Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Yesterday, 2019 - ★★★

Danny Boyle is an interesting directing choice for this fantastical look at a world in which the Beatles don't exist. This film tells the ridiculous tale of an English pub singer Jack Malik who is the only person to remember the Beatles after a massive worldwide blackout. He writes down all the songs he can remember and makes a new album featuring the ripped-off work. All-along trying to win the heart of his lifelong crush in Lily James.

While newcomer Himesh Patel is excellent in the lead as Malik, the rest of the supporting cast stumbles a bit especially Kate McKinnon as an annoying cobble of characters she's played on SNL. Game of Thrones' Joel Fry is a bumbling mess as Patel's best friend. James is quirky and real, but her connection with Patel feels a bit forced at times.

The biggest issue I had with this movie is the story and the lack of explanation. We never get any follow-up as to why Patel (and two other random people) remember the Beatles. As Patel meets up with a legendary Beatles band member at the end of the film, there's no explanation as to if the Beatles ever existed at any point in time. Also we find out that Coca Cola and Harry Potter never existed as well for no good reason. There's a lot of unknowns that scream of lazy script writing that made me frustrated at times. The core concept is great, but the execution is lacking and I really expected more from a movie with Danny Boyle at the helm.

That being said, this is still a very fun movie to watch and there are laughs to be had here and there. Hearing Beatles anthems in a "live" stadium environment is also a treat similar to Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. Just don't expect a lot of the story to make sense.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home, 2019 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

After his second solo film and 5th portrayal of Spider-Man, it's safe to say that Tom Holland has cemented himself as the best actor to portray the web-slinger on-screen. His Peter Parker / Spidey performance in Far From Home is the glue that holds this wild movie together.

I'm going to go ahead and spoil some of the plot details for you here, so if you haven't seen this, come back and read the rest of this after you go out and see it.

Overall I thought the Mysterio villain (portrayed by the always-effective Jake Gyllenhaal) plot twist was well done and another crafty way of bringing back some highlights of prior Marvel films. However, I thought the idea that drones could create such vivid destructive illusions was a little far fetched, even for a comic film. Once the threat is revealed to be an illusion, it's hard to understand how an army of drones could create all the weather effects (especially wind) that the innocent bystanders feel. All of the visuals make sense based on holographic projections, but the destruction and force-related effects don't seem possible. It's a small nitpick in an otherwise great film.

Watching Holland and his high-school classmates (led by the hilarious Jacob Batalon as Ned) interact with their surrounding and idiot teachers on a Eurotrip was a delightful follow-up to the somber events of EndGame. Bonus kudos to Angourie Rice for following up her Ashley O fandom from Black Mirror with a comic turn as Ned's European love fling.

The moment that Holland totally nails comes near the end of the film where he kisses MJ (Zendaya) for the first time. His reaction as he leaves the embrace that he's been spending his whole summer trying to achieve is priceless. Holland is playing someone 6 years younger than his real age but he time-and-time-again nails the youthful exuberance that makes Spider-Man a unique hero. Despite a few plot holes and cinematic Sam Jackson overload, this is yet another fun and effective time at the movies courtesy of the Marvel machine.