Onward (2020)

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Two elven brothers embark on a quest to bring their father back for one day. (IMDb)
Hits a lot of the familiar road trip story beats but the Americana x magical fantasy setting is a unique one (gorgeously animated) and provides a good share of memorable moments (most notably Guinevere’s heroism that had me in tears). The real gem of the film though is the last act featuring good ol’ (dragon-conquering) Mom and a completely unexpected, incredible, beautiful, heart-wrenching emotional climax (not the sweet but on-the-nose journal writing flashbacks but the silent view from afar).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Jurassic World (2015)

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A new theme park, built on the original site of Jurassic Park, creates a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, which escapes containment and goes on a killing spree. (IMDb)
I’m sure the anti-“bigger and better” thematic thread was more hypocritical than cleverly self-referential, but I appreciated it all the same (Owen has a great-and surprisingly lengthy-early back-and-forth with Hoskins: “Progress always wins” “Maybe progress should lose for once”), and so help me, despite some plot contrivances, I loved the bigger, darker dino-action (see the bird snatch) and the badass final bite. It’s decently funny too (see Lowery and his failed aftermath-kiss attempt).
7/10 (Good)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

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When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. (IMDb)
The first half contains some really great sequences; the volcano adds an exciting natural-disaster element to the dino action (see the unique sound editing of the underwater drama) and the snarky Zia and fearful Franklin are welcome additions to the cast of characters. It really starts to tire in the predictable second half though, when we’re mostly left with the two bland leads, a cliche villain, and an unexceptional big bad dino. The underlying dino-rights thread never really works either.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. (IMDb)
Thanos’ villain still felt a little familiar with his twisted “for the greater good” motive, but he remained an intimidating presence-a good match for the huge cast of heroes which is balanced remarkably well throughout and contributes to plenty of amazing moments both of comedy (see Thor meeting the Guardians) and action (see the Titan attack; Thor’s arrival in Wakanda). With all the superpowers going around some snags in the plot arise but its massive stakes and solid execution overwhelm them.
8/10 (Great)

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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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)

The Lego Movie (2014)

An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied ‘Special’, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis. (IMDb)
A quick-witted script loaded with hilarious dialogue and one-liners is executed perfectly by a stacked and perfectly cast voice line-up playing a diverse set of wacky characters. Self-aware Lego-humour and wild animated action round out this awesome aesthetic for a story that’s simple but strong in its message about creativity, social conformity, and self-worth, particularly in its unique and startlingly beautiful conclusion that shifts the movie from good fun to a great film.
8/10 (Great)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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)