The Emoji Movie 😞

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I am not going to say I was at a loss for words when watching The Emoji Movie because I don’t want to resort to emojis to express how I feel. Surprising, I wasn’t angry or annoyed when watching the Emoji movie but that was because I had quickly adopted two techniques towards watching The Emoji Movie to becoming bearable.

These two techniques are sleeping in small intervals (10 minutes awake and 10 minutes asleep) and treating The Emoji Movie as a bizarre avant-garde children’s comedy. The rest of the review will show you why.

The Emoji movie is about the personified meh emoji called Gene (T.J. Miller) who lives in a society with other emojis. This society lives in a place called Textopolis (I am not making that word up) which is an app on a smartphone owned by a kid called Alex. Gene is considered a malfunction because he cannot sustain an expressionless “meh” face and wants to travel to the cloud to reprogram himself to have a perpetual meh face so he can do his job.

The reason Gene is important is that Alex is crushing hard on a girl and a Meh face emoji is the most critical emoji to send to her so she falls in love with him. The movie even says that words take too long to truly express how someone feels.

Because the premise is shallow and not movie length worthy, the movie takes its characters to various apps that have nothing to do with plot and story progression. It’s more of an exhibit than a movie. They play games like Candy Crush and Just Dance, interact with a firewall, go to Youtube and Facebook, and ride the Twitter logo to their destinations.

Because The Emjoi Movie did this over and over again I decided to sleep, feeling that when I wake up I would not have missed anything. I was right, and I repeated this process until the climax when I realized I could leave in ten minutes if I stayed up.

The other bizarre thing about The Emoji Movie which occurs frequently is when all these emojis are put into situations where their emotions don’t match the tone or the situation.
Gene’s meh parents at one point argue and fight at each other about finding their son but entirely through expressionless faces and voices. You’d think they would express sadness and frustration instead on nonchalance, but it’s not played for laughs.

Similarly, when Smily (A smiley faced emoji) is constantly angry, it is weird seeing her smiling throughout the movie. It was such a poor directorial choice to do this I pretended to think it was an experimental avart grade kids movie just to get my head over the stunning ineptitude. Not that it was funny, but I was tying to find my own justifications to continue watching.

I could go on with other things like
1.how the entire movie is just a blatant ad to kids to consume more technology or;
2. How there are numerous dance-offs just to fill time and;
3. The fact that all the jokes are always the first bad pun you think of when encountering an emoji
But I was not offended by the movie because it was such void that it sucked any energy that would require anger.

By the end, my face was like a zombie. I was both stunned at how inept The Emoji Movie was while being so sleepy tired because nothing happened that was remotely interesting. I would just watch Inside Out a thousand times instead    ➖ 

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Rotten Tomatoes Killing the Movie Business- Really?

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Well, after over 100 years of films and film criticism, movie studios have now blamed Rotten Tomatoes for killing their profit margins this year.

It is really strange considering that the Rotten Tomatoes has existed for 19 years and film criticism has existed far longer than that. Despite this, major blockbuster movies very rarely failed to make a profit.

So it would not surprise you that I believe the movie studio arguments do not really hold. I am about 90-10 in terms of disagreeing with them over agreeing with them.

I will be writing about

  1. The movie studio’s main argument
  2. How Rotten Tomatoes works and how little correlation Rotten Tomatoes is to box office performance
  3. How these movies the movie studio mentioned may have failed
  4. Where the money is really made.
  5. Finally, I will write about what people, movie studios and Rotten Tomatoes can do to make the overall movie experience better.

Movie Studio Argument

The argument movie studios have for their diminishing returns is that young adult’s purchase online more often and since the purchase of Rotten Tomatoes website from Fandango, there has been a significant drop in box office revenue from movies that have given poor reviews. This is because they see the rating before they purchase movie tickets. They also questioned the Rotten Tomatoes rating system and how it works and how that contributes to the box office decline.

The “Questionable” Rotten Tomatoes System

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The tomatometer, the percentage indicates positive response and the average rating is an indicater on how much critics like or dislike a movie.

I will respond to the dumbest part of the argument first which is that Rotten Tomatoes is a questionable system in how it rates movies. They argue that it is a misrepresentation, which is partly true, but it is not intended to be deceitful. This misrepresentation only happens when critical opinion is mixed and even then it’s only in specific situations. The system is an aggerate of many critics opinions boiled down to either liking it (Fresh) or not liking it (rotten) which creates an approval rating percentage (The Tomatometer). If the Tomatometer is more than 60% positive (6 out 10 critics like the movie), it is considered “fresh” and anything less is considered “rotten”. The misrepresentation here is that the Tomatometer does not measure how much a movie critic loves or loathes a movie.

To delve further into what critics really rate a movie, there is a weighted average mean that is scored out of ten to weed out the mixed reviews that The Tomatometer could misrepresent. The weighted average is more accurate to critic sentiment than the Tomatometer as the Tomatometer does not represent mixed reviews very well sometimes and is a better indicator on how much they liked or disliked a movie.

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Two recent movies Grils Trip and Mother got exactly the same average rating of 6.8, yet the tomatometer skews Girls Trip by 15% because it got more positive reviews than negative ones. Those reviews were only mildly positive reviews given the 6.8 rating as opposed to the 90% tomatometer score that would make you belive it’s an excellent movie.

Theoretically, a movie that has a weighted average of 6/10 may get 100% because if every critic gave it a 6/10 they are all considered positive responses. Another movie could get an average 9/10 and get the same 100% score on the Tomatometer because 9/10 is also considered a positive score. Conversely, a movie may 0% on the Tomatometer despite the average score to be a 4/10 because 4/10 is considered a negative score. This is the only time in which I believe the Tomatometer can become skewed. That is the main disadvantage of the Tomatometer.

In other words, movies with 0% could only be mildly negative when you read the weighted average and a movie with an 100% rating in reality may only be passable entertainment.

However, I do wish the weighted average score is emphasized (larger font size) more and the Tomatometer is emphasized less on their website as the weighted score is a better representation for critical consensus. If moviegoers are only reading the percentage, then I can see why this may be a problem for movie studios when their movies are actually half decent when the Tomatometer measure a 20% or less approval rating.

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You can even get the full reviews from Rotten Tomatoes by clicking the “Full Review” link to get everything a review has written on in it’s proper context. I don’t think Rotten Tomatoes are hiding anything based on what they are showing me.

 

But if you really want the best information, look at what critics think of a movie by reading their reviews. Rotten Tomatoes provide links to the full reviews that they have collected and you can gain a wealth of information that way. Lot of critics I have found would like or dislike a movie for similar reasons, movie studios may even see the trend and transfer it into their movie making!

Rotten Tomatoes is not a rigged system nor do they intend to be misleading, Rotten Tomatoes accurately provies aggerates from many (sometimes even hundreds) of critics per movie and you can even have access to what each individual says about the movie. It’s a wealth of data that comes from many people, which is why the website is popular in the first place.

The “Correlation” of Rotten Tomatoes and the Box Office

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171 million dollars so far for The Emoji Movie on a 50 million dollar budget . 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. 💩😜 🔫

Now that we are done with the dumbest part of their argument which was the entree lets move on to the meat of their argument which is there is a strong correlation between Rotten Tomatoes scores via Fandango and each movie’s box office performance.

Well, Fandango purchased Rotten Tomatoes in February of 2016. Since that time here is a list of movies that contradicts the theory. Anything less than 60% is considered “rotten” or negative by Rotten Tomatoes scoring

1. How to be Single 47% positive, cost $38 million and made $112 million
2. London Has Fallen 25% positive, cost $60 million and made $205 million
3. Batman vs. Superman 27% positive cost $300 million and made $873 million
4. Suicide Squad 25% positive: cost $175 million and made $745 million
5. Alice Through the Looking Glass: 30% positive, Cost $170 million and made $300 million
6. Me Before You: 58% positive: Cost $20 million and made $200 million
7, Ice Age Collision Course: 15% Positive, cost $105 million and made $400 million
8. Blair Witch: 36% positive: Cost $5 million and made $45 million
9.xXx The Return of Xander Cage (my favorite bad film:) Cost $85 million and Made $346 million
10. A Dog’s Purpose: 30% positive: Cost $22 million and made $194 million
11. Rings 7% positive, cost $25 million: and made $83 million
12. Fifty Shades Darker: $55 million and made $378 million
13. The Mummy: 16% positive, Cost $ 125-195 million and made $407 million

Yes, I did cherry pick, I cherry picked because there are a lot more movies released since February of 2016 that have made a ton of money despite negative critical reviews. I just thought you’d get the picture by the thirteenth example

 

Also, if the inverse were to be true, all positively reviewed movies make money. That is not true either. There have been many movies that have had positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and have failed. Examples like Raw, Land of Mine, Lovesong, Free Fire, Logan Lucky, Silence, Things to Come, Miss Slone and Morris from America were all received positive reviews in the last two years but did not make twice their production budget (the general amount of money needed to break even) back.

Yes, there are many movies that have failed that have negative reviews and others have made lots of money while having positive reviews, but that there is no correlation to that being a formulaic rule. I have just disproven that with countless examples over the past two years that Fandango has purchased Rotten Tomatoes.

Reasons These Movies “Underperformed”

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This is what happens when you make the same movie over and over again.

The majority of these examples that movie studios have come up with were franchise movies like Transformers: The Last Knight. All of these franchise movies made money, but not as much as they wanted to. Movie studios have to know that every product has a shelf life and nothing lasts forever because people either get tired of it or they find other things that are more entertaining or beneficial to them. From the fidget spinner to Kodak, nothing lasts forever.

Maybe after ten years and over 600 minutes of robots and explosions fighting against larger robots and more explosions, people have been numbed by the experience? Maybe after fourteen years and more than 600 minutes of crazy pirates, the audience has gotten a little sea sick? If people were not simply bored of a repetitive product, why am I not watching the 66th season of I Love Lucy that should be out today if they were still creating new episodes?

 

Also, what was also more believable about the decline in the movie industry is the increase in advanced technologies in home entertainment where people now are more than willing to stream content at the touch of a button at home, or the expansion of more television channels which gives consumers broader range of entertainment and make them less likely to leave their homes to watch movies.

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I am sure not one person knows what this means because everyone is honorable and pays subsciption fees to watch Game of Thrones

Another reason for the decline is the increase of movie piracy through video torrenting and online streaming services. Because people can just get the movie for free that way, it would become harder for movie producers, distributors and cinemas to compete based on price. I would have also believed that more as a factor for industry decline than Rotten Tomatoes eroding profit margins

If movie companies sincerely believe in their own reasoning as to why they have failed at the box office recently, I wished I shared that fantasy. I’d love to be in a reality where all the great movies were successful and all the crappy movies were not. But that is not the reality and movie companies have known this for the last 40-50 years.

Where the Money Goes

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Left: The Critic. Right: The Advertising Agencies. I wish we were the same size.

The last 40-50 years of box office successess have harnessed hype to be successful. When people say that the movie industry is built on hype, that is absolutely true. Movie companies love hype and will pay advertising companies millions and millions of dollars to create it.

Marketing agencies will use every trick in the book to make a movie financially successful. They will use the press, guerrilla advertising, event marketing, publicity stunts, create websites and edit trailers to whatever mood they desire to get you in the door and I am only scratching the surface. They create such an event that they build hype and, if strong enough, people will be compelled to see the movie no matter how bad or good it may be.

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The definition of hype. Tell these people to skip a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and come back to me with the results if you are still alive.

If I tell a person in my University to not see the newest superhero movie they will shoot me. If I told them to watch Embrace of the Serpent, they would ask me why and I would tell them why. They would probably end up not watching it anyway.

A month ago I wrote a piece on how I wrote a blog titled “A Call to Action” where I wanted casual moviegoers to not tolerate mediocracy in movies as they have so often done (and continue to do to this day). If people only saw the good movies and rejected the poor ones, I would not have felt compelled to write that blog. The reality is, movie critics do not have a lot of power in persuading people to see or not to see a movie. Most of the time people read critics reviews to validate their own opinions on a movie. Critics only have the power of their word and that word is not strong enough, even though we try to make it stronger.

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To get you from left to right is a spectacularly hard job. Ad agencies can do that better than critics can. Even they cannot do sometimes with a multi million dollar budget.

The people who have all the power in the world are the advertising agencies that market the movies because they resonate more with consumers by creating a major desire for them. That desire is so strong that moviegoers are willing to get out of their houses, drive to the cinema, pay to park, pay an expensive movie ticket and concessions and sit in a room with people they don’t want to be with, to spend two hours out of their time to simply watch a movie. That is a lot of opportunity cost that advertising agencies overcome, that is a lot of power.

That is what determines the success or failure at box office.

Solutions

 

As I said earlier, I am glad movie studios believe their delusion. Why? Well, if they truly believe that the scores on Rotten Tomatoes are the results of their diminishing returns, then they have the solution in their own hands: Make better movies.

For the web designers at Rotten Tomatoes: emphasize the weighted average more so than the Tomatometer to better represent critical consensus so consumers gain more of an informed opinion

To moviegoers: Read more than the Tomatometer to gain some real insight into a film to determine what you may want to see. Generally, critics don’t like spoiling movies and they try to entertain the reader in the hopes you engage with them.

If people followed these steps, then the quality of movies would probably be better.

It Floats

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It is a movie adaption of a Steven King novel that does work surprisingly well I personally never understood the near common fear of clowns but in this movie, they sure know how to make him demonic.

It is the name of Pennywise the Dancing Clown played by Bill Skarsgard. This clown resides by the sewer system in the local town. Pennywise captures and possesses children and teenagers by transforming himself into their worst fear (like a boggart in the Harry Potter series) before consuming them. It is up to a team of five pre-adolescents to find a way to stop Pennywise the Dancing Clown from continuously terrorizing the city.

It the movie is but it is genuinely scary. I would have loved more scares but am I being too greedy? Who really knows because a lot of the time the movie is about the lives of the five kids in the movie and it spends a lot of time exploring the interaction with these characters and it is entertaining to watch.

What I love about the dialogue in this movie is that the accuracy of how tweens speak. The dialogue is along the lines of “Your mother” and “That’s what she said” but with more wit and vulgarity. I don’t expect any of the child actors to that quick on the trigger in real life but it did serve as comic relief. Their insults and banter were smarter than Mark Whalberg’s banter and insults in the Transformers franchise.

What is a million times scarier than Mark Whalbergs banter though are the slash scenes. Most of the time they work because they put a new spin on the old set-up and slash scenes from lesser horror movies. One of my favorites from It is the very first scene with Pennywise talking to a kid called Georgie from the drain. Georgie’s paper boat fell down the drain where Pennywise is and Pennywise tells George to put his hand out to get the paper boat from him. You know when George puts his hand in the drain something bad is going to happen to his arm, but the set-up was ingenious and the payoff was surprisingly graphic, which made the scene feel unique and terrifying.

One of the main frustrating things about It though is how they only commit halfway to Pennywise the Dancing Clowns motives and origins. The ending may be a justification as to why, but for those kinds of things, I am an all-in or nothing kind of guy. It tries to have an origin story (and I use the term loosely) that is vague, to say the least. They entertain the idea of how Pennywise lives for so long, but they don’t commit to it. Also, It does not show as to why Pennywise preys on fear. I have not read the book so I am only left with unlikely assumptions. I personally find that annoying.

Nevertheless, It is excellent in the film because all of the creative ways the Pennywise manifests into many forms of fear outweigh it’s probably going to be the highest grossing horror film of the year and if you do like It, there are recent horror films like Get Out (a horror movie that redefines the genre), Ouija Origin of Evil (A movie that was so scary, my hands shook with adreline when I walked out) and Don’t Breathe (A brillantly told horror story that is both intriguing and terrifying) that I would recommend too if you have the time if you are a casual moviegoer and you want to delve into more recent horror pictures

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

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Valerian revels in ambition, but does it succeed in it’s ambition? I would say “Yes… enough to recommend at least. Not enough to say it completely succeeds”

If anyone were to ask me “Hey Nelson, What movie has the best visuals going around multiplex right now?” I would say “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by a long margin” because there are so many worlds and environments this movie takes you on and makes you feel like a kid in a candy shop. However, this movie is by no means a masterpiece as Valerian is considerably subpar on it’s other movie elements, especially in storytelling.

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Throuhgout the rest of this review I will just show the stunning photography. I hope my review looks pretty

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a story played out almost exactly like Avatar. There is a planet that is run on pearls as it’s main resource and is governed by a friendly alien species. There is one human in power that seeks to destroy it and the main characters Valerian and Laureline (Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne) are there to try and save it. If you ever get confused with the plot (which I understand) just think of the story of “Avatar” and it’s essentially the same thing.

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I could explain the plot further and in more detail, but in doing so I am essentially spoiling the movie from this point on. That is because Valerian is one of the films that only gives you a bit of info one moment at a time either by adding new information on the plot, or you have a retelling of the story told from the perspectives of different characters. This is actually a ballsy move because if you don’t care about the movie as you are watching it, you will be completely lost. If you are into the movie, it is like a gift that keeps on giving.

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For me, I understood the majority of the plot but only after listening intently and memorising what was said. I liked the ideas from the plot itself but for a movie that relies on you losing yourself emotionally with the visuals Valerian expects the viewer to use a lot on intellect and memorisation of the plot to get the full concept of the movie. The intended experience, I believe, to be at one with your emotion or your intellect in the movie. In practice it does not mix, either giving you 30 minutes of visuals or 30 minutes of plot rehashing and repeating that process for more than two hours. I understood and liked both elements, but they never came together for me.

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There was only one moment in Valerian where the movie was particularly bad which occurs when the story just stops completely. It is the two scenes that involve Rihanna. It’s not that she was bad, it was just that her character arc made seemingly no sense in the movie’s story. Those scenes just don’t develop any of the characters, nor do these scenes have any impact of the main plot whatsoever. If you took the two scenes out that involve her, I believe the story would have made just as much sense and you would have missed nothing.

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What you would not have missed in Valerian is the visual experience of it all. If you take out the mountains of average- sounding dialogue, it is like those Imax films that only exist to test the limits of the imax medium. It is, in of itself, beautiful. Alpha, which is the name of the city of the thousand planets, helps illustrate the visual variety. Since many planets from many species inhabited this city, there are various environments that are traversed and experienced, testing the limits of imagination. That, alone is more than enough of a recommendation to watch this film. ⭐⭐⭐1/2

 

A Call To Action

There is a reason people say “They don’t make great movies anymore” For me, it’s because it has been proven time and again that people like the familiar, which is fine, but it reaches a point to which people watch the same thing over and over again to the point where we watch for the entity and not the story. That is a creative killer.

Hoverever, recently I have seen some blockbuster movies that have squashed the mundane expectations that major film companies have benchmarked themselves for so long. I want this to continue but I don’t have any power to change that. Only the people can.

The last month and a half have been the best period for movies in the last sixteen months of reviewing movies by a country mile. I have had entire months without a single excellent movie (four stars or more). In the last five weeks, I have seen five excellent movies in a row. They are:

1. Spiderman Homecoming
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. War of the Planet of the Apes
5. The Big Sick

For me, to watch two excellent movies in a row is rare. To watch 5 has been unprecedented. To see two movies in a row that have gotten 4.75 stars from me is unreal.

I don’t rate movies on a bell curve. I call it like it is. I was wondering if it was just me and my positivity influencing these unusually high ratings. That is until I saw a video by the Double Toasted Podcast (Who have reviewed movies for a lot longer than I have) and they came to the consensus that this short period was the best period of watching movies they have had in the last several years.

I personally don’t know if this is going to be a recurring pattern but I hope it is. In the last month, these movies have curbed a lot of their vapid, uninspired movie making and have either gone for a stripped back approach, (The Big Sick) a reinvention, (Dunkirk) classic fun, (Spiderman Homecoming and Baby Driver) or a bit of everything (War of the Planet of the Apes)

Each one of these movies is completely different, memorable and engaging in their own way and that is when movies start to hit the stratosphere. To do that, a movie must take its chances to become either a great film or a film that burns to ashes.

If 2016 was any indicator to me, the movie industry was not willing to take that chance. Ultimately, they knew that to protect their investment these businesses they turned to advertising and repeated the same old formulas that get tiresome after awhile. This is where you, the reader, come in.

Movie industries (As well as any other industry) care about the money you make. They (like any other industry) fear it when a wave of people complain about their crappy product. With preview screenings, creative decision-making and statistics by their side, the movie industry listens intently. So it’s up to you to make a response.

I hope people these days want a new twist, something that is different that you don’t expect. It does not have to be a completely original or unheard of idea, but maybe go for a movie that has that’s familiar but a little bit different creatively. The above movies, aside from Dunkirk are not reinventions but old stories told in a new light.

Movie studios will only keep making these excellent movies if you the consumer ask for it. And I am behind that. It is easy to stay in the comfort zone of familiarity in movies but that gets old really fast. My advice: Don’t fear excellence, embrace it. To paraphrase from Field of Dreams “If you demand it: The movie studios will come”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Atomic Blonde

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After watching Atomic Blonde I realized that David Leitch the director does a fantastic job at choreographing action sequences. As for telling an interesting and coherent story, he did not in this cinematic venture. The only reason Atomic Blonde gets a pass mark is that the action sequences are jaw droppingly amazing

Then I did a little bit of research and realized that David Leitch has been a professional stuntman for twenty years. That explained everything to me after seeing such a movie like Atomic Blonde. I have no doubt that Leitch will be known for his great action sequences because that alone got me through his convoluted storytelling.

The story is the formulaic “manhunt for the secret document that could put the world in jeopardy” cliche. I would not have minded this had a movie like Atomic Blonde but it’s own spin on the idea. Instead, you get many characters who work for different government agencies (MI6, CIA, Stazi, French agents, Drug lords etc.) and by the final third act, they betray each other so frequently that it would take a rocket scientist to untangle all the betrayals and deceits. To top it all off, There are even multiple characters who are proud of “deceiving the deceiver”. My head was spinning with confusion.

If there is anything that is salvageable in the movie it is the cinematography and action sequences. Atomic Blonde is shot like it was an entrant at some youth art-house film festival. There are a half dozen matching cuts, the camera is slowly rotating up and down and side to side and the colors are both oversaturated and sketchy. While that is a turn off in most instances, Atomic Blonde makes these shots work

What drives Atomic Blonde home though is the action sequences. They are violent, brutal, seamless and inventive all at once. The best action sequence was a seamless long take that takes place in a staircase. The bad guys don’t go down with one punch, making them legit badasses and a real threat in the movie.

So if I were you I would get a rental or watch it online and just skip to all the action sequences. If lesbian scenes are your thing there are a couple of love scenes in which Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella passionately make out in their perfect lingerie. Atomic Blonde is an exercise in style for style’s sake that works on style alone. Expect there is no sense in the story. Even London has Fallen had more sense in it’s story. ⭐⭐⭐

The Big Sick Review

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The Big Sick is all about people, real people. In an era where movie tries to sell a fantasy or the surreal, The Big Sick that takes places in the here and now and embraces it. This makes all these characters relatable, a story that’s believable and has an authenticity that caught me by a pleasant surprise. I was in awe watching this movie for long stretches of time.

The story about Kumil (Kumail Nanjiani) a Pakistani man who falls in love with a white girl and the relationship becomes complicated quickly with a clash of cultures as Kamul comes from a Muslim family and worries about telling his parents about his relationship. When his girlfriend is hospitalized from a bad disease that leaves her comatose, he is forced to connect with her parents (played by Ray Romero and Holly Hunter) and his own parents to try and make these new relationships work.

The Big Sick is a comedy movie that deals with a story that is very real in the lives of people, yet finds the tricky balance of adding humor without trivializing the story. Throughout the movie, Kumul lies to people to either impress others or for fear that his family would reject him. This leads into some funny and sticky situations at the same time. This includes some unique stand-up performances and Kumul having to try and warm up to his girlfriend’s parents in the most unlikely and awkward situations.

Ray Romero and Holly Hunter committed to their roles to an unusual yet welcoming amount of depth. Their interactions with Kumul and each other are worth the watch. Romero’s character is a simple, softly spoken man while Hunter’s character is a complex, outspoken woman but they both care about their family and both are willing to fight for it. So does Kumil. It’s so refreshing to see so many characters like their take stances even when they fear the worst. How they treat Kumal is both interesting and fascinating to watch.

The main deterrent to The Big Sick is the length. It is a 90-minute movie that went on for 2 hours. A lot of movies made or produced by Apatow are like this and I don’t know why. Everything needed to be said in The Big Sick is told in 90 minutes and the rest of the movie is like a game of emotional keepaway. The last half hour is not bad whatsoever but it just does it build up from the great material the movie offers in the first 90 minutes.

Still, the length does not take away the fact that The Big Sick is a great film about a real person who wants his old and new family to come together knowing that it’s easier said than done. I don’t like the movie simply because it is autobiographical but because it does not shy away from it’s material that seriously affects the lives of many people. Many other movies wouldn’t have the courage. That is hard enough in a drama, let alone a romantic comedy. ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4

War of the Planet of the Apes- Wow!

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War of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best films of 2017. It intends no less than to go for broke and reap the rewards. It is a movie determined to go out with a spectacular bang and boy is this movie strong in that aspect. This movie is so brilliant that it has a good chance of being the best blockbuster that I see in 2017.

Why is War of the Planet of the Apes so fantastic? It masters the basics requirements of what makes a great movie. It has great action, special effects, characters, and drama. Most blockbusters can barely get one of these things right let alone all four.

What glues all four of these cinematic aspects together is a great story about the ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) wanting revenge against a ravenous Colonial (Woody Harrelson) seeking to kill apes whom he believes caused a virus, leaving humans with the inability to speak. The tension rises when the Colonial hatred starts to reflect Caesar’s and aims to consume him. The moral complexity ensues from there which makes this film so great above all that made the movie great.

This film is both, equally, about understanding and misunderstanding. This is why I don’t consider Woody Harrelson’s as a fully-fledged villain. He kills apes as he believes it stops spreading a terrible disease. His actions come off as hateful but his intentions do not. It’s within his interpretation of a crisis situation that causes the pain and misery that festers throughout the film which is the inability to understand that the apes are not savages.

From this story, you can see how much influence Apocalypse Now had on this movie. There even graffiti that says “Ape-pocalypse now” sprawled across an underground wall. My favorite movie last year was also inspired by that same movie but War of the Planet of the Apes is a more hopeful film, a film that has the epic feel to it. This movie does not back away from the brutality and pain but it does remind you there are sparks of hope along the way.

This movie ultimately shows us the consequences of condemning things that we do not understand. We can fear the unknown but we have no right to judge it. This movie actually reminded me of how AIDs victims in the 80’s were societal outcasts because humans feared they could get the disease through touch. Then I looked online and people have compared it to many other historical events like the Holocaust and slavery. Ultimately, War of the Planet of the Apes is a great story combined with a brilliant spectacle. It shows the best of a blockbuster in an era where normally the blockbuster is mundane. ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4

A Relentless Battle in Dunkirk

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Dunkirk is one of the rare war movies that spends the entirety of it’s running time in conflict zones. This may sound normal in a war movie but normally there is some sort of an aside like scenes on the homefront, flashbacks from the lead or even a life before a war. Dunkirk is deliberately made to show the war from beginning to end and leaves us with wondrous visuals, a uniquely executed story but a lack of character development.

There is little story in Dunkirk in terms of a large sequence of events. The battle of Dunkirk is the entire movie.

According to the man himself, Nolan intentionally made Dunkirk have a lack of character development and one could easily speculate why. I believe that he wanted Dunkirk to have a ring of authenticity in which characters are not explored as they are focused every minute on survival. Is this a mistake? Who knows? Dunkirk was an excellent movie either way. I believe it is more emotionally resonating in a war film if there were characters you get to know and therefore care more. I am reminded of Hacksaw Ridge in which Andrew Garfield fleshed our a memorable war hero called Desmond Doss who fought on and off the battlefield for his faith and everyone around him. Dunkirk has very few discernible characters let alone well-developed characters that I saw in Hacksaw Ridge.

Despite that one main complaint, I still recommend seeing Dunkirk because aside from little character development, Nolen does everything you could possibly do for a movie of this nature. He does achieve setting the realism being under attack. Instead on focusing on the casualties he focuses on survival. I would argue that Dunkirk is more sensory than anything else.  The visuals are something that you need to see on the big screen. Every location from land, air, and sea is something that is breathtaking. For most war movies you will see shades of green, in Dunkirk, you will see it in shades of blue. There are many wide shots of the planes hovering above the sea which was the best visual in my opinion. The sound of the planes swooping in the land are piercingly loud and music literally sounds like ticking time bomb. The visuals and sound mixes beauty and tension together to create a unique war movie.

I also like the cohesiveness of Dunkirk despite the multiple perspectives. Generally, when I see movies that decide to this I normally dread it. That is because the movie comes off like an unfocused mess. In Dunkirk, all of the transitions from the multiple story threads feel like they together to make one overarching story. I don’t have to think “what was that subplot about 40 minutes ago?” and I actually know when the transitions occur unlike in Manchester by the Sea. The smooth transitions in Dunkirk reminded me of the smooth transitions of the movie Nocturnal Animals in that it feels like one movie and they were all coherent.

This is one of the rare times I will say this but don’t watch Dunkirk with a critically open mind. Don’t expect to know people’s names let alone their personality. I am not saying that Dunkirk is a dumb movie but I believe it’s more of a movie best left experienced than watched. It is not a film with a message on war like Apocalypse Now, nor is a film that involves developed characters and emotional swings like Hacksaw Ridge. Dunkirk is a movie more set on realism than anything else. So get swept up by that realism and even though I thought it was great, you might like it more than me. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Cult Following will be Strong With Baby Driver

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Baby Driver is going to be a cult movie because of all the interesting quirks targeted at a young audience. One of these quirks is how they introduce Baby. All you need to know about Baby is the cadence and rhythm of his walk to the beat of his music as he orders coffee. We know who he is while nothing was said and it is damn fun to watch.

Yes, Edgar Wright has done it again. His movies are both style and substance intertwined with multiple genres and Baby Driver is no different. Wright is famous for the Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) This time, Wright has created another miniature film festival contained in a movie. Baby Driver reminds you of the classic car movies of yesteryear for today’s audience.

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The gang

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a professional getaway driver that has been forced into a life of crime by Doc (Kevin Spacey) Baby repays his debt to Doc when he has something new at stake: a waitress (Lily James)who is the woman of his dreams.

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The Job

Baby Driver is a template for great escapist movies. It relishes in minuta while constantly focusing on the story. It is constantly fun and engaging and many elements of Baby Driver does that with the brilliant dialogue, the fleshed out performances from the entire cast, the stories twists, and turns, the stripped back realistic action sequences. All of this makes it feel like a fun and creative low-budget thrill ride.Another excellent element I have noticed is that Baby Driver is the rare movie that used rock music as the tone and not merely as a gimmick. Lots of movies (including Marvel movies) use retro songs in scenes as if to scream out “this is the scene that you need to have fun in” Baby Driver uses the music to serve the purpose of creating a rhythm in all the scenes. The music is a seamless flow like a movie should be instead of coming off like a rigid formulaic structure.

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The girl

What also works seamlessly in Baby Driver the genre shifting from action to comedy to romance and how well all these elements work together. What is also surprising is the unpredictability of the changes, yet the transitions are so smooth that the changes never feel out of place. Never is Baby Driver a predictable film in a mad libs fashion like “Insert joke here” “Insert catchy song there”. You never knew what was coming around the corner while covering a variety of styles and tastes. This is especially entertaining as a person who has an eclectic taste in movies.

 

In combination with the various styles, sequences, and genres Wright has come up with a blueprint for making a great movie. Baby Driver is the movie college freshmen in film school will draw inspiration from. It’s the small movie in the sea of blockbusters that stands out for its uniqueness and will garner a cult following over the next several years ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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The end baby!