This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's full to overflowing with heart, humor, wit, wisdom and an abundance of joy. I feel like the idea of wandering around on the lam, living one day at a time and being free in the wilderness is something that seems impossible to genuinely achieve in this modern era but it is something with an intrinsic appeal. I know that it struck a chord with me personally. The feel good vibes reverberate perhaps strongest from a buddy adventure movie and little satisfying plot points are riddled through the narrative. Our two protagonists bonding as they face the dangers and just have fun together and the very personally satisfying development of the straight laced lady being taken along for the ride make for a happy go lucky and fun atmosphere. This film had the uncanny ability to infuse every second with fuzzy warmth while still putting in a strong undercurrent of serious themes. Zak missing a family who left him at birth, Tyler feeling empty and guilty after the death of his brother which it appears he caused and Eleanor knowing Zak's situation is not desirable but trying her best to make his circumstances in the nursing home better. One example of this beautiful blend of heavy sweetness is when Eleanor finally catches up to Zak and Tyler. Tyler asks Eleanor "What do you want for him?" to which Eleanor responds, "are you trying to buy him from me?" Then Tyler says "No, what do you want for his future?" that exchange sprinkles some light humor into a question that comes to define the stories and motivation of both Tyler and Eleanor as Tyler comes to fully realize his friendship with Zak as finding a new brother and Eleanor realizes the value of letting Zak be free to follow his desires that are as real and genuine as anyones. And of Zak himself, he is the heart and soul of the film, the tie that binds all of it's parts together in a bow of unparalleled sweetness. He has a genuineness to everything he does, written and acted entirely transparently until the wonderful young man is all that shines through. His straightforward, dogged determination and the wonderful friendship he has with Tyler are some of the most heartwarming stuff I've ever seen in a movie. I really loved how quickly Tyler, Eleanor and even The Salt Water Redneck warmed up to Zak though I guess I shouldn't be surprised. There's only outside evidence of any discrimination that sometimes shows in Zak's attitude about himself. It's a great thing to see Tyler come fully to his support saying that there's stuff Zak can't do but that's true of everyone. He can still be a hero. I thought that this film couldn't help but show how they think best to live with someone with down syndrome and they walked a tightrope with Tyler's free and encouraging attitude and Eleanor's protective and caring one. The final word? Both together. This film is just a beautiful portrait of what friendship and family is all about. The simple support that Tyler and Zak show towards each other, the understanding and the laughs and the dangers that they go through, that may be an idealized version of friendship, but it is the ideal friendship as well. I was touched deeply by the ending scene where without saying it out loud, it is clear that Zak is entirely free to pursue his dreams because Tyler and Eleanor have become the family that he never had. From the filmmaking standpoint I thought this movie felt small budget in a good way. It had a simple, homespun feel that only contributed to it's atmosphere of sweetness. The cinematography was simple and deliberate, making use of the beautiful landscapes and the soundtrack was pitch perfect every time. Add to that some actors who usually get a bad wrap getting to show that they're good at their craft and what you get is a unique, quirky gem of a film that will make you fall in love with life.
This film can only be described as a highly enjoyable, heartfelt trial by fire. I think that the main reason this movie is as funny as it is, as gut-wrenching as it is, and as special as it is is it's blend of chill buddy comedy and romance after breakup story under the solemn shroud of looming cancer. I was struck by the absolute futility, the despair that Adam must be feeling. The scene before the day of his definitive surgery, after fellow cancer patient had recently passed away, after he has expressed how tired of being sick he is, he wants to drive, he angrily kicks Kyle out of the car and calming down he calls Katherine finally saying wistfully "you would've made a good girlfriend". After the build up in the first part of the film that wanders through the ever worsening prospect of Adam's life with humorous, sweet and sad predicaments, this moment of despair, this realization of his loss of hope is heartbreaking, what could be the last night with his best friend to end in a fight, to have to leave the prospect of a good relationship, all of this, developed with the air of light comedy and romance, makes for an emotionally crushing window into the inferno that is terminal illness. I'm sure to those who have gone through similar this movie rang true as well, I have been in surgery and I had the same fear as Adam of waking up before the surgery was over. That along with the high emotions the main characters and we feel coupled with the completely normal procedure carried out by the hospital hit hard. But what makes this movie a highly enjoyable window is that it doesn't just show the sorrow of Adam's struggles, it shows the good that a trial by fire can do. Adam is driven down the path of not only bettering his life, but finding the good things he had all along. The moment where he sits next to his mom and asks her how here day was, when he sees the book that Kyle was reading about cancer, he lets go completely of his relationship with Rachael. All of these are poignant moments of growth for the better, but they were hard to come by which makes them all the better. While I choked up a lot in this movie, the parts I loved the most were the genuine moments with Kyle. His bumbling around (and his being played by Seth Rogan) make it seem like the character is just some comic relief that also just brings out the "friend" aspect in Adam, getting into misadventures together. I love that he's more than just that. That Seth Rogan got a great character to play, that there's a friend who I know genuinely cares about his buddy to the very end even when they fight and get on each others nerves they're there for each other. That's the kind of friend I want to be. Add to the performances Joseph Gordon-Levitt making the most of every frame with evident anguish under the surface and Anna Kendrick's uncanny ability to look nervous and awkward and there's excellent performances all across the board. Overall this movie was the good kind of rollercoaster, there were some slow and straight sections for sure but they were eclipsed fully by the ups and downs around them. I laughed, I cried, it moved me.
This is a bold piece of cinematic art but I did think it a very avant-garde piece of art. It paints its picture, sets its scene, tells its story and explores its themes in very broad terms even with its minute premise. That is part of the reason for the heavy yet confusing impact. The story is all encompassing with a treatise on man's relationship to nature and to each other, a story of will but also of what we are willing to do for the common good, yet the cinematography, setting and small cast make for a claustrophobic feeling even in the midst of the glory and vastness of the sun and space. One note on the plot, I came in expecting a movie sort of like The Lighthouse where somehow or another, an isolated group tears each other apart. At the beginning it looked to be shaping up that way. It was once Chris Evan's character dismissively said to Cillian Murphy about lost humanity that I knew for sure that this wasn't exactly where we were headed. Once they docked with Icarus I the intrigue started again as it morphed into a hunter/hunted situation and then finally a desperate race against time all with the fate of humanity in the balance. This ability for the film to sort of slip under common sci-fi tropes makes it stand out thematically though it also makes for an experience that's really far out there. I think that the stark and startling originality and downright beauty of the visuals would be the common reason to acclaim this film and indeed, it is its strongest point. The film just attacks you from the very beginning all the way till the end with a whirlwind of kaleidoscopic angles, lens flairs, extremely hard lighting techniques, still frames and jump cuts that sucks you into a whole other world and doesn't let you out until it comes to a sudden end. The floods of light that all else must fight against to find a footing in the frame stand as the example of what I discerned to be this films central conflict: man vs natures inevitably. It's the power of the sun that gives fuel to this film though the excellent performances, tight scripting and genuinely tense situations tie it together to make for a scintillating, if somewhat baffling, cinematic experience. If none of that made any sense it's because I don't know how to quantify this film but it's definitely worth the watch.
Shmaltzy, overly long, ridiculously well crafted and disarmingly heartfelt this movie is just larger than life. I think it's pacing problems are best summed up by the very first scene where Bill Paxton's character essentially does the same gag twice with the exact same reaction from his crewmember. Everything that is done in the present day in this film is essentially useless and definitely provides the most unnecessary though not the only element that makes this movie as grandiose as it is. I was ok with it all, but it made the film seem redundant in a lot of places. Do the present-day scenes add to the film? Yes, but only incidentally, it does put us in the frame of mind of the impending tragedy in a very delicate way and makes for a very meaningful and lovely ending scene but all of that was accomplishable in much less time-consuming ways. After all, the love story is the heart of the film, it would have been perfectly acceptable to keep it to just that. What happens on the Titanic is what really sets this movie apart. At it's core this is a romance and that's what gives the wide appeal of the film but in general terms, this is an absolute masterclass (and I can't stress that enough) in disaster film. I got the feeling that that was what drew James Cameron to the Titanic as a potential film, the slow sinking of such a lavish set piece, the impending and ever nearing doom as the water chases after our heroes as they struggle to survive. It is in the disaster elements (and in the glorious shots of the Titanic before that) that the film is entirely justified in it's longevity. The scale of such a disaster demands a film of such scale and Cameron was certainly the filmmaker, perhaps the only filmmaker, who was truly up to the challenge of giving the Titanic justice. So in terms of destruction, this movie absolutely floored me not even mentioning the staggeringly large scale and lavish set design. The scenes in the engine room particularly gave off a visceral sense of largeness and power that was awesome to behold even on my computer screen and the shots of the Titanic's propellers rearing from the water literally took my breath away. Its like this movie's sets are beefy. That's the word that came to me while watching it, I don't know why but that's what I thought. Of course, no amount of excellent cinematography, special effects, set design, music or sound editing will make a complete film and since we all know the story, a genuine personal touch was necessary for this movie to really excel. Well, I won't call it genuine per se but I will call it just as larger than life than the ship it took place on. I don't think it's a secret to anyone just how melodramatic this movie's nuclear romance between poor artist Jack and unsatisfied rich girl Rose is. I suppose it's also cliché to a point but I didn't really mind (it helped soften the cliches when James Horner's score just leans into the schmaltz with full force) I think the film does a good enough job with building up it's emotional center and it sprinkles in enough universally pitiable scenarios (the musicians, the babies, the families) to make it personally devastating as the long, slow burn of the Titanic's destruction unfolds in all of it's glory. The story didn't really hold any long-lasting meaning, but I don't mind that either, it was just a story aiming to be a crowd pleaser and a white knuckler at the same time, and it succeeded really well at both. I liked the whole "jump together" motif. Somehow, I didn't see its payoff coming and old Rose throwing the heart of the ocean into the sea really spoke some volumes about something… I don't know, it was emotionally resonant at the time. Came for the destruction, stayed with the romance long enough to actually get to the destruction and enjoyed the sweet, admittedly pretentious ending.
This movie is about potential. About not so much meeting your potential but reaching for it. That's what I found to be the best part of this movie. About a man sitting on a goldmine but he's to scared to reach out and cash it in. The back and forth between Will and Sean, the confrontations with Skyler and Lambeau, the casual heart to heart of two buddies taking a break at work. The satisfying moments of Will's intellectual triumph's revealed to mean nothing to him, boring to him. All of this real, human drama asks the question of what potential is, what purpose is. Unlike so many films that use ambiguity as a pedestal for creating more evocative work, Good Will Hunting gives a quiet, thoughtful answer to the question it asks and says if you want to reach your potential you have to get off your butt and do something, get out of your comfort zone. Will's intellectual capabilities were only part of the picture and from a storytelling perspective, just a larger than life ingredient to drive home the message of the question "what do you want to do?" I think when Sean asks that question is when Will's world suddenly falls. Suddenly it's not about living up to other peoples expectations, it's about living up to your own, about having the drive to do something more. With Skyler to get him thinking, Sean to get him talking and the last push from Chuckie to get him moving, Will is faced with his whole life and finally knows what he'll do with it. That's a powerful message and one made ever so poignant by the eloquence of the dialogue (punctuated... ahem, ever so delicately by the... ahem, colorful language) that often plays out like a battle of wits that's a pleasure to witness, the strength, the depth of emotion, the genuine feeling of each performance (especially from the great Robin Williams), the slices of goofing around, telling stories, talking about nothing gives out a feel good spirit to a movie with a message that should be hard to swallow. Not only is that good stuff, that's important stuff, especially for me, That's almost definitely the reason I'm giving this movie such a high rating. The core of it connected with me in a very special way but it's not bias, it's just what art does to you.
This film is a pinnacle of high art cinema with crowd pleasing action-drama mixed into it. I don't know how often those two elements have been mixed together but with this movie's visuals, tone and style, the two seem like they should be irreconcilable. With the elegance and skill of eastern martial arts however, it is a match made in heaven. The one thing about eastern martial arts movies is that they fly off the rails into the mythical very often. A lot of people have trouble accepting these (literal) flights of fantasy and lesser films of this type have trouble integrating the integral whimsy that these films have. This film not only makes such things seem in place but capitalizes on the medium with one absolutely stunning fight after the other with impeccable sword and martial art skill by the performers and a craftsmanship of set design and above all camera work that makes each sequence unique, compelling and above all, entertaining. Every aspect, every fiber of this films being works toward weaving the beautiful tapestry of evocative art that it is. The music sweeps in the background lending an atmosphere I thought dreamlike to the swirling colors and rich design of the costumes, the sets, the locations each framed and shot with a deft hand, capturing so much beauty of locations as well as adding a whole other language to the fights along with the sound design that punctuates every blow and cuts back in the sequences of dreamlike combat in an irresistible, oddly tantalizing way. Even the speech in mandarin lends to the air of something thoroughly of itself, an uncompromising portrait of the best this genre has to offer. Only very rarely will every component of a film come together in such harmony and that alone is an accomplishment to be praised and a work to be appreciated. Add to that a story of the truly romantic, mythic sort with pointed, surprisingly fleshed out themes of loyalty, love, entrapment and power and you get a piece of cinema that is entertaining, awe inspiring and a testament to the medium.
Climactic ending? Sure. Good movie? Eh, it was alright. A few things diminished my enjoyment of this movie to less than the first two. Firstly, the fact that the colonel didn't just kill Caesar right off the bat really bugged me. It wouldn't have been that much of a problem but his capture, though integral to his character arc, took way too much of the runtime and got less and less believable as time went on. Also the escape was too easy and didn't have any sort of tension or anything. Second, I was expecting something a little more tangibly climactic with the plot of this film. Yes, it was good to end on Caesar finally leading his people to a home of safety and it was pointed to realize that that was his purpose all along but aside from a line of dialogue here and there, I didn't pick up on the journey of the apes to a new home as one of much importance until the very end. That was my problem with this movie in general. More than it's predecessors, things just happen and they'll have a reason down the road but they don't have a logical reason to have occurred. I was expecting more than just a sequence of events plot. Even if the plot takes a step down, I think that the overall narrative remains true, even if the thematic elements aren't as clearly fleshed out. There were interesting new ideas (Novas, donkeys, and other signs of the worlds shifting) incredible new set pieces, the performances, visuals and digital effects were just as good as always and better but overall, the narrative punch was scattershot to me and had a weaker impact than the last two. Caesar stands out once again as the focal point but he can't hold this movie entirely together, it's become too big for him and maybe that's how it always had to be. The series outgrew it's main character on purpose and ended at the parting of ways. For me personally, it weakened the experience but I suppose, made for a better outcome. Caesar's journey is the natural last step in his arc but I was frustrated by the portrayal. It wasn't bad by any means I just didn't feel connected like I had before. The old familiar characters were there but it just didn't have the weight to me. I still loved Maurice. He was even more kind, more loyal and even more awesome and he didn't die in the end. This was truly an awe inspiring ending and overall a satisfying one but I suppose I wanted something a little more dynamic. I guess what we learned is leave humans alone and they'll kill each other. Run into the hills and be free. Ok then. I'll give this movie credit, it was quite an achievement. I just didn't totally buy it.
They had us in the first half, not going to lie. Though I was really happy with the direction this film immediately went for in creating a soft sort of post-apocalyptic world for humans and apes to get along in, I wasn't exactly sold on the approach that this film took. It was just under an hour of nobody trusting nobody, blunders being made and guns being waved and while it was certainly wrought with tension, it was the stressful, unpleasant sort of tension because both sides and all the stand out characters on both sides (except Carver, He was just an idiot) have such believable and pitiable motivations and social predicaments that the idea of conflict between them (something I knew was eventually going to come) seemed completely undesirable. With the plot moving so slowly at the beginning, it was slightly agonizing to experience. However, there was enough interesting character dynamics (Caesar and Malcom, Caesar's son's apprehensions, Koba's stirring hatred, Maurice with everyone but especially Malcom's son) and visually resplendent world building to keep the film going until Koba does the fateful deed. After that, the film blooms fully into it's singularly unique, compelling, tragic, chaotic and almost operatic identity. I think it was the only right decision the writers could have made to have the apes strike first. After the first film we have sort of been conditioned to see the humans as the enemies of the apes and what with the enormous arsenal and testy nerves of the human colony, it seemed that the oppression of the apes would soon come again. It was exactly the development the Caesar and the apes needed, a conflict, betrayal, a villain in their midst to drive home that the apes are not intrinsically better than the humans. The moment that Caesar realizes this, lying wounded in front of his son, brought low by the betrayal of his own kind and humbling himself by returning to the home he had moved on from is a powerful moment and what I think the entire film was leading up to. Caesar and Malcom both realizing the worth of the other's kind and acknowledging each other as friends. On a big picture scale, the apes trilogy is using it's second installment to level the playing field between apes and humans to set up the climax of the third act, but it does so in an explosive and poignant way. I think the flavor that this film has that most science fiction action films do not is a feeling of tragedy. Not tragedy in the sense of failure, but in the conflict and mistrust between and within the apes and humans that inevitably will lead to great strife. This film has action, drama and heart but each of these is given a vein of tragedy. Thankfully, it is the kind that is epic even in it's laments and drives some hard hitting questions home as the apes become smarter and stronger. Heck, not only do they talk a lot more, by the end they were speaking in metaphor while beating the snot out of each other. It may sound odd, but that kind of thing is what I think the apes movies are made for. Another significant advancement… have I mentioned that this movie is very good as a sequel? Paying homage, carrying themes over from the first installment while giving the narrative further believable direction and a wider focus? Well now I've mentioned it, and the greatest thing about it is the increased inclusion of the best character in the series: Maurice. Maurice already has the advantage of being an orangutan which is makes him cuddly and imposing at the same time, but he also gets the singular honor of being the good friend to the main characters and since not as much attention is given him, he is not tarnished by a lesson needing to be learned or a flaw to correct. He's just pure awesome. When he turns his piercing eyes toward Malcom's family and utters his one word in the film "run" I got chills. He's just a peaceful, understanding presence and he's the only one who gets along with both sides (something I wished could've happened for everyone) and when he had to, he grabbed that ape and showed him who's boss. I love that kind of character. I was genuinely concerned when he got shot but was relieved to see that he just shook it off like the bad-A he is. Such good stuff.
I think this film benefits greatly from the low expectations the idea of another reboot to a talking ape franchise creates. I know I personally had no clue what this movie was going to do and even littler clue of how it was going to do it. Add in my preexisting knowledge of the trilogy dynamic and coming in I was rolling the dice on my enjoyment of this film. Though the shock may come from the low expectations, I can safely say that it was shockingly incredible. Let's just get the regular stuff this movie nailed out of the way. The cinematography, special effects, music and even performances were all surprisingly great. The way the film palpably speeds up little by little until it comes to a conclusion that is roaring full throttle is an excellent use of a tight 90-minute runtime. I think what makes this film so amazingly special is not just it's inclusion of intelligent apes but the way the plot focuses almost entirely on them and in particular, Caesar. Caesar is the anchor around which the whole film comes together. Without him, this wouldn't have been half the experience. Every time I looked at Caesar, I was dumbfounded at the intelligence so apparent on his face. What Caesar is to the film, so his face is to his character and here comes the incomparable Andy Serkis, making history again as he and a visual effects team on the cutting edge bring another unlikely character to life. It is that life, that look in Caesar's eyes, the way he twirls a twig between his fingers, his focus and his piercing stare create a riveting new protagonist for a unique and incredible story. And that was all that needed to be done. From the get-go I was completely invested in Caesar's story and wonder of wonders, I found myself much more invested and much more interested in his scenes that contain no dialogue then the scenes with the human characters. Caesar's journey is riveting to watch as he uses his wits to gain more and more control of himself, his fellow apes and the humans around them. I was blown away, my jaw dropped when Caesar says his first word and I was struck in his final scene with James Franco to see that he was standing just as straight and tall as his former caregiver. To expound on that scene (and the gripping third act rampage) another great achievement of this film is bringing Caesar to his ultimate destiny as head of the new tribe of intelligent Apes. It's a great Sci-fi achievement to make such a foreboding event as apes striking back as one that is made as a strike for justice. I can't wait to see how this is all fleshed out more in the next two films. And yet this movie walks the line, Caesar must leave behind that bad but also the good things humans have done for him and at least at this point, he is by no means perfectly commendable in all his actions (though the human touch does lend him compassion, an essential step on the path to humanity as it were). All in all, this is excellent science fiction that uses it's unique angle to tell an engaging and enthralling story rather than explore philosophical themes to deeply and that is completely fine by me. Man, I didn't see that coming. What a ride
This film was fricking amazing. Every scene, every shot every second was filled to the brim with incredible action, suspense, and thrilling, electrifying energy. Just a good old fashioned, top of the line, all stoppers out wild paced 80's action movie and it's just perfect. I won't pretend there weren't clunky moments or some aged effects here and there but the punch is so quick and powerful in this movie that it's faults are only a blur compared to the full course action extravaganza that this is. Coupled with the gritty, dark design, tone and story of the first film this movie goes above and beyond and totally succeeds. Also, what a funny thing that instead of calling it Alien 2 they just went "Aliens". That one S makes all the difference.
This movie was on the whole not very good. Of the comedy films that use the premise of actors or pretenders having to do the real thing (a type of story I really enjoy), this one might have been my least favorite. That's not to say it didn't utilize it's premise, I enjoyed (in a frustrated sort of way) seeing five acting stereotypes (acted in a excellently stereotypical way by the main cast) slowly get deconstructed as their incredibly high egos fall away. That being said I wearied of the incredibly diverse and ever present foul language that pervaded this film. I don't have a problem with language per se but this movie had it on another level that became distracting for me. Couple that with some quite offensive stuff that went too far (The directors severed head, Keith clinging to his character, Simple Jack) and I had a bad taste in my mouth after the film even though I enjoyed a lot of the other humor. I do see what the writers and director were trying to do with these offensive things so I can respect the satire but I still didn't like it. I enjoyed Matthew McConaughey, Nick Nolte, Bill Hader, especially Tom Cruise and all the other who's-who moments in the cast but at the end of the day, I wasn't sold. I'll just say my favorite joke was in the trailer for Keith's film it says "5 time Academy Award winning Keith Richards" and then "MTV award for best kiss winner Tobey Maguire" That was satire baby.
This film is a perfect dance with the devil. It's a masterpiece, a true work of art and a testament to craft. It was also plagued with an immense feeling of unenjoyment and I can only suppose that is exactly what it set out to do. This movie is like an amalgamation of three very different eras of storytelling, combining the poetic, mythic language and imagery as well as the epic and tragic writings of those like Shakespeare with the understated black and white and 35mm camera of the bygone, fledgling days of film and the sexuality, language and violence showcasing the vulgar, brutal tendencies of modern cinema. All of these ingredients mixed into one swirling, bubbling pot make for a film that is thrilling going down but leaves something nasty as an aftertaste. What can be said about a film that is only worth watching for the impeccable filmmaking and yet is not enjoyable? This film tests the limits of that question as it gracefully and masterfully sends it's characters to Hell. I don't know if most people derive enjoyment out of watching two men go violently mad but I certainly don't. There comes a point when a bloody, self-destructive climax goes beyond the catastrophic beauty of the great tragedies of Shakespeare and his ilk and into the realm of pure mayhem. That is a realm I don't want to dwell in for longer than I must. There were moments sizzling with tension, the electric sense of humanity spinning out of control. For me, a lot of that energy came from the sheer power of the performances. The presence, the eyes, intense gaze, and the articulate, poetic line delivery of Willem Dafoe coupled with the somber, stoic, somewhat cowering but explosively wild performance of Robert Pattinson was a dance of two actors at the top of their craft, one wizened and the other eager to prove and it's a wonder to behold. The relentless sound design of the foghorn, the gulls, the sea and clock and the intricate soliloquies whether mythic or profane the music that is ladened with heavy dread and despair are a symphony of terror to the ears. I think that that is the catch of this film. The whole movie is an experience of claustrophobic, psychological dread and despair. The film is best encapsulated by it's final shot. It's an intricately, beautifully crafted slowly rotting corpse being eaten alive. I won't say that such an image is artistically uncompelling, but it is personally unappealing.
I enjoyed this movie. I think it really was something special, unique and heartfelt but it certainly had some flaws that kept it from soaring. Good things first, I thought this movie had an incredibly strong spirit to it. The scenes of Luca and his friends enjoying their lives were magical and genuine and Luca's flights of fancy made me think of the flights of my own childhood imagination. My favorite scene in this film is the one where Luca and Alberto are swimming to the town. Everything clicked in that scene; the animation was particularly gorgeous, the cinematography was alive and inventive and gave an energy to the scene the music threaded the needle between catchy melody and emotional soundscape and it had my heart thumping (as an aside, I thought the score was probably the single best part of this film, at least the part I thought was the most remarkable and a part I enjoyed thoroughly). The interaction between the characters was so genuine as Luca starts to become more and more confident and Alberto leads him on. It's been a long time since I saw a scene so brimming with the joy of life than this. And that's what this movie does best, a sense of life. That sense of childhood freedom and carelessness, imagination and simple pleasures and goals. Like so many Pixar films, the characters were a great strength. The life of the colorful cast of characters brought to completion by a excellent voice cast made this a work of art with a real emotional identity of joy. The little streaks of humanity were great, Massimo's missing arm that he was simply born with, Alberto's carefree life covering up his father's leaving him, Luca pretending to still be human after Alberto reveals himself and Giulia not buying it for a second, Luca's grandma casually covering for his lateness. These were all great, heartwarming moments and it looked like they were leading up to something really special in the climax that would tie this sweet story in a nice bow. It tied it up alright but not in as pretty a bow as I was expecting. If the best part of Onward was the end and before that it was just a fun time, I would say the exact opposite for Luca. I think the primary reason for this in both films is how poorly utilized their signature Pixar premise is. Onward at least made it's premise integral to the plot and one could argue that Luca's sea monster premise is integral but only in a secondary way. The thing that caused me to think that was the fact that the town almost immediately accepts them at the end. Sure we need a happy ending and we need the bully to be dumped by his cronies and for the main characters to learn a lesson and these things all happen but very weakly so. I wasn't really compelled by the way the ending went because I think a world changing ending (or in this case a town changing ending) didn't really payoff with the set up given. I was charmed by the simple, lively story of two boys and a girl and their underdog adventure on the Italian Riviera but aside from some fun hijinks, unique visuals and scenes the literal meaning of fish out of water just didn't seem necessary for the emotional core. Just like Cars, the premise of this film was cool and definitely creative and imaginative but it didn't lend itself fully to what film is ultimately about: story. There could be some connections to identity and fear of being found out in the real world with sea monster just being a symbol but if this was it it wasn't fleshed out at all and couldn't have been what the movie was about. If this movie were a vespa, it would be one that speeds up quickly and rides along at great speeds before coming to a slow, sputtering end before the finish line. I loved the speed in the middle but it makes the sputter at the end that much more disappointing.
I'm not going to pretend that this movie was anything really special but I'm not going to pretend that it was bad either. What more can I say except that it had all the ingredients. Great performances, engaging, ridiculous and funny action, likable characters, twisty and weird plot, hilarious hijinks, funny, off kilter dialogue, it was all there. I think that it's been said but it's worth saying again that the chemistry between Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling makes this movie what it is. You can watch regular action comedies all the live long day and they'll be funny, crass, gory and sexually charged like all the rest and this film is certainly all that but what puts it a little higher above the pack is the buddy comedy element that is executed flawlessly by the two leads. They sell every weird interaction, odd occurrence and over the top scenario they get into with ease and it's what makes this film so special to watch. The plot was typically original and since thematic elements are scarce in this genre, I won't judge it too harshly for an emotional core that was so-so. The fact that it had any emotional center (and even, dare I say it, tangible themes) is noteworthy to be honest. But that's only secondary, I thought the mystery was executed well with plenty of times to get up to speed with what was happening and just enough moving parts to keep you on your toes whilst still being pretty simple (I still don't quite know who the blue face guy and Keith David were working for but at this point I'm to afraid to ask). Also In the usual style of the bloody comedy, the plot winds down with a narrative dead end that leaves the characters to sort of find their balance as the main push of the story violently disappears and I really like that. Mix in Shane Black's signature style of casualness in the face of over the top violence and his undeniable visual flare (even if some set pieces and sequences looked needlessly soft and CG) you get plenty of laughs, plenty of action, a good deal of mystery and best of all some great characters. It's a fun ride that thankfully doesn't take it's self to seriously, well written, well acted, it was good. It wasn't completely stellar but it was good.
This movie was awesome! Since I have not (yet) seen the first Suicide Squad and I had only high expectations for this film without a movie I know to be absolutely terrible to compare it too. I know that this is an improvement on the original, almost anything would be, so the part I want to focus on is whether this movie stands on it's own feet. One of the particular expectations I had going into this was that the gore would be a focal point as all the accolades I had heard in regard to it had mentioned this movie's glorious gore as one of it's strongest appeals. As I watched the film however, gore remained secondary to the stylized action violence. I think what really sets this movie apart in the action department is how it expertly utilizes the special abilities of it's characters. Yes, blood and guts spurt when a shot is fired or a sword is slashed but that merely provides visceral umph, an extra push to the ballet like fighting of Harley Quinn, the calculated, precise killing competitions between Bloodsport and Peacemaker, the bursts of polka dots, the swarms of rats, the suit made of guns, the casually ravenous shark man. This dedication to giving each main character unique abilities and then showcasing them is what makes the action violence of this movie so fun and memorable, with the gore being only an emphatic punctuation.
Story wise there's nothing exactly special. It's an action movie plot that just wants to give the main characters a concrete end goal, a way to get from one set piece (excellent set pieces in this case) to the other and sprinkle in little personal touches and some setups and payoffs along the way. Honestly, that's perfectly fine, and with the added aspect that anyone (except maybe Harley Quinn) could die at any moment (and they do), the well-executed jumps back and forth in the narrative, the twists that lend a violent attitude to the story and especially the creative, quirky and often unexpected transition text, time text, vs text and even a kind of chapter tex,t the simple structure proves perfectly adequate for containing the delightful embellishments that James Gunn revels in. Little camera tricks, unique poetic licence (Ratcatcher 2's backstory just plastered on the window of the bus, the flowers in Harley's fight scene… inside the mind of Harley Quinn??) of course the soundtrack (my personal favorite being Folsom Prison Blues though it was a little evocative of the original's House of the Rising Sun), Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, bright, colorful and almost playful color palette (a deliberate upgrade from the previous film I'm sure) and the quirky, surprisingly funny (though a lot of the humor was from visual gags) dialogue that ties it all together in a neat little bow.
And of course, the James Gunn signature element, a cast of odd and entertaining characters. Pete Doctor once said that Character is much more important than plot and I wholeheartedly agree. Simplicity of story hardly matters to an audience if there are some great characters to hang around with. Gunn throws a lot of characters at us, it's all right cause most of them die but even the ones that don't stick around have a charm and a uniqueness to them, it doesn't exactly endear them (it's not supposed to) but it does make it all the more colorful. For the characters that remain, Gunn makes a considered effort to give even the least important character a heart, a longing, a wound that doesn't just make the things they do believable, it puts power and purpose behind them. Not often do you see an ensemble film so evenly balanced and even less often is it balanced in such a frenetic, funny and deadly way.
It could be argued that the emotional core of this movie borrows from Guardians of the Galaxy and in a way it does. Misfits, outsiders, dangerous criminals who learn to band together, work as a team and sacrifice themselves for others. Maybe it's a message already spoken, but it's spoken in a legitimately unique way in this movie. It's the moments that stick out to me "I think liberty is just your excuse to do whatever you want" "I'm a m************ superhero!" "If a rat has a purpose, so do we all." "would you eat your friends?" "no" "Then can we be your friends?" "I know what the javelin was for!" The tear in Bloodsport's eye, The assistant knocking out Waller, Bloodsport stroking the rat, Peacemaker pointing his gun at Ratcatcher 2 "I'm thorough". It's moments like these, some of them imperfect, some of them intentionally so, all of them infused with an off-kilter angle where the humanity, the emotion is there it's just portrayed in the way that a supervillain would experience it. Flawed, a little off the mark, that's the point, that's what's done and it's done expertly and compellingly. One overall thing in particular, I love that all people involved had to go against orders, go against the good guys to actually do some good. Stuff like that is why this kind of thing exists. My bar was honestly low for the emotional effectiveness of this movie going in but the story actually got me caring about the main characters it wanted me to care about. So well done movie.
The only problems I had were few and far between. I wish that the rivalry between Peacemaker and Bloodsport had been a little more developed. It would have made for an even more dynamic last stand between them. There was a moment where a line of dialogue from Bloodsport was edited in choppily and didn't even seem necessary. Also I got the feeling that this movie was made entirely by checking off boxes. Quirky characters, funny dialogue, gory violence, heart at the center (I mean, the main threat was basically the one from the first Suicide Squad just much more colorful and bizarre). It just seems like this kind of thing has been done before and will be done again. On the whole though that doesn't matter because the result is one I really enjoyed and that offers it's own special flavor of entertainment and engagement.
This movie was an absolute hoot. I haven't laughed that hard in a movie in a long time and that's a good thing because other than laughs this movie doesn't offer much but I guess that's because it's entire offering is laughs. All that to say this movie was hilarious, shocking and absolutely bonkers and I loved it. I can really get behind a movie that sets up an elaborate house of cards just to send it crashing down in the most fun way possible even if that's all it does. The art of being genuinely smart and actually funny is an enviable and applaudable thing and I can't help but give the Coen brothers all the credit for one of the greatest houses of cards I have ever had the distinct pleasure of watching. The movie just gets faster and faster and more and more ridiculous and then it all finally goes up in the best way. But it wasn't just the plot and dialogue, the actors add a special spice of their own. They are obviously having a ton of fun with this movie and the ridiculousness of the characters makes for some of the hammiest and silliest performances I've seen. Brad Pitt was my personal favorite, this guy is unbelievable. Every action, word and glance from Pitt was spot on and hilarious and he definitely had my favorite line in a movie that is really quotable (Osbourne Cox? I thought you might be worried… about the security… of your S***). Next is George Clooney who spirals with such over the top gusto that it's a wonder to behold. Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, all so excellent and the icing on the cake: a drole helping of J.K Simmons. The one criticism that I would have for this movie, and with "house of cards" movies in general is that by design, the audience is left with nothing at all substantive to walk out with except a vague feeling of emptiness (this criticism can be leveled at a lot of the Coen's work too). What makes this worse is that this movie ends with a particularly nasty murder with a hatchet, which is certainly a grim send off and the worst shock in a movie peppered with them. I guess that's not even true about the ending. The scene is actually pretty funny (they say Tarantino is the master of funny violence but the Coens could give him a run for his money) and it's not the last scene of the movie. In the actual last scene, J.K. Simmons gives a perfect summation of how to walk away from this movie:
"What did we learn palmer?
I don't know, sir.
I don't f*****' know either. I guess we learned not to do it again.
I'm f***** if I know what we did.
Yes, sir, it's, uh, hard to say."
And there you go. You win again Coen brothers. How do you guys do it?
I don't know what to make of Inside Llewyn Davis. It's moody, cold and sorrowful atmosphere were executed very well with the soft, tinted lighting and the plot that wasted away in a good way. The music was incredible, soulful, excellently performed and contributed to the droopy feeling the film had while also adding the heartbeat and a way to bare it's soul (I love that "Fare Thee Well is basically the story of Llewyn's mentality throughout the film). In fact, if there were one singular thing that stood out as truly unique it was the use of folk music as a window into depression. With that stroke of musical genius leading the field, the performances are the other stand out of this film. Oscar Isaac's stoic, somber presence is captivating, his eyes just speak pent up stress, sadness and anger and in the moments it leaks out (especially in the songs that are beautifully drawn out to their conclusions) it is awe inspiring and heartbreaking to see. This movie is about depression, but I heard that from a synopsis and I don't know what to make of it. On a purely analytical level I would say this movie was an exercise in building mood and in that it succeeded. It's on the emotional level that I can't seem to figure this movie out. This is a portrait of life, a look inside Llewyn Davis, an experience more than a story, a feeling more than a thought. But is a movie good just because it makes me feel a feeling? Is this movie good just because it's a masterclass in good filmmaking and good folk music as well? For some that might be enough and if you like those two things than you should definitely watch this film, but I personally wanted something more than just melancholy. The movie ends where it begins and I can see what the reason for that might be. Llewyn's life passing by with one heartbreak after another, wounded like the animal on the road but still alive to limp along. Saying farewell to what's behind because he has to be traveling on but what is ahead has happened before. I guess if one part of this film really hit deep it's how Llewyn doesn't seem to get much joy or pleasure from playing and singing anymore. With that, the music in this film takes on a different role than it usually plays. It's not there for fun its there to prove that beautiful music can be sorrowful, and the same goes for a film. This film seems to me to pose the question of how do you live when life is going wrong in every way. What can you do but live like this movie does and take it one day at a time saying fare thee well to the past. I guess this movie left me wanting but I think that might have been the point so I am mentally satisfied with my guts lack of satisfaction. If nothing else it's some good food for thought and good music for the soul. You win again Coen brothers, well done. Gosh you guys are hard to pin down.
This Movie was bad, it wasn't boring, but it was bad. I am not a real G.I. Joe fan, so I have no complaints about breaking cannon or doing characters disservice (though my friend who is a fan had a good many complaints), all of my problems with this movie are entirely with its own lack of merit. I don't know what Snake Eyes is supposed to be like as a character, but I do know that he made a pretty awful protagonist. He says at the end of the movie in a heroic way "All of this was my fault" but throughout the film he had been double dealing and betraying with impunity and none of his choices seemed slightly heroic, they only advanced his own interests. There's nothing inherently wrong with this narrative choice but it was pretty clear that they were trying to shoehorn good guy status on Snake Eyes in part because of how they shoehorned Storm Shadow's villain status in at the end in an equally egregious way. I found this especially offensive because Storm Shadow was a much more decent and honestly much cooler character the whole time. It was like watching a film from the perspective of the villain the whole time and then at the very, very end, the villain is hailed as a hero and the hero as a villain. Not great narrative payoff. Speaking of narrative, the plot was perfectly fine and easy to understand even if it was scattershot and kind of weird but what I found unforgivable about this movie was the huge amount of missed opportunities. Let me put it this way; Why do people who like old musicals watch them? For the plot, characters, deep themes and powerful messages? Heck no. They watch them for the talent, the songs, the singing, the dancing, the fun time that the musical provides. It's the same with an action movie like this but with things like originality, cool choreography, unique set pieces, exhilarating sequences, flashy cinematography, bombastic cinematic showing off. Snake Eyes could have had this but it didn't and instead, contented itself on being repetitive, and understated on all accounts. The only scenes that were worth anything to me were the first one (because I didn't know it would be the general formula for every fight after) and the fight in the streets of Tokyo. Even in those instances, the camera work and choreography were pretty basic and formulaic. There were times when I hoped that something cool would happen like when the blind master and the hard master had there first fights with the enemy or when the camera showed a really cool wide shot of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow fighting a horde of enemies. In each instance, what I vainly hoped would be a super cool, elaborate and unique fight sequence ended up cutting, getting up close and ending far too quickly. They even managed to make Japan look boring. The easiest set piece to make indulgently colorful and cool looking, they miffed. It was mostly dark in the main sequences, and they even managed to have some rain falling for one of them. The whole movie was just sword fighting, sword fighting, some punching and then some more sword fighting. That's like if a musical just had slight variations of the same song and dance the whole movie. There's not even a point to watching anymore. Even Kung Fu Panda had better fights than this. A kid's animated movie. The climax even managed to be cheesy. An impressively bad ending to a disappointingly bad movie. The only things that were actually good about this were firstly Andrew Koji and second, Henry Golding. But even they were not able to withstand the narrative beating their characters took by the time the credits rolled (and even after that). The snake pit and it's payoff was ok but the way Snake Eyes gets out the first time is simply lazy. On the whole, this movie was unsatisfying, uninspiring and a drag. What makes it all the worse is that the talent was there. it truly could have been so much better even if you didn't change the script. What a let down.
Jungle Cruise was a perfectly adequate helping of entertainment. In other words, it wasn't a particularly moving piece of cinema. I suppose that can be expected from a film so hyper saturated in Disney commercialism that it's title is taken from a Disney Land ride and what with the cash grabbing, creatively stalled output that makes up the majority of Disney's current lineup, why get your hopes up? There were two things that were keeping my hopes above water. Firstly, the stars on the poster, who I am happy to say characteristically deliver to a degree even higher than the material given them (with said material staining even the intrepid Emily Blunt and the incomparable Dwayne Johnson). I was hoping against hope that there wouldn't be a romance between the stars. I think that movies that are expressly adventure based really benefit from a "buddy" relationship in the center (Finding Nemo and a lot of other Pixar movies come to mind). The romance admittedly made narrative sense but it just didn't work for me and didn't seem right. Even with that, the chemistry between the dynamic duo (and Jack Whitehall's McGregor) was entertaining and sweet even if the characters on their own were pretty basic The second reason I had some expectations for this film is that Disney had in the past, against all odds produced a film based on a Disney Land ride that turned out to be an absolute masterpiece. And so I think that the best way I can express my frustrations with the overall blandness of Jungle Cruise is to compare it to it's much better counterpart, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Pirates took the loose concept of the ride and expanded it into a really intriguing Pirate and Zombie combination with a curse that can only be broken by a mcguffin that a variety of key players are vying for. Jungle Cruise does exactly this (just swap pirates for Spanish conquistadors) which in itself is a problem but the main issue I have is that it executes it's concept in a much less interesting way. Just looking at the zombies designs one can see the advance in technology but the decrease in artistry and character that pervades modern blockbuster fare. Jungle Cruise does try to take advantage of its interesting setting (a real highlight is the waterfall scene) but on the whole, the CGI landscape seemed lifeless and tepid, even colorless. There were a few good set designs, the rock temple that appeared when the water fell was really cool, but while there was a concerted effort to put a classic, Indiana Jones style production design in the film, it ended up being more like Crystal Skull, glossy and smooth which isn't a good thing. I don't think it even fair to mention the inferiority of Jungle's villains (besides I don't really mind that, Jesse Plemons hammed it up enough to get by) and to this movies credit it did have an interesting twist with Frank's identity but even then, his motivations are very similar to Barbossa's in Pirates. I think the score was better for this movie than for Pirates. It did lend a sense of classic nostalgia that the production design didn't and the film really needed that but at the end of the day, it was about as generic as the Pirates score was but without the awesome main theme. The dialogue was snappy and funny in a lot of places but because of the plainer characters, I don't think it will remain fresh very long. Jungle Cruise has a serviceable premise, a basic story, mildly inspired special effects and action and pretty standard character types. In a nutshell, frustratingly serviceable as entertainment. This doesn't make the movie bad by any means and there are little bits and pieces to spice it up but on the whole, I had seen it before and seen it done better so why bother? bother for Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson but that's it…