Sometimes, the best cinematic stories are the simplest ones. They don’t have to have a moment that defines the movie that will be remembered for years to come. And they don’t necessarily have to have a character that will be shown as cinema’s most memorable ever. Sometimes, cinematic stories are as ordinary as the lives most of us live. However, at the same time, they can be just as rich and extraordinary as our own. Director Alfonso Cuarón’s latest feature is a simplistic masterclass in storytelling. It’s a personal story about love, courage, hope, change, and home. This is Roma.
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man not only remains the most popular Marvel superhero to date, but also feels like the most present superhero we see on our screens. With six solo movies and a couple of appearances in a few Marvel Cinematic Universe movies over the past 16 years, he’s always present in a landscape full of so many on-screen superheroes. We know the origin story, the powers, the villains, and the man behind the mask. But finally, we get a new take on Spider-Man in the new animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which shows us that anyone can wear the mask. In Spider-Verse, the one who wears the mask is Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a teenager and comic book favorite, often seen as the successor to the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. Sure, it’s another origin story about someone taking on the responsibilities of being a superhero and knowing there are consequences with every action they take. However, Spider-Verse spins a whole new web on the origin story, one that’s so fresh, kinetic, funny, self-aware and just so awesome. It’s arguably the best Spider-Man movie ever made.
When it comes to anthology films, they are usually more miss than hit. And when it comes to original films from Netflix, quite honestly, it’s a tossup. But bringing in the Coen Brothers, who are some of the best filmmakers in the industry over the past few decades, things are sure to look promising for both the anthology genre and Netflix’s original film catalogue. Originally conceived as a six-part miniseries, the Coen Brothers pieced together all the stories into one, two-plus hour film called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Playing out from one crazed, western story to the next like flipping through a book (literally), Buster Scruggs is easily the Coen Brothers’ best movie since True Grit. Featuring a collection of great off-the-wall characters, blended with the Coen Brothers’ signature dark humor inserted in dramatic events, it’s difficult not to enjoy the events that play out from one chapter to the next (no matter how dark or grim they may get).
In the opening sequence of First Man, we see Neil Armstrong test piloting in the Mojave Desert. As evident in this intense sequence that thrusts viewers right into the middle of the cockpit, viewers are in for a thrilling, yet bumpy ride about one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. Director Damien Chazelle immaculately balances First Man by keeping it as grounded on planet Earth as it is exhilarating in the movie’s climatic sequence on the moon. By showing the toll this dangerous mission took on Neil Armstrong and everyone else involved in this project over the years, it makes this biopic about the small step for man even more satisfying (and affecting) by the film’s conclusion.
Sony did the right thing by letting Marvel Studios help shape a new Spider-Man and allow it to breathe in its Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Sony is still hush-hush on whether Venom will exist in the same universe as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, it’s evident about half way into the movie that Sony should have let Marvel Studios help shape the alien symbiote and its host. If people thought the 2007 iteration of the Venom character seen in Spider-Man 3 was bad, then just wait until they get a load of this one. Not even A-list star Tom Hardy, playing the host of a liquid-like form, is enough to save this new version of the character. Lazy, tone deaf, and laughable on just about every front, Venom isn’t a bad movie because it’s so bad it’s good, or that it feels like a movie from the early 2000’s, or that it’s rated PG-13 instead of R. It’s a bad movie because it’s just bad in every way, shape, and form.
First it was Gaynor and March (1937). Next it was Garland and Mason (1954). Then it was Streisand and Kristofferson (1976). Now, we have Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the latest version of A Star is Born. Read more
Disney’s trend of reimagining (or remaking) animated classics into live action movies continues with Christopher Robin, which reunites the once imaginative boy as an adult with his friends from Hundred Acre Wood. In recent years, the mouse house (Disney) has focused on these live-action reimaginings instead of creating original movies. While the majority of these efforts have been successful and entertaining, honestly, something has been missing from all of them. After viewing Christopher Robin, it’s apparent that the earlier remakes have been missing a sense of purpose. This is not the case with Christopher Robin. As warm and delightful as the “hunny” Pooh always thinks about, Christopher Robin teaches a valuable lesson that resonates with both adults and children.
The fact that a superhero movie about a man given a suit that makes him the size of an ant and allows him to control ants made its way to the cineplex three years ago still amazes me. The finished product of Ant-Man was surprising, as it gave us a likeable superhero in Scott Lang (played greatly by Paul Rudd) and something a little different (in a good way) for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Fast forward three years and now we have its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is one of the best sequels to follow an MCU superhero’s first solo outing. On par with its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp is another good entry in the MCU, thanks to its small-scale stakes (ha), action, humor, and most importantly Evangeline Lilly, who ultimately takes the reigns of the movie as the Wasp.
Three years after the smashing success of Jurassic World (the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes audiences back to Isla Nublar for another popcorn blockbuster adventure featuring everyone’s favorite group of reptile offerings. But unlike Jurassic World where we saw mostly one dinosaur creating most of the mayhem on the island, Fallen Kingdom takes audiences back to the island where new dangers arise not only from the dinosaurs, but also from other parties. As the story plays out, it becomes obvious that Fallen Kingdom serves as a reinvention of the franchise. But luckily, the end results are roaring, which make it superior to its predecessor and take the franchise in a bold, new direction. Credit for that goes to director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage), who delivers another fun-filled dinosaur adventure full of dazzling action and nightmarish scares that make Fallen Kingdom the best Jurassic Park movie since the original.
If there’s one sequel audiences have been clamoring for years, it’s one for 2004’s The Incredibles. Regarded as one of Pixar’s best films, it was met with high praise for its animation, story, and cast of memorable superheroes; it also happened to come out before the current, golden age of film superheroes. Fast forward 14 years (and the release of a behemoth of superhero movies) and the Incredibles are back in action. With a wait this long and anticipation growing with every passing year, the expectations for director Brad Bird and company to deliver another memorable animated film about everyone’s favorite superhero family were astronomically high. Thankfully however, Incredibles 2 meets expectations and is almost on par with its predecessor, becoming one of the best sequels, both animated and superhero, to come out in recent memory.
The famed smuggler, scoundrel and hero Han Solo once said long ago in a galaxy far away to, “Never tell me the odds.” I can only imagine that was the same thing director Ron Howard kept telling himself when he was brought on board for Solo: A Star Wars Story after Lucasfilm fired directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who had almost finished shooting the entire movie when Howard replaced them. With less than a year until the movie’s release and nearly three quarters of the movie scraped and needing reshoots, the task to deliver another entertaining (and successful) Star Wars movie seemed daunting. However, with veteran and acclaimed director Ron Howard steering the ship (or Millennium Falcon, in this case), the latest standalone Star Wars project is another mostly entertaining entry in the intergalactic saga. While Solo is far from perfect, this origin story about the original space cowboy is full of fun moments for both new and older audiences looking to whet their appetite during summer blockbuster season.
Ten years and 18 movies later have led to Avengers: Infinity War, the movie that changes everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And with Thanos, the evil-lurking presence teased over the years in various MCU films, finally coming out from the shadows, the significant ramifications viewers will witness at the hands of the intergalactic despot in Infinity War are sure to cause a stir of emotion with fans who have followed these superheroes over the last decade. When you bring together the original Avengers mixed with new Avengers (Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man) and the Guardians of the Galaxy to take down the biggest threat the universe has ever seen, on paper, it might feel a little overwhelming to pack this many superheroes into one two and a half hour movie. However, with the Russo Brothers, the directing duo behind the two best movies in the MCU (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War), overseeing the biggest ever ensemble of superheroes assembled on screen, rest assured they manage to give balance to all these characters we have come to know for the entire duration of Infinity War. The result is equally thrilling, captivating, emotional, and, not so shockingly, epic all at once.
One could make the argument that Blumhouse is the hottest production company in Hollywood these days. Coming closely on the heels of three huge hits including Split, Get Out, and Happy Death Day, Blumhouse certainly has struck chord with audiences seeking mayhem and horror over the last year. And later this year, they plan to release a sequel to Halloween, which is one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time. All of that being said, however, production companies are not perfect and are expected to have blunders: Case in point with Truth or Dare, the latest horror movie from Blumhouse. Unfortunately, Truth or Dare is one of the company’s most forgettable titles to date and fumbles a great concept, and the result in a silly, PG-13 rated melodrama horror audiences are likely to forget within hours of seeing it.
No one in Hollywood has crafted more memorable blockbusters than Steven Spielberg, the most famous director the world has ever seen. And while Spielberg has strayed from the familiar path in recent years and focused more so on dramas, Ready Player One is right in his wheelhouse. Ready Player One’s storytelling and character development do not reach levels high enough for those looking for some kind of depth in this 140-minute virtual reality journey. But when it comes to the movie’s action sequences and visual effects, Spielberg delivers to the max in spectacular fashion, which should please both regular movie goers and fans of 80s pop culture familiar with characters from movies, television, and video games over the years. Of course, Ready Player One plays out just like a video game, but that’s what makes it such an entertaining blockbuster and more of what we have come to love about Spielberg in years past; he transports audiences to new, exciting worlds we’d love to be part of. And with this ridiculous, filled-to-the-brim nostalgic blast, he’s done it again.