Review: Incredibles 2

After a 14 year stretch between films, the Parr family is back and they didn’t skip a beat. Writer and director Brad Bird finally delivered on a follow-up to Disney-Pixar’s celebrated superhero adventure with Incredibles 2!

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Image by Disney-Pixar

The Parr family springs back into action which picks up right where the first film left off: in a scramble to thwart the actions of the Underminer but the clan of supers are still operating in a world where costumed crusaders are outlawed by the governments of the world but business big shot and superhero sympathizer Winston Deavor sees an opportunity to change the political landscape for supers everywhere!

Deavor and his sister Evelyn, recruit Elastigirl to act as a superhero advocate and operate in a city where crime is high to change public perception on supers, while Mr. Incredible takes on a mission he is not prepared for: a stay at home dad.

While Bob and Helen adjust to their new roles, with Dash and Violet expressing their desires to go out and become heroes like their parents and Jack-Jack growing into his many powers, a new adversary dubbed The Screenslaver seeks to keep supers outlawed forever; The Parrs, Frozone and a new generation of supers must jump into action before the Screenslaver’s mesmerizing and mad visions become reality.

I was 13 when The Incredibles came out and I loved it. Looking back, I could see why it is considered a landmark feature for Disney-Pixar and it is certainly one of the great all-time animated adventures. Now, 14 years later, we finally get a sequel that picks up where the first film left off and when the end-credits started rolling, I applauded! Incredibles 2 is a triumph!

Brad Bird, my hat is off to you! Fourteen years and these characters and the world you have created for them are just a super as ever! The plot is engaging and zippy but it still feels so remarkably fresh, vibrant, relevant; the way this movie is written to put Elastigirl/Helen’s character in the lead, saving the world, while Mr. Incredible is relegated to staying home and watching the kids, while Jack-Jack is freaking everyone out with his abilities and we see Frozone and Edna again, while introduced to new characters, I could not be more impressed with the dedication and precision Bird put into this movie after all of these years!

The vocal talents of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Huck Millner, Eli Fucile, Brad Bird, Michael Bird, Jonathan Banks, are still aces! The personality they brought to these characters is just as rich as they were when The Incredibles arrived in theaters! The new additions of Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Sophia Bush, Phil LaMarr, Isabella Rossellini and Paul Eiding also added spark to this picture.

Once again, the magic of Disney-Pixar never fails to impress! The animation is lush, dazzling and I don’t think I’ve ever been more spellbound by an animated sequence than the round of fisticuffs between the Screenslaver and Elastigirl! That was practically perfect to behold!

Michael Giacchino’s score is superb; the body of work he has building in career is only growing higher and higher and he is truly becoming one of the greats. I just have to say that if it isn’t already apparent.

Mahyar Abousaeedi’s cinematography exhilaratingly captures the action, Stephen Schaffer’s editing is outstanding, the production design is Ralph Eggleston is sublime, Josh Holtsclaw’s art direction is precise and prodigious! The technical acumen of this picture is nothing short of extraordinary!

I have a strong hunch that there will be a follow-up to Incredibles 2 and I hope Brad Bird and Disney-Pixar don’t put us through another 14 year hiatus before it happens! This raises the bar for animated films to come and we’re not done with animated features for this year!

Take a bow Disney-Pixar! Incredibles 2 swoops in, goes for the win and instead pulls off an incredible triumph!šŸ‘šŸ‘šŸ‘

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Movie of the Week: Incredibles 2

Before Disney took ownership of Marvel, before Iron Man, before the Dark Knight trilogy, there was a formidable family of superheroes everyone couldn’t help but love! Times were simpler then; there were no comic book universes, no warring fandoms, just a movie for everyone to love no matter how old you were. After 14 years, Disney and Pixar are dusting off one of their many animated achievements and giving the Parr family a brand new adventure and audiences may be in store for something more incredible than ever! Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, Violet, Jack-Jack and Frozone are making a comeback! Incredibles 2 finally arrives in theaters!

Director: Brad Bird

Written by: Brad Bird

Featuring the voices of: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Huck Millner, Sarah Vowell, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Sophia Bush, Brad Bird, Isabella Rossellini, Michael Bird and Phil LaMarr.

What am I expecting to see?: I remember The Incredibles being damn good 14 years ago. New refreshing characters, an intriguing plot to wrap my head around “what if superheroes were outlawed?”, beautiful animation, great pacing, great score; a truly remarkable piece of work from Disney-Pixar and now we finally get to know what happens when and after the Underminer surfaces. This is actually a sequel I’ve been waiting for and I believe that it has the clout to hold up with the original.

Review: Avengers: Infinity War

After ten years, three phases, 18 films, an estimated $14B in box office revenue worldwide, it has ALL. LEAD. TO. THIS!!!Ā 

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Image by Marvel Studios

From the opening moments of Avengers: Infinity War, the Mad Titan Thanos makes his presence felt after working behind the scenes to instigate his grand design for years. With the Infinity Gauntlet in his possession and the Black Order at his side, Thanos blazes a trail of death and destruction across the cosmos to lay claim to the Six Infinity Stones.

Thanos is on a crusade rooted in his sick and savage sense of morality. His mission: to bring balance to the universe by reducing the population of the entire universe in half and with all six Infinity Stones, he can accomplish that with tremendous ease. His Black Order sets out into the universe to retrieve Thanos’ prizes and orders them to let nothing and no one stand in their way.

The threat of the Mad Titan’s ambitions is enough to spur The Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers into action because of their personal ties to Thanos and his goal. The question is, can Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the universe’s best band of outlaws work fast enough to stop him from achieving his dark dream?

Suffice to say, Avengers: Infinity War eviscerated my soul! If you have been on this ride that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the beginning, you can tell yourself that you are ready for this movie all you want! Nothing can prepare you for the triumphs, tragedies and the unrelenting trauma that this movie will put you through and when you come out, when you come home, you come home completely numb!

The Russo Brothers embraced the challenge of assembling all of the major players of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and pitting them against this unstoppable force that is Josh Brolin’s Thanos. The Russos, alongside writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, weaved and blended together all of the distinct themes and elements from all of the Marvel movies leading up to this and brought them to a crescendo so devastating and beautiful, it would be practically a sin to look away from.

The galaxy of stars in the MCU, shined no matter the time they had on screen. At this point, there is nothing but love for Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Sean Gunn, the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Gwyneth Paltrow, William Hurt, Benedict Wong, Benecio Del Toro, Winston Duke, Jacob Batalon, Colbie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson for the marks they left on the movies leading up to this. Newcomers such as Peter Dinklage, Carrie Coon, Michael James Shaw, Terry Notary, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor, were all cool but Brolin stole the show as Thanos; heck, the way the Joe and Anthony Russo set up Avengers: Infinity War? It was practically Thanos’ movie from the jump!

Alan Silvestri’s score was elevated to new heights, Trent Opaloch’s cinematography was stellar, Jeffery Ford and Matthew Schmidt’s editing was excellent, Charles Wood’s production design was fantastic, the art direction was beautiful, the set decoration by Leslie Pope was practically flawless, Judianna Makovsky’s costumes were also practically flawless, the make-up and visual effects make up the best I’ve seen so far this year; all of the discipline and dedication that it took to make the film that brings the Phase Three to a heart-stopping climax, it could be felt.

It is going to take some time to recover from the fallout that was Avengers: Infinity War. You feel so much watching it and when it is done, it’s like you can’t feel anything at all. I can’t remember any movie ever having that effect me. Ever!

Review: Kong: Skull Island

For the fourth time in the history of American filmmaking, one of the all time great movie monsters bows into theaters to pound his chest, roar and reign supreme over an island not meant for man to tread. It’s director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to give life to a beast some have dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World in Kong: Skull Island.

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Image by Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.

Fair warning: the plot for the film will be familiar ifĀ one is familiar withĀ the mythos of KongĀ from the past. In in the early 1970s,Ā a scientific expedition to an uncharted island in the South Pacific goes horribly awry, when a team led by Colonel Preston Packard, decommissioned SAS Captain James Conrad and researcher Bill Randa run afoul of Kong, the mammoth ape protector of Skull Island. Their first encounter with the beast results in seven soldiers dead and the research team separated and every single soul on the island is in grave peril, but not from Kong; the truth is that Kong is the island’s deterrent to creatures far more frightening.

I won’t go out of my way to tell you that Kong: Skull Island is a blockbuster worthy of a king or it should be rightfully crowned. I found the picture rather tame with a few original twists but I suppose I was just unsatisfied with the final result.

If Kong: Skull Island had any selling points, it would be that I thought Vogt-Roberts and the writing team of Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly did a nice job in adhering to Kong’s origins and island life/persona: a fearsome protector to those in need, always ready to aid a damsel, worshipped as a god on Skull Island. I felt that they recognized the scope and grandeur of the title character and did what they could to make him as big as possible but the film itself just couldn’t measure up to the enormity of Kong’s reputation. Seriously, take the giant ape out of the picture and what are you left with?

For starters you have a movie that is weighed down to the anchored to the homages paid to Apocalypse Now, which is excessive to the point of over-the-top. This movie could have occurred in any time period so, why at the end of the Vietnam War?

You also have a movie that simply wastes a lot of star power. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Tian Jing, Thomas Mann, Will Britain, Richard Jenkins; there are many good actors in this movie and this cast tries to deliver good performances where they can but like Godzilla, they’re not why audiences show up! Whatever contributions they do make, go to waste because the material they are working with is shallow andĀ the visual effects steals the show.

Larry Fong’s cinematography aims to be strong but reeks of inconsistency and the editing Richard Pearson follows suit, which is unfortunate. Stefan DeChant’s production design is striking, the art direction is commendable, the set decoration by Cynthia La Jeunesse is fine, Mary E. Vogt’s costumes aimed for authenticity; technically there was a lot to respect with this film and what did you didn’t like, you forgot.

Maybe I subconsciously compared Kong: Skull Island to its 2005 predecessor by Peter Jackson, even though I didn’t want to, but ultimately I couldn’t help but notice that Jackson’s Kong had the girth and dimensions to bring Kong to its Kingly status while this film felt cartoonish. Kong: Skull Island is fun, in it’s own way, but lacking.

Movie of the Week: Kong: Skull Island

2017 will mark the fourth year in which one of the most famous movie monsters of all time has ever graced the silver screen. In 1933, 1975 and 2005, audiences the world over has seen different takes of the enormously proportioned primate who reigned supreme over his domain only to be captured and felled in the domain of man. This weekend marks Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to bring the giant ape to the big screen as a team of explorers ventures out into uncharted territory teeming with danger and atop the pyramid of Skull Island is a king whose reign about to be challenged by an unforeseen enemy: modern day man. Kong: Skull Island bows into theaters this week.

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Screenwriters: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, John Ortiz and Toby Kebbell

What am I expecting to see?: The producers behind this movie have big plans for this film and I hope that this movie does enough to see these plans come to fruition. I want this movie to honor the Kong movies that came before it while doing everythingĀ it can to make a proper mark for itself. I don’t expect it to reach the epic levels that Peter Jackson’s King Kong reached in 2005 but I for one hope that Kong: Skull Island has its fun.

The King of Skull Island! Teaser Trailer

It is not wise to walk into another’s house and start a fight. That’s just extremely bad manners. It’s all the more unwise to venture into a monarch’s kingdom and drop bombs. That’s literally a declaration of war! A team of explorers and scientists embark upon an excursion onto a mythic island, where creatures never seen beforeĀ call home and in their pursuit to study the island, they incur the wrath of the island’s protector! This team is caught in a maelstrom of chaos as they navigate uncharted terrain, evade exotic beasts and face unknown fears as they are in the grand presence of the King of Skull Island: KONG!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy, Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Tian Jing andĀ Jason Mitchell. Treading upon Skull Island is forbidden but an excursion will take place on March 10, 2017.

An Assessment that is Summer 2016 at the Movies

I certainly didn’t see every movie that came out this summer but I certainly tried to see every movie of note that was released. To say that the films released between the period of mid-May to the twilight of August and speaking of the twilight of August: we’re in it! The Rio Olympics, which I did not bother watching at all, came and passed, NFL preseason is halfway through, the back-to-school advertisements are out in full force, and even though the final official day of summer arrives in early September, I’m ready to call it: summer’s over. That being said, I’d like to take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of the last few months at the movies!

Summer 2016’s biggest surprise: Hell or High Water

Man, I’m still aglow over this knockout comtemporary Western gifted to us by director David McKenzie and rising star screenwriter Taylor Sheridan! In case you missed my review, Hell or High Water stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two bandit brothers determined to keep a bank from foreclosing on their family farm by elaborately robbing various branches throughout Texas. Jeff Bridges plays the grizzled long-in-the-tooth lawman nipping at their heels as they tear through the Lone Star State and with a solid 3-man leading ensemble, excellent writing and superb execution, Hell or High Water came out of nowhere and scored a vintage cinematic homerun!

Summer 2016’s biggest disappointment: Now You See Me 2

I can’t remember if I cried when I saw this sequel come untied, but something touched me deep inside, the day Now You See Me 2 proved, the magic had died. The magic, being the magic, fun and the unexpected twists and turns from the original Now You See Me, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and others about a team of magician thieves who pull off criminal feats of awe-inspiring dexterity. Now You See Me 2 is merely one of the many unnecessary sequels of this summer no one asked for and honestly, director Jon M. Chu should have kept this rabbit in its hat.

The superhero movie of the summer: Captain America: Civil War

This decision was not even close! X-Men: Apocalypse failed to live up to the hype, and Suicide Squad was doomed by its own shortcomings, but even if this wasn’t by default, Captain America: Civil War had it all! This star-studded Marvel grand showcase pitted Avenger against Avenger is a thoroughly well-thought out execution of philosophy, orchestrated by powers beyond the Avengers’ field of vision and started Phase Three of the Avengers Initiative with a bang!

Summer 2016’s best animated film: (tie) Finding Dory & Kubo and the Two Strings

2016 was a year to celebrate animated features and two of my most anticipated animated films of this summer did not disappoint at all! Disney & Pixar should probably take home a prize for actually making a sequel that was done right for audiences everywhere were taken back to the sea to check in on Marlyn, Nemo and Dory who set out on a grand adventure to realize who she was and where she came from. Finding Dory was absolutely precious and it should be celebrated not only as one of this summer’s best films but one of the best films of this year, but not so fast!

The latest animated adventure from Laika and Focus Features is a genuine marvel in itself. Kubo and the Two Strings follows the tale of a boy with a magical knack for origami and storytelling and he embarks on a quest to inherit his father’s legacy while supernatural forces are hunting him and his companions down. I’ve always respected the work of Laika and Focus Features’ stop-motion animated adventures but Kubo and the Two Strings is a genuine treasure and a highlight of this summer.

Summer 2016’s best visual effects: Captain America: Civil War

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Image by Marvel

Again, this is another competition the super soldier won without much difficulty and that’s saying something considering the summer is the season where visual effects run rampant throughout movie theaters. Whether it was the fight between Team Cap and Team Iron Man or the final battle between Iron Man and Captain America, this movie was a feast for the eyes.

The best movie of the summer: Hell or High Water

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Image by CBS Films

I should really proclaim this as one of the best film’s I’ve seen this year. Oh wait. I think I did!

The worst movie of the summer: The Legend of Tarzan

There were many to choose from over the past few months. To narrow my choice down, I thought about a movie that I had no high expectations for going in whatsoever and a movie that attempted to or didn’t even try to meet those shallow expectations and what I was left with is The Legend of Tarzan, starring Alexander Skaarsgard, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Djimon Hounsou, in David Yates’ take on the legendary character crafted by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This movie was like watching a snake crawl back into its old skin after shedding it and it was rather unnatural to digest.

Fare the well Summer 2016. I did my best to see your best and I certainly will try to forget your worst, if indeed I did botherĀ seeingĀ them. Anyway, I’m on to fall. Check on my blog for any updates or news or my next film and I’ll see you at the movies.