Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Micro Movie Reviews: August 2018

Movies: Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs. Beware: There be spoilers.

Avengers: Infinity War

This was a big dumb spectacle. I was pretty thorough in explaining exactly how dumb in my recent YouTube video on the movie's fight scenes. However the spectacle portion more than makes up for it. Ten years ago if you had told me I would see Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Thanos, Gamora, Thor, Spiderman, and Black Panther all together in one big budget live action movie, I would have laughed in your face. Yet here we are. MCU deserves a lot of credit for pulling this off and coming away with a reasonably coherent film with an ending that, while predictable, was an interesting change of pace. Brolin's Thanos really made the film. After the next film I suspect it is all down hill from here. We shall see.

Grade: B-

Deadpool 2

I have no strong opinions about this movie at all even though it went out of its way to be as over the top, zany, and offensive as possible. The action was decent and there were a few laugh out loud moments. But the story was forgettable and none of the performances left much of an impression. Brolin did alright as Cable but he didn't have much interesting to do. I didn't like the race-swapping of Domino nor did I like the fact that she is another entry in a recent trend of boring, invincible Mary Sue type characters. Ryan Reynolds did his damndest to carry this movie from scene to scene, but what felt effortless in the last movie came across as insufferable and try-hard this time around. I would still say it's worth seeing once. Your mileage may vary on the humor.

Grade: C-

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Since the second movie the Mission Impossible franchise has basically just been "The Tom Cruise Show." This one is no different. It offers some very cool set pieces. We get one of the best "Tom Cruise running really hard," scenes ever and an amazing helicopter chase at the end. Yet the movie never rises above simply being another iteration of the same old tropes. Even worse, the villains are lame. Lane does not even come close to feeling like the threat he did in the last film. Cavill's tough guy character never gets a moment to show up Ethan Hunt. He gets embarrassed on the HALO jump and in the bathroom fight. What they should have done is have Ethan lose the bathroom fight and then have Cavill win it, showing he's a better fighter. This would have created tension for the final confrontation. But nope, instead, it's another episode of "The Tom Cruise Show." A pleasant diversion, but not really worth a second watch like some of the better flicks in this series.

Grade: C

Incredibles 2

This would have been much better received if it had come out 13 years ago. Don't get me wrong; it's entertaining as hell. Jack Jack the baby steals every moment he is on screen. There are also some truly heartfelt moments with Mr. Incredible serving as a stay at home dad. Far from feeling like a Feminist screed emasculating Mr. Incredible, the quieter parts of the movie highlight just how challenging and valuable the work of a stay at home parent really is. In spite of all that, the movie just feels unnecessary. The plot is identical to the first film right down to the villain's motivation. The only difference is that the villain this time around has even less competence and charisma. The movie ends with a feeling like nothing really changed. It's all too safe. Would that they had taken a risk and actually showed the Parr family 13 years in the future, with Violet and Dash as adults dealing with a changed society. That would have been a riskier and more difficult film to make, but certainly a more memorable.

Grade: C+

Isle of Dogs

This was excellent from start to finish. I went into this with zero expectations knowing nothing about it, and what I got was, well, a bit of everything. A great kids' movie, a timeless adventure story, a subtle comedy, an exploration of Japanese culture, and an emotional ode to man's best friend. I have never even had a dog and yet I teared up at a few moments. The voice cast alone makes this a must-see - Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, and Harvey Keitel, to name a few. The animation is artful and fitting for the mood. There is an amazing sushi making scene that stood out in my mind. It also portrays Japanese society honestly and with real care. It gets a lot of little details right regarding physical mannerisms and language. I can't understand how anyone would criticize Wes Anderson for "Cultural Appropriation" (which is bullshit by the way). The experience of the movie is a bit different if you happen to be fluent in Japanese as I am. You catch a few more details, but really, non-Japanese speakers aren't missing very much. Do yourself a favor and go see this.

Grade: A-