Director Travis Knight does his best to balance clattering spectacle with a modest girl-and-her-robot tale. He’s assisted mightily by Hailee Steinfeld, who infuses this uneven action film with significant soul.
Contradictory impulses dominate Creed II. This sequel to the 2015 smash hit is both emotional and formulaic, nuanced and shameless, determined to set its own course while slavishly loyal to franchise strictures.
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are both superb in muted performances and, while the film’s palace intrigue gets a bit dense, the story never loses sight of its deep compassion for these characters and their shared plight of being held hostage by conniving, belittling, power-hungry men determined to usurp their authority.
The sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph boasts a big heart and some clever comedic set pieces, and yet this follow-up fails to match the original’s balance of savvy pop-culture nostalgia and genuine emotional stakes. Ralph and Vanellope are still fun company, but their latest adventure is full of glitches.
Lacking the freshness of the original trilogy or the meticulous, insidious tone of Fincher’s film, Spider’s Web mostly feels like a holding action to ensure that more sequels can be made in the future. That timidity flies in the face of this series’ inherent edginess.
Both overstuffed and underwhelming, Disney’s spectacle-driven reimagining of the beloved holiday staple tries to serve many masters, and the result is a family film straining to be both timeless and timely, simultaneously old-fashioned yet cheekily irreverent.
Appropriately for a group known for its theatrical, crowd-pleasing tunes, this authorised-by-the-band biopic carries itself lightly, serving up familiar plot points with panache and a sense of humour, while at the same time investing in the story’s emotional through-line, building to a genuinely moving climax.
This sequel can’t compare to John Carpenter’s ingenious 1978 original, but director David Gordon Green delivers a crowd-pleasing chiller that doubles as an existential commentary on horror itself, both on the screen and in our lives.