Spider-Man 2 (2004, Directed by Sam Raimi) English 8

Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, J.K Simmons, Donna Murphy, Rosemary Harris

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Engaging. Inspired. Fun.

“A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles and is there one who understands me?” The first two Spider-Man films centered around Peter Parker’s burden. The idea that he has to sacrifice his personal desires in order to fulfill his duty as Spider-Man. In Spider-Man 2, everything’s a mess in Parker’s world. He (Maguire) loves M.J (Dunst), but feels that he can’t be with her without putting her life in danger, and spends most of the movie disappointing her in some way or other, as she settles for another man she doesn’t love. Parker’s best friend, Harry (Franco) wants Spider-Man dead for killing his father in the first film. On top of that, Parker can’t pay his rent. Director Sam Raimi gave the character compelling problems, and a sense of humor that didn’t take away from the drama. Actually, this film is largely a melodrama with misunderstandings, unrequited love, twists. Doctor Oc is the main villain in this picture, and there’s a fantastic scene of him and his robotic attachments wreaking havoc in a hospital wing (a memorable homage to classic monster movies, I feel). The film starts out with one great scene after the other, and by the end, I was happy to find, that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 remains one of the best super hero movies.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(204)

Real Genius (1985, Directed by Martha Coolidge) English 6

Starring Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, William Atherton, Jon Gries, Robert Prescott

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(6-Good Film)

Entertaining. Creative. Fun.

15-year-old genius, Mitch (Jarret), gets accepted into a prestigious private university where a devious professor, Jerry Hathaway (Atherton), uses his students to develop a top secret weapon for him. While there, Mitch falls in with the brilliant but underachieving Chris (Kilmer), who shows the young prodigy how to have fun. Entertaining, Real Genius appeals more as a college dormitory movie rather than as a serious science fiction film. Led by Val Kilmer’s quick-witted prankster, the characters of Real Genius are quirky and original.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(274)

Innerspace (1987, Directed by Joe Dante) English 6

Starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, Meg Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Robert Picardo

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A hotshot marine officer, Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Quaid) is miniaturized for a government science experiment where he’s to be placed inside the body of a test rabbit, but, due to an attempt from rogue agents looking to steal the work, gets placed  inside the body of a hypochondriac named Jack (Short) instead. Jack and Tuck team up to return the latter to his normal size, as well as keep him out of the hands of mercenaries. Along the way, Jack becomes smitten with Tuck’s girlfriend, a reporter named Lydia (Ryan). Goofy, fast-paced with some excellently performed gags and stunts, Innerspace is more about the individual scenes than the picture itself. Promoted as a “what if” type picture wherein a Dean Martin type gets put inside the body and the head of a Jerry Lewis. They might have done well to push that idea further, but as it stands, Innerspace is a fine adventure.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Directed by Peyton Reed) English 6

Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Randall Park, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Judy Greer, T.I, Bobby Cannavale, Hannah John-Kamen

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(6-Good Film)

Amusing. Modest. Likable.

Scott Lang (Rudd) seems to have burnt his bridges with Hank Pym (Douglas) and Hope (Lilly) after going rogue with Captain America back in Civil War (2016). On top of that, he was sentenced to two years house arrest. As he closes in on his release date, Hank and Hope see a chance to rescue Janet (Pfeiffer), the former’s wife and the latter’s mother, from the quantum realm she was lost to decades ago. Unfortunately for everyone, Scott appears to be the key, forcing a reunion and putting Scott in danger with his parole officer. Meanwhile, an enigmatic figure known as Ghost materializes at every turn. Fun film and a 180 from the heavy, substantial Avengers: Infinity War. Ant-Man and the Wasp is slightly better than the first one. Often funny, with some cool ideas involving shrinking and growing. It does, however, feel like a modest entry in a series of films that all run through the same machine in my opinion. The end result is always nice, but never extraordinary. Add to that, Ant-man, or, more specifically, Scott Lang, is a second-tier hero, largely dependent on Hank Pym.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(217)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018, Directed by J.A Bayona) English 5

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Geraldine Chaplin, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Jeff Goldblum

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(5-Okay Film)

Unsurprising. Unfulfilled. Mediocre.

The fifth entry in the Jurassic Park franchise, and second film in the reboot trilogy, sees Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) return to the shut down theme park in order to save the remaining dinosaurs from an impending volcanic eruption. Of course, there are other people involved who turn out to have ulterior motives, and dinosaur chaos is unleashed once again, this time primarily on the affluent estate of patron Sir Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell). This far into the franchise, you wonder if it’s fatigue or simply a sub-par entry, but this was an underwhelming experience. Despite some impressive camerawork, including a scene with two characters stuck in a pod while water fills in, at no point does this film provide any legitimate thrills. We’ve been down this rode before. It’s time for the franchise to veer. On top of that, the pacing seemed awfully fast, especially in the beginning.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(78)

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001, Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise) English 6

Voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Don Novello,  David Ogden Stiers, John Mahoney, Jim Varney, Leonard Nimoy

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Milo Thatch (Fox) has always been considered crazy for believing that the lost empire of Atlantis exists. Than one day, he’s asked to meet Preston B. Whitemore, an eccentric millionaire who wants to fund an expedition and wants Milo to lead the way. Set in the 1910s, this is Disney animation’s first sci-fi flick. I think critics focused too hard on the flaws of this film, and missed out on some of its greatness. No, it’s not a great film, but it is ambitious, gorgeous, innovative, and entertaining. The voice actors are fantastic. Michael J. Fox is always an engaging protagonist. Its flaw is the lack of character development. It carves out nice characters, but we don’t get enough time to care about them. I actually think it could have been interesting as Disney animation’s first epic, meaning longer than an hour and twenty minutes.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018, Directed by Ron Howard) English 6

Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

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Staying true to their word of a new Star Wars movie a year, Disney gives us Solo, an origin story for the iconic character first played by Harrison Ford. He’s played here by Alden Ehrenreich, a good actor and a fine Han Solo, despite not looking very much like Ford. His story follows his humble beginnings on Orellia, where an orphaned Han and his girlfriend, Qi’ra (Clarke) struggle to survive at the mercy of a local crime syndicate. It all seems very Charles Dickens-esque or Dickensian if you will, which could have made an interesting film by itself, however, we light-speed past this part of his life, and pick up years later when through a series of events, Han meets a gallery of thieves, and decides to join them, along with his new pal, Chewbacca. The mission details hardly matter (and perhaps that’s the film’s main fault). All that matters is that the stakes are high, it’s going to be extremely difficult, and there will be a ton of action. The film delivers on all of the basics of popular entertainment: action, great special effects, romance, mystery. In the end though, it feels too much like the B-Side to a great album. I haven’t been overly impressed with the Star Wars spin-offs. You lose certain elements of surprise since we know where Han is going, but I did find Han and Chewie’s budding friendship worth the watch.