Leave it to Disney and Pixar. They have the stable of Marvel superheroes at their disposal and they approach “The Incredibles 2” not as a cash grab but a sincere look at the idea of superheroes in the modern era. Sure superheroes seem like a great idea in theory, but “The Incredibles 2” uses its concept as a means of exploring the world with superheroes and how it can have its definite upsides and crushing downsides. The first film had the concept of the idea of the meaning of being exceptional, our natural advantages, and how mediocrity has become the norm for society that only accepted stellar, once upon a time. “The Incredibles 2” takes it a bit further dissecting the need for heroes and whether self-reliance is the only thing we have in this world.
For the first time together on one DVD, Mill Creek assembles the “Merlin” film trilogy, which chronicles the epic beginnings and legacy of the iconic wizard who helped King Arthur in his battles against evil. “Merlin” is one of my all time favorite miniseries and appeared during a time where miniseries on basic network television was still a thing that was used to grab big ratings, and I fondly recall visiting this miniseries again and again. I enjoyed “Merlin” so much, in fact, that I bought the oversized black clamshell VHS from Blockbuster video back in late 1998 and watched it almost every weekend.
I didn’t think it was possible, but “Paddington 2” is just as good as the original “Paddington.” It doesn’t repeat the same beats from the original film, but expands on the world we engaged in when we first met the friendly bear. Director Paul King is back and could easily have suffered a sophomore slump with a sequel that was filled with redundancies and pandered to a more mainstream crowd, but thankfully “Paddington 2” stays true to itself, following the adventures of our good hearted bear as he attempts to spread love where ever he goes, and find the good in people.
I was never much of a big fan of the animated series or books featuring “Paddington” and it never quite crossed my path as a kid as much as Dr. Seuss or Curious George did. It’s a shame because “Paddington” is such a pure and wholesome hero whose good intentions always reward him time and time again. Too often do we see good intentions repaid with disaster, but in “Paddington” it’s refreshing to see a hero like Paddington attempt to do good and fall in to love, appreciation, and a bonafide family.
Joe Dante has always had this peculiar style that’s always helped his films stand out among everyone else’s. “The ‘Burbs” is another of his films that features the suburban unit being terrorized or working themselves up in to a stir. Dante loves to put his hands in to the perceived American norm and stir it up with some chaos and anarchy. It’s hard to believe that “The ‘Burbs” was originally a flop, as it’s managed to become one of the most highly appreciated cult classics of all time. In the face of the passing of the late great Carrie Fisher, if you’ve yet to see it, you definitely owe it to yourself to.
After the sheer duds that were “Jersey Boys,” and “Sully,” I was definitely ready for “The 15:17 to Paris” to be a riveting and emotional tale of true heroism in a dark world. The story of the Sacramento Hometown heroes is one of the great modern stories of heroism and courage in the face of sheer danger. And I could have thought of at least a dozen ways I would have loved to learn about this tale rather than a glorified television movie that’s pretty much a huge misstep in every direction. “The 15:17 to Paris” teeters back and forth between pure saccharine nonsense and baffling choices in filmmaking that kept me rolling my eyes and groaning throughout its run time.
The problem with prequels is that you already know what you’re getting, because you already know what’s going to happen to certain characters within the canon, so, “Solo” doesn’t pack much surprises. I will say though for arguably safe genre entertainment, it’s exciting and also delivers some well timed twists within its narrative. After the much ballyhooed problems during the making of the film, “Solo” ends up being a surprisingly competent popcorn movie that keeps a brisk pace, and channels the original tone of the episodes IV-VI better than the previous prequels/mid-quels (?).