A group of elite warriors parachute into an unfamiliar jungle and are hunted by members of a merciless alien race. (IMDb)
Sure, the self-serious expository dialogue is a little contrived and cheesy at points (lots of “what’s going on?!”) but when the actual plot is written and directed as well as it is, you can let it slide. Right from the opening pre-title plunge, the unraveling mystery and monster-suspense–while nothing groundbreaking–is presented appreciably well (acting, cinematography, and music are all solid). The first character twist is a good one, but the last one isn’t (where was the motivation?).
Katniss and a team of rebels from District 13 prepare for the final battle that will decide the future of Panem. (IMDb)
A perfect continuation of the devastating commentary on war from Part 1: uneasy scenes of sinister battle plans and shady propaganda politics intertwine with suspenseful ones of terrifying, exhausting, fruitless warfare (see Katniss’ response to her brief captor) to lead to a fitting anti-climax; there is no joy in victory, only lingering suspicion and pain and further violence simmering beneath the surface (slightly cheesy final scene aside). A satisfying conclusion to a dark dystopian tale.
A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. (IMDb)
The film’s attempts to address racial issues are flimsy, formulaic, and awkward, but when it focuses on the positively hilarious and often heartwarming odd couple dynamic of the crass but warm blue-collar Tony and the classy yet aloof Dr. Shirley, it succeeds (see the chicken-eating, letter-writing), though considering Tony’s relatively flat arc, the latter should’ve been the lead (see his speech on identity in the rain and hints of a troubled backstory that receive no further treatment).
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.