I had a nice time watching Cars 3. The positives outweigh the negatives on this one. Yes, there are many cliches and lacks the strong emotional punch of previous Pixar installments, but Cars 3 makes up for it with storytelling that develops as the characters develop themselves.
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is no longer the fast one of the track as many new and improved cars are taking the tarmac. McQueen seeks the help of a car fitness instructor called Cruz Ramerez to get McQueen up to speed with the younger cars in order to reclaim the Piston Cup.
Cars 3 is like a light-hearted escapist movie with a bit of a brain. There is a lot of races going on where McQueen and Ramerez speed around beaches, tracks, a smash-em-up derby and racing simulations. All of which is at least mildly entertaining with the brightly colored animation, dialogue, and action sequences.
Cars 3 also serves as justification in making a sequel by making the themes somewhat different. The action and the racing is similar (which I don’t mind) but the themes do involve a car learning about what he wants in his late career. It’s just a pity that there was not a satisfying payoff of that in the end. There are some decent moments but because the ideas Cars 3 dabbles in are not fully realized, Cars 3 does not separate itself from the rest of the pack.
In between all of the action and ideas are some moments of humor and social satire. There a funny class between old-school fitness training with new-school fitness training. Cars 3 also satirizes sports broadcasting by the female cars giving superfluous sporting statistics and Cars 3 even makes fun of Pixar themselves turning into a cash cow franchise.
Ultimately I see Cars 3 as a movie that is firmly on the right track but lacks the courage of it’s convictions to go the distance. For another analogy: They built the car but not the road to drive on to experience the feeling of freedom. Still, it’s a pretty nice car to own. ⭐⭐⭐1/2.
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 it a film that is unashamed of what it is. It is a bloated mess from beginning to end. It also waves the middle finger by giving a corpulent wave of unrealised stories that was rushed into the movie before being swallowed up by the gigantic machine of a big Hollywood blockbuster.
I say that Pirates of the Caribbean is unashamed of it grandeur because, near the beginning, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his crew rob a bank in front of the public. I mean “rob a bank” literally as in they stole the building and dragged it throughout town via a stream of horses pulling it around like a caravan on a joyride. The movie shows it’s bloated production from the get go.
In the very beginning of Dead Man Tell No Tales, we do get the main plot (thank God) in which Henry Turner (Brendon Thwaites) is trying to locate the Trident of Poseidon to undo the curse of his father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). If you do want to see this film, just remember that premise to keep in check as the movie gets swallowed up by subplot after subplot and CGI “extravaganza” after CGI “extravaganza”. After an inundation of overstuffed special effects and convoluted storytelling, I was bored and exhausted after watching “stuff” on the screen.
At least the last two movies of the Pirates franchise has gone noticeably shorter in length, however, with bad pacing it made Dead Man Tell No Tales feels just as long as At World’s End even though Dead Man Tell No Tales is nearly 40 minutes shorter.
Another reason Dead Men Tell No Tales feels so long is that the movie has got nothing interesting to say and only one 45 second guillotine sequence to boot. At least Batman vs. Superman had a couple of well-choreographed action set pieces.
The faintest praise I am going to give this movie is that it does not sink to the levels or the previous movie On Stranger Tides but not by much. I hate to say this but Dead Man Tells No Tales is an improvement on its predecessor simply because I didn’t descend to apathy as quickly. It’s like Dead Men Tell Not Tales refined On Stranger Tides which is slightly less bad.
They literally had the jumping of a super fake CGI shark which might have been self-referential to the franchise. It would be poetic had it not been so sad that one of the most original (and particular) franchise has slowly turned into a generically dull franchise in the last fourteen years. ⭐1/2
The Smurfs: The Lost Village is not terrible. Why is The Smurfs: The Lost Village not terrible? Just take out all the things that made The Smurfs 2 terrible. Take out the live action and the overuse of the word “Smurf” have gotten rid of what mostly made The Smurf movies annoying. By that virtue alone, this installment of The Smurfs is the best of the three as it’s not painful to watch.
Smurfs: The Lost Village is mildly surprising because it half-works. It has a somewhat cohesive story about a female Smurf called Smurfette (Demi Lovato) who travels to new places in an attempt to find herself (which sounds like a lot of young adults today) and overcomes adversity along the way. There was even a bit (but not a ton of) character development in Smurfette as well.
The animation wasn’t terrible either. The animation is bright and colorful without being oversaturated and garish. I was actually surprised how little my eyes hurt and how my mind wasn’t offended by any bad CGI. It was almost as if The Smurf : The Lost Village was trying to be good. It was surprising that I found redeeming qualities about this movie that are important to the story.
However the Smurfs : The Lost Village has its fair share of bad. Mainly the predictability of the plot and the cliches were mildly annoying. This story is a standard cliff notes/ mad libs book of a Disney narrative. Smurfs: The Lost Village pulls out all the tired tropes of kids movies (loud music, bad jokes, Disney-action plot points etc) and does so unabashedly. At least the movie doesn’t botch the execution. However, it was so predictable that at one point I decided to close my eyes for 5 minutes to see if I missed anything. I missed nothing.
Overall my reaction to Smurfs: The Lost Village is one of indifference. There is no passionate hate or love of the movie. Despite that, If I said I was indifferent to Smurfs: The Lost village, it tells you that this is the best Smurfs movie by default. It definitly exceeded expectations but that dosen’t mean it was spectactular in the slightest **3/4
Power Rangers is a movie that appeals to fans of the franchise and no one else. When I was growing up, I was never a fan of the franchise… You can anticipate on what my opinion of the movie is.
It starts off with a joke on masturbating a cow and it doesn’t improve much from there. There are six cardboard cutout characters (which I will explain later on) who are troubled teenagers in high school, find a cave with power coins that resemble colored rocks that contain the essence of a power ranger that gives them super powers. They have to stop a villain called Rita Repulsa who has the desire to blow up a small village called Angel Grove
The Characters: Generic as heck
All the main power rangers are almost entirely stock characters you have:
1. The one who was the quarterback football star that has fallen from grace and is a troubled teen (The red power ranger)
2. The one who is reserved and doesn’t speak until she reveals something personal about herself (The yellow power ranger)
3. The rule-breaker in high school who was a cheerleader and manipulative. She is the one who falls in love with the quarterback. (The pink power ranger)
4. The social outcast kid who is “on the spectrum” and gets bullied and only establishes a relationship of the quarterback only because the quarterback is using him. (The blue power ranger)
5. The one Asian guy who looks like a model and thinks he is too cool for school (The black power ranger)
Aside from the blue power ranger who was the autistic one (RJ Cyler), none of the other characters are interesting. There is character development in two scenes that feel forced instead of progressive. One is set in a fireplace where, all of a sudden, they reveal all their vulnerabilities when for the first 60 minutes, the movie was just making scenes that looked cool. The character development was rushed in my opinion. I guess you can say the acting was fine because they got through with what little they had in the script.
Do I have a taste for Krispy Kreme?
I would like to know if Krispy Kreme covered the entire production budget. That is the only reason I can come up with why this product was mentioned. It is mentioned about ten times in the space of two minutes. It’s sort of like when Adam Sandler’s character asked incessantly in Big Daddy if the kid he taking care of wanted a happy meal.
The Krispy Kreme product placement was just awkward and jarring. It made no sense to the plot (although I am already asking too much for myself there that’s for sure) and the plot point that revolves around Krispy Kreme could have taken place anywhere but a Krispy Kreme. It’s like in Tropic Thunder when Matthew McConheys character travels in the Viet jungle just to deliver Ben Stiller’s character a TiVo subscription. Tropic Thunder was using product placement ironically whereas in Power Rangers it is force fed and cringeworthy.
The Last Thirty Minutes… Ugh.
The last half an hour of Power Rangers is exactly the same as the last half hour of a Transformers movie: Large Robots (The Power Rangers barely fight in their suits) being used to beat a large bad guy (who is so poorly rendered in CGI that it looks like one of the Gods in Gods of Egypt) with slow motion at the points of impact and all the robots combine to morph into a super robot that reminded me of Optimus Prime. They even have a joke about Transformers. After what I saw, I didn’t care if that movie was aware they were in on the joke. This was not a good final act at all.
In between all the action, you have incessant product placement, so much so that everyone in Angel Grove records the event with Samsung phones. There are no Blackberries, Androids, and Apples to be seen. At least we now know who has cornered the Angel Grove market.
No more needs to be said. Aside from the autistic kid’s character (The one that’s sort of funny and is not initally arrogant or annoying), the entire movie felt like Transformers for kids. That is not a good thing. I can only imagine how desensitized people will become in the next 10 years from bloated special effects. The mantra for movies like Power Rangers is “More and more and more” I guess I will find out how bloated it will be when they churn out another five on them in the next decade. *
Beauty and the Beast is a movie taken in with some care. I thought the movie worked because of the acting, music, set design and special effects. The funny thing is that those elements of Beauty and the Beast sometimes threaten to swallow the movie up. Ultimately (and thankfully), that doesn’t happen but I was holding my breath up until the ending.
The last time I saw the animation was when I was about five years old. So I don’t remember much of it. However, I did read about what the remake added from the original after seeing the movie. Sadly, the majority of what was added to the story doesn’t add to the overall quality of Beauty and The Beast, it was just there. What was perhaps the most important addition was the origin story of The Beast himself which is how the movie started.
The Music: The Hits and The Misses
Beauty and the Beast is a spectacle and it knows it. Every song in this movie is meant to express grandeur and splendor more than anything else. There are songs in which there is a large ensemble bellowing out tunes from the top of their lungs and the tips of their voices. The songs “Belle”, “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” are times when it works and others like “The Mob Song” where it doesn’t.
The music ends up being essential to the movie and overall it does work. However, it’s music coupled with the special effects threaten to make the movie feel bloated and threatens the swallow up the story of the Beauty and the Beast. It doesn’t end up doing that, but I was afraid at times it would.
The Special Effects that Are so Special
I can imagine that the accountant responsible for creating the budget saw the line “Expenses: CGI- Spare no expense” and having a heart attack while the CEO said “Just trust me” as a validation. Beauty and the Beast commit to the special effects so much that judging the film goes hand-in-hand with it. It is abundant and it works.
The special effects are mostly colorful, believable and inventive. The best use of the special effects would go to the song “Be Our Guest”. Beauty and the Beast do manage (barely) to balance those special effects out. If every song was inundated like “Be Our Guest” was, I would have had to wash all those colors out of my eyeballs in a sink. Thankfully, Beauty and the Beast did not turn into “Alice Through The Looking Glass” from that perspective.
The weakness in the special effect department was Beast himself. Main it’s because of character movement and facial expressions looking mechanical and not natural. There are sequences where he looks stiff and other moments in the climax where he had the agility of someone a quarter of his size.
Overall there was enough entertainment value in Beauty and the Beast to recommend, the acting is good (Josh Gad as LeFou gets the best lines so I’d listen to what he says) and the production and set design is rich and detailed and the music mostly works (unless you are fan of quiet and subtle music). It’s not in the musical leagues of Sing Street or La La Land, but Beauty and the Beast undoubtedly works and is fun ***1/4
Pepper Pig: The Movie is a film where pie will be thrown in my face. Why? Well, I, a 21-year-old man, went to the cheapest cinema in New South Wales at a 9:30 am session. I was miraculously on my own with no parents and kids. At that point, I reflected on what I was doing in my life, feeling as if watching kids show for 3-5 years olds on the big screen on my own was sad as hell.
The Pepper Pig Plot
Nevertheless, I was anticipating that as a movie, Pepper Pig will do me justice. It does do justice to all the five-year-olds at least. This movie is not even a movie. It is 73 minutes long and the movie is separated is 5-10 minute skits alternating between animation and live action Pepper Pig.
The story of the movie is all about Pepper Pig’s journeys and experiences around Australia and England. Pepper Pig and her family learn to surf, throw boomerangs, travel in a submarine and a double decker bus. All the kiddy kid stuff that kids enjoy.
Pepper Pig: A Critic’s Understanding
I understand why the filmmakers made the movie the way it is. The short run time and skits exist because a young child has a small attention span. Still, using that logic, they literally have more of an attention span than a person who exclusively uses Snapchat. The entire movie is unabashedly enthusiastic because they want children to be constantly happy all the time.
The problem with Pepper Pig the Movie is there is noooooooooooo crossover appeal. This is where my review of this movie as a critic turns into armageddon.
Pepper Pig’s Doomsday
There is a girl called Daisy (Emma Grace Arends) who is in all the live action skits. She is fine in what she has to do. She is a mixture (and an amplification of) Deadpool and Giselle from Enchanted. She breaks the fourth wall constantly while having 1000% enthusiasm without ever looking like she has any self-awareness. That is the standard procedure if you appeal to little kids. Believe it or not, I did not mind this until she instructed the kids on what to do.
These next two paragraphs will descend into near fan fiction. You have been warned.
The Abattoir is Near
As the only person in the cinema, It was as if she was talking directly to me. She wanted me to quack like a duck or pull the anchor off Pepper Pig’s ship. The worst one was when she wanted me to act like a monkey. Every time she did this I sunk in my seat as there was a massively awkward vibe in the large empty room. What made it worse was is that she would constantly say “You can do (insert action/imitation here) better” before accentuating the action/imitation she wanted me to perform. It was like a stand-up comedian dying on stage and thinking if he repeated the same joke but louder, it would be funnier.
Knowing that Pepper Pig was a 73-minute film beforehand, I decided to check my watch, thinking (and praying) there was not long left. Only 30 minutes went by. Less than half the movie was over. I lost patience and checked every five minutes hoping to God. HOPING TO GOD that it was over. Then I felt embarrassed that people would see me leave a Pepper Pig screening on my own. Walking up the ramp was like walking the greenest of green miles.
While Pepper Pig is inherently better than Monster Trucks (as the movie is not ludicrously disorganized and tries to teach kids to interact with the world and their surroundings) I cannot in good faith say I enjoyed Pepper Pig. The positives were easy to find and give it some value but that experience was not fun. One star for the learning aspect of Pepper Pig, the other for Emma Grace Arends NO MORE **
P.S. Sorry that it has been awhile since my last posting. There was nothing new on this week (exept for pepper pig) at my local multiplex. I was also sick too 🙂 The next couple of days I more than make it up for you readers.