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Average User Score: 8.6Oct 12, 2018We all must use our best traits of excellence, as passion plus skill equals impact beyond the grave, sustaining the salt of the earth and theWe all must use our best traits of excellence, as passion plus skill equals impact beyond the grave, sustaining the salt of the earth and the light of the world. True to the expectation of our existence, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut brings everything he excels at in updating the tragically romantic classic A Star is Born for the 21st century.
Before seeing this movie, the horrible, mega cheesy trailer got me worried, I thought despite all the early Oscar attention, this might match The Greatest Showman’s quality, thankfully I was wrong. In fact, beyond just making a dang enjoyable film, the three-time Academy Award nominee exploits his clear skill in acting, singing, and directing. Bradley enhances his reputation beyond just the sincere tear drips he controls, but also shows a grand soul at a small-scale production size that proves bigger is not always better, unless that bigger thing is the heart.
This character of his that represents all of Arizona shares marvelous chemistry alongside Lady Gaga enough to deeply move her performance in a way that will inspire any women watching. The famous pop singer first croons down a dark alley to communicate pain whilst the memorable title card comes up, then tops it off with a heavy-hitting finale she put her entire self into. It’s honestly such a joy to see the similar journey these two love-birds go through, even proving how a conversation about some random bag of frozen peas goes a long way.
Almost the rest of the whole cast puts their best foot forward, including the briefly present comedian Dave Chappelle, whose realistic speech further justifies our care about the main couple. That doesn’t include everyone though, as Rafi Gavron proves unoriginality on the screen he ought to avoid from here on out. This “actor” plays a British guy who serves an antagonistic force with an accent that suggests slight racism. Along with its misrepresentation of those from the UK, there is also a missed opportunity for Mexican representation, considering its Southern US setting, to make this reflect more close-to-home our culture nowadays; look at No Country for Old Men to see Mexicans portrayed in a much timelier fashion.
Although Americans are represented terrifically, as their culture is shown through all the small moments. Much like the mass obsession of appearance, Lady Gaga’s big nose is emphasized, which her character thinks roadblocks her road to fame. Then once her pain is justified, Gaga’s singing no longer sounds 100% pitch perfect, as her voice often cracks as she belts in front of the crowd. Normally, this would prove unprofessionalism, but in this case, our given perspective enables insight on her vulnerability as a growing celebrity. Then away from the spotlight, cute memories are lingered on between the two: peeling off artificial eyebrows, smearing pie on face, moments that naturally trigger laughter with sincerity surpassed beyond any West Side Story duet.
Yet not every moment helps refine the final product, for editor Jay Cassidy (Into the Wild, Silver Linings Playbook) rushes things carelessly to lay out little time passage around some life milestones that come off as ineffective. One unimportant component lingered on includes the usage of old people for the comic relief of misunderstanding technology, which really should have been cut entirely to help the obtrusive scene-to-scene transitions not feel cut too short.
Essentially, it just means this movie has a mind on featuring the world of fame with insurmountable depth. Instead of brash outfits, the costume designer Erin Benach (Drive, The Neon Demon) clearly understands how color complements human form. For instance, Lady Gaga at one point dyes her hair bright ginger, a rags-to-riches transition Benach accommodates to without being over-the-top lavish. Especially when inside the bathroom, the wardrobe remains quiet enough to even make Gaga’s stark work uniform resemble a limiting straitjacket before meeting her beau. The costumes never call attention to themselves, as the noise depicted by the massive shaky-cam is relied upon instead to bulge out the true emotions. In any other project, this technique would come off as amateurish, but here, it helps authenticate every performance, especially when the energetic stage lights illuminate the steam to represent self-expression, achieving whatever 1980s feature-length music videos (Dirty Dancing for instance) attempted.
Yes, A Star is Born is seriously worth glowing on about, even though everything beforehand worked against me having a good time; my ticket was paid out of pocket since MoviePass went flat-out faulty on a night the theater was so packed I had to sit third row from the screen. Yet miraculously, this piece of entertainment, like the passion in superb gifts, left an ultimate impact that knows how to salt the earth and enlighten the world with others who hope to do great.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.6Oct 4, 2018When I first saw the trailers to both The LEGO Movie and Zootopia, each to me looked childish with humor practically designed to annoy me,When I first saw the trailers to both The LEGO Movie and Zootopia, each to me looked childish with humor practically designed to annoy me, then once seeing them respectively after the overwhelming praise came in, wow: the incredible comedic depth of The LEGO Movie blew me away, while Zootopia easily became my favorite movie of 2016! I was so impressed by how both communicated deep political themes in a fashion that kids can understand, something more animated films need to pay more attention to.
How does that relate to Smallfoot? Well, from the trailer alone, I expected surface-level substance made just for kids and nobody else, and the finished product is in fact a bit more than that. While not better than The LEGO Movie or Zootopia, the Warner Animation Group still provide surprisingly deep social commentary about border control, abuse of the working class, communication with differences, and even past religious influence on an economic climate.
The pale blue yeti colony upon a Himalayan mountaintop are not like the rising and setting sun they worship, they follow a strict belief system written on stone tablets; if it’s not written in stone (literally), it’s false. Yes, even if it means the stones say a yak’s anus created their mountain which giant mammoths hold up on their backs, they believe it. These folks are under the rule of a Stonekeeper who wears these laws. Those rough ancient stones make the Stonekeeper appear clung to past ideas that weigh him down, along with every worker who labor for nothing but to cover up a big political lie that could explain why there’s more clouds in the sky. That doesn’t make this land any more believable unfortunately: within this ice-behemoth utopia, the mammoths are dogs and the snails are lamps, which proves nothing more than servitude for the convenience of gags over common sense, much like any computer animation studio that isn’t Disney or Pixar.
Anyhow, the main character of the story, Migo, has a father who holds a crucial duty of headbutting a giant gong via slingshot morning after morning to wake the giant snail (sun) in the sky. His head is flattened from continual gong striking—a hazardous old tradition that Migo will someday assume. That’s why he feels a calling to something greater, something new, something that… starts with a slow-motion pratfall when he slips on snow. Yeah… there’s still a lot of cheap humor that makes the first two acts a little tedious. The blandness of the feature gets to be a bit more noticeable once Migo meets a human named Percy, or the mythical “smallfoot.” A language barrier prevents proper communication between these two as an attempt to drive the film’s heart, although not enough boosts their bond to the extent of WALL-E and EVE.
At least the architecture of rock murals influenced by the yetis’ mythological beliefs give some extra meaning in the visuals, including a yellow butterfly (representing new thinking) frozen inside a blue icicle (representing old thinking) focused on during one musical number. Yes, there’s numerous dull songs scattered throughout as if an attempt to rip off Disney, none of which are a “Circle of Life” or “Hakuna Matata” kind of deal. The staging of these songs is unimaginative too, as Percy at one point leads a love song surrounded by YouTube videos against blackness, which just looks forced. Also, the Stonekeeper raps, which doesn’t make sense considering he would have no way of knowing what such a music genre is. As much as the artists try to convey a love for nature, it can’t lift a story dragged by a constantly quick pace.
Though the well-done animation itself does masterfully blow Migo’s hair to a thick blizzard that blankets the view, much more attractive than anything similar from twenty years ago. Plus, the facial expressions are just right, unhidden and memorable to enhance some nice laughs scattered throughout. One of the more notable examples includes a toilet paper roll dubbed a “scroll of invisible wisdom,” plenty funny enough to sustain excitement. But those genuinely funny moments are far from consistent, as the poor directorial pacing ends numerous jokes way too soon for an effective punchline. The direction suffers a bit too from the painful slapstick that defies physics: Migo’s rubbery body survives falling 500 feet then getting sandwiched between two rock pillars. Yeah, it’s a cartoon, but such a lack of care in establishing real danger removes all tension.
That’s really the whole kit-and-kaboodle of Smallfoot: despite how its main human character plans to fake yeti sightings for the sake of viewers, there’s still the other useless plot devices, such as a dead mother, that stop this butterfly from fully emerging from its chrysalis. Therefore, the harmless entertainment will keep the kids entertained, with just enough depth to make the parents not tear their hair out; and that’s the truth.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.2Sep 27, 2018In just one month, it will be time to hand candy out to kids at your door wearing cheap costumes. It will be time to pull out the HalloweenIn just one month, it will be time to hand candy out to kids at your door wearing cheap costumes. It will be time to pull out the Halloween classics: Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, just to name a few. Those seasonal favorites are admittedly low in artistic quality, and The House with a Clock in Its Walls is no exception as it takes a similar tone to the numerous quirks of Halloween-ish children’s entertainment. Yet despite this completely ridiculous plot reliant on gags over sensical situations, a decade or two from now a cult following could very well be picked up amongst a full generation!
I was ready to hate this goofy family entertainment much like I did A Wrinkle in Time, but for some outlandish reason, I found a soft spot for this flawed motion picture despite the MANY unmotivated performances that lowered the quality. I somehow don’t mind the bad acting and dialogue, because the twistedly magical artistic scale so strongly amplifies the size of the orphan protagonist, Lewis’s new teeny tiny house. In his new home, he along with his uncle (Jack Black) and neighbor (Cate Blanchett) must embrace a common concept of being the family’s black swan, since they each share a weirdness outside their front porch adorned with jack-o-lanterns. With trusty goggles, Lewis takes on an indominable insect virtue, his little ant size made smaller by the mundane brown hues of his school. But that’s still quite tame compared to a climactic lunar eclipse that eventually casts a giant blood red tint across the screen to tear down all life.
It’s certainly a wicked sense of cinematic appeal, but this glamorous fantasy also beautifies witchcraft, even giving a tutorial of blood payment that shows young minds how cultic practices works. At a more personal level, some of the more tasteless jokes include lingering on one slow boy on crutches in gym class, who gets lightly mocked, “good hustle” by the coach. Thus, viewer discretion is advised.
But hey, at least it’s funny as expected, once Jack Black pulls out a saxophone solo, dogs start howling while his live griffin bush covers its ears. Then that griffin bush, as if it were the family cat, poops into the backyard pond against its master’s orders, which sounds gross, but personally got a decent laugh out of me. But this mock Addams Family also stays grounded into reality with the appropriate 1950s tunes, until the heartbeats behind the moonlit walls tick-tock to set off the inner adrenaline. It’s a nice balance between funny filler guaranteed to entertain kids, and fun unsettlement from the perspective of a poor little orphan.
Yet despite the frightening imagery, it’s very unlikely that kids will relate to this style over substance experience. The boys have Lewis to connect with, who doesn’t have that much of a personality anyway, but the girls have no characters to relate to except one pointless girl from Lewis’ school who is around for approximately three scenes. She’s also one of the worst actors in the film, almost like they brought out a crew member’s daughter last minute. The adults are not out of the clear in being easily relatable either, as none of the veteran actors receive proper direction to be anything but doofuses. Case in point: there is a montage that forces Jack Black to levitate, which is admittedly a funny scene, but the wires he dangles on are obvious to notice, much like Winona Ryder “levitating” at the very end of Beetlejuice.
The cast members simply can’t enlighten the awful screenplay, since when the writing doesn’t abuse plot driven exposition through film reels, it implants bothersome name-calling between Jack and Cate that concludes its arc with a tossed around sense of heart. Now Cate, I particularly detested in this feature, she is supposedly written to be a “new” mother figure to Lewis but can’t generate sincere drama with a voice of reason. However, Cate still doesn’t annoy as much as Owen Vaccaro as Lewis, who overacts to force everyone’s attention on him, screaming loud enough to crack cement. He doesn’t even give a hint of emotion to hearing that this new uncle he’s living with has complete freedom of house rules. These visions he has at night of his dead mother are particularly hard to watch, as the actress playing her just stares at what seems like a total stranger, not who is supposedly her own son. Yeah, unfortunately, aside from Jack Black (who even then is mediocre at best), I have virtually nothing nice to say about any of the actors or actresses in this entire feature.
Despite the fun I had while watching this, understand that it’s still my job to discuss the negative qualities of every film I review. So odds are, you aren’t missing anything with The House with a Clock in Its Walls, but if you’re willing to take a chance, it could very well be the perfect jumpstart to your Halloween!… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Sep 20, 2018Sure, it’s got lots of pretty clothes that would be the hotspot sale on Black Friday. Sure, it’s got Anna Kendrick, whom many say is a roleSure, it’s got lots of pretty clothes that would be the hotspot sale on Black Friday. Sure, it’s got Anna Kendrick, whom many say is a role model because of her outer beauty. But you know what? Neither of those things matter, because they’re relied on to hold up a film high in fructose. The sugar of A Simple Favor may taste sweet, except the rush of its evil intentions churns regret once your health turns detrimental after swallowing its poorly put together eye candy.
At least the candy does look sweet in its display case; the makeup crew demonstrate tremendous effort to bring out Anna Kendrick’s beauty with or without mascara. The costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus (The Cider House Rules, Hidden Figures) also complements the Pitch Perfect star well while keeping it supportive toward the narrative. Kalfus dresses Anna in a big yellow jacket to divert our attention from any covered-up intentions, just one of the many popping colors that complement the film’s desired retro style. The look remains consistent right from the opening credits that flash against zesty Spanish music, carrying on these sharp colors to contrast two sides of our ideal 2018 American woman.
On one end, there are Anna Kendrick’s cutesy Pinterest mom DIY projects. On the other, there is Blake Lively’s aesthetics of a woman paid more than a man. Now as for the costar’s character, Blake first appears with high heels pounding on wet cement, a growing image of sophistication that still can’t match the size of her secretive closet. Between these two, they supposedly become close friends after knowing each other for just a couple of days, as represented by a friendship bracelet Anna makes for Blake. No, it doesn’t matter if Blake has a painting of her “pet beaver” in the living room, there’s just something about these two that meshes well.
There’s where the problem with this film starts.
The two leads’ “close” friendship of what looks like two days is never believable, mainly because of the awful writing void of any believable grief that gives neither actress any depth to work off. Blake Lively’s character is merely overpowered, but even if this had the best writer in the world, it wouldn’t help much. Blake just puts on her own show without any chemistry with anyone in the cast. Odds are, she decided to play a mother who chugs alcohol around little kids by merely acting as if drunk on a typical Saturday night.
In fact, there was probably some alcohol hopping all over the sets during the production, as it appears these producers like to annihilate a child’s innocence by making one little boy drop an F-bomb hard. That’s fine if it serves story purpose, except it doesn’t, it just comes off forced and lazy, and nobody seemed to bother giving the child actor any context of what he was screaming.
There literally is no other attention to story anywhere else, as one missed opportunity for clever symbolism sticks out: after one police officer mentions following metaphorical bread crumbs to solve a case, the very next scene features Caesar salad with bread crumbs in it. It tries to connect to a Hansel & Gretel scenario where Anna feels like the two children inside Blake the witch’s mega-expensive gingerbread house of a home, unfortunately that piece of symbolism has no payoff. In addition, many unnecessary flashbacks get explained again the same way immediately after thrown into the final edit. As if the storytelling isn’t lazy enough, Anna claims to be a “struggling” single mom—yet can purchase expensive technology for her mommy vlog… and the occasional spy equipment. Can’t make this stuff up, folks!
In most every role Anna plays nowadays, she’s either a clueless love interest (like in The Accountant) or “Slutty McSlut-slut,” (like in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) but here, Anna combines the cluelessness with the sex-object in a way that thinks it’s so classy. Part of the problem is that most of the project’s other creative minds have comedic backgrounds, resulting in a collaborated direction that moves too quick, and Anna, unfortunately, being the leading role, gets the last laugh. If these producers wanted to cast her purely for the marketing, they didn’t even do that right! Case in point: the little black dress Anna wears in the poster is never shown in the movie itself—just a longer version of it. Hey, got to show those legs to lure in those box office numbers!
There truly is evil lurking everywhere in this wannabee thriller with an ultimate intent on not suspense, but advertising whatever the celebs are wearing. So, do yourself A Simple Favor by avoiding this Macy’s commercial.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Sep 13, 2018Daily, parents are left traumatized when their teenage sons and daughters go missing, a reality that Searching covers all on a computer ownedDaily, parents are left traumatized when their teenage sons and daughters go missing, a reality that Searching covers all on a computer owned by a single father named David.
It starts with a montage of his old home videos that he stores into his desktop files, including Margot’s daily 5pm piano with mom. These moments appear sweet until his wife acquires lymphoma, her return home date delayed until finally getting deleted. Then before this thriller kicks off the thrills, the sound design first calms down the mood with a YouTube video of peaceful music that David plays. This creative choice implemented within the soundtrack works well to soothe before the storm. Then a screensaver fills up the entire frame to express time passage—a phone call alert pops up, the dad is asleep, and boom: his daughter, Margot, is gone.
After the production crew ensures realism to a relative’s death, the far more private, personal side of it is shown instead of the outside assumption of what cancer is like. The haunts of the aftermath reveal themselves when David copies memories including Margot’s first day of school and her first piano lesson, once cheerful memories now too painful to relive. Other instantly relatable moments include his constant passive-aggressive reminders for Margot to empty the trash. This appears on FaceTime by the way, which controls all the personal interactions in this feature, a much closer to home way of communicating than a mere ordinary scene would have accomplished. You may not know one of your close friends or relatives copy his home tapes to his other private folders, as David does, but there are many similar unknown facts about people you know, as this film addresses. In fact, people nowadays may as well not have a concrete identity anymore, since in this fictional case file, no characters are actually ever seen, just pixelated versions of themselves adapted to fit the social platform.
You easily comprehend David‘s guilt, thanks to the gradually escalating score, one that establishes danger when he sees some guy with a hookah commenting on Margot’s Instagram posts, including one eggplant emoji comment. Without the audio work, this would be just another account found on social media, yet concerning Margot’s unawareness of this guy’s suspected intentions; it turns truthful to how most sexual exploitation starts. Other tiny details express complete knowledge of youth culture from the committed screenwriters; during one conversation Margot has with a stranger online, she’s asked her favorite Pokémon; her answer is Uxie, a memory-eraser, the other says her favorite Pokémon is Kecleon, which changes color to disappear. Amazing how those two Pokémon choices fit perfectly what these two online interactors want to do to themselves!
Although it’s essential to bring up that this is the first feature film of director Aneesh Chaganty, and although he put in a good effort, he’s still got room for improvement. If there’s anything this movie is merely decent at rather than tremendous at, it’s the rather overlooked world building possibilities from inside the restrictive rooms the FaceTime callers sit in. Not much is done to utilize the background elements to give crucial information about the characters, and the random use of color for the sets doesn’t generate enough claustrophobia. When the screen is not focused on the FaceTime calls, an apparent lack of mastery in this type of space resorts to cropping in on certain elements of a webpage, which extinguishes the feel of being on your own laptop this film clearly intends.
Though despite those rather minor criticisms, genuine stress still leaves an impact by the familiar circumstances, including when Margot doesn’t answer her dad’s many texts. In another scenario, it could mean a delayed response, but here, it could be she ran away. Just his typing speed alone sparks the clear injustice, especially when revisiting the account of David’s dead wife, which hasn’t been logged onto for 694 days. That is why the montage in the beginning supports the emotional impact so well, because after given a chance to cry, you thus genuinely hope to see David get back all he has left.
But there’s no predictability in his mission to find his daughter: once the direction seems easy to figure out, it changes suddenly and constantly until the tension concludes. The tension is all thanks to how the final edit mixes in news footage to resemble an FBI case file compilation, structured appropriately by co-writer Sev Ohanian (second feature film) so that you naturally want Margot to be found.
To stop future crises like this one from happening again, parents and children likewise need to know what goes on with each other. Lack of availability can mark the difference between two crucial seconds, which means minorities nowadays should stop being so shut away from parents. Please do the same.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Sep 6, 2018I understand why this became among the summer’s hottest hits, its entertaining, funny story defies the overly White image of Hollywood, andI understand why this became among the summer’s hottest hits, its entertaining, funny story defies the overly White image of Hollywood, and appeals to the deepest desires of everyone who love seeing rich movie characters living an ideal lifestyle. Does that automatically label Crazy Rich Asians as decent? Well, it does keep to a standard no-risk level like that of any romantic comedy released during the summer, although it still got its various charms…
The protagonist, Rachel, a first-generation Chinese American, has been named a “banana,” yellow on the outside, White on the inside, with an appearance to match her situation perfectly; her hairstyle resembles a classic US magazine fashion cover, though she being middle class still looks ordinary enough. Her façade works once she travels with her boyfriend, Nick, to Singapore, where everyone she meets has a more sophisticated standard of beauty. That goes as well to her old blonde friend she visits, played by the funniest actress, Awkwafina, who is a pure gold persimmon: yellow inside and out.
You feel Rachel’s awkwardness when she meets the world of wealthy living, which helps later as it justifies when her heart gets broken. It comes in a situation for her when everyone is having a wonderful time celebrating the room’s most adorable couple, yet she’s too caught up in her own trouble to pretend she’s happy too. Here, a devastatingly strong #MeToo moment informs you why many, such as her mother, come to America from other countries.
I can’t really call it effective in the long run however, because the filmmaking is as bland as every rom-com ever made. Any hint of visual creativity from the cinematography is in a zesty montage of stylish modern text graphics, a creative oversaturated style never done again later. In fact, the montage is unfit for the film’s intentional feel of sophisticated living contrasted against poor living. The experience consequently feels far more American than Asian, especially with how the events play out, when personal pleasure (an American value) is proven to be greater than family (an Asian value- the movie’s words, not mine). No amount of joyless establishing shots relishing in Singapore’s great landmarks can make this film any less American than it clearly is.
In fact, the finished product didn’t really need a PG-13 rating, nor should have it aimed for one, because the subject matter would most likely bore teenagers into scrolling through Instagram while still in the theater. An R-rating honestly would’ve resulted in a sincerer telling of the events without the pressure to win over a wide family market. With that pressure present, the script based on Kevin Kwan’s novel presses a hypocritical theme irrelevant to older generations, saying that being young, rich, and beautiful is more important than family. To shut older viewers off even more, anybody over the age of fifty acts either cold, goofy, or one of those two traits one act then another the next.
But to be fair, when it comes to portraying the look of rich people in Singapore, the costumes’ grandness comes off very much authentic. Costume designer Mary E. Vogt honors Chinese culture with several clever details coming straight out of Chinese culture: Blue and white is for Chinese funerals, and Red represents fertility! You are guaranteed to keep track easily of everything the characters wear, which helps strengthen the comedy since everyone is so identifiable. I should also comment on the bride’s blooming dress, a true work of craftmanship that along with water glistening the isle she walks across, and artificial fireflies held by the crowd, took my breath away!
It’s things like this that tempts me to travel to Singapore, as Jon M. Chu’s direction shows clear love to its tourist destinations, especially with the attention put into crustacean meals and closeup shots on dumpling making! But at the same time, I must remind myself that the food lingered on results from a dreadful editing job, one so bad that it even overlooks when hands change positions between shots! I can only imagine how many meaningful scenes of Rachel meeting Nick’s relatives landed on the cutting room floor for tourist servitude. Worst of all, just when you think the picture will end in a different, mature way from other fantasy-driven romantic comedies, nope! The entire last five minutes suddenly hammers a dumb Hollywood climax, one that could’ve and should’ve been cut to better results.
Now listen, you can still celebrate the diversifying of Hollywood, yet there’s something non-race related about this movie I want to make very clear: Unlike what Crazy Rich Asians thinks, you don’t need a fancy dress to be happy, because true joy comes from your loved ones. A wedding involves not cake or decorations but binding together a couple who deeply loves each other. Anything physical lasts one day. A marriage lasts a lifetime.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.5Aug 30, 2018Sesame Street was undoubtedly a memorable part of immeasurable childhoods over the past fifty years, me included. So now, after Jim Henson’sSesame Street was undoubtedly a memorable part of immeasurable childhoods over the past fifty years, me included. So now, after Jim Henson’s work left such an impression on millions, his son Brian (The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island), presses old Father Kermit T. Frog’s legacy further. What has he brought us today? No number lessons. No dandy songs. No celebration of differences. No hilarious skits. Now about the skits, I can say several Sesame Street YouTube clips I have watched in the past had me literally rolling on the floor laughing, they were clearly made by passionate experts who knew how to entertain kids and adults alike. Yet The Happytime Murders, despite attempts to satirize our inclusion issues like last year’s Bright, fails to entertain anybody.
First, it’s hard to believe the puppetry in this flick seems run by people who never touched a sock before in their lives. Remember how Bert and Ernie’s skits were always funny despite their immobile faces? The puppeteers’ simple rhythmic hand gestures breathed out incredible tangible emotions that brought Bert and Ernie to life. Here, the felt figures always remain rigid, as if the crew controlling them were simply told, “move your thumb up and down to make the jaw move,” that’s it. Nothing else generated a hint of life from those static faces.
In fact, why use puppets at all? The only way the story integrates puppets into its scenarios happens when one bully rips off a puppet’s eye in the first scene. Other than that, the puppets’ species identification leaves zero effect on the plot; use mammals, mutants, or orcs instead, and everything would stay the same. That applies also to a liver transplant Melissa McCarthy’s character got from her puppet partner; make it an orc liver and nothing changes.
The folks behind Black Bear Pictures completely misunderstood that for something to be a social commentary, it must mirror reality accurately. Case in point, inside this version of modern Los Angeles, poachers are shown exactly once illegally trading puppets’ feet… apparently it really happens nowadays? These screenwriters should‘ve focused further on the word “Dummies,” a racial slur for puppets, but like the puppet poaching, it’s only mentioned once briefly.
If you somehow saw The Happytime Murders already, you most likely forgot those parts until I reminded you. Apparently, a sex tape of a squid milking a cow has priority over detailed worldbuilding (again, the fact that they’re puppets is irrelevant). Oh, that’s right. There’s hardcore porn in this movie! And it gets better: a puppet dalmatian tortures its firefighter tied to a bed, fifty shades style! But that’s nothing compared to the masterful potty humor that happens in between, when one bunny puppet caught eye-to-gun pees glitter then craps Easter eggs. The comedy works because… well… who knows!?
Then a full-on, surprisingly dull sex scene happens between two puppets that climaxes with semen made of silly string shooting onto the office walls. During my college days, I learned six key comedy rules:
1. Comedy is Conflict.
2. Comedy is Conviction.
3. Comedy is Deception.
4. Comedy is Greatest Wish and Worst Fear.
5. Comedy is Truth.
6. Comedy is Chaos and Anarchy.
Said office sex accomplishes just 1 out of 6.
Maybe a better editor could have turned the awfully written jokes decent, but I honestly doubt it, the loud anti-comedian Melissa McCarthy’s irksome double-bladed insults puts her at an ultimate low. Although the ultimate reason why these jokes fall flat is simply because nobody working on this understood basic puppet psychology; why did they think puppets snort hyper sucrose through licorice instead of cocaine? Because it’s related to kids? What shallow thinking! Brian Henson clearly was going for a mix between a satirical buddy cop thriller that counteracts that of a “playtime” atmosphere yet because of the low contrast in the image, he can’t even get the basics of that right. The color grading is not the only thing creating an amateurish look though, the puppeteers’ erased green screen suits behind their puppets can be very clearly spotted, which somehow still looks less cheap than the outdoor highlights blown out by the sun.
If none of that was bad enough, the writers throw in hinted puppet-human romances that haunts your senses to the levels of Howard the Duck under the bedsheets beside Lea Thompson. Why can’t these dissimilar species just be friends? Oh right, racial allegory, duh! Hilarious, in celebrating integration of differences, The Happytime Murders unintentionally says people ought to pursue romance with their own kind, because anything apart from that becomes borderline bestiality.
Honestly, it infuriates quite a lot to see such miniscule effort send Jim Henson’s grave spinning. Why must our relationships alongside inanimate human-shaped objects come to this?… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7Aug 24, 2018It starts with a seed, something that without its gardener, has no good use. Following that growth process, Alpha shows what happens thatIt starts with a seed, something that without its gardener, has no good use. Following that growth process, Alpha shows what happens that planted seedling must go out past its garden patch to benefit more than just its maturation process through the fruits that it blooms. It may be a lemon, it may be a pitaya, but however the fruit strikes your taste buds, there some nutritional benefit here for you.
Its emotional impact is planted right when a young boy named Keda is thrown off a cliff during a buffalo attack led by the rest of his tribe. Unlike what the others believes, Keda survives this near-death experience, thus must rely on the stars’ direction to point his way back home. Keda then spares an attacking wolf’s life, which he names Alpha, the name for a wolf pack’s leader. His hospitality sparks a relationship like a dog attached to its owner, a symbiotic relationship seen across nature that sure enough becomes the genesis of where man’s best friend came from.
However, the passive question and answer dialogue still leaves the seedlings of this picture sun-scorched too harshly, which of course make the resulting product more noticeably flawed. It also leaves the editing much to be desired, particularly in consideration of the film’s unnecessary prologue, which depicts a scene repeated exactly later. Once the feature sways away from characters talking to each other and more about Keda by his lonesome, the repetitive pattern in the narrative follows a manner of conflict, survival, conflict, survival. Especially as it gets closer to the end, the scenario takes a monotonous toll much like the way summer’s heat makes you anticipate autumn.
But it allows room for the technicality to prowess; the powerful sound design stays quiet to give a feel of always present death, letting only nature strike whatever. Case in point: thunder roars against super bright lightning flashes louder than the immortal tribal drums heard. While such sounds of nature may be as pleasant to hear as dirt may be to taste, the environment progresses the maturation of our protagonist as it closes deeper onto his brush with death. So yes, it takes a while for these evocative moments to water viewers with the value of the world… but what a world it is! If nothing else, your mind will be blown by the outstandingly clear cosmic views that illuminate what allows survival, which increases the impact of snow that washes out Keda’s ability to look beyond himself. So long story short, his manhood journey is truly a big screen must see.
The world construction really helps the stem bloom its leaves, complete from the way director Albert Hughes makes fireflies look almost like spiritual guides against the night. Then also, an active volcano appears like Mother Earth’s blood boiling to turn all life into ashes, a type of visual poetry to illustrate un-creation, or life destruction for life to sustain, further complemented when one man eats ants from his hand.
These provocative visuals still look much more comforting though than how Keda must eat a worm, then a fly, then maggots, to survive the wilderness. To illustrate true vitality that tests his skill, a solar eclipse reveals how nature must follow its course, even if it consequently inconveniences all other life. A spectacular time-lapse speed through a path complements these moments of seasonal progression, a stylistic choice that knows when to slow down, especially when it’s time to watch a bird flock form patterns against the sunrise.
As part of the necessary life destruction he learns, Keda struggles to make fire as a combat against the darkness. Concerning Keda is the chief’s son who has much to live up to, he sees the reality that he won’t always have mommy and daddy there to correct his mistakes. Before, he partook in an arrowhead construction pass/fail test around a campfire, but now, he must rely singlehandedly on rock pillars scattered around the land by his ancestors, whom his people believe are now in the sky to guide back home through the northern lights and stars.
Not everyone will feel shaken though, as this plant of a story grows taller, some viewers may see a flower undeserving of their living room vase. With monotonous events that feel carried out by mostly flat characterizations, a stick even be needed to straighten the stem out, with fruits malnourished of a reason to care about the tribe’s existential culture. Then comes the ending, or maybe I should say three endings, because just when the film seems to end, another scene stretches any patience, much like The Return of the King, except here diminishing the moral rather than closing any loose ends.
It means that Alpha contributes mostly a provider of seeds to plant other hopeful cinematic artists more wisdom to start the circle all over again. While Albert Hughes’ plant may wither quite quickly, and its fruits may rot before you notice, it certainly makes homey temporary decorations.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.4Aug 16, 2018Kidding? I’m not right now. Racial tensions are still as horrific as ever, it now seems every month there is a new film made to empower BlackKidding? I’m not right now. Racial tensions are still as horrific as ever, it now seems every month there is a new film made to empower Black people while exploring those unjustified relations between them and White people. So appropriately enough, filmmaking legend Spike Lee gives us BlacKkKlansman to explore those very relations in a time when White cops kill innocent Blacks like dogs. Even when history books have records of the “Black Panther Party” threatening the United States back in the 1970s, the message is clear: We need to stop and learn from our historical darkness.
Kicking the can more, this film has a humorous plot scenario pulled straight out of real life: a Black guy applies to be a cop, leading him to work undercover. Essentially, he pretends to be White on the phone as he speaks to the leaders of a secret Ku Klux Klan organization, leading to that undercover investigation where his White partner pretends to be him. Beyond the mere ironic comedy, this Klan’s planned massacre of Blacks becomes quite disturbing as they are seen praying to God, complete with an oil anointment before they do their cross burning. This new Boston Tea Party as they call it is all a part of their plan to make America achieve its greatness again… because apparently they made America and must keep it for themselves. That mindset is visualized by a stain glass window with the words “Thine O Lord is the Victory” behind those who think they understand God’s will, but truly have the knowledge of a snowflake.
Key here may be Spike Lee’s history of exploring Blackness in America, but he’s trying way too hard to connect the early 1970s to today. That especially goes this movie’s historical inaccuracy, “Stallworth's real colleague wasn't called Flip Zimmerman - his true identity remains a mystery, in accounts known only as Chuck - and there's no indication that he was Jewish.” (ScreenRant) At least the expert acting is easy to like, as nobody ever tarries in their performances, always racing on their palms to let the true soul of Blackness come out. Yet I most want to commend how Paul Walter Hauser particularly confronts his role well as a Klansman damaged beyond repair, like he’s half-a-man dragged down onto the cement pavement.
Klans such as this one will certainly give anyone watching strong opinions, just don’t expect that to mean the character arcs will be the thing to suck you in to this film’s humanity. While effective, the main romantic subplot was unnecessary in influencing the protagonist or reconnecting him much with Black culture. His partners in crime also don’t seem influenced much by being involved with the Klan during their undercover case. Those Klansmen they bamboozle likewise are not multidimensional enough with clear fears written down on paper.
Kennedy would not have wanted to see this type of future after being assassinated in his Ford, but it happened, as the sincere nature of this film is kept through an inspirational speech at the Black Student Union of Colorado College. This whole scene helps you to listen, then the script hops right back onto its tongue-in-cheek humor, including how Blacks pronouncing “are” as “are-uh” puts a halt in our understanding. Then topping all the memorable lines off in the cleverly detailed dialogue is an awesome phone call that speaks fluent Jive, a very lively form of English! But the artistic language rich with racial segregation sadly is not helped by the handheld camera that could very well been supported by a gorilla.
King Kong may have had a bit of word to say in the editing and cinematography, but that’s not what will affect you the most while watching… it will be the realism. You’ll feel disturbed to see this KKK’s gunfire practice use targets of running black silhouettes in the autumn forest, but not nearly as much so as when these events connect straight to The Birth of a Nation, which the Klan reacts to with thunderous applause. Overall, the right perspectives are told from Ron Stallworth’s autobiography that will live on once he’s nothing more than a casket and bones.
Really though, while it means well, BlacKkKlansman paints an unintentionally immoral portrait of Spike Lee’s ideal America where any motivation by God is just a fuel for racism. Apparently, it’s all about humanism, but the Klan proves that we should not rely on ourselves, as its unnecessarily preachy final sequence proves: a series of modern day news footage showing the destruction caused by Black Lives Matter, not secretive about hatred towards our president. On top of that, this movie claims to be “based on some fo' real, fo' real sh*t" except it’s not, plenty of it is made up. So, with that put, this film’s message of relying on ourselves contradicts itself in a way. Likewise, you’d be better off living today for love, not rebellion, with the capacity to work of a donkey and the wise strength of an elephant.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Aug 9, 2018Ever since Kindergarten, a guardian angel figure has been watching over me, and no, it was not the Winnie-the-Pooh VHS tapes I rented andEver since Kindergarten, a guardian angel figure has been watching over me, and no, it was not the Winnie-the-Pooh VHS tapes I rented and replayed every day, like I thought at the time. Despite always yearning to play with toys on my own again, today, I must take on responsibility, as that’s what grownups do, naturally. What/who was that figure then? I will answer as I discuss Disney’s own modern live-action take on that bear of very little brain.
Just sitting through Christopher Robin proved to me that I need to grow past my old guardian angel assumptions, as it pains me to say this now joins A Wrinkle In Time as the most unbearable 2018 movie I’ve undergone thus far. After this torturous money-maker first glosses past Christopher’s childhood memories, Disney proceeds to tells kids whatever they enjoy hearing so that they beg for more toys from dad’s wallet. The low effort shows, mainly by how off Piglet’s voice sounds compared to his cartoon counterpart, and how Rabbit’s voice sounds way too Pooh-ish.
If the CGI plushies weren’t strange enough, fake news also disgraces the real Christopher Robin Milne, starting with the names of his wife and daughter. In real life, his wife’s name was Lesley de Selincourt, not Evelyn, whom he married in 1948, not 1944 like this movie states. During brief flashbacks of Christopher in class, he doodles Pooh and friends in his notebook, something the true Mr. Milne would never have done, since he in truth hated the books his father wrote about him. “Entering boarding school at age 9, Christopher Robin had a full-fledged ‘love-hate relationship with my fictional namesake’ that continued into adulthood, he wrote in his 1974 memoir The Enchanted Places.” (Country Living) Overall, Disney shows greater loyalty to A.A. Milne’s books that he wrote to take advantage of his son, turning him into a victim of fame at a disturbingly young age. Having learned more about the real Christopher Robin, I now feel ashamed for ever loving the Disneyfied Winnie-the-Pooh, as if I was a part of face-slapping Christopher Milne’s memory hard.
On top of this motion picture’s skewing of reality, Ewan McGregor plays his inconsistent role inconsistently off a nonsensible script that relies on coincidences. Sure, there might be great costumes with fun details, including Madeline’s classic Mary Janes that look like Christopher Robin’s, yet the film’s editor allows nary a good chance for you to spot them. Besides the countless unfinished staging of elements, several of them feel out of place, particularly an underwater dream sequence of a heffalump (which is really just a plain old regular elephant head).
Most of the blame goes to the messy directing; director Marc Forster crops way too close to human faces with a handheld motion sickness camera. Even worse, the entire image always looks gloomy throughout cheery scenes with an odd magenta hue. Not even the directed humor works, for certain jokes, particularly one about lipreading from behind noise-proof glass, reaches no punchline. It’s just a setup, anticipation built up, then... nothing. The joke is forgotten. Forget anything unique about anything having to do with this film either, as it essentially steals Hook’s plot scenario, complete with the line from that movie, “I lost my marbles.”
If you crave a nice personal experience, run away, for the Robin family’s communication here feature absolutely cringeworthy dialogue. Essentially, the overworked man spends too little quality family time, although hardly any information comes across about details of his bond with his wife or daughter before he took his job. It basically makes the wife comes across too much as a servant to her husband, just to make more room for Pooh’s bothersome antics to command your focus. Consequently, it turns its World War II backdrop into a cheap plot device, because apparently those millions of lives lost are less important than a red balloon. I don’t think that’s what Disney intended to say, but their carelessness certainly made it come off that we must never anticipate tragedy, but instead a problem-free life.
Unlike this mindset, love blooms from small shared moments. As a child, it’s a red balloon. As an adult, it’s buying your friend’s lunch. Depend on whoever can bring out your best self, not the smooth-talking of the Mouse House that exploits the susceptible child inside each of us. I hence take these new lessons on old ideas to improve larger times; no guardian angel is stuff and fluff, but flesh and blood beings.
Therefore, my guardian angel comes from those loved ones who can nurture me using our mutual need: sweet shared memories. Christopher Robin does the complete opposite.… Expand