All posts by desai777

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.

Ranking the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

So far, there have been 16 movies in the MCU, or Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Spider-Man: Homecoming just having come out in July. This is a ranking of all 16 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

16) Iron Man 2– Even if you’re a HUGE Iron Man fan like me, don’t watch Iron Man 2: it’s boring, unentertaining, has a weak villain, and only has one really good fight scene. 2.5/5

15) The Incredible Hulk– The Incredible Hulk has a few impressive action sequences, but it lacks humor, the fun elements of other Marvel movies, and major connections to the rest of the Marvel Universe. If you’re new to the Hulk character, and want a decent origin story, watch The Incredible Hulk. 3/5

14) Thor: the Dark World– Thor: the Dark World is an awesome movie. The Dark World has some really funny moments, as well as breathtaking action and special effects. It shows the audience more of Loki, and his chemistry with Thor is one of the best parts of the movie. Overall, Thor: the Dark World is an entertaining movie worth watching. 3.5/5

13) Thor– Thor wouldn’t have been this far down on the list if it hadn’t been for all the other Marvel movies. Don’t get me wrong, Thor is awesome- the action’s great, it’s pretty funny, and the special effects are amazing- but it’s not as good as some of the more recent additions to the MCU. 4/5

12) Captain America: the First Avenger– The First Avenger is a great movie, although not as good as it sequel, the Winter Soldier. It has some funny moments, spectacular action, and likable characters. However, it does start a little slow.  It also boasts a strong performance on the part of Chris Evans. If you like Captain America and want a good story packed with action and humor, watch the First Avenger. 4/5

11) Avengers: Age of Ultron– Age of Ultron is definitely not as good as its predecessor, but is still pretty good. It has amazing special effects, awesome fight sequences, and is pretty funny. But it is also overstuffed and and the romance between Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Black Widow is hard to watch and terrible. While the villain may seem a little generic,  James Spader is great as Ultron. For die hard fans, Age of Ultron will please, but probably not as much for casual fans. 4/5

10) Iron Man– The one that started off all the MCU movies and created the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist we’ve all come to know and love. And it is a pretty good movie. It serves as a great origin story for Iron Man ( ’cause let’s be honest, who knew about “Iron Man” until 2008?), provided really good action, and was pretty funny. It also picked the PERFECT person to play Tony Stark: Robert Downey Jr.- could we now imagine anyone else playing him? Looking at it now, it may not seem as great as all the new ones, but it was quite original in 2008. 4.5/5

9) Ant-Man– In spite of its silly concept, Ant-Man turned out to be a wonderful Marvel movie, different from the norm that the Avengers set. Yet it’s still full of humor, action, and dazzling special effects that’ll prove this unique Marvel movie is up to par with the rest of them. Ant-Man isn’t only a superhero movie, it’s also a heist movie- Ant-Man has to steal a similar suit from his mentor’s rival who will use it for evil (yes, I am aware that sound almost identical to the first Iron Man, but there is still a bunch separating it from Iron Man). Paul Rudd also provides a great everyman performance as Scott Lang, an ordinary thief who becomes a superhero. Ant-Man is one of the best Marvel movies that is definitely worth watching. 4.25/5

8) Doctor Strange– This movie just proves that Marvel hasn’t lost their hot streak in 8 years because, wow, it is good! Doctor Strange may follow a similar formula to Iron Man and story to Iron Man, but it definitely feels fresh throughout. Doctor Strange has amazing character development, and acting by, well, the whole cast! And the visuals…The visuals in Doctor Strange warrant it the best-looking Marvel movie ever, and it explores the more…mystical and magical realm of the MCU. Its action bounces off these visuals and is…different, to say the least, than the rest of the Marvel movies. Finally, its score is amazing and it has humor and comic relief sprinkled throughout, that hits at all the right moments. 4.25/5

7) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Guardians Vol. 2 is fantastic. The first movie being the intergalactic, heartwarming delight that it was, there were some pretty high expectations going into this.  Guardians 2 meets those expectations for sure: it doubles up on what we loved about the first one, including its action, comedy, dazzling visuals, intriguing characters, and heart, but also tries something new. Guardians takes each of its characters and gives them an arc, exploring their distinct backstories and dynamics. Baby Groot is just…aagh, SO CUTE, and the movie packs the biggest, most impactful emotional punch yet in the MCU.  Kurt Russell is spectacular as Ego, Star-Lords father, and also, that soundtrack.  However, the plot is messy and you don’t really know what the overall purpose is until the end of the second act: it lacks urgency and can get choppy at times. 4.25/5

6) Iron Man 3– Iron Man 3 is a truly spectacular movie. It’s an entertaining movie full of action, special effects, wit, and humor. Iron Man 3 not only shows  the suit in action: it shows Tony Stark without his suit of armor, which some say worsens the movie, but I think actually betters it: it’s not all about the suit, but about what Stark would do without it. One down, though, was that the twist on the villain was smart, but disappointing. Iron Man 3 is a funny, smart, well-acted, and action-packed Marvel movie, and considerably one of the best. 4.35/5

5) Spider-Man: Homecoming- The movie that brought Spider-Man back to Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming not only gave us the best version of Spidey ever put to screen, but also hysterical comedy, great action, and awesome characters. Spider-Man: Homecoming has the classic high school feel of a John Hughes movie, but doesn’t skimp on the CGI action. It has great, interesting characters, but never ceases being entertaining. It has a charismatic, believable performance from Tom Holland, but also a surprising, engaging plot. And Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned was pretty great as well. It might have some low stakes and a tad too many characters (not to mention the spoilery trailers), but those are minor gripes on an otherwise fantastic movie. 4.5/5

4) Captain America: the Winter Soldier- Many have called it the greatest Marvel movie of all time. And it is truly an AMAZING movie. Its plot is great, it’s action is some of the best we’ve seen from a Marvel movie, and it has a huge plot twist that is actually permanent, unlike some other superhero movies. It’s thrilling and always keeps you on your toes. It even has lots of humor to lighten the mood when it gets dark. Also, Chris Evans gives a great performance as Cap, who has a hard time accepting the world as it is today. 5/5

3) Guardians of the Galaxy– The movie that everyone, including myself, were skeptical about, with characters that literally no one knew. It actually turned out to be AWESOME! There’s a certain magic to seeing Guardians for the first time, and that retains even on repeat viewings. Guardians is probably tied for funniest MCU movie with Ant-Man, and had moments that made me laugh out loud. It embraces its Marvel movie core, with huge CGI battles, and great special effects, and has a ton heart. Its characters were unique, likable, and hilarious, with some of them being a walking tree and a machine gun-wielding raccoon (yes, those are actual movie characters). It provided us with a new tone for Marvel movies, being more of a space opera movie, and I truly love this movie. Guardians of the Galaxy is a really good movie that, despite all doubts, will entertain you for a good two hours. 5/5

2) The Avengers– The Avengers is a movie for fans of all Marvel superheroes- whether it’s Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, or Black Widow. It managed to bring the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes together without being overstuffed. Its acting as well is really strong. The cast and their chemistry is a major highlight of the movie. It also has a strong story, and a great villain, unlike other MCU entries.  It’s super funny, has awesome large-scale special effects and action, a great cast, and is the second best MCU movie yet. 5/5

1) Captain America: Civil War– The movie that all the others have been building up to since The Avengers. And Civil War definitely delivers.  It is action-packed, contains one of the best fights in the MCU- the airport fight- and has lots of humor throughout. Newcomers Spider-Man and Black Panther are wonderful, and the first adds great comic relief.  Even the villain, Helmut Zemo, was pretty strong and had believable motivations. This movie basically hits every spot, with well-developed characters, a smart plot, great action, staying light-hearted, and going into darker ideas. Not to mention the fantastic acting from the entire cast, that really brings out each characters motivations. 5/5

That’s my ranking of the MCU movies, but what’s yours? Tell your opinion in the comments section below.

Spider-Man: Homecoming- Movie Review

Credit: Marvel Studios

What is it about?                                                                                                                     After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is back at high school. Trying to manage to still be a normal teenager, Peter wants to do more than just be a neighborhood Spider-Man as The Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges, causing trouble as a threat towards Spidey.

How is it? 8.9/10                                                                                                     Spider-Man: Homecoming is a sensational movie that not only does justice to the character, but provides the audience with a truly entertaining experience.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Ups                                                                                                                                       Following his fantastic performance in Civil War, Tom Holland shows us that he really is Spider-Man. He is the perfect choice for the character and embodies the Spider-Man from the comics. He’s clumsy, gets excited about being a superhero, and is naive but extremely likable. Tom Holland not only looks like he’s the character, but also acts it: his role here sums up what an actual high schooler would do if put in this situation.

The comedy here really works. Homecoming is a really, really funny movie. Everyone has their comedic moments, but standouts are Peter, his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and high school outcast Michelle (Zendaya). Another thing to give the film props for is the high school element. On top of being a superhero movie, it is also a John Hughes-esque teen movie. It captures a high school feeling and shows Peter in class, with friends, and during his day-to-day life. Overall, the tone here is like a Spider-Man comic: it’s colorful, fun, funny, and hopeful!

Credit: Marvel Studios

The CGI here is truly spectacular. All the work on Spidey, Vulture, and Iron Man is amazing and assists the action. Speaking of which, the action is superbly choreographed and you get to see Spider-Man swinging around neighborhoods, using his suit and powers in special ways. There are lots of great set-pieces, and the standout for me is the Washington DC sequence glimpsed at in the trailers. It’s a fantastic mix of action, comedy, and suspense.

As far as characters go, this movie hits home. Ned, Peter’s best friend, is excellently performed by Jacob Batalon. He’s really funny and acts like a real best friend: that is, he gets excited when he finds out Peter’ secret, and pressures him with questions. Michael Keaton gives a charismatic performance as the Vulture. The character’s motivation is easy to get behind of. Additionally, the character isn’t hard to sympathize with: he’s not too strong of a villain, as he is a smaller-scale one, but entertaining nonetheless. Iron Man is used sparingly here so that he doesn’t steal the film from Spidey, which is a great thing. But when he’s on screen, you can’t deny how entertaining Downey is. Stark’s assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has a small role in the movie, which I won’t say too much about, but his use and relationship with Peter is always a delight. The bully Flash Thompson is approached differently here, as instead of a stereotypical “jock”, this time he’s snarky and mean to Parker, which was an interesting version of the character. There’s a fresh take on Aunt May as well, and Marisa Tomei gives a good performance as her.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The romance in this movie never bogs it down. It’s present, and when there are elements of it onscreen, it’s organic and plays out well. It involves Peter’s teen crush on a girl in his school named Liz (Laura Harrier), but I won’t say anything more. The plot here is not too predictable, and there are plenty of surprises and turns. The MCU connections in Homecoming are not distracting and there are some fun references to the greater universe. Spider-Man: Homecoming does deliver on emotion and has a hopeful, good-hearted Spidey.

Composed by Michael Giacchino, the score for this flick is great. It contains an awesome rendition of the classic Spider-Man theme from the 60s.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Downs                                                                                                                      One character I didn’t love in Homecoming was Zendaya’s character Michelle. She was very one-note and sort of hung around to make sarcastic comments and mope: not to say she isn’t funny, but she is very minor and inconsequential. There are quite a few characters in this movie, some of which end up underdeveloped. Some examples of this are Michelle and Donald Glover’s mystery character who I won’t disclose the identity of here.

Another problem I had with this movie involved its marketing. Some of the trailers had been infamous for giving away some big set-pieces, and while there are surprises to be had, there was some unnecessary spoiling. There were also some really great moments that didn’t need to be hinted at in trailers.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Finally, the stakes in the movie aren’t very large. Because Spider-Man is a street-level hero, stakes are lower here, especially at the end. Even though that was the feel of the movie, it still felt a little underwhelming and made it harder to feel invested in the finale.

Overall, I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming. It delivered on everything I expected, and brought even more to the table. The story was ambitious, the film was never short on comedy, all the action was executed perfectly, and Tom Holland was the perfect Spider-Man.

Despicable Me 3- Movie Review

Despicable Me 3. Credit: Universal

What is it about?                                                                                                                     The third Despicable Me movie and the fourth in the franchise, Despicable Me 3 is about villain-turned-hero Gru, now living with his wife Lucy and three daughters Agnes, Edith, and Margo. He finds out he has a more successful twin brother, Dru, who wants to revive their family’s tradition of villainy and go on one more heist. Meanwhile,supervillain Balthazar Bratt, who was a child actor in the 80s, but got his show canceled, is on the loose.

Gru (left) next to his brother Dru (right), both voiced by Steve Carrell. Credit: Universal

How is it? 5.9/10                                                                                            Despicable Me 3 is a serviceable, mediocre fourth installment in the Despicable Me franchise that is occasionally funny, but is too formulaic and forgettable to stand out.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       This movie, as it is a comedy, does have a few funny lines. However, there is some humor that doesn’t work as well, which I will cover more in The Downs.

The animation here is great. The visual work on all of the characters is fantastic, as is the par for animated movies these days. In addition, this movie is super colorful, which goes with the sugary, light-hearted tone of it.

Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), the 80s themed villain of the movie. Credit: Universal

Like most movies in this franchise, the voice acting here is pretty good, and quite entertaining throughout the cast. Everyone has fun delivering their lines, and some characters that show this are Balthazar Bratt, voiced by Trey Parker,  who is always gleefully over-the-top, and Gru, voiced by Steve Carrell. Gru’s daughter Agnes continues to be one of the funniest characters in these movies as she deliver innocently adorable dialogue that brings laughs.

Gru (Steve Carrell) facing off against Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Credit: Universal

This movie is also relatively fast paced and moves along briskly. This speediness seldom allows the audience to get bored.

The Downs                                                                                                                                About the humor in Despicable Me 3, a lot of it falls flat. I rarely found myself laughing, and many of the jokes just weren’t too funny. On top of this, the few good jokes were mostly given away in the trailers. The story here is quite forgettable as well. It follows the formula of the rest of the Despicable Me movies quite closely and is rarely inventive. The plot took very few risks and wasn’t that ambitious.

(Left to right): Dru and Gru (Steve Carrell) quarreling while Lucy (Kristen Wiig) is in the background. Credit: Universal

Dru, Gru’s twin brother in the film, isn’t too entertaining. He’s basically a more light-hearted version of Gru and there’s nothing about him that makes him very special. In addition, Balthazar Bratt, the villain, is nothing more than a gimmick. His character occasionally pops on screen to make an 80s reference, which the target audience probably won’t connect with and listen along to an 80s song.

Despicable Me 3 skips along from subplot to subplot to maintain the audience’s attention. There are several side stories all going on at the same time, which may seem entertaining as there is always something happening, but prevents any real exploration of a single story. None of the characters are too well developed because of this.

A Minion up to no good in prison during one of the flick’s funnier sequences. Credit: Universal

The Minions, whether you like, love them, or find them extremely annoying, have a small side role. Their role is entertaining and funny enough, but pretty inconsequential. However, this is a good thing, given that with too much screen time, they would probably distract from the movie more.

Overall, Despicable Me 3 is a generally light-hearted, well-animated flick that, besides a few funny bits, falls flat. It jumps to various different side stories when a single subplot begins to feel tired. The movie does stays fast-moving, never feeling too slow, but eventually is quite unmemorable.

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.