanda and the film’s groundbreaking nature make it a must see in my book.

Replay Value: If I didn’t have so many other movies to watch before the Oscars, I would have seen this again by now. I’m looking forward to a second viewing and I suspect it will hold up pretty well. It is a film I will want to own.

Sequel Potential: The film’s success will certainly fast-track a sequel. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it released in 2020. T’Challa should be playing a significant role in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films.

Oscar Potential: I called multiple nominations for Get Out at this time last year and I was right on most of them. I feel less confident in Black Panther‘s chances. This film’s strongest cases are probably in the Production Design, Costumes, Visual Effects, and Sound departments. Michael B. Jordan has already got some Supporting Actor buzz, but he probably won’t get a nomination.

*Dina Meter: My wife would have enjoyed this movie.

8/10 (Must See)

*I’m adding a new element to my movie reviews. I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste as me. Someone asked what my favorite movies of 2017 were and my first response was The Shape of Water and the person I was talking to said he hated it. My friend I saw it with didn’t like it much either. I feel like my wife is a pretty good measure of what a casual filmgoer will like or not like. She tends to not enjoy the more obscure films that I like. With that in mind, I’m implementing the Dina Meter, where I will sum up what she thought about a movie or what I think she would have thought if we didn’t watch it together.

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So Many T.V. Shows!

October 24, 2017

Ratings
5 – Must Watch
4 – Good Stuff
3 – Decent
2 – Not Recommended
1 – Terrible

I’ve powered through a number of seasons of various T.V. series recently, but haven’t shared my thoughts yet, so here they are:

Game of Thrones, Season 7: The biggest event show on television is still must watch stuff. Season 7 featured a bit of ridiculousness (like, travelling to and fro is no longer an issue for anyone in Westeros – they might as well be apparating), but there were plenty of long awaited moments and lots to cheer about. It’s hard to say too much about this show without spoiling things, so I’ll just say I still find Thrones insanely entertaining and I can’t wait to see how they end this thing. 4.5/5

Iron Fist, Season 1: I hated it. Easily the worst of the Netflix Marvel series so far. The biggest problem is Finn Jones just has no charisma in the lead role and, as such, Danny Rand is not someone you can wholeheartedly root for. I really had to force myself to finish this season so I could watch… 1.5/5

The Defenders, Season 1: How could they mess this up? By making The Hand the main enemy, I guess. It’s fun seeing the four heroes interact with each other (although Iron Fist is still lame), but at the end of the day, the agenda of The Hand just doesn’t make any sense. I literally have no idea what the end game was for them. And who is Sigourney Weaver’s character? She’s the leader of The Hand and she’s supposed to be important, but we are never given any reason to fear her and have no idea why she’s in power. Certainly someone like Madam Gao seems a more formidable leader. Shrug. I thought this long awaited series was good for about four episodes and then it lost me completely. People that are going to watch are going to watch it anyway, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. 2/5

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later: If you aren’t already familiar with this franchise you should acquaint yourself with the 2001 film and the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp first. There are too many back stories and running jokes to fully appreciate this show if you haven’t seen the previous installments. I admittedly did not revisit the film first and I think it dampened my enjoyment ever so slightly. I kind of figured things out and remembered as the new story unfolded, but not having everything fresh didn’t make everything as funny as it should be – and it was still hilarious! Absolutely my kind of comedy, but certainly not for everyone. This shows gets pretty ridiculous and out there, but I’ve really enjoyed both series streaming on Netflix. 4/5

Gotham, Season 3: As a dedicated Batman fan, I can’t stop watching this series no matter how ridiculous or bad it gets. There are just so many things to complain about. To some degree, Bruce Wayne finally begins his actual transition into becoming The Batman, but most of his biggest villains are already fully formed – despite the fact that, traditionally, Batman is the reason his rogues gallery exists in the first place. There is a lot to gripe about but I’d like to highlight a couple of things: 1) So Jerome isn’t The Joker? I really liked Cameron Monoghan as Jerome even though his portrayal was a weeeeeeee bit over the top. I don’t understand how someone that looks and acts exactly like The Joker isn’t actually The Joker. The idea that the real Joker is someone paying homage to Jerome, or a copycat, really doesn’t sit right with me. 2) My goodness, how bad did they botch Mr. Freeze? He looks and sounds absolutely TERRIBLE, plus they turned a formidable anti-villain with a tragic back story and turned him into… Penguin’s lackey? 3) This season has a Penguin-Riddler love story. No joke. 2/5

Better Call Saul, Season 2: Creator Vince Gilligan (also responsible for Breaking Bad) is truly a master. I wasn’t really sold on a Saul Goodman spinoff when I first heard about it, but both seasons of the show have been stellar. The show has amazingly rich character development and plenty of fun call backs to Breaking Bad. Arguably the best show currently airing right now, I can’t wait to watch season 3 and be all caught up. 5/5

Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Season 1: This series picks up 30 years after the events of Evil Dead 2 (I think it ignores Army Of Darkness) with Bruce Campbell reprising his role of zombie/demon slayer Ash Williams. The first season is hilarious, spectacularly gory, and wildly entertaining. Ash picks up a couple of compadres on his quest this time around and they are admittedly still growing on me but at least they give someone for Ash to verbally spar with. This isn’t genius stuff here, but it’s definitely something fans of horror and the original franchise will love. 4/5

Shameless, Season 2: This show is wild, and dirty, but it’s also a lot of fun. The Gallaghers are a crazy bunch and everyone has plenty of flaws, but they somehow still come across quite lovable. I still don’t understand Fiona’s interest in Steve/Jimmy though. It really makes no sense to me. Season 2 is still pretty grounded but I have strong suspicions this show is going to get totally bonkers, to the point of completely unbelievably. Here’s to hoping it keeps its heart and doesn’t turn every single character into a total scoundrel. 3.5/5

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

July 10, 2017

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya
Director: Jon Watts

Bottom Line: I loved it. Tonally, this is the Spider-Man movie we’ve been waiting for: a high school kid that looks and acts like a high school kid and is clearly in the rookie year of his superhero adventures, despite briefly dipping his head in the majors in Captain America: Civil War. While Spider-Man might have a high tech suit capable of amazing things thanks to Tony Stark, he’s still just a kid looking to help out around his borough and hoping not to be a loser at school, while waiting around hoping The Avengers come calling or he stumbles across something big.

Tom Holland crushes the role. We got a glimpse that he might be the right actor for the job in Civil War but now there’s no doubt about it. Holland is charismatic and hilarious and does some great physical comedy in the film. I think it’s safe to say that we will be seeing him as Spider-Man for at least the next decade and that’s a very good thing. He is perfect for the job and it will be fun to watch him grow up with the character.

The script in this movie was fantastic. I’ve heard people call it the funniest Marvel movie yet and maybe it is – it was basically nonstop laughs for two hours and all the jokes landed successfully. Michael Keaton plays Spidey nemesis Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. The Vulture, and, as expected, does a great job, bringing an everyday person element to the character that is usually missing from comic book villains. Toomes is a regular guy whose company strikes a huge deal to cleanup the aftermath of the first Avengers movie only to have a Tony Stark subdivision come in and take things over with little apology, despite Toomes pouring all his financial resources into the project. It’s a smart way to weave The Vulture into the MCU and screenwriters make some other genius decisions with this character as well.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is exactly what you want from a Spider-Man movie: great action, lots of laughs, a charismatic and funny hero, and a formidable villain with some emotional resonance. The film works incredibly well considering it doesn’t introduce Spidey staples like Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, or Harry Osborn. Most movies, even when they are good, you still want to end at some point, but I could’ve watched Tom Holland play Spider-Man for several more hours and I’m really looking forward to more sequels and Avengers appearances in the future.

Replay Value: I’d watch it again now and it will be a must own in my movie collection.
Sequel Potential: Avengers: Infinity War is due out next year and a Spidey sequel is announced for 2019.
Oscar Potential: Great performances from Holland and Keaton, but not really Oscar fare here. Of all the 2017 films I’ve seen so far, I’d give this one the edge in Visual Effects.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see)

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Beauty and the Beast (2017), Logan (2017), Arrival (2016), Green Room (2016), Sausage Party (2016), Pete’s Dragon (2016)

March 22, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Another solid live-action remake of a Disney classic. Beauty and the Beast isn’t as visually amazing as last year’s Jungle Book and it’s more of a shot-for-shot remake than a fresh take on an old favorite, but the story translates well and this film is really a testament to how wonderful the original animated classic is. It’s probably been 25 years since I’ve seen the 1991 version, but the songs felt like I heard them yesterday and they have been stuck in my head the last 24 hours – they are truly timeless compositions. Emma Watson is perfect casting as Belle, Dan Stevens is enjoyable as The Beast, and Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson do solid voice work, but the rest of the borders on annoying. Particularly, I had mixed feelings about Luke Evans as Gaston. On one hand, it’s an incredibly campy and silly performance; on the other hand, it’s very loyal to the source material. Overall, Beauty and the Beast is another enjoyable hit for Disney, even if some of the acting and musical numbers are a bit too flamboyant.

Replay Value: I would watch it again, but I’d rather watch the original.
Sequel Potential: This movie is breaking box office records, but it’s hard to imagine a continuation of this story that doesn’t come across contrived.
Oscar Potential: Even with the expansion of the Best Picture category, this film won’t get a nod like it’s source material did. However, nominations for Costume Design, Makeup, and Art Direction are highly possible.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Logan (2017) – Logan is going to go down as one of the best superhero films of all-time, but really, limiting it to that distinction is a disservice – it is simply a great film, period. Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine, finds our hero in the not-so-distant future, as one of the few remaining mutants in the world. His new life consists of driving a limo, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and harboring a mentally ailing Professor Xavier. Enter Laura: a young mutant girl with all the abilities and fury of a younger Logan. What follows is a road adventure with a Western tinge and a film that has pacing, ridiculous action sequences, and a guardian/mentor relationship all reminiscent of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Making the film rated R was a stroke of genius and once you get past the initial shock of hearing Wolverine and Professor X swear, it’s actually quite funny. Plus, those claws finally get put to gruesome use. Packed with action, drizzles of humor and sorrow, and phenomenal performances from Jackman, Patrick Steward, and newcomer Dafne Keen, Logan is a comic book film masterpiece. It’s the best movie to come out of the X-Men universe and an absolute must see film.

Replay Value: This could go down as a classic and I’m anxious to see it again.
Sequel Potential: Reportedly Jackman’s last appearance as Wolverine, but that’s always subject to change and if not, the character will surely be rebooted in the future.
Oscar Potential: Like Get Out, Logan is in an interesting spot: it’s a comic book movie released in mid-March – not your typical Oscar fodder. But The Dark Knight paved the way for ten possible nominees, so Logan has an outside shot at Best Picture. I don’t see any acting nominations, but Cinematography nod could also be in the cards.

Grade: 8.5/10 (Must See/Potential Classic)

Arrival (2016) – Arrival was one of last year’s most critically lauded films and I found this first contact movie to be quite enthralling myself. It’s definitely a slow burn and the pacing can be a bit tedious at times, but director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) gives Arrival all the mystique and intrigue of a Christopher Nolan film. It tackles interesting themes of language, time, and how we might interact with an alien species, while highlighting our own world’s inability to communicate with one another in today’s trigger-happy environment. Amy Adams is stellar as usual and while Jeremy Renner’s character feels more like background music at times, he does provide some comic relief and plays a pivotal role in the film’s emotional core. While some may be dissatisfied with the ultimate payoff, I felt like Arrival tied things together nicely and made for an enjoyable, cerebral experience. Arrival is a fresh take on the first contact movie and a strong sci-fi recommendation, if not quite a must see film.

Replay Value: You might pick up on some extra things a second time around, but this is more of a once in a decade type movie for me.
Sequel Potential: Ever so slight, but highly unlikely.
Oscar Potential: 8 Oscar nominations and a win for Best Sound Editing.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Green Room (2016) – Green Room is a taut, horror/thriller hybrid that cranks up the tension from start to finish. Director Jeremy Saulnier elicits strong performances from Patrick Stewart as a nihilistic neo-Nazi club owner and the late Anton Yelchin as a member of a punk rock band trapped inside a room in the club after unwittingly intruding on a murder cover up. It’s a gruesome, unforgiving film that lovers of scary movies should watch with delight. Enjoyable from it’s opening frame and featuring Yelchin’s best performance of his short life, Green Room is a must see for fans of unconventional thrillers.

Replay Value: Fun enough to watch again some day.
Sequel Potential: Probably not, but if it becomes a cult classic, it might invite some crappy, nontheatrical sequels.
Oscar Potential: Whiff.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Must See)

Sausage Party (2016) – The writing team responsible for Superbad offers up a hard R-rated animated comedy featuring everyone’s favorite grocery store items. Filled with all the cleverness and humor – if not the charm and superb storytelling – of a classic Pixar movie, Sausage Party is quite entertaining. While there are lots of juvenile jokes and unrelenting amounts of sexual innuendo, Sausage Party features an A-List voice cast and everyone does a laudable job. It’s not quite as emotionally resonant as it wants to be, but Sausage Party is still a pretty fun comedy and recommended while it’s streaming on Netflix. Warning: this is not for kids!

Replay Value: Smart and funny enough to be worthy of multiple viewings.
Sequel Potential: Definitely possible.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)

Pete’s Dragon (2016) – It’s probably been 25-30 years since I’ve seen the original and I can’t remember it at all, so I can’t comment on how this film compares. Even though this live action remake was well received, I found myself struggling through it. It doesn’t help that the cast is largely made up of actors whose work I rarely enjoy. Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban have never been the reason I’ve watched a movie. Oona Laurence, the little girl, gives the film’s only laudable performance. While I understand the decision to make Elliot, the dragon, look friendly, I felt like the CGI was lackluster and actually terrible at times. I’ve seen action sequences that looked less fake in movies that were made 15 years ago. While Disney films are supposed to require an abundance of imagination and a suspension of reality, it doesn’t hurt to explain some things. Like why is there a dragon in a forest in the Pacific Northwest? How does a dragon remain unseen for decades? If it has wings, wouldn’t it need to use them periodically? What does it eat? Are all dragons children friendly? All in all, Pete’s Dragon is a rare misstep from Disney as it feels like the film, with its uninspired casting and visual effects, was an afterthought for the juggernaut corporation.

Replay Value: None for me.
Sequel Potential: Always possible.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 3/10 (Skip It)