‘Soul’ Film Review: Does it miss the Boat?

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“I was born to play”

2020 may be one of the most memorable years for the wrong reasons. Many lives have been changed and for avid movie goers their routine of checking out the next blockbuster in theaters was stripped away from them.

While new movies releasing on streaming services isn’t ideal “Soul” is definitely worth a watch even if the normal Pixar audiences may not enjoy it as much as previous films.

Overview

Joe, a middle-school band teacher has a real serious passion for music specifically Jazz. He thought that by now he’d have accomplished his dream of becoming a well known Jazz artist but he’s fallen a little short.

His life takes quite a turn after he finally gets a real chance to prove himself and along the way Joe must learn what it means to have a soul.

A Visual Masterpiece

To not give attention to appearance of the film would be a huge mistake. From the characters, to the New York environments it truly puts the quick animation cash grabs that come out every year to shame.

The movie feels like it captures the nature of New York and it stands out. For a city that appears in so many films a feat such as that is remarkable.

One of the biggest complaints have is that just not enough time is spent in the city itself.

Very Thought Provoking

This may be the most mature Pixar film to date. The themes addressed require deep thought. You may even find yourself questioning your own life choices.

That is a powerful thing that a film whose designated audience is for the family can even make people think along those lines.

Too Young for the Deep End

After a rather slow start I found myself getting very invested in the story about half hour into the film. As the movie continued one thing kept popping in my head was “who is this for?” Pixar’s audience has always been family. This time I wasn’t so sure.

I don’t know what a five year old will get from this film. The slow nature is bound to turn off many children and impatient viewers. New York while visually appealing is not the only location in the film and without spoiling the other areas don’t feel filled with life.

Some of the best animation uses many colors and blends them beautifully. Because of that plenty of younger viewers can get engaged in some media even if the story is not very alluring to them.

Lastly, the comedy is not enough to keep audiences engaged if that was the deciding factor in continuing to watch the motion picture. The jokes are actually pretty good and they don’t over stay their welcome. However, they don’t come very often.

Conclusion

I feel bad for those who won’t make it through the lengthy introduction. They’re missing out on a very deep film that frankly can cause you to think about your own life.

This story feels relatable what Joe goes through many people do the same thing. It certainly gave me food for thought.

The animation is next level. I don’t believe there’s many other films where New York City has looked this good. All of the human characters have unique looks and possess depth. Most of the characters Joe deals with I wouldn’t be disappointed if they got their own specials on Disney+ they’re just enjoyable.

How many children will enjoy this? While ‘Soul’ is marketed as a family film I don’t believe kids will end up getting it. The messaging is what makes the movie as good as it is. Without it it’d still be a decent film but its maturity allows it to stand out from it’s fellow Pixar movies.

Finally, I think this film will be divisive with people either praising it or letting others know its being blown way out of proportion. I encourage you even if you don’t like traditional Pixar motion pictures to give ‘Soul’ a shot.

Verdict 7.5 out of 10 Stars

‘You (Season 1)’ TV Show Review: The Price of Love

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“There are terrifying people in the world. It’s important to be safe, and that’s why I have to do what I’m going to do.”

Have you ever seen the world through the eyes of a person who believes they’re in the right when that couldn’t be further from the truth? Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is a loner who works at a book store that keeps to himself for the most part.

Until one faithful day when a woman named Genevieve Beck (Elizabeth Lail) walks into his store. Joe becomes infatuated with Beck, and he will stop at nothing to gain her love.

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Rooting for a Bad Guy?

Narration is typically considered to be lazy, mainly because it allows for the writers to give the audience information easily. Joe Goldberg, among other characters, does not go many scenes without narration, which seems like it would be exhausting. However, it suits the storytelling well.

From the outside, looking in most would have very different thoughts about the entire cast of You. Because we get to see how their minds work, we may end up understanding some motives even if we don’t agree with how they necessarily go about solving their issues.

Subverting Expectations Constantly

Audiences will be surprised by how much they actually know about the story, or should I say how little. You does an astounding job at subverting expectations, and often viewers won’t know what’s going to happen in the story next.

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Superb Acting for the Most Part

A couple of the performances are astounding with how well the actors/actresses represent their characters. Penn Badgley, the actor who portrays Joe Goldberg, can act out a flurry of different emotions with incredible skill. In one scene, he can go from two extremely different moods such as anger into being at peace.

Elizabeth Lail, the actress that plays as Genevieve Beck, also holds her own throughout the show. For story purposes, her character just isn’t as exciting as Joes, but she completes her role with flying colors.

Wanting Everything to Work Out

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One of the weirdest feelings is watching someone who you know isn’t necessarily a good person and wanting them to find happiness. It’s because of how well Joe and Beck interact with each other, not to mention everything that the audience goes through with them.

Previously I spoke about how the narration benefits the storytelling, and in terms of Joe and Beck’s relationship, it adds much-wanted depth. There are two different layers of storytelling going on, and I’ve never seen any media, for the most part, use narration in such a way that was a serious show or movie.

While they’re very different people, I believe their differences benefit the other for the most part. To put it lightly, Beck isn’t the most put-together person, and she has many personal struggles.

When she meets Joe, that begins to change, and it is a great thing to see. Pacing for relationships in media can often feel off; however, You succeeds once again with allowing Beck & Joe’s relationship to progress naturally.

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Conclusion

What makes someone a bad person? You forces the audience to answer that question. The cast chosen for this show does their job to the best of their abilities. Because of that, the first season of You is bursting with quality.

From Joe and Beck’s relationship to the unusual method of storytelling used, the program uses all of the tricks that it can pull out of its hat to make an exquisite show about a stalker obsessed with a woman.

Not only that, but the writers succeed at writing the story in such a way that people support the stalker. That’s incredibly impressive; however, it is not only because of the writing team. Badgley took his time in the spotlight and showed audiences his vast range of acting skills.

All of the characters in his show, for the most part, do their role to be the best of their ability based on their job. If a character is supposed to be annoying, then the actor/actress gets the job done.

Finally, the pacing is perfect; the audience will not have to spend hours watching the same plotline. Secrets that are uncovered add to the show and allow the story to progress naturally, making every episode feel fresh, especially towards the season finale.

Verdict 9 out of 10 Stars

 

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Film Review: A Safe yet Exciting Conclusion

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In 2015, when The Force Awakens released and it was declared, it would be apart of a trilogy. Kids and adults alike flooded the theaters to see where this story would take the series.

Finally, with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the last film in the Skywalker Saga has been unveiled. The question is, will this conclusion, please audiences? Let’s find out.

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Overview

Rey, Finn, and Poe’s journey continues as they attempt to find a way to defeat the First Order. Supporting them are the dwindling members of the resistance; however, with the return of a dangerous foe, our heroes are up against a much more significant threat than ever before.

What We Wanted All Along!

Say whatever you want about the newest trilogy in the Star Wars saga, but keeping Rey, Finn, and Poe together was the best idea that director J.J. Abrams had.

Similar to the original trilogy with Luke, Han, and Leia, the film is just more enjoyable with them sharing the screen. Both of these trios have great chemistry and work off each other well.

Many audiences dislike The Last Jedi, and they’re definitely are some valid points as to why some think that. However, in that film, I believe one of the biggest mistakes was splitting up this trio. Unfortunately, much of their bonding happened off-screen. This has been an issue throughout Star Wars as a whole, just not picking up where the last film left off.

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This tends to lead to confusion when watching these movies since so many important story beats don’t take place on the big screen. While this can be seen as an issue, it is not a huge flaw, just a minor disappointment that we didn’t get to see Finn, Rey, and Poe working together more.

Action Packed

Star Wars has had a bad habit of not having enough excitement. While yes, audiences love to see new planets and meet new characters, those aspects are not all that they want. Since the release of Star Wars, lightsabers have become one of the most well-known movie props in history.

Previous films in the newest trilogy have almost felt like they tried to shy away from massive battles and lightsaber duels. I’m proud to say that’s not an issue in The Rise of Skywalker. 

From thrilling space battles, desert speeder chases, and lightsaber battles that stand out compared to other films in the franchise. The conflicts throughout the flick should be enough to entertain most audiences.

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Feels like a Finale

Some films do not know what they’re setting out to do. While the lastest trilogy does not feel like all three of the movies and all their ideas were planned out from the very beginning, this film knew what it was. Almost reminiscent of Avengers: Infinity War in the way that the movie doesn’t go too in-depth with the newest characters introduced.

Nothing is going to distract the film from its final battle, and while some may complain about that, I believe it would’ve ruined the pacing. The focus on the primary characters is what fans of the newest trilogy want anyways, so why take screen time away from them. It was better to be safe rather than sorry for a film that’s intention was to conclude eight movies worth of story

Deja Vu

While it is my belief that the pros outweigh the cons, there are definitely issues present throughout the film. The biggest one being that the film may have played it too safe. We’ve seen this movie before; while it makes changes, it’s all too similar to Return of the Jedi. Without getting into spoiler territory, you’ll notice at multiple points throughout the film that the movies are comparable.

Rey herself does make the film stand out as its own story. Her struggle with the dark side is unlike anything that Luke experiences, and it’s excellent! In these movies, Anakin is the only one who struggled with which side he’d align himself with, which is just hard to believe. Ultimately I think because of her own story arc, we get a storyline worth watching from start to finish.

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Quality V.S. Quantity

As previously mentioned, this film is filled to the brim with action. However, they never surpass the best battles that take place within the saga. Especially the final conflict it was a let down watching the last campaign that would take place during the Skywalker saga.

Conclusion

There are quite a few things that this film does to improve over the past few entries, and keeping the vital main characters together was one of them. I love the scenes where Rey, Poe, and Finn are together. The actors themselves seem to be having fun, which helps. While the movies did not show why their bonds are as strong as they’re the actors indeed sold their relationship.

The storyline is not thrown off. It’s a course to introduce anyone or focus on other stories. For some may not enjoy this, I’ve always felt like Star Wars was about action and adventure. While some characters could’ve had more back story, I think the focus on the central trio was more important than any new role present.

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Personally, I think the series best lightsaber battles are not topped by the couple that takes place in The Rise of Skywalker. The film itself has plenty of action that will keep audiences engaged. From the Millennium Falcon leading the charge into tons of battleships to racing against stormtroopers in the desert, you won’t be bored.

The Rise of Skywalker is too similar to other films in this franchise, most notably the Return of the Jedi. While the newest picture does a few things to differentiate the two, it’s too apparent that the films are incredibly indistinguishable.

Finally, some emotional beats aren’t earned. It’s unfortunate because there are moments that could’ve been so much better if the previous films had built up to them. The fanservice is, of course, nice to see, but some of those instances feel empty.

Verdict 7.5 out of 10 Stars

Is Disney+ Worth Your Time?

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One of the most anticipated streaming services of the year was Disney Plus. It was released 12 days ago on November 12th with an incredible amount of support. However, is the service right for you? Find out below!

Ever since Disney Plus’ release, I have been subscribed and enjoying their huge collection of Disney owned properties. From their original shows such as The Mandalorian to forgotten films like Treasure Planet. If you’re a fan of Disney you’re sure to find entertainment new and old.

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Fair Price

For the low price tag of $6.99, I’d have to say its worth it for the amount of content you receive. If you aren’t a fan of Disney, Marvel, or Star Wars this probably doesn’t need to be said but you aren’t going to enjoy at 80% of the substance that is provided.

Take it Anywhere

I love the fact that I can take this service wherever I go. The other day I was on a 3-hour bus ride and I was able to just whip out my phone and start to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s just so convenient not to mention a lot of the content available was never on Netflix or Hulu two streaming giants of today.

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Surprising Amount of Show & Movies

You’ll be shocked by just how many shows are on Disney Plus. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ultimate Spider-Man, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place and so many more shows are available at the click of a button. The Disney library of films is not lacking either with even the most obscure Disney films being readily available.

Lacking Basic Wants

While Disney Plus has plenty of positives there are a few mistakes that are present as well. Sadly there’s no easy way to continue a show that you’re watching. If you don’t watch every episode all the way through you won’t be able to just click “play” when you pick a show to watch. You’ll have to find the exact episode you left on every time.

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The option known as “continue watching” on Netflix is not present on Disney Plus. Plenty of people watch a show and fall asleep so it sucks that the show will continue playing even if you haven’t interacted with your TV or your computer for a long time.

Conclusion

Being able to see so many shows and movies I haven’t seen in ages is wonderful. It makes me feel like a kid again. The huge collection of Disney related content is mind-blowing not to mention the service also has plenty of movies that just released this year.

For such a low price there’s not a doubt in my mind that it’s worth your money. Even with its issues the service’s pros far outweigh the cons.

Verdict 8 out of 10 Stars

‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ Film Review: A Redundantly Amusing Adventure

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Most sequels often feel out of place, almost like they don’t belong. While “Zombieland: Double Tap” is a fun time at the cinema, it sadly falls under that category of missing the mark. Especially since this sequel came out 10 years after 2009’s “Zombieland.”

Overview

The gang is back together! Four survivors Woody Harrelson, Jesse EisenbergEmma Stone and Abigail Breslin who met and joined forces in their previous outing in “Zombieland” leave their safe new home of the White House to travel to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Now, these zombie slayers must rely on their abilities and weapons to defeat a threat like none they’ve faced before.

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While the film was released in 2019, it was supposed to start filming shortly after the release of the first movie in 2009. A theme of the movie is leaving the nest. Rhett Reese, one of the Zombieland writers said, new additions to the writing team “did a wonderful job updating the story, bringing it to a more of an empty nest story about a young woman who used to be a girl, and used to love to look up to her father figure, but now really wants to get out in the world.”

Made their path

The first 30 minutes of the movie benefits from not having a specific path to follow. With the lack of a focal point, the writers can focus on jokes and tossing in new characters randomly. Don’t be confused while the film is very much a comedy, there’s plenty of gory visuals sure to make you look away from the screen every once in a while.

The lack of focus becomes apparent around halfway through the movie. While jokes are constantly being thrown out I’m confident in saying that most of them don’t stick. I chuckled a few times and genuinely thought some scenes were funny, but nothing made me feel like I had to control my laughter.

Chemistry

Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg) and Wichita (Stone) have one of the greatest on-screen relationships I’ve seen in a long time going to the cinema. They allowed me to dive into their world. They made me feel like their relationships were real and that’s not an easy task. Outside of those three, I think the acting takes a little bit of a hit. No one else steals the show and its kind of disappointing. 

While Little Rock’s (Breslin) performance didn’t seem off, the writing for her was just bad. I felt like her motivation didn’t make much sense. Watching her story unfold reminded me of films that simply go by the book. For example, before the climax, the main characters have a falling out or a character thought to be dead comes back and saves everyone. It was just so predictable that I dreaded even having her on screen. She got much less screen time than the other three main characters which to me was a good idea. 

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Conclusion

While the wait was long we finally did receive the sequel to the cult classic known as “Zombieland.” The film doesn’t feel too out of place. It feels like we never left besides for a few differences. When Little Rock decided she wanted to leave her friends and family it gave the writers much freedom. However, maybe it was too much freedom.

The film lacks direction and if the jokes were to fall more often I don’t think that audiences would care. Many times in the movie I felt like they were just stalling to get to that 109 minutes run time. However, the chemistry between our protagonists will keep spectators entertained just because of how well they work together.

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Sadly that doesn’t save the film from wasting a few resources. The new characters such as Madison (Zoey Deutch) and Berkeley (Avan Jogia) weren’t fleshed out in the slightest. They both were one-note characters, but it still feels like neither of them reached their true potential. 

With a more refined focus and fewer jokes that tattered on the edge of annoyance, I think that this sequel could’ve blown the original out of the water. It’s still definitely worth watching, especially if you enjoyed the first.

Verdict 7.5 out of 10 Stars

Zombieland: Double Tap (Rated R) is playing at a theater near you.

Is Netflix’s Bird Box Worthy of the Buzz it’s Receiving? Movie Review

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In this world, suddenly hundreds of thousands of people begin committing suicide at an alarming rate. The cause of this are these mysterious creatures that when seen causes the individual to take their own life. A woman named Malorie (Sandra Bullock) must go on a dangerous quest for the benefit of her and the children she must protect. Her journey has the chance to bring her to a safe haven, but the only way to get there is by not having her sight.

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Interesting Premise

This film isn’t revolutionary in terms of a plot, but it is interesting to see how things unfold. Time is not wasted getting into the post-apocalyptic setting it happens quite fast in fact. We see plenty of deaths just at the start, and I think most people are just wondering what’s going on. Why are people killing themselves? Why do these people stop responding when they see these creatures? There’s a lot of questions that don’t get answered until much later in the film and it can be pretty annoying.

The survivors stay inside their homes because the creatures cannot get to them there. This leads to much of this film taking place in one location. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the cast wasn’t the everyday horror movie characters. You have the old man who everyone thinks is a jerk, but he’s the most intelligent in the group. You have the comic relief nerdy character along with the person who thinks everyone is doomed from the very start. I don’t hate the cast because a few of the characters stick out in a good way, however many of them didn’t add anything to the film.

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People Don’t Act Like This in Real Life

In most horror movies I’d say that the characters make their fair share of dumb mistakes. In recent history, I’ve started seeing that less and less especially in Halloween (2018). When characters died in that film it was mostly because they were outsmarted not because they made it easy for Michael Myers. I wish I could say the same about this film. In Bird Box, there were a handful of characters who actually made smart choices and the plot was only pushed forward because of the mistakes made by certain individuals in the film.

The Cast

During this review, I haven’t given the good parts of the cast much recognition and they did deliver at the end of the day. Tom (Trevante Rhodes) played a pretty big role in this film. From his protective nature over Malorie and leader like qualities he quickly became one of my favorites. Douglas (John Malkovich) stood out to me as well. He’s definitely not a very nice guy, but he knows what must be done. His acting skills also elevated this otherwise by the book’s character. Then, of course, Malorie was consistent throughout the film. I felt her need to want to protect her children. She’s strong as well, but not in an annoying way. Movies will make the impossible possible for the protagonist, but I don’t believe they made her practically a superhero or anything of that sort.

Conclusion

This movie isn’t quite what it’s hyped up to be, but it’s not a bad film. Some of the cast really sticks out and make the film better overall. Bullock had the leading role and crushed it as the protagonist. She really made the character her own and I couldn’t see many other people being able to outperform her. The movie’s downfall is the basic character traits as well as being a bit too confusing. There are just things that are never explained throughout the film. To top it off there are many coincidences that push the plot forward and there doesn’t seem to be a clear path this movie would’ve taken if most of the characters had acted like they had common sense.

Verdict 6 out of 10 Stars

My Top 5 Favorite Movies of 2018 (So Far)

A Great Year for the Cinema!

Going to movies has been a part of my day by day life since I was born. Attending movies with close friends and family is generally one of my favorite things to do. My hope is that as the years keep on coming by more and more great movies have time to shine. I was not disappointed by the movie industry this year either. I think my list will be quite different from most movie reviewers, but everyone has their own tastes. My hope is that at least one of you will be able to experience these films at least once.

5. Deadpool 2

I have been going to Marvel movies for the past few years and they seldom disappoint. That stays true for this surprisingly enjoyable sequel. In this outing, Deadpool meets a child mutant named Russell. Not long after that, a soldier from the future named Cable sets his eyes on Russell and plans to kill him. Now our favorite R rated superhero has to protect the child at all costs.

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What I loved so much about this film are the action and comedy. Most people that attend this film I’d like to imagine have a sense of humor. Without it, I don’t think you’ll enjoy this movie and that’s a shame. It is my belief that this sequel is an improvement over the original. Even if you didn’t enjoy this series first time on the big screen I’d advise you to give Deadpool 2 a chance.

4. Black Panther

It’s a bit weird to have two Marvel movies right next to each other but I had to put Black Panther on the list somewhere. This film picks up with T’Challa finally returning home after the death of his father. He now will take his rightful spot upon the throne of Wakanda. When a great enemy appears it forces T’Challa to put himself to the test to protect Wakanda, it’s people, and gain the full power of black panther.

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While I do love superhero flicks they tend to stick to the same pattern. I’m sure the general public realizes that but surprisingly these kinds of movies still do well. What I love so much about this title is the fact that the villain is actually good. There are times where I don’t want T’Challa to succeed because the antagonist has good motivation for his actions. It’s a breath of fresh air and I hope as more Marvel films come out the antagonists can continue to improve.

3. Incredibles 2

This film has been anticipated for over a decade. I’m happy to say that it does not disappoint. In Incredibles 2, our favorite crime-fighting family is back, but this time we Helen take the spotlight while Bob takes care of the kids. Of course, this ends up being incredibly tough for this superfamily and it only gets tougher trying to deal with the numerous uncontrollable powers their baby Jack-Jack possesses. Now a new threat is looming and it’ll take everyone to work together to find a way to come out on top.

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When I saw this film in theaters a big smile came out as the movie started. I had been waiting for this film like many others and I think the greatest part about this sequel is that it didn’t let down the general public. This is a good movie from its comedy to its action it beat my expectations for everything. The animation is mind-blowing as well and the style present makes me want to dive right back into the world of Incredibles.

2. A Quiet Place

The reason why I went to see this film is that John Krasinski directed and he starred in it. Since the office, I have loved to see him on screen and his performance in this movie is stellar. The setting of this film is in a post-apocalyptic world. Krasinski and his family are forced to live in silence to avoid the creatures running amok.

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If you missed watching this film in a theater I don’t think you’ll ever have the same feeling I did when I watched this movie. The complete and utter silence of everyone in that room made this one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had while in a theater. This movie uses natural sounds most of the time with not much-spoken dialogue. Because of this you truly get invested in the film and its intriguing as well. The movie isn’t about the monsters and going into this I had just thought this would be a film where the audience would just see the enemy tear humans to pieces. To say this was a surprise hit for me would be an understatement.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War, was easily my favorite movie experience in the last couple of years. In this film we see Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers battle their greatest foe yet, Thanos. The hunt for the infinity stones is on and with all of them, Thanos will be able to bring the universe to his knees. The fate of everything they hold dear depends on the Avengers stopping this powerful foe.

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This movie feels like the season finale of a tv show. There have been 19 movies leading up to this point and over the past decade, we have grown fondly of these characters. We feel their struggle and we want them to come out on top because we know them. If you tend to go to Marvel movies a lot you have seen all of these characters for hours and hours. It is my belief that this film is the best Marvel movie out there. With an amazing villain, engaging fight scenes, plenty of comedic moments, and just overall polish this film blows other superhero movies out of the water.

Conclusion

This year has seen some great films and I know I missed a lot of them. If you can’t tell I have a particular taste. I love comedies, action, and thrillers which do limit the kinds of movies I will see over the course of the year. I don’t normally watch horror movies, but when I did I saw A Quiet Place which became one of my favorite films this year. My list is probably very different from other reviewers, but I do implore you all to check out these films. At the end of the day leave your minds open to seeing movies you wouldn’t normally see that way you can have different experiences.