Saturday, August 14, 2021

Bill and Ted Face the Music

 

RATING: C

It would be pretty easy to accuse this movie of being a tired cash-grab attempting to bank on viewers' nostalgia for a franchise long dormant (specifically, *three decades* dormant). In all fairness, though, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter *wanted* this movie to happen. Though the resurgence of Keanu's popularity since John Wick took off probably did make it a lot easier to sell this idea to a distributor (hence why we are also getting a Matrix 4... sigh). 

The problem with going this long in between sequels is that, naturally, your main actors will have aged. And it's admittedly a bit hard to imagine Keanu returning to his unusually silly role from his youth with Alex Winter in their mid-50's going "Whoa!" and doing air guitar. Fortunately, that does turn out to be the least of this movie's problems; surprisingly, they are able to still make their performances believable as the two crazy rockers while still acting like they have aged. 

The first problem with this movie is that it sort of retcons the ending of Bogus Journey (the second movie from 1991). At the end of that movie, it appeared they were very much on their way to fulfilling their destiny, to the point where they were performing *on Mars.* But now... according to this movie... they crashed and burned not long after that, and in fact still haven't fulfilled their destiny or written "the song" that will change everything and unite the world or whatever. Their careers are virtually toast and their marriages are on rocky ground. Oh, and apparently time and space are starting to collapse and the song needs to be written. 

Frankly, though, one probably doesn't go to a Bill and Ted movie for a plot. The last two movies at times made about as much sense as Monty Python. With that in mind, I would've just as easily accepted a third movie where some evil villain messed with time to erase Bill and Ted's accomplishments and they had to fix everything by going on another excellent or bogus venture. 

And that leads to the next problem with this movie: it feels more serious than its predecessors, and that's not necessarily a good thing. This franchise has been at its best when they've given zero hoots and just done whatever they wanted because it's funny. I would not say that sort of thing often, but even though those previous movies didn't make much sense, it was clear they were not supposed to--and they were so fully invested in the zaniness that it was not a problem. And because of this movie taking itself a little more seriously, this makes the time-travel parts that don't make much more sense more problematic. 

Then there is also the ending to contend with. Given that these movies have always have had happy endings, it's not really a spoiler to say that Bill and Ted emerge victorious in the end. But for an ending that would appear to definitively "fulfill their destiny" (since now we're saying the end of Bogus Journey did not do that), it is not the ending that you might expect. On one hand, the resolution appears to at least partially contradict the destinies of Bill and Ted that had been established in previous movies--which is a bit maddening. On the other hand, it does lean on a more on-the-nose interpretation of the metaphor of music being a uniting force that brings us together. This isn't a bad thing by any means, but the issue is the fact that it does not seem to fully jive with what had been built up in the past. 

What does still work about this movie? To start with, the two leads' performances. Yeah, it's been 30 years, but Winter and Reeves are clearly enjoying themselves. Winter in particular does a good job of picking up where he left off. And they get to be more creative with their performances when, as in previous movies, they meet future versions of themselves--and this time, thanks in part to improved CGI, the writers were able to be more creative with the possibilities to often amusing effect. There may be less constant humor in this movie than previous ones, but there are still some funny moments (though there's nothing as funny here as the Iron Maiden joke or Death having to say "You sunk my battleship"). 

Also of note is the addition of Bill and Ted's daughters, Billie and Thea (Bill and Ted named them after the other's friend, respectively--so Billie is Ted's daughter, Thea is Bill's daughter). They're both basically what one would hope for from the offspring of Bill and Ted, and they are welcome additions here. Both actresses--but Brigette Lundy-Paine in particular--do a good job of portraying them.

Face the Music is not without positives, but on the all it's not the (presumed) concluding chapter to this series that it could have been. Despite the best efforts of Reeves and Winter, this one is just not quite able to replicate the spirit of its predecessors. More die-hard fans who want to see these two say "whoa" or "excellent" or "be excellent to each other" one last time will probably want to check it out, but expectations should be a little tempered. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II

 

RATING: B

A Quiet Place "Part I" was quite arguably the best thing to happen to the horror genre in a very long time. Perhaps it helped that it wasn't purely a horror movie (there was some sci-fi/thriller crossover), but it was nothing like the gore-fests or supernatural terror stuff that litters the genre these days, which is why I almost never watch or review anything in this genre. But it also stood out for its simplicity and focusing on the one family and their life/dynamics in a terrifying world where sound equals death. Quite simply, A Quiet Place was an anomaly--in more ways than one, which made it stand out. 

Perhaps that's the first problem with the follow-up--as viewers of the first one will know (and if you haven't watched, then why are you reading the review for the second one?), John Krasinski's paternal character is gone now (though he does appear in an opening flashback). That leaves us with Evelyn, the two teen children, and the newborn. As meaningful as Lee's exit was, having the Abbott family missing one of the parents does take away something from the sequel, especially given how good Krasinski's and Emily Blunt's chemistry as a married couple was (given that they are married in real life). 

Still, it's hard to not be curious about what happens next--especially now that they found a weakness for the aliens. The answer is that it's time to venture out into the world--or what's left of it--and find other survivors. Unfortunately, the problem is that unlike our main characters, it seems that most of who's left has not held onto their humanity as well in the time of crisis. The first person they meet--an old friend from before the apocalypse--says that "the people that are left, they're not worth saving." However, it helps that they are at least now armed with a way to fight back against the aliens--thanks to the deaf Regan and her ear implants, and she seeks to find a way to help more using said method. 

The first movie leaned on the family dynamics to drive itself and the story, not unlike how The Incredibles did it for superhero movies. This one more becomes Regan's movie, as she chooses to go on her own quest to try to do some damage to the aliens. This both is a positive and a negative--while Regan and how she lives with deafness is still one of the more interesting things about these movies (helped by the fact that Millicent Simmonds is deaf in real life), separating her from the rest of the family doesn't feel like the best move--and this certainly does not benefit Evelyn or Marcus, who are basically relegated to "B" plot (and frankly, Marcus does not fare well for most of this one). On the other hand, I can't argue too much with how the main plotline with Regan plays out, which does work out just fine. 

The result of all this is a movie that does not quite hold up to its absurdly unique predecessor, but is still a worthy follow-up that expands the universe--and director Krasinski's knack for subtlety definitely works well in this regard. Also of note is that the movie does not really weaken the monsters beyond the weakness discovered at the end of the first movie, which some monster/alien sequels have made the mistake of doing.  

Besides Simmonds--who is a big part of what carries this movie--Cillian Murphy is the main other actor who stands out here, playing a rugged survivor who becomes entangled with the Abbott family. Given that we scarcely even saw other humans in the first movie, it is intriguing to see the movie's world through the perspective of another character. His performance and character arc is another big part of what makes Part II work.

While Part II might be missing part of what made Part I a standout, it still shouldn't disappoint viewers who are wanting to see what happens next. This one has its own spin that does help distinguish it well enough, even if not so distinctly. Like Part I, this one ends a bit abruptly, leaving one to wonder what direction Part III is going to go in. But as long as Krasinski remains at the director's helm, it's hard to see things going too wrong. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Love and Monsters

RATING: A-

Here's yet another movie that got heavily victimized by the pandemic in 2020. After things went crazy, Paramount just gave up on this one and sent it to video on demand (and about a meager 400 theaters)--without much regard for promotion, even. It probably would've gone by with few having heard of it except for the fact that reviews were quite positive, which helped draw some attention to it. And ultimately, the critic and audience hype is to be believed--this is a movie that deserved much, much better than to get sent to a fate like VOD. 

This is a unique mash of genres--post-apocalyptic adventure mixed with a coming-of-age story (plus a dash of comedy--dark comedy, even--and romance). The former we've seen quite a lot of in the past decade; the latter has faded in recent years. Oh, and by the way, it's an original story with no source material--that's another trope we don't see much of anymore. 

In this version of the apocalypse, instead of nuclear war or an asteroid or aliens... it's bugs and small creatures of our own Earth growing to giant size and mutating, which then lay waste to the planet and drive the remaining humans underground to survive. The opening which explains this in about two or three minutes treats the whole thing with a certain dark lighthearted tone at times, setting the stage for the kind of semi-quirky adventure this will be. Joel (Dylan O'Brien), our restless protagonist, decides to leave his "colony" to go and find his former girlfriend Aimee's (Jessica Henwick) colony. Only 85 miles away. No big deal, right?

This kind of is a big deal, actually, when creatures like giant ants, centipedes, and other crazy mutations await. There's a reason people don't go to the surface anymore except for gathering supplies and what not. Doesn't help matters that Joel is kind of useless in combat mostly due to a "freezing up" issue. But he'll get some help (in the form of a dog, Michael Rooker, and a little girl who's with Rooker's character), and there will be plenty of adventures along the way. 

The premise is interesting enough in of itself, but the movie more than lives up to it. Let's start with the creatures, because they're a big part of the attraction. The giant bugs/monsters are wonderfully designed--quite well-detailed, and don't even rely heavily on CGI (another unusual thing these days, for all of CGI's benefits). There's even occasionally a level of personality to them, and how well crafted they are is a big part of what makes this work. 

Another big part of it, though, is Dylan O'Brien carrying the movie--especially since he spends about a third of the length talking either to himself, a dog, or something else non-human. A lot of the performance is played as dry/deadpan humor, but he sells almost every part of his performance even when it requires more subtlety. Props to Henwick and Rooker too (and the newcomer Ariana Greenblatt does well too), but O'Brien stands out the most. If you weren't sold on him after the Maze Runner trilogy, you should be by now. 

This movie has some other pleasant surprises up its sleeve as well--whether it's making the normal dog just as much of a character as the human ones, making a scene involving a robot the most emotionally impactful, or not relying on heavy spectacle for its climactic sequence while still being effectively exciting--not to mention the more realistic addressing of how Joel's continued crush ultimately plays out. 

Love and Monsters does a *lot* of things right--meshes its genres/tropes together seamlessly, creates well-crafted "monsters," and has a genuinely interesting plot and characters. The movie's also well-paced with scarcely a moment of boredom, and ultimately gives a satisfying (if somewhat bittersweet) conclusion. As far as adventure movies go, it's probably both the best of the past year and the most original/able to stand out in a crowded genre. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon

RATING: B-

For a little over a decade, Disney animated features have generally been able to split into two camps. There's the ones starring a Disney Princess that, while they can certainly appeal to anybody and do, are generally marketed toward younger girls (regardless of whether that's actually an accurate reflection of the movie or not). Examples include Tangled and both Frozen movies. Then there's the more adventure-oriented ones, like Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph, or Zootopia--features that could be mistaken for Pixar work, and where the opposite of the previously mentioned target audience trope may apply. 

Raya and the Last Dragon is the rare Disney feature (at least these days) that attempts to split the difference and market itself to both camps. It's more oriented in the realm of fantasy/adventure, but it also has a heroine for a protagonist--who's technically a princess, but that word is never really said out loud and she hasn't been included in the "Princess" marketing lineups. She's more of a warrior type anyway. The result of all this is basically what you'd get if you crossed Mulan and Avatar: The Last Airbender together. 

Raya and the Last Dragon has an interesting enough setting and backdrop. Basically, the people of this fantasy version of Asia used to live together alongside dragons (not the angry fire-breathing kind--in fact, these almost look more Luck Dragons from the Neverending Story, minus the dog ears). Unfortunately, the world is also under attack by a force called the Druun which turns people *and* dragons to stone. The last living dragon banished them with the help of a magic gem, but vanished and the rest of the dragons never returned. And now the world is divided in a power struggle for the gem--and eventually the Druun return (for semi-spoilerific reasons), forcing Raya to try and find the mythical "Last Dragon" in hopes of saving the world. 

It's less complicated than it might sound. In fact, this movie actually does a pretty good job of world-building in a relatively short amount of time. The problems don't lie in the movie's setting or plot, even if the latter is a tad derivative at times. Nor does it lie in the protagonist, who is an effectively likable character but also driven cynical and world-weary by the divisions. The problems lie elsewhere. 

Let's start with the movie's message, which is not very subtle. It's a very unity-based one, which leans heavily on the concept of trusting in order to get there. While this is not bad in of itself and even arguably quite timely, the problem is in the execution. The movie--and Sisu, the "Last Dragon"--tell us these things about trust often, but the movie also gives us plenty of reasons to do the opposite. By the time we get to the final act and the inevitable eventually occurs, it does not feel earned. 

Then there's the issue of the Druun. They're the real enemy here, but what are they? As we see them, they're basically giant dark purple clouds. The movie doesn't seem very interested in explaining properly what they are or their origins. Are they an evil force? Something created by mankind? Or are they just a literal metaphor? Sisu gives a brief monologue at some point, and the best we get is that they're "the opposite of dragons," which in this universe, are positively benevolent. While the effects of the Druun are effectively enough to set some tension, it's hard to "love to hate" a villainous force when it's basically just menacing clouds that you're not even really sure what they are. 

Finally, there's Sisu, the Last Dragon. For a mythical creature that's supposed to save everyone, she's a bit underwhelming--coming off as more goofy and awkward at times. This is done deliberately, but why? The movie can't decide whether to portray her as an awe-inspiring force of good, or simple comic relief--two things Disney normally doesn't have problems separating properly. This allows Sisu to play into the movie's quite anachronistic modern late-2010's banter, which is funny at times but also a little overdone. ("Bling is my thing," for example, is something that is actually said in this movie.) 

Despite these various issues, it's not like there's nothing to be enjoyed here. As mentioned earlier, the backdrop and story are interesting enough. There's also some exciting melee combat sequences, as well as some martial arts. The animation is also quite astounding, bringing the environments to life beautifully. The side characters that join Raya on her quest are memorable as well. The movie certainly isn't boring either. 

Raya and the Last Dragon is a flawed but ultimately still enjoyable feature from Disney. Nothing to necessarily write home about, but hardly a waste of time either. Whatever the issues, there's enough of a sense of adventure and fun here as well as enough likable characters that it still makes for an entertaining time. Just don't go into it expecting a classic. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Greenland

 

RATING: B-

Disaster films do not exactly have a good rep these days. They started gaining notoriety for being mostly spectacle-filled, effects-heavy pieces with very little substance and often flat out terrible writing. Roland Emmerich didn't do much to help this case between The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, which are kind of poster cases for this issue. In particular since the latter film, the genre's popularity seems to have tanked. Such films can be mildly enjoyable sometimes, but there's almost always nothing to them beyond popcorn entertainment--and it's a grimmer sort. 

Greenland at least takes a different route than most of its peers--it is in fact less about the spectacle and more about the human element. While there are scenes of destruction, they don't take up the majority of the movie and they often happen so fast there's not much time for action. And we generally only see it from the main characters' perspectives--and unlike some of the other movies in this genre, the destruction doesn't follow them wherever they go, so a lot of what we see is limited to news reports. 

Greenland's big disaster event is a comet breaking up into chunks in the atmosphere which then turn into meteors--which cause enough devastation by themselves, but there's one on the way which will cause an extinction level event. Fortunately, the world governments are somewhat prepared (because of course they are)--and as a result, there is still a way out for part of the population. Cue Gerard Butler's character and his family trying to get to safety before civilization as we know it is quite literally wiped out. 

This is a rather grim movie--not just because of the disaster in it, but because it also makes a point of showing how humans would react in such times. In that respect, it actually is fairly realistic; while there are some number of good people doing the best they can, there's also a number of people who will do whatever they can to survive. In that sense, it's comparable to Steven Spielberg's version of War of the Worlds, although it arguably takes things even further. 

Perhaps the biggest problem with this approach of focusing more firmly on the disaster from the perspective of the protagonists is you have to have a good leading cast for that. Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning were parts of what helped War of the Worlds work in that regard. Gerard Butler, while not a bad actor, isn't able to do the same and carry the movie here. Morena Baccarin fares better as the wife of the main family, but aside from Roy from The Office and Scott Glenn (both in smaller roles, though Glenn fares pretty well), there's no one else you've probably heard of in this movie. And while the characters themselves do grow on you over time, they don't really grab you from the start. (It doesn't help matters that in this case the movie *does* make use of disaster cliches with its main characters--estranged parents, child with a health condition.) The film and its characters get better later, but there is also a bit of time-wasting in the first half involving a quite idiotic kidnapping. 

Besides the 2005 War of the Worlds comparisons, this could also be called a more competent version of 2012--also about an apocalyptic event, but with better writing, more realistic and less over-the-top, and less annoying characters (and less characters in general). Some aspects of this film--such as the occasionally bumpy first half and the abrupt ending--hold it back a little bit, but it's still a step above a lot of the films in this genre from the past two decades. 

Greenland isn't necessarily anything to write home about, but it's better than might be expected because of its showcasing of how humans would react with an incoming extinction level event. To a degree, the movie almost feels like it's more about that than the Garrity family that we spend most of the time with. The uglier side of that human nature seen here and the very nature of the unstoppable apocalyptic event on the way might make this movie rather too bleak and grim for some. But if you've watched some of the bigger disaster releases from recent years and wished they would be better, this one might pleasantly surprise you a little with its more consistently serious take on a movie disaster. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Soul

 


RATING: A

Soul is Pixar's newest and was also one of multiple unfortunate movie victims of the pandemic. Coming at a point when Disney was desperately throwing stuff at the wall trying to figure out how they could still make bank on their movies during a time like this (spoiler: they couldn't), one such result was Soul becoming a "straight-to-streaming" feature--which, much like "direct-to-video" before it, isn't usually a good thing (though perhaps not to the same extent). 

Soul also is Pete Docter's newest turn at the director chair, who has been considered one of Pixar's best. And... well, he did give us Monsters Inc and Up, both classics. Most would say the same about his most recent feature prior to this, Inside Out, though I am in the vast dissenting minority. There were more issues with that movie than most would care to admit, but part of it was limiting human emotion to five distinct ones and not much else--and the film not really reaching the heights of its ambitions. 

With all of that said, Inside Out was still very creative--considering that Docter was trying to essentially anthropomorphize abstract concepts at that point. He sticks to that formula for Soul, which takes things some steps further and asks: where do personalities come from? What "sparks" our souls? And some of that may actually sound a little similar to Inside Out (or at least the former question, anyway), and it's certainly not impossible that Docter is working with some concepts here he first came up with during the making of Inside Out. But this is a whole different beast in general. Instead of going into people's minds, we go to a whole different plane of existence where personalities and "souls" are created--or at least, the parts of their soul that make them who they are. (No explanation on where the souls come from *before* they enter this personality-creating plane of existence--also, despite dealing with things like the afterlife and souls, there's scarcely a hint of spirituality of any sort here.) 

This place is where jazz musician Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) ends up when he accidentally falls into a manhole, which seemingly kills him--and instead of going to the afterlife (here only called "The Great Beyond"), he ends up fighting his way into the "Great Before," the plane of existence where the personalities are created. Quite simply, Joe doesn't want to die yet--he's got a certain driven mentality beyond the usual. His adventure to try to reunite himself with his body leads him to cross paths with "22" (Tina Fey), a soul manifestation that, unlike most others, doesn't actually want to go to Earth. 

What follows is probably Pixar's most existentialist movie ever--not just because it asks questions about things like purpose or what makes life worth living, but because it goes to some different planes of existence--at least one of which is quite literally an abstract everyday metaphor made into a visible reality. There's even a scene where one of the caretakers of the "Great Before"--which appears to us as a 2-D presence made up of traced lines--tells Joe that it is manifesting itself in a form that "your puny human mind can understand." 

Delving into such topics and going to such places could've pretty easily turned out disastrous--in fact, it could've even come off as one of those movies where you ask what kind of drugs they were on. The result instead ranks among Pixar's most creative features ever, and arguably one of their more profound ones. Without giving too much away, the "moral takeaways" of this film are not too dissimilar to the likes of Cars or Monsters University. 

While perhaps there are certain things about this movie that are a little oversimplified, the movie does such a good job with the marks they're going for that it can be overlooked. Even if there's a thing or two I wished they'd touched on more or given a little more closure, the film ultimately reaches a satisfying conclusion all its own. 

There's plenty of other good qualities here. The film is quite hilarious, with some borderline meta humor at times or poking fun at real life figures or stereotypes (example: why the New York Knicks actually suck). The voice acting is also strong--Jamie Foxx is quite excellent here as he brings both the emotion and comic relief when needed. Also of note is the soundtrack, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails, of all people--their more ethereal, very slightly techno-ish feel at times is often the completely correct vibe for the scenes in the different dimensions/planes of existence. (Jazz fans will probably be pleased as well, I assume--though jazz is not really my thing, so I'm not very qualified to say.) 

There are some things about this movie that are admittedly hard to explain without seeing the movie itself (or at least a trailer). Suffice it to say that it may just be best to take this reviewer's word for it--as well as all the other critics and fans who have showered praise upon this movie--and give it a go. Also suffice to say that while this obviously isn't the movie's fault, it deserved better than being "straight to streaming." This may not be saying much since most movies were postponed last year, but it's hard for me to see much else topping this for being the best film of 2020. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong

 

RATING: B

The MonsterVerse is up to its fourth movie now, and this is the one they've been trying to build toward--an opportunity for Godzilla and King Kong to be in the same movie together, and punch each other in the face. 

On its face, that premise may sound a little preposterous. Since when would King Kong even be big enough to go toe-to-toe with the massive Godzilla, for starters? To be fair, there actually was a "King Kong vs. Godzilla" movie made back in the days of the original Japanese Godzilla movies (back when it was just dudes in rubber suits), so there is at least a precedent. And they did set themselves up for a bigger Kong to begin with--he was definitely larger in Kong: Skull Island than usual, and they said he was "still growing" in that one. So, at least in this universe, this is plausible. 

Anyway, if the idea of these two juggernaut monsters fighting each other doesn't particularly appeal, you're not going to have a very fun time here--because that basically is the premise, and not a whole lot else. Of course, one frankly shouldn't have been expecting much of anything highbrow from this sort of movie anyway. 

What sets up the big fight is Godzilla suddenly going rogue and attacking a city--for the first time in the series. While some realize there must be a reason as Godzilla only attacks when provoked, others wish to simply come up with a way to fight back. The result is Kong getting released from Skull Island--and Godzilla immediately seeks him out, because apparently this world isn't big enough for two apex predators/titans. Turns out there's more going on here, though, as there's a conspiracy going on involving a mega-corp to wipe out the titans for good. Because this world also isn't big enough for humans and titans! Which, in real life, would actually be kind of true--but in this universe, they've established that it actually is big enough (somehow). 

This movie does indeed deliver on the premise, and then gives us more as well. Much like Batman vs Superman before it (except this is a lot better) and other such movies/events, once the two main characters duke it out a little bit, they then have to team up to fight an even bigger threat--which some already knew who that was, thanks to leaks. But let's just say that, for multiple reasons, this movie ends up going into more sci-fi territory compared to its predecessors than one might have otherwise expected. 

One big plus about this movie is that it knows exactly what kind of movie it is and doesn't try too hard to be anything else. One of the primary criticisms of previous movies has been underwhelming and uninteresting human characters--presumably in an attempt to make the movies more than just monster movies. The problem was, they tried a little too hard. The 2014 Godzilla movie actually sort of worked in that regard somehow, while King of the Monsters tried to do a balancing act between the awesome monster fights and the human backdrop that causes the plot--with quite shaky results. Here, the humans are not as important to the storyline--and while most of them still aren't particularly interesting, the movie is ironically a little better off for it, as it's not pretending to be something it's not. The movie knows what we're here for. 

And that's another thing--there's some improvements on the monster fights too. Another criticism of previous movies was the fact that most of them took place at nighttime. Not really the case here--only one fight *starts out* at nighttime, and it's still lit up by the neon Hong Kong skyline (yes, Hong Kong is the main city that gets laid to waste by the fighting monsters here). Otherwise, most of our other fights or general monster action takes place in daytime, and this definitely helps with the quite awesome battle scenes. These improvements alone might be enough to make it the best movie in the series so far, though it's close. 

Other pluses in the movie include a good soundtrack by Junkie XL, and among the human characters, the little girl Jia stands out due to her connection with Kong. Also, Rebecca Hall at least seems like she's enjoying herself. (Yes, Eleven's actress returns in this movie, but she feels oddly tacked on here.) Also, the visuals in this movie are superb; in particular, the Hollow Earth that's been briefly alluded to in passing in previous movies (it's okay if you forgot about it) is visited, and the scenery there is astounding. 

Godzilla vs Kong is a surprising success for the MonsterVerse--it delivers on what you should expect and gives some bonuses too, and isn't dragged down too much by the humans (save for the subplot involving Eleven and the conspiracy theorist hacker). Credit to Adam Wingard for making the kind of popcorn action movie that we all wanted, without dumbing things down much or dramatizing too much of things we don't care about. It's not exactly an intelligent movie, but it's hardly brain-dead either and is quite a bit of fun. Fans of the franchise, monster/kaiju movies, or just fun escapist popcorn action movies in general will want to check this out.