Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Image is property of Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

Incredibles 2 – Film Review

Cast:  Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener

Director: Brad Bird

Synopsis: With the world still distrustful of superheroes,  Elastigirl is recruited in a secret mission in order to win back the public’s trust, all the while Mr Incredible must manage their super-powered children.

Review: Cast your minds back to 2004, a time before superhero films were billion dollar cinematic universe juggernauts, cropping up here there and everywhere. like they do today. As such when the first Incredibles film debuted, it was released in a market nowhere near as competitive as it is today. Therefore how do you ensure that you stand out from the crowd?  For returning writer/director Brad Bird, the answer is, stick to your guns.

Given the amount of time that has passed between the two movies being released, that a similar amount of time would have passed in the lives of the Parrs, thus putting a new  on the tale of this family. However, this this film dives straight back in, picking up pretty much almost immediately where the last film left off, with the family facing off against the dastardly Underminer.

All the while despite their heroism, superheroes are still illegal putting them in a tricky predicament. This is until a chance to win back the faith of the public opens itself up to Elastigirl (Holly Hunter). All the while Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson) must look after their 3 children, a task that is the trickiest of tests even for a superhero Dad. Teenage daughter temper tantrums, problems with homework, and a baby whose powers are frighteningly, but at the same time, hilariously unpredictable.

The real strength of this film lies in its action sequences, which are just as enthralling as those of its predecessor. What’s more, given that her role the first time around was not as front and centre as her husband. Seeing Elastigirl taking the lead role, is undeniably awesome to see. In the void that was left behind by Syndrome, the villain here is one who goes by the name of the Screenslaver, intensely critical of humanity’s incessant screen addiction. This is certainly an interesting plot thread but it is disappointingly not explored to the extent that you would have liked the film too, and given the sheer quality of a villain like Syndrome, the antagonist here is nowhere near as compelling as Syndrome was. Furthermore their motivations are a bit flimsy, and the direction they go in can be spotted from a mile off.

The film’s pacing is a little sluggish at times, but when the action is going down, it is extremely entertaining. Given Brad Bird made a Mission Impossible film, in between his Incredible endeavours, there is a strong MI vibe present here, and all the better for it. On top of that, with the central theme of the importance of the family definitely reinforced once again, it neatly ties itself in with the first film. There is no emotional gut punch that previous Pixar efforts such as Inside Out or Coco provided.

However, it more than makes up for that dearth of emotional drama. Given that the first film is regarded by many as being one of Pixar’s finest works, topping that was never going to be easy for Bird, but after such a long wait he delivers a sequel, that while is not as incredible as its predecessor, comes mighty damn close.

A long time in the making, but worth the wait to see this super family back in action, delivering superb action scenes and a great barrel of laughs along the way courtesy of baby Jack-Jack. Incredible by name, incredible by nature.

Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

The Incredibles (2004)

incredibles
Image is property of Pixar Animation Studios and Disney

The Incredibles – Film Review

Cast:  Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox, Jason Lee

Director: Brad Bird

Synopsis: After a public outcry, superheroes are forced to put away their capes and live in everyday society. However a deadly plan to wreak world havoc forces one super family to band together to help save the world.

Review: Largely thanks to the work of DC and Marvel, superheroes are currently enjoying a great boom in popularity in Hollywood at the moment. Yet back in 2004, the superhero fever hadn’t quite reached the level it enjoys at this moment in time. Nevertheless, it didn’t need to have the soaring popularity it currently enjoys for an idea about a superhero family, all with extraordinary abilities, in a world that has superheroes aplenty to gain traction. From an idea first spawned in 1993 by writer and director Brad Bird, after being brought on board the Pixar train that up to that point hit a home run with with all of its prior releases, and soaring critical praise, Bird’s superhero dream finally came to fruition, and soared spectacularly so.

Focusing on Robert Parr AKA Mr Incredible, a super strong superhero who after committing a selfless act of heroism leads to fierce criticism from the public and gives the government a great big headache, which ultimately forces the superheroes to relocate, and to become as they say “average citizens, average heroes.” So reluctantly, Bob settles down with wife Helen AKA Elastigirl who has the ability to stretch, and their three children, Violet who can create force-fields and turn invisible, Dash who has super-speed and Jack-Jack whose powers are somewhat undefined.

Bob is experiencing something of a mid life crisis, with a dead end career. This is until he has a chance to put on his mask and suit up once again, setting off a chain of events that lead to some super entertaining excitement from a studio that has almost always produced cinematic gold. Bird’s screenplay is witty, entertaining and slightly moving at times, with lots of gags aimed at adults for good measure, as one might expect from Pixar.

Incredibles 1

Animated characters certainly have demonstrated in the past that they have the power to pull on the heartstrings of the audience and once again, Pixar nails this with flying colours, as it so often does. Bob is a character whom many could undoubtedly relate to, in terms of his career and his burning desire to put on his mask again, but not the cape, the cape must never be worn at all!

Each of the family members are well developed characters, and each absolutely gets their moment to shine, with tremendous voice work by all concerned, Bird himself lends his voice to the quite brilliant and eccentric Edna, yet Samuel L Jackson’s Frozone is in many ways the scene stealer, with some brilliant one liners and a fantastic exchange with his wife that surely ranks up there as one of the best scenes ever put to screen by Pixar.

Bird had animation experience after directing 1999’s The Iron Giant, and although that film suffered at the box office, his talent is undeniable. His script is matched by the film’s enthralling action sequences, whether its hero vs villain, or hero vs machine. It is faultless stuff and the detail on certain aspects such as the hair and the explosions is remarkable, almost as close to real life as it could get.

This pun probably has been mentioned in every review for this film ever written, but it really is incredible, and well recognised with the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, as well as one for Sound Editing, Throw in an excellent score by the ever excellent Michael Giacchino and you have all the ingredients to make a truly excellent Pixar film, and a studio that with this making it sixth big release, had six super hits, and only went from strength to strength.

The Incredibles really sets the standard for superhero movies, animated and live-action alike, with relatable characters, some great dialogue, and some truly enthralling action sequences.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

ghost protocol
Image rights belong to Paramount, Bad Robot, Skydance Productions and TC Productions

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Film Review

Cast: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Lea Seydoux, Michael Nyqvist

Director: Brad Bird

Synopsis: The IMF is disavowed following a mission, and must use any means they can to take down a growing terrorist threat, bent on global destruction.

Review: If there is one movie star today who absolutely commits himself to every stunt he does, for the sole purpose of giving the audience the ultimate thrill, edge-of-your-seat action, then look no further than Tom Cruise. In this fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise, Cruise really decided to up the “holy shit” factor by actually scaling the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and in doing so produced one of the best set pieces ever put to film.

Of course, this is one exhilarating and intense action sequence in a movie jam packed with amazing sequences and some really great characters, all under the supervision of animation veteran Brad Bird. The IMF has been disavowed after a pretty catastrophic event which they are subsequently blamed for, and it is up to them to clear their name and find the real perpetrator. From a thrilling prison break sequence in the beginning, a daring mission in Moscow, the aforementioned scaling of the Burj Khalifa, to a climatic chase in Mumbai. The action sequences are thrilling and very intense at times, and can certainly lay claim to some of the best in the franchise. Yet, there are plenty of moments to allow the audience to catch their breath.

burj khalifa

Aptly for the fourth film in the franchise, the IMF has four key players, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, Benji Dunn (Pegg), and newbies Jane Carter (Patton) and William Brandt (Renner). Together the four of them make a pretty effective team, although it’s not always happy times, as Agent Carter has a vendetta, specifically against the secondary antagonist played brilliantly by Lea Seydoux. Each of the actors give excellent performances. Sure Cruise’s Hunt is the main character but the team play an important role too and that is stressed throughout out this movie, they are a team, and they get stuff done as a team. Pegg’s Benji is there to provide the humour, and he does so wonderfully well. Lea Seydoux appears as a secondary antagonist, but she is a much more compelling villain.

The real trouble here is the main villain, Nyqvist is fine in the role, but he is a bit generic. A madman who wants to wreak global nuclear destruction, not exactly anything new in the genre of spies and espionage movies. However, it serves to help the plot move forward, which also in itself is a little bit generic, as it tries to create a new Cold War, except this one wouldn’t be so cold as to very very hot one. Nevertheless, it remains a very exciting movie to watch, and a stylish one at that! When a franchise reaches its fourth instalment, there are times when a franchise needs to be put to bed, or it proves to provide awesome entertainment that ensures it keeps going. The latter is applicable here and when the fifth instalment came out last year, it went on to produce even more greatness for the franchise.

Gripping action sequences, with top performances from its cast, especially from Cruise, the Mission Impossible franchise continues to accept its missions, and with great style too! 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (2015)

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – Film Review

Cast: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy

Director: Brad Bird

Synopsis: When a teenage girl (Robertson) finds herself in the possession of a mysterious pin, she sees an incredible whole world flash before her eyes and goes in search of answers

Review: When Summer movie season rolls around each year, sequels, reboots, and franchises tend to dominate this time of year in the Hollywood calendar.  So when an original piece of film making comes around, it is a refreshing sight. Even more so when a project lands a director as skilled as Brad Bird at the helm with a script penned by Bird and Damon Lindelof, there is a lot of potential for greatness. Bird proved himself in his live action debut with the best entry in the Mission Impossible Franchise, Ghost Protocol. Combined  his animated expertise with great films such as Ratatouille and The Incredibles, with a film based on a theme park attraction that Walt Disney made part of Disneyland in 1955, there was a lot of potential in this adventure.

With the trailers leading up to the film, much was shrouded in secrecy, again something to be praised considering many trailers just blunder and throw WAY too much information in before the movie is released (here’s looking at you Terminator Genysis.) The premise centres around this cool, exciting futuristic world, known as Tomorrowland where only a select few number of people get to go to.

One of these people is spirited teenager Casey Newton, played wonderfully by Britt Robertson, who comes into the possession of a Tomorrowland pin, which with a single touch, transports her to the titular land for the briefest of moments. Inspired by what she has seen, she tries to understand what this place is and how to get to it. Her search leads her to Frank (George Clooney) who has become a downbeat, somewhat depressed former child prodigy (for reasons you will find out) and Casey believes he has the answers to her questions surrounding the mysterious realm of Tomorrowland and the visions she has seen.

As previously mentioned, Bird has almost a perfect track record when it comes to the previous movies he’s been at the helm of, and with his latest adventure, there are undoubtedly elements that are absolutely superb. For instance, the visuals are absolutely flawless. The look and feel of Tomorrowland, as if it is a place you could actually go out and visit, is tremendous and much praise must go to Bird for the visuals and the flawless direction that is on show throughout the duration of our ride in Tomorrowland.

With solid direction, our leading lady, Casey provides charm and humour, whilst also holding the movie on her shoulders and giving a very solid performance. Likewise with George Clooney, though his character’s circumstances mean he may seem like a miserable old sod, but there is empathy for him and he does not wallow in his self pity and works with Casey and the duo have excellent on screen chemistry. The chemistry between Clooney and the breakout star of the film, Athena (Raffey Cassidy) while also decent, could have been greatly improved in parts.

Yet the biggest downer of this film is the script. With such an inventive premise that could have gone in so many unique and interesting directions, it falls flat on its face at times, particularly within the third act. A lot of the momentum and build up that was very exciting in the previous two acts, was ultimately thrown away.  In addition, the whole premise of the movie being Tomorrowland and what is this magical and mysterious place, yet the glimpses of the world are few and far between..

The movie almost dangles the carrot of Tomorrowland in front of you and then only gives you the tiniest bit when you came wanting more, so much more. With it emerging that Brad Bird chose to make this when he had the opportunity to direct The Force Awakens, it will undoubtedly leave many frustrated. While Bird’s latest foray into live action was exciting and intriguing, and he gives it his all one cannot help but wonder that Bird’s decision to direct this instead of Star Wars really feels like it was a missed opportunity for something truly spectacular, something truly out of this world.

Something this unique and original does not come along every day, and with top notch visuals and some excellent leading performances, there was much potential, which ultimately was squandered with a lacklustre finale, and that is a real shame. 

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