[Movie Review] Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog - movie poster - property of Paramount Pictures, Sega, and others - from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3794354/mediaviewer/rm3381038849

Sonic the Hedgehog is the sort of “children’s movie” that earnestly suggests that a valid way for a kid to learn to make friends is to spend an hour in a bar, and indeed a noticeable chunk of the film takes place there. Despite some infrequent but severe pacing issues, that huge non sequitur being one of them, the film is remarkably enjoyable and overflowing with energy—when it decides to remain on topic. Releasing a live-action film nearly thirty years after its progenitor’s heyday was a dubious decision at best (Ratchet & Clank’s gap was half that long but still felt very dated), especially for a series whose labyrinthine mythos extends among multiple animated series and comic books and is mostly ignored here, but while Sonic’s origin story is made up almost entirely without pre-existing material, it’s a familiar and amiable story that does a reasonable job of earning its cliches amid some excellent action scenes and a lot of age-inappropriate humor.

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[Happy New Year!] Knives Out

Knives Out - film poster - property of Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital, and T-Street - sourced from https://collider.com/knives-out-review-rian-johnson/

Director and writer Rian Johnson returns to the suspense-thriller genre with a quirky, modern murder mystery filled with gorgeous settings and plenty of humor. I had my doubts upon learning Johnson was involved, especially in light of this film’s incredibly high amount of critical praise—Star Wars: The Last Jedi was exciting but felt unfocused, and Looper felt like two very different and very poorly conjoined films—but Knives Out is a tremendous improvement, being simple and mostly straightforward to follow, almost to excess in a mystery movie. Despite the near-endlessly amusing characterization often being sent to tactless or vulgar extremes, the comedic elements complement the brisk story and surrounding drama without ever feeling disruptive.

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[Movie Review] Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu - movie poster - property of Legendary Pictures; The Pokemon Company; Toho Co., Ltd; and Warner Bros. - sourced from http://collider.com/detective-pikachu-ryan-reynolds-interview/#detective-pikachu-poster

A children’s live-action comedy-mystery starring a talking mouse with a caffeine addiction, a searing wit that narrowly remains age-appropriate, and a heavy case of amnesia shouldn’t be such a successful combination, but it works well. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is first and foremost a tech-demonstration movie whose splendid special effects take precedence above story complexity or character development, but despite some severe acting issues, some stellar casting choices and standout performances adeptly keep the film from feeling like a “graphics vehicle” and make it a strong recommendation for fans who are intimately familiar with the setting.

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[Movie Review] Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame - film poster - property of Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures - from http://collider.com/avengers-endgame-new-poster/

Avengers: Endgame, while remaining worth a watch, is not Marvel’s best work. It’s not the series’ funniest installment, despite devoting a remarkable fraction of its unnecessary running time to jokes and gags; it’s not the most thought-provoking, with story decisions and contrivances that undermine its “move-on” message on multiple occasions; it’s not even the most intense, with its epic battle scenes, few as they are, coming at the expense of a story that seems to otherwise have little to do or to say. For viewers expecting a somber meditation on grief and loss, or a complex Civil War-esque combination of politics and character drama, this dabbles in but doesn’t commit to any of those things. It’s a collection of admittedly epic cameos, well-made fight scenes, and numerous callbacks to earlier movies, without a lot of its own substance.

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[Movie Review] Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel - movie poster - property of Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios, and Animal Logic - from https://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2019/captain-marvel/image-35112#image-35112

“Thank you, Stan.”

Captain Marvel’s opening montage, a collection of Stan Lee portraits set against the Marvel Studios logo, is a poignant and meaningful dedication to an iconic personality who was partly responsible for giving popular culture a bevy of iconic characters with abilities as diverse as their backgrounds. They’re joined by Carol Danvers, an amnesiac Air Force pilot who is one of the Kree, a civilization of noble warriors (not to be confused with the First Nations group known as the Cree) battling against the Skrull, a race of shapeshifting beings who have invaded countless worlds.

Captain Marvel, notably very rarely referred to as such, is an origin story that feels immensely self-aware of its pedigree almost to a fault, with significant portions of the film feeling slapped together and rapidly edited as if to say, “The audience has seen this before, but the story can’t exist without it.” This punctuates the whole film and keeps it from being its same-named studio’s finest offering, but the film is bolstered by existing almost completely independently of its own controversy, never coming across as insulting or demeaning any portion of its audience even in the name of girl power. Also importantly, star Brie Larson brings her A-game and is backed up by an enjoyable and frequently funny supporting cast, who bring more warmth than the enjoyable but unintentionally disturbing story might suggest.

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[Movie Review] Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2 - movie poster - property of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures - from http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2018/incredibles-2#image-34610

Despite feeling remarkably familiar for being such a long-awaited sequel, Incredibles 2 adeptly balances exciting action alongside thought-provoking and humorous family relations and is an easy recommendation for viewers seeking heroic adventures that don’t limit themselves to a teenage-and-above audience.

Please note: If you or your loved ones have symptoms of epilepsy or photosensitivity, be aware that several scenes in this film do depict rapidly flashing lights that may not be suitable for all audiences. Thank you for your understanding.

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[Movie Review] Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story - movie poster - from http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2018/solo-a-star-wars-story#image-34605 - property of Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Pictures, Allison Shearmur Productions, Imagine Entertainment

Han Solo’s origin story is a genuinely fun action movie that recalls the lighthearted tone of the original Star Wars films without blatantly mimicking their structure or leaning too hard on nostalgia. The new characters are fun to watch, the old ones are given genuine reasons to appear instead of simply being thrown in, and the story moves at a lively pace that doesn’t undercut its own serious aspects.

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[Movie Review] Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - movie poster - property of Lucasfilm, Ram Bergman Productions, and Walt Disney Pictures - from http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/star-wars-the-last-jedi#image-34354

That’s how you move a story forward.

I was apprehensive about Rian Johnson directing a major installment in one of Western cinema’s most iconic franchises (I had issues with Looper), but I needn’t have worried—despite sometimes packing in more stories and ideas than it can give careful attention to, The Last Jedi solidly improves on its predecessor by being one thing from start to finish: unpredictable.

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[Movie Review] Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman - DC Entertainment et al. - movie poster - from http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/wonder-woman#image-34095

I used to want to save the world, Diana Prince(ss of Themyscira) utters as her film begins. She hails from the land of the Amazons, an secluded, all-female society with ties to Greek mythology itself; much of her early life consists of training to one day defend that society, even as her people neither celebrate nor rush toward battle.

Diana’s own story hits a number of typical beats, often precisely when expected and occasionally rote, but this in large part feels like the sort of film the DC Comics live-action canon needed–a basic, uplifting yet down-to-earth origin story that proves it understands its own foundations (even if its connections to the heroine’s own beginnings have been scrutinized) and can appeal to a wide apolitical audience without compromising its lead’s identity.

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