Peter Rabbit (2018)

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Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden. (IMDb)
I mean, Peter and co. are just kind of obnoxious (the incessant peppy pop-song soundtrack underneath all their escapades doesn’t help). I was legitimately a little concerned for a while there that Peter’s escalating actions would go unchecked and even praised by the film. It didn’t happen, fortunately, but I still would’ve preferred a film focused on the ultimately tragic McGregor and his interesting relationship with Bea instead of the mostly annoying lead rabbit (only a few of his jokes land).
5/10 (Poor)

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

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In the 1970s and ’80s, National Lampoon’s success and influence creates a new media empire overseen in part by the brilliant and troubled Doug Kenney. (IMDb)
I guess it was just his personality, but the modern-Doug narrative device (his words, to the film’s credit) unfortunately tends to laugh off some of the more disturbing elements of his rise to fame (namely death, drugs, and sexism). Still, it’s one of a few fun bits that add some freshness to what is mostly a formulaic (though funny) biopic. Forte and Gleeson are great (with a shout-out to McHale’s on-point Chevy) and an effectively emotional final scene is a testament to their character work.
7/10 (Good)

 

The Revenant (2015)

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A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. (IMDb)
An immaculate cinematic experience; gorgeous forested landscapes and their well-worn inhabitants are captured in spectacular natural light and with as much gritty detail as breathtaking breadth. Swelling strings and impeccable action-camerawork add further flair. DiCaprio’s committed turn drives forward a brutal and bloody survival/revenge plot that fits its severe setting like a glove with its stark visceral simplicity, while Hardy and co. offer strong support in their own secondary narrative.
9/10 (Amazing)

Ex Machina (2014)

A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking female A.I. (IMDb)
The gorgeous and isolated setting here is mesmerizing, and the contrast between the largely windowless indoors and lush outdoors offers a cool visual aid to the human vs. machine theme that runs throughout. Isaac and the other leads are excellent, and the eerie soundtrack works well with a tight story that gets darker with each scene to create a fantastic sense of growing uneasiness that does falter a bit in a slightly muddled climax. All told, however, this is a great, haunting sci-fi thriller.
8.5/10 (Amazing)