Summer Catch-Up: Part 2

Where I continue to catch up on this summer’s big would-be blockbusters and am left feeling mostly ambivalent towards them all except for a pair of smaller-stature heroes. But let’s go ahead and dig into them regardless.

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Ocean’s 8
While it refreshingly plays as a straight sequel with new characters and is a great showcase for its talented cast, the movie is too content being a nice, fun, breezy time to ever generate much of a sense of stakes, tension, or genuine excitement. It also spends too much time repeating the same beats of the 2001 remake for not much reason beyond to make it feel like an Ocean’s movie. It’s certainly enjoyable, and not bad in any sense, but it doesn’t strive to be more than nice and fun, and you wish they would have pushed a few more boundaries story-wise when all is said and done. Grade: B-

 

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado
After serving as compelling and mysterious side-characters in Denis Villeneuve’s original Sicario, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are back to lead their own entry in what the studio hopes is a new franchise. Unfortunately the movie doesn’t give either Brolin or Del Toro’s characters any fresh insights or new depths to play with and the story itself is rather flimsy and muddled. There’s some well-staged action, but there’s no driving force behind anything it all feels flat as a result. In the end, it feels painfully obvious that the film’s only purpose was to set-up future sequels rather than tell a compelling story unto itself. Grade: C-

 

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Ant-Man and The Wasp
Peyton Reed’s original Ant-Man felt like a refreshing palette cleanser from the usual doom-and-gloom stakes of the rest of the Marvel Universe, and here we are once again with the same job to do and this sequel is mostly successful on all fronts. Paul Rudd is as charming as ever, but the real star here is Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp. She carries the brunt of the film on her shoulders and does so with aplomb and would be well-deserving of her own film as the character. There are a number of hilarious and inspired sequences throughout the film, and without needing to learn the rules of this world, we can just enjoy and have fun with it. It is one of the most purely entertaining MCU films that also finds some resonant emotional depths through both Lilly and Michael Douglas’ characters. Grade: A-

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