REVIEW: Arrival

Image: Paramount Pictures

Chris Luckett

The last three autumns gave us the sci-fi masterpieces Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian. While December’s Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt-starring Passengers has gotten more buzz online, the heir apparent in tone has seemed like it would be Arrival.

On the surface, Arrival tells the tale of what it might be like if we make first contact with an alien species. Below that exterior of entertainment, though, the latest piece of cinematic wonder from director Denis Villeneuve also examines what it means to be a self-conscious being, while still finding time for visuals that will linger in your memory.

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REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

When The Avengers came out in 2012, it seemed like the ultimate climax of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, it was simply the climax to the first act of what would ultimately be three (or four) phases, each with their own Avengers capper.

The worry that came with that, particularly after the behemoth scale of The Avengers, was… How could Marvel hope to top (or even just equal) a supergroup movie with more standalone pictures hinged on individual superheroes, without just creating the impression of the franchise just spinning its wheels?

Marvel being the Pixar it currently is, they pulled it off. Not only that, but despite the fact The Avengers: Age of Ultron proved to be even better than The Avengers, it was outdone by Captain America: The Winter Soldier — the best movie Marvel had yet made, despite it being a sequel to the worst they’d made.

And that was before a superhero war broke out. Continue reading

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Chris Luckett

In an alternate universe somewhere, Bond movies are still fun.

Don’t get me wrong; Daniel Craig’s adventures in the tux have been (mostly) great, and Skyfall ranks as one of the absolutely best 007 films, but the series lost something when it consciously forsook its trademark over-the-top spectacle and winks to the audience in favour of basically becoming a British Bourne.

Thankfully, the Mission: Impossible series, struggling after a confusing first entry and a downright awful second one, picked up Bond’s dropped baton and has run with gusto. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation continues the streak of top-of-the-line action, unflappable charm, and insane adrenaline that its two most recent predecessors tackled with aplomb, firmly solidifying the Mission: Impossible series’ reputation as one of the most impressive action series in cinema. Continue reading

REVIEW: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

Cinema has a long, storied history of computers running amok. From 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner to the Terminator and Matrix series, intelligent machines have become the new evolution of Frankenstein’s Monster.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron appears on the surface to be yet another superhero juggernaut, but what separates it from its Marvel brethren — and what elevates it above most of them — is that the villain isn’t a malevolent alien or a possessed scientist, but an artificially intelligent monster of our heroes’ own creation. Even Earth’s mightiest heroes aren’t invulnerable to hubris.

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