the flip from how we know them (Thompson as Valkyrie, Hemsworth as Thor), giving Hemsworth the seniority, experience, and more troubled past than Thompson is a new dynamic for them. Thompson is a strong lead as Agent M, a woman who is top of her class brilliant, but convinced the MIB exists, which keeps her from landing in the government job she seeks. Hemsworth, who we all know and love when it comes to his comedic side, plays Agent H - once the hero of the universe, now somewhat of a joke.
There are plenty of little tricks to keep you intrigued, as well as in-jokes and new jokes. The graphics are great, and Kumail Nanjiani's "Pawny" is a delight.
If you're expecting Shakespeare, Will Smith, or something you've never seen before...why are you even planning to see this movie?
The one downside, in my opinion, is how predictable the movie ended up being. I kept waiting for a final twist, but a final twist did not come. However, the person I went with didn't feel the same way and was pleasantly surprised with how things ended up.
3.5 solid feathers.
There's no reason NOT to see this movie if you're a fan of the franchise. It's better than MIB:II and competes with MIB:III for me in the rankings.
Aladdin - A Whole World of Fun
The story - we all know Aladdin, and while there will be a few surprises along the way, this story stays true to the original. What it does best is expand on the original in regards to Jasmine. Already one of the strongest Disney princesses with a defiance toward being treated as a side-character, Jasmine has long been a feminist icon. Disney charges forward, giving Jasmine (played by the incredible Naomi Scott) more screen time, more music, and more chances to rebel against the man.
Jasmine is the best part of this movie, but she isn't alone. Aladdin, Genie, Carpet, Abu, and all the rest are along for the ride, and the story had a few minor twists and turns to keep things fresh.
The acting - Naomi Scott is queen of the screen, but Mena Massoud is another up-and-comer who cannot be ignored. His turn as Aladdin is charming, delightful, and has just enough of a rough edge to make him real. Together, Massoud and Scott are dazzling on the screen as the young couple.
Will Smith may have seemed controversial to some as Guy Richie's choice for The Genie, but he does a fantastic job honoring Robin Williams and creating something all his own.
Marwan Kenzari has been called "Hot Jafar," and I wondered how he'd work on the screen as the maniacal, unhinged, evil Jafar. After all, can someone so lovely really play someone so dark?
The answer is yes. Yes he can. Kenzari brings a craziness to Jafar that defies his good looks and brings the same squirm-ish sense of "no" that we got from the original.
The feels - this movie isn't perfect. It isn't the greatest movie ever made. But it DID make me feel great. It gave me childhood and adulthood rolled in one, and I think it's perfect for everyone in the family.
The directing - the music, dancing, color and life were fantastic. Choosing to use a cast of people of color who fit the world Agrabah lives in was brilliant. I loved the casting choices and shots Richie chose to use...for the most part.
No movie is perfect (though plenty come close).
The acting - I really wasn't sure what to do with the handmaiden Dahlia, played by the hilarious Nasim Pedrad. When she was on point, it was hilarious, but getting used to her strange way of talking took me a few scenes.
The story - I love they they honored the original so well in all ways except one: the second wish. I'm fine with how it was done - it was even updated and improved upon. Yet I wish they'd gone a different way. I wish (hah) that they'd made a different choice simply to freshen up the plot. There are so many wishes that can be made, but that one, I think, could have changed.
The directing - I have a love/hate relationship with Guy Richie. He's done some incredible things (Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and some boring things (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Unfortunately, there are a few scenes in Aladdin that aren't quite there, and it's because of a choice Richie made in filming these scenes. These scenes, I'd bet my hat, were sped up in post, and it feels just a *smidgen* forced. It's the little movements we make in real time that make these moments glaring for the trained eye, but, in the end, I don't think most will notice.
4 solid, strong feathers (4.5 even).
Don't you know? Go see Aladdin! In fact, take me with you.
Endgame is Here
So many things, and without spoiling anything, let's talk about them.
The acting - on my second viewing, I was able to pick up (in a technical sense, and because I was looking for it), where the actors may not have been filmed together. So much of Endgame was a secret, that many scenes were filmed with characters in front of green screens, not even knowing who they're talking to.
That's kind of a big deal.
Especially since you can't tell when it comes to the end result. I knew what to look for, and so I could spot moments that were likely filmed separate, but on my first viewing (and even on my second), I didn't care. The acting is phenomenal. They did their job - they made me feel what they were feeling.
I want to give a special shout out to Scarlett Johanssen. She's never been my favorite actress, mainly for the parts she plays, but she had me in her grip every scene she starred in. In the end, her performance was one of - if not the - strongest in the entire film.
The directing - Infinity War had some CGI issues that felt awkward and out of sorts (I'm looking at you, Thanos, Rhodey, and Banner), and actually pulled me from the story. Because of this, I felt a bit nervous on how the Russo brothers would tell their final story.
Happily for me, whatever hiccups there were in Infinity War, they made no appearance in Endgame. This movie outdid its predecessors in scale and ambition when it came to the visual feel, and every single scene shone like diamonds. The Russos pulled out all the stops and gave the greatest work of their careers thus far. I want them to top Endgame, because I want to see more movies that make me in awe of cinema the way they did here.
As I said before, many of the actors were filmed separately from each other, but the way the Russos handled this it's only possible to tell if you know what to look for. Genius.
The story - Obviously I can't actually tell you anything about the story.
What I WILL tell you is that it's compelling, interesting, and well told. As you know, I struggled with the plot holes in Infinity War, and I feared Endgame would follow suit.
No plot holes.
I haven't seen a story told this well in this genre in ages. Decades. It hit every spot it needed to. It was funny at the right moments and sad at the right moments. Serious and silly. Somber and action-packed. It does everything it needs to do to be a fulfilling and satisfying end to a 22 movie arc.
For 3 hours and 2 minutes long, I expect a lot out of each scene chosen to partake in the final story. I will say there's 1-2 scenes that feel unnecessary. They don't move the story forward. They are gratuitous (and once even acknowledged as so). Yet, for as long as the movie is, I still found myself wishing for five more minutes when it ended. That's a powerful thing.
There are no end credits scene. I REPEAT: there's nothing after initial credits or post credits.
I don't have a problem with the movie not having them, but I do have a problem with sitting through 25 minutes of trailers, 3 hours of movie, and another 20 minutes of credits only to find out there's nothing there. I'm telling you so that YOU can get up and get your legs moving. You're not missing anything. (Except a weird tinking noise like a blacksmith at work.)
4.9 feathers (those gratuitous scenes lost that .1)
If you're any sort of Marvel fan, you're already planning when you're going to see this movie (if you haven't already). If you're not sure where you stand on superhero films, make sure you've seen Civil War and Infinity War before stepping into the theater (or risk being super lost).
Go see it. Just do it.
The acting - all four of the main actors AND the supporting cast were phenomenal. I love Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong'o, and they're fantastic in their dual roles. The child actors were in a class above. I'm keeping it brief so I don't write five thousand words on them alone.
The directing - I love what Jordan Peele is doing. I want to see it all.
Us had me a little less in suspense than Get Out, but I didn't enjoy it. In fact, after seeing Us twice in theaters, I'd go as far as to say it has a stronger re-watchability than it's predecessor, even if it doesn't pack quite as thrilling of a punch.
This movie made me feel...
I laughed. I jumped. I loved every minute of it. Even when I thought about it afterward, and there were questions buzzing around in my brain, I loved trying to answer them.
I have to wait who knows how long for the next Jordan Peele movie.
Go see Us. Just do it. You'll thank me later.
Nancy Drew is Back!
I had so much fun watching Nancy Drew.
Isn't that what we want from a movie? I left smiling, and I know I'll buy it and watch it again.
The acting - Sophia Lillis is incredible. She's sassy, silly, and spunky. Her version of Nancy is nobody's pushover, and she'll take on anyone she thinks needs to be brought down a peg or two.
While her friends weren't quite as strong, they were solid. Especially mean girl Helen.
The story - Despite never reading the book, I pegged the villain pretty early on. However, this didn't take away from enjoying the ride until Nancy figured it out.
The best thing about Nancy Drew was the friendship. It's rare to have a movie focused on young women that isn't also focused on their relationships with boys. Not so with Nancy. Throughout the film, we get to see the push and pull of teenage friendships - creating new ones and testing the limits of old ones. The way these girls work together to solve the problems they face makes this an A+ film for any teen or tween girl looking for positive role models.
I fell into the story. It absorbed me once it got going.
The scary - It's silly in hindsight, but Nancy Drew successfully creeped me out in one scene. My defenses were lowered, watching a teen mystery. I never felt truly terrified, but one scene did make me jump and remind myself I was in a movie theater with no one sitting behind me, safe as can be.
The beginning tries too hard. In its effort to set 2019's Nancy apart from the Drews of the past, the first five minutes are devoted to showing her skateboarding down the street of her small town, doing stunts when you can't see her face (thank you, stunt double).
This is followed by Nancy helping her friend get back at an overdone bully, which leads to a spot of trouble for our feisty redhead, and in turn leads to our mystery.
The overacting of some of the side characters can be a bit much, and it takes away from the focus of the mystery.
If you love a good mystery, a strong female lead, and a story about friendship, see Nancy Drew today!
Captain Marvel is My Hero
The acting - Brie Larson isn't what you'd expect from a superhero. She's 5' 7", has soft features, and her voice is higher and more feminine than ladies chosen in movies past.
That's what makes her so great.
Carol Danvers isn't incredible because she's a tall modelesque woman with a deep sonorous voice.
She's incredible because she isn't.
She's an everyday woman. Someone people like me can relate to. She's not the tallest, the strongest, or the best. She struggles.
And Brie Larson carries it with grace and ease. I believe she is Carol Danvers. Not one minute did I feel she was acting.
As always, Samuel L Jackson soars, and the rest of the supporting cast is amazing.
Most importantly, Lashana Lynch gives a compelling performance as Carol Danvers' best friend - a regular, everyday single mother who goes toe to toe with crazy aliens without batting an eye.
Don't even get me started on Goose, artfully played by four different orange kitty cats.
The directing - Anna Boden, in partnership with Ryan Fleck, marks a first for a woman director AND writer for a female superhero story. Together with Geneva Robertson Dworet, they crafted a story for women by women. Boden and Fleck work seamlessly for stunning shots, emotional climaxes, and a boppin' 90s playlist.
The story -
1. Let's not compare Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. They're insanely different. Just because they're the only female superhero led films in their respective camps doesn't mean they should be going toe-to-toe.
2. I LOVE CAPTAIN MARVEL SO MUCH!
I don't want to go on and on about this story or give spoilers, but I could. I've seen it multiple times in theaters, and each time it resonates more within me.
I love that Carol isn't the strongest or the best at the outset. She's limited, emotional, and chastised by her leaders. Stay in line, Carol. Don't act out, Carol.
Despite these orders, her sassy, brassy, fiery self can't help but shine through. If I were to enneagram Carol Danvers, I'd guess she was an eight.
Carol isn't someone who can be kept down. In fact, a key moment in the movie is just that - Carol being pushed down.
She always gets back up.
It's a great role model for girls everywhere. They'll tell you that you can't. They'll deny your agency. They'll push you down and tell you you're just a girl.
But you get back up.
Just like Carol Danvers.
Captain Marvel is the movie I've been waiting for. The little girl Kelsey couldn't get enough. I know who I'm going to be for Halloween.
This movie has it all - strong female leads, strong POC characters, strong narrative. It's a movie about justice, friendship, and that it's never too late to do the right thing.
Potentially disorienting for anyone who isn't familiar with Ronan, Guardians of the Galaxy, or the Tesseract.
I've seen Captain Marvel three times in theaters. What are you waiting for?
Isn't It Hilarious
Because I love my readers, I can't tell you what that moral is. I almost thought they were going to miss it - a real #swanitude moment - but then they swung back around and hit a home run.
Rebel Wilson is a positive female lead, and a rarity amongst Hollywood. In her late 30s, more voluptuous, and with a history of being the sidekick, Rebel isn't what Hollywood generally puts in the Leading Lady category. Yet Rebel owns the role and your affection as the lovable Natalie, an architect with low self-esteem and a sarcastic sense of humor.
We're treated, once again, to Hemsworth humor - this time in the form of younger brother Liam. While not as funny as big brother Chris, he still shines as the American-turned-Australian Blake, a millionaire's son who falls for Natalie in the Romantic Comedy world Natalie wakes up in.
I can't say enough about the musical scene with Rebel and Adam Devine. Whitney Huston would be honored (I think) to see them bopping to one of her best beats.
Plus, the ending has a fun surprise.
The Negative -
You can't expect Isn't it Romantic to be A Star is Born. It's a chick-flick. Something fun, light, and mindless to soothe you after a hard day. Compare it to its fellows, and you'll have a grand time.
There are a few moments where Isn't it Romantic misses the mark, but it makes up for it with fun, heart, and happiness intentionally soaked in tropes and cliches.
Catch Isn't it Romantic for a girls night or with your guys. You'll have a great time.
Legos - Watch Where You Step
Maybe not *quite* as unique as the first one, but still enjoyable. With a great soundtrack!
Go see Lego Movie 2. It's so great.
Ranting, raving, loving every minute of it - let's talk movies.