Memorial Day weekend has arrived, heralding the unofficial start of Summer as Hollywood eagerly anticipates a much more exciting schedule for movies than we got in last year’s cursed lineup of small films and continuous delays. Thankfully unlike Mother’s Day weekend a few weeks back we got two major highly anticipated releases to kick off the Summer blockbuster season with Cruella and A Quiet Place Part II. When this post comes out I’ll be enjoying a mini memorial day weekend vacation at Siesta Key with the wife, but I made sure to watch these right before I headed off to get my reviews in.
But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
With all that out of the way, lets get to the reviews already...
- The Plot: In 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, a young grifter named Estella is determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute. But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella.
- My Review: As a big defender of the Disney live action remakes and spinoffs, I’m not going to go the boring route and ask “Why are they making this?” or claim “Nobody asked for this!”. Instead I’ll take the film as is in the same way I did all those others. Some being home runs (ALADDIN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), others being decent (CINDERELLA, THE JUNGLE BOOK), and others just being big misses (DUMBO, THE LION KING). I would say this one overall falls in-between in the decent pile.
First of all lets get what keeps it from being a home run out of the way. For one the film’s first act is its biggest weak point, so badly paced it makes the film overstay its welcome and makes the meat of the story when things start to get more fun take too long to get to. Then there’s the soundtrack which is solid by itself but has such badly timed and overused needle drops that I want to run into the sound editor’s room and clean it up for them. Finally there’s the Easter egg drops which feel so forced at times.
That said those flaws are balanced out real well by the two Emmas (Stone and Thompson) delivering great scene stealing performances, both women clearly having fun with this project. The costumes and hair/makeup are incredible and should get a serious look for tech Oscar nominations. The direction as well is really well done. And finally, I did appreciate that this film was willing to keep our villain protagonist an actual villain in the making unlike say a MALIFICENT or VENOM, and this is dark enough that you could argue it is not meant for the kids which in this case I think is a good thing.
This film has many flaws that making such a project ends up with, but I wouldn’t say they’re any worse than the same similar flaws I found in say something like JOKER which I liked but didn’t fall in love with as hard as others did. This has plenty fun moments and fun characters to help those flaws not weigh down the film too much. I think this is a film people can have a blast with and I definitely recommend it as a big screen watch over the Disney Plus option. Though again its not a nominee for my Best of the Year list either. B+ for CRUELLA. While not a home run and filled with flaws, enough here works to make it a fun flick after too many weeks of mediocre films.
- The Plot: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
- My Review: I should warn anyone who stumbles upon my review that I liked 2018’s A QUIET PLACE, but I did not love it as much as many others did. And I think however you felt about that first film will almost exactly match with how you feel about the sequel. So I do feel a bit repetitive in my assessment of this one. Basically if you loved the first one, this is worth the trip to the theatre - but if you weren’t as impressed you might want to prioritize CRUELLA over this one for this new weekend’s slate.
Like the first film this nails the feeling of such a world where such creatures exist, and like that film the way the characters act and respond to such a world is also nailed down really well. The movie also starts off directly right after the first film and really stitches it together with the first film in a way that makes this an easy back to back binge for lovers of this newly born horror franchise. The addition of new characters, most notably Cillian Murphy’s Emmett, do add to the story and don’t make it fee bloated. Actually in a way one might argue the shift from creature feature to survival horror may have made this one feel more down to earth and toned down. And finally, the movie attempts to do a little more world building for this franchise but does it in a way where its not overdoing it and explaining too much.
That said the film also doesn’t have the mysterious creatures tone that the first one had, there’s an attempt at more of a body count, there’s actually jump scares, and the movie can feel like its pacing is too slow at times and too fast in others. But if you’re looking for the movie that you got from the first one, you’re pretty much getting it again with some slight changes on the edges. B- for A QUIET PLACE PART II. Another decent showing from this horror franchise that is quickly gaining a dedicated and passionate following. Worth a theatrical experience, especially for those who loved the first one.