Jupiter Ascending (2015)

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In a universe where human genetic material is the most precious commodity, an impoverished young Earth woman becomes the key to strategic maneuvers and internal strife within a powerful dynasty. (Letterboxd)
The self-discovery journey has a passive and bland protagonist, the space politics plot is interesting but confusing, and the shallow romantic arc feels purely obligatory. Nothing works, and the serious tone, poor dialogue (“I love dogs”), and mediocre turns and VFX don’t help. With the ending repeat of Jupiter’s life on earth I almost forgave it all as a weird character growth metaphor, but then wolf-man boyfriend comes zooming in again on his sky skates and he’s grown wings now and.. yeah.
4/10 (Bad)

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. (IMDb)
It’s a dialogue-heavy courtroom drama with all the humour, high-stakes intensity, and fiery one-liners (“What’s your price?” “My life”) of an action film. The script and editing masterfully ramp up the pre-, during-, and post-protest tension simultaneously (adding in Abbie’s stand-up was a cool touch) and the cast is excellent (Rylance and Cohen are standouts). The prominence then disappearance of Seale’s poignant sub-plot is the only real misstep here (the ending is schmaltzy but effective).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

Early Man (2018)

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Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home. (IMDb)
The underdog sports plot couldn’t be any more generic or uninspired; fortunately, there’s enough enjoyable humour smattered throughout to keep you engaged regardless, including plenty of silly slapstick (the delightful claymation makes it even better), groaner puns (i.e. Early-Man-United), and goofy one-liners (“Sliced bread? That’s the best thing since, well, ever!”), made all the better by the charming British voice work (the banter between the dim cavepeople is consistently funny).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

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The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. (IMDb)
Lots to like here, with a few concessions, in the characters (the meek and kind-hearted Newt and the fun Kowalski with a nice character arc are great, but Grindewald’s motivations needed more fleshing out); the plot (a nuanced take on good vs. evil–every party has both–is hindered by too many loose threads and a dragged-out ending); the themes (those on politics and environmental care are intriguing but surface-y); and the directing (the music and sets are excellent but the CGI is a bit much).
7/10 (Good)