Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)It likely looks as though the “Jurassic Park” franchise will grow to be as large and unnecessary as the “Transformers” or “Fast and Furious” movies. While it’s always fun to watch dinos run around and cause chaos, if it continues for too long, there is no doubt it will get old after a while. We can already start to see that happening with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”.

Acting as the fifth instalment in the series, this Jurassic film is both frustratingly predictable, yet partially entertaining. After hearing news that a volcano on Isla Nublar is set to erupt, endangering the dinosaurs on the island, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) decides to go back to the island to save the dinosaurs. She teams up with other dinosaur rights activists along with Owen (Chris Pratt) who joins the team to get back to Blue, a raptor the he befriended and trained since she was a newborn. However, the entire operation is being controlled by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), whose plans are much more sinister than they appear.

Once the film introduces the main plot, the action jumps right in and gives little to no time for character development, making the movie feel much more like a “Fast and Furious” movie. We know so little about the new characters in this story, that if they were snatched up and eaten, it would have no effect. While the action is entertaining for the most part, it lacks anything that might help us care about its outcome. “Fallen Kingdom” tries much to hard to be exciting, that it makes it even less exciting. The two leads constantly get themselves into situations that force the audience to wonder how they’ll get out. This happens every twenty minutes and got annoyingly old after the third time. The constant peril takes over the entire film leaving no room for anything else.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are a bit underwhelming as the leads and the surrounding performances are nothing notable, with the expectation Justice Smith as Franklin, the overly annoying dinosaur rights-activists who has a continuously high-pitched scream that is supposed to be funny. Instead of being funny, his scream gets rather annoying as one could imagine. Rather than his performance, it’s the character that’s the problem, showing how the screenplay resorts to many lows.

The plot results in plenty of eye-rolling moments through both the dialogue and the plot. The very concept of rescuing dinosaurs from an exploding island isn’t very exciting from the beginning and the film lived up to its disappointment. On top of its basic premise, the dialogue gets pretty cheesy as the film goes on, something that some will love, and some will hate.

Towards the end, the film gets much more tense and actually gives audiences something to care about. The action seems to get more thrilling, though still not as entertaining as one would hope for a Jurassic movie. We can already see that the creative ideas for the franchise are slowly starting to fade, with this film in particular being one of the least unique Jurassic experiences. While it’s key to keep the plot unique and original, it’s also important to keep the sequels grounded within the franchise, reminding true “Jurassic Park” fans of the all-time classic. It’s pretty unlikely that these films and the inevitable upcoming sequels will ever live up to the nostalgic sensation of the original, but “Fallen Kingdom” strays the furthest away from that feeling.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril

Incredibles 2

Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Brad Bird, and Huck Milner in Incredibles 2 (2018)Pixar’s latest adventure brings back the Fantastic Four-like animated superheroes we saw back fourteen years ago. Pixar’s “The Incredibles” showed us a family of superheroes; Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet and Dash, along with their friend Frozone. We even got a glimpse of the newborn Jack-Jack, whose powers remained a mystery until the end. Now, after fourteen years, we pick up right where the original left off with the Incredibles about ready to fight the supervillain named The Underminer. This isn’t the focal point of the sequel but acts as a nice bridge into a story in which Pixar’s shows its best abilities to continue story lines with ease.

Superheroes are still illegal and after the Incredibles are arrested for attempting to stop the Underminer, Elastigirl is offered a job to help promote super heroism, while her husband Mr. Incredible is left to take care of the kids in a ritzy house given to them by her employer, Winston Deavor. While Elastigirl is out saving the world, Mr. Incredible has difficulties figuring out Dash’s math homework, Violet’s boy crush, and Jack-Jack’s apparent never ending series of hidden powers. The majority of the film is basically split into two sides; one in which we follow Elastigirl and the twists and turns that come her way with her new job, and one in which we follow their family life at home with a baby that becomes much more important than originally thought.

The voice acting is incredibly well done (no pun intended) and cannot go unnoticed. Mr. Incredible is voiced by Craig T. Nelson, while his wife; Elastigirl is voiced by Holly Hunter. Sarah Vowell plays Violet, Huck Milner plays Dash, Eli Fucile plays Jack-Jack, Bob Odenkirk plays Winston Deavor, Catherine Keener plays Evelyn and Samuel L. Jackson plays Frozone.

The very best part of this film is watching Jack-Jack and his powers. He can burst into flames, fade through walls, shoot lasers from his eyes, or grow to an abnormally large size. This will surely please fans of the first film after its hilarious ending, in which we see Jack Jack’s powers unfold as he struggles with the main villain. Jack-Jack’s scenes in “Incredibles 2” are the best reasons to see this film and are without a doubt, the funniest moments of this Pixar sequel.

Pixar has had its bad share of sequels, but this definitely isn’t one of them. “Cars 2” and “Cars 3” are among the worst of them, and “Finding Dory” and Monsters University” never really lived up to fans’ wishes. However, we’ve also been given three “Toy Story” films that are each quite perfect. “Incredibles 2” is one of the much better sequels to come out of this animation company, giving many fans a sigh of relief.

While “Incredibles 2” is an animated kids movie, it’s still not made as much for children as it is for adults. There’s plenty of parenting humor to go around, and the movie acts as a way to please fans of the original (many of which are now in their early adulthood years). While there’s plenty for children to enjoy here, adults can have a great time as well and there may even be more laughter that comes from the parents watching the film than their children. The film acts as a stellar comedy and a constantly thrilling action movie, in addition to acting as a sweet family film for all ages.

Rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language

Hotel Artemis

Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, and Sterling K. Brown in Hotel Artemis (2018)Written and directed by Drew Pearce, “Hotel Artemis” focuses on a secretly run hospital of the same name in the middle of a war-torn Los Angeles in the year 2028. The constant violence and riots in the streets leave many wounded, only you need to have a membership to get into the hospital. Hotel Artemis is run by who we and other characters only known as The Nurse, played by Jodie Foster. The normally quiet hospital is suddenly having a much busier night now that a group of robbers have come to stay, bringing along with them a stolen pen that is much more valuable than they thought. What it contains belongs to a big name crime boss named Wolf King, played by Jeff Goldblum, which complicates matters and brings together a clash of criminals.

The cast of “Hotel Artemis” is jammed packed with big names. The obvious ones here are Jodie Foster and Jeff Goldblum, two beloved and talented actors. While Goldblum seems to be in just about every movie that is released, Jodie Foster on the other hand has made her first on-screen appearance in five years. She has spent those years writing and directing, and it’s a breath of fresh air to be reminded of her acting talent. Sterling K. Brown plays Waikiki, one of the robbers who ran himself into a much bigger problem than imagined. Charlie Day plays the irritatingly violent and aggressive Acapulco, Sofia Boutella plays the sly and kick-ass Nice, and Dave Bautista plays the angry and protective Everest, the guard and protector of “Hotel Artemis”.

Writer/director Drew Pearce has taken an interesting turn in terms of his filmmaking. He has writing credits for both “Iron Man 3” and “Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation”. Now he has taken a turn to both writing and directing a film that is meant to be a social commentary. The film does have the action and thrill of those previous films but has still taken a huge turn from his previous works.

While the majority of the characters are criminals, there are plenty of likeable ones. However, that’s one of the very few things that makes “Hotel Artemis” enjoyable. While its nothing terrible or unworthy of attention, the film is still quite forgettable. With such an intriguing plot, one would think that it would be able to get audiences’ attention. The film is quiet fascinating at first, however scene by scene the film seems to let go of its grip as it derails, leaving much more to be desired. There is a great film here somewhere, but the biggest problem that ruined that opportunity is the sloppy screenplay.

“Hotel Artemis” is definitely creative in a world-building sense and with its characters, which can spark memories of the not so critically acclaimed “Suicide Squad”. While this may still be a better version of the failed anti-hero story, there are plenty of holes that leave us wanting something more. However, this isn’t to say there is nothing gratifying about the film. “Hotel Artemis” is comical here and there, thrilling here and there, and even dramatically meaningful here and there. The only problem is that it fails to stay consistent enough for any of that to matter in the long run.

Rated R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references, and brief drug use

Grade: C-

First Reformed

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed (2017)Writer/director Paul Schrader, the mastermind behind the screenplay of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”, has continued his exceptional storytelling by writing and directing his newest film “First Reformed”. The film follows the life of Reverend Toller, the priest of a longstanding historic church that the film is named after. Toller has had a harsh life after losing his son in the war along with a divorce that followed, all leading to a severe drinking problem. He then meets a young woman named Mary, whose husband Michael suffers from severe depression due to his hatred of society’s cause of global warming. After Toller’s meeting with him, his life seems to take an even darker turn as we witness the emotional struggle and character arc Reverend Toller goes through.

As a character study, the film is actually quite similar to “Taxi Driver”. In the classic Scorsese film we follow Travis Bickle, a nighttime taxi driver in New York City whose loathing and disgust with the streets of New York City begin the consume him, all while he attempts to rescue an underage prostitute from ruining her life. That same idea is written into this film as we witness the individuals and surroundings in Toller’s life that affect his personality and mental stability. The similarities are uncanny, especially towards the end, but that doesn’t come as a surprise given the name of the talented filmmaker.

Reverend Toller is played superbly by Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”, “The Before Trilogy”). Hawke seems to be the go-to actor for indie/character study films. “The Before Trilogy” for example shows us the blossoming of a relationship and the emotional struggles that come with falling in love. Through those films we witness a relationship through the ups and downs, just as we observe Toller’s life through its intricacies. Schrader gets a stellar performance out of Hawke, something that clearly isn’t too difficult to achieve, given the underappreciated actor’s success and talent. The notable supporting performance comes from Amanda Seyfried as Mary. As an underrated actress as well, her performance is definitely one of her more ranged ones.

The film has an original directorial sense to it and is shot similarly to “A Ghost Story” with the ends of the shots being cut off leaving two thirds of the screen visible for the audience. Some may find this difficult to adjust to, although through the experience of “First Reformed” its seems to come with ease.

“First Reformed” is quite bleak, even visually. The scenes are darkly lit reflecting the film’s somber message. Just as the lighting, the film itself darkens emotionally as the runtime goes on, like a dimly lit candle slowly burning out. It takes quite some time to figure what the film is saying but giving away the meaning of the film could ruin the plot for those who haven’t seen it. Simply put, it deals with many complicated themes as it’s quite philosophical in one way, and more ambiguous in another. All in all however, it’s mainly about the mental change of a priest who discovers that the world is much darker than he once believed.

Paul Schrader’s newest project is a unique cinematic experience and one that deserves to be seen. With the stellar performances, unique style and plot, the film begs for attention in a world filled with popular action-thrillers and superhero films. Giving this film a chance can open eyes to the uniqueness and talent that goes into some of the best indie films.

Grade: A

Rated R for some disturbing violent images

Hereditary

Toni Collette and Milly Shapiro in Hereditary (2018)Every once in a while, we see advertising for horror films that claim them to be as great as the classics such as “Rosemary’s Baby” or ‘Psycho”. That usually results in eye rolls, but here with Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” the critical acclaim is not messing around.

Toni Collette plays Annie, an avid dollhouse maker whose reclusive and bizarre mother passes away. Annie lives with her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), her son Peter (Alex Wolff) and her tongue-clicking daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). After a terrifying incident, they then begin to experience the supernatural as their family history is slowly and terrifyingly revealed to them through pain, suffering and terror. The film is as terrifying as it sounds, if not more so. “Hereditary” is one of the most frightening experiences one can have in the theater and will most likely be remembered as a classic, much like how people remember Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” or Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby”.

“Hereditary” is writer/director Ari Aster’s debut film. Given that, he will most likely become a well-renowned filmmaker in the future. The unique visual style and camerawork are incredibly unique, giving the film the eerie unnerving feel that Ari Aster was going for. However, what brings to film to its ultimate ability to terrifying audiences, is its imagery and sounds. It’s almost as though the film is assaulting the senses by throwing disturbing imagery and noises as you from left to right. This includes maggots eating a dead body, people on fire, decapitated heads, and disturbing images of faces in the dark corners of a room smiling at you. This is one of the rare horror films that will actually scare pretty much everyone that watches it. Its spine-chilling, unnerving and yet somehow delightfully fun.

It would be a travesty to go on without mentioning the performances. Every performance on screen is done to perfection, due to both the talents of the director and the actors themselves. However, the one performance that clearly stands out here is Toni Collette. Her character has multiple layers and as an audience it is impossible not to find ourselves constantly questioning her sanity and motives. This curve is conveyed perfectly by Collette. Every great film has “that one scene” in which the performance shines in its very best moment. “Hereditary” has that as well, and when you see it, you’ll know. This is without a doubt her best role yet up there with her Oscar nominated role in “The Sixth Sense”. This too should give her some Oscar recognition, but only time will tell if the Academy will make the right choice.

The film is incredibly symbolic in its meaning as well. Just as “Rosemary’s Baby” represents the fears of being a mother, or as “The Shining” represents the psychological effects of being anti-social, “Hereditary” is too very symbolic as it shows the fears of acquiring traits or characteristics of ancestors that we don’t desire to obtain. In addition to that, the film is also about mental illness and family tragedy turning into a nightmare, as going through family tragedy and grief can often feel like a nightmare itself. There are many ways to interpret the film, none of which are wrong. However, it’s the meaning behind the film that makes it so chilling as it digs into everyday human fears and emotions. Rather than just a jump-scare ghost story, the film makes viewers feel something they most likely haven’t before.

Grade: A+

Rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Alden Ehrenreich, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emilia Clarke, and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)Han Solo has been one of the leading icons of the Star Wars franchise since the release of Star Wars: A New Hope” in 1977. The idea of a singular film about the origin of Han Solo was only a matter of time after the recent release of both “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is separate from any of the trilogies and acts as a standalone film just as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. Directed by legendary filmmaker Ron Howard, the film gives us a unique glimpse into Han’s past and shows us what exactly made him who he was.

Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his love interest, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) have been trapped on a crime filled planet Corellia that endangers their lives. They make it their mission to escape only to then become separated. Solo then finds himself entangled in a life of crime due to the demands of an intimidating crime boss named Dryden Vos. They must bring back a large amount of Coaxium, also known as hyperfuel. He goes on this adventure alongside new friends, some that become vital to the entire Star Wars franchise. This includes Chewbacca, the other and possibly larger reason Star Wars fans will go see the film. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” gives us insight into Han’s friendship with Chewy, the origin of his name, how he met Lando, and most importantly, how he came to be involved in the smuggling life.

What will likely satisfy most are the constant homages to the original Star Wars films. Ehrenreich’s performance in particular reminds us of Han’s wit and charm from the original series. Ehrenreich has Solo’s mannerism and body language down perfectly, making a perfect reason for Solo fans to find little to complain about. Donald Glover plays Lando, the self-absorbed, smoothing talking smuggler who originally appeared in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”. He too managed to ace the mannerisms and personality of Billy Dee Williams’s Lando.

The other very notable performance in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is Emilia Clarke’s performance as Qi’ra. Qi’ra has multiple layers to her character and Clarke’s outstanding performance keeps the viewer thinking about her and her motives. The film also stars Woody Harrelson as Beckett, Thandie Newton as Val, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37. Every performance is as convincing as the last, keeping the film just as fun and thrilling as it is engaging.

Ron Howard’s direction is unique and original, giving the Star Wars movie something to keep itself standing out from the other surrounding films in the franchise. This film proves how huge the continuing franchise can be, showing how it very rarely loses its steam (excluding the infamous prequel trilogy). Howard’s vision is without a doubt, very creative. From the beginning till the end, there are numerous amounts of different creatures and droids, who all look and sound uniquely different. There was clearly a lot of thought put into the appearance of this film, that it can’t be overlooked. The production design is immersive and stunning which again, reminds fans of the original series.

The action is fun and engaging as well. It keeps plenty of viewers on the edge of their seats. However, it isn’t necessarily the action itself that is responsible for that. The film makes us care about the characters and when they are in peril, we can’t help but stare at the screen even though we really know that at least Han, Chewy and Lando end up a-ok.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a great film for both fans and moviegoers alike. It fills the need for action, thrill and comedy, while pleasing fans with the characters and production design. As one of the better films in the franchise (at least of the newer films), this one will stand out for plenty of years to come.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence

Grade: A-

Deadpool 2

Brad Pitt, Josh Brolin, Ryan Reynolds, Terry Crews, Bill SkarsgÃ¥rd, Leslie Uggams, Morena Baccarin, Lewis Tan, Stefan Kapicic, Rob Delaney, Shioli Kutsuna, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, and Brianna Hildebrand in Deadpool 2 (2018)After only two years since the first installment of an already amazing franchise, “Deadpool 2” was recently released in theaters and did very little to disappoint. “Deadpool” was incredibly influential to the Marvel films, showing us how superhero films can be R-Rated and just as good. This eventually led to the critically acclaimed X-men movie, “Logan” a year later. It seems as though through these past few years the X-Men films are becoming more and more violent, hopefully leading to more similar films down the road, with the upcoming X-Force films in particular.

Just as he did in the first film, the foul-mouthed superhero is back to fight crime in the most violent, gruesome, and raunchy way possible. Ryan Reynolds returns as the mutant and gives a not very surprisingly great performance. With his success of the original and of the sequel, this role will surely stick with him for many years as the X-men franchise continues.

If the film is any different from the original, it’s because of its controversial first act. It’s best not to be spoiler-rific here, so let’s just say it starts off with a in a way that definitely wasn’t expected by most. It was a strange choice by the writers, but the film redeems itself as it goes on. From there, Deadpool teams up with the X-men, now to be called the X-Force. This includes Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) from the first “Deadpool”. Other great reoccurring characters include, Weasel (T.J Miller), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) and the lonely taxi driver, Dopinder (Karan Soni).

One of the new faces is Firefist (there are plenty of jokes about that name). Firefist is a young mutant incapable of controlling his powers and anger. Deadpool comes to his rescue and when he discovers that a Terminator-like villain is after him and he makes it his mission to protect the young mutant. This time-travelling villain is known as Cable, played by Josh Brolin. 2018 is apparently the year for Josh Brolin as in addition to starring in this film, he also played the ominous and overpowering Thanos, and has an upcoming lead role in “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”, the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s original film. Brolin’s Thanos was much more powerful and intimidating, while here his role is just plain fun, which is something that viewers hope for in a Deadpool film.

What makes “Deadpool 2” even more special is the abundance of new faces. These new characters come into play when Deadpool hilariously attempts to put together a team of mutants. This includes Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) and a human named Peter (Rob Delaney), who also happens to be Deadpool’s favorite.

“Deadpool 2” has all the raunchy material necessary for as “Deadpool” film. It satisfies in the comedy genre and is outright hilarious from start to finish, with some surprisingly emotional moments thrown in the mix. Similar to the original, this one is quite heartfelt and meaningful as well. It’s easy to watch the trailers for this film and assume that it’s all violence and sex jokes. While that is without a doubt a large part of the movie, the screenwriters were cleverly able to throw human emotion into the mix, making a movie that appeases on multiple levels.

The action is on point from start to finish as well, all thanks to David Leitch’s direction. If you saw the film and thought the action was similar to that of in “Atomic Blonde” or John Wick”, that’s because it is. David Leitch was responsible for the visually striking sequences in those films, as well as in “Deadpool 2”. The constant action rarely misses a beat and keeps viewers intently watching.

“Deadpool 2” is one of those rare sequels that lives up to the first. Over the years it seemed as though any film with the number two slapped on the end of the title was a guaranteed disaster. However, these past few years, (especially with Marvel) sequels have been getting much more worthwhile and “Deadpool 2” is no exception.

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material

Grade: A-

Disobedience

Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams in Disobedience (2017)“Disobedience” is the latest independent film from Sebastian Lelio, the writer and director of the recent critically acclaimed film “A Fantastic Woman”. Rachel Weisz plays Ronit, a successful photographer living in New York City, who left the home she once knew after being shunned for her attraction to Esti, played by Rachel McAdams. However, now she returns home after hearing the news of her father’s death, only to be shunned further for not being there for him. At the funeral, she sees her once loved Esti, and from there the film teases the audience on their relationship and both the pain and joy it brought them both. Their reunion rekindles those feelings left behind and drags them into a downward spiral of forbidden romance and self-doubt.

Esti has since married Dovid, a Jewish Orthodox Rabbi and a beloved friend of Ronit’s father. Their marriage isn’t exactly a happy one as Esti was forced into it by their religion. Dovid is superbly played by Alessandro Nivola. However, what complicates Ronit and Esti’s relationship further is the religion surrounding their life. It suffocates them and keeps them from being who the truly want to be. Faith forced Esti married a man she does not love and Ronit constantly tries to keep herself as distant from the culture as possible.

The emotional performances in this film are consistently outstanding. Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams shine in “Disobedience”, giving the couple they’re playing perfect chemistry and emotion. The chemistry between them is passionate yet desperate as they reintroduce the feelings they once had for each other. After being apart for so many years, their love for each other has somehow stayed just as strong. The performances give us this atmosphere along with Sebastian Lelio’s on point direction. In addition to the leads however, the main supporting performance by Alessandro Nivola is also incredibly notable.

The film is uniquely shot, with darkly lit cinematography that captures the couple’s melancholy and their struggle to keep their relationship a secret. This film is an art piece and what is even more astounding is that we have two big name actresses as the lead roles. Often with these sorts of small independent films, the cast is very much unknown, yet talented. With “Disobedience” the fame is there, along with the craft.

Rated R for some strong sexuality

Grade: A-

Cargo

Martin Freeman in Cargo (2017)The newest Netflix original film “Cargo” is a dramatic thriller taking place in a diseased Australia. To start, the film shows us the seemingly healthy family, intercut with shots of a young girl feeding raw meat to something in a hole. The film focuses on a father’s struggle to get his daughter to safety after her mother passes. As Andy struggles to survive with his daughter, he forms a bond with Josie, a young girl whose father previously became ill. The film stars Martin Freeman (Andy), Susie Porter (Kay), and Simone Landers (Thoomi).

It’s a zombie flick but is very much unlike most zombie films out there like “28 Weeks Later” or an average episode of “The Walking Dead”. “Cargo” focuses much less on action and blood and seems to take a more humanistic and meaningful turn. The film focuses on the theme of family and what it takes to keep your family safe. The weight we carry on our shoulder for our children can feel as heavy as precious cargo aboard a ship. The message here is deeper than expected. Although, that isn’t to stay there aren’t any intense scenes or action as we get plenty of short chase scenes and a few bloody murders to satisfy the true zombie fans.

However, “Cargo” is far from perfect. The first act of the film drags quite a bit and it takes way too much time getting us into the story. From there, the pacing is a bit strange and most of the film seems quite slow, with some intense scenes thrown in the mix.

The biggest flaw with the film however is the emotional disconnect. From the beginning, Andy’s chemistry with his wife doesn’t flow well and seems very much out of place, refusing to convince the audience that they’re truly married. This is likely due to the directing, although Martin Freeman’s performance here is somewhat to blame as well. Freeman has given plenty of great performances in his career. However, this one falls on the opposite end. It isn’t the fact that he wasn’t convincing enough. It is more about how his performance makes us feel about Andy’s relationships with his loved ones.

“Cargo” is very redeemable however as it gives us plenty to be thankful for. It attempts to add something different and meaningful to what is usually just a mindless and violent genre (not that there is anything wrong with that). It also gives us a unique ending, and a well-directed one as well. While there are many ups and downs with this one, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy and for everyone to hate.

Grade: C+

Tully

Tully (2018)Charlize Theron’s previous roles have consisted of being a crime fighting spy, a rugged rebellious woman in the desert, and a prostitute turned serial killer. Here in Jason Reitman’s “Tully”, she’s at first struggling mother of two and then of three. Reitman is the director most well known for “Juno” and “Young Adult”, both of which show us the struggles of certain time-periods in a woman’s life. In this latest film of his, motherhood is explored in all its joys, tears and discomforts.

Most of “Tully” doesn’t glamorize motherhood too much as we see Marlo’s constant struggles to keep her life together as she raises all three of her children, one being a newborn. From her son’s so called “quirky” problems at school, to her new daughter being up all night, Marlo never rests. That is until her brother sets her up with a night nanny named Tully, played by Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049) and together they form a special friendship.

The film has a well written screenplay and likeable characters, so there is plenty to enjoy with “Tully”. On top of the entertainment factor though, there is an emotional level that occurs with this film that reminds us to thank our mothers. “Tully” really gives us a struggling protagonist to care for and makes viewers reflect on their mothers or on their own experiences with motherhood, making the film relatable for many.

It’s marketed as a comedy and while there is plenty of comedy in the film, it is still much less funny than expected. “Tully” has some humorous moments here and there and is lighthearted enough, but the film stands alone even better as a drama. The film is sweet and endearing, while having many emotional and unexpected scenes. However, towards the third act, the plot starts to derail just a tad as the already understood message about motherhood starts to become repetitive and frankly, a bit preachy.

Although, it would be unfair to go on without mentioning the biggest thing that keeps this film afloat. Theron’s performance as Marlo is a magnificent one and shows viewers just how versatile of an actress she is. Many of her performances go unfairly overlooked, and this one has already begun to take that path. There hasn’t been much buzz in entertainment news about Charlize in this film, yet her talent reaches its height in “Tully”. If there is one reason to see this film, it’s for her central performance alone. While the supporting performances are all well done too, its Charlize’s that takes over.

Grade: B

Rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity