Toy Story 4 (2019)

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When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy. (IMDb)
It’s not unnecessary, with its expanded universe, deeper themes, and bevy of fun new (or just newly developed–badass Han Solo-esque Bo is great) characters, but it does feel a little detached from its three predecessors with no strong central plot thread or thematic thrust and the usual gang sadly neglected (which makes the emotional climax a little underwhelming). Slightly unmet expectations aside, it’s still very fun (the action set pieces are great), very funny, and very well-animated.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

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Dr. No (1962)

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A resourceful British government agent seeks answers in a case involving the disappearance of a colleague and the disruption of the American space program. (IMDb)
A pleasantly paced detective/spy drama. Bond’s predictable womanizing is eye-rolling but fortunately his cool and collected investigative work in the missing-person mystery takes center stage (“One takes cyanide, another would’ve stood for her arm being broken, neither would talk. Who puts that sort of scare into people?”). Bond’s climactic convo with Dr. No is no cinematic slouch but the control-center action sequence to follow feels a little silly and the stakes aren’t made clear.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

The Terminator (1984)

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A seemingly indestructible robot is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a young waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against sentient machines, while a human soldier from the same war is sent to protect her at all costs. (IMDb)
A time travel twist, a garish synth soundtrack, and a (literally) robotic Arnold with one-liners galore (see his choice from the “possible responses” to the cleaner) add just the right amount of retro-futuristic flair to an easily engaging chase-thriller. The special effects are pretty dated (see the stop motion robot; fake horizon at the end) but that doesn’t mean the climactic fight isn’t great or the open-ended epilogue isn’t supremely satisfying (“…there’s a storm coming in” “I know”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

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The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. (IMDb)
The massive scope of the worldwide adventure plot and the monster lot is great and it’s pretty cool rooting for Godzilla as the film’s superhero of sorts–a reclusive and proud personality taking on all the big bads even when he seems down and out. The human side of things is a harder to engage; props for effort but the family drama is a bit convoluted, the environmental discussion is one and done, and overall it bloats the film. Dr. Serizawa’s emotional monster moment was a nice touch though.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

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Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their old glory. (IMDb)
The core here is solid: one part engaging political power-games plot, one part planet-hopping adventure (loved the journey underwater: “There’s always a bigger fish”) with some moments of intrigue on the side (see the princess twist, Jedi council debate on the kid, the mysterious menace). Its often distasteful decoration (sorry Jar-Jar, you’re just a bit much; annoying Anakin isn’t helped by the script: “I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick!”) weakens it but overall it’s still enjoyable.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Booksmart (2019)

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On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night. (IMDb)
Feels a little contrived as it sets itself up but the payoff is well worth it: the oddball central duo have great chemistry (see their mutual flattering outside the party) and the rest of the diverse character ensemble all have their moments and even arcs (see Jared’s tear-jerking vulnerability). Good writing is made even better by stellar direction: Wilde’s theatrical flair (see the ceremony entrance) and excellent use of music perfectly capture the extreme drama and emotion of teen life.
8/10 (Great)

 

Unicorn Store (2017)

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A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams. (IMDb)
A little unevenly constructed at points, and at others a bit too on the nose (horn?), but like quirky Kit and her krafty kaboodle, it’s mostly just wonderfully, colourfully odd, humourous, and heartwarming (see the fantastic vac presentation with her adorable two sidekicks), with an interesting ending that adds some nuance to the creativity/individuality/child-like-ness vs. conformity/uniformity/grown-up-ness theme throughout. Larson and Athie have lovely chemistry and the music’s great too.
7/10 (Good)