Reviews

Six Flicks for This February

Some great—and some not so great—movies to stream

By Manuela Shklanka & Julia Bohnen

Wondering what to watch on a Friday night? Here are some movies that you may be able to fit into your chaotic life alongside the many, many social gatherings we have all been attending lately. Although 2020 is now over, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the films that were released last year, so we’ve compiled a list of some that stood out to us and that you might have missed. The eagerly anticipated, the hidden gems, the thought-provoking, and the underwhelming—we’ve covered them all! Click on the movie titles to watch the trailers and scroll down to the bottom to read our two bonus reviews! 

Hamilton

5/5

The critically acclaimed worldwide phenomenon Hamilton received 11 Tony awards for a reason. It could be argued that no other musical has ever made such a profound impact on pop culture and the Broadway stage. Lin Manuel Miranda—who has now become a household name—was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of the United States’ first Treasury Secretary and Revolutionary War veteran Alexander Hamilton. After seven years of writing, Hamilton debuted in 2015, and months later made it to an actual Broadway stage, where it was filmed for the big screen in June of 2016. A star-studded cast with an emphasis on diversity rather than historical accuracy and songs that will undoubtedly be stuck in viewers’ heads for time to come make Hamilton a pleasure and a delight to watch. Completely worth 2 hours and 40 minutes of your life and will exceed all of your expectations. (Disney+)

Soul

4/5

The next film is Soul, Pixar’s most recent release. Although its debut was this year not last, we still think that Soul is an important film to mention. This animated film has been argued to be ”some of the most striking work that Pixar has ever turned in,” and it may well be. Soul explores profound topics and seems to be aimed at an older audience instead of Pixar’s usual young children demographic. Although this is true, kids will love Soul thanks to its stunning animation and cast of quirky characters. Following the life of a middle school band teacher with dreams of being a professional jazz musician, Soul will appeal to jazz players and admirers alike. With profound underlying messages of appreciating the little moments and pursuing passions, Soul is both visually and spiritually beautiful. (Disney+)

Wonder Woman 1984

2/5

Eagerly anticipated after the first movie’s success, Wonder Woman 1984 joined the list of 2020 films that skipped a theatre release. Visually entertaining but ultimately pretty forgettable, the scattered plot has an entirely different tone from the first film, staggering from plot point to plot point as it fails to make you take it seriously. The action scenes closely resemble what would be seen in a Spiderman movie, and several weak attempts at emotional scenes distract from the overarching plot-line. The film features bland portrayals of one-dimensional characters and a villain with an almost compelling backstory but whose actions are glossed over. Wonder Woman has little to no character development throughout the film, and new revelations around her origins don’t go anywhere. She seems distant and reactive to a plot she has a small role in until she suddenly obtains the ability to fly when the movie reaches its “climax.” All in all, Wonder Woman 1984 follows the pattern set by other DCEU movies: passable, forgettable, and not worth watching. (HBO Max, Google Play, Amazon Prime)

The Prom

3/5

This 2020 film is the movie version of a successful Broadway musical entitled The Prom. A sweet story about acceptance and compassion is brought to life by many well-known performers including Meryl Streep, James Corden, Andrew Rannels, Nicole Kidman, and more. A film loosely based on true stories, The Prom centers around a student dealing with prejudice and barred from attending her high school prom. The music helped build our understanding of the characters but overall wasn’t particularly memorable. Dance lovers will enjoy the choreography of the over-the-top dance numbers, and the story included great representation in terms of race, sexuality, and alternate perspectives. The overall message is an important one, but the movie is what we would call a “watch while doing homework movie.” The Prom isn’t making our list of all-time favorites, but it satisfies viewers with a fairy tale ending. (Netflix)

Enola Holmes

4/5

“Fast-paced, clever, and hugely entertaining,” Enola Holmes is nothing less than captivating. Based on a YA book series by Nancy Springer about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, this is the story of Enola trying to find her mother after she mysteriously vanishes. Starring widely recognized and acclaimed actors Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge, and Helena Bonham Carter, Enola Holmes is a teen mystery movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat. A new refreshing take of the Holmes family is brought to life and expanded by the character of Enola, who has never been seen in a film until now. As a story set in the late 1800s featuring themes of empowerment and independence, this 2020 film has viewers sleuthing along with Enola every step of the way. (Netflix)

Mulan

3.5/5

Despite the political controversy, Mulan features bold characters and is a heartwarming and exciting adaptation of a classic. Disney’s animated 1998 original Mulan quickly became a family favorite in households across the globe. In the live-action 2020 remake, we are reintroduced to Mulan and her bravery, determination, and unwavering love of her family. A movie filled with captivating scenery and breathtaking cinematography, this new adaptation introduces new characters into Mulan’s story and pays homage to her classic ballad at important times. Action lovers will enjoy the fast-paced fight scenes and thrilling sequences the film offers. Additionally, the movie centers around a strong female character who defies gender barriers and overcomes traditional roles. This highly-anticipated 2020 film is worth a watch but falls short of its source material. (Disney+, Google Play, Amazon Prime)

BONUS REVIEWS

Clouds

4/5

Incredibly raw and touching, Clouds depicts the true story of a boy named Zach Sobiech and his battle with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, and a battle which he ultimately lost in 2013. This 2020 film is an emotional roller coaster aided by authentic performances and a view into the impacts cancer has on not only the victim but also their loved ones. Heartbreakingly beautiful and musical, Clouds is an inspirational film about facing hardships and overcoming difficult times with the help of one’s community and unconditional love. (Disney+)

The Social Dilemma

4/5

The Social Dilemma is a documentary-drama with a simple message: “Put down your phone; you’re being manipulated.” Alternating between expert interviews, a dramatized yet realistic family, and helpful animations, it talks about the Internet’s business model of tracking users’ behavior to sell targeted ads and induce addiction in a vicious cycle, specifically honing in on how teens are affected by their dramatized story. Unforgettable and eye-opening, called “the most important documentary of our time” by The Independent, this documentary is a must-watch for everyone, but it might make you want to throw away your phone afterward. (Netflix)

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