New vs Old Beauty and the Beast Singing

So today we got our first clip of Emma Watson singing in the new Beauty and the Beast remake. I have put both new and old together side-by-side on this video, so it is easy to compare the two.

What do you think of the new version? It sounds younger with more of a pop feel to it. I am a Broadway girl so I prefer the original more mature sound but I don’t hate the new style. It could work for a younger, more realistic, timid Belle.

So far with this Beauty and the Beast remake I’ve been pretty meh on everything I’ve seen. The only thing I’ve really hated is the household objects especially Mrs Potts.

household-objectsI’m very nervous about this film but hopefully it will be great like Cinderella or solid like Jungle Book. Fingers crossed.

What do you think of the singing clip and other things you’ve seen from it?

Advertisements

My Most Anticipated Films of 2017

most-anticipated-thumbnailIt’s that time of the year already where we do our end of the year lists. This includes looking forward to 2017 and the movies to come. I have come up with my most anticipated movies of 2017 list. After being so disappointed in 2016 by most of my selections and other blockbusters I approach this list cautiously. Unfortunately it is hard to put indies on this list because I simply haven’t heard of them yet. I am sure in 2017 there will be gems brought to my attention like Love and Freindship and Sing Street. But for now here are my most anticipated.

15. Wonder Woman- I list this very cautiously as some of the director’s comments have made me nervous and DC has continuously let me down. But if we could get a great female superhero movie that would be so cool. Fingers crossed

14. Kong Skull Island- I was impressed with the trailer and the cast looks great. I hope it is fun with engaging characters and good special effects. I’m skeptical but hopeful

13. The Zookeepers Wife- The premise for this World War 2 drama looks intriguing and I love Jessica Chastain so sign me up!

12. Loving Vincent/The Breadwinner- both of these films will be released sometime in 2017 and I can’t wait. I always root for the indie animation and these look special. Loving Vincent is made up of 65,000 oil on canvaas paintings! The Breadwinner is from the team behind Song of the Sea and that’s enough to get me on board.

11. Spiderman Homecoming- I loved Spiderman in Civil War and he looked great in the trailer. I like that it is a high school story with kids who look age appropriate. Only thing I’m not sold on is the villain.

10. Born in China- Disneynature returns with this story of the pandas. I love the Disneynature films and I am excited for them to explore the pandas. It will definitely be adorable. You can count on that.

9. Thor Ragnarok- I love the director who did Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What we Do in the Shadows. I want this Marvel movie to be hilarious and I want to see our leads interact like the maniacs they are. I love Hemsworth and Ruffalo and it looks so  joyous so it should  be really fun.

8. Murder on the Orient Express- Kenneth Branagh is directing this take on the Agatha Christy novel. They have a terrific cast and I hope it will be an enjoyable mystery. We don’t get those every day!

7. Paddington 2- I love the first Paddington so much and the entire team is back for the sequel. I hope this is charming and well done

6. Dunkirk- I can’t wait to see Christopher Nolan’s take on the WW2 film.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy 2- I LOVED the trailer for this and I am kind of obsessed with Baby Groot. It all looks like so much fun and you can bet I will be purchasing that soundtrack!

4. Lego Batman Movie- Another film I loved the trailers. They were hilarious especially the one where they go over the history of Bruce/Batman. I hope it is visually inventive and the story is good. They shouldn’t just become too focused on the jokes

3. Coco- An original Pixar musical centered around Day of the Dead? Yes please! I love the cast announcement and the artwork I have seen.

2. Star Wars Ep 8- After being disappointed with Rogue One I am entering this one a bit more cautiously but I am very excited to see the next chapter in the story. I want to know the answers to questions surrounding Rey, Finn, Po and BB8. Mostly I just can’t wait to see these characters again!

1 War of the Planet of the Apes-  I’ve loved both of the previous films and this one looks intense and awesome. I loved the trailer and seeing Cesar and the apes get into war with the humans should be pretty epic.

So that is my list. What about you? What are you anticipating for the year? Let me know in the comments section.

Here is my youtube video on it

Blind Spot Choices 2017

I hope you all were entertained by my Blind Spot series in 2016 here on the blog. I certainly enjoyed watching the 12 films and checking them off of my film bucket list! If you are unfamiliar with the series it’s where we watch and review a classic or well-loved film each month that we haven’t seen (nobody can see everything after all!).

In 2016 I saw- Blade Runner, Tron, Dark Knight Rises, Tales from Earthsea, Yentl, 400 Blows, The Jerk, Talk to Her, Porco Rosso, Unbreakable, Looper and The Ref. You can find links to reviews of all these films here.

My favorite of 2016 was either Porco Rosso or The 400 Blows. My least favorite was definitely Yentl; although it does have some so bad it’s good appeal. It was a great unintentional comedy!

I liked the experience in 2016 so much I intend to continue doing it in 2017.  So here is my list:

moonrise-kingdom3January- Moonrise Kingdom- Somehow I skipped this Wes Anderson film and it seems like a good fit for the month of my first trip to Sundance!

thxFebruary- THX- George Lucas’ debut sci-fi film has always intrigued me but I’ve never seen it

8-1-2March- 8 1/2- My first Federico Fellini film and I look forward to it!

poppy-hillApril- From Up on Poppy Hill- Another Studio Ghibli to cross off the list

duck-soupMay-Duck Soup- it’s perhaps scandalous I’ve never seen this Marx Brothers classic

paths-to-gloryJune- Paths to Glory- Director Stanley Kubrick’s World War 1 movie looks amazing and I can’t wait to see it

boxerJuly-The Boxer- This year I discovered Jim Sheridan’s amazing film In America and so I want to give his boxing film with Daniel Day Lewis a shot.

metropolitanAugust-Metropolitan- I fell in love with Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship this year and have heard nothing but great things about his debut Metropolitan

manhattanSeptember- Manhattan- I actually like Woody Allen’s more serious films like Blue Jasmine best but I like Annie Hall so hopefully will enjoy Manhattan.

donnie-darkoOctober- Donnie Darko- Richard Kelly’s demonic take on Harvey intrigues me. I know it is out there but I look forward to seeing it.

giovannis_islandNovember-Giovanni’s Island- this World War 2 anime reminds me of Grave of the Fireflies. It looks beautiful and inspiring.

were_no_angels_-_1955_-_posterDecember-We’re No Angels- a lesser known Christmas movie about 2 burglars who end up helping a family get the Christmas spirit sounds like a lot of fun.

I feel like this is a good mixture of styles, themes, eras and should make for a great series in 2017. Let me know what you think of my list and selections!  I look forward to 2017!

Jackie Review

jackie32016 has been a tremendous year for indies. I have been disappointed by most of the franchise releases and found relief in indie films like Love and Friendship, Hell or High Water and Everybody Wants Some. However, not all the heralded indies have worked for me, and I’m afraid I have to add Pablo Larrain’s latest Jackie to the dislike pile. I can see why others are drawn to it but it actively irritated me with the choices it made.

jackieJackie tells the story of first lady Jackie Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of her husband President John F Kennedy. Natalie Portman plays Jackie and we get to see her in different eras including in flashback guiding TV cameras through her recently renovated White House. Then we go back and forth between the day of the shooting, an interview 9 days later, and the planning of the funeral.

The problem is Pablo Larrain chose to portray Jackie as a flat emotionally distant character. I cannot understand why they decided to make her so robotic. I joked with a friend afterwards that I kept expecting it to turn into Westworld at the end and she be a robot. Even when she is saying emotional things it doesn’t feel emotional because of the robotic delivery. I got the impression that Larrain and the team didn’t like or admire Jackie very much to portray her in this way.

I’m really surprised this film is getting the praise it is because to me it made very heavy-handed decisions. Like do we really need to hear ‘Camelot’ played not once but twice over montages of Jackie drinking or smoking? Talk about laying it on thick…

jackie2In some ways you can tell Jackie is made by a non-American (Pablo Larrain is Chilean). It feels like if I were to go to a museum of Canadian history. It’s all important stuff and I am interested in it but I have no personal attachment to the events on display. That’s what Larrain’s treatment of Jackie felt like. She was cold, distant and thoroughly bland. She had to be more interesting than this script portrays her as!  There were a few moments where she manipulates the reporter that were satisfying but that’s about it.

There is a good line where she talks about how she never spent the night with her husband. Now that is a devastating revelation. That’s a revelation that could have been interesting to explore. This seemingly perfect couple that really wasn’t. But the film doesn’t dive into that. It merely keeps adding on the robotic scenes of her packing and insisting on having a Lincoln-like funeral for her husband.

Honestly, the longer the movie went on the more annoyed I got. It was so repetitive in its choices that it never engaged me. It seems a shame that such a fascinating woman would get such a dull, one-note portrayal. Sure it is well made and shot with accurate costumes/production values, but I did not enjoy watching it. I didn’t even think Portman was that good but it isn’t really her fault as the script and direction gives her little to work with.

Some people had issues with the storytelling of Sully this year but at least that was about  a fully fledged person with light and darkness, pain and joys. This is just a robot woman who happened to be first lady. Not for me

The whole time I kept wishing I could watch Grey Gardens instead. Now that has some characters! There is no way any woman related to them could be so boring.

Overall Grade- C-

I will say this is a very mild R rating with a couple of F words and some blood from the assassination.

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to share with all of you my 2016 Christmas card and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy time whatever you celebrate. Thanks for following the blog this year and I hope to continue to grow and become better in 2017

2016-christmas-card23

Worst Movies of 2016

worst-of-2016-thumbnail3

All right.  The gloves are out. It’s time to take out the trash with the worst films I saw in 2016! I still have some best movie candidates to see so that list may not be for a while but I felt pretty confident in the junk. So here goes! (this is very therapeutic for us film fans!)

15. Suicide Squad-

Incompetently made. Doesn’t feel finished. Hated the Joker. The first act of the movie is Amanda Waller sitting at a table looking at binder. Enchantress was horrible. The script was full of inconsistencies and problems. The fact it made so much money is proof people will see anything with a superhero label on it these days except Fantastic 4.

suicide squad cereal14. X-Men Apocalypse-

This movie annoyed me more than any other live action superhero movie of 2016. It had a fractured story interrupted by callbacks to better XMen movies. It ditches the metaphor that makes the franchise special in favor of a big boring villain in Apocalypse. This is the kind of movie that made me turn against superhero movies for 3 years after seeing Green Lantern. And we get to see Pyslocke in a skimpy outfit fighting at Auschwitz. Just no

xmen apocolypse213. The 5th Wave

One of the most cynical movies I saw all year. I hate these dystopian teen movies and this is one of the worst. It is violent and boring with a twist that is so obvious. None of the characters have any personality or heart to them especially the males. It’s awful. My only hope with it is that with it and Allegiant doing poorly we won’t be getting any more of them.

5th-wave12. God’s of Egypt

White washing issues proved to be the least of this movie’s problems. There is some ‘so bad it’s good’ enjoyment to be had here but holy cow this is awful. Everything is over the top and ridiculous and unintentionally humorous. The characters are inconsistent. Entire storylines do not matter and are forgotten by the script and the acting is hilariously bad.

gods of egypt411. Huntsman: Winter’s War

Sequels to bad movies are typically a bad idea and that is certainly the case with this movie. It can’t decide what it wants to be. It is part sequel, part prequel, part Frozen rip-off and all bad. The acting is awful from normally reliable actors like Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt. The production does look pretty good but the story makes no sense and you just feel embarrassed for all involved while watching.

huntsman-winters-war10. Mother’s Day

It’s a shame Garry Marshall had to leave us with this dud. He could be a great storyteller but this has nothing insightful to say about mothering or motherhood. All of the mothers depicted are caricatures who oddly do almost no mothering in the film. It wasn’t funny. The performances are awful and 2 parent characters are shockingly offensive and not in a funny way.

mothers-day9. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

I LOVE the original Greek Wedding film. It’s honestly one of my favorite comedies and so I was so disappointed by this sequel. It’s one of those sequels that decides to take anything that worked in the original and make it ten times bigger; thereby, ruining what worked so well. The acting was bad. The writing was bad and it really ticked me off.

greek wedding28. Nine Lives

There is some bizarre ‘how did this happen?’ value in Nine Lives but that’s about it. It’s one of the laziest movies of the year. They can’t even get the meowing right in your cat movie. The thing is the Kevin Spacey character isn’t a bad dad. He works a lot but he is actively trying to bond with his daughter and holds a meeting to decide on her birthday present. The script takes some bizarre turns and it’s incompetently made in every respect.

nine-lives7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This movie bored me more than any movie I can think of in a long time. I sat there hoping it would end. Every scene is characters explaining things to us and I just didn’t care. All the performances are flat and boring. Even Burton’s usual magical touches are nowhere to be found except for a scene with skeletons. He’s really lost all of his edge as a filmmaker. It makes me kind of sad.

peregrine46. Alice Through the Looking Glass

A follow up to the 2010 big hit was a miss at the box office for a reason. The story is beyond stupid with the catalyst for both films turning out to be a lie over tarts! #Tartgate. Johnny Depp is annoying in it and everyone else looks bored. There’s weird touches that come off as grotesque like vegetable people being eaten instead of magical. It is a joyless enterprise which is sad for Alice!

alice-through-the-looking-glass-poster-alice5. Me Before You

I admit this movie is well made but it really offended me. The assertion that suicide is a valid, even brave, choice for those dealing with quadriplegia is offensive and disgusting. We don’t see the lead character go to therapy or try living a full life. We just see the manic pixie dream girl hired to care for him take him to concerts and the beach and then his decision is supposed to be valid? How about you give him a job or help him contribute? It’s most morally repugnant film of the year

me before you64. Batman: the Killing Joke

Speaking of morally repugnant, I have another candidate in Batman: the Killing Joke. This movie takes the graphic novel and turns it into a disgusting portrait of female victimization. Barbara Gordon has no autonomy as a character. She is a tool for the screenwriters to move around whenever they need her to be raped, beaten, and demeaned. The gay character is embarrassing. The supposed relationship between Batman and Batgirl is right out of a soap opera and the interesting questions of the novel are barely addressed. The animation is also very mediocre.

Batman-The-Killing-joke-movie-poster3. Warcraft-

The most befuddling movie going experience of the year. I had no idea what was happening most of the time. I didn’t understand the world or the rules of the world. The characters all looked the same and the conflict between the two groups was confusing. It was boring and the acting was really bad especially from the human characters. I want to give it credit for its scope but I really cant because the story made no sense.

warcraft52. Norm of the North

Quite possibly the worst animated film I’ve ever seen in the theaters and I’ve seen Strange Magic and Home…Everything about this movie is awful. Awful story, characters, writing, jokes, sidekicks, villain, villain plan, animation, etc. You get the idea. It’s the stain on what was a pretty amazing year of animation. Only film I have nothing nice to say

norm1111. The Do-Over

I wish Adam Sandler could have a do-over on his career. This isn’t even a movie. It’s Sandler and his friends going on vacation and filming hateful stuff. The story is awful and mean-spirited. There isn’t one laugh. It’s misogynistic, hateful, homophobic, disgusting and the story is so flimsy it seems hard to believe anyone agreed to air it. It may go down as one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

the_do-over_poster

 

Current Mini Reviews

So there seems to never been enough time to write full posts on films I have seen (or maybe I just see too many movies). Anyway, I thought I would update you guys on a whole bunch of 2016 releases I have seen over the last month or so.

nocturnal-animalsNocturnal Animals-

A tough one for me to review and rank because most of my issues with it have to do with my own personal standards more than the movie quality. It was too violent and gratuitous for my taste. I found that ostracized me a bit from the characters. All the acting is terrific though especially Michael Shannon as the sheriff. It is very artistic and beautiful but I think other movies this year have explored similar themes and been a bit less heavy-handed but it is still a good film if you can stomach it.

Overall Grade- B (I’m really torn on a grade for this one so just read the review)

jason-bourneJason Bourne-

I waited until home rental to see this because the Bourne movies usually make me motion sick with all the shaky cam. Turns out I wasn’t missing much. Hollywood seems to think Edward Snowden and Wikileaks make for good action movies. News flash- those guys are sitting at computers and it’s not exciting.
Jason Bourne is a serviceable action movie but not nearly as innovative and exciting as the predecessors. A bunch of the characters sit at computer screens the entire movie. It reminded me a lot of last year’s Spectre. Some decent action set pieces and actors all trying but with a bland story.

Overall Grade- C-

things-to-comeThings to Come-

You will be hearing about this movie come my best of the year list. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. If you like slice of life movies, which I do, this is perfection. Isabelle Huppert is amazing playing a woman who’s life falls apart in every way. Her husband leaves her, her publisher cuts ties and her children move away, and yet it becomes this empowering experience. I am a Christian but this movie had a speech about agnosticism that made me tear up. It was honest for the character and beautiful.

Overall Grade- A+ (when I give A+ it just means one of my favorites of year)

eagle-huntressThe Eagle Huntress-

Another strong documentary for 2016. This tells the story of a young girl in Mongolia who becomes one of the first female Eagle huntress. I loved the family and the relationship between father and daughter.  The cinematography is beautiful. I have to admit reading up after made it sink a little bit but I still think it’s a terrific film. One you should watch with your daughters!

Overall Grade- A-

red-turtle10The Red Turtle-

Stunning is the best way to describe this animated film from Studio Ghibli and European studio.  It Feels like Isao Takahata and Tomm Moore had a baby (and if you know me, you know that is high praise!). Just beautiful and peaceful and wonderful. No dialogue but it didn’t need it. It is kind of a fairytale about fate and family. And the ocean…I fell in love.
My youtube review

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaGSshv5FFE

Overall Grade- A+ One of my favorites of the year

swiss-army-manSwiss Army Man-

It’s like that weird guy in high school who is trying so hard to be cool. You want to say ‘dude, calm down’. It’s trying too hard to be smart and different that it ends up being boring and a little annoying.

Just because something hasn’t been done doesn’t mean that it should. I didn’t bond with either of the characters and it seemed to revert to bodily humor talk as a substitute for diving into the characters. Like seriously there are so many conversations about farts, masturbation, erections, poop and more. I guess others find this more insightful than I do? Radcliffe deserves credit for his performance but it’s not for me.

Overall Grade- C- just because of Radcliffe and the gumption of it but I really didn’t like it.

passengersPassengers-

I must admit I went into this with low expectations. I’d heard about how it was boring, cheesy and even offensive. Now I’ve seen the film I have to say I liked it! I think particularly the feminist criticisms have been blown out of proportion and I’m usually pretty sensitive to those concerns. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have terrific chemistry in what is a sci-fi romance. He makes a bad choice but I don’t think the screenplay gets him off the hook. Michael Sheen is fun as a android bar tender and the film looks gorgeous. The production design is breathtaking. I also loved the music and to my surprise I wasn’t bored. Give it a shot and decide for yourself.

Overall Grade- B (the sensuality and nudity is on the strong side for a pg13 just so you know)

assassins-creedAssassin’s Creed-

Believe it or not this video game adaptation was on my most anticipated because of the cast and director. I’d heard how horrible it was but I had time so I saw it and I walked away having an ok time. I liked the sci-fi premise with the templers and assassins through time and the goofy ‘apple’ that takes away free will. To me that was just over the top enough to be fun. The action was pretty good. The special effects were pretty good and the cast was stellar including Michael Fassbender (who I adore), Marion Cotillard (who is a little flat tbh), Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons and the amazing Charlotte Rampling. It’s not a great movie but I think there is entertainment to be had in it. It’s certainly a billion times better than Warcraft.

Overall Grade- C

Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought! Thanks

Looking Back at My 2016 Most Anticipated

Over the next few weeks I will be posting my top and bottom movie lists for 2016. I will also rank the animated films and shorts of the year and give a most anticipated of 2017.  I think I will also do a ranking video of all of the Disney movies of 2016 because it was such an epic year (and yes I realized I just posted how I hate ranking but it has to be done!).

Before all of that I  thought it might be fun to look back on my most anticipated of 2016- show where the movie ended up for me in my ranking and my overall thoughts on it. Did they live up to my anticipation? Let’s find out… (Also I will be giving a grade that may not match with my review as my views can change as I think about a film)

20. Secret Life of Pets-secret life of pets2 I really liked the teaser for this movie and I do think that was the strongest part of the film. Illumination sure knows how to market their properties! Who would have thought it would make more than Batman v Superman? This ended up being a pleasant enough innocuous but forgettable animal movie. It’s not great but enjoyable and I liked the styling of NYC.

Overall Grade- B- and ended up at 71/132 in my ranking

19. Assassins Creed

assasins creedJury is still out on this one but the trailers haven’t looked promising. Will update when I do see it.

18. Storks

storksKind of like Pets, Storks turned out to be a pleasant, if forgettable animated fair. It has some good jokes and the babies are adorable. The montage at the end was very special

Overall Grade- B and 67/132 on my ranking

17. Independence Day 2: Resurgence

independence_day_2_poster_1I’m surprised I put this on my anticipated list as I’m not the biggest fan of the original. It’s ok but I don’t love it. I didn’t despise this movie quite as much as others but it was extremely forgettable and dopey. It was mostly boring and generic.

Overall Grade- D+ Ranking 108/132

16. The Little Prince

little princeThis was a big let down for me. I know others love this movie but I thought it was boring and preachy and I didn’t connect with the characters. It looks pretty but it didn’t engage me until the weird dystopian work-world ending that was a little bit fun.

Overall Grade- C- Ranking 93/132

15. Everybody Wants Some

everybody-1Richard Linklater was back with his spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. This is much more positive than D and C but probably a little less important. I still loved spending time with these guys and getting to know them.  They were a blast. The music was perfect and it was one of the most pleasant experiences at the cinema all year.

Overall Grade- A- Ranking 18/132

14. Untitled 5th Bourne Film

Jason-Bourne-character-poster

A lot of staring at screens mixed with action scenes. It’s a serviceable action movie but not much more. Very bland. Another disappointment for 2016 in the blockbuster department. Also they use the word asset far too much for any film.

Overall Grade- C+  Ranking 82/132

13. Ghostbusters

ghostbusters 2016The movie that broke the internet with such nonsense. I had fun with this one because I liked the 4 ladies and enjoyed their chemistry. It has problems but in my opinion so does the original. They are both dopey fun summer movies

Overall Grade- C+  Overall Ranking 83/132

12. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantastic beasts2

This ended up being a fine but disappointing Harry Potter prequel. Rewatching the HP movies was challenging as they didn’t quite live up to my memories. This has problems meshing tones together and I didn’t bond with Newt but some other parts and characters are charming.

Overall Grade- C+  Ranking 77/132

11. Doctor Strange

doctor strangeDoctor Strange ended up exceeding my expectations. Visually it was amazing and I loved Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead. I liked how low they let Dr Strange go, as you got some real vulnerability that softens his character. The story and characters for the most part worked for me. Some of the visuals made me a little motion sick but they were cool.

Overall Grade- A-  Overall Ranking 31/132

10. Zootopia

zootopia posterZootopia ended up actually exceeding my expectations. I wasn’t sold on the Sloth trailer but I went to the film and got a delightful modern-day fable. Sure there are some holes in the allegory but I think that is true for most fables. I loved Nick and Judy and their journey. Also the humor and world building worked.

Overall Grade- A  Ranking 14/132

9. Hail Cesar

hail_caesarThe Coen Brothers really let me down with this one. There were brilliant moments but they didn’t mesh together into a satisfying story. I didn’t care about any of the characters and it didn’t make me laugh.

Overall Grade- C- Ranking 90/132

8. Kubo and the Two Strings

kubo poster2

Aside from a bit of a cop-out ending this film really lived up to the hype. Some of the best stop motion animation I’ve ever seen. I loved Kubo as a character and whenever he smiled it made me happy.

Overall Grade- A, Ranking 16/132

7. Captain America: Civil War

civil war poster

It’s not quite as rewatchable as I thought it would be but I still enjoy it very much. I like seeing Tony and Caps ideological and emotional journey come into conflict. The airport scene was amazing and I loved Spiderman

Overall Grade-A  Overall Ranking 29/132

6. The Jungle Book

jungle book poster2
I wasn’t quite as high on this as some but I still enjoyed it. The visuals are amazing and I liked what they did with Mowgli’s character. I liked how they handled the ending much better but the middle dragged a bit and I didn’t think the songs were that great.

Overall Grade- B+  Ranking 32/132

5. Finding Dory-finding dory posterA sweet entry from Pixar about Dory finding her parents and dealing with her disability. It was funny and pulled at the heart strings just like I expect with Pixar. All the voice casting was perfect and it had some subversive elements that kept it from being too flat.

Overall Grade- A- Ranking 27/132

4. BFG

bfg6Roald Dahl is very tough to translate to big screen. You have to add just the right amount of whimsy to keep it from being mean-spirited. However, here they added too much whimsy. Most of the movie is them talking and watching out for the giants. My mind began to wander. Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance were great, special effects were lovely and the ending was a lot of fun. In the end it was just ok

Overall Grade- C  Ranking 84/132

3. Star Wars: Rogue One

rogue one2If you want to go to an action movie it is serviceable and entertaining. However, as a Star Wars movie I found it very underwhelming. The story lacks focus and the characters are underdeveloped. The ending is good and there’s some nice humor but I was bored a lot. It’s not awful but it’s a real missed opportunity to do something fresh and different with Star Wars

Overall Grade C+  Ranking 78/132

2. X-men Apocalypse

xmen apocolypse2My biggest disappointment of the year. A fractured story that can’t decide who the protagonist is. They put out  popular beats of previous films like Quicksilver zipping around or Wolverine getting unleashed for a superfluous cameo. Magneto has some good moments but most of his arc we’ve seen a million times. Most other characters were wasted and Apocalypse reminded me of a Transformers character. He was so boring. Not to mention they have a battle at Auschwitz, which was in poor taste. I could go on. Blah….

Overall Grade D  Ranking 119/131

1. Moana

moana4

I loved this movie! It was everything I wanted it to be and more. It captured the spirit of Polynesia and Moana was such a wonderful character. I loved all of the songs and the various creatures she met along the way. I loved the humor and Maui was a terrific character. It is not only one of the best of the year it is one of my favorite Disney films ever…

Overall Grade A+  Ranking 1/131

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

rogue-one2Going into the latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One, was like riding a roller coaster. For months  I heard rumblings of problems so I was moderating my expectations quite a bit.  Then the premiere happened and people I trust went nuts. ‘It’s the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back’ one premiere attendee tweeted out. As a Star Wars fan, this can’t help but boost my expectations as Empire is one of my favorite movies ever, not just Star Wars movies.

I also read the prequel novel Catalyst and enjoyed it pretty well, so that got me excited. What I liked most about Catalyst was the characters of Galen, Krennic and Lyra. The story left something to be desired but it was good enough to have me excited for Rogue One.

Then I saw the movie yesterday and unfortunately I left feeling underwhelmed…

I should say that Rogue One is not a terrible movie by any means. In the world of action movies it is fine but it is nothing more than that. In particular, the character development and storytelling really let me down.

A good Star Wars movie is focused on a lead character who has a clear mission. In the recent Force Awakens it was Rey returning BB8’s map to the rebels and finding Luke that led the story. We know this from the opening crawl all the way to literally the final shot of the film. Rogue One is supposed to have a focus of stealing the Death Star plans but it executes that mission in an extremely muddled way. Half the time I was left scratching my head wondering why are we here? What are we doing? More often than not I was bored, which is very disappointing in my gritty Star Wars movie…

rogue-one5

For example, a segment of the movie deals with Saw Gerrera and Jyn getting some information from him about her father. This scene is really long and 99% of it seemed superfluous and confusing. Even Saw’s character was muddled. I couldn’t understand him half the time and I was never sure if he was a good guy or bad guy or what his motivations were. It was just a lot of talking and shooting with little narrative focus.

Then they move on to the next action set piece involving Jyn’s father but this again stretches a simple objective into a long rather muddled sequence of fighting and doing random things.

In between, we get Darth Vader for about 7 minutes and we meet various rebels. There are a bunch of rebel leaders including Mon Mothma who is woefully underused. They debate about going after the plans and I guess this is supposed to be engaging but since the characters are weak and I know they are going to go after them it all felt kind of boring.

rogue-one4There is also a crew that surrounds Jyn who are all given very little screen time or character development. You have the blind guy, the guy who shoots a lot, guy who is romantic lead and others.  At one point about an hour into the movie a character asks for another guy named Bodhi and I had no idea who that was. It’s not good if an hour into your movie I don’t know the names of the lead characters.

The blind character Chirrut also confused me because he is force strong but not in a way I have ever seen in any other version of Star Wars. There is a scene where he walks through a barrage of blaster fire repeating ‘I am the force’. This is not how the force works especially for a non-Jedi. It screamed of ableist super powers often given to disabled characters in films. I expect better characters from Star Wars. Plus, he and the guy who shoots a lot hardly speak the entire movie. How am I supposed to get to know them if we never hear from them?

In other Star Wars films they are able to create memorable characters rather quickly. For example, we learn tons about Han Solo in the original film just by his interactions with Greedo and commissioning him as a pilot. We are clear who he is and what he matters to the story. In Rogue One I had no such clarity on any of the side characters.

The only characters I knew aside from Jyn were the villain Orson Krennic and her father Galen because I had read Catalyst. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t know much about them. Krennic particularly suffers because he pales in comparison to Darth Vader.

I know it sounds like this is the worst movie ever but it’s not. It does come together for a rousing final battle scene that I enjoyed. Also Jyn was a compelling character and Felicity Jones does a good job in the role. She at least does the best job she can with the flat script. I also thought the droid K2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk was hilarious. rogue-one6Nobody wanted to love Rogue One more than I did, but I have to be honest with my response. I thought the story lacked narrative focus, the script was poor and the character development was weak. This is not a film I feel compelled to see again anytime soon and honestly I feel confident placing it below Revenge of the Sith as my 6th favorite Star Wars movie.

Even the tragic moments didn’t work for me because I knew they were coming and the characters hadn’t been well developed. I didn’t care for them so it all fell flat.

If you want to see a war movie that brings out tons of emotion watch Hacksaw Ridge. That is a great war movie with well developed characters. This is a passable action movie and that’s about it.

Overall Grade- C+

Here is my youtube review if you want to check it out