Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

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Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. (IMDb)
A bit of a scattered sequel, with some promising new elements not fully realized (the Endgame aftermath and emotion isn’t committed to; the initially intriguing villain is sloppily developed-see the ham-fisted exposition at the bar). The awesome action and sly commentary on superhero sci-fi and spectacle (“nowadays they’ll believe anything”) that come with the twist are great though, as is the continuation of the coming-of-age comedy and plot from its predecessor (see the bridge awkwardness).
7/10 (Good)

 

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

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Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé Amidala, while Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates an assassination attempt on the senator and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi. (IMDb)
Dare I say it starts off with almost cool neo-noir vibes? It ain’t no Blade Runner but the mystery plot, dark city setting, and moody Anakin make for a compelling first act (dated SFX aside, that city chase was great–and the Jedi duo generate surprising humour). The rest is solid as it sticks with a straight forward dual-narrative following Obi’s investigation and angsty Annie’s relational drama. Gets cheesy as it goes on (and on–it’s too long) but it’s fun (see C3P0’s head gag).
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)

 

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)

 

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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After the Vietnam war, a team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. (IMDb)
Nails that classic adventure movie-feel with its anticipation-building, crew-collecting first act, the dual-jungle trip suspense of the second, and awesome monster action that culminates in a wild third act. The cool aesthetic with its clever scene cuts, slow motion, and classic rock soundtrack only ups the fun factor. The characters are one-note but they’re all you need for this kind of romp (though the surprisingly touching end credits with Reilly’s hilarious Marlow adds a nice bonus arc).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Captain Marvel (2019)

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Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. (IMDb)
Its CGI is just okay and it’s a little awkwardly scripted at times but its great humour, story, and lead sweep these concerns to the side. A truly surprising perspective shift along with a few Marvel-ous moments of self-actualization (see the tear-jerking “get back up” montage; “you guys have just been holding me back!”) are the highlights of a layered, emotional journey of discovery through past and present (with hints of the MCU future of course) with Carol and her enjoyably dry wit.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

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)

 

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

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John McClane and a Harlem store owner are targeted by German terrorist Simon Gruber in New York City, where he plans to rob the Federal Reserve Building. (IMDb)
Darker than ever, thanks to some super high stakes (see the school bomb) and what feels like the biggest and bloodiest bad guy body count yet. The former offers some great moments of drama (see the “fire drill” at the school) but the latter makes it a little harder to swallow the triumphant “let him burn” and “yippie-kai-yay” at the end. For the most part though, Willis’ dry wit (“attention! Nils is dead!”) and action heroics continue to entertain, and Jackson proves to be an enjoyable sidekick.
7/10 (Good)

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans. (IMDb)

Another healthy dose of enormous and entertaining action make this a fun film to watch in spite of its mostly lazy writing (see Wanda and Pietro’s weak antagonist motivations–and Ultron’s, for that matter–and correspondingly cheap turn; the half-baked Hawkeye development; the far-fetched and only vaguely explained bad guy antics), with the aid of one well-timed bit of self-awareness: “The city’s flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”

6.7/10

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier. (IMDb)
Certainly more ambitious than the original, though not perfect: The titular character is given hints of nuance (“What makes you happy?” “I don’t know”), as is the mysterious Fury (finally) but both remain underdeveloped; The Winter Soldier is a formidable opponent and the SHIELD internal drama adds some complexity to the antagonism, but both the villain reveal and the Hydra twist feel far-fetched and a little dumb. Above criticism though, is the fantastic action choreography found throughout.
7/10 (Good)