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. Continue reading “Review: Deadpool 2 (2018)”
Ready Player One (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2018) – The creator of virtual reality world OASIS issues his final challenge after his death – to find his Easter Egg that leads to his fortune.
Pop culture gets a stylistic tribute in Spielberg’s return to form with Ready Player One, a triumph in blockbuster fashion.
A faithful adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One may be comparable to watching paint dry. After all, not many would be thrilled to watch a kid recite every line of Wargames, or play a text adventure ad nauseam in bids to unlock virtual gates. It makes sense then for the film to completely reinvent the novel’s games for the big screen. Who better to helm the director’s job than Steven Spielberg himself?
The de facto virtuoso of cinematic adventures is backed by the original novel’s author Ernest Cline, who works with screenwriter Zak Penn to bring his story to life. The team does well to send main hero Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) on new challenges designed to excite in the visual form. That is even if practical effects take a back seat to a heavy amount of CG-inspired action.
In Spielberg’s hands, the potential desecration is done with little chance of raising hell in the fan community, who will enjoy spotting more than a few cameos. The epic car race at the beginning alone already features vehicular stars Christine and the DeLorean, or more strikingly, the King Kong and the T-Rex of Jurassic Park fame.
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Avengers: Infinity War (dir. The Russo Brothers, 2018) – The Avengers unite to defend against an all-powerful Thanos, set upon his misguided ways to salvage the universe.
Patience begets us heroes that need no introduction, such that characterisation may take a backseat to Marvel’s epic vision. Escapism at its best, ten years in the making.
Warning: Thanos demands you avoid all Infinity War reviews, until you have seen it.
There is no stopping Marvel. After a decade of build-up, the expansive universe has finally culminated in one of the biggest studio blockbusters in cinematic history. Sure enough that Avengers: Infinity War is far from the pioneers in crossovers. But scale is not its only impressive feat; there are few things more gratifying than to see a ten-year plan come into fruition with such apparent ease.
Kudos to directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who have yet again proven their flair for presenting intricate stories in accessible terms. What seemed like an inevitable mess turns tractable in their capable hands. As done before in The Winter Soldier (which remains my personal favourite), the pair admirably brings out the charm of each individual faction from an impossibly massive cast.
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Annihilation (dir. Alex Garland, 2018) – A team of military scientists enter The Shimmer, a quarantined zone where mutations thrive.
Annihilation finds both terror and beauty in the mutation of nature, as it does the same in our innate instinct for self-destruction.
It is in our nature to destroy ourselves. As Annihilation puts it, almost none of us commit suicide, whereas almost all of us self-destruct in some part of our lives. We drink, or take drugs, or destabilize the happy job or happy marriage. For some, vices are due punishment on themselves for reasons of guilt. Others feel alive by simply keeping our lives in motion – even if it is but chaos.
Such self-destructive tendencies occur biologically too. We change, as nature mandates. Human cells divide at a constant, and the natural process of mitosis sees our bodies duplicate new cells to replace damaged ones. We degenerate to heal and deteriorate with age, while cells replicate rapidly – without control – turn cancerous.
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Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler, 2018) – T’Challa’s rising to the throne of Wakanda is met with opposition by a vengeful outsider, who challenges his claim to the crown.
Embodying cultural and political significance, Black Panther claws its way out of MCU’s formulaic plague.
The repute of Black Panther is, and will be for a time, inseparable from its notable majority cast of black actors. Such representation in the genre has been a long time coming. But what director Ryan Coogler has achieved goes beyond on-screen cultural progress. In a decade when superpowers continually call for walls and borders against refugees, his work also comes as a timely and thoughtful study in modern isolationism.
Black Panther follows the events of Civil War, as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) comes to terms with his father’s death and rises to the throne of Wakanda. Under his reign, Wakanda continues to watch the world from the shadows, hiding her people in the cloaked safety of their beautiful secret sanctuary.
The hardened stance of Wakanda takes forms in our world, where defectors gets no reprieve from countries desperately trying to keep them out. What T’Challa’s confidante W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) proclaims is striking in its familiarity, “You let the refugees in, they bring their problems with them and then Wakanda is like everywhere else.”
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