How It Ends (dir. David M. Rosenthal, 2018) – After a mysterious event sends the world into chaos, two men set out on a desperate drive to find their missing family.
How It Ends itself is as much of a disappointment as how it actually ends.
An unsettling disruption cuts short a call between Will (Theo James) and his pregnant fiancé Sam (Kat Graham). Flights are soon cancelled, cell services down, and the power, out. As an apocalyptic event seems to edge closer, Sam’s father and ex-marine Tom (Forest Whitaker) wastes no time and sets out on a perilous drive with Will towards Seattle, where Sam was last seen.
The rescuers are on poor terms. But they soon reconcile in favour of survival, while coming to face the uncertainty of the unknown disaster ahead. Above all, they embattle the dangerous desperation of humanity, when ass hysteria quickly elevate thefts to murders.
In this, How It Ends steps into familiar territory, but does little more than its genre neighbours have done before. Competent visual effects and outstanding cinematography keep it from being labelled a b-grade disaster movie, though they remain inadequate to make any lasting impact.
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A Quiet Place (dir. John Krasinski, 2018) – A small family is forced to live in silence and in hiding from sound-sensitive monsters with no seeming weaknesses.
Beautifully written, A Quiet Place exceeds scares in its presentation of humanity as hope in face of monsters.
The absence of sound assuredly builds anticipation towards sudden terror, and has conceptually works wonders for the horror genre over recent years. In the vein of Hush and Don’t Breathe, A Quiet Place relies on artful sound design for the conjuring of effective tension, without overly relying on cheap jump scares.
The brilliant opening sees the Abbott family gathering supplies in silence, their young children in tow. Trepidation turns hearts into sledgehammers, with each crease of plastic and knock-over of cans posing a fatal threat. Simply by implications, the audience is made cognizant of how every little move could make the softest of noise.
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Solo: A Star Wars Story (dir. Ron Howard, 2018) – The early years of Han Solo sees him team up with Lando Calrissian and his Wookie co-pilot for the first time in an exacting heist under villainous orders.
There is fun to be had in the cinematic heist of Solo, even if it adds little to its namesake’s mythos.
On paper, a solo Solo space western looks like it could be a blast. The charismatic pilot is well-loved for one, after forty years of first and repeated viewings. Besides, his reckless nature, unending wisecracks, and fierce loyalty all mark the very requisites of a proper cinematic adventure.
More cheered when Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were tabbed to direct the screenplay, co-written by Lawrence Kasdan himself and his son. It was all starting to look like a worthwhile venture. Then, a worrisome turn of events followed.
Creative differences reared its ugly head once again, when the popular directing pair left the project. Rumours of extensive rumours added fuel to the fire, which did not bode well for the latest Disney property. Fan confidence was hit, hard, and Ron Howard stepping in did little to recover it.
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (dir. Rian Johnson, 2017) – While Rey seeks help from Luke Skywalker who remains in hiding, General Leia leads the Resistance against the tyranny of the First Order.
Not all risks take pay off, but The Last Jedi deserves more credit than it received and little of the enmity sent its way.
Taking on a Star Wars sequel is a tall order for anyone. Just ask Rian Johnson, who faces more enemies that the Resistance ever did at a single point in time:
- Pedantic Star Wars fans, who want a tribute that is unwaveringly faithful to the franchise’s 40-year-old history,
- Pedantic Star Wars fans, who want new characters and refreshing plots instead of a retread of past stories,
- Cinephiles who loved Brick and consequently have impossible expectations for anything that Rian Johnson touches; and
- Disney (to a smaller extent, oddly enough).
It is only natural that The Last Jedi would end up one of the most divisive cinematic events since that ending of Inception. No matter what Rian Johnson did, his work would have rattled the bones of any one faction. But the show must go on. And he does his version of the best, which will sadly never be enough for most.
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Deadpool 2 (dir. David Leitch, 2018) – Deadpool puts together a special team of his own to protect a teenager with supernatural abilities from the time-travelling cyborg Cable.
Deadpool, or should I say Ryan Reynolds, returns with his signature humour and the welcome unexpected.
Rules are meant to be broken. Against Colossus’ objections, Deadpool follows the mantra ironically to a tee, urging us to expect the unexpected. And so any hope of a proper introduction to the anticipated X-Force is crushed, belied by the long standing tradition of the irreverent Regenerating Degenerate.
No superhero landings or last hope rescues. The best of the best make their entrance via routine job interviews, getting the job without so much as a try. Luck has it that Deadpool manages to get himself a solid team all the same. If only Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) need not make room for the new guys.
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