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Toy Story 4 (2019)
9/10
"To Infinity.... And Beyond"
22 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I was always excited but hesitant for Toy Story 4. It felt largely unnecessary but intriguing. Other than wanting a boat load of money, why would Disney/Pixar want to go back to what may be the greatest trilogy of all time and take a chance at messing it up? Well, your answer is they wanted to close Woody's arc in the best possible way. Mirroring his story with Buzz in the first Toy Story with his new relationship with 'Forky', the Spork turned toy, Woody very well may have the best arc in cinema history. Or perhaps the most complete and full circle story. But the film is still very funny, introduces us to plenty of new memorable characters, and is directed/written as well as the best of Pixar's films. They even made Bo Peep incredibly cool. If it wasn't for HTTYD 3 earlier this year, I would say Pixar has the Oscar locked up.

9.7/10
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Toy Story 3 (2010)
10/10
"So Long, Partner"
22 June 2019
For a long time, this was considered the perfect end to the Toy Story arc. It was the perfect finish to the toy's time with Andy as the group deal with mortality if they can still live on after their "child" grows up. Toy Story 3 makes for what may be Pixar's most adult film to date, that still caters towards children in the best comedic ways. Lotso is an unsettlingly cold bear controlling the daycare that Woody & gang get stuck at. But the real win here is the final 20 minutes where my emotions may have been at the most vulnerable they've ever been in an animated film, as Andy says thank you and Woody says so long. Cinema at its finest.

10/10
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Toy Story 2 (1999)
9/10
"Ride Like the Wind, Bullseye!"
22 June 2019
Of the original trilogy, Toy Story 2 has always been my least re-watched and least favorite, but that's not to say the film isn't a near all-around success. It's the film that really started to introduce the idea of mortality to the toy's shelf life. Woody is kidnapped by a toy collector and meets Jessie, Bullseye, and The Prospector, toys who just want to make it to Japan to be on display for the rest of their life. Jessie's backstory is among the best sequences Pixar has ever put to screen, the Woody's Round-Up scenes are magical, and the animation is far more detailed and intricate than the first. It's also much better on re-watch than I remember.

9.5/10
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Toy Story (1995)
10/10
"Falling With Style"
22 June 2019
One of the few films that significantly shaped my childhood in loving films, Toy Story completely changed animation forever, and in my opinion for the better. In a mere 80 minutes, the film introduces us to a group of toys devoted to their beloved Andy and gets us to care about that relationship, to infinity and beyond. Everything from having "Andy" written on the toy's boots, to the menace that was Sid the next door neighbor, to Randy Newman's transformative music, to the bond that was formed between Buzz and Woody, Toy Story is a magical time at the movies.

10/10
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Late Night (2019)
7/10
Late Night Queen
22 June 2019
Late Night is an electric watch when Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson are on screen, not so much when the film decides to focus on other characters who are far less interesting and well-rounded. Provided timely and hilarious social commentary in its best moments, Late Night has some fantastic highs. I could honestly watch an entire series of Thompson playing late night host Katherine Newbury. She brilliantly plays the vulnerable side of Newbury who is so far over the hump in her career that she begins to make drastic hiring choices, one being the hiring of Kaling as Molly Patel. It's not the Oscar contender that some may have thought, but in an underwhelming summer, this was a joy.

7.2/10
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4/10
A Waste of Time
22 June 2019
The worst thing a film can be is forgettable, bland, and unnecessary. Sadly, Men in Black: International falls in line with all 3 of those. After hearing several critics talk about how generic the film was, I tried hard to pay attention to the convoluted plot and even in a movie flooded with actors I enjoy, it had a difficult time keeping my eye. Whether there were as many on set/script/production issues as reported, the movie is still just as unnecessary as we all figured when announced. The better idea would have been to go through with the Jump Street crossover, but my guess would be that the MIB franchise is more than likely dead. Any film that casts Rebecca Ferguson and wastes her talent by simply giving her one 10 minute scene doesn't deserve any attention.

4.9/10
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Someone Great (2019)
5/10
"Forever"
22 June 2019
Maybe it's because I watched this so close to when I watched 'Always Be My Maybe', but I was a little bit letdown by 'Someone Great'. It starts off well by showing the relationship between its two main characters in a supercut form (by literally playing Supercut by Lorde) but I don't think it ever reaches those highs again. It's kind of like how Up is only a great movie for the first 20 minutes and as soon as the mission starts, it goes down in quality. This film is far more of a slow-burn drama than it is a rom-com like the aforementioned 'Always Be My maybe', so it's almost unfair to compare. But what's most disappointing is the fact that the film spends way too much time focusing on things other than Gina Rodriguez and LaKeith Stanfield's relationship. I never found myself caring for the friends' storylines, and thus the film comes off as slightly better than 'boring'. Though I did like the last few minutes and the choices they made plot wise.

5.8/10
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7/10
Don't Let the World Pass You By
22 June 2019
If there's one thing Netflix seems to be doing pretty successfully (besides TV), it's rom-coms. Always Be My Maybe was the next big comedy to make waves through the renowned streaming service, and to mostly good results. Ali Wong and Randall Park play two lovers who reconnect after not having seen each other for over a decade. Park, who has been poorly miscast in a few recent comic book films, plays great off Wong and vice versa. And as I say about most of these films, it can be painfully cheesy without the right actors & director. Luckily, that's not the case here. Plus, an extended cameo from Keanu Reeves as himself made this film all the more enjoyable. So even if the rom-com genre isn't necessarily getting the screen time in theaters it deserves, I'm glad it seems to be making a resurgence on the small screen.

7.7/10
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7/10
You Go Where You're Needed, Not Where You Need to Go
19 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I have a soft spot for a few of Lasse Hallstrom's movies. Sometimes critiqued as overly sentimental, Hallstrom often finds a way into my heart with human stories built around tragic tales. The Cider House Rules contains what may be Tobey Maguire's best work, and gave Michael Caine his second Oscar. The performances are clearly the strong point of the film, which story feels a bit dated in 2019 and doesn't hold together for 2 hours all that well. With that said, the first and third act are pretty poignant, as it tells a story of a man searching for his true calling, only to find that it was right there in front of him the whole time.

7.3/10
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Rocketman (2019)
8/10
The Movie this Summer Needs
19 June 2019
At this point, I can't really imagine this movie starring Tom Hardy, who was originally attached years ago. In many ways, it feels like Taron Egerton was born to play Elton John. In fact, some may say, myself included, that this is a better performance than Rami Malek gave as Freddie Mercury last year (also partially directed by Dexter Fletcher). Egerton sings and dances on his own and commits to this completely fantastical rendition of the acclaimed singer/songwriter. Although, in many ways it follows the same beats as a cliched music biopic, when it breaks out into song and Egerton spends time breaking down the character emotionally, 'Rocketman' entertains like no other. This is the type of summer movie we needed this year.

8.3/10
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Remember Me (I) (2010)
6/10
Overwhelmingly Tragic
19 June 2019
I will always remember 'Remember Me' as the first Robert Pattinson film I watched post-Batman announcement. It's also a film that, even though I watched it nearly 2 weeks ago, I'm having trouble putting my thoughts together. It's a mostly dramatic (and without humor) romance between two people flooded with tragedy. And tragedy is the name of the game with this one, as you're never really free of it. The quote from the movie that sticks with me most is "whatever you do in life will be insignificant. but it is very important that you do it anyway". Perhaps that's a good way of looking at the movie. It's not a great film, but it's important you see it anyway? The movie never really feels like a full arc or story, even after its' final tragic moments. But in coming full circle with my opening, Robert *Battinson* is actually quite good here.

6.3/10
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Dark Phoenix (2019)
7/10
Not the Train Wreck People Make It Out to Be
16 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Dark Phoenix is in many ways, a lame duck movie. It doesn't mean anything at all for the future of the Fox X-Men movies (because there won't be any) and it certainly doesn't have any impact on the MCU's inevitable reboot of the series, because they will likely recast the entire group. It was always meant to fail, and by looking at the box office returns, it sure seems like the audience understood that unfortunately. The movie itself isn't all that bad. There are more than a few issues, Jessica Chastain and the rest of the 'villains', the lack of an emotional presence, and that random f-bomb they decided was a good idea to throw in there. However, there are plenty of things to enjoy about Simon Kinberg's take on the epic Phoenix storyline. Sophie Turner once again proves that she's here to stay, and further cements her ability to play the vulnerable and damaged side to a character. Her best stuff in Game of Thrones has always been the darker & deeper material she gets as the series moves along. Michael Fassbender kills it as Erik/Magneto, but really who didn't expect that? And I also think this is one of the most visually impressive X-Men films to date. The opening sequence in space, as well as the final train fight are stunning to see on the big screen, even if the film itself doesn't necessarily play well into the 'summer look and feel' to most big budget blockbusters. I'm not going to say that Dark Phoenix is among the best of the series, but there's more positive than negative. Hopefully the MCU can do a little bit more for the continuity next time around.

7.5/10
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Ma (2019)
6/10
Silvers is a Star, Spencer is Great, But that's All You Get Here
5 June 2019
I really do love that Blumhouse is getting to the point where they can bring in A-list actors for roles that used to go to b-movie level actors. Octavia Spencer as the main villain in a horror film? That's about as good as you can get. Diana Silvers is just about the only young actor who presents good work here, but perhaps that's the script's fault. And 'Ma' is certainly creepy and contains genuinely unsettling scenes, in the same vein as Kathy Bates in Misery, but ultimately I think the film ends up focusing more on delivering shock and horror rather than character work with something 'to say'. If that's your jam, then I'm sure you'll find a lot to enjoy with 'Ma'. Otherwise, it becomes much more forgettable then it should have been.

6.8/10
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3/10
A Waste of Time and Money
5 June 2019
Remember when the biggest complaint of the 2014 Godzilla movie was the titular characters' lack of presence? And how the director (Gareth Edwards) made the specific choice to keep cutting away from shots of Godzilla in favor of the human story involving Elizabeth Olsen & Aaron Taylor-Johnson? Well, I'm not pleased to say Michael Dougherty took that criticism and threw it out the window. Instead of 25-30 minutes of screentime like it was in 2014, Godzilla is in this film for about 35-45 minutes. He doesn't even enter the film until 40 minutes in, takes a nap in the middle act, and has a pretty cool final fight with Ghidorah. And that's basically your movie. I understand having a human side to these stories is essentially unavoidable, but then don't spend millions on great actors, cut down the runtime, and spend the remaining budget on more CGI monsters. Or better yet, stop making the same dang story with these 'classic' monsters around them. 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters' is pretty close to a train wreck.

3.5/1
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Andhadhun (2018)
8/10
Like a Soap Opera Directed by Quentin Tarantino
5 June 2019
I'm honestly not even sure how to begin reviewing this movie. The best way I can describe it is a fantasy-mystery-black comedy-musical-adventure-epic. Does that sound like something absolutely ridiculously insane? Well it is. Andhadhun focuses on a *blind* pianist who *witnesses* a deadly crime and is forced to report it to authorities, and things go awry after several reveals/double crosses that lead to a third act so extravagantly convoluted that it's actually quite awesome. Am I being vague enough for you? This is like a soap opera, in the vein of Pulp Fiction, with a dash of La La Land & Seven Pounds, inspired by Fargo, and directed by Quentin Tarantino. If that doesn't sell you then I don't know what will. Seriously, just watch it.

8.7/10
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Honeymoon (2014)
6/10
Not Much Payoff
5 June 2019
Continuing in my long list of movies I chose to watch from Game of Thrones actors over the last month or so, 'Honeymoon' stars the always fantastic Rose Leslie as 'Bea' the troubled half of a newlywed couple whose honeymoon certainly doesn't go as planned. First off, who thought that having your honeymoon in the woods in the middle of nowhere was a good idea? I understand the desire for privacy and the ability to be secluded from everything else in life but this plot felt avoidable if they only picked a more common destination. Alas, we have Honeymoon, the slow-building, bloody, gritty, and ambiguous horror film that doesn't quite have the payoff that the premise initially makes a promise to deliver on. But still, a more than watchable, well-acted film from director Leigh Janiak.

6.3/10
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10/10
And Now My Watch Has (Officially) Ended
4 June 2019
I mean this from the bottom of my heart, The Last Watch is one of the most moving movie experiences I can remember having in years. And the weird thing is, it didn't really hit me until about an hour after it ended. This documentary was a whole lot like the show itself, vastly different than my expectations for many episodes. I mostly expected this to show more in-depth interviews with David & Dan, plenty of cast & crew insight, and a bunch of behind the scenes images from the big battle episodes. Instead, D&D are nowhere to be found for a good chunk, the cast comes and goes, and the doc takes most of its time telling stories from the perspectives of people you never would have thought would get screen time. And it's absolutely brilliant. Everyone from a Northern soldier extra who has been with the show for many seasons, to the hair stylist for Emilia Clarke, to the makeup artist for the white walkers, to the flippin guy making the snow every episode, this documentary moved me tears as it gave voices to people who have carried this show for close to a decade and have never seen the spotlight. Kit Harington's last speech on set & seeing the hair stylist watch Clarke's last scene was the definition of bittersweet. At the very least, this should turn some fans around on this season just for how much blood, sweat, and tears was put into seeing this show succeed up until its ending. This doc was everything. Thank you Jeanie Finlay

10/10
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5/10
Falls Into the Cliche's it Swears to Avoid
3 June 2019
There have been many great rom-coms over the last 10 years, but it's a largely dead genre, at least when it comes to movies that make it into theaters. 'Playing it Cool' is just about as cliche as they come with this genre, even though the film tries its darndest to do the opposite. Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan play the two central characters, both of which I love in just about anything, but they are given next to nothing with this script. It's also the only film Justin Reardon has ever directed, which should tell you something about how this film was received within the industry. Perhaps the worst part is that it feels long at 90 minutes. That's when you know something is wrong with your pacing, writing, and direction. 'Playing it Cool' contains a few moments of genuine charm, purely from its actors, only to be outdone by the next extremely cliche plot point.

5.4/10
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8/10
Come on Home, Boss Dog
2 June 2019
It's funny how much I've come around on this series since its inception in early 2017. From being too schmaltzy to being an incredibly heartfelt story about the bond between an owner and his/her dog. The conclusion to this story is beyond satisfying and one that every dog owner will almost definitely relate to on some level. The journey of Bailey (voice by Josh Gad) continues as his purpose extends past Ethan and Hannah, this time looking over CJ, Ethan's step-granddaughter. While being overly sentimental and manipulative at times, it never tries to reach beyond its grasp. It's the good kind of manipulative, especially since it had me tearing up for the better part of the last 30 minutes. A Dog's Purpose is yet another win for dog movie lovers everywhere.

8.4/10
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Brightburn (2019)
6/10
What If?
2 June 2019
I think Hollywood has realized that a Superman movie only goes so far. You have to maintain the heart and soul of the story of an alien in a world that doesn't accept an outsider, while also shaping the story around a character who is essentially flawless. Brightburn takes the Superman mythos (whether the filmmakers want to admit it or not) and makes the hard left turn with Clark Kent's origin into horror territory. Brandon Breyer (because every comic character has to have alliteration) decides to use his supernatural abilities for evil, as he torments and murders people in his small town of Brightburn. While it certainly has its entertaining qualities, it fails to capture the horror of the third act because you never really grow to love Brandon as a normal kid anyway. If the first act chose to focus more on the human side of Brandon it could have easily made his turn more devastating and truly horrifying. Instead, it feels more like a low budget 'what if' story that doesn't give us the true payoff of what that question poses.

6.2/10
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Aladdin (2019)
7/10
Not the Train Wreck Everyone Thought it Would Be
2 June 2019
I was beyond skeptical when they announced Guy Ritchie to be the director to helm the live-action version of the beloved 'Aladdin', and I became even more worried after seeing King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Not that that movie is a trainwreck, but I failed to see how Ritchie could inject his style into a kids movie. The answer being that he doesn't, he stays true to what made the original Aladdin a phenomena and adjusts certain plot elements that needed to be adjusted. For instance, Jafar doesn't need to be old man pining over a young Princess Jasmine. And you can't really copy what Robin Williams did as Genie, so you take Will Smith and breathe his charisma and charm into a new Genie, which feels even more modern than what Williams did. Not better, but still very good. The movie had an uphill climb to make from the moment it was announced, but I think it did about as well as it could have. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are stars in the making (while admittedly it took me a few scenes to warm up to these characters), who did wonders with the roles of Aladdin & Jasmine respectively. It's worth it for 'A Whole New World' alone.

7.5/10
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Mama (I) (2013)
6/10
Serviceable Horror Flick
25 May 2019
The first feature film from 2017's 'It' director, Andy Muschietti, 'Mama' is a visually striking but ultimately derivative when you think about it. Whether it be the story, visual cues, or plot twists and turns, Muschietti doesn't necessarily hide his influences and perhaps that's the point. But alas, 'Mama' never feels wholly original nor clever. It's a perfectly capable horror film that will provide just enough scares and intrigue for an audience, but it likely won't stay with you for more than a few days after viewing.

6.4/10
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7/10
Be Here Now
25 May 2019
Manipulative and at times contrived, 'A Dog's Purpose' is admittedly not the most polished script, but it can be wonderfully touching at times. Which pretty much describes just about every dog film over the last few decades. You know the cliches and touchstones that every dog movie typically hits, but even the worst of them can be moving to dog owners everywhere. A Dog's Purpose takes a different route, contending that a dog (or maybe every dog) can be reincarnated and come back through several lifetimes in order to support his/her owner. A brilliant idea, and if you have owned a dog, it doesn't even seem that much out of the realm of possibility. Lasse Hallstrom has developed a talent over the years for balancing the manipulative nature of the drama with real-genuine emotion, and he does so very well here as well.

7.5/10
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Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne (2019)
Season 8, Episode 6
10/10
A Dream of Spring
20 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I can't even begin to count how many hours I've spent watching the show, reading articles, looking for interviews and set photos. Game of Thrones has consumed by life for the better part of the last decade, and now it's over. It's all over. And regardless of what the internet thinks, I think this finale was absolutely perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better end to the journeys of all my favorite TV characters in one hour and a half long night of television. In a divisive and cynical time, I love that Game of Thrones' last big "twist" was that it ends in a somewhat predictable and hopeful way.

Of course, the episode didn't necessarily start that way, as we see the city in pieces following Daenerys' destruction last week. Watching Tyrion stare Dany in the face, call her out on her BS and throw the Hand of the King pin to the side was brilliantly bold and bada**. If they were going to kill Tyrion, that was a pretty awesome way to end his arc. Luckily, we had a scene with Jon & Tyrion that was just what Jon needed to do what had to be done.

I think we all figured Dany's days were numbered after last week, we just weren't sure how exactly she would be killed. It was always expected to be Jon, but having him do it right before she was about to sit on the Throne she spent SEASONS trying to reach, was devastatingly tragic, but absolutely fitting. After all that, ultimately no one gets to sit on the Iron Throne. The next sequence, showcasing all of the Lords of Westeros gathered around Tyrion at first is a bit jarring, but you knew there had to be a nice way to wrap everyone's stories up, especially since there was merely 30 minutes to go. It becomes even more jarring when Tyrion pleads for Bran to be the one to take the Throne, but it all starts to click after that. He is the only one that can't possibly fall into the same sort of poison the throne brings upon everyone who desires it. He is the memory of this world.

Drogon takes Dany away, Jon takes the black once again, Tyrion is the new Hand of the King, Sam is grand maester, and Davos, Bronn, Brienne all sit on the new small council. I loved watching Brienne finish Jaime's page in the history of the Knights of the Seven Kingdoms book. Seeing the new small council argue over the small things in the world was fittingly bittersweet. Podrick alive and well and wheeling Bran around! Even seeing Grey Worm going to Naath felt right, though if I was a betting man I could have sworn he would have been toast this season.

This show started with the Starks, and I'm thrilled that it ended with the montage of the 3 remaining Starks (we don't count Bran anymore) and their new lives. Sansa as the new Queen of the *Independent* North, Arya going West of Westeros like I hoped, and finally Jon going home, going North. And YES he got his pets to Ghost! It's truly only fitting that we see that one green plant North of The Wall, A DREAM OF SPRING. Thank you Game of Thrones, for everything.

10/10
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Gosford Park (2001)
6/10
One Weekend in England
19 May 2019
As big of a film buff as I am, I've never seen a Robert Altman film until Gosford Park, so perhaps I didn't really know what I was in for. For a murder mystery thriller, GosFord Park is paced unusually slow, and rather than showing the audience anything for character development, the film instead decides to give it all to us via dialogue. Which, in certain instances can be a good thing, but exposition only goes so far. I felt as though too often the film was obsessed with putting 20 characters (you hardly know) in a room together to keep us guessing on who committed said crime (which doesn't even happen until over an hour in) and not on developing the actual story around those characters. But it's also one of those times where a second watch may improve the viewing experience a bit, perhaps. But I do know one thing, this film is the exact reason I don't watch shows like Downton Abbey.

6.3/10
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