Incredibles 2 (2018)

incredibles 2 poster

Fourteen years after the first movie – beloved by many, although I was just “Yeah, that was fun” (and as such am a bit hazy on the details!) – the Parr family are back. Even more in hiding than the first film, things are not going so well for them, until a billionaire tycoon throws his money behind a scheme to bring Supers back into legality. The only thing is, he wants Elastigirl aka mom Helen to be the face of the campaign, leaving Mr Incredible aka dad Bob, literally holding the baby.

The gender-switch roles is probably what brings this movie into reasonable modern times, and it’s pretty funny to watch Bob struggle and pretty ace to see the mother rekindling her sense of worth outside that role. From a cartoon. However, the real joy – for me, at least – was the scenes of baby Jack-Jack finally finding his powers, as teased in the post-credit scene from the original movie.

I also think Edna Mode is one of my all-time favourite animated characters, so was a little disappointed that she’s in this so briefly – with some fabulous scenes with Jack-Jack, though, so all is forgiven 🙂 Likewise, the Samuel L Jackson voiced Frozone could have been in it more for my liking.

Since the release of The Incredibles back in 2004, there has been an absolute explosion of superheroes at the cinema, in live action format. So, does Incredibles 2 still have a place? Well, yes: it was a lot of fun, and makes some relevant points without trying too hard. That said, there’s nothing desperately new or fresh about the story line, which doesn’t stray too far from the original overall. It must be impossible to come up with novel ideas for superpowers these days, too.

Overall this is a decent movie with plenty of fun to be had. The kids can love it, the grown ups can too, and it both stands alone and makes for a sequel that was actually worth making. Recommended.

Released: 13th July 2018
Viewed: 13th July 2018
Running time: 118 minutes
Rated: PG

My rating: 8/10

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

jurassic world 2 poster

With things going so badly wrong every time they do anything with Jurassic Park (1993 onwards), it’s not entirely surprising that the imminent destruction by volcano of Isla Nublar and all of its dinosaur inhabitants is met with something of, “Well, no bad thing?!” Series legend Jeff Goldblum even pops up briefly to tell everyone why it’s time to let the terrible lizards go back to extinction.

But, some don’t agree: aren’t these endangered animals just as worth saving as, say, pandas or elephants? Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) certainly thinks so, and with the help of John Hammond’s millionaire former partner (James Cromwell) sets off on a rescue mission. Of course, no one is going to be able to handle raptor Blue apart from her old handler, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), so better rope him in too.

To be honest, I wasn’t massively impressed with the predecessor to this, Jurassic World (2015), and thought that this sequel was likely to be absolutely awful. Perhaps going in with those low expectations helped, though, as this turned out to be a lot of fun! Some of the poor choices – gender roles, in particular – have been fixed a bit, so there’s certainly less to complain about.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s enough to be happy about: dinosaurs! Bigger, cleverer, eviler dinosaurs! Evil megalomaniacs! Plucky kid (actually, could always do without that…)! And Toby Jones doing something of a Trump impression, in hair and a-hole-ness, at least 😉

The ‘unique’ selling point here is taking the dinosaurs off the island and into more familiar settings. It sort of works, and allows for scenes of lava destruction that scared me more than the beasties, tbh! There’s also an ‘other’ plot thread, which I don’t want to spoil, but quite frankly was a bit over sign-posted and set up with great importance that didn’t really pay off. Get back to the dinosaurs, already!!

There are also a lot of points in the movie which I’m sure are meant as honorable nods to the first film and others, but while one or two might work, there were just a few too many repetitions.

Overall: as mindless popcorn fun, this was a lot better than I was expecting. I had too much fun to be too harsh with the scoring!

Released: 6th June 2018
Viewed: 3rd July 2018
Running time: 128 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 7/10

Ocean’s Eight (2018)

oceans eight poster

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has spent five years in prison planning her next job. The team she gathers includes a fab list of talent, from Cate Blanchett to Rihanna, Mindy Kaling to Helena Bonham Carter. Together, they’re going to steal the world’s most exclusive diamond necklace from around the neck of It-girl Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Ball.

There’s a bit of criticism around the whole idea of ‘gender switch’ reboots (see Ghostbusters) but for one, this is not a reboot – it’s a sequel, referencing George Clooney as Debbie’s brother Danny – and secondly: have you SEEN that cast list?! Putting these women in a movie together makes it worth watching, regardless!

The premise is much the same: a slow build heist movie, full of clever tricks and somehow a ‘moral’ that lets the criminals be the good-ish guys. There’s a giant serving of glamour, this time from New York’s biggest fashion event rather than Las Vegas. Layers of the con are slowly built up, culminating in… well, maybe not exactly what you might have been expecting!

I’d say I enjoyed Ocean’s Eight, rather than loved it. The cast was fabulous, but the story pay-off just a little less than thrilling. Which maybe wasn’t the point, as this is more of a nostalgic, comfortable kind of a movie, not an edge-of-the-seat thing. Still, it was only good and not great – but for plot and pacing reasons, not cast!! So fed up of hearing things like that: this is 2018, and it is FAB that we’ve finally got a movie with all the women centre stage. More, please!

Released: 18th June 2018
Viewed: 22nd June 2018
Running time: 110 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 7/10

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

solo poster

Han Solo: cool, suave, cheeky grin. Shoots first, knows you love him. Almost certainly the best character in Star Wars. And once did the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, don’t ya know?

I had mixed feelings about this film – going in, and coming out. I like the Star Wars universe, it’s got a lot going for it that we maybe haven’t seen the best of via the main movies. So sure, let’s have another story set here, where aliens and humans and droids and all sorts of things mingle on planets of every type not just deserts, honest. I’m not entirely sure it needed to be this story, though: did we really need that cool-guy mythos broken down and laid out quite so much?

That aside, Solo is a fun watch. There’s a teenie little bit of the social commentary stuff that led to such a slow chunk of The Force Awakens, but mostly it’s just action, some laughs, more action, and plenty of nods to events and knowledge that viewers of the original movies will ‘get’.

I think the cast did very well here, especially Alden Ehrenreich with his near-impossible task of being Harrison Ford – he’s not as cool, but I suppose will grow into it 😉 Stand out for me was probably Phoebe Waller-Bridge as droid L3, done with such swagger and a chip on her shoulder the size of (“that’s not”) a moon (!). I wasn’t quite so taken with Paul Bettany’s baddie, but that might have been finding his menace less disturbing than why he had a face full of stretch marks o_O

Plot-wise it’s got few surprises, but it does try to cram quite a lot into the 2 and a quarter hours to stop you thinking too much. And that’s rather what I like from a trip to the cinema!

Released: 24th May 2018
Viewed: 25th May 2018
Running time: 135 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 7.5/10 –  I think this would have been better as a complete stand-alone rather than a prequel, tbh

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool2 poster

I frickin’ loved Deadpool (2016) so of course I was a little worried that the sequel could only disappoint. But thankfully following a successful movie isn’t always just a money-making exercise these days, and with a team that loves the source material as much as any of the fans we’re in safe hands here.

It’s hard to say too much about it without giving away plot points, but safe to say that we’re still breaking the fourth wall, subjected to a barrage of swearing (including a use of the c-word that surprised (but not shocked, it’s just a word, people!) me a little in a 15), and treated to more gore than Marvel’s entire output to date – good! 🙂

What I love so much about these movies is that they are ‘proper’ superhero action movies, while at the same time utterly poking fun at superhero movies in general – one fav line: “You’re so dark are you sure you’re not from the DC universe?” 🙂 And anything else they can think of to poke fun at, let’s face it – I’d need to trawl the ‘net or watch this about six times (tempting…!) to get all the references, I think! Top of the hit list is Ryan Reynolds himself, from previous performances to just him as an actor, and likewise Josh Brolin’s turns in the Goonies and last week’s (!) Infinity War.

Amongst the mayhem and jokes, however, there’s also quite a moving story about family and friendships. It almost hits harder when things happen, as you’re not expecting it between the laughs and blood splatter.

I won’t say this is perfect, but dang I am struggling to pinpoint any actual faults. It’s pretty much everything I could have wanted from a Deadpool sequel, and part of me hopes there are about sixty more to come 🙂

So remember… #WadeWilsonDemandsYourSisterSorryStupidAutocorrectSilence especially during the FIVE post-credit scenes (but not shoved all the way at the end, so you don’t have to sit too long) 😀

Released: 15th May 2018
Viewed: 17th May 2018
Running time: 119 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 9/10

I Feel Pretty (2018)

i feel pretty poster

Renee (Amy Schumer) is full of insecurities and wishing she was one of those supermodel-types who walk through life being handed everything on a plate just because they’re skinny and beautiful. She’s a stereotype of ‘normal woman’, in many ways – albeit one who seems a little too disappointed that throwing a coin in a fountain during a thunder storm doesn’t actually make her prettier o_O But when she hits her head in a spin-class accident, she wakes up seeing all of her dreams come true – twist being, it’s all in her head. And yet, the resulting confidence might just be exactly what Renee’s real dreams need to come true…

I went into this expecting either daft fun or a total train wreck – early reviews promised either as a possibility. Thankfully, I found it more of the former and not a repeat of the direness that was Snatched. Critics have argued that it’s poking fun at fat people, but just a second here: Amy Schumer is not fat. She’s not a super-model, sure, but despite the cast of this (or any) movie making it look like 90% of the population belong on magazine covers, she’s pretty normal and it’s the rest of the cast that are making her look anything but.

I actually rather liked the message that confidence is key. And it’s true that the make up and fashion industries are awful for eroding said confidence, setting up unrealistic expectations. Renee’s journey through the movie is predictable, but apart from a bit where confidence grows into shallow arrogance, the character was easy enough to like. I was cheering her on, in fact, as she goes from mouse to strutting her stuff – without one of these cliched glasses-off-makeup-on makeovers. My favourite role, however, was Michelle Williams (Brokeback MountainThe Greatest Showman), affecting a daft voice and having a whale of a time being less than serious for a change.

Overall, this is a feel-good movie with a message I thought was valid and worth telling. I was surprised to find it quite as funny as I did, and even more surprised that it didn’t annoy me – damned with faint praise, but still! 😉

Released: 4th May 2018
Viewed: 11th May 2018
Running time: 110 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 6/10

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avenger Infinity War poster

Well. Here we are. Ten years of Marvel ‘MCU’ movies, ten years since Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) told the world “I am Iron Man” and turned the comic book to screen adaptation from a bit of a hit-and-miss affair to a roaring juggernaut of fan favourites.

The word ‘fan’ is kind of important there. While there have been movies in that last decade of output that non-fans could enjoy, or take or leave, this is one that absolutely requires you to be fully along for the whole ride and most if not all of the 18 (!) movies that lead up to this point. Or, as I put it leaving the cinema: “I loved that, but it’s not one for non-fans.”

Infinity War ties together plot threads from several of the movies. The big baddy, Thanos, has shown up in several previous installments, but finally steps fully forward here. He’s on the hunt for all six of the Infinity Stones, elemental gems that were (so it goes) created in the Big Bang and control fundamental aspects of the universe. We’ve met five of them in previous movies, from the Tesseract (housing the Space Stone) in Thor to the Time Stone wielded in Doctor Strange. Combining all six will give Thanos the power to… well. Anything, quite frankly!

So, grab your popcorn and settle in for a fast-paced 2½ hours of action with the usual bit of Marvel humour, but also a lot of darkness – and, about three quarters of a plot. Because yes, there is a second part of this story coming next year!

There’s no gentle intro to anything here – as stated, there are 18 other movies of ‘introduction’ – which is obviously a massive downside for some. I didn’t mind: this isn’t a stand-alone by any stretch, it’s the culmination (or the start of it, at least!) of a lot of other strands, a bit of a season finale kind of piece.

There are also a LOT of characters to jam in here, and you could suggest that none of them get a great deal of time or development – see previous comments, though. For me, the best bit was the interactions between characters from some very tonally different MCU movies: Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, Stark meeting Strange, and so forth. True to form, some of the best laugh out loud moments happen with these culture clashes.

It’s not perfect. It’s absolutely frantic in pace. But, as a fan (can I say that enough?!), that just makes me want to see it again and again, to fully absorb some of what’s flashing past on the screen – if my nerves can stand it! And, of course, to get the answers to a rather cliff-hanger-y ending o_O

Released: 26th April 2018
Viewed: 28th April 2018
Running time: 149 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 8/10