The full-circle final scene of this moody morality tale doesn’t fully repair the separation between the first act and the rest, and there are other script stumbles too (see the Carlisle-carny tension that goes nowhere), but every piece compels in spite of the whole; the cinematography and design is showstopping, the cast’s got panache a-plenty, and the violence and deception is shut-eye(s) thrilling (“When a man believes his own lies… people get hurt… And when the lies end, there it is”).
A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. (IMDb)
The songs are great, but the “star is born” plot is so cheesy it feels like it was written by a 12-year old (“so he heard me sing my song and then invited me on his private jet and i toured with him and got a record deal and won a grammy…”)–and same with the cliche “controlling manager” thread that isn’t even committed to. Jackson’s arc comes to a poignant end and is compelling when taken on its own, but not so much when the film keeps misogynistically glossing over it in favour of romance.
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. (IMDb)
A patient, layered narrative does a remarkable job at developing our beloved characters (though some arcs are better than others: Rocket, Yondu, and the touching epilogue > the crazy sisters). Add in shiploads of comedy (not all of it lands, but Drax is always a delight) and this sequel’s almost more like a quirky dramedy set in a colourful 80s-tinged space setting than a superhero flick at times (standard “blow it up” climax aside), which is refreshing–as is the more subtly sinister villain.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
A guy challenges himself to say “yes” to everything for an entire year. (IMDb)
The central motif is well developed, as Carrey’s charming Carl moves from melancholy conservatism to inspiring free-spirited-ness before a well-placed stick in the spokes adds nuance to the message (see the “no” in his ex’s apartment). The romance narrative isn’t as impressive; it’s formulaic, with a predictable fall out (the FBI twist that instigates it also seems far fetched), though Carrey and Deschanel have decent chemistry. Darby’s hilariously nerdy Norman is a notable supporting character.
Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding. (IMDb)
The “what happened last night?” premise here provides a uniquely engaging and mystery-tinged plot–along with plenty of hilarious “WTF” moments (naked guy in the trunk, tiger in the bathroom, baby in the closet)–for what is in its slowest moments just a seen-before raunchy comedy with hit-or-miss humour. When things are at their most chaotic is when the film is at its best, so the ending is a bit of a come-down (especially the “here’s what happened” credit pics) but it’s still a fun ride.
A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe. (IMDb)
A fun and eclectic superhero movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Humour pops up in the most dramatic of moments, and an awesome retro soundtrack delights as it contrasts with the slick futuristic galactic setting. The five distinct guardians form a gang of outcasts that are easy to root for in what is admittedly a typical and lackluster “stop the bad guy, save the world” type adventure story. Standard plot-line aside, this is an entertaining flick with even an emotional moment or two.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective. (IMDb)
A gripping three-part crime drama that deftly follows a multi-generational set of characters through their respective lives as they connect in startling and moving ways. Morality, family, and revenge are just a few of the complex themes expertly explored in the rich script that’s phenomenally acted out by a stacked cast. Add in a wonderfully-crafted soundtrack and beautiful cinematography and you have an amazing and epic film that gives the cops and robbers premise astonishing emotional depth.