A family of superheroes goes on a PR campaign to lift the ban on their public existence.
Directed by Brad Bird
Starring Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter
Initial Review by Phil Crone
After 14 long years and sequels to “Toy Story (fine),” “Finding Nemo (sure),” “Monsters Inc. (ehh…)”, and a double-dose of “Cars (WHAT?!),” Pixar finally gives us the one movie that actually went out of its way to set up a sequel in “Incredibles 2.” The original, “The Incredibles,” holds up today as one of Pixar’s less-weighty and joyful movies in their catalog. Did the sequel do the same? Indeed it did, and maybe a little too closely.
Having directed the groundbreaking action flick John Wick together in 2014, stuntmen-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch parted ways three years later. With each releasing their own films in 2017, Stahelski and Leitch invited a friendly contest between them. Stahelski’s John Wick sequel was more of the same, stylish but drained of the emotional throughline that made the original’s high body count somewhat meaningful instead of outright exhausting. With Atomic Blonde, Leitch appears to be uninterested in repeating himself outside of capturing more visceral, bone-crunching action. His film trades the criminal underworld for Cold War espionage, casts a far-better actor in the lead, and retains a passable amount of resonance, all combining to demonstrate that he’s the more talented director of the two.
Zhang Yimou’s first English-language film sparked a lot of misguided controversy about the presence of Matt Damon in a fantasy film fought along The Great Wall of China. Here’s another white savior who’ll bring technology and advanced tactics to a non-white civilization while hundreds of Chinese extras are killed just out of frame. Those that prematurely complained should have done their homework, because Yimou’s reputation is that of the Chinese equivalent of Michael Bay. While both are sometimes blisteringly critical of their respective governments, they still work hand in hand with the seats of power. Just as Bay needs Pentagon approval to include all that authentic gear in his militaristic films, Yimou needs the approval of the Chinese government to get his films released in Chinese theaters. The Politburo’s not about to sign off on a film that devalues their ancient nation’s culture and innovation. Viewed through the lens of a Bay-sian exercise in nationalism, The Great Wall isn’t as easily dismissed. If the USA can have their jingoistic action romps and export them around the world, why can’t China?
Based on the novel Leave No Trace by Hannah Nyala West (I wonder if it’s any better), Heatstroke is, well, it’s a movie. The feature film debut of Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams falls pretty flat. A comment earlier from the Facebook page describes the movie as Arya Stark running from poachers in the desert. With this being part of the plotline, it’s a safe bet to say that winter is definitely not coming in this one.
At the heart of Sicario is a complicated question: What is victory in the face of an unwinnable war? Is it the small wins that serve as a beacon of hope to spread from this epicenter? Or is it in the very understanding that the war cannot be won, but a more favorable outcome can be achieved? This serves as the central conflict between the idealistic FBI agent Kate and the ever-pragmatic CIA agent Matt and is the driving force behind the action of Sicario.
Much of the first act is spent setting up this world, giving the audience an understanding of the dire straits border towns are in. The proxy for the viewer is Kate, an FBI agent in the kidnap rescue division. Opening with a tactical mission for her team immediately gives us the impression that Kate is no pushover when she makes it into Juarez, which is where our story begins in earnest. Right from the opening aerial shot over serene El Paso & dilapidated Juarez, we know we’re dealing with two different worlds here. The sounds of Juarez as the task force drives through are littered with gunfire. Multiple bodies, decapitated, hang from a bridge. Yet, we see the townspeople go about their business in the meantime. This is commonplace, and that jarring juxtaposition of people playing games while the bullets fly is just another day in Juarez, or any other border town that has become a nexus for drug trafficking. That point is further driven home by the shootout on the bridge, which “won’t even make the papers in El Paso.” Kate and the viewer now know this is the war we are dealing with.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.