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Toy Story 4 is an extremely strong chapter in this franchise, and serves as a beautiful coda to a trilogy of films that meant the world to me growing up.
415. That’s the number of movies I’ve logged in my Letterboxd account since writing my last movie review for Alien: Covenant, back in May 2017. There have been multiple instances where I’ve felt the twitch to write again — from Phantom Thread (very good) to X-Men: Dark Phoenix (very bad) — and I have threaded my thoughts sporadically on Twitter, but it wasn’t until the credits rolled on Toy Story 4 that I actually felt compelled to sit down and type up a proper review.
If Woody and the gang can come back after a 9 year absence, then I can come back after 2 years.
Man. I’m not even sure where to begin. Having just got back from seeing Ridley Scott’s third installment in his Alien franchise, the overriding impression is that Covenant is the film Prometheus tried to be. That’s not to say Prometheus is a bad film. I wrote a 1200-word exposition on the film because I love it that much, but Covenant… Covenant is a different breed of cinema. It takes the horror of Alien, the action of Aliens, the drama of Alien³, melds it all together with the philosophical ponderings of Prometheus, and the final product is nothing short of amazing.
I remember when I first saw the Prometheus trailer. That massive ship, the striking visuals, hell raining down from the sky as the title faded into view across the screen. It was like nothing I had seen before, and I was instantly sold. I’d never seen any of the Alien films at that point, but now I wanted to, so I guess the trailer worked in that regard.
In an age where Frozen is still the most beloved and popular (modern) Disney princess tale, it’s hard to imagine a film that could topple it. Tangled is still preferred by many as a better, more evenly-paced film, and Zootopia won people over with its beloved protagonist, Judy Hopps, but Frozen is still the king (queen?) of the Disney hill. However, it’s my prediction (and hope) that Moana will overthrow the icy film that has plagued many a parent’s sanity as Disney’s single-best animated film of the last two generations – princess, musical, or otherwise.
There are a lot of things J.K. Rowling’s latest foray into the wizarding world gets right. The world building is immeasurable, the action is top-notch, and the tone of the story equally dark and hopeful, proving that Rowling is more than capable of delivering yet another gripping magical tale. But for all that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them gets right, there are some very clear missteps in the first of this five-part franchise – and I am not too much of a fan to admit that this is not a perfect film. In many ways, this movie feels like elaborate scene setting instead of a proper first installment to a new franchise.
But I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t enjoy every last moment of it.
As the credits began to roll and people stood up to leave the theater, I sat in my chair on the verge of tears, the calming, quiet music washing over me while the full impact of Arrival started to sink in. The last time this happened to me was when I saw Interstellar for the first time – which is ironic, considering it’s another film about the unknowable nature of space and how humanity fits into the grand scheme of things. But Arrival has a different, though equally compelling story to tell.
A story I think couldn’t have come at a more appropriate and needed time.
I’ll be honest – I wasn’t planning on seeing Ghostbusters this weekend. It’s not that I have a bias against it. I was actually really pumped when they first announced the reboot, because I love the cast they’ve assembled for this new movie! But, all cards on the table, I’m not a diehard Ghostbusters fan. I grew up with the original film, and I watched the crap out of our VHS copy, but it was more of a passive passion that I had as a child. I enjoyed the movie, but I can’t quote it to you today, and I can’t tell you the last time I saw the original Ghostbusters in its entirety. I know this might discredit my opinion of this reboot in the eyes of some people, considering how rabidly cultish the fanbase is for this franchise, but I believe it worked out to my advantage. I bought my ticket online, on a whim, 20 minutes before the show started. I drove around the theatre’s parking lot, hit up some local Pokéstops, and then sat down in the theater with two expectations for the movie I was about to see. I wanted to laugh at some funny jokes, and maybe get scared by a few jump scenes. Nothing more, nothing less.
And it’s my pleasure to say that Ghostbusters delivers, and it delivers hard.
From the moment I saw the first trailer, I knew The Shallows was a film I needed to see. I’ve been a fan of Blake Lively since her Gossip Girl days, so I’m always down to check out her work. But more than that, The Shallows looked like a gorgeous film – the color palatte and cinematography looked exceptional, and the tension in the trailer alone was palpable. With my newly discovered taste for horror/genre film, I decided I’d give this movie a go with the hope that it would be marginally entertaining and pretty to look at. I was right about the latter, and I wildly underestimated the former, because this film is nothing short of gripping to watch.
I’ve had an interesting relationship with the horror genre over the years. Growing up in a conservative home, I was never allowed to watch your traditional “horror” film. I never saw Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser – even Goosebumps was off the table! As a result, I never considered myself a horror fan, and it wasn’t until I started watching NBC’s Hannibal (RIP) that I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, I’ve always been a horror fan. After all, I’ve always enjoyed the darker sides of stories. It would only make sense, then, that I would enjoy a story that was nothing but dark. This realization opened a flood-gate of sorts, and since then I’ve drowned myself with movies like Hush, Scream, The Witch, Starry Eyes, The Babadook, and, most recently, The Conjuring 2.
And if I’m being completely honest with you, The Conjuring 2 is the scariest film I’ve ever seen.
Pixar has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up with their movies, with their characters, and I typically use them as a barometer for not just animated films, but stories in general. No one can craft a story quite like Pixar – just mentioning the name conjures up memories of watching Toy Story and Monsters Inc. for the first time – but that doesn’t exempt the animation powerhouse from making poor films.
Outside of Inside Out, the studio hasn’t delivered a truly compelling film in quite some time, so as the release date for Finding Dory approached, I grew more and more concerned that this movie wouldn’t achieve the same iconic status as its predecessor. And, if I’m being honest, I don’t think Finding Dory is better, or even as good as Finding Nemo.