Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Wish it had stuck with the opening credits’ simple cheesy fun formula of 80s music and jets flying around at sunset because other stuff like the dialogue (that opening bar scene introducing the aviators is excruciatingly long) and the romance (just, who cares?) is not done very well and interrupts any good flow garnered by the training sequences. That said, the emotion- and action-packed third act (“What were you thinking?” “You told me *not* to think!”) is pretty perfect with a Porsche on top.
6

The Lost Daughter (2021)

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A uniquely unsettling character study, leaning hard into its leads’ imperfections, inscrutability, and feelings of fear, pain, regret, and parental ennui in past-present parallel examinations of motherhood, helped by terrific performances, good editing, an enigmatic soundtrack, and in-their-face cinematography. Could have benefited from a tighter focus (Lyle and the Greek gang felt a bit unnecessary to the thrust of the film) and a less easy and orange-y final scene. Cool titles after though.
7

Geostorm (2017)

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When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate starts to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock for its creator to uncover the real threat before a worldwide Geostorm wipes out everything and everyone. (IMDb)
Sloppy plotting (turns out hacking into the White House secret files is a breeze), mediocre CGI, awfully cheesy dialogue and narration, but so help me, I’m a sucker for these globe-hopping movies with intense place title cards (HONG KONG. 9:32AM) that pop up every two minutes at the bottom of the screen. A dose of political thrills adds some pointed suspense to the jumbo disaster action, and the tension released in the final act shows the film was decently effective even if poorly crafted.
5.5/10 (Poor)

The Truman Show (1998)

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An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a T.V. show. (IMDb)
A compelling intro here (with the beginning of a great score) sets up a fascinating premise and an instantly endearing lead: A man born into a TV show, unknowingly living a fabricated life. His journey of self-discovery is as tragic as it is thrilling, as his whole world turns against him in his attempts to escape, and while the plot is not without its holes (like a lack of moral questioning), it has more than enough affecting moments (“The last thing I would ever do…”) to make up for them.
8/10 (Great)

Stepmom (1998)

A terminally ill mother has to settle on the new woman in her former husband’s life who will be their stepmother. (IMDb)
The script here naturally picks up steam as it goes along, with its refreshingly realistic storyline that discards the typical rising conflict to happy ending type of thread for an up and down one that resolves conflicts only to bring new ones in after. Roberts and Sarandon are both excellent in their roles, and the kids are enjoyable as well in this heartfelt divorce/step-parent drama that manages to avoid getting sappy or melodramatic, thanks to its authentic storytelling.
7.5/10 (Really Good)