Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Bug's Life

Pixar time again, wrapping it up since I've reviewed nearly all of them.

Boy it has been a minute and a half since I watched this movie! Like over 15 years so I knew this was gonna be an interesting walk down memory lane, how does it hold up? I like it but that's all I'll give it. The story revolves around a colony of ants being harassed by a gang of grasshoppers for food, and a young imaginative ant named Flik journeys out to find warrior bugs to help solve their problem, he meets a group of circus performers who he mistakes for fighters, and has to come up with more plans to save the colony. It's pretty much Walt Disney's Seven Samurai in concept, obviously the movie goes about it's own way but the template is undeniable. And I gotta say for just the second Pixar feature film the animation genuinely holds up pretty damn good! It's stylized of course, there be no Lion King remake realism here, but the colors, the physics of certain natural elements, the environments themselves, it's solid man! I wasn't thinking the movie was gonna look aged to shit, but I also didn't truly notice such details when I was but a wee lad. In fact my complaints of the movie really just stem from the boring ass tired liar revealed trope, and even though it hardly takes up any runtime I fast forward cause I just don't like it. But the cast is really good, David Foley as Flik has a lot of youthful energy and fully knows he is a nuisance to the colony but he is just trying to do the best he can. Julia Louise-Dreyfus as the princess Atta has some nice chemistry with Flik and even has some humorous moments so it's anything but stale. Kevin Spacey as Hopper is the reason you should watch this movie period, and I couldn't tell at all that was his voice but he has some real moments to shine and aside from our circus crew made me laugh the most. Now there's a lot of people in the circus troupe so I'll narrow it down to 4 characters. Denis Leary as the ladybug Francis, even with not much to do is a welcome addition and again I couldn't place the voice. I may be getting more senile with each passing week folks. David Hyde Pierce as a stick insect named Slim may be my favorite, just his deadpan delivery and resentment to be a prop really hit my funny bone. Bonnie Hunt who I've come to realize has had history with Pixar before, appearing here, Monsters Inc., Cars, Toy Story 3, and Zootopia, plays a black widow spider named Rosie, I can't explain it I just love her voice and this kinda ditzy persona she brings, again not too much screentime but the woman has my attention. Last but certainly not least John Ratzenberger as their manager P.T. Flea, it's frickin' John Ratzenberger he's always awesome and his fast talking money grubbing persona was a joy to watch. The movie made me laugh a bit and whenever there was a laugh it was a strong one, it doesn't emphasize a lot of the comedy it's more about the story and while there are a slight few puns the performances are mostly what sells it. That and just the sheer uninterested look Hopper has when he literally crushes 3 of his goons to desth just slayed me. Something else I never noticed was, the sound design is very very good in this movie. The grasshopper wings droning, all the little sound effects of the natural environment when interacted with, hell I'll even go to say the movie has striking moments based on sound. Silence to thundering revs of the wings of grasshoppers, the slow but heavy footfalls as they walk through a dense fog, and the movie takes something as simple as rain and makes it feel fucking apocalyptic as you see it sweep across the land and bombard the anthill. That's impressive man, I cannot commend that more if I tried. It has striking moments, decent characters, animation that I feel entirely stands the test of time, and a basic story told decently. Is it great? No. But as a studios second film where they were still very much finding their footing after the powerhouse of Toy Story, I'd say it's okay. I give it 2.5 stars, 6.5/10, and tomorrow another trip down memory lane as we step through a doorway to visit working class individuals keeping their city up and running.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Three Thousand Years Of Longing

Not at all the movie I thought it would be but I'm still happy.

I can't recall when I first saw promotional material for this film, and even then I only saw it once but I knew this was going to be a movie for me so here we are. What a fascinating little film! I truthfully thought the concept of Tilda Swinton playing a literary scholar named Alithea based solely in science and fact coming into contact with a djinn a wish giving creature of fantasy played by Idris Elba was pretty cool, and I figured the film would almost be this battle of religion and science but in a very intellectual and and thought provoking way. What I got was a still regardlessly interesting blossoming romance movie where the vast majority of it is with our two stars sitting in a room talking and telling stories. Doesn't sound far off from skull caving boredom, but it couldn't be anything farther from that! The devils are in the details and how the both literal stories of the character's past and the progression of the plot are what keeps it engaging. Of course Alithea finds it hard to believe despite physical evidence to the contrary that this mythical being has emerged in her hotel room but they quickly disband a lot of rebuking and denial that the djinn can't actually exist and move onto a few questions of his existence which leads to his history. Beautifully directed by George Miller, he of the incalculable Mad Max Fury Road fame, it's a visually striking and filled to the brim rich environment of scenes, with interesting camera work, slick editing, and colors galore as we follow his origins from the times of King Solomon to present day. Now on one hand I can easily see this movie not grabbing people's attention as firmly as it did mine, it's almost ludicrously simple in concept with more or less monologues abound of past histories formed as stories, yet I feel that is entirely the point. The movie really leans hard on the concept of stories, of tales, of legends and what humans get out of it and what they see in making such things, hell the only media I've seen that holds similar standing on the concept is The Sandman comics. It articulates itself very well, better than I can honestly find words to describe it myself so I do suggest people give it a go. It's not even 2 hours long, and while the movie has more fades to black than Return Of The King (my only slight complaint about the movie period) I found it easy to slip into this world, hear the tales, get invested in our characters, and did wonder at exactly how it all would end. It's a strange but neat little interesting story that I'm very happy to have seen. I personally give it 4 stars, 8.5/10, and while the idea that we're all just stories in the end has been in my mind for some time this movie actually reinforces that just a little bit more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

In Retrospect: Everything Everywhere All At Once

I'm such an emotional mess.

Did this film just get better than it already was on repeat viewing?? Yep. We're 2 for 2 now with me being fucking speechless after witnessing all this again. I genuinely cannot find words to encapsulate my love and immense appreciation for a film like this. Oh sure I can try, but it all kinda falls flat for me. It's just such a dissection of life or more importantly the emotions and relationships formed through life, altruism versus nihilism, generational gaps, happiness, and the clear acceptance that life and the universe is finite. We just kinda needed a film with such a positive message in this day and age. Some people I'm sure say, Dude you're too optimistic. You're too forgiving. You're not critical enough. You find something positive in almost every film you review. What's the alternative I ask? There is an abundance of negativity and more often than not about things that quite frankly don't matter much. There are much more serious things to get pissed off at than a movie or a show I assure you. But this film brings such a mix of feelings and thoughts that boil to the surface to where it's just jumbled emotions and words, as humams truly are. I mean obviously the writing is stellar but the punch to it, the impact it leaves behind on you after the fact, comes from Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan. Can we just fucking stop and appreciate the shit out of Stephanie Hsu in this picture? Yeah sure, Michelle Yeoh is the bomb no question or doubt but Stephanie is the root of why this movie is as great as it is in my eyes. The emotion, the ideological stance, the tribulations she feels are what set the plot into motion yes, but there's much more to it than that. I've flat out seen individuals who hail from different cultural backgrounds praise the movie for touching on generation gaps and how the relationship between parents and their kids needs to change, have changed, should continue to be changed for the better. It strikes a chord in my heart seeing this story play out to where it's getting to the point where tears are being held back just so I can see what I'm typing. Ke Huy Quan is the heart, the optimism, the love that eventually saves the day, and I know people almost seem to be disgusted or at least apathetic towards positivity and happiness these days, something to be admonished or considered used for ulterior motives so it must be dismissed. But I know for a fact compassion is not weakness. The fact that it takes a stand in such a realm when faced with a quite literal embodiment of nihilistic and zero shits given about life, the universe, and everything, showing how optimism is not only necessary but encouraged to face life and all it's difficulties even when things are at their worst. My personal stance on that is, if human beings were never meant to be happy in the first place we wouldn't be able to compose the chemicals in our brain to feel so. It's just an uplifting story with a pro-life choice (not of the political sphere value but just to enjoy and revel in life while you have the time to do so). I can't nitpick it. I can't hate it. Is it the best movie I've ever seen in my life? Well, I certainly have more favorite films....but at the same time I'm not saying no am I? Beautiful, that's how I'd describe it. Totally fucking gorgeous. A must own movie in my estimation, in all my counter culture, open minded, optimistic point of view. 5/4 stars, 20/10, gold sticky stars abound.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

In Retrospect: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Please for the love of all that is magic, I better not have to wait another 6 years for the next Doctor Strange movie.

Not to say of course the wait wasn't worth it, I still very much enjoy Multiverse Of Madness but my opinion hasn't changed much since seeing it opening day. I think the movie has a solid plot that moves at a very good pace but I would have edited the sequence of scenes slightly different. Not really sure why there were so many fade to black moments like a made for TV movie but whatever, it doesn't hurt the film. What I did notice more this time around is, I would definitely say this is a movie that furthers the character arc of Stephen Strange. Obviously there was a big shift from the beginning to the end of the first film, but this movie progresses it even further with Stephen being more accepting of his emotions toward Christine, seeing other Doctor Strange's mistakes and learning from it, to be content with the life he has rather than substitute it for something "perfect". In fact the scene with Wong during the resolution I felt was immeasurably life affirming and something I'll take to my grave. Still feel completely apathetic to Wanda, hell more like I'm just over her shit and and have this contempt for her in all honesty. I'm sure I was supposed to see this as some horrible tragedy, that this character keeps losing and losing ones she cares about leading her to do some terrible shit but sorry (not really sorry at all though), she aggravates me. Which is beyond weird because my whole shtick is I'm a mark for villains, villains are infinitely more engaging and interesting than some goody two-shoed heroic ponce, but that is not so much the case for Marvel movies with ever so slight exception. But at the exact same time, I feel both this and Wandavision are more almost cautionary tales about living in denial when your reality faces a crushing blow and how you have to move on and better yourself, I understand that perfectly but woman.....GET OVER IT! Jesus H. jumping Christ on a fucking pogo stick! Elizabeth, may I call you Liz, you are acting your heart out here and performed amazingly, like strongest performance in this movie hands down! But oh my lord I cannot stand this character in any way. Awesome to see Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, though a small part it is I hope we get to see him again soon. As for other familiar faces, let's discuss that shall we? So, did Marvel create the Illuminati? Cause I might need to punch them in the face for doing so, fuck your conspiracy theories and fuck your secret societies even harder. Humans. Why am I stuck with humans? I'm sure this was a pants jizzingly big moment for Marvel fans and while it was pretty awesome to see Professor Xavier in the yellow dodgem transport thingy, I can't fully attest my amazement at the other members, they were just kinda there. I can understand the sentiment however of introducing so many fan favorite characters for them to be axed not 10 minutes later, I know in the grand scheme of multiverses and the MCU it really doesn't matter much but even I was kinda surprised and a touch disappointed at that turn of events. But I got way more positive things out of this than negatives for sure, from magic casting and dimension jumping to overall direction and character moments, it still stands firm and easily is one of my favorites of this franchise that I sense is significantly losing steam. It only took 15 goddamn years apparently. DC isn't holding much high ground either at this point, I'll be amazed if even Shazam 2 gets to theaters at this point. I'm pretty much turning my back on comic book movies these days, I'll stick with the older movies and call it quits. And on that disappointing bombshell it is time to end, very good movie that I still give a 7.5/10 to, and I will catch you tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Willow (2022)

I haven't heard a single word of mouth about this show, but I gotta say it isn't bad.

Huzzah, a continuation of Willow set many years after the first film with the descendants of Madmartigan and Sorsha going on a quest of their own with the aid of a hopeful future knight, a pure scoundrel adventurer, an awkward and reluctant prince, and a Nelwyn great sorcerer as new evils are gaining a foothold in the world and captured the prince of Tir Asleen. This is a bit of a tightrope series, it has both good points and bad points in it's favor, but I do actually believe this is a show that people can watch first and then go back and watch the movie, even though it has many ties to the film it does it's own story where the backstory isn't fully required. Yet I feel this was made more to engage with younger audiences moreso than fans of the film, not to it's detriment entirely but when you watch the show you do get that sense. The story is decent, it goes at a good pace over the course of 8 episodes and rarely rushes things or sidetracks severely. The characters I feel work, Willow is much older and gruffer taking on a mentor role and Warwick does mighty good with the material. Ellie Bamber as grown up Elora Danan was hedging close to my favorite character, her personality leaps from the screen and her journey to learn to be a sorceress has enough hurdles to create drama. Ruby Cruz though acting well, the character of Kit kinda drove me up the wall but strangely I never hated her, she just fell into that smartass teen angst persona and always seemed to be butting heads at every moment. Erin Kellyman was given a much better role than in Solo, playing Jade as a knight in training who has a romantic interest in Kit and has her own history and past to confront. Amar Chadha-Patel is the best damn thing in this show period, he has just such a pure scoundrel energy and in fantasy films that's a character who is hard to hate, he's very world weary but aloof and is the main comedic relief which he excels at, I almost just wanna say go watch it for him. Tony Rivelori as Graydon, I truly thought he was gonna be a huge damper being this ineffectual stumbling fool as a member of the party but he comes into his own and I was surprised to see such an arc for him so no hate there. Really the biggest facepalm moments for me stems from Kit and Jade, due to the writing in two respects. First episode they kiss, great, beautiful, they didn't pull any cocktease or should I say labia teasing stuff, they made it clear they have feelings for each other and want to be an item.....and then they act like it might as well didn't happen because they go back to this silent pleading that they want to say I love you but can't get it out and kinda clash with each other. May I fucking ask why?? This is trekking into Strange World territory of backtracking again and fuck that noise hardcore! Second, the show builds up a bit that these two are swordfighters, they spar and train together, oh boy they sure are gonna kick some ass on this here adventure by God. And then you would be wrooooooong!! I swear every fight they get into they get knocked on their asses or have to have backup to win. Have you ever heard the term tokenism? Cause you got a shitting bad case of it. But really beyond that I have no serious issues. I like the progression, I think the visuals go from real damn good to okay you guys are just showing off right now, the costuming and sets are uber rad because of the budget, it has that fun aesthetic but mixes it with a much more heavy crisis that creates this quest which I feel clashes at times but overall works good enough. The score is real nice, but the soundtrack is really goddamn weird and uncalled for in my opinion. Again, leaning towards that teen/ kids demographic. Not my cup of tea but hey man, if this gets younger generations into the fantasy genre I can't be mad at that. Maybe you could argue it's a teen drama show with magic and monsters, but I personally don't see that. It just updates the aesthetic and world of Willow for the modern age we live in, and I didn't expect anything different for good or for ill. I do wish it leaned more into the 80s feel just with modern upgrades, but a small complaint really. It still made me laugh very consistently, it was awesome seeing more of this world, the magic visuals had so much flair and style, the callbacks weren't all that much in terms of fanservice but more in continuing the story beyond the film, and it honestly got me pretty interested in what could come next season. It's a solid show with a few flaws, but nothing that can't be improved and worked upon in the future. I personally enjoyed the film more, but I give this series a solid 3 stars, 7.5/10! And the countdown has already begun for me, less than 4 months to go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Willow (1988)

Magic! We're back!

A very upbeat proper start to 2023 with Willow, the 1988 Lucasfilm fantasy cult classic. Now I've had the most tenative exposure to Willow, more in passing or brief reference without knowing at all what the plot was, who the characters were, or anything so I walked in with 99% virgin eyes. The story involves a Nelwyn farmer named Willow who discovers a little baby girl named Elora who has ties to a prophecy to overthrow an evil sorceress named Bavmorda, as he sets off to find the child a safe haven where he soon meets rogue swordmaster Madmartigan who joins his quest as they come into contact with enemy forces, magic wielders, and mythological creatures to protect the child and defeat evil. In my opinion an excellent introduction to high fantasy for children taking elements of Dungeons & Dragons, Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars (George Lucas executive produced and helped write the story), I even saw bits of The Black Cauldron in there. It's 80s fantasy in it's purest and most non-exploitative form, which sucks honestly because fantasy films were box office poison in the 1980s. At best genre films at that time were cult classics like The Princess Bride or perhaps Labyrinth to a lesser extent, and at worst you got stuff like the Deathstalker movies and Beastmaster 2. Even with Lucasfilm, ILM, and a succesful director in Ron Howard the movie only did okay. It's no redefining of a classic story or incredibly introspective in writing, it's just a lot of fun. Warwick Davis does such good work in this and the fact that George wrote this specifically with him in mind while they were filming Return Of The Jedi shows a lot about his character and openess to such roles. He's never looked down on roles in a fantastical genre and loves doing them a lot and I got respect for the guy. Val Kilmer as Madmartigan friggin' kills it in this movie, his comedic timing and personality of being this guy who you know is kinda full of shit but he's just so goddamn charming you don't even care, makes him endlessly entertaining every minute he's on screen. Joanne Whalley as Sorsha, for essentially being a heel turned babyface who slips into a romantic role has that energy and expression where it doesn't feel forced or slapdash, and she just rocks that sunkissed orange hair. Jean Marsh as evil sorceress Bavmorda though not all that much on screen really you can tell she is having a great time, she hams it up just enough to where it's not over the top but dramatic in power as any evil magic wielder should be, and I can't belive it didn't click for me at all she was Morgaine in classic Doctor Who with the Seventh Doctor in Battlefield. I think everybody knew from the director on downwards they were making a fun little fantasy movie but they wanted to make it as good as possible which is evident throughout. Some of these scenery shots were unbelievably amazing, the special effects for the creatures go from simplistic costuming to impressive stop motion effects that hold up pretty solidly today, the costume design is so rustic medieval I adore it so, the battle scenes go on just long enough to where you're not getting bored and you're not craving more, and how the story progresses is engaging. I was even surprised how funny the movie was, it has a more subdued sense of humor, it's not trying to make you laugh out loud but still succeeds in places. I know there are a fair few people who watched it and probably didn't get too much out of it, like I said it's not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but I totally get the fanbase's love and appreciation for it's simplistic, charming, high fantasy story that can be enjoyed by all ages. Hell I'm an advocate for 80s fantasy, I dare say it was the best decade for movies of this genre though the 90s had it's moments, so of course I enjoyed it a great deal. Just wander into this world and soak it up, you may be surprised how much you like it. For me I give it 3.5 stars, 8/10, and the series of the same name is up next!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Top 5 Worst Films Of 2022

Welcome to the first ever top worst films list!

5. League Of Super Pets. Yeah I really wasn't expecting much and shock of shocks I didn't get much. Funniest part was a cussing blind turtle.

4. The 355. First review of that year and I was hoping it wouldn't be as bad as it was. Reality is often disappointing.

3. The Bad Guys. Oh God, this movie did fuck all. Toodles DreamWorks, you couldn't even get Richard Ayoade to be funny!

2. Lightyear. This movie can fuck clean off, not only did it just shit in it's hands and try to tell me it was hot chocolate but I also got hit by a car afterward. No good memory exists of this film.

1. Hotel Transylvania 4. You want to talk about wasted potential for a final movie? Look no further. I'm not even all that mad, just resoundingly disappointed and I shake my head in disgust and defeat.

It could have been worse I will fully admit, but it was still plenty bad enough. Catch you for the first review of the year next week!

Top 10 Films of 2022

I saw a lot of movies last year, broke my previous record in fact. I think the bottom 5 are going to throw my insignificant credentials into question, but from #5 to #1 I should be safe.

10. Elvis. Similar but different in the genre of music star biopic, but a solid film nonetheless.

9. Studio 666. Hard to believe that was 2022 as well but I got exactly what I wanted from this movie and I loved it.

8. The Munsters. I. Do. Not. Care. It was great, it was funny, call me this movie's number one fan because it was right up my alley.

7. Nope. Brilliant twisting of classic sci-fi with a firm base in suspense more than horror.

6. X. Again, giving some dimension and depth to a highy familiar style of film and the fact we're getting one more sequel to this makes me very excited indeed.

5. The Unbelievable Weight Of Massive Talent. Any film that acknowledges Paddington 2 and The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari desrves a spot on this list.

4. Pearl. Yeah it was close but Pearl gave that little bit more in no small part due to Mia Goth's performance. And hohoholy shhhit that ending shot.

3. The Batman. You knew it was going to be on here.

2. Licorice Pizza. Might be cheating because it techincally came out December of 2021 but I didn't review it until 2022 and it's my own damn show so bye.

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once. Nothing could top it.

And that is another chapter in my questionable but completely honest Top 10 history. But like I said I saw a lot of movies, and not all of them were good. Shall we make history again?