Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

*Minor spoilers*

After the Incredibles battle and defeat The Underminer, but also tear up most of Metroville and especially City Hall, the Government shuts down the Superhero Relocation Program. Supers are no longer the heroes they once were and now our family are faced with financial crisis.

In the nick of time, superhero fan Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) pops up with a plan to regain the public’s trust in supers once again. As owner of telecommunications corporation DevTech and brother of DevTech genius inventor Evelyn (Catherine Keener), he has the power to make things happen. First part of the plan, get Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) back in the field. Semi-secretly.

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Left at home holding the baby, Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) struggles with his feelings of emasculation but really I don’t care about that. He’s kind of a dick about it all. He does finally realise that there’s something special about Jack Jack though and that is one of the films strongest strands. I’m not usually a sucker for babies but JJ is cooler than your average.

Of course, nothing ever runs smoothly and there’s some back stabbing to be had, while Elastigirl must get to grips with Screenslaver, a villain who projects hypnotic images using television screens (looks better than it sounds). But when Screenslaver is revealed, he isn’t quite what Elastigirl had expected and a thicker plot is revealed.

Will our heroine be able to handle the true villain at the heart of this plot – or will she require a little help from her family? Well, what the hell do you think?

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Support is at hand in the form of family BFF Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), while Edna Mode (Brad Bird) returns to steal the show with a couple of choice scenes.

We’ve waited 14 years for this sequel from the Pixar studio and it’s good, don’t worry. It’s just not the best and that’s down to personal preference, I’m much more of a Monsters, Inc kinda gal. If you’re an Incredibles Stan then I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs (2018)

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bryan CranstonEdward NortonBill MurrayJeff GoldblumKunichi NomuraAkira TakayamaGreta GerwigFrances McDormand, Akira ItoScarlett JohanssonKoyu Rankin

IMDB Synopsis

Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog.

*Minor spoilers*

Part of me was wary of wading into Wes’ Isle of Dogs and I’m not sure why. I knew it would be visually stunning but I think part of me was worried it would be all style and no substance. I was wrong thankfully and I’m so delighted about that.

I’ve come to understand that the world is split into two camps: Wes lovers and Wes haters with very few in between. I would consider myself the former although I didn’t rate Moonrise Kingdom that highly. I loved  The Grand Budapest Hotel though with its intricate detail and eye-popping visual aesthetic. Now I can say Isle of Dogs is definitely up there as one of my favourites.

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In a dystopian near-future Japan, dogs find themselves banished from the city when a  virus spreads through the canine population. New mayor Kobayashi (Nomura) signs a decree that outlaws all puppies to Trash Island – and he sacrifices Spots (Liev Schreiber), the dog of his ward and orphaned nephew Atari Kobayashi (Rankin) first to set an example.

Scientist Professor Watanabe (Ito) insists he is just a mutt’s hair away from discovering a cure but the mayor is adamant that the poor doggos will remain on the island regardless. There’s some folklore at the beginning of the film that explains the drama between dog and cat lovers which I’ll leave to you to discover for yourselves.

Turns out though that Atari isn’t cool with this arrangement so he steals a light aeroplane and crashes onto the island, determined to find faithful old Spots. On the way he meets a group of pups who facilitate an epic adventure across the island – and joins the great dog rebellion. Will he find Spots, deliver the dog flu cure and save the lives of all the forgotten dogs before it is too late – or…?

You know what to do.

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Isle of Dogs is so visually stimulating and is as subtly funny as Anderson films always are. The voice work is spot on and I’m happy to say that the film is not so whimsical as to set your teeth on edge. As with most of his films, the sugar-coated sheen often gives ways to darker themes and this is no different.

Highlights for me are Frances McDormand’s Interpreter, Gerwig’s American exchange student and Pro-Dog activist – and hands down Brian Cranston’s stray mutt Chief, who’ll break your heart and then stitch it back together again.

Get on it, even if you are a cat person – there’s something for everybody and honestly, this is cinematic magic.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Coco

Coco (2018)

Directed by: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Benjamin Bratt

IMDB Synopsis

Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.

*Spoilers*

Music is a major no-no in Miguel’s family. Passed down by generations, the message is clear: the sweet sound of music, any music, is banned and that is that. Unfortunately, our hero only seems to have one true love in his life, apart from his family – and it’s the very thing they have forbidden. OOPSY.

This sorry story goes all the way back to Miguel’s great great great (?) grandmother Imelda Rivera in Santa Cecilia, Mexico. Imelda lives a modest, happy life with her husband and daughter Coco until he ups and leaves one day to pursue a life of fame and fortune as a musician. Imelda never forgives this horrible betrayal, banishing all reminders of Coco’s father and his talents forever. This includes removing his picture from the family hall of fame because fuck him, right?

As time passes, Imelda teaches herself to make shoes and as her family grows and grows, so does the family business. She lives a full life jam-packed with love and family. We begin the film with a heartwarming family history lesson, narrated by Miguel himself in present day.

Miguel lives with his parents, grandmother, great great grandmother Coco and various cousins, uncles and pets in the very same Mexican village. While he helps with the shoe-making business after school, his heart is secretly so not in it. Instead he keeps his musical hobbies hidden, including his obsession with Mexico’s most famous musician and actor, the late Ernesto de la Cruz.

One day, on Mexican Día de Muertos, Miguel puts two and two together, realising that his connection to de la Cruz runs deeper than simple admiration. During preparations for the ofrenda, Miguel runs away from his family and stumbles into an otherworldly adventure that will change his life forever.

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Coco is an absolute assault on the eyeballs in the very best way. There’s so much to take in, so much to see that it takes your breath away. The detail is stunning, every little flourish refined to perfection.

The other side, which I’m leaving to your imagination, is as multi-layered and colourful as a dream – no words I could choose would do it justice anyway. Catching it on the big screen is a sensible shout if just to get an idea of the sheer scale of what Pixar have achieved here. There’s a reason this is Oscar nommed, and I would say it is very much deserving of the statuette.

But in case you think it’s all visual stimulus and not much else, rest assured the story is lovely too. Miguel of course learns a lesson along the way but then so do his family – and maybe so will we, the viewer. Family is important, yo – but so are dreams and in the words of Ernesto, don’t be afraid to seize your moment.

Coco is a cautionary tale though, fame and dreams come with a price, you just have to be mindful about what you’re willing to pay for it. This lovely film is also a poignant reminder to remember our loved ones, to honour their memories and never let them die. A mature topic for a kids film but this isn’t the first time Pixar has cut straight to the heart, is it? (Who isn’t still scarred by Up/Inside Out/*insert favourite* here?).

Maybe, just maybe this film is a smidge too long but there’s so much to love about it. I’m utterly blown away by the bridges of petals and the spirit animals that pepper each scene on the other side. Frida Kahlo’s appearance is charming, while the big party scene at the de la Cruz mansion is Great Gatsby decadent and a visual feast for the eyes.

Go see this on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Even the kids talking all the way through it won’t annoy you, I’m sure.

My Rating

4/5.