Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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An American Girl: Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight isn't for adults, but its message is universal. Young girls will assuredly fall in love with the simple charms and basic characters who undergo confidence-inspiring transformations that teach the audience the importance of self-worth even when the road is tough, when the naysayers are loud, when life itself seems to ask a girl to bear its brunt on her tiny shoulders. The movie never leaves a comfort zone of simplicity, save for its nicely complex and well-executed dance maneuvers. It's a quality film when taken at face value, within the context it was made and for the audience to whom it is targeted.
Age of Dinosaurs isn't particularly good, neither as a Jurassic Park knock-off nor as low-budget Action flick. To the filmmakers' credit, there's evidence of effort here, an honest-to-goodness attempt to make the movie look like something bigger and better, but the lack of budget and creativity keep it at arm's length from even mediocre big boy fare, like the Jurassic Park sequels. If nothing else, it may leave viewers whistling John Williams' iconic Jurassic Park theme and itching to check out Steven Spielberg's vastly, vastly superior -- as in one of the all-time greats -- "dinosaurs alive" film.
Trancers is a cool little Sci-Fi film that certainly can't stand with the big boys in terms of either special effects or scope, but its filmmakers know its limitations yet push the boundaries only as far as they will stretch, no more. It might be "quaint" today -- particularly in terms of its effectively limited visual effects and noticeably small scale -- but this remains a well-written, nicely paced, smartly acted, and keenly directed film that withstands the test of time on the merits that make it work.
Whereas Fright On was visually lively and only kinda-sort blunt about its message, Monster High: Escape from Skull Shores looks awful and makes its point so absurdly obvious that there's even one character forced to wear a bag over his head until all is well at the end when a girl who shares the same "hideous" characteristic as he proclaims that he's "cute." The message is nice, and it is aimed at younger viewers, but making it a little more subtle and paying a little more attention to filling in the story around it might have made the movie a little more tolerable. Better animation would be nice, too. Huge, really. Necessary, in reality.
Noah won't replace the family Bible, but then again nothing could, or should, do that. It's easy to understand why the film divided audiences as it did. It's nowhere close to the Biblical portrayal of Noah, which is admittedly a rather short stretch in a long chapter of an even longer Bible. There's no way to make a Noah movie without adding to or subtracting from the basic text on which it is based, lest one make a largely silent film that lasts mere minutes or, on the other hand, fails to speak to or entertain its audience. Why, then, make the movie in the first place, and why make it so different from what people who have known the story since Sunday School expect of it? Taken at face value, the movie is an entertaining and beautifully constructed picture, a borderline masterpiece of simple storytelling on a rather small scale set against a large backdrop and a huge dramatic arc. Taken literally, on the other hand, the movie is an absolute failure when compared to that, to quote Paramount, "cornerstone of faith." Audiences, as always, should decide for themselves but should certainly, at least, give the movie a try before writing it off completely, a move that's understandable in context but discouraged in a broader sense.