Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons when I was younger. These days, I have mostly given it up in favour of exciting activities like jobs and paying water bills, but it was always a fun way to hang out with friends and go on adventures. The creative team behind Onward clearly enjoyed as much as I did, because this movie has ‘quest' written all over it.
While on the surface this is a road-trip adventure movie, the fantasy elements are crawling all over it. Dragons, manticores, elves, centaurs, you name it. A great deal of attention is paid to the tropes and tricks of fantasy storytelling. I will definitely need to watch this again to get all the references.
Amidst all the fanservice, however, the film retains that uniquely Pixar emotional core. It doesn't take a fantasy setting to show the bond between brothers. All the relationships are done with great attention to detail and nuance; and there are many times that you forget this is a fantasy world.
This is another great entry into Pixar's collection, and one I will be eager to watch again.
The number 4 makes me nervous. In film, the trilogy is the gold standard. You make three movies, and then hang up your hat. Toy Story did this better than most. How many film series can boast Rotten Tomatoes scores of 99-100% across all films? It was, in many ways, a perfect trilogy.
And then, Toy Story 4 was announced. And lo, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. They were gonna screw it up. Even if the movie is OK, it can't reach the heights of the first three. They cannot recapture the magic. Woe is us!
Turns out, the magic is basically still there.
The weaving of old and new here is done masterfully. Familiar characters, new characters, returning characters, it all just works. Toy Story has always added a batch of new toys with each film, and the originality and fun of each one shines through here. It does come a bit at the cost of old favourites like Jesse and Rex, but the film still feels familiar.
The plot still feels Toy Story-ish without resorting to cheap fan service. It probably resembles the first Toy Story the most, but elements of all three films are there. The characters are still consistent as ever, and there is a wonderful mix of slapstick humour and genuine moments. True to form, Pixar makes you want to cry at the end.
Is it absolute perfection? No, but it's pretty darn close. That being said, if Pixar tries to make another one of these, I will break into Pixar HQ and put cat hair in the water supply.
After directing The Incredibles, Brad Bird became a legend. The blend of story, character, humour, and heart cemented the film in the hearts of many. Needless to say, his next project was eagerly awaited by fans and critics alike. The result is...pretty good.
Remy is a rat with a taste for haute cuisine. He partners up with a boy to create some truly delectable dishes, and along the way struggles with the concepts of belonging and talent. Yes, the premise seems weird, but in true Brad Bird fashion, he injects some real human moments into every character (even the rats).
I will say that the third act feels a bit weird, although there is an appropriately Pixar-y conclusion to it all. While it may not reach the heights of his first film, Ratatouille is solid fun.
I was confused by this film. Despite the title, all of the women appeared to be regular-sized.
OK, OK, I can hear you screaming. How dare you disparage such a classic story with your dull wit? The work of Greta Gurwig is not meant to be trifled with! Truth is, while this movie has a lot going for it, I do have some problems.
Let's talk about the good stuff first, though. There is some truly stellar acting here. Everyone pulls their weight, and ensemble scenes are just everyone raising each other to new heights. My personal favourite was Florence Pugh, she played the ‘bratty but excitable younger sister' role exceptionally well. Another standout was Laura Dern, who has really been killing it lately with her roles.
The story is nice, too. There are high points, and low points, and even a nice framing device. You end up loving these characters and you understand their motivations very clearly.
My issue lies with the editing. You are constantly jumping around in time, and the cues you are given to understand these jumps are inconsistent. I still don't know at what point Jo cut her hair. Also, it seems to me that [CENSORED]'s death should have been the emotional climax, but because of the editing, we see them again after the death scene? It just doesn't work that well for me.
If you don't mind non-linear storytelling, you will likely appreciate this more than I. Provided, of course, you can get over the fact that they are all full-size women.
*runs out of the room as books are pelted at him*
Following up on the success of Toy Story, Pixar was clearly anxious to make another resonant hit. Once again, they proved they could make a world filled with excitement, colourful characters, and childlike wonder.
We follow the journey of Flik, an ant who's bumbling ways have made trouble for his colony. When he meets a group of colourful circus bugs, he enlists them to help his colony drive off the swarm of grasshoppers threatening them.
You are able to instantly fall in love with the characters. Honestly, every single one of them gets at least a few great moments, and they all have at least a bit of an arc. The cast is quite large, but you get a sense of interconnectedness, while also seeing each character as their own man...er, bug.
The story is great, too, moving through plot points seamlessly, while still giving time for important character relationships. Honestly, the thing is so organic, you will be shocked when it's over.