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The "Equalizer 2" doesn't stray far from the formula established is Fuqua and Denzel's first foray, and as such there is entertainingly familiar fun to be found. But the routine is also frustrating considering "The Equalizer 2" does little to elevate itself above what we saw in the first. Solid filmmaking and central performance still apply, but the side characters and central villain are more predictable and less memorable. A competent and harmless disappointment, and the sort of sequel Netflix was made for.
Completely charming, wonderous, lovingly crafted, and even progressive in the way it tackles dark, violent subject matter seriously as a backdrop to what are more traditional super heroics. Gal Gadot is an absolute revelation and Chris Pine delivers in a surprisingly satisfying and pivotal role. "Wonder Woman" pretty much has it all. It's a shining light in the crowd of an over saturated superhero-obsessed movie market. It at the very least deserves a spot in any conversation regarding the best superhero stories yet captured on film.
Sofia Coppola reworks "The Beguiled" into a densely atmospheric slow-burn; a Southern-Gothic mood piece of expertly ratcheted tension and an absolutely wondrous, ominous sense of place. The technical side of this film is brilliant and is among Coppola's most accomplished works to date. Equally accomplished is the performances which are uniformly excellent. Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst shine alongside a wealth of young performers delivering work well beyond their years. I appreciate how well "The Beguiled" functions as a sort of multifaceted entertainment. I think it fully succeeds as a surface-level yarn (albeit one with an ending that can be met with mutters of "what was the point," which is exactly what happened at my screening) but can also be viewed and interpreted in a myriad ways. Whether you absorb Coppola's film as a feminist allegory, anti-feminist allegory, or any other, it never feels condescending or comes off as anything less than authentic. "The Beguiled" is one of the best films of the year.
How is it possible that the sequel to Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" could wind up being an even more debated, divisive, and controversial entry in the inherently unpredictable "Alien" franchise? "Alien: Covenant" is that film, doubling as a true sequel to the cerebral "Prometheus" and the close quarters action-terror of "Alien." But wait, this is Ridley Scott we are dealing with here! If you thought this was going to be a retread or the sequel you expected... guess again. I found just about all of it exciting, well made, and (as a huge Alien fan) a welcome bridge to the past. No, it's not in the same league as either Scott's or Cameron's original two films, and I do think "Prometheus" is superior, but "Alien:Covenant" is exactly the left field "anti-fan service" that any long-running franchise should welcome. It's not flawless, but it worked for me. Like it's precursor it's destined to be discussed and dissected for years to come. Pick a side.