The doc never feels propulsive, or even particularly informative, and it never has to. For people who remotely enjoy the existence of dogs, Well Groomed is one of the most wholesome, joyous, purely enjoyable documentaries in the streaming world, and Stern doesn’t aspire to anything more.
First Love is the kind of film that’s designed for seen-it-all genre fans who know these tropes (the scheming criminal, the dewy ingenues, the cold-hearted lady assassin, and so on) and appreciate seeing them tweaked in new directions, and treated with an air of fond familiarity rather than dour airlessness.
In the early going, though, Waititi manages to keep the tone light and the humor surreal enough to avoid too much association with the real world. But as his story devolves into melodrama, the comedy curdles.
It’s rare that a blockbuster movie feels this competently, serenely middle-of-the-road, but maybe being this safe in an era of easy outrage is its own form of mild, moderate, entirely bland achievement.
Endgame was never designed to stand on its own as a single well-crafted movie, and it was never designed to follow the MCU formula. It was designed to cap a decade of buildup around a single gigantic story.... In that sense, it’s certainly a triumph: it’s ambitious, towering, and above all, daring in its difference.
Peele directs Us with a masterful collection of horror-movie tricks — jump scares that actually pay off, a cat-and-mouse game in an isolated place filled with bright lights and deep pools of impenetrable shadow, a throat-closing Michael Abels score full of intense drumming and choral chanting that elevates the action to operatic levels of drama. But his greatest asset is the performances, which turn an already creepy premise into something endlessly inhuman and unnerving.
The film’s eye-candy is endlessly impressive and a worthy reason to see the film in a theater, but it’s never as memorable as authentic, unique story moments like Hiccup’s first connection with Toothless in the series’s first installment.
The sequel actually slows down the story a bit, with a lower jokes-per-second rate and a little more time for contemplation. But instead of making the new film smaller or duller, it leaves room for a little more sophistication. The sequel’s best gag isn’t a one-liner or a one-off, it’s subtly and fundamentally built into the story.
For the serious fans who this series is meant for, the promise of at least six more hours of Fantastic Beasts action likely means a lot more thrilling beasts, barriers, and beats to explore. Everyone else may find that all the little personal bits of character business and frantic complications aren’t much of a substitute for a clear and compelling plot with a single meaningful protagonist.