Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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The Sci-fi genre has always fascinated me the most in terms of cinematic experiences. Whether you're talking about though-provoking movies like Blade Runner or something as extravagant as Star Wars, there is a wide range of stories to explore. Ad Astra marks the most recent major studio Sci-fi release and it's absolutely a winner in my books. There's so much to admire here. I went into this film with slightly high expectations, simply due to the talent involved, and I was not disappointed. Here's why I believe Ad Astra is worth a trip to the movies if you're not feeling tired.
Ad Astra follows Roy McBride, an astronaut in the near future, as he ventures through space in hopes to find his father, who has been missing for years. Along the way, more secrets are uncovered and even deep emotional stakes are explored. Now, this premise seems like your average rescue mission, but it's definitely not that in the slightest. Yes, the movie takes you on this journey, but it really asks you to sit back, enjoy some breathtaking visuals, great sound design, a wonderfully immersive score, and a central character in Roy, who Brad Pitt commits very strongly to.
All of these elements are fantastic and I never found myself bored, but the pacing of this movie is intentionally very, very slow, which I fear will turn off some viewers. At two hours, this movie isn't very long, but it can feel it at times. Other than that, I think what this movie sets out to accomplish is done to near perfection. I was completely immersed in this world and the slow pace almost had me in a trance. I would highly recommend seeing this movie when you're wide awake, because the great score, complemented by a slow pace, will probably make some viewers doze off.
As aforementioned, Brad Pitt leads this film and demands your attention. Everyone knows that he's one of the best out there today, but it's always nice to see when a great actor goes the extra mile in terms of committing to a character. Through his performance alone, I truly cared about the final act of this movie and where certain events ended up. The way he exerts himself and becomes Roy for these couple hours was brilliant.
In the end, I seem to be boasting about this film endlessly in my mind, but I simply can't state it enough. For such a simple premise, the visual effects, score, emotional impact, and overall study of this broken character, I loved every minute of Ad Astra. It's a very relaxing viewing experience, so be wary of getting tired during this movie, but I found that to actually be a positive here somehow. Ad Astra is one of the best movies I've seen this year so far.
Back in 2017, the majority of audiences praised the fact that such a great Stephen King adaptation had been made in It. The television mini-series from 1990 was a very corny version of the story and it went without saying that it deserved a better treatment. Now, the second instalment of that great first film has hit theatres, and like the mini-series, the second portion of the story just isn't as interesting as the first. It: Chapter 2 does warrant a viewing though, especially if you liked the first movie because although it's not exactly great like its predecessor, there's a lot to like here.
Picking up 27 years after the events of the first movie, Pennywise (the clown) has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once again. Reuniting as they promised each other they would, this cast of characters come together to face him one last time. Through various side plots that each character find themselves on, this film may feel slightly long for some viewers at a beefy 169 minutes, but I found that the events unfolding and the performances surrounding them was enough to keep me interested.
Even if you find this film boring at times, it goes without saying that this is once again a stellar cast. Just as they brilliantly cast the kids in the first film, everyone here is on the top of their game. From Bill Hader stealing the show on multiple occasions to the star power of Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy leaping off the screen, there is an endless slew of great character moments. Where this film slightly fell apart for me was in the fact that this movie relies heavily on the past.
Almost seeming to be afraid of letting the past go, this movie flashes back and forth from past and present, showing moments from their childhoods that coincides with current situations. It worked simply due to the fact that the cast of both films is great, but it really did feel like it unnecessarily made the movie longer than it needed to be. With that said, I feel that will be the complaint for most people, but I actually didn't feel the length of this movie. That might have been because I was just in the mood to watch it, but I digress.
In the end, It: Chapter 2 has a great dramatic backbone to it and these performers are giving their all, but the sense of terror and tension is lost a little here in favour of the former. Still, I'm a sucker for a good drama and this film definitely delivers that tenfold. Both of these films feel like they have a sense of finality at the end of them, which is why they both work on their own. The fact that this movie constantly switches between past and present actually makes it easier to watch for those who missed the first movie, which is something I always love. While it's not going to be remembered as a great film on its own, I believe these two movies will work as a great double feature. It's absolutely worth seeing.
Nowadays, good mainstream comedies are very hard to come by. It seems like fewer and fewer are released each year. Since the year 2000, I would argue that the last recent comedy that will go down as a classic was 2009s The Hangover. Yes, we have received great comedies like Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street, and even Horrible Bosses to name a few, but none of those truly feel like they will be talked about by a wide audience in about 20 to 30 years. While Good Boys isn't worthy of that discussion either, I would absolutely say that it comes the closest out of any film that has come out this year.
Trying to make it to a party, Good Boys follows three young boys as they raunchily go about their day, discovering new things, cursing like crazy, being wrapped up in a stolen drug plot, and being chased by older girls. These kids find themselves in one ridiculous scenario after another, which makes for a very entertaining time at the movies. You don't go to movies like this hoping that it will be dramatically resonant with the audience, but it's always nice to see a comedy take the time to add that extra layer, and Good Boys definitely does that.
Jacob Tremblay has the most screentime here and he is fantastic as always. Since his appearance in the film Room, I have and will always continue to follow his career. He is a ridiculously talented young actor. Setting him aside for a minute, I would like to shed light on Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon who play his best friends, or how they refer to themselves, "The Bean Bag Boys." They have done work in television and film, but nothing that I ever recall seeing. With that said, there are multiple occasions where they steal the show and prove they're worthy of long-running careers in comedy as well, at least for now.
Now to comment/criticize the main type of comedy this film always goes for, which is the constant profanity, sex jokes, and adult-oriented humour. Good Boys is the type of film that feels like it's trying to capture the exact same vibe as Superbad, but replacing actual young adults with little kids. Personally, I found this aspect to be very effective, but the screenplay definitely took liberties in the fact that they have so much knowledge about certain things. I can see many viewers being turned off by the actions these characters take throughout the movie, but it worked for me, and let's be honest, it's just a movie.
In the end, I thought Good Boys was hilarious from start to finish. It takes the time to slow down for a few dramatic moments, but they almost feel forced at times, due to the fact that the movie is usually going for comedy 100% of the time until the third act. I think the fact that this movie tries to be like so many other teen comedies actually hurts it in the long run, since they're little kids, but when I was watching it, I really wasn't thinking about that. Good Boys is a really solid comedy that had me laughing throughout, but it's not without its issues. If you're simply looking for a good laugh, definitely check it out.
I've been thinking about calling A24 one of the best studios making films today, but it really hit me while watching The Last Black Man in San Francisco. This is a studio that very carefully picks their projects and more often than not, finds great material to release. I now believe they are not just one of the best, but the absolute best of the best, especially when looking at the films released by studios throughout this decade alone. This character study is one of the best films you will see this year.
Jimmie (Jimmie Fails), finding it hard to cope with the fact that the house his grandfather built may be taken away from him, leaving him with nothing, takes it upon himself to find a way to hold onto it. That's the core premise of the movie and with a strong friendship between Jimmie and Montgomery as the backbone of the dramatic aspects, this is a film that places its main character front and center. With a well fleshed out character that has me engaged from start to finish, you've already won me over, but there is so much more to love and admire here.
Adam Newport-Berra is at the helm as the film's cinematographer and I truly believe this has set the standard for the year. I would be absolutely shocked if he doesn't receive a nomination for his work in the coming months. On top of that, being director Joe talbot's first feature film to be released, it goes without saying that he is a filmmaker that's here to stay and I am giving an early prediction that, if not this year, there will be an awards season in the coming years that consistently rave about something he has done. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is littered with talent from top to bottom.
This movie would be a technical achievement in independent cinema regardless of the material being shown on-screen, but the fact that these technical aspects are buoyed by a central performance that truly moved me was another level of special. Actor Jimmie Fails plays a character by the exact same name and there may be personal influences that helped his performance here, but a great performance is a great performance nonetheless and he delivers one of the best I've seen all year so far.
In the end, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a film that takes its time in setting up the scenarios at hand, dives deep, and eventually delivers a very touching conclusion that had me totally invested. With superb direction, camerawork that deserves many awards, a score that soothes the mind as you're watching, and a core performance that elevates the already great material, this is a film that surely can't be missed. This is one of the very best movies I've seen all year.
From Maleficent to Alice in Wonderland, even though those are films that have been changed the most from their original versions, it really does feel like Disney has now doubled-down on keeping their remakes familiar, down to replicating shots and songs. Many viewers may take offence to this or find it pointless to even watch a remake that doesn't take any creative liberties, but I feel that an updated version for today's kids isn't all that bad. Aladdin is one of the latest films to receive this treatment and I believe it's also one of the better ones they've done.
Following Aladdin (Mena Massoud), a street thief who finds his way into the palace of Princess Jasmine (Noami Scott), eventually stumbles across a lamp that reveals a genie (Will Smith) who will grant him three wishes. The core premise of the original film is very much present here, but there are also a few welcome additions that don't feel forced or disappointing, at least in my opinion. Viewers seem to be complaining about the villain in Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) for being too soft-spoken and not threatening enough, but I thought this take on him felt very refreshing and more sly than overpowering.
Like most of these remakes, there are many shots that just feel like replicas of the classic animated film and the songs are exactly the same for the most part, but for me, it all came down to how everything seems to jump off the screen and if I was able to buy into it all. The short answer for that is yes, I found myself invested in everything that was going on and Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and especially Will Smith all deliver great performances. Will Smith doesn't ruin what Robin Williams did in the past, but rather makes it his own and I really appreciated that.
Where this films biggest issue lies; However, is in its runtime. This version of Aladdin is nearly 40 minutes longer than the original film and while many of the scenes do add to the movie as a whole, it does feel its length at times. There are many fun aspects to this movie, so when a lot of time is taken to explore the dramatic side of these characters, it almost slows down to a halt at times. Luckily, the cast and story surrounding them are so likeable that I was able to forgive a few slow scenes, for the most part.
In the end, this 2019 live-action version of Aladdin could have been better and should've probably changed the original premise a little more than it did, in order to feel fresher, but I really enjoyed what was shown to me. This is the same way I have felt about most of these remakes, where if you loved, or even liked the original animated movie, then there's really no reason why you shouldn't at least enjoy watching it at the very least. It has its issues, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the movies watching Aladdin.