The Incredibles (2004)

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A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world. (IMDb)
The bad: for some reason the exaggerated animated bodies rubbed me the wrong way this time around (see Mirage’s literal stick figure), and the return to superhero-ism seemed much too smooth and welcome given the fall-out to open the film. The good: pretty much everything else; the comedy’s solid (efficient Edna’s a hoot) and the action is top-notch, with the central family under study giving it a strong emotional element (the helicopter flight with Mom and kids is the best scene of the film).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

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The Hustler (1961)

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An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match. (IMDb)
A sports movie that doesn’t end but begins with the big game, and one in which the protagonist loses, at that, setting off a somber character study headed by Newman’s strong central turn. Claustrophobic, smoke-filled indoor settings and black and white cinematography help set the melodramatic mood, while endless quotable monologues (“Eddie, you’re a born loser”) carry the film along. Some of the emotional peaks feel a little unfounded though (the late death could’ve been foreshadowed more).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

The French Connection (1971)

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A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection. (IMDb)
A hard-boiled NYC cop thriller that’s a little dry–especially in the beginning–but has a second half that’s loaded with patiently crafted scenes brimming with tension (see the subway station battle of wits, wild car chase, car dismantling drug search). Hackman’s brash and bold Doyle, meanwhile, is the perfect protagonist for the gritty urban setting. The ending leaves something to be desired though, with its anticlimactic “gotcha” moment (you’d think the cops could’ve planned that better).
7/10 (Good)

 

Deadpool 2 (2018)

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Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling cyborg, Cable. (IMDb)
The distasteful opening mercenary montage makes for a poor start, but then tragedy strikes, sans punchline, and sets off a tonally wild (compare the gruesomely uproarious botched landing with Wade’s lengthy emotional vision) but always potent film that never feels disjointed: the boldness of the risque humour is now shared with the drama, to great results. Deadpool is as wisecracking as ever (Cable’s a perfect straight-man for him) but now he’s been smartly surrounded by an engaging story.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

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)

 

22 Jump Street (2014)

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After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college. (IMDb)
Maybe it’s just because I watched it right after the first, but despite all its sequel-satirical nods (the opening address change and ending credits were hilarious), and perhaps because of them in some cases (the “exact same thing as last time” line felt overused) it didn’t feel quite as fresh. Fortunately, Hill and Tatum’s continued chemistry is more than enough to keep you engaged (see their counselling session), helped too by some quirky new characters (Bell’s deadpan dame is a riot).
7/10 (Good)

 

21 Jump Street (2012)

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A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring. (IMDb)
Takes an already funny buddy cop comedy (Hill and Tatum have excellent chemistry–see their bungled opening arrest, tearful final triumph) and goofy high school flick (jock Jenko with the nerds is a highlight thread) and adds a thick layer of sharp satire to the tropes from both (see the millennial update of high school), and even to itself as a film (“37 Jump St… No, that doesn’t sound right”), making for a wholly entertaining experience from its 2000s flashback beginning to “Die Hard” end.
8/10 (Great)