Baby Driver- Movie Review

Baby Driver. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Baby Driver follows Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, a young getaway driver, who always listens to music to drown out the constant ringing in his ear from a childhood car accident. He is forced to do a job for crime mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey), alongside criminals Buddy (Jon Hamm),  Buddy’s wife Darling (Eiza González), and Bats (Jamie Foxx). Meanwhile, he has plans to run off with a waitress named Debora (Lily James) that he just met.

(Left to right): Baby (Ansel Elgort), Bats (Jamie Foxx), Darling (Eiza González) and Buddy (Jon Hamm). Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

How is it? 9.6/10                                                                                                                     Baby Driver is a phenomenal, often hilarious, action-packed movie that utilizes music in all the best ways to provide for one of the best films of the year. Just a DISCLAIMER: Baby Driver is Rated R for violence and language.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       First off, the use of music here is wonderful. Music is integral to Baby Driver, as Baby is always listening to music, so every single action or movement is carefully choreographed to the songs in the soundtrack. The entire movie is seen through this lens of Baby listening to music, which in my opinion, is really cool. By the way, the soundtrack for this movie is just great! It has lots of really good 70s and 80s songs, which are used to awesome effect in the film.

The titular character, Baby, listening to music. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

Baby Driver is directed by Edgar Wright. I’m a huge fan of all his previous work-  they are all extremely well-directed, kinetic, hilarious movies. His editing style and flair work super well in those movies and they show through here. The editing here is superb, especially during the many car chase scenes. The cinematography is very fluid and benefits the already fantastic chase sequences. This movie is so stylish. I can’t emphasize just how cool it all is: whether it’s the sharp editing or colorful characters, the film has tons of style.

Speaking of which, the characters in this and the performances behind them are great. Ansel Elgort is does really well as Baby, who is well-developed, but barely speaks. Ansel does a great job still conveying emotion, even though Baby rarely talks. Jamie Foxx has a ton of fun with his role and is delightfully crazy as Bats. Kevin Spacey has some really funny lines and gives an excellent performance, as well as Jon Hamm. The romance here works nicely. Lily James and Ansel Elgort have endless chemistry and a believable, sweet romance.

Ansel Elgort’s Baby and his crew. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

The action in Baby Driver is just spectacular. All the car chases and action set pieces are done with very little CGI, which is really impressive. These scenes are nothing short of thrilling and are some truly great car chases.

Although this film isn’t as much of a comedy as Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy or Scott Pilgrim vs the World (would highly recommend both!), it’s still a very funny movie. There are some great one-liners all around and many hilarious moments. The script is impeccable as well, boasting both lots of funny parts and emotional moments. Additionally, the emotion in this movie hit harder than I thought it would. It was very real at times, and I ended up sympathizing with characters more than I thought I would.

Baby behind the wheel, headphones plugged in. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

The Downs                                                                                                                                If there is a single nitpick I can make with this movie, it’s the length. The movie feels just a tad bit long at the end, but it’s barely a problem.

Overall, Baby Driver is a unique, fun, stylish, and well-acted film. It has great characters, really funny lines, stylish direction from Edgar Wright, stunningly choreographed car chase scenes, and an inventive use of music. Baby Driver is one of my, if not my favorite movie of the year so far. 

Transformers: The Last Knight- Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight. Credit: Paramount

What is it about?                                                                                                                     In the fifth movie in the Transformers series, Humans and Transformers are at war. Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots (“good” Transformers) is gone. Meanwhile, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), who assisted the Autobots fight the Decepticons (“bad” Transformers) in the last movie is a fugitive. And that’s about all you need to know going into this movie.

Optimus Prime…who’s barely in the movie. Credit: Paramount

How is it? 2.5/10                                                                                                                          Transformers: The Last Knight is a cluttered, lazily written 2 1/2 hour mess of a movie with few redeeming qualities.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       Despite the awful script he had to work with, Anthony Hopkins, who plays a man named Edmund Burton tasked with delivering exposition, has fun with the role. As he spouts ridiculous dialogue, he proves entertaining when the movie itself can’t. His Transformer assistant Cogman (voiced by Jim Carter), who is like an aggressive C-3PO, delivers some fun dialogue and has a few mildly enjoyable scenes.

Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) explaining something to Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) with Cogman (Jim Carter) in the back. Credit: Paramount

Say what you will about the quality of this film, but the visuals are stunning. All the CGI is executed quite well and there are some gorgeous shots Michael Bay includes here. Additionally, a few action sequences, although cluttered, are entertaining- Michael Bay knows his way around these sequences.

Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), one of the Decepticons. Credit: Paramount

The Downs                                                                                                                                First off, the script here is terrible. It’s chock-full of awkward, cheesy dialogue that detracts from the movie, not to mention the almost cringe-worthy jokes here that none of the audience laughs at. The plot of The Last Knight is comprised of subplot after subplot, and many of these go nowhere and overcomplicate everything. There is so much not paid off in this movie, as it just throws everything out there, expecting it will work. This movie is cluttered, to say the least. It is lacks any coherence whatsoever, given that everything is happening at once and you, as the viewer, aren’t interested in any one subplot.

Not only is the story cluttered, but the cast of characters is too. There are just too many characters, and very few serve a real purpose. A prime example of this is the 14-year-old girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner) introduced at the beginning of the movie. She shows up at the beginning, does nothing useful the whole movie, and pops back up at the end.

Izabella (Isabela Moner), who ends up not having…any effect on the movie’s story. Credit: Paramount

Transformers: The Last Knight is an utterly brainless, confusing clump of story. It’s quite forgettable as well, as it’s basically made up of generic subplots stacked on top of each other, intertwined with giant explosions. This movie is exhausting to keep up with: I, myself, lost track of the plot around the end of the second act. The movie moves from dumb sequence to dumber sequence with an either exhausting side story in the middle or groan-worthy dialogue. Did I mention that this movie is 2 1/2 hours? Compared to other Transformers movies, that’s half an hour shorter, but it still feels 3 hours. Everything feels dragged out. Don’t expect Optimus Prime a ton either; he’s on all the trailers and posters, but is barely in the movie until the end.

The last act of Transformers: The Last Knight is just a mess. It’s just a bunch of Michael Bay explosions and action, but there’s so much going on at the same time that it becomes a nonsensical mush of action. Although not as much as previous Michael Bay movies, Transformers 5 somewhat shamelessly objectifies women, and racial stereotypes are sometimes played up. The product placement here is quite blatant and obvious.

Optimus Prime (left) and Bumblebee (bottom center) during the movie’s climax. Credit: Paramount

One thing that bugged me constantly throughout this movie was the changing of aspect ratios. Aspect ratios are whether or not the black bar on the top of the screen is present, and because Michael Bay shot this with different cameras, they constantly change. He shot partly in IMAX, which is extremely nice to look at when it fills up the screen, but he constantly changes to digital camera, which means that there’s a small black box popping up and down. And he doesn’t only change when an action sequence is over: he often does it within a scene, after a few shots, which isn’t only distracting and irritating, but also jarring. Besides this, some of the editing at times is very choppy and sometimes just strange. The Last Knight is lazily written, edited, and acted, but it will still probably rake in a ton of money at the box office.

Overall, Transformers: The Last Knight is a horrible movie. The dialogue is awkward, the plot is overstuffed with subplot after subplot, and the aspect ratio changing is annoying. It is a brainless, nonsensical blob, albeit boasting stunning visuals and cluttered, but entertaining action sequences.

Wonder Woman- Movie Review

Wonder Woman. Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Wonder Woman is the fourth movie in the DC Cinematic Universe and is set during World War I. It follows Diana (Gal Gadot), who is a princess on Themyscira, an island in the ocean occupied by only women. One day, a plane crashes in the ocean and Diana discovers a soldier named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine): the first man she has ever seen.  From him, she learns about the ongoing war and feels the need to stop it, so she goes with him to fight in the war.

Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Credit: Warner Bros.

How is it? 8.8/10                                                                                                                  Tasked with delivering one of the first female-led, female-directed big-budget superhero movies…ever, as well as rescuing the DCEU from a critical slump, Wonder Woman is fantastic all around. However, it does face some problems.

The Ups                                                                                                                                     There is a lot to love about this movie, and the biggest thing, perhaps, is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She gives the audience an excellent, well-rounded performance that conveys all of Diana’s strengths and flaws and defines her as THE Wonder Woman. Her character tells a fish-out-of-water story, as she isn’t used to either men or modern society, which brings plenty of laughs.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Credit: Warner Bros.

Chris Pine almost rivals Gal Gadot in terms of an amazing performance. He brings the charisma and charm in spades and is very believable as Steve Trevor. His comedic timing both reacting to Diana’s distinct culture and trying to help her blend in is really, really funny.  The two stars’ chemistry is off-the-walls. You cannot take your eyes off the screen when the two are together and they bring a heartfelt, at times, comedic, relationship to the movie.

This movie has lots of comedy and definitely is funnier than previous DC films, with the entire cast having their share of laughs. Speaking of which, the supporting cast is great. A standout for me was Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, Steve Trevor’s assistant.

Patty Jenkins provides fantastic direction in the film and carries it well. She brings many tender, quiet moments that are, honestly, as great as the action. There is genuine emotion in this movie: there are many compelling character-driven moments that are very affecting and involving.

Wonder Woman during the thrilling sequence where she steps into No Man’s Land and faces an army of soldiers. Credit: Warner Bros.

The action in this movie is just…wow. It has many brilliantly choreographed and epic action set-pieces including a grand battle at Themyscira, another one where Wonder Woman takes on an army of German soldiers (my favorite scene), and the final CGI fight. Slow-mo is utilized to awesome effect here in every battle.

This movie deserves praise for its lighthearted tone and hopefulness. The Wonder Woman we see in this movie has no sense of cynicism and is innocent and hopeful, which is refreshing , as most superheroes today spend their time brooding. Additionally, this movie utilizes COLOR, unlike a lot of recent superhero movies: this is a superhero movie, after all.

The lush island of Themiscyra, a key location where color really shines in this film. Credit: Warner Bros.

A great thing about Wonder Woman is that it is very standalone in the DCEU: sure, there are some connections to the greater universe, but in functions great on its own.

Finally, the visual effects in this are fantastic, as would be expected from a superhero movie today.

The Downs                                                                                                                                Now, the problems with the movie. My main issue with Wonder Woman is its villains. There are three main villains, General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), a German general; Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), a chemist cooking up deadly gases from Luderndorff to unleash; and Ares, the CGI big-bad of the film, who I won’t give too much away about. None of these three villains have much development, motivation, or payoff at all, so you really don’t care a ton about them.

General Ludendorff (left) and Doctor Poison (right). Credit: Warner Bros.

The third act in Wonder Woman, sadly, resorts to your typical superhero blockbuster fare in that its doused in CGI with giant explosions, This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just feels very familiar and is dragged out a bit. The effects in this movie, at times, is slightly questionable and I don’t love the visuals on her Lasso of Truth. Some of Wonder Woman’s giant jumps in action sequences look a little cartoonish also. In addition, the slow-mo does feel a little overused sometimes, but is mostly great.

Overall, Wonder Woman is a wonderful (no pun intended) movie that has two extremely likeable stars, great comedic chemistry between them, a perfect Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot, thrilling action, a hopeful lens for the DCEU, and a genuinely emotional touch. However, it does face some problems with its underdeveloped villains and standard third act.