And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Sequel" category.

Spoiler-free Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Chances are, if you’re reading this review (and I use the term loosely), you’ve already seen The Rise of Skywalker (so now it’s okay to look), you couldn’t care less about the film and are looking for validation, you trust that I won’t give anything away because you’ve read enough of my stuff to know better, or, you’re somewhat curious if you should see the movie, at least eventually. To the first group I say, “Hope you enjoyed it. How ‘bout that ending?!” To the second group, I say, “You probably haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since 1977 (if at all) and that’s okay. No need to start with this one.” To the third group, “I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to; I’m just a casual fan, familiar with the broad strokes of the epic saga but not obsessed with the minutiae; and to the fourth group, here’s the deal: “If you saw Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi then you should definitely see The Rise of Skywalker (aka Episode IX), for closure.

Review: Frozen II (aka Frozen 2)

Oh c’mon, did you really expect Frozen 2 to be as good – or even better – than its predecessor, the highest-grossing animated film of all time in worldwide box office? Did you really expect, or even want, another “Let It Go”? If so, you’re in for a bit of a letdown with this perfectly safe and pleasing sequel to the 2013 mega-hit that introduced us to royal sisters Elsa and Anna and the picturesque, Norwegian-esque Kingdom of Arandelle.

Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

True confessions time. I’m more than a little late to the Terminator game. Until last week, my only exposure to the decades-old franchise revolved around random clips featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a menacing looking robot dude and pop-culture references to his signature line, “I’ll be back.”

Since I never ventured there to begin with, I couldn’t really go back. Or could I?

Seemed fitting to try, given the brand’s own penchant for messing with time. So thanks to Amazon Prime (free streaming of 1984’s The Terminator) and iTunes ($3.99 rental of 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day), I got up to speed pretty quick, and got the baseline I truly needed for Terminator: Dark Fate.

Review: IT Chapter Two

And so – barring any future studio or literary shenanigans – IT ends.

IT Chapter Two is the creepy, edge-of-your-seat follow-up to the creepy, edge-of-your-seat horror film that hit the big screen in 2017. If you’ve read the book it’s based on (Stephen King’s second-longest, at 1138 pages), then you’re not only a glutton for punishment, you have a pretty good idea how it all plays out. I went in without a clue. I emerged a tad worse for wear psychologically, but generally satisfied with the film – and its ending.

Quickie Review: Angel Has Fallen

This one’s easy: If you saw and liked Olympus Has Fallen and/or London Has Fallen, then there’s absolutely no harm in catching Angel Has Fallen. For the trifecta! The characters, tempo, plot, action, and carnage are predictable and familiar, except this time you get the added bonus of Nick Nolte coming out of the woodwork – or the woods- as the absentee dad of Secret Service Agent extraordinaire Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).

Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

I’m suffering a bit from early-summer superhero fatigue, so I fully acknowledge that my ailment could account for my less than enthusiastic endorsement of Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s still an endorsement though. Because no matter my personal angst and anguish over the final moments of Avengers: Endgame, this latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does a solid job picking up the pieces from Endgame and moving the MCU forward. Spider-Man: Far From Home is an entertaining, somewhat bittersweet sequel that wears two hats: it’s a follow-up to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming reboot (with a youthful Tom Holland swinging into the role full-throttle), as well as to Endgame, which must be seen first to fully appreciate and understand what’s going on in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the 23rd film in the MCU. In Far From Home, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man from Queens, Peter Parker, is growing weary of the awesome responsibilities that come with global superhero status and is itching to be just a regular teenager again, at least for the summer. But a school trip abroad doesn’t exactly go as planned, and Peter is called upon to step-up, fill the void left by the Avengers shake-up, and help save his classmates – and the world – from a new, monstrous threat.

Review: Toy Story 4

A part of me did not want a Toy Story 4. I was afraid it would diminish the legacy of a storied franchise that left me in a heap of weep in 2010. Toy Story 3 won the Oscar that year for Best Animated Feature, having brought the story of Andy and his precious – and precocious – toys to a perfectly poignant conclusion. As Andy set off for college, he donated Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang to a toddler named Bonnie. It was the end of an era; but as we now know, not quite the end of the story.

Review: Men In Black: International

Does Men In Black: International break new ground? No, not really. Does it need to? Would have been nice; but no, not really. It’s good enough to serve as an amusing diversion at the start of the summer movie season, and sustain the sci-fi adventure comedy franchise that kicked off with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones back in 1997. It’s a popcorn movie. Over-think it, and you may be disappointed. Embrace it for what it is, and you’ll have a good time watching a new crop of super-secret agents tasked with protecting Earth from the scum of the universe. The plot is a tad superficial and the globe-trotting a bit excessive and unnecessary (except for lending credence to the subtitle), but a solid cast helps keep it afloat.

Quickie Review: A Dog’s Journey

A Dog’s Journey is for dog/animal lovers. It’s a continuation of the heartwarming saga that got us all misty-eyed in the 2017 doggie drama A Dog’s Purpose. In this sequel, Bailey (internal monologue voiced by Josh Gad) is getting up there in years, as is his “boy” Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (now played by Marg Helgenberger). It’s getting to be that time for Bailey to move on – in body, not in spirit. Knowing that Bailey has a knack for reincarnation, Ethan asks the dog to find and protect his estranged granddaughter Clarity June (“CJ”). And thus begins Bailey’s newest set of lives and adventures. His name, breed and gender may change over the years. But the dog never loses sight of his primary purpose – to keep tabs on CJ (Kathryn Prescott). It’s a mission that evolves into helping CJ reconnect with her childhood best friend Trent (Henry Lau), mend fences with her selfish, alcoholic mother Gloria (Betty Gilpin) and potentially reunite with her grandparents.

Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is insanely violent yet wildly entertaining – if you can withstand a barrage of fight scenes rife with bullets, swords, fists, head-butts, horses, motorcycles, crackling bones, shards of glass, big guns, small guns, and lots and lots of knives. The prolonged violence was a bit over the top for my taste, but I can’t help but appreciate the totality of what the franchise has been able to deliver since Wick first came on the scene in 2014. Chapter after chapter, the heart of the story remains the same: Formerly retired super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) just wants to live in peace with his dog and wallow in the memory of his late wife Helen. Good luck with that, John.