Tag Archives: Sterling K. Brown

Frozen 2 (2019) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Voice Cast:
Kristen Bell as Anna
Idina Menzel as Elsa
Josh Gad as Olaf
Jonathan Groff as Kristoff
Sterling K. Brown as Mattias
Evan Rachel Wood as Iduna
Aurora as The Voice
Alfred Molina as Agnarr
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

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I remember when I saw Frozen back in 2013, while I wasn’t in love with the movie like a lot of people were, I thought it was pretty good. There have been talks about a sequel for a very long time (especially with all the acclaim and love it has been receiving), and it seemed to have taken them a while for it to happen. However, after 6 years it’s finally here. To be honest, I didn’t really care much about a sequel, I just wasn’t sure there was much that you could follow it up with. Still, I checked it out, and Frozen 2 turned out to be pretty decent and surprising.

One of the things that made me curious about Frozen 2 was some of the mixed or divided reactions to it, not to mention some comparisons to Annihilation of all movies. However it turns out that this comparison is quite apt and valid. Without spoiling anything, the plot of Frozen 2 is actually darker, more complex and larger scale, and goes to places that you wouldn’t expect it to go to, storywise and thematically. It was just a little confusing that the story went in that direction, especially the target audience of the first movie, but at the same time I guess I was interested in it, but I think most of that might have to be how unexpected it is. Looking back at it, it’s a little messy at points. I also didn’t like some of the things it does with some of the characters, mainly Kristoff and Olaf. Kristoff is pretty much only there to save Anna in dangerous situations (while doing the typical goofy trying and failing to propose all the way through), and Olaf particularly wasn’t nearly as funny here as he was in the first movie, he was more of a distraction more than anything. With that said, he does have a moment that was one the best parts of the movie. It’s generally entertaining to watch over its hour and 43 minute runtime.

Frozen 2 is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, who made the first movie, and they did a pretty good job here too. I’d even say that it might be worth watching for the animation alone, it looks excellent throughout, even better than in the first movie. There are particularly some stunning sequences where the movie gets to show off visually. Might be worth checking out the movie even for that. As we all know, there were plenty of memorable songs in the original Frozen, from Let it Go, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, and so on. As for Frozen 2, the songs are mostly okay but very forgettable, which was quite disappointing, in fact the most disappointing part of the movie. I actually remember the scenarios of the songs more, and not so much the songs themselves. As for the voice cast, they’re pretty good, with the returning voice actors with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, as well as some newer voice actors like Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, and more.

Frozen 2 is relatively good, but it does have some problems holding it back, same with the first movie. Frozen 1 was fairly simplistic, but for what it is, it worked. Frozen 2 has a more interesting story and does some surprising things that I really liked, but the results weren’t always consistent in quality. As for which is better, they sort of balance each other out, and they’re sort of on the same level. If you liked the first Frozen, then it’s definitely worth watching the sequel, otherwise you probably shouldn’t bother with Frozen 2.

Waves (2019) Review

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Waves

Time: 135 Minutes
Cast:
Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Tyler Williams
Lucas Hedges as Luke
Taylor Russell as Emily Williams
Alexa Demie as Alexis Lopez
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Catherine Williams
Sterling K. Brown as Ronald Williams
Director: Trey Edward Shults

Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, and featuring an astonishing ensemble of award-winning actors and breakouts alike. Waves traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father – as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. From acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults, Waves is a heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times.

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I’ve been hearing a bunch of things about Waves for the past months. I recognised some of the actors like Sterling J. Brown and I recognise the director from his work on It Comes at Night, which I thought was pretty good. The reactions had been interesting, some have been highly praising it as one of the best of the year, others couldn’t stand it and downright hated it. I had no idea how I’d feel about it, but I was actually quite surprised by how much I loved Waves.

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Much of Waves is best seen not knowing too much going in, so I’ll refrain from spoilers as best as I can. Much of the talk surrounding this movie has been how it’s essentially split into two very different and distinct halves, and I’ve noticed a lot of people loving the first half and bored with the second, or hating the first half and starting to like the movie during the second. The first half has some of the most electric filmmaking I’ve seen in a while, and indeed the story in this part is pretty tense too, as things build up towards… something. The second half is a lot more quiet and calm in comparison. For me I personally loved both parts. While I was into the first half, the second half was essential for the movie sticking really the landing, and I never felt bored during that. I was locked into the story and characters throughout, and indeed it’s an emotionally powerful story, and is very affecting, with a number of heartbreaking scenes throughout. The only gripe I guess I might have is that the ending is a little abrupt, even just 30 seconds longer would’ve made it better.

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Waves has a great ensemble cast, and they all perform excellently, with the likes of Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Alexa Demie and Lucas Hedges. They all give some of the best performances of their careers, emotionally intense and powerful. Biggest surprise was from Taylor Russell, who really shines in the second half, and essentially carries that portion. Even if the rest of the movie won’t work for you, I think you’ll at least be impressed on an acting level.

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I was already impressed by Trey Edward Shults’s work on It Comes at Night, but I’m even more impressed with what he did with Waves. So much of this movie is sensory overload, mainly the first half, with the camera work, the music and sound, it’s can be really overwhelming. I get for some people it may be too much but I for one liked it for that. Waves is also a gorgeous looking movie from beginning to end, with a great colour palette that worked perfectly with the movie. There’s even some aspect ratio changes at points that oddly enough fitted the narrative. I don’t recognise really any of the songs used in the movie, and indeed I’m not part of the specific audience that the soundtrack is very much built towards, but there’s a great playlist here, and I thought it accompanied the plot appropriately. The score itself is also really good, I kept wondering why it sounded somewhat familiar and it turns out it was by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who of course composed music for The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl and more. Their work on Waves is amongst their best scores, and that’s saying a lot.

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Waves is definitely not going to work for everyone, for me though, I kind of loved it, an emotionally powerful gut punch that I’m still thinking about. It was written directed excellently, and the ensemble performances were outstanding. It surprisingly ended up one of my favourite movies of 2019. While I know that some people will hate the movie, I still do recommend seeing it for yourself, because there’s a lot of great things here.

The Predator (2018) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna
Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams
Jacob Tremblay as Rory McKenna
Olivia Munn as Casey Bracket
Sterling K. Brown as Will Traeger
Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle
Thomas Jane as Baxley
Alfie Allen as Lynch
Augusto Aguilera as Nettles
Yvonne Strahovski as Emily McKenna
Director: Shane Black

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. The universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) can prevent the end of the human race.

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The Predator, the fourth film in the franchise, was on my most anticipated films of 2018 list. With a cast that included Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane and more, and on top of that, original Predator cast member Shane Black (who directed The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) being the writer and director of the movie, everything looked like it could be something great. With that said, I had some concerns in the lead up to its release. It looked way too comical, and I wasn’t really sure that would work for a Predator movie. The news about the large amount of reshoots and cuts didn’t make it any better (not to mention the controversy with a real predator originally being in the film, thankfully that was dealt with quickly). While I can understand a lot of the mixed reactions, I surprisingly found The Predator to be quite enjoyable. No, it’s not as good as the original, it’s not one of Shane Black’s best and yes it has some issues, but it also has some really good elements to it.

I should clarify that I’ve only seen the original Predator, so I can’t compare The Predator to the 2nd and 3rd movies (Predator 2 and Predators). However I didn’t feel lost so I feel like anyone who’s seen only the first movie could jump right into The Predator. Shane Black is a great writer, who wrote Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight as well as the films he’s directed (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys). Unfortunately his writing for The Predator is a very mixed bag. With regards to certain things like the dialogue, it feels like a B grade Shane Black was writing it and not Shane Black at the top of his game. You can definitely at times feel like it is his writing, but it’s not as strong. One thing I will say that Shane Black does do better with The Predator than the original Predator is that there is some attempt to have some emotional moments and depth with the characters. It almost always doesn’t work but I appreciate the genuine attempts. As good as the original Predator movie was, there was really nothing to these characters. On top of that, it does try some things different with the story, with a large amount of it being set in a suburbia (though we also get some sequences in the forest) and also being a much more comedic sort of movie. Now that doesn’t guarantee that the movie will be great but the best thing that each instalment can do is try different things. At the same time there are some problems with the movie. Some plot elements really don’t work well, such as Jacob Tremblay’s character who has Asperger’s and plays a big role in the movie, that plotline is a little too silly and doesn’t fit in with the movie. Shane Black has directed some very funny movies, his 3 previous movies all hit very hard whenever the comedy was present. With The Predator on the other hand, the comedy didn’t always work. It wasn’t painfully cringe worthy or anything like that, but a lot of it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if the comedic tone really works for the movie, but as I said before at least it is trying something different. There are some callbacks to the original Predator, and while I only picked up two, both of them were painful and hamfisted callbacks. To give an example of what I mean, one guy has a line “Get to the choppa” (that’s not a typo, he says choppa like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original movie). The Predator is yet another movie that has been the victim of studio interference and cuts (by Fox Studios of course). Now its nowhere like what they did with Fant4stic, but you can definitely feel that something is off about it. This is especially prevalent in the third act, which feels like a more conventional movie and seems to lack a lot of the Shane Black writing from the two acts and feels really simplified. Also the way it ends with the Predator in the end feels underwhelming. The last scene in particular is going to be very divisive especially to long time fans of the Predator lore. It is sort of sequel bait and it’s really weird and I’m not even sure what to think about it. It really has to be seen to be believed.

The cast generally do quite well. Boyd Holbrook is the lead of the movie and he does quite well in his role, however he’s a rather simple and conventional protagonist, really just a passable character. The group that Holbrook’s character teams up with, ‘The Loonies’, fair much better in comparison. They consist of Trevante Rhodes, Keegan Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera and they do well in their roles. Some are better than others, and you don’t necessarily care a great deal for the actual characters. but they all play off each other really well. Trevante Rhodes stands out as being particularly great. Olivia Munn works well in the movie for the most part (the scientist part to her character is a little hard to buy). Sterling K. Brown plays a 2 dimensional human villain and thankfully he plays up the role to being borderline cartoonish because the character is really generic and doesn’t have much to it. There were a lot of problems with Jacob Tremblay’s character but he plays his role well enough. Yvonne Strahovski really does play a really minor role, and really isn’t used to a fifth of her potential, her character could’ve been played by literally anyone and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Shane Black’s overall direction is pretty good. Larry Fong’s cinematography as always looks good. The action was for the most part was really good and entertaining, I like how it fully embraced its R rating and goes all out with violence. The effects for the most part worked really well, but other times it can look not so good. The CGI blood in particular looks absolutely terrible. I liked how they portrayed the Predators in this movie, being really big, intimidating and threatening. However the second Predator, much bigger than the first one, uses a lot of visual effects, and at times it can look really fake, particularly in the last act. The score by Henry Jackman is very reminiscent of the original Predator and it actually really worked for the movie.

The Predator clearly has some issues. It is a little disappointing and it doesn’t live up to the talent of the involvement of Shane Black, the cast and the name of the Predator franchise. Some of the weak humour, story points and other elements does hold back the movie from being anywhere close to being at the same level of the original. Still, there is some good stuff to be found in the movie. Some of Shane Black’s additions were good (even if it felt like B grade Shane Black most of the time), the cast worked well in their roles and it was quite entertaining generally. If you liked the original Predator, check it out knowing that it is filled with a lot of silly things and go into it expecting a somewhat entertaining movie. Again, wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be but wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.