Tag Archives: Catherine Keener

Incredibles 2 (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr
Huck Milner as Dashiell “Dash” Parr
Eli Fucile as Jack-Jack Parr
Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone
Bob Odenkirk as Winston Deavor
Catherine Keener as Evelyn Deavor
Brad Bird as Edna Mode
Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker
Director: Brad Bird

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

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Incredibles 2 was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. I recently rewatched the original Incredibles after many long years and it surprised me how great it is and how well it still holds up. People have been waiting 14 years for a sequel but finally in 2018 they are getting it. Despite a part of me being quite looking forward to it, at the same time I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. With the voice actors returning but most importantly Incredibles writer and director Brad Bird returning, it definitely had the potential to work really well. So I remained cautiously optimistic about the sequel. Thankfully it worked out well, much better than I thought it would be in fact. Brad Bird delivers a sequel which more than lives up to the original film, with it trying new things, while still feeling like an Incredibles movie with its entertainment factor, humour, smart writing and also appealing to all ages. The biggest surprise is that it’s at about the same level as the original film. If you loved the original film, I’m pretty sure you’re going to love the sequel as well.

This feels like a true sequel to the Incredibles. It’s not really much of a spoiler as its right at the beginning of the movie but it picks off right where the first movie ended. This movie is clearly in the same world but at the same time the story is quite different from the first movie’s. The first movie was like a mix between the Fantastic Four and a less dark and less bloody version of Watchmen. It involved superheroes who were all the rage in the past but are nowadays outlawed. In the sequel it picks up pretty soon after the first movie, and there is a push to make superheroes legal again. Unlike the first movie where Mr Incredible was in the forefront, this time its Elastigirl in the role whereas Mr Incredible has to learn to take care of the kids. These different changes are entertaining and interesting, providing a still entertaining movie which is different enough from the original. You can definitely tell that Brad Bird wrote this movie because its keeping in spirit with the original movie. Like the first movie, there is a lot of satirising of the superhero genre and it works just as well here. Like the first movie, it’s entertaining from start to finish, and all of it works very well. The humour like the first movie works well and none of it falls flat. Like the first movie, it appeals to all ages, adults can enjoy this as much as the kids, maybe even more as they could probably pick up some references that only they would recognise. To stop myself from repeating myself more than I already have, I’ll just say that almost everything great about the first movie is here, plus a different story.

The characters, like in the first movie, are still good. While characters like Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone are good, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack really get their chances to shine. Jack-Jack in particular gets much more screentime here compared to the original, and has a lot of stand out moments due to his new powers, while not feeling so overused that he feels obnoxious, it’s a good balance. The weak link here (and so far on my one viewing the only notable fault in the movie from what I’ve noticed) is the villain. Granted following up a villain like Syndrome is very difficult but there are still some parts about the character which don’t work greatly on its own. While the villain works well enough for the story, the motivations were just okay, the character wasn’t very memorable, entertaining or compelling, was kind of forgettable and the reveal is predictable. But this is a minor issue, the villain doesn’t bring the movie down by any means, it’s just with the movie otherwise having pretty much everything else on point, this really stands out as being not as good as it could’ve been. The voice actors all work well, with most of the main voice actors of the original film (with the exception of the voice actor for Dash) returning. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson working well and despite it being 14 years later, sound like they haven’t aged a day.

You can also tell that Brad Bird reprised his role as director of Incredibles 2. It’s been 14 years since the original Incredibles, and with that, animation has really improved. The original movie still holds up reasonably well as an animated movie, and the sequel builds upon the animation capabilities nowadays while very much keeping the same style. It’s very fluid, fast and smooth, and it is endlessly entertaining to watch. On a side note, and this isn’t really a criticism, but I think each of the characters have had a slight redesign, and it’s not like the sequel takes place 5 years later. It’s a non issue, just a random thing I noticed.

Incredibles 2 is a great follow up to the original Incredibles, everything that made the first movie amazing and beloved returns in the sequel. All things considered, Incredibles 1 and 2 might just be on the same level, the only real fault that stood out was the disappointing but okay villain. Outside of that both movies are really great animated movies for all ages. I hope we get a third movie sometime soon, hopefully we won’t have to wait 14 years for it.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick
Josh Brolin as Matt Graver
Isabela Moner as Isabela Reyes
Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing
Catherine Keener as Cynthia Foards
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Gallo
Director: Stefano Sollima

FBI agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on mysterious operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) when Mexican drug cartels start to smuggle terrorists across the U.S. border. The war escalates even further when Alejandro kidnaps a top kingpin’s daughter (Isabela Moner) to deliberately increase the tensions. When the young girl is seen as collateral damage, the two men will determine her fate as they question everything that they are fighting for.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Sicario was one of the best films of 2015 and I liked it even more upon my second viewing, however I had mixed feelings about a sequel to Sicario. Although actors Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin and writer Taylor Sheridan were returning, actress Emily Blunt, director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins weren’t returning. Also, I just couldn’t see how a sequel to Sicario could be done, it seemed so much like a standalone movie that it didn’t feel like more could be done with the story. Every movie that Taylor Sheridan has written for however has turned out great, so I gave it a chance. Having seen it, I have to say that Sicario: Day of the Soldado was one of the biggest surprises of the year so far. Aside from the lack of Denis Villeneuve and some of the pacing at the beginning, Soldado has a compelling story and great performances, putting it close to being on par with the original Sicario.

Soldado is just as bleak and ruthless as the first movie, a particular scene in the first 10 minutes really sets the tone for the rest of the movie. This really does feel like a continuation of the first Sicario and not some very distant and barely resemblent cousin. At the same time, it’s not a cheap clone of the original. One the best parts about Soldado is that is has quite a different story to Sicario, while both movies involves cartels, the first movie is about drugs and the latest is about terrorism. Rewatching Sicario somewhat recently, I also noticed that it had a very straightforward and focussed story. Soldado on the other hand is much more complex and less conventional. It effectively shows the impact on everyone and there is very little black and white here, just a lot of grey areas. It also feels like on a much larger scale. Soldado does show off more of del Toro’s Alejandro and Brolin’s Matt (given that they get more screentime now that they are the only two main characters), which means we get a better sense of their characters. I’ve heard some say that certain parts about them, certain decisions they make, feel a little out of character for them, especially compared how ruthless they were in the first movie. First of all, its Taylor Sheridan who wrote this, so no one knows these characters better than him. Second of all, I didn’t find it that jarring, we are seeing more sides to them. They still aren’t particularly good people and they still do some horrible things to achieve their goals, its just showing more sides to them that we didn’t see before. The way that things are left at the end of the movie is pretty much set up for a sequel, so a lot of the way certain things are done here will depend on how it’ll be done in the third movie. The movie is about the length of the original Sicario, about a few minutes longer. Aside from the early moments of the film, I felt that Soldado moved noticeably faster. Not that Sicario was unbearably slow or anything (even though it was slower paced), its just I felt that Soldado was paced better. There aren’t too many problems I have with the movie. The beginning is a little slow, after the first 20 minutes however it really picks up. There also might also be one or two implausible moments most of it like the first movie is still pretty set grounded in reality, but the moments that seem a little unrealistic do stick out. The sense of dread that was so prevalent in the original Sicario is not apparent as much here, though it might just be because it’s a different type of story. Also, while I’m not sure if this is an actual problem, you do feel the lack of Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, who served in the first film as almost an audience surrogate, someone with high morals that you can root for with most of the other main characters (del Toro and Brolin) not exactly having them. So for some, Soldado might be lacking something but for this story, it worked fine enough. I’d like for her to return in the inevitable 3rd Sicario movie though. The biggest standout problem however was the ending. While the last moments of Soldado will prove to be divisive in terms of realism, I could somewhat handle it. It’s the last scene that really doesn’t work, it is so blatant sequel bait that it feels really out of place, almost like it was studio mandated and not written by Sheridan himself. Had they just removed that last scene, it could’ve been ended perfectly.

The acting is all around great, with the main two leads giving fantastic performances once again. With the main characters just being Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, they get a lot more to do than in the previous movie, and we get to see a lot more of them, del Toro’s character of Alejandro especially. Alejandro in the Sicario movies is one of Benicio’s best roles and in the sequel he’s even better. Another good performance is by Isabela Moner as the daughter of a kingpin that del Toro and Brolin kidnap in order to initiate the war between two cartels.

With Soldado, you really feel the lack of Denis Villeneuve. However, when I say this I don’t mean to badmouth the direction of this movie, Stefano Sollima’s handling of Soldado is actually quite good, and there isn’t particularly anything about it that I could consider to be flawed. It doesn’t look as good as the Roger Deakins filmed Sicario, but Soldado still looks pretty good, with the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski being quite effective and good looking. Despite the trailers making the movie out to be much more ‘action packed’, the level of ‘action’ is about the same level as with Sicario. As with the original, these sequences aren’t really action scenes, they are bursts of thrilling, tense and grim violence that don’t actually last for very long that are heavily set in reality, you don’t watch them for entertainment. Sicario composer Johann Johansson sadly passed away earlier this year, so for Soldado we have Hildur Guðnadóttir as the composer (who also worked on the first Sicario as a cello soloist). The score is a little different to the original film’s but it is similar in tone and is quite effective.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is actually one of my favourite movies of the year, with its performances and the complex story by Taylor Sheridan being the highlights. How it compares to the original remains to be seen as I’ll probably need to give it a rewatch before I can say, but they are closer in quality than I thought they would be. I’m on board for a third and final Sicario film, Sheridan clearly is moving this story and these characters in a particular direction and I’d love to see what he has planned.

Get Out (2017) Review

Time: Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington
Allison Williams as Rose Armitage
Bradley Whitford as Dean Armitage
Catherine Keener as Missy Armitage
Caleb Landry Jones as Jeremy Armitage
Lil Rel Howery as Rod Williams
Betty Gabriel as Georgina
Marcus Henderson as Walter
LaKeith Stanfield as Logan King
Stephen Root as Jim Hudson
Director: Jordan Peele

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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Get Out is a movie that has been getting a lot of attention recently, and has already been called one of the best films of 2017. While it looked interesting, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. After finally seeing it, I have to say that Get Out really deserves all the hype, it really surprised me. It is both a great horror movie, as well as a great comedy. Jordan Peele has directed a great social commentary on modern racism, while at the same time creating a great horror movie.

I was riveted from start to finish in this movie. Get Out has the perfect mix of horror and comedy. Horror comedies are extremely difficult to get right but this film nailed it, it knew when to have scares and when to have comedy, and none of these moments felt tonally out of place. This movie wasn’t that scary to me personally (granted most horror movies don’t really scare me) but it is very well crafted. Until the last act, most of the ‘scares’ aren’t that significant, but there is a constant feeling of uneasiness, as you know that something is off, you don’t know what it is. At the same time this movie is hilarious, sometimes some of the scares and ‘weird’ moments are for comedy, the dialogue at times can be really funny, especially between Chris and his friend Rod, and the comedy (when present) never detracts from the scares or tension. Of course the mix of horror and comedy isn’t just what makes the movie work so well, this film is smartly written by Jordan Peele. This movie is honestly one of the best written horror movies in recent years. The social commentary of Get Out is absolutely genius, which Peele explores in very subtle bits of dialogue, symbolism and writing. The racism aspect of the film is actually more in depth and complex than you may think, its not just that the girlfriend’s family is racist and doesn’t like Chris, there’s a lot more to it. So many things in this movie really does reflect today’s society, from the dialogue, to the way people act. In fact I’d say the most unrealistic thing in the movie is that someone uses Bing as a search engine. I won’t reveal too much about the movie as I don’t want to ruin any surprises, I’ll let you experience all this for yourself.

The acting from everyone was really good. Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams are very convincing as this couple who are basically surrounded by uncomfortable people. Kaluuya particularly was great, no matter your race it is very easy to relate to his character Chris, and Daniel’s acting played a big part in that working effectively. The girlfriend’s family members with Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener and Caleb Landry Jones were also great, very unsettling but at the same time not too over the top. If there’s a showstealer performance it is of Lil Rel Howery as Chris’s friend, there are many moments when they talk on the phone. He was so hilarious, and the interactions with him and Chris were incredible entertaining.

The film is very well directed overall. It’s clear that Jordan Peele knows and loves horror, and he directs it excellently here. The scares were very well implemented throughout the movie, there aren’t many jump scares and when they are there, they are effective and well placed. The film looks absolutely stunning, and the visuals are amazing. This movie does have a lot of subtle visual symbolism, which Peele inserted into the movie in such a great way. The soundtrack by Michael Abels was really effective, and added a lot to the horror and suspense.

Get Out is one of the best horror movies in recent years. Smart, creepy and hilarious all at the same time, it’s no surprise why this film has been met with such critical acclaim. It seems that Peele has created a new type of horror/thriller, the ‘social thriller’. Apparently he’s planning on making more of these types of movies, and I’m very intrigued. He’s shown his talents as a director and writer with Get Out, so I can’t wait to see more of his work. If you are a fan of horror, I definitely recommend checking this out. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of horror I suggest watching it. It’s one of the best movies of the year.