Steven's Reviews

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Steven's Reviews

"Fun. Athletic. Loves to watch movies."

Mamma Mia! Here we go again

Movie musicals are a doozy for me. I usually think I am going to have a bad time but end up really enjoying them. I was hoping the original Mamma Mia would be one that I loved, but unfortunately, I just did not connect with it. Luckily, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again fell on the better side. 

Something about the Abba inspired songs had me bobbing my head, snapping my fingers, and smiling from ear to ear. The songs are so catchy I couldn’t help but hum along and sing them out of the theater. This time around we go back in time (kind of) to see the early journey of Sophie’s mother, Donna.

The scenes that take place in the late 1970s have lots of vibrant energy and fun. But the present-day scenes slow things down quite a bit and feel like filler until you get back to the more exciting part. Another plot issue is there feels to be no real rhyme or reason we transfer between the past and the present. Scenes transition for no real reason and it can leave you scratching your head. Overall, I had a fun time with this movie.

If you liked the first one, you will most definitely like this one. If you didn’t like the original, maybe give this one a chance because I enjoyed it slightly more.


Sorry to Bother You

Movie trailers can tell you a lot about the movie you are going to see. Sometimes it can even show too much. But in the case of Sorry to Bother You, the previews make it feel as though it is a completely different movie… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

To say this movie is bonkers is an understatement; it’s freakin’ crazy. The alternate version of Oakland seems pretty far out there, yet not totally impossible. A lot of messages are thrown at the wall. Some of them miss, but the filmmakers should be commended for the effort.

All the actors bring their A-game, with standouts being a swarmy Armie Hammer and a rising star in Lakieth Stanfield. Stanfield is asked to do a lot and he showed quite a range, from being on top of his game to being nervous and afraid. I doubt I’ll see a weirder movie than this one in 2018, but I am excited to see one try.


The First Purge

Near the start of the movie, a woman is seen holding a sign that reads “Is it the end or the beginning?” And surprisingly I think I found her answer: it is time for this series to end.

The concept of the purge is inviting for innovation and for horror. What would people do if given the chance to do anything legal for a short period of time. Yet this series continues to be bogged down by the politics of it. The first two movies were good, fun horror movies. But the third and newest one try so hard to make a political statement.

The actors feel as though they don’t care too much about what is going on, which leads me to not care as well. No one feels comfortable in the roles, either trying too hard or not hard enough. I will give it props to having a good soundtrack, but it mainly feels as though they just picked out some of the top hip hop songs and threw them into the movie without any real thought.

If they continue to make movies as bad as this one, then they should just stop the series here. However, I hope they can find a way to reinvent it and focus on the more exciting aspects of a purge. Make the Purge series great again!


Ant-man and the wasp

Imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an ice cream shop. You see all the wonderful flavors; birthday cake, The Winter Soldier, mint chocolate chip, Black Panther. But eventually your eyes wonder to vanilla, or in this case Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Is vanilla ice cream bad? Not on its own. But if I see someone order plain vanilla ice cream I would have more than a few questions. Vanilla is tame, nothing too offensive, but ultimately forgettable. Are you going to regret vanilla? Probably not, but only because you’ll forget it within the next three hours.

In a year that produced Black Panther, Deadpool 2, and Infinity War, Ant Man and the Wasp feels like a film of yesteryear. With stakes ever increasing and real consequences being added into the equation, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a safe bet in a movie landscape that is no longer safe.

The one shining light is the mid-credits scene because the stakes are finally raised, and you don’t have to watch Paul Rudd glumly smirk directly into the camera. Yet even that is washed away by the banality of the end credits scene.

But luckily, ice cream tastes pretty good. So even if I forget about the vanilla, by next summer Avengers 4 will be gracing the screen and I can forget about Ant-Man and the Wasp… oh wait I already did.


Incredibles 2

Fourteen years has been a long time in the movie landscape.

Disney bought Pixar. The Cars franchise started… and crashed horribly three movies in. Brad Bird directed another animated classic, a great action film, and Tomorrowland. Yet perhaps Pixar’s best movie remained sequelless, until now.

Incredibles 2 surprisingly starts immediately after the first one ended. Although a lot of time has passed in the real world, mere seconds have passed in this franchise. Yet the Underminer is not even the main antagonist for our heroes. The true villain is serviceable but feels underutilized at best.

The family dynamic of the original remains, providing for plenty of fun and some exciting action. The action sequences are thrilling and a scene with Elastigirl tracking the villain, with the villain’s manifesto being read in the background was inspired filmmaking.

No matter how fun this movie is, it is ultimately bogged down by the perfection of the original. It seems almost unfair that any movie would have to follow that classic. I am glad to live in a world with an Incredibles sequel and hope we will not have to wait nearly as long for a third.


Hereditary

Some horror movies rely on cheap jump scares. But then they give you a moment of relief. The scares may come, but they don’t stick around because there is no real substance behind them.

Hereditary is not that type of horror film.

I wouldn’t say Hereditary is scary; I would say it’s terrifying. While it has its moments of horror, the true terror comes in its slow burn. You can see something is not right, but you can’t place your finger on it until the very end. It can be frustrating with its lack of answers and the ending still does not fill in all the holes, but the art on display makes this worth checking out.

The camera acts as character. The tension built by what it shows and, maybe more importantly, what it doesn’t is palpable and real. The framing of shots is where most of the real horror lies.

It has been said before, but I’ll reiterate here: Toni Collette should be nominated, if not win, for her performance in this film. It’s haunting, tormented, yet somehow relatable. The modern-day aspect of Hereditary makes it that much more terrifying. Whereas many films set in the present will remove access to phones or technology by one way or another, Hereditary simply makes the use of this technology irrelevant. The phones still work; they simply do not matter.

This may be Ari Aster’s feature debut, but it’s quite the entrance. The pure craft on display makes me excited to see what comes next from him.