Friday, May 18, 2018

Deadpool 2 review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
(From left to right) Domino, Deadpool, and Cable showing the Avengers how it’s done in Deadpool 2

            The Merc with a Mouth of Marvel Comics returns in the highly anticipated sequel to the 2016 blockbuster hit that breathed new life into the R-rated superhero movie genre, Deadpool. The film broke numerous box-office records upon its release, earned positive reviews from critics (Becoming the first February superhero movie release to do so…as far as I know), unintentionally became the highest-grossing X-Men movie of all time, and saved the superhero movie career of Ryan Reynolds (National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Mississippi Grind, The Hitman’s Bodyguard).
            Naturally a sequel was in the works, which had a lot to live up to after the huge success of the first film. I was both excited to see Reynolds portray Wade Wilson/Deadpool again and to see some humorously over-the-top manslaughter, but also worried that it would be much of the same with little variety.
            Well, the studio that killed Wolverine (Yeah, little spoiler from Logan), the comic book company that killed almost everyone (I’ll just stop there), and Tim Miller, the director of the first film passing over the directing task to David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) managed to deliver a satisfying follow-up with Deadpool 2. It delivers all the gory, over-the-top, 4th wall breaking goodness that the first film offered and introduces some new characters without ever feeling like a retread of the first movie, though there are familiar jokes put in, but they put a new spin to them.
            After a successful two years of working as the mercenary, Deadpool, Wade Wilson finds himself being roped into becoming an X-Men trainee by Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapičić-Larin izbor, The Brothers Bloom, Big Miracle) in hopes of turning him from a vulgar, wise-cracking, killing machine (You know, everything that made him cool) to a real hero (And by that I mean a spandex wearing tool, what’s next, are you gonna give Deadpool a f*cking shield or something?). Unfortunately, Wade’s first day as a trainee doesn’t quite go over well as he must protect a mysterious young mutant named Russell/Firefist (Julian Dennison-Paper Planes, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) from the time-travelling mutant soldier, Thanos, er, I mean Cable (Josh Brolin-True Grit (2010), Men in Black 3, Marvel Cinematic Universe) who is out to hunt him down.
            To even be able to stand a chance against Cable, Wade must put together a team (and I ain’t talking about those Avengers d-bags!) of people with extraordinary gifts…and the ability to hold a franchise. I am of course talking…about the X-Force consisting of luck manipulating, Domino (Zazie Beetz-Atlanta, Easy, Wolves), brain scrambling, Bedlam (Terry Crews-Starsky & Hutch, The Boondocks, Sorry to Bother You), alien from Mojoworld (I would make a Powerpuff Girls joke there but…I don’t want to!), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan-NCIS: Los Angeles, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Iron Fist), acidic vomit spitting, Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård-The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Atomic Blonde, It), The Invisible…Vanisher (Brad Pitt-Fight Club, Inglourious Basterds, Moneyball), and...some guy named Peter (Rob Delaney-The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest, Key & Peele, Catastrophe), and with the help of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand-First Girl I Loved, Tragedy Girls, The Exorcist (TV series)) Deadpool will be ready to face Cable and give him a good T-bag.
            The film also stars Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Stargate SG-1, V) as Vanessa, T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley, How to Train Your Dragon, Big Hero 6) as Weasel, singer, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Karan Soni (Safety Not Guaranteed, Other Space, Ghostbusters (2016)) as Dopinder, Shiori Kutsuna (Unforgiven (2013), Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, The Outsider) as Yukio, and Reynolds as the voice of X-Men 3: The Last Stand villain, Juggernaut.
            Overall, Deadpool 2, like its predecessor is a zany, fast-paced, and outrageous departure from the traditional superhero movie genre, while still maintaining plenty of the genre’s elements that make comic book movies popular in the first place. Luckily the flashy superhero movie tropes don’t get in the way of all the gory, raunchy action that Deadpool is known for, and you certainly get plenty of that in the sequel (After all, some of the best family films start with murders).
            Even with all the violence and insanity going on, Deadpool still remains a likable character, despite his comedically over-the-top and at times annoying antics and attitude. He enjoys what he does but he’s never made out to be a bad guy and he has moments of humanity and heart, though not quite as much as someone like Iron Man or Thor.
            The humor is…I mean, come on, it’s Deadpool of course it hits in all the right places, literally from the opening credits parodying the James Bond franchise to the mid-credits sequences I was laughing and having a great time all the way through. Sadly, there is no Ferris Bueller ending this time around, so don’t bother waiting for the credits to end here.
            I can’t really decide whether or not Deadpool 2 is better than the first movie, but I will say it’s as good as its predecessor. It doesn’t rehash the same plot or jokes but delivers more of what people loved in the first movie and adding more variety to it.

            Deadpool 2 is a return to feel-good superhero movies after Avengers: Infinity War depressed us all to death a few weeks prior. If you loved the first one (Like I did), then you’re sure to enjoy the sequel just as much…but make sure you don’t bring the kids with you, just saying.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Life of the Party review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
Melissa McCarthy is going back to school as the Life of the Party

            Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) collaborates with husband and director, Ben Falcone (Enough Said, Tammy, The Boss) for the third time with their latest comedy, Life of the Party. As a comedian, McCarthy has been very hit-or-miss for me, much like Amy Schumer, if the script gives her enough to work with and she delivers her energetic timing just right she’s absolutely hilarious, but at her worst, she can get annoying really fast.
            Unfortunately, this is not one of those movies, Life of the Party is one of the most tiring concepts you could do for a comedy, a forty-something-year-old person going back to college, didn’t Tom Hanks star in a movie like this not too long ago with Larry Crowne? Aside from a few laughs and some heartwarming moments, Melissa McCarthy’s enthusiastic performance and energy is not enough to save it.
            After a sudden divorce from her husband, Dan (Matt Walsh-Bad Santa, Starsky & Hutch, Ted) while dropping off their daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon-Animal Kingdom), Deanna Miles (McCarthy) decides to go back to college and ends up in her daughter’s class, who is not comfortable with the idea of attending college with her mom. Deanna plunges into the campus experience and embraces freedom, fun, and frat boys as she embarks on a spiritual journey and discovers her true self in a senior year no one was expecting.
            The film also stars Gillian Jacobs (Community, Regular Show, Rick and Morty) as Helen, Maya Rudolph (A Prairie Home Companion, Bridesmaids, Sisters) as Christine, Adria Arjona (True Detective, Emerald City, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Amanda, Debby Ryan (The Suite Life on Deck, Jessie, Girl Meets World) as Jennifer, Julie Bowen (Happy Gilmore, Boston Legal, Modern Family) as Marcie, Jacki Weaver (The Five-Year Engagement, Silver Linings Playbook, The Disaster Artist) as Sandy, Stephen Root (Office Space, O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?, Get Out) as Mike, Luke Benward (Dear John, See Dad Run, Ravenswood) as Jack, Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley, Patriots Day, Crazy Rich Asians) as Tyler, Shannon Purser (Stranger Things, Riverdale, Rise) as Connie, Chris Parnell (30 Rock, Archer, Rick and Morty) as Mr. Truzack, Heidi Gardner (Saturday Night Live, SuperMansion, Mike Tyson Mysteries) as Leonor, Nat Faxon (Grosse Pointe, Reno 911, The Way, Way Back) as Lance, and Sarah Baker (The Campaign, Mascots, Louie) as Gildred.
            Overall, Life of the Party ironically doesn’t live up to the title and outside of a few chuckles and sweet moments, it mostly ranges from generic plot structure, predictable clichés, and side characters that are either one-dimensional or flat-out annoying. Though I will say it’s not nearly as painful to sit through as Tammy, at least McCarthy’s character is likable here.
            The plot is pretty standard and several times while watching the movie I was able to predict what was going to happen, which is not a good sign. Both plot clichés and certain jokes were predictable such as a black and white striped outfit that a character was wearing, and I made a reference to Beetlejuice and wouldn’t you know it? A Beetlejuice joke was made, I was one step ahead of this movie.
            However, they managed to surprise me at how lazy the script is even more than the Beetlejuice reference. During the final act of the movie, Melissa McCarthy, her daughter, and the daughter’s friends throw a big party and using Twitter to promote it claiming that a certain celebrity will be attending as a scam. Literally the moment that announcement was made, I figured out exactly where it was going, and those of you who are familiar with clichés like this can already guess what happens by the end.
            I will admit, there are some legitimately touching moments in the film and I like the chemistry between McCarthy and the daughter. The scenes with them bonding with each other, talking about their feelings, and trying to help out one another are undeniably sweet and the film has a nice message about family, in my opinion these are the moments where the movie shines.
            Unfortunately, there’s not enough heartfelt moments to balance out the predictable storytelling, bland and/or annoying side characters, and lame jokes. I’ll give Life of the Party credit that it’s at least a harmless comedy with a few laughs sprinkled in and some moments that tug at your heartstrings.

            If you’re a die-hard Melissa McCarthy fan, then Life of the Party might be up your alley, but if you’re looking for a perfect movie to see with your mom on Mother’s Day, might I suggest Tully over this? It’s a better made movie that’s funny, dramatic, and touching all at the same time, this on the other hand, I’ll probably forget about in a couple days.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Tully review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
Charlize Theron will soon have her life changed forever in Tully

            Yes, I made fun of the film’s trailer because of how unexciting it was, nevertheless director, Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Young Adult) has yet to disappoint me. I can best describe Reitman’s latest film, Tully as what Boyhood did for children growing up for mothers and the struggles that come with the responsibility of parenthood.
            Given that most of my movie picks especially around the summer time consist of major blockbuster releases, I could have easily missed Tully. And I am so glad I didn’t because it’s terrific and a near-perfect balance between humor, honesty, and realism that’s easily relatable in some way whether a parent or child.
            The film follows a woman named Marlo (Charlize Theron-Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde), who is a struggling stay-at-home mother to three children including a newborn, in her stressful daily life. From dropping off and picking up the kids from school and attending meetings with the principal to cooking meals and taking care of the baby, Marlo just can’t seem to catch a break.
            Until she is greeted by a mysterious night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis-Halt and Catch Fire, Always Shine, Blade Runner 2049) who enlightens her with insightful wisdom and changes her life around. Tully claims to be taking care of her baby but it’s possible that she’s really there to take care of Marlo.
            The film also stars Mark Duplass (The League, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Safety Not Guaranteed) as Craig and Ron Livingston (Swingers, Office Space, Adaptation) as Drew.
            Overall, Tully is one of those movies anyone who hopes to one day start a family should see, it’s funny, heartfelt, and isn’t afraid to hammer the harsh, harsh reality into your head. Being a parent is a very stressful responsibility and for the most part it’s a very accurate depiction of how tough it can be.
            We’ve seen a lot of comedies and comedy-dramas about parenting over the years such as Parenthood, Mr. Mom, and Three Men and a Baby, this isn’t quite a new concept for film. But what makes Tully shine is Charlize Theron’s performance, everything she says and does feels natural and I was fully convinced I was watching a mother taking care of her children, you really feel the stress that she’s going through, and Theron sells every moment.
            The writing is amazing thanks to the return of Juno screenwriter, Diablo Cody who gives us a witty but also poignant script that chronicles the responsibilities of parenthood and anyone who has ever raised a child can tell you that it isn’t just a walk in the park. The story depicts every stressful aspect about being a parent you could think of and it’s done in an intelligent and thoughtful way.
            There were moments in the movie where as I was watching it I thought back to when I was a little kid and said “I remember doing or saying that at a young age” or it reminded me of things that happened at school or at home growing up. This is a movie anyone can relate to either as a parent or as a child, I swear somehow, you’ll relate to someone or something in this film.
            Really, I only have some minor nitpicks with Tully, I think it’s overall a tremendous movie. But if I have to nitpick something, I found Ron Livingston’s character as the husband to be rather one-dimensional, he does a fine enough job with the performance but every time he showed in the film I had to remind myself “Oh yeah, she has a husband in this movie”, he doesn’t wreck the movie in any way, but it was something I noticed.

            Tully continues Jason Reitman’s slew of successful comedies and delivers a funny yet poignant journey into the struggles of motherhood. It was also released at a perfect time since Mother’s Day is around the corner, I cannot stress this enough go see this movie, it’s well-acted, funny, and dramatic all at the same time plus it’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift as a way of saying “Thank you for all the hard work that you’ve done”.