Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 The Ten Commandments:
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
3 1/4 /5
I hope that I can elaborate my thoughts here completely and effectively, but I still doubt myself because this film is entirely based on ideas, and though I do love myself some ideas, they and my thoughts, like all beliefs, are hard to discuss. I can agree with so much of the popular sentiment for this movie, but yet...despite all the originality and invention entailed, why did it leave me feeling so empty? As said in Matt Zoller Seitz's review, "It's worth pointing out here that all these characters and locations, as well as the supporting players that we meet inside Riley's brain, are figurative." I think beginning with that statement I should attempt to discuss my opinions.
It is neat how all the characters called emotions interact. Weirdly, the emotions can feel different emotions. Yet I couldn't delete nor distill my suspension of disbelief. The emotions may represent Riley, but in a way they are their own characters. THEY are the main focus of the film, not Riley. They may be part of her, but for some reason I didn't feel like they were of the same mind, with instead the emotional characters playing voodoo with her feelings.
The movie tells a simple tale, yet everything about it is symbolic. The cartoon representations of reality make the WHOLE thing feel surrealy unreal. These imaginary "things" are emblems, the whole thing feeling like some knowing gimmick, nowhere being more evident than the finale sequence where all types of peoples' and animals' emotions are shown, proving to be a new kind of blooper reel. Everything is spelled out too easily, making it feel as if the film is winking at us the whole time.
We are able to tell EXACTLY what is going on in these people's heads, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Since we already know them, there's no room for a surprising emotional connection to them. The filmmakers do try to make the film relate to the audience and its shared experiences, which is greatly appreciated, but there are too many winks and laughs, and not enough genuine frictional contact for my taste. Pixar is known for its emotional touches, and here it basically announces, "You like emotions, we'll give you emotions!"
Past Pixar escapades, though being grandiosely unrealistic in their own rights, had characters that could grow and change subtly with time. Mike of "Monsters Inc.", a poor sop who was never really fully appreciated, went from being a single, strict cog in a wide sea to an emotionally more acute soul, changing the way he thought and behaved after bonding with a sweet little girl who was just as much an outcast in his world as he was. Sulley came to realize that his job wasn't really what mattered to him, it was the relationships it had helped him develop. The emotions in "Inside Out", both as characters and what the film produces as a whole, though able to learn from each other, are still that: single emotions. The memories, and thus' Riley herself, are layered, but the main talking faces on screen can't "really" change. The jokes are everywhere, punch you in the gut briefly, and then dash away, only to be replaced with another one mingled with a brief action set piece. The emotional scenes near the end of the film are able to be seen coming, since we, after all, can SEE the emotions, but the call to jump to those scenes just comes out of nowhere and never really sinks in. Since the story is simple, there is no room for the filmmakers to do anything challenging. Look at one of the studio's magnum opuses, "Up". The first ten minutes or so of that film did something uniquely different: they tapped into the audience's deepest wells of fear and regret, strikingly playing the most tear-inducing material at the BEGINNING. Why? Because the whole film was about healing. This new Pixar film approaches the subject of healing also, but it demonstrates something we already knew: tears can heal. Carl faces a far more pressing problem that is more real to all of us: when we live in a world that's always mourning, and where tragedy never ceases to lurk and strike, how can it be possible to grow in the darkness and feel again? Most Pixar shows appear kiddish and are based in fantasy worlds, but actually have deep, mature agendas with thoughts and ideas grounded in reality. I'm not trying to hold "Inside Out" up (or down) to these other films to show its faults; what I'm trying to do is demonstrate what it should have LEARNED from them. This newest Pixar offering is conceptually complex, even taking place in the REAL WORLD, but in order to appeal to the younger audience, the ideas are toned down enough so that, frustratingly, adults are able to figure out what the themes going to be explored are and how the film might develop itself ahead of time, the movie itself living internally like a fantasy.
The premise is cooky, and brilliantly so, but it doesn't speak at as great an involving, moving volume as it should.
I felt bad when leaving the theater. At first my reasoning wasn't that the film didn't do what it should have, but that I hadn't tried hard enough to enjoy it, as would be evidenced by all the grinning people surrounding me as we stood up and exited the theater's lovable concert hall. "Why can't you understand what makes a film good, boy?" my head kept demanding of me. "Why do you have to be so difficult? Why do you have to be so different? Why can't you enjoy this? Why can't you UNDERSTAND this? Why can't you understand that? Why do you always have to be this way? Why? Why?! WHY?!" Then it hit me like a knocking rock to the head. If I cared that much about a film's conceptions to torture myself like that, were my opinions about it really being difficult? Didn't that mean that I put as much thought into what the film was made of as anybody else did? Isn't an opinion a revelation? A little speck of seasoning timidly popping out from the swirls of porridge around it, where the bead doesn't necessarily make the mix any better, but doesn't, for that matter, make the thing any worse or weaker either? Every drop of the stew makes up the whole broth that one enjoys, and while one may agree that the liquid is what pleases you the most, it is the seasoning that makes the thing special.
You all may enjoy this film. It splendidly matters a great positive deal that you do, but I shan't change, and never shall I hold my opinion over yours. For though I may add a spark to the porridge's tasteful ignition, it is, after all, YOU who matters most.
Okay, here goes. Right off the bat I have to say that the actors and actresses give this movie their all. There is nothing more that they could have done.
It's almost everything else that needs some work. Here is the best advice I can give you: don't watch the trailer. I MEAN it. It will be a big temptation. I eventually gave in before watching the movie. The trailer gives away almost every single scare. I never jumped once throughout the entire film because I was able to predict it all. The movie is the least scary of all three, but it is also the most emotional one.
From here on out it's spoiler-territory. You have been warned. This third chapter had so much going for it. As I before mentioned, the cast is perfect. An idea of a prequel instead of a sequel has promise. The main villain is genuinely creepy. All of the thematic ideas are in the right ball park. But notice two key words I just used in the past couple sentences: "main" and "ideas". This film has too many enemies for the characters to face. In a way, it's kind of like what people have criticized The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 for. The amount of villains dilutes the threat they individually pose, as each one has to have its own narrative thread, expelling any tension that builds up. What's really bad is that this is a short horror film. All the little breaks in the plot after the opening scenes change the pace considerably for the worse, which dispels the terror one should be feeling.
I can understand the writers trying to tie this prequel into the other films, but to do it effectively they needed to expand the length and not repeat some of the same scenes, like the ones where the veiled woman lunges for Elise's throat, over and over again. There's so many ideas, but they're only hinted at. I, for instance, wanted to know more about the history of the guy with the breathing mask. All we are given is that he used to live in the apartment complex.
While what the other-worldly things say can be greatly menacing, some of the other lines of dialogue said by the characters can be corny, discordant, and incomplete. You can tell the actors can feel it too. The words they should be saying are on the tips of their tongues, but they're holding them back. Those words they don't issue out are powerful. In the scene where Elise talks about her husband's suicide she abruptly stops when she is about to talk about how his one major action affected her feelings about herself. What the writers don't let her say is that she feels like she's the one responsible for his death. THAT is why she needs to find him in the afterlife: to convince herself that she didn't unwittingly kill the man she loved.
Yes, Elise finally gets to show some hutzpah. But what she showcases with that strength is how weak the villains really are. All she needs to do is keep pushing them away from her, with the demons, as a result, flying through the air and needing to catch their imaginary breath. Oh, that's right. Breath. The man with the oxygen mask has a big weakness. I think I just gave it away. Sorry. It's just to prove a point. How can that man fly all the huge items in a room around in a big frenzy and knock people down telepathically and be able to teleport himself between the apartment floors and still be able to be so easily defeated by an old woman who could beat him in 10 seconds flat with just her hands as weapons? He really has no displayed effective offense. The man just keeps shrinking away because he's not strong enough.
Right when I felt like the tension was finally starting to build, the demonic issues were resolved. Almost all the other problems regarding everybody but Elise, Specs, and Tucker are never addressed. For instance, Quinn wasn't supposed to walk because her legs were crushed by a car and needed a great deal of time to heal. When the demon possesses her he makes her use those legs, and the legs are observed starting to snap. After the demon is gone nobody talks about how the girl's legs are probably now destroyed permanently from the extreme exertion the man used them for. The film closed. And the reference cliff-hanger ending was given away in the trailer also.
This is one of the biggest film disappointments I have ever had. There is a genuinely great horror/intense emotional drama film this movie lays the framework for. Sadly, the gaps are only hinted at and never filled. The characters, their portrayers, and the plot deserved much more than what the writers and the director had, or were willing, to offer.
4 3/4 /5
With the film Stoker, people will take away what work they put into trying to understand it. Every member of the audience must determine and decide how far down the rabbit hole he/she wants to go. Since this review is meant to be read by the common populace, I will keep the knowledge that I have weaned from this movie to a bare minimum in these passages.
Stoker is open to many different interpretations, yet the parts entailed for them are not just random bits heaped together. The words spoken by all the characters but the teenage boys has weighted meaning, everything veiled symbols unlocked and understood only by the scant exposition.
Discordant, odd, or unique actions and images display fresh and eventually vivid character-izations. These are helped further along by a game cast that drowns itself in this material and yet keeps its eyes above water. What is at first frustratingly foggy clears on later reflection.
Excluding a couple minor tidbit faults near the beginning, this film is completely different from other would-be riddle pictures of its ilk like The Shining because it addresses common themes and things branded into our society that we overlook because we can't understand them. Stoker's being and existence is not just for our decryptive pleasure, but to slyly and half-honestly better help us understand somethings we've become numb to.
The Director, Park Chan-wook of the original Oldboy fame, has cracked a long-analyzed elusive code. What a master. And what a treat.
3 5/8 /5
Ender's Game, for most of its duration, felt like a solid hit. The premise was compelling and was implemented with nice abandon. A few little things kept sticking out negatively for me, but I was willing to ignore them, as the film as a whole encouraged me to ignore its minor errors.
But then the finale came, a finale that was so tonally jumbled and rushed. To make matters worse, it highlighted all the little errors I had found earlier in the film and then highlighted them again in another morbid color. More mistakes pointed themselves out.
Some examples are here then included. The characters of Graff and Anderson from the get-go are already fully interested in the capabilities of the protagonist that is Ender. The two commentate on every action he does and focus on what he must think of them. If I didn't know any better, they're more enamored of him than he is of them. Anderson eventually signs off, and Viola Davis does what she can with the material given to her, but Graff continues on. His verse-work during Ender's final exam with the underused character personified by the underplayed Ben Kingsley seems awkwardly unnecessary. I'm okay with the big plot twist that occurs, and at first it is draw-dropping and powerful, but what follows is done ineffectively and feels sporadic. Harrison Ford as Graff comes aggressively at Butterfield's Ender with a strong vocal acting turn, but then we realize how weak and unconvincing Butterfield in the role has been all along as he tries to squeakily retaliate against Harrison's monstrous persona. The scenes where Ender commands a team to combat the alien threat are unabashedly frenetic, not helped by the fact that we can't exactly see what everyone is getting worked up about. Suddenly some things important to the story that came before are contradicted, previous characterizations are glossed over, and new agendas come out of nowhere and are thrust out as brief epitaphs, quickly rolling into the out-of-left-field end credits. What was before an interesting philosophical character study rapidly loses its cohesion and becomes unfocused. Another thing that wasn't as serious, but still slightly awkward, was how the same colleagues of Ender are constantly recycled in places where you might expect a new character to appear.
Don't get me wrong. Ender's Game was a real treat. It's just that this film, if it were to follow the book, needed to fully realize what its vision was by possibly lengthening its ending, or at least make sure the tale was more fleshed-out. Ender's Game is still a pass, but don't expect its climax or denouement to feel fully satisfying.
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Hello. I am el Cirujano de Palabras, the Word Surgeon. This blog is meant to both enlighten and entertain the reader. Please excuse how long it takes for a new post to be submitted. I am a very busy person, and I sometimes have trouble getting my thoughts in order. But feel free to comment or leave any complaints or concerns you may have, as long as they wouldn't be considered vulgar by the general population or be viewed as being irrelevant to anything provided on the website. Thanks!
0 - 1 3/4 Stars = Worst
2 - 2 7/8 Stars = Bad
3 - 3 1/8 Stars = Average 3 1/4 - 3 3/8 Stars = Above Average or Mixed
3 1/2 - 4 Stars = Good
4 1/8 - 5 Stars = Best