Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

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After the highs of winning the world championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren’t job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time.(Letterboxd)
The unexpected intro with “Toxic” followed by a big action movie “jump away from explosion” sequence is pretty fun, but the flashback story that follows mostly disappoints, with forced backstories (see dad issues x2), tired retreads of old plot lines (“It has to be a competition!”), and constant fishing for new filler (see the barely there romance and Bella baby). Amy’s still funny and the music’s still good though, so it remains decently engaging through to the nice wrap-up ending.
6/10 (Mediocre)

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

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After being humiliated in front of none other than the President of the United States of America, the Bellas are taken out of the Aca-Circuit. In order to clear their name, and regain their status, the Bellas take on a seemingly impossible task: winning an international competition no American team has ever won. (Letterboxd)
What the fuck’s up with the expository announcers? Asshole John is only countered by supposed straight-counterpart Gail half the time, so we’re left with a lot of just straight up offensive jokes in addition to the already strange amount of cultural stereotypes and fat phobia. The core of the film, fortunately, is just friendship, music, and montages, and it somehow manages to transcend its surface cheese to reach some pretty beautiful places (see the found sound around the fire, final song).
6.5/10 (Alright)

Bumblebee (2018)

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. On the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, Charlie Watson discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. (IMDb)
An endearing, multi-faceted lead (complete with emotional coming-of-age arc–see the big dive–and awkward and sweet summer crush), an unlikely friendship, a simple plot, cheesy alien robots, a charming 80s setting (the many song breaks are great), and classic Americana side characters (cue geeky stepdad named Ron and sniveling younger brother) all add up to a great family movie night movie, equal parts corny and cool and always fun. Cena’s Agent Burns never quite clicks with it though.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother. (IMDb)
Has the typical authentic charm (and cliches–see the nice guy vs. bad boy dynamic) of other good films in the Western coming-of-age genre, with Steinfeld a sterling lead. The third act flirts with greatness with hints of deeper character examinations (see Nadine at Mr. Bruner’s house; Darian’s doorstep speech; the beautiful hallway vulnerability) that could’ve gone a bit further (the ending is a bit too happy and easy considering Nadine’s stark confession of real depression the night before).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

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Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. (IMDb)
Despite its meta, self-aware take on the hero origin story it still feels a little too familiar by the classic big-explosion end (a different use of the shoulder-tap with the tragic villain would’ve helped). That said, it nails its humour and pace (though the Uncle Aaron twist is under-explained), and Miles is a refreshing lead for the old coming-of-age arc. More significant than anything though, is the fantastic animation (the action sequences are amazing) and unique comic book-esque flair.
8/10 (Great)

 

True Grit (2010)

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A stubborn teenager enlists the help of a tough U.S. Marshal to track down her father’s murderer. (IMDb)
Beautiful bleak landscapes, memorable old English banter between a bevy of colourful characters, and a straight-forward engaging adventure plot (with admittedly unnecessary flash-forward bookends) are topped off with a simple piano theme and crossfade scene transitions. Throw in some gunfights, horse riding, and beans cooked over a fire and you have the perfect Western, with the fiery Mattie (loved that water-crossing scene) adding just the right amount of new spice as the atypical protagonist.
8/10 (Great)

 

Begin Again (2013)

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A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents. (IMDb)
The slightly awkward camerawork, editing, and acting at first feel a little amateurish but quickly grow on you as the two main characters (of strikingly moving backstories) are developed (the unique flashback format is excellent), giving the film an invigorating down-to-earth, natural feel that’s perfect for its sweet streets of New York-set script about music and relationships. It gets a tad cheesy at points but mostly stays fresh, inspiring, and enjoyable–particularly for the music lover.
7.5/10 (Really Good)