Monthly Archives: June 2019

Toy Story 4

toy story

Things aren’t allowed to end anymore, especially not stories in film and TV. Whether it’s an unnecessary follow-up season to what should’ve been a mini-series (Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why) or rehashes of series that concluded long ago (Roseanne, Fuller House), or further chapters in film franchises that felt finished (Jason fucking Bourne comes to mind). The latest installment is the fourth chapter in the Toy Story story which follows up one of the most successful trilogies in history (really, only this and the original Bourne trilogy can claim to not have a weak chapter). While I don’t think the film fully justifies its need to come back, it’s still an entertaining tale that features some of the old favorites, though I think it lacks the emotional impact of numbers 2 and (especially) 3.

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Rocketman

rocketman

It’s hard not to compare Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody. They both tell stories of larger than life, flamboyant, at times closeted pop stars that dominated the music scene in the seventies and early eighties. They both, obviously, heavily feature said pop star’s music. They both track the meteoric rise of the pop star through drug-fueled lows and back again. The central performance from an unexpected actor dominates each film, and while Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher didn’t receive credit on Bohemian Rhapsody, he did step in on that film after its original director, Bryan Singer, departed. Hell, both films feature music manager John Reid as a supporting character played by a Game of Thrones actor (Richard Madden for Elton, Aiden Gillen for Freddie). But really, Rocketman is leagues better than Bohemian Rhapsody, for two main reasons: it doesn’t sugar coat or whitewash the story, and it leans into the colorful reputation of the main character. While Rocketman is sometimes messy, it is the bright, bedazzled fantasia spectacle that makes sense for the bright, bedazzled fantasia performer that is Sir Elton John.

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Dark Phoenix

dark

And there it goes, the X-Men franchise, out with a whimper. Dark Phoenix, the final film in the FOX reign for our mutant heroes, is a dull, lifeless affair filled with a bunch of decent actors slumming it for one final paycheck. Perhaps one day we’ll get a retelling of one of the best comic book stories of all time, but with two bites at that apple it’s doubtful it will be any time soon. It’s a shame, because in the right hands, this could’ve been a lot more interesting, but really I’ve never fully bought into the FOX group of movies. For every perfectly understood character like Wolverine, there’s an abortion of character like Kitty Pryde (not your fault, Ellen Page). But I digress.

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Booksmart

booksmart

It’s so rare to have a movie that charms so instantly and consistently throughout the whole thing. Booksmart is that special gem that is so nearly perfect that it’s difficult to find anything bad to say about it. Really, everything in this movie worked so well for me that the bar has now been set for the number one spot on my list for the year. Really, it’s that good, just a hilarious joy from start to finish.

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Aladdin

aladdin

I know I’m not the target audience for these live-action Disney remakes of their classic movies, but honestly who asked for these? While it’s an interesting way to capitalize on their IP, and given the time since the original, it’s not a ridiculous notion to put something related to the title back in the universe, this just feels wholly unnecessary. Their latest, Aladdin, falls somewhere between awkward spectacle and cringe-inducing Bollywood homage.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

wick

I’m new to the John Wick universe, having eschewed the franchise the first time out because all I knew about it was his dog died, and that kept me away until now. This week I devoured all three, and with most things like this, I found the first one interesting (and the dog part not as bad as it was in my head), the second one the best, and diminishing returns on the latest installment, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (a cumbersome title if ever there was). While it still offers plenty of the death and dismemberment that is synonymous with the Wick name, in this installment John has now gone full super hero and in order to keep the franchise going, nothing means anything and there are no consequences that make any difference for our hero.

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