Dune Review: A Cinematic Epic. One Which Has to be Experienced in Theaters.

For quite a few years, friends were telling me that I should read Frank Herbert’s Dune, calling it one of the best science fiction stories of all time, and one that inspired generations of stories from that genre, like Star Wars, for instance.
However, for whatever reason, I did not take my friends’ advice and read Dune.
Then, I saw the trailers for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation of the novel.
These trailers blew me away and Villeneuve is one of my favourite directors working today, so, knowing how dedicated he was to making Dune, I finally sat down and read the book.
I could not put it down.
The novel enthralled me from start to finish and, ever since finishing, it I have been eagerly anticipating the film’s release to theaters, and was finally able to see it yesterday.
Did it disappoint?
Absolutely not.
Dune is not just an incredible adaptation but I already think it’s one of the best movies I have ever seen, even though I only first saw it yesterday.

Dune is a masterful, cinematic experience.

The film tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a young noble born to Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson).
Duke Leto is the ruler of the planet Caladan, however, the Pardishah Emperor mysteriously decides to order the Atreides family to take stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, the only planet in the universe where the substance known as Spice can be found.
Spice not only has various benefits to the user but is also the reason interstellar travel is possible, so it is the most valuable resource in the universe.
You would think this would put the Atreides in an excellent position but, in taking over Spice production on Arrakis, they are taking over the position of the previous rulers of Arrakis, their rival family of the Harkonnens, lead by the cruel Baron Vladamir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård).
With the threat of the Harkonnens and even the Emperor’s displeasure hanging over their heads, the Atreides seek an alliance with the native Fremen, among them Stilgar (Javier Bardem).
However, at the same time as this is happening, Paul is having strange dreams, many of which feature a woman named Chani (Zendaya), and these dreams may point to a brutal future for not just Paul’s future but also the future of the entire universe.

Paul’s dreams hold a lot of meaning to them.

Yes, this is the story’s basic opening hook and it is a lot to take in.
Thankfully, Villeneuve presents this information to the viewer perfectly, with only a few things being left out, like the explanation of Mentat powers.
Helping this presentation of information is the incredible acting, cinematography and score.
Speaking of the acting, every single member of the cast brings their A-game, whether their roles in the story are small or major.
I already spoke of most of the characters, but two who I especially enjoyed are Paul’s mentors Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa).
In fact, I would say that I actually liked the movie’s interpretation of Duncan more than the first novel.
The movie shows the friendship between him and Paul a lot better, making later scenes where the two share screen time a lot more impactful.

Rewatching the trailers after finishing the book got me excited for more Paul and Duncan interactions, and the movie did not disappoint.

As for the cinematography, it is absolutely beautiful and Greg Fraser did an amazing job.
I had a massive grin on my face almost the entire way through the film because of how gorgeous almost every single shot looked.
What made this grin even wider was Han Zimmer’s brilliant score, his best one to date, in my opinion. 

The cinematography and score often combined to create stunning scenes, like this shot of the villanous Baron Harkonnen.

Pair this excellent acting, cinematography and score with Villeneuve’s direction, and you have a masterful adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel that needs to be seen in theaters. 
Seriously, I am so glad I decided to watch this for the first time at the movies instead of on HBO Max.
It just provides an experience for this film that cannot possibly be matched on the smaller screen.
I just wish that the studios had realised what they had and agreed with Villeneuve’s wish to film the sequel at the same time, so both parts could be released closer together.
Well, at least we are getting a sequel, with hopefully more on the way, since I have also read the sequel novel Dune: Messiah and loved that as well.
I cannot wait to read the rest of Dune novels now that I have finally finished The Wheel of Time books, and it would be great to see those get future adaptations as well, given how excellent Villeneuve’s Dune was.
In regards to the future of Dune as a movie franchise, I only have one thing to say.
Let the sequels flow.   

Avengers: Endgame, Review. Earns Every Minute of its Three Hour Runtime.

5 stars
When I heard Avengers: Endgame was going to be three hours long I was very concerned.
Not only about how I would sit through the entire thing without a toilet break, but also about how the film could drag due to this runtime.
Well, while watching Endgame I was overjoyed to find that, not only could my bladder hold, but also that the film earns every minute of its three hours.
In all honesty, the movie does not even feel three hours long.
Endgame is so investing that at no point does it drag, despite its long runtime, which is a huge achievement.
Directed by the Russo Brothers, the film picks up after the events of Avengers: Infinity War where Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers and wiped out half of all life in the universe.
The Avengers must then unite to find a way to stop Thanos and undo everyone’s deaths.
To say anything more of the plot, would be to spoil so many of Endgame’s amazing twists and turns.

Final Battle.jpg
The story of Avengers: Endgame offers so many explosive moments, especially in its glorious final hour. 

For the most part the trailers only show the first half hour of the film, leaving me completely clueless as what was going to happen next, which made the experience even better.
So many movies spoil their big twists in trailers these days that it was a wonderful change of pace to have absolutely no idea what was coming.
This is made even more wonderful by how brilliant Endgame is with its story, characters, and action sequences.
The story brought out so many emotions in me.
I honestly cried at least five times during this film, both out of joy and sadness.
I think the last time I cried this much when watching a film was Logan, which was my favourite film of 2017.
Well, Endgame is certainly looking primed to take the top spot in 2019 for all its brilliance.
The characters themselves are a part of this brilliance, with many of their arcs being complete perfection.
My favourite characters of the film would have to be Tony Stark’ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evan), Clint Barton’s Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Natasha Romanoff’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and surprisingly Nebula (Karen Gillan).
Tony is by far the standout though, with him providing a lot of the film’s emotional heart.

Tony Stark.jpg
Tony Stark is the heart and soul of this film, with Robert Downey Jr. turning in what has to be his best performance as the character.

Then there is the action, which is also stellar.
The final action sequence alone is one of the greatest final hours of any film I have ever seen.
It is absolute brilliance.
Sure, a lot of it is fan service, but it is earned fan service.
Every single part of Endgame is earned, especially that final bombastic hour.
Even the slower moments of the film are great, with so much amazing character development shown as our heroes deal with the aftermath of Thanos’ snap.
Speaking of the big guy, Thanos continues to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best villain.
He is not the main character of the film, like he is in Infinity War, but his presence it still massively felt.

Back to me.jpeg
Josh Brolin is once again incredibly intimidating as the Mad Titan, who is the MCU’s best villain.

Overall, any problems I do have are relatively minor.
At the end of the film there appears to be a retcon to rules established earlier in the film, but this retcon is more than earned so it does not really matter.
Then there is Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), who I actually found myself disliking in this film because she is very stuck up and arrogant.
This would not have been a problem if this had been the start of her character arc, with her growing to learn that she needs the Avengers’ help, but she does not change at all.
Still, Captain Marvel is only a minor part of Endgame so my dislike of her here does not change my feelings about the film.
Avengers: Endgame is the true culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being its best film with the way it delivers excitement, intensity and emotion.
It is breaking so many records at the box office right now that it has me wondering if it might beat James Cameron’s Avatar, becoming the highest grossing film of all time.
I hope the film does because it has more than earned it.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is realistic and disturbing.

4 stars
When I first heard about the Sicario sequel I was concerned that it would take the realistic elements of the first film and turn it into an overblown action flick.
Thankfully, however, that is not was happened because Sicario: Day of the Soldado sticks to its realism in a gritty and rather disturbing manner.
Directed by Stephano Sollima this time and once again written by Taylor Sheridan, the film follows the sicario Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) and agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) as they try to start a cartel war after these cartels are labeled as terrorist organisations by the United States government.
What follows is a complicated, yet enthralling story that, while not as good as the first, delivers a chilling story that highlights the mortality of what these characters are doing.
The opening scene alone is very disturbing and not for the faint of heart as the film fully displays how innocents are so often caught up in terrorism and acts of war.
Emily Blunt is absent from this film because, according to Cinema Blend, Sollima said he prefers “not to have a moral guidance for the audience.”
This leaves Alejandro as the main character and del Toro once again delivers a fantastic performance as the chilling sicario.

Benicio Del Toro
“Adios”, Alejandro declares as he brutally shoots a cartel member multiple times.

Brolin also does a great job as agent Graver, making it three great performances he has given this year including Thanos and Cable.
This film is also brimming with tension and the violence is super realistic, especially in the final moments.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado is not completely perfect, however, because the story does change half way through.
I personally did not find this change in story to be that jarring but I can also see how other people would.
Another problem had to do with how the character of Isabela (Isabela Moner) was treated by Alejandro.
Alejandro serves as her protector in this film but, given what I know about him from the first Sicario, I find it highly unlikely that he would want to protect this girl and that he would actually want her dead.
It just felt like a big plot hole to me.

alejandro and isabela
Alejandro wanting to protect Isabela did not make sense to me because of what I knew about both characters.

Overall though, Sicario: Day of the Soldado was still a very good film with great performances and disturbing elements of realism.
Just be be prepared for the switch in story and you will have a good time with it.

Deadpool 2: Hilarious From Start to Finish to Mid-Credits

4 stars
Tell me if you have heard this one, a time traveling Cyborg goes to the past to kill a kid before he can commit horrible crimes in the future.
Yeah it sounds a lot like the plot to a Terminator film doesn’t it?
However, what Deadpool 2 has but a Terminator film never could was everybody’s favourite merc with the mouth to make fun of the similarities.
Directed by David Leitch, Deadpool 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the original Deadpool, the surprise hit that took Deadpool from his embarrassing debut in X Men Origins: Wolverine to his lovable, foul mouthed, fourth-wall breaking self that we know and love.
And there is definitely plenty of fourth wall breaking to be had in Deadpool 2, with Ryan Reynolds killing it as the titular hero.
No one can deny it at this point that Reynolds was born to play this character.
As I stated, the film features Cable, the time traveling cyborg who is played by Josh Brolin, going to kill a kid named Russel, the kid who will commit horrible crimes and is played by Julian Dennison.
However, due to a both tragic and hilarious series of events, Deadpool gets thrown into the mix and fights to protect Russel by forming a new “derivative” superhero team, known as X-Force.

Deadpool and X-Force
Deadpool forms the X-Force to help Russel…. oh boy (If you have seen the movie you know what I mean by that).

Deadpool 2 is a blast of comedy from start to finish, with hilarious meta jokes and entertaining action sequences, with more than a few surprises along the way.
Reynolds is not the only excellent actor in this as Brolin and Dennison also do great jobs in their roles and are funny when they need to be.
As for returning characters Collosus, played by Stephen Kapicic, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildebrand, it was good to see them again.
Although, I will admit I was a bit disappointed with how Negasonic and her newly introduced girlfriend Yukio, played by Shioli Kutsuna, were utilized because these two characters felt very underused.
The real standout new character though was Domino, played by Zazie Beetz, whose superpower of luck was very cinematic, no matter what Deadpool says.

Domino
Domino proves once and for all that luck can be cinematic.

As for the comedy, it was spot on and had me laughing numerous times to the point that it hurt.
Numerous films were referenced and parodied from Logan, to Batman V Superman, to even Basic Instict.
Probably the funniest moment of the entire movie was the mid-credits sequence, which is probably the best one ever done so make sure to stick around for it.
However, although most of the jokes were hilarious there was one right at the end that went on way longer than it should have.
Overall Deadpool 2 was a blast to watch.
Is it better than the first one?
I am unsure at this point but it definitely depends on how you view the first film on whether you will like this one or not.

Avengers: Infinity War, an emotional gut punch… until the next movie.

four_half-stars_0
Warning: Potential spoilers. I do not go into specific details but you may get some hints about what happens in the movie from my comments.
Avengers: Infinity War, directed by the Russo brothers, was pitched to us as the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with stakes the likes of which we had never seen in a Marvel film.
However, was that really what was delivered?
Well, yes in some way it was.
The stakes of this movie are incredibly high, with some gut wrenching moments but at the end of the movie I quickly went from wondering what was going to happen next to just wondering how everything set up here would be reversed in the next movie.
This train of thought kind of lessened the movie’s impact for me, which was a shame because Avengers: Infinity War is still a fantastic movie.
Picking up immediately after Thor: Ragnarok, the film has multiple characters from the MCU desperately attempting to stop Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, from claiming all six Infinity Stones, which have the power to shape the universe.
Forget the heroes though because Thanos is the main character of this movie and surprisingly manages to be both sympathetic and detestable at the same time.
Brolin gives an amazing performance as Thanos and the CGI for him was perfect.

Thanos
Josh Brolin gives a terrific performance as Thanos, delivering one of the best villains the MCU has ever had. 

As for the MCU heroes, there were so many but the ones who really stood out to me in this movie were Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Thor
Chris Hemsworth as Thor was especially good in this movie and had some great moments.

Other than them the rest of the heroes are mostly resorted to background characters but since they have already been established in previous movies it works.
Avengers: Infinity War may not have much of a story other than stop Thanos but it makes up for it by setting the stakes and going through with them, although how long these consequences will last remains to be seen.
I will admit, however, I nearly cried a couple of times in the movie.
These stakes the movie presents are amplified by the constant, thrilling action sequences that make the film even more exciting.
However, there were some negatives.
I have already spoken about how the film’s impact was slightly lessened because I believe the ending will be reversed in Avengers Four, but there are other problems as well.
For example, even though the CGI on Thanos looked great, for other characters like Proxima Midnight, played by Carrie Coon, it looked pretty bad and really drew me out of the moment.

Proxima Midnight
Proxima Midnight’s CGI was the most distracting in the film, which is a shame since she is played by Carrie Coon, who was nominated for an Emmy.

Also, some of the characters like Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, were significantly underused.
Other than that though, Avengers: Infinity War truly felt like the culmination of the MCU.
It had emotional gut punches, exciting action sequences, a great villain and stakes.
Let’s just hope these stakes are not reversed entirely when Avengers Four comes out.