Star Wars: The Last Jedi- Movie Review

Credit: LucasFilm

What is it about?

As Rey (Daisy Ridley) begins training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the Resistance, led by Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), has to face the First Order, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

How is it? 8.9/10

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a unique, ambitious Star Wars movie that still maintains the magic of the previous ones. Rian Johnson’s excellent direction and script gives the movie a ton of surprises, while the gorgeous cinematography, effects, and action also make this movie even better. This is a SPOILER-FREE REVIEW, but you should definitely go experience this for yourself.

The Ups

First off, Mark Hamill is fantastic here as Luke. He’s shown as a darker, more damaged, and haunted Luke, but he’s not completely different from the one in the originals. Mark Hamill is truly compelling and gives such a complex performance. His character goes interesting new ways and has a great, satisfying arc. Daisy Ridley is again amazing as Rey. Her character also has a great arc, and her training with Luke is super entertaining to watch. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is one spectacular villain. He’s very well developed and you get to see his internal conflict throughout. Driver’s performance is captivating and really lets you look into the character.

Credit: LucasFilm

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has much more to do here. I liked him a lot in The Force Awakens, and Oscar Isaac is again great. Poe’s such a likable, charismatic character, and I found myself always rooting for him throughout the film. He became one of my favorite characters after this film. John Boyega is amazing as Finn, who is a really strong character here. Carrie Fisher’s tragic death is handled well here and Leia’s character gets justice and lots of great moments. Laura Dern is great as Vice Admiral Holdo. She gives a committed, fun performance as the new Resistance leader. Kelly Tran also gives us a promising new character in Rose, who I want to see more of in Episode 9.

Credit: LucasFilm

Director Rian Johnson gives The Last Jedi the feel of a Star Wars movie, but also adds his own voice. He does a stellar job directing it, and the movie boasts a spectacular script as well. This is a Star Wars movie that takes risk and is definitely super ambitious. It’s unique and has some very bold story choices. The story also has a ton of surprises, and the movie will subvert your expectations lots of times. There were several genuinely shocking moments that had me gasping.  Johnson also deepens some aspects of Star Wars mythology that might anger some fans, but I personally thought was really cool.  This movie also has emotional moments that will definitely satisfy fans and are done well. As long as the movie is, despite one issue (which I will discuss later), its pacing for the second and third act is handled very well. The movie generally moves at lightspeed and even when it slows down a bit, it’s still super compelling.

Credit: LucasFilm

Rian Johnson gets very meta here at times, and this movie has some great self-aware commentary about itself that’s both entertaining and interesting. Although this movie gets really dark sometimes, it’s still endlessly entertaining. I had so much un with this movie and had a grin on my face for a large portion of it. There’s some great comedy from all of the characters and it’s used at the right moments so that it never detracts from the drama. The script explores the difference between the light and the dark and the blurring between the two. Its characters also see where they stand on this spectrum and these themes are very well dived into. Any and all fan service here doesn’t feel like it’s there for the sake of being there. There are lots of crowd-pleasing fan service moments that are earned and you can see the director’s love of Star Wars shine through.

Credit: LucasFilm

This movie is gorgeous. The visual effects are truly jaw-dropping. Combined with the incredible cinematography and action, this movie has some of the best Star Wars effects ever. The work on the creatures and all of the locations are just amazing and so hyper-realistic, you are really transported to this other world. The action is present throughout the film and is some of the best in the series. All of the space battles, hand-to-hand combat, and the lightsaber fights are just beyond words and look and feel so amazing. The choreography in them is so great and every detail about them is perfect. The cinematography is also fantastic. Some shots are just so well framed and had me in awe. A lot of the locations, like the salt planet Crait, utilize this, and they look fantastic. John Williams’ score is, as always, magical. It adds so much to these movies and is, again, just amazing.

Credit: LucasFilm

The Downs

My main problem with this movie is the storyline on casino planet Canto-Bight featuring Finn and Rose. Johnson needed to give them some to do, so he…gave them this…? It leads nowhere, has barely any payoff, and drags the pacing of the (already long) movie a ton. The design of the location is cool but it adds nothing to the movie and could have been cut out completely with no effect on the story. Benicio del Toro’s new character DJ is just…meh. He doesn’t get much screentime at all, and doesn’t have much of a role. Another underdeveloped character is Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), who didn’t get her character done justice in Episode VII, and doesn’t get it here either. She barely has any screentime and is just there for the sake of being there.

Credit: LucasFilm

Overall, I loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Packed with action and surprises, and boasting a great story, The Last Jedi goes deeper into these worlds and characters. However, there is one storyline that doesn’t land at all and could be taken out of the film, which is my only big problem with The Last Jedi.

Coco- Movie Review

Credit: Pixar

What is it about?

Coco follows Miguel (Anthony Gonzales), who wants to become a musician despite his family’s ban on music. He accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead on Dia de Los Muertos, where he meets a shifty con artist named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). He must break his family’s curse on music and get back to the real world before he gets stuck in the Land of the Dead.

How is it? 9.3/10

Coco is a truly touching movie, with fleshed-out characters, amazing music, an emotional, personal plot, and gorgeous animation.

Credit: Pixar

The Ups

The characters in Coco are stellar. It’s super fun and interesting to watch Miguel’s (physical and inner) journey across the Land of Dead where he definitely grows as a character. Anthony Gonzales is really great as Miguel, and he gives a ton of emotion in his vocal performance. Hector is another solid character. We learn a lot about him over the course of the movie, and although he seems one-note at the beginning, he has a ton of depth to him.

As far as the animation goes, this movie contains the best animation I’ve seen all year. It’s standard for Pixar to make their movies look gorgeous, but this movie is really special. Everything about both the Land of the Dead, the real world, and the characters all look amazing. Some of the shots of streets and buildings are super realistic and it’s hard to believe it’s animation at times. The entire design of the Land of the Dead is also great. The city’s design is colorful, creative, and we get to see a ton of it through Miguel’s trip through the city. Speaking of which, this movie is insanely colorful. There are a ton of bright, neon colors found inside the Land of the Dead that work the almost real animation to make something that looks awesome.

Credit: Pixar

Both the score and the original songs in Coco are great. There are some very catchy, and sometimes even genuinely emotional original songs in the film that are used in just the right places. The vocals from the cast are very good and they can all sing exceptionally.

The plot of Coco is never cliched or cheesy and there are lots of really surprising twists and turns. It has a lot of depth, which is expected from a Pixar film, and is captivating to watch. From the very beginning, you see Miguel’s world and how he has to deal with it. It keeps you constantly engaged as he goes farther and farther away from his home and learns more about his family. There’s also no shortage of humor here: the movie mixes emotion with some good jokes very well.

Credit: Pixar

Pixar knows how to make their audience cry, and their strategy is very effective here. The movie deals with a very personal, human story, even for Pixar, and it has a giant emotional payoff near the end. The reason this works is because the movie develops these characters and you learn so much about them. By the time that the emotional punch rolls around, you’re deeply invested in these characters and you care about them a ton. At the center of this movie is a story about family. It explores the different aspects of a family, their flaws, and their traditions, as Miguel learns more and more about his family and their history. It also dives into what it means to be remembered, and all of these themes are displayed in the fantastic story that a bunch for both adults and kids. Coco is very informative about Mexican culture and Dia de Los Muertos, and you can learn a lot about that holiday through this movie.

The Downs

Honestly, there’s nothing much wrong with this movie. I can’t think of anything to complain about and it was just a beautiful movie in all senses of the word.

Coco is one of the best films of the year. It mixes colorful, realistic animation with emotion, a deep plot, and great music to make a really original, sweet movie. I would recommend it to all ages and there’s something in it for everyone.

Justice League- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?

After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) is forced to assemble a team of other heroes, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight the incoming threat of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds).

How is it? 6.8/10

Justice League is a disappointing, but definitely entertaining movie. It has great performances and fun characters, as well as plenty of humor and a hopeful tone, but the rushed plot, CGI mess of a villain, and lackluster, sloppy visual effects make it just decent.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Ups

The characters (mostly) and acting were pretty strong in Justice League. First off, The Flash/Barry Allen was a lot of fun here. He gets some of the best jokes and acts as comic relief and “the rookie” of the group. Ezra Miller is really good as Barry Allen . He has a lot of fun moments interacting with his teammates. Aquaman, another new character, is just…so awesome! Jason Momoa gives the character a very confident, cool demeanor that’s super entertaining to watch. Gal Gadot is, again, excellent as Wonder Woman, and she remains a strong character, being the highlight of the last two films she was in. Also, we finally get a hopeful Superman! That’s what character is supposed to be like, although in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, we got a very mopey, brooding Superman that wasn’t too in line with the character. Henry Cavill shows us what an optimistic, actually fun Superman would look like.

There’s quite a bit of humor in Justice League, as the trailers have promised, and most of it comes from the group dynamic among the team. Warner Bros. has acknowledged criticisms of a lack of humor and levity in other DC Extended Universe movies and made an effort to make this one more light-hearted. There are lots of funny gags throughout, and it’s an easy, light watch. Yes, it can be a bit cheesy at times, but it’s cheesy in the right ways. Because Joss Whedon, director of the (much quippier) Avengers movies, came in after Zack Snyder, who directed Batman v Superman and Man of Steel, had to step off, you can see the film have a bit of his touch. He’s known for a lot of banter between characters, and you can see that on show.

Credit: Warner Bros.

As far as action goes, this movie (mostly) delivers. There are lots of action scenes sprinkled throughout, and they are very entertaining, especially in the final battle where the whole “Justice League” teams up. There are also two great post-credits scenes here. The first is a quick gag that’s pretty funny and the second is a genuinely surprising reveal that gets me very excited for the future of the DCEU.

The Downs

Justice League stands at 2 hours, which is shorter than most superhero movies these days. That’s generally a good thing, but not for this movie. A lot of scenes feel rushed or cut down significantly and there are some side storylines that never get revisited and are just there for the sake of being there. The movie didn’t know where to spend more time and where to spend less: some scenes go on for too long or shouldn’t be there, whereas others feel just skimmed over. It has a very messy plot that piles scenes on top of each other without any flow.

Some characters were subpar also. For example, Cyborg is really bland. He has his own storyline that’s not very interesting and is supposed to be a key character, as he has a special connection to what the villain wants. He is also one of the most powerful in the group, but the audience doesn’t really care about him. Ray Fisher’s performance comes off cold and dull for such an important character. Ben Affleck looks almost bored playing Batman and is very unenthusiastic in his role. Also, although Superman’s entrance is pretty awesome, he’s absent for most of the movie and sort of hangs over it before he’s “resurrected”. It feels kind of abrupt when he just shows up.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Steppenwolf is undeniably the worst part of Justice League. He’s just another CGI monster that wants to destroy Earth for the sake of being evil and was almost unwatchable. I nearly cringed whenever he was onscreen and he doesn’t feel like a real threat. You know nothing about him except for the fact that he’s powerful and evil. Every time he shows up, he mumbles something about having to destroy everyone like a video game villain. He was a weak, underdeveloped, and boring villain.

For such an expensive ($300 million!) movie, you would really expect better effects. The effects are very sloppy and obvious. Cyborg is an almost entirely CGI character, and he looks awful. The visual effects are not great on him and are really obvious. Also, Steppenwolf, who is similar to Cyborg (mostly CGI), doesn’t look that good, and you feel like you’re watching video game graphics when you see him. A lot of this movie is shot on green screen, which is common, but so many shots are glaringly obvious. Sometimes, it’s painfully clear that green screen is being used, which took me out of the movie a little. Some of the action, combined with the messy visuals, can be really chaotic and hard to follow, which detracts from the film.

Overall, Justice League is just fine. It’s not awful, but it’s definitely not great either. Its characters and their interactions provide for lots of humor and a more fun, hopeful tone, but it has an awful villain, embarrassing CGI, and a messy, rushed plot.

Thor: Ragnarok- Movie Review

Credit: Marvel Studios

What is it about?

After getting trapped on a faraway planet where he has to fight Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiator contest, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has to team up with him, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and new character Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to defeat the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett).

How is it? 8.5/10

Thor: Ragnarok is, above all, a ton of fun. I can’t emphasize how funny this movie really is. The action looks great, but this movie is still primarily a comedy. The cast is all terrific, and they are all hilarious in their respective roles. However, this constant sense of humor takes away any palpable emotion or drama from the film, and causes some tonal dissonance, as so much of the story involves destruction and death.

The Ups

Thor: Ragnarok nails its humor. The movie knows exactly when to time jokes for maximum impact, and it (for the most part) works. There were several times in this movie when I just couldn’t stop laughing. It is definitely the funniest MCU movie yet. Taika Waititi did a great job directing the film and has great comedic timing.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth got to show off some of his comedic chops here, and is really good as Thor. The film elevated Thor as a character, specifically in its removal of his hammer. It shows what he can be as the “God of Thunder,” without his hammer. Tom Hiddleston is, as always, awesome as Loki. He has lots of fun scenes throughout. Hulk is amazing here. He can finally talk (albeit like a 2-year-old), and is portrayed as a sad, whiny child. This causes for lots of humor. The relationship between Banner and Hulk is explored more, which is very interesting. Cate Blanchett gives a hammy, but good performance as Hela. She has her comedic moments, too, and clearly has fun with the role.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Taika Waititi as Korg, one of the contenders in the gladiator contest, is just the best. Korg is one of the best characters in the film, and despite being a giant rock-monster, is actually soft-spoken. He is hilarious and gets some of the best lines in the movie. Jeff Goldblum is a riot as Grandmaster, who controls the gladiator contest. He has a ton of fun witht he role, and steals the scene every time he’s onscreen. Tessa Thompson kicks butt as former Asgardian, but now alcoholic bodyguard, Valkyrie, for Jeff Goldblum’s character. We learn about her past, and her character arc is pretty satisfying.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Although this movie is mainly a comedy, when the action comes, it’s spectacular and a blast to watch. The effects are great, especially for CGI characters like Korg or Hulk. This is one of the few Marvel movies (mainly the Guardians films), that utilizies color. There’s a bright neon color scheme, emphasizing the colorful, vivid locations. There is also a great 80s-influenced, sci-fi score that complements the action and humor nicely.

The Downs

The emphasis placed on humor in Ragnarok does cause the movie to lose any sense of emotional weight or drama. Its few attempts at this are undercut by jokes: not to say the jokes don’t work, but the movie could have had more emotion. There is one specific moment where the movie could have had a lot of emotional impact, but chooses to go straight for the joke.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The tone also feels a bit shaky at times, as you have a buddy comedy with Thor and Hulk for half of it and a story about death and destruction on Asgard for the other half. The film treats the second part a bit too flippantly sometimes and it’s kind of jarring to switch tones so rapidly.

There are also some problems with structure in the film. The ending, in my opinion, feels abrupt. The movie’s structure left me feeling empty afterwards: Thor’s at Saakar (gladiator planet) for a bit, he has to escape, they go to Asgard, he has to defeat Hela. The Saakar part, entertaining as it is, isn’t even that essential to the story. So much time is spent at two general plot points that the movie feels shorter than it actually is.

Credit: Marvel Studios

While Blanchett’s performance was fun, Ragnarok runs into another case of the Marvel villain problem. We get a little bit of backstory for Hela, but nothing really stuck out in her character. She’s evil for the sake of being evil, without any real development. I found myself bored when she was onscreen and wanted to go back to Sakaar for more of Thor and Hulk because she just wasn’t that interesting of a villain.


Credit: Marvel Studios

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is a blast. It’s hilarious, looks (and sounds) great, and has stellar performances from its cast. Taika Waititi did a fantastic job directing Ragnarok and acting as Korg, who is definitely a standout character. However, the same can’t be said for its villain, who is definitely underdeveloped. The movie fails to provide any real emotion and has a slightly jarring tone at times. Also, the structure of the film feels empty, as it jumps between two major storylines.

Blade Runner 2049- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?

30 years after the events of the original (where human-like androids called Replicants that were used for slave labor have gone rogue, and Deckard (Harrison Ford), a Blade Runner, must track down and kill all remaining Replicants), newer models are now legal. LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling) now has Deckard’s job of killing older models, and stumbles on a world-changing secret that he needs to investigate.

How is it? 9.6/10

Blade Runner 2049 is a one-of-a-kind experience. Boasting gorgeous cinematography, jaw-dropping visual effects, solid acting, a mesmerizing score, and thought-provoking themes, this movie truly is a sight to behold. DISCLAIMER: Blade Runner 2049 is Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Ups

Ryan Gosling is fantastic as K, and really brings depth to the character as he learns more about himself.  Harrison Ford is great reprising his role as Deckard, although he isn’t in the film much. Ana de Armas provides an emotional, realistic performance as K’s girlfriend, Joi. Robin Wright is also good playing K’s no-nonsense boss. Although he isn’t given much screentime, Jared Leto commits to the role of creepy replicant-maker Niander Wallace. Finally, Sylvia Hoeks does really well as Wallace’s assistant Luv. Blade Runner 2049 has flawed, complex characters that learn more about themselves and grow throughout the runtime, which provides for an intriguing viewing experience.

Credit: Warner Bros.

At several times throughout the movie, my jaw dropped in awe at the cinematography onscreen. Roger Deakins gives the movie the best cinematography I’ve seen possibly EVER. Shots of beautifully rendered Los Angeles are a marvel to look at. This alone makes it worth watching. The use of color is also really interesting: the film sticks to certain palettes depending on the environment, which is quite pleasing to look at. All effects on display play off the gorgeous cinematography to make it even more eye-popping. 2049 expands on the gritty, futuristic world of the first and adds lore to it.

The original Blade Runner’s score had a unique, surreal feel to it, and the score in 2049, composed by Hans Zimmer, is similar, but also its own masterwork. The score here is intense, emotional, and dreamlike, which, combined with the infinitely cool visuals, makes for an awesome film. The sound design is really well done also, whether it’s the loud booms of the score of the buzz of Los Angeles you hear.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The film’s plot is great. It takes risks, is layered, and has plenty of twists and turns. There are lots of surprises in the movie, much of which is uncovered by the detective work K does. As the plot unfolds, the audience has to put the pieces together. Much like the first, Blade Runner 2049 contemplates what it means to be human and to feel emotion. These themes are displayed through the several Replicant and human characters, and how their arcs all overlap. On top of this, the movie has heart. In my opinion, this emotional core is something the first lacked, but this one has.

Standing at 2 hours and 47 minutes, 2049 is long. However, this isn’t an issue: the movie uses the runtime to flesh out its characters and environment. It keeps the audience intrigued in the storyline. Denis Villenevue, who did a superb job with Arrival, is once again fantastic here. He makes a suspenseful, deep sci-fi film that combines technical brilliance with a great story. I liked the original, but I didn’t think it was the “masterpiece” many hailed it to be. This one improves on the first by making the pacing less lackluster, sticking to a tone, looking more into the themes, and having a better personal storyline amongst the amazing visuals.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Downs

If you haven’t seen the first (which you should if you want to see this one), then don’t expect an action movie as the marketing makes it seem like. This isn’t so much of a negative as a warning. Blade Runner 2049 is a slow-burn and has maybe a few “action” sequences, but many scenes of just characters in conversation. Again, the film is almost 3 hours. I didn’t find it too long, but it may come across as slow to some. There’s a lot of detective work that K has to do, which can seem slow at times.

Harrison Ford and Jared leto both do fine jobs with their characters, but they’re not in the movie much. The marketing made it seem like Jared Leto was the main villain and Harrison Ford had a huge role, but neither are really true: Leto gets less than 10 minutes of screentime, and Ford doesn’t show up until the middle of the second act.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Blade Runner 2049 is something special. From the first frame, you can tell how much effort was put into this film, yet it still seems effortless. The gorgeous sweeping shots of dystopian Los Angeles are awe-inspiring, the score is breathtaking, and the themes are thoughtful. The movie has a heart, top-notch performances, and manages to be its own thing, but still builds on the original. Go see it.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle- Movie Review

Credit: 20th Century Fox.

What is it about?

After Kingsman’s headquarters get destroyed, they must band together with their American counterpart, the Statesman, to face a mysterious organization called The Golden Circle.

How is it? 7.5/10

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a crazy, fun movie that has plenty of impressive action and performances, but has an excessive runtime and a sometimes overcomplicated plot, while lacking the freshness of the original. DISCLAIMER: Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Rated R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material.

Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The Ups

Taron Egerton, reprising his role as British everyman turned superspy, Eggsy, is great once again. He gives a charming, entertaining performance in both the insane action sequences and more emotional moments. Colin Firth also does well as Harry Hart, who supposedly died in the last film, but is actually alive. Mark Strong is good as Merlin, the tech support for Kingsman, who’s a strong character throughout. Julianne Moore gives a really fun performance and shows just how psychotic and over-the-top her villain, Poppy, is.

Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a super entertaining movie that, even when it slows down a bit, still stays a ridiculous good time. There are lots of great one-liners and comedic performances from the cast, with some true laugh-out-loud moments. There is much more of the craziness and absurdity that made the first movie so much fun here: the action scenes are really crazy. They’re extreme, hyper-stylized, gory, and quite glorious. Not only are the well-made, but they can even be funny. All of the set-pieces are innovative, interesting, and entertaining.

The film uses characters that we have grown to care about over the course of both movies for some actual emotional payoff.

Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The Downs

However, this movie pales in comparison to the original. As fun as the action is, none of it can top the epic church scene in the first movie, which leads to some disappointment. The film also doesn’t feel as original or fresh: the first was so novel and unique, while this one is more of the same.

The plot is undeniably silly, but also convoluted at times. There are lots of different subplots inside the main story, some of which can be kind of boring. Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges all looked to have promising performances as Statesman from the marketing, but they were all disappointing. The actual performances were just fine, but the characters could’ve been included more in the script, and they don’t get much screentime at all. The subplot involving Harry coming back after getting shot in the first movie is shaky as well. It’s not very interesting to watch and leads to The Golden Circle dragging.

Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Other characters, whose names I won’t reveal, were killed off too early and could have also been used more. The death of one particular character wasn’t very necessary, as we don’t spend much time with them to start with. Because of the ridiculous, “get from here to there”-style plot, the characters don’t get much time to grow or develop and stay pretty much the same throughout.

Kingsman; The Golden Circle stands at a length 2 and a half hours, and much of this is unnecessary. Some of the subplots could’ve been left out for the movie to feel shorter and tighter. Another issue with the movie is its use of CGI. Sometimes, there are strangely blurry shots during the movie, which detracts from the experience. Also, there is some unneeded use of CGI during the action sequences, which is a little jarring and doesn’t always work.

Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a flawed, but very entertaining movie that has great performances, action, and more of the craziness we loved from the first movie. However, it could benefit from trimming its large runtime by getting rid of unnecessary subplots and doing more with its characters.

Logan Lucky- Movie Review

Credit: FilmNation

What is it about?

Logan Lucky is about Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), who gets fired from his job and recruits his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), his sister Mellie (Riley Keough), and incarcerated explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race.

How is it? 7.5/10

Logan Lucky is a funny, entertaining time at the movies that boasts both stunning cinematography and great performances. However, it struggles with pacing issues and runs too long near the end.

Credit: FilmNation

The Ups

The cast in this movie, overall, does great, but Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig stand out in particular. Tatum is very convincing with his role, and does well with it, wringing out lots of laughs. Daniel Craig is hilarious here and gives an awesome, super entertaining performance. He has one of the most interesting characters in the movie and is a delight to watch in every scene he’s in.

The film also succeeds on a technical aspect. There’s lots of gorgeous cinematography throughout, the editing is never choppy, and the transitions are unique and fun to watch. Director Steven Soderbergh, who also made Ocean’s Eleven, did a great job directing this film. He made the movie pleasantly ridiculous, hilarious, and compelling seemingly effortlessly. The tone here is fantastic: the movie is never heavy-handed and is always light and funny.

Credit: FilmNation

Although the humor drops a bit in the middle, it’s quite present throughout and lands most of the time. There are some very clever, hysterical gags lodged in Logan Lucky that’ll have you laughing out loud. Despite the film being (for the most part) a comedy, it does have emotional buildup and an eventual payoff near the end. The emotional moments are handled well, however, and are never sappy or overdone.

The Downs

The first issue with Logan Lucky is its pacing. The film drags quite a bit throughout its runtime. In its first and second acts, it focuses too much on smaller, sometimes inconsequential scenes or details that derail the pacing and just drag the movie along. In the third act, after the heist sequence is over, the movie goes on for way too long, and doesn’t know when to  wrap up. It could have benefitted greatly from trimming to end by about 15 or 20 minutes.

Credit: FilmNation

The second main issue is its plot. The main heist storyline gets a little too convoluted at times. It relies on too many loose plot threads to work, and it gets hard to keep track of all of them. Some of these don’t even make sense until the end. This makes the film not only confusing to watch, but also overly complex. Also, there’s not much motivation for the characters to go through with the heist. There’s no one to really root against, and the audience isn’t too concerned about whether or not the characters pull off the heist. Besides Channing Tatum being fired from his job, there is no reason to care about the outcome of the heist.

Credit: FilmNation

Overall, Logan Lucky is a fun, often hilarious movie that will entertain you for a solid two hours. It has great performances, with Daniel Craig as a standout, spectacular direction and cinematography from Steven Soderbergh, and a good emotional payoff. However, it suffers from too long of a run time, pacing issues throughout, and an overly convoluted plot.

Dunkirk- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?

Set during World War II, Dunkirk is about the real-life story of the evacuation of British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, when they were surrounded by German forces.

How is it? 8.2/10

Dunkirk is a harrowing, realistic, and intense film that’s both a technical marvel and a depiction of heroism in the most desperate of times. However, it faces a sometimes confusing narrative that does take away from the film.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Ups

Christopher Nolan is a remarkable director in all of his films, and Dunkirk proves no exception. Nolan crafts a truly realistic, bleak film, that still has awesome visuals and a feeling of ongoing tension throughout. This movie is, visually, beautiful. It looks really just spectacular, whether it’s dealing in grand, sweeping shots of war or claustrophobic moments of its characters being trapped in tight spaces. Dunkirk never ceases to awe, and its aerial dogfights are very well-done, boasting impressive practical effects. To get the biggest kick out of Dunkirk, watch it in IMAX. Nolan shot the majority of the film with IMAX cameras, to great result. It’s quite an immersive experience, and both the audio and visuals stand out more in IMAX.

The cinematography here is fantastic. There’s excellent camera work throughout that never feels choppy. The sound design also stood out to me when watching. Everything from gunshots to planes are unflinchingly loud and lifelike here. Hans Zimmer’s score is used very well here, and his work is (as always) brilliant. His score, combined with the never-ending sound of a ticking clock that plays throughout the movie, build suspense, tension, and even fear. It keeps the audience absolutely enthralled from the very beginning.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Speaking of which, Dunkirk is a THRILL RIDE from moment 1 onwards and keeps your heart pounding. It’s super intense, especially the first half an hour of it. The very first gunshot you hear throws you directly into this war and you feel truly scared for the film’s characters.

The movie’s not as long as other Nolan movies and is a little more than an hour and a half. It leads to Dunkirk never feeling overlong or dragged, and the pacing’s pretty solid. Additionally, this movie is unflinchingly realistic. It portrays the many horrors of war and its impact on those taking part in it. This includes the lack of dialogue in Dunkirk. The film acknowledges that these soldiers, in the situation given, wouldn’t sit down or talk about their pasts. In doing this, it doesn’t give you much characterization or dialogue and is totally invested in the battle, and that alone.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Not to say that the movie doesn’t have emotion, either. It’s quite moving near the end and shows how these people, some even civilians, are forced to respond to this situation.

Dunkirk has an ensemble cast, that’s used very well here. All around there are great performances: Harry Styles had a somewhat controversial casting choice, but he acts excellently. Other highlights include Mark Rylance and Cillian Murphy, who both provide emotionally powerful, superb performances.

The Downs

My main problem with Dunkirk is its structure and non-linear form of telling its story. That is, it jumps back and forth between three story threads that all span different amounts of time and intertwine at points. Although this is an ambitious choice, there are some problems raised by this, the first of which is a lack of clarity. Even though everything eventually comes together, the structure causes a lot of confusion, especially as it zips back and forth between intense sequences. It’s often hard to tell what’s happening. Other times, you have to witness the same event from different perspectives. You know what happens at the end of this event, as you’ve seen it before, from someone else’s eyes. This not only adds confusion, but also removes some tension.

Credit: Warner Bros.

I mentioned before how there’s not much characterization here. Although it’s realistic to an extent, this still cuts away from how much you care about the characters. For example, many you don’t even learn the first names of. You still feel fear for them, but won’t be as invested in what happens to them because you don’t know much about them.

Overall, Dunkirk is a spectacular war film. It masterfully builds tension, both through score and sound design, looks truly gorgeous in terms of cinematography, and manages to be both realistic and emotional. However, it has a disjointed structure and minimal character work, which detracts from the overall experience.

War for the Planet of the Apes- Movie Review

Credit: 20th Century Fox

What is it about?

War for the Planet of the Apes is the third movie in the Planet of the Apes trilogy. After a virus wiped out most humans and made apes more intelligent, the few humans left (led by a colonel played by Woody Harrelson), are in a war with the apes that will determine the course of humanity. After the apes suffer an awful loss, Caesar (Andy Serkis), the leader of the apes, goes on a quest for revenge.

How is it? 9.8/10

War for the Planet of the Apes in an excellent, groundbreaking film that is fantastic in just about every aspect.

The Ups

The cinematography in War is flawless. This film is gorgeous to look at. Each shot not only serves a purpose, but is always amazing to look at. I really can’t emphasize this enough. Certain scenes featuring snow are just so…pretty and well-shot. The visual effects here contain some of the best CGI ever put to screen. All of the apes are SO realistic, and it’s impossible to tell that they’re rendered on a computer. They look exactly like real apes. Additionally, all of the environmental effects are fantastic. For example, the scenes that take place in the woods and feature snow all look spectacular. The sound design in War is really great as well. It shines both in quieter moments and louder, bigger scenes.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

All the characters in this movie have unique, flawed personalities. Caesar in particular has lots of development and is a very complex character. During the film, he is forced to deal with a lot of internal, moral conflict as he struggles with becoming more and more like the evil ape Koba, who he defeated in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Woody Harrelson’s character, who I’ll touch on more later, isn’t a flat-out bad guy: he has depth and motivations. You see why he’s doing what he’s doing. All of the humans are also believably motivated- they’re just scared people that want to survive.

Both the motion-capture and live-action actors in War give great performances, but a definite standout is Andy Serkis. He gives an Oscar-worthy performance and shows so much emotion and conflict, just through motion-capture. Woody Harrelson provides a wonderful portrayal of The Colonel that depicts the character’s motivations quite believably. Steve Zahn plays Bad Ape, who provides comic relief. He’s great in the role and really brightens up the film, but more on that later.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Matt Reeves masterfully directed War for the Planet of the Apes. The film is brutal and bleak, yet never too dark. Reeves made a movie of both spectacle and emotion, and it weaves between those two seamlessly. Again, the flick can get quite grim, but it always maintains a feeling of hope: Reeves nails the tone. The movie isn’t devoid of humor, either. Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, as I said before, is quite funny. He lightens up the film when it needs some levity, but is never overused or annoying.

The plot of War is great. It takes risks and is quite compelling. The story gets you to care about the characters and is smartly written. The stakes really help you understand how important the war is and invest you deeper into the storyline. The film’s not short on heart, by any means. There are many excellent emotionally charged scenes that further the motivation of the characters, and the audience’s caring about the movie.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Michael Giacchino has been on fire recently: first, he had the great score for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and now this! The score here is truly brilliant and manages to evoke emotion in the audience. At times, it’s triumphant; at others, its fear-inducing. Nonetheless, it is a spectacular score, and the movie’s worth watching for it alone. Although War is long, it certainly doesn’t feel it. The pacing is done well, and the movie’s never boring. Even the quiet, soft moments are entertaining (to say the least) and not boring at all.

The Downs

Honestly, there’s nothing to complain about here. War for the Planet of the Apes is a masterpiece. However, and this is NOT a problem, but should be known before viewing, the movie isn’t necessarily about the titular “war”.  It’s more contemplative and thoughtful than just a compilation of action sequences. There is action in it, and when it comes, it comes big, but the film’s not totally about war.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is a masterpiece. It excels everywhere, but especially in its stunning cinematography and effects, wonderful score, and amazing performances by its cast.

The Big Sick- Movie Review

Credit: Lionsgate

What is it about?

The Big Sick tells the real life story of how Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani (played by himself) met his wife Emily Gordon (portrayed by Zoe Kazan). As he struggles as a stand-up comedian and grows closer to Emily, he dies their relationship from his traditional family.

How is it? 8.3/10

Bursting with heart and humor, The Big Sick is a great rom-com that not only feels authentic, but also touching and quite hilarious. DISCLAIMER: The Big Sick is Rated R for language.

Credit: Lionsgate

The Ups

The Big Sick nails the comedy aspect. The movie is truly very funny, and always manages to bring in humor, even in the saddest of scenes. Kumail Najiani is hysterical playing himself and has some really funny bits in the film. The entire cast, however, also gets to have their comedic moments, with Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, who play Emily’s parents, also standing out. This movie is very smartly written, both in the comedy scenes and in more emotional ones.

Credit: Lionsgate

Everyone provides fantastic, sincere performances here. Zoe Kazan does great as Emily Gardener, and the cast is all-around very likable. Her and Kumail have great chemistry, making the romance very believable. As I said before, Kumail, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter all shine as their respective characters continue to bond and form unique relationships throughout the course of the film.

Credit: Lionsgate

The Big Sick has tons of heart. It’s very touching and there are many sweet moments. It also feels very authentic and never forced, as it is based on a true story: all of the interactions and emotional payoffs feel organic and earned. It’s also very realistic. It captures how both Kumail’s and Emily’s cultures function and how they are forced to adapt to each other. This makes for a very entertaining, heartfelt story.

The Downs

Credit: Lionsgate

The main down of this movie is its pacing. It is a little too long at the end, and definitely drags thing out around the third act. Additionally, it feels longer than it should be and probably should have wrapped things up earlier than it did. However, this doesn’t compromise the movie at all, and it’s still a very entertaining film.

Overall, The Big Sick is a smartly written, hilarious romantic comedy that addresses its subject matter in a heartfelt, authentic way.