‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is a thought-provoking clash of species

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Theatrical release poster. 20th Century Fox.

War for the Planet of the Apes” is the final installment in the Planet of the Apes trilogy and the follow up to 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” It takes place after the events of the second film, building further the animosity between apes and humans. After the Simian Flu wiped out a large chunk of the human population and increased the intelligence of primate species, the quest for survival is at an all-time high as trust between species is just about lost.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming weaves a subtle web of Spider-Man lore

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Theatrical release poster. Marvel Studios.

The Spider-Man film franchise has been done several times before, but now Marvel’s Cinematic Universe took its shot at depicting the web-slinging super hero. Spider-Man: Homecoming differs from previous Spider-Man films in that it doesn’t focus on the origins of Peter’s transformation into Spider-Man, but instead delves into his journey already in progress. The film is sprinkled with throwbacks, references, and carefully placed surprises that keep you engaged throughout its run, but there are still some glaring missteps that plague the film as a whole.

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‘Despicable Me 3’ misses its minions despite the vibrant villainy

 

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Theatrical release poster. Universal Pictures.

As animated sequels go, there’s often a formulaic approach to replicate its predecessor as much as possible while freshening up the story with minor alterations. As the third installment in this main franchise, “Despicable Me 3” made its attempt at replicating it’s original charm and fun; however, it fell short in the sense that it missed out on a key component of the series: the minions. Not a bad installment at all, and it’s actually a step up from the second in the trio in my opinion, but at its core, the Despicable Me franchise is only as good as its first foray into the villain-turned-good story line.

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‘Cars 3’ races to its finish

Cars 3
Theatrical release poster. Walt Disney Studios & Pixar Animation.

Cars 3” follows the story of Lightning McQueen, the once young and spry race car as he attempts racing glory once more amidst a slew of younger, more powerful racers on the scene. As the third installment in Pixar’s “Cars” franchise, it wraps the trio up nicely while still paving the way for other characters to shine in the possible future. Still, how many films about racing glory can we endure?

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‘Finding Dory’ won’t ever be forgotten

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Theatrical release poster. Walt Disney Studios & Pixar Animation.

Pixar’s seventeenth feature film, “Finding Dory,” takes place one year after the events of “Finding Nemo,” and thirteen years after the original’s release. That time lag means nothing, as this sequel still captures the same charm as the first, proving that these underwater characters have heart and determination to be remembered for years to come. The story follows the lovable, yet forgetful, blue tang Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) on her journey in finding her parents, but what she ends up finding is a world of so much more. The film focuses a lot on the belief in oneself while also hearkening back to the message of never giving up that made “Finding Nemo” so profound, making “Finding Dory” a top tier Pixar film.

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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’

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Theatrical release poster. Paramount Pictures.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is a surprising instance of a sequel fitting together more nicely than its predecessor. It is the follow up to 2014’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” which was a letdown to the history of the franchise. “Out of the Shadows,” however, returns to the original lore that brought beloved 80’s characters to life, assembling the cast of heroes and misfits in a way that speaks to their true roots. Those roots, however, aren’t enough to drive the film forward as it lacks depth and motivation on both the good and evil side of the spectrum. Still, seeing the familiar faces of the 80’s brings the franchise together in a nostalgic and commemorative way.

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‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is no wonderland

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Theatrical release poster. Walt Disney Studios.

Lewis Carroll’s stories of Alice are perhaps the most well known in children’s literature, incorporating kooky and zany characters and circumstances into a bed of deeply meaningful innuendos and messages. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is loosely based off of these tales and is the follow up to 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland.” This sequel is set three years later and brings back all of the beloved characters from Underland as they travel through time, discovering secrets and surprises on their quest to save one of their own. While the film is just as screwy as the first, it fails to ignite any true wonder in its stale and seemingly vacant plot.

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‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’ is a pale copy of the first

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Theatrical release poster. Universal Pictures.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” is the follow up to 2014’s “Neighbors” and the newest comedy sequel to hit theaters. The film stars Zac Efron as previous Frat President Teddy Sanders and Seth Rogen as new dad Mac Radner. The duo were previously at odds in the first film and are now teaming up against a new sorority focused on women empowerment and making a mark for themselves. It’s a formula that worked in the past, but because of that, fails to reach the same level when played on repeat the second time. It does have its moments of fun, but they lack the memorable charm that made the first film a hit.

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‘Captain America: Civil War’ is action packed and explosive

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Theatrical release poster. Marvel Studios.

Marvel’s Phase Three is well underway, commencing with “Captain America: Civil War.” The film follows up with the aftermath of the events from “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” marking a time when the heroes tasked with saving the world become increasing liabilities in the eyes of the public. But in “Civil War,” they also suffer from criticism from within, which sets up the main concept and conflict of the film. It’s a well thought out approach that introduces several new Marvel heroes and manages to bring visual appeal in the action despite the absence of a blatant villain. It deals more with a questioning approach to human morality, touching upon issues of vengeance, forgiveness, and control. But at the core, the film still stays true to the focus of The Avengers as a team and how individual desires can sometimes disrupt a cohesive unit, which is why “Civil War” works and is a true success.

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‘The Jungle Book’ is another Disney masterwork

The Jungle Book
Theatrical release poster. Walt Disney Studios.

The Jungle Book” becomes Disney’s newest live-action depiction of a classic children’s tale, drawing inspiration from Rudyard Kipling’s work and subsequent animated feature adaptation in 1967. It’s a film franchise that’s had a live-action remake before, but in contrast to that one, this Jon Favreau iteration focuses heavily on the animalistic jungle society, highlighting the flora and fauna more predominantly. Visually it’s an exciting treat and full of realistic life despite the lack of actual real life. It also makes strides in incorporating emotion into the journey, but unfortunately falls slightly short in fully drawing it out. Still, the plot is developed in a way that deepens the thematic story, more so than any other depiction of this tale, and for that it’s a win.

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