Air Force One (1997)

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Communist Radicals hijack Air Force One with The U.S. President and his family on board. The Vice President negotiates from Washington D.C., while the President, a Veteran, fights to rescue the hostages on board. (IMDb)
Fairly generic America-centric terrorist-thriller with a foreign villain who actually makes some good points, but they’re literally never acknowledged by the person he’s talking to (the surprisingly poignant moral self-examination of the President’s opening speech disappears from the script quite quickly). Still, the limited claustrophobic setting contributes to a number of suspenseful hide-and-seek sequences, and the action’s decent even if the visual effects are pretty cringe-worthy.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

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Three decades after the Empire’s defeat, a new threat arises in the militant First Order. Stormtrooper defector Finn and the scavenger Rey are caught up in the Resistance’s search for the missing Luke Skywalker. (IMDb)
Self-sufficient Rey (“I know how to run without you holding my hand!”), nervous and naive Finn (“Stay calm” “I am calm” “I’m talking to myself”), and moody Kylo Ren (“I’m being torn apart”) make up a fresh and engaging trio of central characters (Poe was excellent too, just needed more screen time) that carry the film in spite of the weak plot and sometimes wooden returning characters. Great action, good pace, and surprisingly funny (“How do we blow it up? There’s always a way to do that”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years. (IMDb)
If I was rating individual scenes, this would have a bunch of 10/10s, no question, thanks to some incredible visuals, sounds, turns, and Villeneuve’s impeccable sense of tension and atmosphere (see the opening search, the horse discovery, Joshi vs. Luv, K and dreammaker Dr. Ana, the stunning final fight). Unfortunately, Leto’s cliche villain and Deckard’s return make for a less compelling and more tangential-feeling third act, at least plot and character-wise, keeping the film from perfection.
8/10 (Great)

 

Blade Runner (1982)

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A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator. (IMDb)
The slow pace is welcome when we’re cruising through the moody city setting accompanied by that unnerving synth soundtrack, but much less so when it comes to the dry plot in between (especially that “romantic” aside cringe-worthy both for its cheese and rape-y vibes). The fantastic rooftop scene that switches up the typical bad vs. good climax (“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain”), along with the tantalizing scene that follows make for a stellar ending, however.
7/10 (Good)

 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

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Famed archaeologist/adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. (IMDb)
A classic straightaway action sequence is followed by a great plot set-up that introduces an enjoyable new sidekick (LaBeouf’s greaser) while offering some rambunctious initial fun (see the bar escape; motorcycle chase; Ford’s library one-liner) in a glossed-up 50s Americana setting. The adventure only gets amped up from there, but obvious CGI often brings it down (see the jungle sequence), and the increasingly ridiculous sci-fi plot certainly doesn’t help matters. Still an entertaining watch.
7/10 (Good)

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

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After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force. (IMDb)
A rambunctiously fun reunion and escape sequence starts things off well, but the fresh forest setting of Endor to follow brings with it some bad green-screened flying scenes (but a decent battle later), a campy captured-by-natives tangent (the Ewoks do have their charm though), and consistently wooden dialogue. Luke’s climactic confrontation with Vader and the Emperor, meanwhile, is overly simplistic and repetitive (“Join the dark side, feel the hate”; “No, I won’t fight”; fight, stop, etc.).
6.5/10 (Alright)

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke. (IMDb)
Though there are more and better action sequences this time around (and a complimentary slow-paced storyline with the odd couple of Yoda and Luke), most of the characters start to feel a little stale (Han and Leia’s budding romance doesn’t do much to spice things up), Luke and Vader aside, as their passionate natures emerge and converge in their surprisingly personal climactic clash. An early contrivance (see Ben’s ethereal directive to Luke) is made up for by the intriguingly uncertain ending.
7/10 (Good)

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

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Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (IMDb)
Dated special effects, occasional over-acting (see Hamill and Fisher), and a cheesy ending are overcome by a classically engaging good vs. evil story set in an imaginative universe that smartly starts in media res and is filled with a colourful and complimentary cast of characters: The angsty young Luke and wise old Obi-Wan; the cocky Han Solo and equally headstrong Leia; the uptight C3PO and brave R2D2 (who, along with the charming Chewbacca are remarkably relatable for being unintelligible).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

The Age of Adaline (2015)

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A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After many solitary years, she meets a man who complicates the eternal life she has settled into. (IMDb)
The narration that bookends the film gives it a cozy, fairy-tale feel (although the science is a bit much) with Adaline–an ancient woman in a young body, played to refined perfection by Lively–a fitting protagonist: Eternally beautiful and wise, yet sad and lonely. The logistics of her long life are breezed over, but the relational implications are richly explored, most notably in the striking third act as her secret is revealed to both a past and a present lover in whirlwind of emotions.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

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When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father’s footsteps and stop the Nazis. (IMDb)
The Grail-quest plot adds a decent dollop of tempered intrigue to the still stellar fast-paced action antics, giving the film a more mature tone than its wacky and wild predecessor, while the opening glimpse into Indy’s childhood and the introduction of his father (their constant bickering and brains vs. brawn dynamic are hilarious–see Connery’s silent look during their motorcycle escape) add some welcome character depth as well as some great humour that goes beyond just one-liners.
8/10 (Great)