The first 20 seconds of this movie consisted of a satellite dropping down and crashing to earth. I then asked myself “Shouldn’t that satellite have disintegrated upon re-entry?”
That was when I realized the xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. was not designed to make you think.
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is fantastically stupid. So fantastically stupid that it was funny (for awhile). I have reviewed nearly 100 movies and I have never seen a movie that I have laughed so hard at for all the wrong reasons. I started to enjoy its stupid antics. That is until it took itself too seriously.
This movie was like a comedian suffering a mental breakdown halfway through their act. You wouldn’t know if this was part of the act. Then you realize it isn’t a part of the act and you have this sudden rush of concern and disappointment.
This is why I have to give it a negative review. I don’t know its intentions and therefore I don’t know how to take it. If this film intends to be a stupid as it comes off, I would be more open to it than if it was trying to take itself seriously.
As I said, I think that the humor was unintentional (I think) which is why this movie isn’t ingenious. To prove to you how stupid and unintentionally funny it is, I will reveal a segment from the first half of the movie:
It is established that Xander Cage has a girlfriend in the Dominican Republic. That girl has never seen again in the movie.
10 minutes later, Xander is trying to hook up with a girl in London. She brushes him off by saying “9 out of 10 sexual relationships fail to last”
Xander Cage responds with “But I know you like to gamble”.
She says she is not a gambler but instead gives him 7 girls to have sex with.
After Gage beds all of the women, Cage smiles at the camera before saying “The things I do for this country”
Rainbows of Stupid.
Don’t worry, this movie has a broader range of unintentional comedic stupidity. You have motorbikes that work like jet skis riding on the oceans and riding the tubes like surfboards. You also have Cage traversing down a jungle using skis, risking his life so he can connect a cable so his community would have TV reception.
This is the kind of stupid that goes on which makes xXx: The Return of Xander Cage so funny. It is only when it is serious when the movie crumbles. The action sequences are edited poorly with frantic quick cuts that your brain won’t process. The combat sequences are cliched and unoriginal. The characters are one-dimensional and the script was dead.
F.Scott Fraiser is the scripwriter. This is the first film I have seen of his work. If he writes stories like this reguarly, he will be one of the worst scriptwriters on this planet.
If you are into campy movies. Watch the first half of the movie (up to and including the motorbike jet-ski scene) and then leave. It rivals with The Room in its unintentional comedy.
This is, so far, the funniest movie that I am giving a negative review. *1/2
People have done various videos and blogs before on how to maximize your chances on winning your very own Academy award. However, most of the videos and blogs that I have seen have these tips that are exclusive to acting.
For my list, I will like to create tips on how to win an Academy from a variety of eligible categories. I will give tips on not only the actors but for writers, editors, cinematographers and other professions in the film industry if acting is not for you.
1. Bear little resemblance to what you look like
For all three Academy Awards that Daniel Day-Lewis has won, not once did he look like himself. For My Left Foot, he played an unkempt, unshaven man with cerebral palsy. In There Will Be Blood, he played a nineteenth-century mining prospector who fancied a mustache and his face covered in dirt, sweat, and grime. In Lincoln, he played Abraham Lincoln.
Lots of actors and actress undergo physical transformations to fit in with the consistent or setting within a movie. However, the largest physical transformations occur when an actor does a biopic. This ties into the second tip.
2. Be in a True Story
To any person that is watching a movie, they will notice an actor’s talent in a biopic for two reasons. The first one is that they know the character beforehand and so they have a frame of reference on how the actor should perform. The second reason is that you would have known all the mannerisms and attitudes the character would have had because you also have a frame of reference on the person.
Biopics are also good for directors and studios that are looking for the best picture win. Four of the last six films that have won the best picture category were from biopics.
3. Make sure the Director wins his Academy Award
If you want to win Best Picture and join the ensemble of cast and crew on that stage together you must make sure the director wins their award. The reason being is that in the last ten years, seven of the directors who won their award for Best Director won Best Picture.
This fact is not surprising considering that the director is the general, guiding the ship to its destination of success. Have a director that has ambition and acts in good faith to everyone involved. The Best Director category is almost a foreshadowing of the awards presentation for the remainder of that night.
4. Make sure that the Movie is Long
The shortest film nominated for this year’s Best Picture is Moonlight with 111 minutes and the longest film is Hacksaw Ridge at 139 minutes in length. If you are making a 90-minute film you are almost doomed to fail.
The longest film in any set of nominees has won 40% of the time according to Brendan Bettinger from Collider.com. However, the movie length that the winners of the Best Picture category tend to be in the 100-140 minute range, winning nearly 75% of the time.
If you are planning to win best short film this strategy is suicidal and I recommend you don’t try it unless you edit like the editors of Suicide Squad. This fits well into my next point.
5. Edit Smoothly
I know for a fact that critics love breezy movies. You have to give people the sensation that 120 minutes feels like 90 minutes and not make 150 minutes feel like four hours like Batman vs. Superman.
Personally, I love smooth editing. Love it. It is one of my pet peeves. How you use the length of your film is just as important as how long the movie is. That is why I think there is next to no chance that Lion will win Best Picture because it dragged sporadically throughout.
Can you imagine Suicide Squad being nominated for best editing? In the words of The Joker “Ha Ha Ha”
The ultimate goal for editing is to make the film like one long sequence despite many scenes and location changes. One of the ways you can do that is…
6. Shoot with a consistent tone
Shooting with a consistant tone is mainly the cinematographer’s job. From camera movements and angles to lighting, it has to be consistent. It is the equivalent of one coherent thought. It’s easier to sit through as viewers know what realm the movie occupies itself with.
The best films in the world have done this. This year, I believe La La Land had the best use of cinematography. The majority of the movie aimed for being plesent and vibrant. They filmed during twilight (Or magic hour) and the camera was always moving smoothly but briskley, the lighting alwayed glowed and the camera was getting the maximum out of everything that was happening in that movie.
7. Have a Flashy or Eccentric Costumes
For costume design, the common trend that I see for all the winners is you either design costumes that are flashy or eccentric. That cover the extremes on both sides of the spectrum.
When I mean flashy, I mean formal but dazzling. This is the route that finds the most success. Films like Titanic, The Great Gatsby, The Artist and The Grand Budapest Hotel have all won for best costuming and they all have the formal but dazzling feel towards all the costuming in their films.
What I mean by eccentric is to go batshit crazy with costume design. In other words, be the alternate chick on the block. I am referring to winners such as Jenny Beavan for Mad Max Fury Road and Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland. Their costumes were out of left field to say the least.
8. Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
The Best Documentary category is a hard one to give advice to given that is has been marred by controversy over the years. For the documentaries of recent years, they generally deal with hot-button topics that will endure for years to come.
This year it definitely shows. With people complaining about the lack of racial diversity in film, boy those people who complained got their wish, 3 of the five nominated films this year were about racial tensions. Another film called Fire at Sea deals with the tragedy of the European migrant crisis.
As long as it is trending on Facebook or Twitter you have a chance. It gives the Academy the image that they are progressives. I beg to differ, but that is another topic for another time.
9a. Premiere or Show your Film at a Film Festival
The films that are going for Oscar nominations are ones that are premiering at a film festival. That is because the filmmakers are quietly confident that their films will be reviewed positively by cinephiles (movie-lovers) that frequently attend these events.
Some of those people are also members of the academy who expect to be enthralled by the art of cinema. Hell, some of them go their to campaign to promote the films they have done. Those are the reasons why those who campaign for the Oscars go to the festivals. That is because that is where all the voters are.
Out of the nine movies nominated this year, seven of them premiered at a film festival. The other two tried the alternate route which is…
10. Open the Film in December
If a studio doesn’t think it can compete to the same level as ones that premise or show at a festival, they will release the film in December to theaters. This is so the film will be fresher in the voter’s minds. Fresher than the nomated films that premired at film festival (theoretically speaking)
It is next to impossible for a film released January or February to win. This is because people are unlikely to remember movies from eleven months ago. That’s why Deadpool never got a nomination. I knew Marvel didn’t want Deadpool to be nominated because of its February release date.
Now go on and grab that Oscar.
Now all you have to do is become a member of the film industry, get hired to do a job in a movie, work extra long hours to beat the intese competition, pray that your fellow comrades love it and campaign for several months, follow all these steps and boom, you have gotten a goldern stature that represents a pay rise for future projects.
I chose Jamie Foxx for this picture because I don’t want to be accused of whitewashing by hypersensitives. Why has none ever accuse the Academy’s of goldwashing their statue? It’s been covered in gold for over 70 years. I think it’s unfair for the red minority statues and I feel they are underepresented by The Academy #OscarsSoGold
January is the month of movie dread. There is never enough money at the box office to warrant a big blockbuster movie and it is also too far away from nomination season to warrent releasing great masterpieces. Fortunatly, in this context, Australians get movies about a fortnight later than Americans do. That is why when movies Lion come out in the middle of January, I cherish them.
Lion is one of those movies that tries to tug the heartstrings through an uplifting story. I liked this movie, but I am starting to get tired of typical plot conventions of the genre. Lion is undeniably a conventional story and for the first two-thirds of the movie were just that with the last thirty minutes being spectacular.
Saroo is an Indian boy (Sunny Pawar) living in poverty with his brother. He loses his brother in the middle of a train station and has traveled more than 1,500 kilometers away from home. The rest of the story takes place over many years as Saroo is adopted by Australian parents (Nicole Kidman and Davie Wenham) and turns into an adult (Dev Patel). He still yearns to find his home.
The great thing about Lion is that is achieves everything it is set out to do. The main problem with Lion is needlessly hammering the themes it’s trying to convey. It, therefore, is not a tightly made film and it dragged for a little bit. Because of that, I could not stop thinking of Slumdog Millionare being it’s superior counterpart
That being said, the last 30 minutes are absolutely fantastic. Who would have thought that something like a software application could bring a lot of drama to a story? It goes to show that there are no limits when it comes to filmmaking, you just have to smart about implementing ideas to the big screen.
The other big thing that works in Lion is Dav Patel. It is one of the rare moments that someone knows how to speak in an Australian accent. It has been a minor thing that has bothered me for awhile in movies these days. From Tarantino in Django Unchained to one of the comedic skits in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and finally to Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad. Finally we get a guy who doesn’t play an Australian sterotype
Patel has made his character borderline obsessive compulsive about his desire to find the location of his family. Despite this, Patel never comes off as a creep, nor does he come off as trying too hard. He finds the line of being very conflicted and angry while being likable and hospitable. Seeing the way it plays out, Patel acts like a human being. That is a compliment because I believed it and that is the ultimate goal in a movie like this.
Because of the underwhelming editing and some of the eye-rolling cliches in the first half of the movie, I cannot say Lion is in the league of best pictures of the year. I am not even sure it will get an Oscar nomination if there are only 5 slots for best picture for which I am sure was a big goal (We will know soon enough). Nevertheless, Lion more than outweighs its weaknesses with great acting and cinematography.****
It’s January and there is a film called Monster Trucks What more do you need to know? My expectations were low and they were met. I predicted how bad it was by giving Monster Trucks a star rating in my head before watching it and that star rating stayed after watching it.
I will provide a plot summary despite the fact no one cares. After an oil drilling problem due to a new species, the entire rig gets destroyed. That is because the new animals love oil. Meanwhile, a teenager called Trig (Lucas Tiller) builds a truck and finds the motor he needs in the animal called Creech. That is because Creech loves to be in fast trucks.
To the soccer mom who will defend this by saying “It’s a kids film!” Yeah, it is. Monster Trucks is for dumb kids (I think). Have a guess who came up with the story. It was a four-year-old kid. The former president of Paramount and his son developed the concept of this film.
A 115 million dollar money pit
If a film that is released in January or February has a nine-figure budget ($100 million of more) it is just not going to financially succeed. What I want to know is where the money went.
A lot of the money was probably spent on the CGI to generate the monsters. But Monster Trucks breaks the cardinal rule. The made the monsters ugly when they should have been cute. Kids immediately associate cute animals as good guys and the ugly creatures as bad guys. I don’t know what were the filmmakers thinking?
The first time I saw the monster up close is when Trig, believing the monster is a bad guy, baits the monster by placing oil rigs on a car crusher. The monster lies on the crusher drinking the oil make stupid high-pitched grunting noises. it looked like Jabba the Hut doing the chair pose in Flashdance.
I prayed for the monster to be crushed. Trig thought it that piece of slime was cute. It brought a new meaning to “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
A Broken Vanity Project of Dialogue
Here is how bad Monster Trucks was, the quips in the movie are nearly as bad as London has Fallen. They were so unfunny and sudden that there was an awkward silence that lingered on for one painful second. It was begging for the “buh-dum-tiss” drum soundtrack to fill the one second of silence.
I also heard from a review that Monster Trucks will teach the kids about the natural environment. Monster Trucks used multisyllabic words like “Biodiversity” “Ecosystem” and “Molepole” to describe the natural environment. How is a five-year-old supposed to understand that? The dialogue just boggled my mind.
It was transparently clear watching it that no one gave a crap filming this picture except for the overblown string musical arrangement that was forced in. Without a doubt in my mind, Monster Trucks is an absolute DUD.
I was only a baby. My mum gave me a candy as she was strolling outside with her pram. I was happy. Just as I was about to take a bite when a bitter old man snatched the candy from my feeble hands. I cried. He bellowed ” Ha Ha Ha! That was as easy as taking candy from a baby!”
Passengers reminded me of that fictitious moment in my life.
Passengers was a great experience at the start. Then the central plot point comes to fruition. I saddened by it. It all went downhill from there.
The best bits in Passengers are the setup and the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence. The setup is that 5,000 people are in cryogenic sleep in space pods on a spaceship called Avalon as they travel from Earth to a new planet called Homested II (Homested I is not explained. Probably because adding a “II” to the end sounds smarter). The trip takes more than 120 years hence the cryogenic sleep.
Due to a system error, Pratt’s character wakes up from his slumber 90 years too early. He then tries to learn to live in social isolation. That is a pretty cool setup. There are a lot of ideas you could do there. Then it takes an awkward turn…
Pratt sees a girl in the hibernation pod (Jennifer Lawrence) that he likes and wants her as her social companion but knows that releasing her pod would mean living the rest of her life on the spaceship (essentally killing her). Being alone for a year and not being able to stand the loneliness…
HE WAKES HER UP!
That is when Passengers starts to suck.
Up until this point. I was surprised how interesting Passengers was. It has really good cinematography and set design. It was clean but not surgically clean while being futuristic but not going overly sci-fi.
The idea of being isolated on a ship was interesting and they could have explored the concepts and moral consequences of forced pre-determinism they did in Arrival. Or they could have saved that for the big reveal in the end (he wakes her up in the first act of the movie). It could of been a thriller cat-and-mouse story as well.
No. Instead they justify Pratt being a creepy dude. Essentially killing the Jennifer Lawrence character just to get a shot with her. In my opinion, that is a crappy reason for the unwanted social suicide.
This movie really is a middle of the road movie with a layer of bad. The movie tries to portray itself as high-brow because it is set in outer space. Don’t be fooled by it. It touches on ideas that not only never materialize but get so wildly misguided that it is not funny.
Then the third act goes haywire. It devolves into punchy, punchy, smashy, smashy, screamy, screamy, lovey, dovey. You have seen the ending before in a million other movies. By the end, I was wondering what movie Passengers could have been given the great setup. *1/2
If a marketing agency comes up with the line “From the creators of Zootopia and Frozen” to promote Moana, you know you are in for something good. I would not say that Moana was as good as those two movies, but it is great for what it sets out to do.
2016 has been a really good year for Disney. It isn’t as good as Pixar were in their heyday, but they are better than Pixar have been in recent years. Moana is only a shade behind of Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book, Zootopia, and Queen of Katwe which were other movies Disney have released in 2016.
Moana is an adventure story about the titular character who is a young Samoan woman who is next in line to be the chief of her people. There is a problem with her community’s food supply as it is wasting away. She decides to sail across oceans to find the solution to the problem in which Mau, a demi-god (Dwayne Johnson) is involved in.
While I don’t think Moana is quite as good as Disney’s recent efforts, the filmmakers still put so much effort into making it fun and succeeding in the process. The songs are fun and people remember them, the animation is gorgeous and there is good character development in Moana the female protagonist. At least she is confident character going into the story. I wish more Disney movies go beyond “The Princess” as a stock character in the future.
There are also many scenes that are distinctive and it builds up to the climax really well. As much as that sounds like the standard thing to do, you would be surprised how many films don’t do that. There are scenes that are memorable in their own right. There is a scene involving a dumb chicken and another that had coconut pirates that looked epic, but I could tell it was well restrained. Which is a good thing because I am not a fan of films where their most memorable sequence is in the first third of the story.
One of the things that Moana could have done better was developing Maui the demi-god. While he had good entertaining moments and was funny, he came off as a bit arrogant. Which is fine, as long as the film addresses it.
There is a what I thought would be a pivotal scene in which Maui would come to realize his vulnerability and his rashness when he leaves Moana behind on her quest. Such a scene does not exist in Moana. Therefore it came off to me as Maui growing a conscience for no reason when he makes his return.
To be honest, that was my biggest criticism and that was only mildly offputting. It only stuck out because a lot of the story was done so well. It was like finding a stain on white clothing instead of a stain on a unhygienic person.
For the overly formulaic path of so many Disney movies about physical journeys being a metaphorical journey of self-discovery, Moana hits a lot of right notes. It is almost as good as you can get under the limitations of such a familiar path the filmmakers took to making the movie ***3/4
La La Land is absolutely fantastic. It is worth all the hype it is getting. At the Venice Film Festival last year where La La Land premiered the audience gave it a standing ovation. That did not sell the film to me as standing ovations at film festivals are not uncommon. Now that I have seen it I see why it would get a standing ovation anywhere.
I think the only reason it did not happen at my screening (It was packed) was because no one was brave enough to start it. Myself included. La La Land is a movie with high ambition that cleared every bar it sets out to achieve in spades.
The film is a story about Mia (Emma Stone) who is an aspiring actress and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is a jazz enthusiast. They develop a relationship which is tested by their own carriers as they life in the glamor of the Hollywood.
Because of how La La Land is shot, it is easy to be swept away. Director Damien Chazelle went for unrestrained romanticism with a ton of upbeat energy. This style can become easily tiresome but it works because I have not seen anything quite like La La Land. He must have spent ages perfecting the movie’s tone.
The only movie from 2016 that La La Land reminds me of is Woody Allen’s Cafe Society. I liked Cafe Society, but La La Land is on a whole new level.
Not only can I find anything bad about it. I don’t want to find anything bad about it because it looks so picture perfect. From the opening shot which is an entire music number set on the motorway during traffic to the final montage is so colorful and vibrant that it blew my mind.
La La Land is the kind of gem that it’s impossible to pinpoint the best scene as you are watching it. The movie always seems to trump itself. I thought the second scene “Somewhere in the Crowd” was going to be the best scene. There were about six scenes that were better (especially the finale). It is rare for any movie to have one great scene. La La Land was one great scene after another and it feels like one long stupendous sequence.
The chemistry between Stone and Gosling is so charming it is nuts. The amount of talent that radiates between them separately is enough, let alone the two together. They have so much class and talent. Gosling knows how to play the piano and stone knows how to sing and tap dance. The both, with their talents, created a story that gave a new meaning to an old ending.
There are dozens of other things to praise La La Land for such as the colorful costumes, the seamless camerawork, the songs and the camaraderie which helped make an old story feel brand new.
Chezelle has achieved something magnificent here. He has shown the glitz and glamor of old school Hollywood and makes it look like the focal point of La La Land when it reality it is about the struggles of success and realizing that life is not as perfect as the exterior he masterfully presents.
Chezelle is like the antihero of his generation of filmmakers that has gained mainstream acceptance. He is against the grain but has cleverly made his way into the minds the major film studio executives. He won’t change their minds, but he was in the picture after Whiplash. Now they would have wholly accepted him after La La Land.
Judging from his movies, Chezelle has a huge artistic vision that can now be easily funded and executed. He is guaranteed to make whatever he wants for his next effort, have a lot of artistic freedom and easily get millions of dollars to support it. Something most directors only dream about. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐