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Incredibles 2

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Pixar/Disney has another hit! A crowd-pleaser for all ages that was entertaining, funny, exciting and unrelenting in its pacing and action. However, writer/director Brad Bird apparently got lazy, the plotting was highly predictable and all sorts of tropes were thrown in with nary a sparked of originality. And it all led to a narrative that lacked the emotional weight that made the original such an insta-classic, but at least we some great action sequences/directing and Michael Giacchino’s best score in ages. 
As aforementioned, the story was highly unoriginal. Every beat of the story line was predictable and nothing was refreshing or given a new spin. That being said, most audience would still eat it up - especially the younger ones - but the laughs were not as big, there were not any standout lines/sequences and the emotional beats just seemed perfunctory and unearned. 
Some of the early action sequences were superbly directed by Bird and closely reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s fluid…

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom [IMAX/3D]

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The latest in this never-ending franchise, helmed by Spanish director J.A. Bayona, proved that a good director can always be let down by a hamfisted and over-ambitious script, and also by leads that lacked chemistry together. Christ Pratt is an enigmatic lead actor: he has the charisma but not the acting chops; Bryce Dallas Howard - this time with sensible footwear - has still not found another breakout role since her The Village days.

The first and third acts were good, with great action sequences and moments of gorgeous cinematography and imagery (by cinematographer Oscar Faura), but it was really the second act which was the film's Achilles' heel. Writers Collin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly were over-ambitious in their attempt to intellectualise the film/franchise, but the execution and outcome was ultimately one of caricature over-simplicity. The pseudo-philosophical approach into ethics and morality was briefly broached but never bravely explored which then left the ques…

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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An entertaining and fairly exciting ride albeit predictable. Ron Howard capably delivered a summer popcorn flick that paid service to the franchise but not necessarily adding much new fans. Nonetheless, it still had its share of moments especially whenever the familiar Star Wars theme play up or when Chewie and Han have a moment. After his star-making turn in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, Alden Ehrenreich cements his leading man status here with an old-school, cinematic charisma and swagger that was highly reminiscent of a young Harrison Ford except for the annoyingly constant hands on hips/thumbs hooking pants, power-posing. 
The rest of the cast were all competent with Woody Harrelson again reprising the gruff, yet fatherly, mentor role (see: “Hunger Games”) and Emilia Clarke still coasting on her fame as Danaerys and trying to act beyond her emotional range (perhaps Ehrenreich’s much-buzzed about acting coach should have worked on Clarke too). Paul Bettany continued the Star War…

Deadpool 2

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For all its humour and meta self-referentials which entertained and brought the laughs, this Ryan Reynolds-fronted sequel lacked the spark of originality which made the first movie such a breath of fresh air in this superhero-saturated landscape. This was expected - and inevitable - with most sequels but this film really over-compensated its weak plot, lack of characterisation, and honestly, poor action sequences/CGI, with a constant barrage of sight gags and running jokes. It all got too thin and tiresome after the first act and glaringly too reliant on (or obsessed with?) Reynolds to the detrimental sidelining of proper storytelling (or movie spectacle). But, hey, at least they got Celine to help riff-off Bond.
The problem with non-Marvel produced Marvel franchises (especially Fox-produced ones) is that without Kevin Feige they do not understand, or know, what their fans (and fanboys and fangirls) want. Instead, they focused on the character without the respect to the complicated his…

Isle of Dogs

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Wes Anderson’s latest film is a The Little Prince-esque fable that will definitively entertain all ages. The young ones for its visual splendour and child-like allegorical storytelling of good triumphing over evil; for the adults, the visual allure of Anderson’s signature symmetry and colour-styling, and the dry, deadpan humour peppered throughout the vague, political satire. And of course we have one of Alexandre Desplat’s best score stringing the whole move along, and boy does he have fun with the Japanese influences. 
This was a Japanese dystopian derived from the mind of Anderson. It appeared typically how a non-native, familiar, yet still ultimately a stranger, visualises and imagines Japan to be. Is it offensive? Not really except for his decision to have a white, American to be the heroine. Must the radical be not from the society? Must she be the only one to see the truth? Maybe if it was not about Japan it would not have been so bad...say North Korea? Or Russia? There was no g…

Avengers: Infinity War [3D/Atmos]

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Well, that was...over. Avengers: Infinity War was a fun film but it was not necessarily the best film in the MCU. However, kudos to the Russo brothers for carrying it off and delivering a superhero / Marvel film that serviced the fans and was also a good summer/popcorn tentpole blockbuster. With such a large cast, they did actually manage to give the fan/crowd favourites the most screen time but yet not neglect the others.

Sure, they were a couple of scenes where logic fails (which was to be expected) and some moments that dragged on longer than necessary (inevitable with a 149 minutes runtime), however, one important aspect that A:IW had was an emotional weight that held the narrative together. The story had consequences. There was a cost and heroes do die, although the Russo brothers - and Kevin Feige - could have been more cruel and brutal, and also creatively braver. Maybe in the sequel.

Speaking of which, for once - and possibly due to the pending sequel - the MCU has developed …

Annihilation

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What a pity non-Americans do not get to watch Alex Garland’s follow-up to “Ex-Machina” on the big screen. But thankfully we have Netflix saving the day. Other than perhaps losing the sense of scope and sound design, “Annihilation” did translate rather well to the small screen. And, boy, fans of smart, intelligent sci-fi should watch this! 
This was definitely not “The Cloverfield Paradox”. “Annihilation” was definitely not dumbed down and was led by a quintet of smart, strong women/actress with nary a male in sight other than to play supporting, almost sexualised, roles. But at least, they cast Oscar Isaac, and his crazy-expressive eyes, who was great in his minimal scenes. 
If this film had the visual panache and style of Dennis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” (read: budget), coupled with a more emotional-centric (read: Hollywood-esque) script, than it might have been more acceptable in the mainstream and not been relegated to Netflix. 
Natalie Portman definitely had the depth and range to handl…