Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those movies where positive reception from fans and critics alike was a near-certainty. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films people will look back on because it was an innovator especially for 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy mostly works because of the humor, drama, and likability of characters which is what drew me into liking this film.
The plot: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals an orb that has the power to destroy life in order to sell for cash (not knowing the powerful nature of the orb at the time). This gets him in a tangle with bounty hunters Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) who have to work with each other to defeat a bigger enemy called Ronan
The plot summarized: I am Groot
I liked Guardians of the Galaxy. Did I love it? I’m not so sure. What I credit Guardians of the Galaxy in doing is getting a film containing a multi-star cast over with critics and audiences and myself as that is a tough task to accomplish. I also appreciate it for being innovative by being a superhero movie that wins the audience through humor while mixing in a tinge of drama. In most superhero movies pre- Guardians of the Galaxy that was the other way round.
The problem is, I am watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time in 2017 is that I have seen many superhero movies doing exactly the same thing: Using wacky jokes in order to be liked. Power Rangers,Suicide Squad, The Lego Batman Movie, and Deadpool have also tried to succeed by using lots of in-jokes and meta humor to varying degrees of success. Still, I would rank Guardians of the Galaxy second behind Deadpool out of the movies that I mentioned. That’s a good ranking considering the other movies could have refined what Guardians of the Galaxy paved.
I liked the meta humor to a point. That point was reached when the would be a dramatic point in a conflict in which one of the main characters (mainly Peter) would interject by saying jokes when I thought it was unnecessary as it patronized the main villain Ronan. It watered down the payoff of key fight scenes in the movie. It made me believe that the heroes were not taking the main antagonist Ronan seriously. If the Guardians of the Galaxy treat the villain like a joke, I see no reason to take the threat seriously and therefore I don’t care for the Guardian’s fates. It felt like the movie was selling itself short.
What wasn’t sold short was everything else in the movie from the character development of all four Guardians of the Galaxy as a cohesive unit from bounty hunters who are all in for themselves to the bonding through grief in order to work together and destroy the villain. The emotional payoffs of the four characters worked and made me want to see them fight and win.
The special effects were wild and beautiful to look at most of the time. Marvel have this thing nailed down where they show a lot of colors and shades in their special effects and you never feel like you are drenched in it. Doctor Strange, in my opinion, is still the best superhero movie for the GCI that it had, but Guardians is yet again a close second. It adds a lot of life to the movie and it’s always got me in wanting to see it.
So, Guardians of the Galaxy is not as perfect as what people made me believe, but I am still happy with the final product. Like a lot of three-star movies I give, all they need is some refining and it would have gone a long way with my enjoyment of it. Still, like any three-star movie, I cannot deny I enjoyed it ***3/4
The Lego Batman Movie is a unique entry in the superhero genre, not only because it’s a Lego animation but also sees the story in a kid-friendly, light-hearted manner. It’s such departure from other DC movies of Batman in that it’s hard to make a comparison of this movie to other Batman films. Instead, I will be comparing The Lego Batman Movie to Deadpool.
Both The Lego Batman Movie and Deadpool are inherently well written as the characters are witty, both movies wink at the audience with the breaking of the fourth wall and all the inside jokes and finally, both aim to give the audience a feeling of joy and fun while the superheros do their superhero stuff.
Lego filmakers Love Joy
The plot: Batman is the poster boy for saving Gotham that all the children love him and sing his praises. Batman (Will Arnett) just laps it up and is arrogent (He brags to have a 9-pack. Yes, a 9-pack) . What we find out early on is the reason Batman is self-centered is because he is afraid of committing to a quiet, family life. Batman is on the mission to save Gotham once again from The Joker (Zack Galifianakis), only he cannot save Gotham on his own this time. He inadvertedly adopts a child (Michael Cera) who turns out to become Robin and they both try to save Gotham.
The bottom line is that The Lego Batman Movie succeeds in what it attempts to achieve. That is because it is so committed to a tone that aims to be lively, child-like and fun that it’s hard to not buy what The Lego Batman Movie is trying to sell. I was buying it for the majority of the movie. Like Deadpool, The Lego Batman Movie does this through fourth wall breaking, witty and funny characters and an arrogant, ego-driven yet charming main character.
The jokes: Faster than a Speeding Bullet
The Lego Batman Movie succeeds to a lesser extent than Deadpool due to the inability for the movie to control the barrage of jokes and the narrative pacing. The main problem with The Lego Batman movie is it either scattershot with jokes that move so fast that you couldn’t keep up or the momentum of the movie would slow down to a near halt.
The scriptwriters also decided that Batman should break the fourth wall five times per minute, which I grew tired of by the end as I was constantly reminded that I was watching a movie and therefore made it hard to suspend my disbelief. Deadpool had the perfect balance of breaking the fourth wall by dropping the intensity of fourth wall breaking considerably after the first act. In The Lego Batman Movie, the filmmakers didn’t get that memo.
The uneven narrative pacing and the overuse of jokes are the two main things The Lego Batman Movie could have improved upon and it did hurt my overall enjoyment of it.
The Running Gag: A Killing Joke
Aside from that, there is not much else that is bad that I can think of. The story between The Joker and Batman in this movie are unique, especially the character motivations of The Joker. It somehow manages to work even if it shouldn’t on pen and paper. As always, The Joker wants Batman to hate him as much as the Joker hates Batman, only they make their own twist. It’s a romanticized story in a oddly comedic way where destroying Gotham is like courting Batman to take part in a hate relationship. I loved the angle The Lego Batman Movie takes with that and It was my favourite part of the film.
With all this in mind, I believe it’s the best movie DC has put their name on since The Dark Knight Rises. I still don’t believe it’s as good as a lot of Marvel movies, but it’s a positive step in the right direction in my opinion ***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.
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