Toy Story 4 Review: Four Installments in, Still Going Strong (Reposted).

4 and a half stars
I can honestly not think of a single film series where there have been four fantastic installments in a row, except Toy Story.
Before seeing the most recent of them, I, like many, was concerned about where the story would go.
Toy Story 3 felt like a perfect sendoff for the franchise so I was concerned that they were just doing another one for a cash grab.
I was wrong, however, because Toy Story 4 is another heart warming installment in the series with great character growth, animation and laughs.

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Toy Story 4 delivers a strong story with the best animation out of all the films by a wide margin.

Directed by Josh Cooley, the film follows Woody (Tom Hanks) who is still dealing with the departure of Andy in the previous film pretty heavily.
When his new kid, Bonnie, literally makes a toy out of a spork, which she names Forky (Tony Hale), Woody makes it his mission to protect him to ensure her happiness.
However, this becomes difficult when Forky is separated from them on a family trip and, upon looking for him, Woody is reunited with the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who has certainly changed a lot since Woody, and the audience, saw her.

Bo Peep
Woody and Bo Peep’s relationship is at the center of the story, being a key part to Woody’s character arc.

The two then work together to rescue Forky and bring him back to Bonnie, before she and her family leave them behind.
Accompanying this story is, once again, the animation and comedy, which are all spot on.
Animation continues to get better and better every year, and it looks especially stunning in Toy Story 4.
Along with this, the comedy is also fantastic with new characters Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), and Duke Caboom (Keeanu Reeves) being particular highlights.

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Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are hilarious as Ducky and Bunny, especially during the plush rush scene, which is more than the trailers make it out to be.

It is with the character development of Woody, though, that the film truly shines, with Woody having what is probably his best arc out of any of the films.
Many of the new characters have great arcs as well, including the film’s villain (if you can even call her that) Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).
However, this also ties into the one issue I have with the film.
This being that, even though Woody, Bo, and other characters’ arcs are fantastic, characters like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and many more of Woody’s friends feel a bit underdeveloped and underused.
Otherwise, Toy Story 4 is another great installment in the franchise, and it will be interesting to see if it continues or if this is the final one for real this time.

 

US Review: A Double Edged Explanation.

3 and a half stars
Jordan Peele is an interesting director.
He started out doing comedy so it was a huge surprise when he successfully transferred to horror in his first film Get Out, which was my second favourite film of 2017.
So, needless to say, I was very excited to see his next film Us, even more so when I heard the premise.
Us follows The Wilson family, consisting of Adelaide (Lupita Nyong-o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Johnson) and Jason (Evan Alex), as they go on a trip to Santa Cruz.
However, their fun is cut horrifically short when a family of doppelgangers invade their home, intent on killing them.
What follows is an intense battle for survival as the Wilson family fights their doppelgangers.
First of all, I will say that the performances in Us are all stellar.
Lupita Nyong-o steals the show both as Adelaide and her demented counterpart Red, in two very different performances.

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The two performances Nyong-o gives are both great, with Red being dementedly creepy, and Adelaide sympathetically human.

And it is not just her because every other actor does a great job as the real person and the doppelganger, pulling off relatable and creepy performances simultaneously.
Another great thing about Us is Jordan Peele’s direction, with him balancing horror and comedy very well.
I remember one scene where the audience and myself were horrified at what was happening on screen, only to laugh seconds later when an incredibly funny joke was made.
The balance is just that good.
I also loved the symbolism and foreshadowing in the film, which were some of my favourite things about Get Out and certainly continues here.
This symbolism and foreshadowing all builds up to the big explanation of the origins behind the doppelgangers, something I had been dying to know for the entire film.
Unfortunately, the explanation we get is a double edged sword.
On the one hand, it brilliantly cements Peele’s social commentary about American society, however, on the other, the explanation makes absolutely no sense.
I was very confused about the logistics of it all when I was sitting in the theater and came up with plot holes every minute while I was driving home.

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While the explanation for the doppelgangers in Us does drive home the great commentary, it raises a boat load of questions that hindered my experience.

Finally, there is the way the film ends, which is, in all honesty, very predictable.
Still, these may not be problems for everyone.
If you have a rather large suspension of disbelief you may be able to look past the plot holes of the explanation, and even if the ending is predictable it is still a good one.
It is just that these aspects kind of brought the film down for me.
Us is still a lot of fun though, and Jordan Peele continues to do a great job at creating commentary on American society with it.