‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ Film Review

Two years after Sonic the Hedgehog surprised and impressed audiences with its blend of character-accurate CG (which couldn’t have been possible without the cry of outraged fans who were unlucky enough to catch the first trailer back in 2019) and witty humor, we get a sequel that seems to promise more Sonic adventure with the addition of two classic characters, yet upon further viewing becomes much of the same in terms of comedy and hi-jinks. I was one of those people who was not as impressed with the first Sonic, as it felt more like a mid-2000’s kids movie based on a cartoon a la Alvin and the Chipmunks or Smurfs (The latter in 2011, but still). Not even the presence of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik was enough to save the experience. Cut to 2022, things seemed to have changed. Carrey sported a look more in line with the Dr. Robotnik we know and love, while the introduction of Miles “Tails” Prower and Knuckles the Echidna, and a plot involving chaos emeralds seemed to ensure a Sonic film worth seeing. While Sonic 2 improves on the adventure aspect, it seems held back by an attempt at being a family-comedy.

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‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Film Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - IMDb

Nearly 40 years after the first Ghostbusters premiered in theaters, a third movie in the franchise has finally arrived! It has been a long, rocky road to get to where we are now, with the project being in development hell for nearly two decades, matched with the casts’ hesitancy to return, along with the passing of Harold Ramis (who played Egon Spengler), it seemed that a third Ghostbusters would never get off the ground. The closest we have come was 2016’s female-led reboot which seemed to distance fans and divide critics. Now, a true sequel has come in the form of Ghostbusters: Afterlife! Afterlife is directed by Jason Reitman, who you may know as the director of films such as Juno, Up in the Air, and Jennifer’s Body. Yet what makes this special is that he is the son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, which makes it feel like a passing of the torch. Ivan seems to appreciate his father’s work enough to continue the legacy as he visited the set of the original 1984 film as a kid. The touch is noticeable, but what it comes down to is more of the same story, yet for a new generation of Ghostbusters fans.

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‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ Film Review

Grade: B

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Trailer And Poster | Nothing But Geek

Borat has returned to America in order to tackle politics, biased viewpoints, and *Shocker* the Coronavirus in the long awaited (but never expected) sequel to Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan , proudly titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (There is an even longer title, but I feel it would take up much of my writing time to even fit here). During the past fourteen years, a lot has changed. People are constantly keeping their noses in their phones, technology has expanded, and the world has gone crazier than it has ever been; especially with President Donald Trump running the show. Luckily, Borat is there to save the day and challenge the views of what may be the last of the unsuspecting American people, which almost makes you wonder if it is nothing more than a staged event.

Sacha Baron Cohen once said that he uses his brand of shock comedy to expose the prejudices of the American people and he does so with colorful characters; many we know to be offensive, yet cannot help but laugh with. Cohen strikes with ironic hypocrisy to get those who see him as nothing more than a simple foreign immigrant learning about the customs and traditions of the USA. In a way, Cohen is brilliant and his methods are respectable, though I cannot say that those who find themselves easily offended will appreciate the subtle commentary lying within a bigoted Kazakhstan news reporter with a skewed view on the world.

Where has Borat been for the past fourteen years? Well, let’s just say that he has suffered quite the punishment since his first movie made quite a splash back in 2006, bringing shame to his country of Kazakhstan (mirroring the real-life controversy surrounding the foreign country and its problems with how the movie depicted it). Everyone in town treats him as a pariah and he has been doing heavy labor in the Gulag. One day, he gets tasked by the Prime Minister Nursultan Nazarbayev (Dani Popescu) to return to America to deliver a monkey to Vice President Mike Pence in order to redeem himself (Trust me, it is as ridiculous as it sounds).

Gladly, Borat accepts and travels once again to America to complete his mission. Yet, he is not alone, as his fifteen-year-old daughter Tutar Sagdiyev (Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova) has unwittingly hitched a ride in order to spend time with her estranged father. What follows is a series of events where Cohen and Bakalova prank unsuspecting citizens, including the likes of Pence and Rudy Giuliani, in character while also learning about the value of family.

While Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is as shocking and unapologetic as you expect, the sequel surprisingly has heart to go along with its many raunchy setups and punchlines. It is a story about a father and daughter trying to understand each other. Cohen and Bakalova make quite the team and work quite well together as they bicker in each other’s respective languages disguised as casual Kazakh while also shocking everyone, with an ending that is equally parts shocking, brilliantly hilarious, and touching.

I cannot guarantee that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a laugh riot all the way through depending on how well you can tolerate its most shocking jokes, but for me, it was a pleasant ride I enjoyed taking. It is a movie fit for the crazy times we are living in, especially since it is a movie I never thought would be made in such a politically-correct world.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Film Review

Grade: C+

Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Keri Russell, Oscar Isaac, Jimmy Vee, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Daisy Ridley, and Naomi Ackie in Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Three decades. Nine movies (not counting the anthology films). One epic franchise. We have finally reached the end of what has been called “The Skywalker Saga”. With its popularity, there is no doubt that more characters and worlds will be explored in the form of shows and spin-offs (There is reportedly a Kylo Ren prequel series in the works, but with so much news, how can you trust the internet anymore?), yet somehow, this truly feels like the end of a much-beloved franchise. As perfect as it seems, the journey, however, can be a long and winding road filled with so many paths and choices that, as you go, you start to wonder if you have taken the right turn.

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‘Frozen II’ Film Review

Grade: C+

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff in Frozen II (2019)

Even after six years, “Frozen Fever” has never really died down. Just like a snowstorm from Elsa’s ice powers, a sequel to Disney’s gargantuan hit was inevitable. You would think that another feature would be dished out as soon as the iron struck hot (or in this case, cold), yet being Disney, time has to be taken to improve a craft to make sure that their newest moneymaker is better. In a way, it shows here. Not only does the animation look gorgeous and lifelike, the adventure seems to be more treacherous and the stakes are higher. Sadly, that is all I can say about this attempt to make snow fall twice.

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‘Toy Story 4’ Film Review

Grade: A

Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, Keegan-Michael Key, Ally Maki, and Jordan Peele in Toy Story 4 (2019)

You would think that ‘Toy Story 4’ was nothing more than a pointless cash grab, but in the case of this continuation of a sweet conclusion to a trilogy, you would be surprised. ‘Toy Story’ is Pixar’s most beloved and meaningful of its properties. Not only did it put Pixar on the map and pave the way for computer animation to be the new norm, it also manages to appeal to both children and adults. Just the name “Toy Story” alone is enough to bring joy into the hearts of those who hear it being mentioned. To ruin such a beloved trilogy for the sake of money and merchandising is basically a crime against humanity. Thankfully, ‘Toy Story 4’ still has enough heart to keep the franchise alive.

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‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ Film Review

Grade: A

Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Tiffany Haddish, and Stephanie Beatriz in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

Five years after ‘The Lego Movie’ became a cultural phenomenon, ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ manages to show us that everything is still awesome, though not quite, since everything has literally become an apocalyptic wasteland, straight from a ‘Mad Max’ movie, but in terms of entertainment, it can be fun. ‘The Second Part’ picks up immediately after the first ‘Lego Movie’ left off, where Emmett (Voice of Chris Pratt) and his friends find their world invaded by Duplo bricks. Of course, if anyone can remember, the events of ‘The Lego Movie’ were revealed to be conjured up in the head of a young boy named Finn (Jadon Sand, who reprises his role), who was playing with his busy dad’s Lego bricks. While that film had an ambiguity on whether the world of Lego was real or just a metaphor about family bonding, ‘The Second Part’ proves to be nothing more than a story about sibling rivalry and growing up.

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‘Glass’ Film Review

Grade: C+

Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, and James McAvoy in Glass (2019)

M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy is complete with ‘Glass’; a sequel/crossover that combines elements of ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’. When audiences first saw ‘Split’ back in January of 2017, they were shocked to learn that *SPOILER ALERT* it was a secret sequel to ‘Unbreakable’ with a cameo by Bruce Willis’ David Dunn showing up at the end. *SPOILER END* Who knew that Shyamalan was planning this universe all along? With the rise of extended film universes, such as Marvel and DC making bank, it seems plausible for this once acclaimed director to follow suit.

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‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Film Review

Grade: A

Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

“Supercalifragilistexpialidocious”, “Practically perfect in every way”, “Wonderful”. All these words could be used to describe the character of Mary Poppins as well as her feature debut back in 1964 (She used to be a character in P. L. Travers’ series of books). Her return in this sequel is just as glorious and spectacular. Though, this time, Emily Blunt dons the uniform that Julie Andrews wore, as well as that chipper English delivery she won the Academy Award for. While time will tell if ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ gets nominated for a majority of Oscars, as far as I am concerned, I enjoyed this movie and will call it “delightful”.

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‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’ Film Review

Grade: B-

Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James, Genndy Tartakovsky, Keegan-Michael Key, Selena Gomez, and Andy Samberg in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)

At this point, you would expect Genndy Tartakovsky’s ‘Hotel Transylvania’ series to overstay its welcome (I mean, a cruise ship? What else can these films do to keep families in seats?). Thankfully, ‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’ is filled to the brim with fast-paced Looney-Tunes-style animation, and an enjoyment factor that makes a vast improvement over its predecessors, and shows us that this series can be fun, even if the comedic cast is not enough!

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