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.

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Review. Third Non-Stop Adrenaline Ride.

4 stars
I watched the first two John Wick films the week before I went to see the third installment, Parabellum, and found them both to be non-stop adrenaline rides.
This is thankfully continued in the latest film, once again directed by Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves as the titular John Wick.
Picking up right from where Chapter Two left off, Parabellum sees Wick attempting to flee New York after being excommunicadoed from the Continental, and receiving a massive bounty on his head.
What follows is gripping action sequence after gripping action sequence that left everyone in the audience on the edge of their seats.
With so much of this it would have been very easy for it to become repetitive and redundant but, just as you begin to get tired of the relentless action, a new gimmick is thrown in to keep you engaged.

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Every action scene in this film adds something new, creating a fresh experience in every bout of action.

Such was evident with the audience I was viewing the film with, which was a very interactive crowd.
There were many gasps and cheers at how vicious and violently exciting the action was.
On top of this, there are many human moments as well with Parabellum going deeper into Wick’s backstory than either of the previous films.
It makes me wonder how they will continue to expand on him in the next film.
The acting is also good with Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick doing great jobs.
However, the film does have its flaws, which keep it from being perfect.
There are a few eye rolling moments where Wick’s opponents deliberately leave him alive for no reason.
Then there is this pivotal scene where Wick is in a desert that feels kind of pointless in the grand scheme of the film.

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John Wick’s journey of self discovery in the desert feels pointless by the film’s conclusion because of how quickly it is reversed.

Finally, there is the final few minutes of the film, which had something that completely broke my suspension of disbelief and drew me out of the ending.
Still, despite these flaws, I found John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum to be an exciting thrill wide that every action junkie will enjoy.
Be sure to check it out.