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CREED II | Official Trailer

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Directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by Sylvester Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker, Creed II is a sequel to Creed (2015) and the eighth installment in the Rocky franchise. It stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, and Phylicia Rashad. Adonis Creed trains to defeat Ivan Drago’s son. You may remember that 30 years ago Ivan Drago killed Apollo Creed in the ring. Creed II will be released on November 21, 2018.

 

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Eighth Grade is a Triumph of Bad Skin and Baby Fat

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“Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school–the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.” 

That IMDB quote above sums up the story of Eighth Grade, but captures none of the nuances of Bo Burnham’s clever directorial debut. And that’s fine, because putting a finer point on the story might limit the audience in the same way giving the film an R rating did. Yes, this is some heady stuff, some of the sexual references may seem a bit too adult for your average thirteen year old. Still, this isn’t 1977, where your only choice for seeing naked humans might be sneaking onto the bookmobile and leafing through old copies of National Geographic. This is 2018, where all things good and bad are a thumb swipe away.

I would guess that thirteen year olds today know way more than I ever did at thirteen, and maybe more than I did at twenty. We insult them by suggesting they can’t navigate the sexual subjects Mr. Burnham handles with aplomb in Eighth Grade.

In a true breakout performance, Elsie Fisher plays Kayla, whose YouTube channel gets as many hits as she has friends… which is to say none. She’s a square peg at school who never came out of the shell she was in when she made that shoebox time capsule three years ago.

Kayla makes a few last ditch efforts to fit in before the school year ends, even if that means pretending she’s something that she isn’t. Or at least isn’t yet. Does she make all the right choices? No. Did you?

I saw the film with parents of young children and wondered if it played out like a horror movie to them. One scene in particular of a high schooler forcing a game of truth or dare on Kayla in the dark backseat of his car is appropriately creepy and expertly directed. Not to say that it’s a dark film, just a complex one. Even the trope that social media masks the truth more than reveals it is handled with a light touch. There’s a ton of laughs even if some make you uncomfortable.

Like last years Lady Bird, Eighth Grade succeeds in balancing the notion of what we are supposed to be with what we are becoming – and while most of us are not in eighth grade anymore, we are always becoming.

The cast of Eighth Grade take questions at Alamo Draft House in Brooklyn.

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Ant Man & The Wasp

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“As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.”


I’m going to get straight to the point on Ant-Man & The Wasp. This is an okay movie. It’s not bad, but it’s not mind-blowing. Ant-Man & The Wasp is the B-side of a decent album. It is the Coors Light of Marvel movies; it’s not your first choice, but if it’s the last thing you have available for quite some time, you can find a way to enjoy it.

Ant-Man & The Wasp is one of Paul Rudd’s funny, but forgettable comedies wrapped up with edited scenes from Captain America: Civil War and the first Ant-Man movie. You won’t ‘LOL’ literally, but you will ‘LOL’ like you do when you’re typing a text. It’s really that okay.

Paul Rudd reprises his role as Scott Lang, but this time around he receives the bumbling fool treatment that Chris Pratt received in Infinity War. He wasn’t really a necessary character to the story other than having some information put into his head. This is really the only reason he was useful. This film should’ve just been called The Wasp being that Evangeline Lilly‘s character was the most intriguing as far as dialogue and action.

The whole movie had this weird 80’s cartoon vibe to it. It reminded me of an old G.I. Joe cartoon where our protagonists are presented with an obstacle or challenge and in less than 30 minutes everything was made okay and wrapped up with a nice red bow. No paperwork, no investigations, no questioning. Just the bad guys going to jail and the good guys laughing over a lame dad joke.

Okay, so one thing that really bothers me was the lab they kept shrinking down:

  • Did they need a whole building to utilize one lab?
  • Did anyone else work in said building?
  • With all the bumbling and movement of the building in its small form, weren’t there any desks, file cabinets and book shelves flying all over the place?
  • Wouldn’t the Quantum ship thingy have been destroyed during all the shifting??

I digress. In other words, you really have to suspend your disbelief when watching this movie to really enjoy it.

Overall Grade: C

I’m not mad at all about the movie, but it probably won’t hold much weight in my memory bank. The most important part of the entire movie was the first after-credit scene which ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other than that, Ant-Man and the Wasp was the potato chips of the MCU’s cookout. It’s what you eat while you wait for the good stuff to finish cooking.

Ant Man & The Wasp
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
July 2018
Director: Peyton Reed
Marvel Studio
1 hour 58 minutes
IMDB

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Sicario: Day Of The Soldado

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“The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.”

So, the first Sicario film was undeniably my favorite movie of 2015. It was raw, gritty and unapologetic. The tension in the film managed to carry over scene by scene and at times it was palpable. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. When I heard that they were making a sequel to it, I really didn’t understand why. There was no way to out-do the first one.

Watching Day of the Soldado‘s trailer felt like it was missing something that made it less appealing, but as the release date grew closer I felt compelled to give it a go. I knew that Emily Blunt would not return for the second film when it was announced it was in production. I didn’t realize how much of integral part she was to this cast of characters. In the middle of a group of men that only do what needs to be done, she was the moral barometer of the bunch. She was also the protagonist that we followed into this underbelly of violence in which we lived vicariously through her tension and stress.

Now with Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin tag teaming the protagonist role, it seems less relatable. Neither one of their characters are known for their decency and even when they try to bring it into play, it falls flat. We know all the vile things they are capable of so once they do something that seems redeeming, you really don’t care because we’ve seen them do the worst things to people. It didn’t help the audience connect.

Also, the great director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) did not return to helm the film. Villeneuve nailed the art of suspense through great camera angles, and shots that put us dead center in the action. Stefano Solima did a decent job, but it lacked some of the edginess that the first film delivered.

The story was written by Taylor Sheridan who has quickly become one of my favorite Hollywood writers. He penned the first Sicario movie, Wind River and Hell or High Water. This plot though felt a little jumbled and at times hard to follow. It had great moments, but there were also moments where I was trying to figure out which side of the border they were on and what exactly everyone’s agendas were.

The action scenes were decent, but nothing could match the highway scene from the first movie. There’s only so much threat a cartel of henchman can pose to the U.S. military.

Another thing that bugged me was that we didn’t see any of the major cartel kingpins. Not of glimpse. It felt like we only connected with the lowest level Sicario’s and employees that came off as faceless characters to use as target practice.

Overall Grade: C

It wasn’t a terrible movie, but with Emily Blunt and Denis Villeneuve missing, it felt let there was a giant hole that Soldado couldn’t fill, and at times it came off a bit boring. Unfortunately since this is a sequel it has to be paired with the first film and that proved to be its biggest obstacle. Also the ending just felt unfulfilling. It just feels like it ended a few scenes before it needed to, and just left us with questions unanswered. See it on a lazy Sunday st home. It’s too drab for a date movie, and too standard in its action to be a theater-worthy watch.

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
Action, Crime, Drama
June 2018
Director: Stefano Solima
Black Label Media/Lionsgate
2 hours 2 minutes
IMDB

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