Incredibles 2 (2018)

Released: June 15, 2018. Directed by: Brad Bird. Starring: Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell. Runtime: 1h 58 min.

Writer/director Brad Bird and stars Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson and Samuel L. Jackson are well-aware it’s been 14 years since the The Incredibles, as they address this wait before screenings of Incredibles 2. It is a long time – long enough for Holly Hunter (Helen Parr/Elastigirl) to turn 60, the same age Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible) was when they made the original in 2004.

But now Incredibles 2 is finally here and it’s a great nostalgia trip after all these years. I smiled so much during the opening scene because it’s so entertaining, and I thought it was worth the price of admission alone.

Politicians of Metroville still want superheroes to stay hidden and not intervene. Not everyone wants supers to be hidden – as the CEO of a telecommunications company, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) have come up with a way to get supers back in the good graces of Metroville.

They want to use Elastigirl (Hunter) to show the government supers can save the day without a lot of structural damage. That’s the main reason they pick her over Bob (Craig T. Nelson) – because he causes the city so much money. “Big problems need big solutions,” Bob explains. This time, Helen’s out on secret missions and Bob’s the stay-at-home dad.

It’s so cool watching Elastigirl fight crime for the bulk of the film this time, as her powers of stretching all over the place is visually more interesting than Bob just using his strength on everything. Plus, Holly Hunter is generally amazing so more screen time for her is welcome. The rest of the voice cast is also really great.

The main plot is Helen foiling the plans of a mysterious figure called the Screenslaver, which is entertaining and has a lot of well-animated, dazzling action scenes. Some aspects are predictable, but the pure entertainment of the third act more than makes up for it. The story’s also very well-written.

I generally loved the plot so much because it’s so cool going back to these characters, and the Parr’s family dynamic still feels fresh after 14 years. The parents do switch roles this time. Bob deals with jealousy of Helen fighting crime and him being pushed into the shadows of parenting, and it’s handled with humour.

He seems more like Bob in this film than Mr. Incredible, but he shines whenever he’s in his super suit. Speaking of super suits, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) also has enough chances to shine. Other fan favourite Edna E. Mode (Brad Bird) also has a great appearance.

Bob helping Dash (Huck Milner) with homework and him screwing up trying to help Violet (Sarah Vowell) with boy problems will be relatable for dads. The biggest laughs come from the scene-stealing Jack Jack (Eli Fucile) who’s unable to control his newfound powers. That’s a huge thing Bob has to deal with. Anyone who’s seen the Jack Jack Attack short film will definitely love this sub-plot. He’s one of the most entertaining aspects of the film and Brad Bird seems like he’s having a blast writing this.

Besides the great old characters, we get to know a few new heroes – Sophia Bush as Voyd, for example – and they’re fun side characters that Bird explores. The film’s storyline flows nearly as well as the original and the dialogue’s still sharp and the humour’s great. Michael Giacchino’s score helps a lot with the film’s nostalgic feeling, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Score: 90/100

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Captain Phillips (2013)

Captain PhillipsReleased: October 11, 2013. Directed by: Paul Greengrass. Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman. Runtime: 134 min.

“Captain Phillips” just sounds like it’s going to be a good movie, because since it’s a true story and has Tom Hanks, it sounds great on paper. The true story follows the tale of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) finds his crew in jeopardy when a smaller crew of desperate Somolian pirates jumps on the ship, which causes a greater situation than either side anticipated. To expect a good movie from “Captain Phillips” is completely justified, but the real treat is that it just isn’t good, it’s damn fantastic.

The film is filled with edge-of-your-seat suspense and the situation Phillips is placed in is terrifying. It’s the unarmed shipmates vs. armed Somolian pirates that makes for a great movie. Paul Greengrass directs a winner here because it’s never boring and it gets into the action fairly quickly, and it never overstays its welcome. Phillips is an interesting character because he is fairly calm and collected and seems to feel compassion for some of his kidnappers. Tom Hanks delivers his strongest performance in recent years, and his talent is prominent in many scenes. This is notably tense because at times viewers might feel like Phillips’ life is truly in danger, and he might not get out of this alive.

I’ve always enjoyed the economical contrasts between different countries. In Somolia, these pirates have to find a big boat, because if they don’t, their bosses are going to be very angry. And in countries like this, there will never be a shortage of workers – so one can predict what would happen if they went home without a big boat. Lucky for them, and unlucky for the ship, the MV Maersk Alabama is enroute to Kenya to deliver food to starving villages, and they must go through waters occupied by Somolian pirates. The main pirate named Muse (Barkhad Abdi) replies to Phillips saying that kidnapping isn’t the only way to survive, “Maybe in America.” (As seen in the trailer.) There aren’t many job options in Somolia, apparently, so viewers can see how desperate the pirates are.

Tom Hanks isn’t the only one to deliver a great performance here, as Barkhad Abdi delivers a stunning performance here as the intense pirate who is in charge. He has something to overcome in proving himself because he is nicknamed by other Somolians “Skinny Rat.” An unkind nickname, making many around him perceive him as weak because of his size. He is very good; Hanks and he do a lot of the heavylifting for film. He’s one of this movie’s great surprises, he must have just been found on location in Somolia or something. My mom actually thought of that line, but it seems fitting to put in this review because of all the “Where the hell did you come from?” actors lists all over the internet. So, I stole the line – does that make me a pirate? Either way, you should really check out this movie!

Score95/100

The Croods (2013)

The Croods

 

The Croods
Release Date: March 22, 2013
Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Stars (voices): Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
Runtime: 98 min
Tagline: The Journey Begins

Meet the Croods, the world’s first family who live strictly in routine thanks to a strict father, Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage). There’s also the eldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), who has a very curious mind, much to her father’s dismay. Ugga (Catherine Keener) is Grug’s wife, Gran (Cloris Leachman) is Ugga’s mother, Thunk (Clarke Duke) is the eldest son, and Sandy (Randy Thom) is the speedy little baby.

Whenever the coast is clear, the family runs out of the cave and hunt for whatever food they can find. The family is usually okay with this, though the eldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), has a more curious mind and wants to explore the world.

One night, she spots a light glooming outside of her cave and she follows it, where she meets a slightly more advanced human, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his adorable sloth buddy, Belt, who holds his pants up. Belt has a love for being theatrical at any suspenseful moment, as when they come around, he just loves to say “Da-da-daaaaaaaa!”

When Grug comes to find her the next morning, the family is on the way back to the cave when their world begins to collapse around them. Their cave is destroyed, and they must travel across a spectacular landscape and a new world, and with the help of Guy and Belt, discover their only hope of survival might just be a large mountain in the distance. Since Grug has been one of the only reasons the family has survived so well (believing that curiosity, new things and just about everything else equals death), his and Guy’s beliefs collide when he realizes he isn’t the only one who’s able to protect them.

The Croods is an incredibly simplistic journey. The message is also rather straight-forward, that sometimes letting your children have a life of their own is good for them. The film isn’t too imaginative either, with the journey consisting of a fast-paced trip where they discover the wonder of fire, shoes, jokes and, of course, a whole new world and strange new creatures none of these neanderthals have encountered before. Grug has the hardest time adapting, as the new world seems to be much for him to handle. Where the movie lacks in sheer imagination, it makes up for it with the fast-paced plot, heart, charm and beauty. It’s also cool to see that the family dynamics back in this time aren’t too different from what they are today. Though, you shouldn’t educate yourself from an amusing movie like this.

The norm for animated films these days are to appeal on some level to adults, as well as kids. Just look at Wreck-It Ralph, a film that was filled with video game easter eggs that actually made it more enjoyable for adults. The Croods is really more for the kids to enjoy, with childish humour like an adorable sloth, the family biting each other, or them not being able to extinguish a fire. I still did think it was hilarious, but I’m eighteen, and it might not make all people over 30 years of age find a ton of hilarity in this.

The real appeal for adults, if any, is that it’s made relatable for fathers, especially. Grug is a strict father who is most worried about Eep, and he just doesn’t want to see her grow up and not need him anymore. It is made relatable for fathers because some are afraid of losing their little girl and it might be be stressful for many to see them leave the nest, or in Grug’s case, the cave. Now, I’m not near a father yet, so I’m not speaking from personal experience — but it seems that is the emotional appeal of this feature, and it makes the characters easier to care about. One other way it is made appealing for fathers is that there’s a running gag at roll call where Grug is almost always disappointed when Gran shows up. It is really funny and it is made appealing for fathers because, really, how rarely does one find a person who loves their in-laws?

The fast-paced plot is exciting and there is hardly a dull moment. It’s an adequete plot, but it isn’t top-tier. The only things that really have room for improvement is the plot, the voicework and the imagination. The voicework is good at best, with most of the voice actors being funny and The Cage only sometimes bringing some craziness to Grug. The voicework is good during, but none of it notable or extremely memorable. It’s one of the weaker aspects of the film, sure, but the film has strong aspects in its amount of heart, childish hilarity, and charm and great replay value.

While those aspects are all fine and dandy, the real notable part is the gorgeous animation (oh, and the adorable belt). The creature animation is fantastic and everything just looks stunning, with vibrant colours and amazing palaeolithic landscape. This also has some of the most beautiful water you ever will see in animation, and you’ll just want to swim in it.

83/100