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Promising Young Woman (2020)
"Promising Young Woman" is a tale on the revenge a woman takes to achieve her idea of justice for something awful that happened to her best friend. Carey Mulligan plays this young woman, Cassie alongside Bo Burnham (one of my favorite comedians) playing an old friend from college.
This film is brilliant, colorful, and intelligent, and I haven't been able to stop thinking of it for weeks. It is smart because you assume a woman's revenge tale would be gory, bloody, more like Kill Bill, but there is barely any real violence shown. It is a realistic take on how a woman who has let a single event consume her personality turn into someone who makes men realize the truth that they aren't the perfect guys they think they are. I also believe it is so genius that the movie shows no nudity of any kind, and does not objectify Cassie or any woman in the movie. Nobody is wearing skimpy clothes or is shown naked; and that is the point. Cassie doesn't rely on her views on most men to get revenge, she relies on their views of themselves.
Also, for a movie with a very dark, cynical view on the world, it has a nice contrast with the girly, colorful, sleek, candyland aesthetic of the set and lighting. Every actor is perfect for their roles, and each shot has purpose that I could gush about forever (I am a fan of color theory, so watching the shift in colors was so fun for me). The soundtrack is also pretty genius. I have never been a fan of modern pop music, but to the film's credit, it works well with the environment. I will praise their unnerving violin cover of "Toxic" by Anthony Willis.
I will not spoil the ending, but it is the most gut-wrenching, sad, bittersweet, smart, exciting, happy, depressing ending I have ever seen. It is everything you go to the movies for.
The movie is even genius in the way it uses Roman Numerals. The fourth mark is up for debate who it is, I will just say.
For a movie that could so easily fall flat, "Promising Young Woman" defies all expectations and is my favorite live-action film of 2020. In a year that had so much horrible garbage in it (not movies, just events in general), this movie gave me the slightest bit of hope for the future. It is my wish that everyone go sees this movie, no matter what gender you are. I am so happy this got Best Screenplay at the Oscars this year, and Carey Mulligan deserved Best Actress despite her not winning.
The Worst Christmas Movie
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is an 'adaptation' of the classic Dr. Seuss book about a green curmudgeon who lives on a mountain despising Christmas and all it stands for until he realizes exactly why it meant so much to the people around him. This book was then adapted into a classic animated cartoon that I adore, and this adaptation was adapted from that cartoon.
Let me make it clear: I did not want to see this movie, but my schoolmates voted on watching it in Freshmen year of high school when all work was done, and I thought, well, "How Bad Can This Possibly Be? If everyone else likes it so much, it must have some value" Oh boy how naive I was...
There is only one good thing in this movie, and that is the fact that Jim Carrey is trying so hard to make you laugh. I can't fault him for that.
Everything else in this movie is absolute garbage. The look of the movie is coated in a thick, dusty, foggy filter, like looking through a broken camera lens. The design of the "Whos" themselves are disturbing, the stuff of nightmares. The movie looks gross and almost nauseating, and a Dr. Seuss movie shouldn't look like a scary fever-dream you cannot wake up from.
There are also some really inappropriate jokes in this movie, which are really not suitable for kids, and it disturbs me a little to know so many children adore this movie for its humor.
The final thing that always ticked me off about this movie is the change in the theme. The original "Whos" had lots of things that made them happy in the original, but the "things" and the "noise" were not part of that. They were nice to have, but they were not necessary. Family and Unity were always what mattered. In this adaptation though, the "Whos" are capitalistic, and only Cindy-Lou truly sees the holiday as it should be seen, but that defeats the entire purpose of the story. The Grinch himself is a changed 'man' after seeing the "Whos" sing and gather together, but in this movie it means nothing. No character really has a moral compass except Cindy-Lou, who is a literal child. The theme of the original Grinch is not about innocence, it is about connection. This defeats the purpose of Seusses original intentions, and makes their whole reconciliation with the Grinch more their fault than his fault.
In all honesty, this is one of my least favorite movies of all time. I have no idea why so many people like this movie non-ironically. I hope that someday, someone can explain to me why they like this movie in a way that makes any sense. Stick with the original cartoon.
Black Is King (2020)
"Black is King" is a movie supposedly based on the morals and story of the 2019 Lion King, connected by Beyonce's music; a visual album. The main theme was that...Black is King (no pun intended).
Let me make this clear: I am not a person of color, and I cannot claim to relate to any of the feelings that the primary audience may have toward this movie. I personally do not believe Beyonce knew that what she was saying and doing could be interpreted as pretentious, preachy, and possibly racist(?). At first, I thought maybe I am just not the main demographic, but after reading a few of the reviews that noted that they were of African culture to any degree, I realized this movie has people completely split. I will not speak on how this movie represents a culture I do not know too much about, simply on how it made me feel.
I will start with positives. The dancing clearly has effort in it and the choreography, and some of the costumes (while mostly flashy) are at least different enough to see the lengths they went to create some sort of identity. There were some nice natural locations in deserts and jungles and rivers, which were colorful. There is also some slight touches of style that were enjoyable in camera angles, feeling like a national geographic movie.
Now the negatives. This whole film is inconsistent in nearly every regard. The editing is well-paced in some scenes, and awful in others (during some dance scenes, it looked like some high budget Tik Tok video fad). The costumes are pretty, but there are so many that it just feels like Beyonce is showing off how rich she is, and the same goes for locations, feeling like she is showing off her house. Self-indulgent really is a fitting word. The changing aspect ratios have no symbolic effect as the smaller aspect ratio is not limited to a single dance number and song. The symbolism is not always spot on, like the part where the boy is a comet, or the baby being sent down the river. The lyrics do not usually match visuals at all like the "jealousy" song. The connections to the Lion King are tenuous at best (and this is a nitpick, but why didn't they use the original Lion King? Most people agree, 2019 Lion King was not great). The poetry, from someone who is usually good at interpreting poetry, does not always connect. It is not enough to use metaphors to describe an entire group of people, you have to do something with those metaphors. Also, some of the dance moves do not seem like they should be shown to families who show young kids this, two of the scenes in particular having very sexual moves, flashing twerking very close to the camera in skin tight clothing. Some movies could pull this off because they handled their messaging more maturely, but I cannot say the same here.
This movie feels like epitome of trying to inspire people by primping out your richness and wealth under the guise of metaphors and humbleness to make only one group of people feel important. A good movie is supposed to make that group feel important, but not alienate the rest of your audience. A white person can watch "Black Panther" or "Queen of Katwe" and not feel weird for being white, a boy can watch "Wonder Woman" or "Little Women" and feel empowered just as much as a girl, and a non-Asian can watch "Crazy Rich Asians" and relate to the differences in cultures because they don't draw too much attention to the fact that they are "Black" or a "Woman", or an "Asian" any more than necessary. "Black is King" does not understand this. "Black is King" made me, at the very least, slightly uncomfortable and a little guilty for being white. I've never had that experience before and I do not want to seem like the victim here. I have stated my case well enough for you to determine if you want to see this yourself or not.
Snezhnaya koroleva (2012)
A Nice Adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's Tale
"The Snow Queen" is a Russian animated movie based on Hans Christian Andersen's original story of the same name. The Snow Queen herself (later named Irma) is attempting to destroy all of the world's current wizards and their offspring as they are the only people on Earth who could defeat her. She mistakenly orphans two siblings of the very last wizards and as time goes on her power grows. She finds out from her haunted mirror that those children have grown up and have potential to destroy her. The children, Gerda and Kai, are unaware they are siblings, and once they learn who they are, they are quickly separated. The Snow Queen recruits her slave troll, Orm, to get Gerda to come to her. If he is successful, he will be freed. The rest of the movie is Orm guiding Gerda to the Snow Queen in a journey to save Kai.
The animation of this, while not at the quality of the higher-budget, current Disney movies, is still impressive. For a budget of nearly 9 million dollars, this is very polished. The ice has so many awesome, gritty-looking textures, which in a way, I prefer to the icy textures in a movie like "Frozen" (2013), which are much more reflective than this. The backgrounds of every location also hold a lot of character to them. The locations like the ship stuck in the ice, the castle divided in two, the greenhouse, the caves, and especially the Queen's spiky palace, with the room of mirrors, royal hall, the blizzard outside, and the throne room. The ice palace has so much more character in it than a clean-cut palace. There is more menace and these cool-looking spikes lining the outside of it just add to the look. The character designs are a little too simplistic and wide-eyed for my taste. The few I like are the stag, the white horse, and the Queen herself. While most characters have a rounded design, large eyes, and soft skin, her appearance is more bony and edgy. She has smaller and narrower eyes, thinner lips, icy-textured skin, cold stares, and her dress and hair blend into a snowy fog. Her design is so memorable compared to most of the other representations of Snow Queen, including Elsa herself.
The story is okay; it is your basic buddy road-trip movie, but it does have a little bit of an edge in comparison to what I was expecting. For one thing, the wizards themselves are not blatantly explained to be a type of person, but it is implied that they are all artists, musicians, creators and such, which is definitely inspiring. There are also some mature themes in this of slavery, civil war, identity, hatred, torture. The best parts are when there is either an action scene, a moment between Orm and Gerda where they talk to each other, or even some exposition scenes about the Queen. I am also glad they include the mirror in this story, as that is probably the coolest idea to me in a story.
I must warn you though, this may not be a movie for young children. There are some slight undertones of incest. Because Gerda and Kai are not aware at first that they are family, they both kind of have a crush on each other. Kai paints a picture of Gerda (which could also be interpreted as a vision or dream of her) but Gerda makes sure she looks presentable before she enters Kai's room in the boiler, and hides behind a curtain before he sees her. It is very quick, and can be interpreted differently, but there are undertones.
Characters, again, are very basic, with maybe a few quirks to their personality here and there. For example, the King with the divided court who wants to cut Gerda in half, or the greenhouse keeper with the dead flowers. Gerda herself is your standard good-natured girl who just wants to save her brother, but cares about everyone equally, with a little hint of snark. Kai is just a motive for Gerda to want to go to the Snow Queen. Orm is a jaded, angry troll who is snarky, but he clearly does not want to get on the Queen's bad side. He is the last troll alive, but he was a coward. He wants his freedom, but he knows it comes at the price of taking his only friend to her death. The Snow Queen is the other character with a good backstory. She was once a young wizard with a talent for connecting to nature. When people could not understand who or what she was, they discriminated against her. And when she could not convince them to be a little nicer to her, she found dark magic in the caves and wished upon the waters for the abilities she has now, letting her anger and power consume her.
The background soundtrack is alright, nothing entirely special. However, there is one track that I think is one of the coolest scores for a movie like this. It is the Snow Queen's theme, which is played in the background of her backstory reveal, when she freezes Kai's blood, and when she enters the throne room for the final action scene. It starts in a soft haunting piano theme, while it builds in the number of instruments every time it is played. After the piano, an eerie vocal humming joins in, very ethereal. The instruments continue to climb in the action scene with violins and such. I wish it was available on iTunes, or even YouTube, as I would totally listen to it on repeat.
In the end, I prefer this story to Disney's "Frozen" as I enjoy the ice textures more, the Snow Queen steals every scene she is in, the darker tone and morals set in a bleaker world are more consistent, and the theme of independence Orm learns more and more. It sticks more to the book than "Frozen" and has cooler, darker ideas than it. Most things do not need to be dark, unless they serve a purpose. The darkness in any "Snow Queen" story is necessary. The Snow Queen herself is meant to be a dark, elegant figure of malice and mystery, and this was closer to that than Disney's adaptation.
Bai She: Yuan Qi (2019)
A Touching Chinese Tale for Young Adults
"White Snake" is based on the old Chinese legend of the White Snake, in which a half-woman, half-snake being falls in love with a human man. This movie is, in essence, a prequel to the original tale, which has since been adapted into many different mediums. In this adaptation, the White Snake is named Blanca. She lives and meditates with her "sister" (though not by blood), the Green Snake, Verta. Blanca, while living so long in peaceful seclusion, has forgotten what has happened in her past life, and must learn of it via a magic jade hairpin Verta owns. There she learns of the role she played in a magical war, and even who she fell in love with. The rest of the film is the entire memory held in the hairpin.
"White Snake" is a gorgeously animated Chinese movie that rivals the fantastical visual spectacles of "Moana" and "Frozen II." Especially the way they manage to make nature look, like grass waving in the wind, the sun setting on a horizon, the light of fire on a character's faces, the fur on a squirrel's back and tail, the water from a waterfall, the simple ripple in a river, reflections in metal, the textures in wood, the light of the moon against architecture, the size and scale of the White Snake's true form, the feathers on the three-headed bird, and even the layers of a kimono on a characters skin. Action scenes are fluid and have a very nice flow to them. There is a sense of weight to every character's actions, as well as a momentum to the way the snakes swing and jump through the trees. The animation also knows when to take its time and when to rush ahead, and it is due solely to the animation you believe the relationship between Blanca and the human man. So many designs of characters and shots can tell you exactly what a character is about by the way they move, and they stick with you. Some shots of the landscapes in this film have stuck with me longer than most in mainstream animated films from America, including Disney films. The only issue I have with the animation is that most of the female characters have eyes much bigger than those of their male counterparts. The men have relatively smaller eyes, while Blanca, Verta, and the Shopkeeper all have much larger eyes.
The writing in this movie is not good, though that could have been a problem with the Chinese-to-English translation. Theres a line where Blanca says "A strange girl with strange powers, she could be human or demon" in reference to herself, talking to someone on a boat. I have some issues with some sentences like this where characters speak things that do not need to be spoken, but that is a little expected with translated movies (though I do not believe that should be an excuse).
This movie is also not meant for children. Snakes are very sexual beings, and I that is highlighted a bit in the relationship between Blanca and Verta. They are comfortable in whatever body suits them, and that is something that I can praise. But my biggest problem with this movie is actually the fact that at the height of Blanca's emotional turmoil, coming face-to-face with the history that she is indeed a demon, she decides to get sexual with the human man. I would be okay with this if there was more development to the romance before we got to this point, or if it happened at a different point in time. Especially because immediately after, Blanca decides to leave him and accept her dark fate she learned about from the temple's history. So this "romantic" scene is pointless in the flow of the story.
My other problem with the movie is they do not explain the importance of "human vitality" as put by the Shopkeeper. They often "show, don't tell", which is a good rule in filmmaking, but it would help to know how vitality is important. The only thing that we learn is that it helps fuel demon weaponry and magic, and it is only found in humans.
My last problem with the movie is the same problem I have with the "Frozen" films. We never find out the limits of her power, or even Verta's power for that matter. We only know that the snakes can change their forms, but we never find out why Blanca and Verta can float in their human forms, what force comes from their hands when they meet each other in the woods, why Verta can soothe people in their sleep, and why Blanca can shoot white energy ribbons from her hands. What makes them more special than the other snakes?
One of the other great things about this movie is the score in the background. There is a nice traditional Asian sound to the score that is especially prevalent in the action scenes, reminding me of the sounds from "Legend of Korra" and "Kubo and the Two Strings". They help to boost emotional scenes and put energy into quick-moving action scenes. Another note of mention is that the comic relief dog character is not a total annoyance like most comic relief characters are. I do not even like dogs, but this guy was actually funny.
The ending scene leaves the movie open for a sequel that recreates the original tale of the White Snake, but allows for a change in style in clothing due to the passage of time. There is also an end credits scene that creates a mystery as to what is in the river.
In summation, "White Snake" is one of the best animated movies of 2019, even better than Disney's "Frozen II". It is a beautiful sounding and looking movie that has some interesting interactions between characters and a tragic yet beautiful ending, but has a few strange scene choices and some unexplained mythos. I recommend the movie to anyone who is above the age of 13, unless you are ready to explain a few things to your children.
TRON: Uprising (2012)
A Prequel Done Right
"Tron: Uprising" is a TV Show meant to fill in the gap between the original "Tron", and the sequel "Tron Legacy." It focuses on the rise of Clu's tyrannic regime across the Grid, a virtual world filled with sentient programs. During the beginning of Clu's oppression, a revolution begins to grow, starting with the rogue program, Beck, a simple mechanic who decides to take on the identity of Tron.
From the very first episode, "Tron: Uprising" feels like an energetic mix between the Batman cartoons and "The Legend of Korra," with one of the most creative styles of animation I have seen, and a technologic score and soundtrack that just hums with the sounds of a virtual city. Character designs are mostly angular and artistic, and backgrounds are mostly geometric. The color palette is limited to mostly blues and oranges. The style is simply amazing, and I cannot believe that Disney only approved of a single season.
This show is also not entirely for children. There are adult concepts of forced memory loss, untrustworthy governments, blind devotion, mass genocide of a race, torture, and public execution. And though there is no blood in the show, they manage to get away with a lot of gore by making the "blood" into pixels. Many characters will brutally be crushed into tiny cubes on screen.
"Tron: Uprising" also has great conflict in it, as you are watching other characters reactions to Beck's secret identity of Tron. Some people are glad he is taking action against Clu's Commanders, Paige and Pavel, and the Supreme General Tesler, while others are afraid his actions will result in more oppression to the people of the Grid. For a TV Show that could so easily be a Good Vs. Evil tale, but it gives every character many layers. Good guys will lie and not apologize for certain actions, and bad guys will believe that they are truly doing the right thing for the citizens. Sometimes, main villains even have bad "dreams" of their own defeat. Almost every primary character has an arc that either ends, or would have ended if only another season was approved.
In my opinion, if this series had gone past one season, I believe this could have been the next "Avatar: The Last Airbender." It holds a special place in my heart. Even though this show ended abruptly, the cliff-hanger ending almost feels as if you can interpret what may tragically happen in the future to nearly all of these characters. It is on Disney Plus right now, and I implore you to watch it with an open mind. I would recommend you watch both of the Tron films before this, but in my opinion, it is better than both. This is in my personal top 5 tv shows of all time (though I am a bit biased).
Ne Zha zhi mo tong jiang shi (2019)
Flawed, but Fun
In a year of both surprises and disappointments, Ne Zha has become a welcome experiment in animation, though I am shocked by how much money it earned in China alone. Due to my watching of many Asian-inspired movies, IMDB continuously put this movie in my reccomendations, and I am so glad it did!
I will get the negatives out of the way first. The lip sync for the english dub is pretty off, especially for the demon goblin by the sea. The ending, regarding the lightning, while quite the spectacle, was a bit nonsensical in a multitude of ways. And weirdly enough, I wish the father had more emotion in the animation itself. He is so stoic that when he is being heartbreaking in the voice performance, his facial expressions don't capture the sorrow in his voice. The biggest problem I have, similar to the Monkey King movie a few years back, is the humor. The humor is so childish and based around the gross-out style that it felt off, especially during the climax when the survival of the main characters depended on a fart (no I am not joking). It just felt so juvenile, and distracted from the story.
The action is fluid and pretty easy to follow, and the magic is very mystical. The final battle and every scene with the dragons were highlights for me, emphasizing the epic scale of everything. The animation is also pretty gorgeous, and while I am not a fan of the character designs (except for Ao Bing and the General), I can at least admit there is a better variation of designs in this than even Frozen II. The motivations of every character are well set-up. Ne Zha's mother wants to spend time with him, keep him safe, and make sure that she can promote goodwill on behalf of her son, for her son. The General is busy, but cares about his son from afar. Ne Zha has been called a demon his whole life, and has been sheltered to the point where he feels imprisoned. Ao Bing wants to save his people, but knows little of the consequences that come with defying them. I can forgive any "dumb" mistakes made by Ne Zha and Ao Bing because technically they are still 3 year olds. I also really enjoy the scene where the two of them play the game by the beach in the sunset. The ending is sad, but still epic. And the after-credits scenes hint that there will be a sequel to this.
I reccomend this movie to anyone with children, or fans of Chinese legends and movies. You will laugh and cry (though I didn't), and the message of not letting a definite fate define how others see you is touching and well-handled. They don't technically cop-out on the two protagonists still being alive, which is appreciated (again, even Frozen II didn't manage that). I hope more Chinese animations like this are made. I am excited for their next movie, Jiang Ziya, or"The Legend of Deification".
Frozen II (2019)
Frozen II: Lost in the Story
As someone who understands why other people loved the original Frozen so much, I can see again why people would love this movie as well. The best things about this movie are the voice acting and the much improved songs compared to the first ones. "Into the Unknown" is a much better "Let it Go" and is less catchy which is a good thing in this case. The songs in the original were such earworms that it is nice to have emotional songs with less catchy beats, though I do hate "Some Things Never Change". The style change in each song is inconsistent, but effective. "All is Found" is a nice starter. Each scene in the movie is nice on its own, but is awful is execution when it comes to the actual story. The voice actors are doing their best work, even better than the original, but they can't save this story.
The humor is also pretty bad. I remember loving Olaf so much in the original, but I barely laughed at any of his jokes apart from his song (which includes his recap of the original, which I also didn't laugh at). I also didn't laugh at the part when Elsa cringed at her singing "Let it Go". This joke makes no sense. In her universe, that is when she let go of her inner demons for a brief moment of joy, so she wouldn't cringe. Also, "Let it Go" is known as the song where she is empowered and gets a new dress and hairstyle, something she literally just did with "Show Yourself" 5 seconds ago. She shouldn't be allowed to cringe at something that she just did for a second time.
Also, I must point out that the merchandising opportunities in this movie seems very shallow and over-done. Not only does Elsa have 2 animal sidekicks (the fire and water spirits), but she has 5 new outfits. Anna has 4 new outfits too.
Elsa and Anna both seem to make the same mistakes they made in the previous movie but to greater degrees. Elsa keeps pushing away Anna for weird reasons, and Anna keeps clinging onto Elsa to an unruly extent. I don't understand why both of them cannot treat each other like an adult who can make their own descisions. Anna even jumps back into a fire at one point for Elsa, but doesn't think through what she would even do when jumping in their. And Kristoff just goes and saves her anyway, so there is really no consequence to this scene other than showing Elsa the fire spirit (who looks like a mix of Toothless and Pascal from Tangled). The fact that Anna claims that Elsa was the only "star that guided" her in her song didn't make sense either, as Elsa never guided her anywhere, and wasn't there for most of her life. Also, this is a personal problem, but I cannot take Anna seriously when she says "Hello darkness I'm ready to succumb". This bubbly, outoging character who never gives up is grieving, yes, but those lyrics seem eerily similar to "Hello darkness my old friend", which is practically a joke now. I understood her pain in the moment, but that line was just so strange to me.
Elsa being the fifth spirit was so poorly executed it baffled me. I understand that someone needed to be the bridge, but having the fifth spirit be ice, which is a part of water (just by physics), was a little nonsensical. I am also confused on the message this sends when Elsa sees Attahollan. The lyrics say "I am found", but the whole memory part of the song is through her mother, not herself. Did she find herself? The spirit of Attahollan? Her mother? I am also confused about how she can find out about her grandfather when her and her mother aren't there when the tribal leader got murdered. All the other memories seemed to be from Elsa or her mother's point of view. Somehow learning this information freezes Elsa (I guess the cold did bother her), which I will never understand. Somehow she is unfrozen by the breaking of the dam (which had nothing to do with her, but whatever) (and the dam had to have been built over a long period of time, so why didn't the other spirits help dismantle is before hand?), and Elsa is somehow able to reach Arendelle to stop the wave and evaporate it (which isn't her skill). The wave should have been redistributed and flooded Arendelle even with Elsa's help. I think it would have been a better idea to let Arendelle flood, and create a new Arendelle, and keep Elsa dead to let her sacrifice for "knowledge" be meaningful. I wasn't sad when her or Olaf "died", because I knew they would come back. Disney will kill parents off (unless they are important to the story), but they don't have the guts to kill a main character, let alone one as popular and merchandise friendly as Olaf and Elsa. It feels like many people are onto Disney's manipulation of things like this, and yet everyone I talk to in my age range was devastated when Olaf and Elsa "died", thinking they weren't coming back.
Kristoff was pretty much left behind in this movie, and his arc with trying to propose to Anna was misinterpreted so many times was so cringeworthy.
I also don't get why, of all things, Disney decided to copy "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "The Legend of Korra", when those shows are so beloved because of their intricate storytelling, character arcs, sympathetic villains, and heavy emotions, as well as weaving Asian philosophy and culture into their episodes and designs. The four elements are so heavily synonomous with those shows now, so it is easy to see the flaws within the storytelling when you have something better to compare to.
The animation in this is good when it comes to particle effects and the landscapes and ocean. I never cared much for the design of Anna, Elsa, their mother, and any other woman in this style, as I feel we could switch the hair on all of them and get the same character.
Frozen II is a mediocre movie that has similar problems to the original. Nothing much more to say about it. I reccomend "Legend of Korra" and "White Snake", both much better handling their sisterly relationships and Asian lore. I wish the studio had went with the original ideas for the ending and developmental scenes than what they went with. This movie truly is Lost, and I wonder if the movie still cares, but I am waiting for a sign that it could be mine.
Disney's Most Overrated Movie
Perhaps it is because I have had to grow up in a time where Frozen's overbearing merchandise has been thrust in my face for years, but this movie hasn't aged well for me. I used to like it so much the first year it came out, blinded by the good animation, flashy magic, and ear-worm music, but since then I have developed a pretty cynical nature towards the movie's existence.
At the time of this movie's conception, I hadn't seen too many movies with magic where a good guy, or even a bad guy, could shoot some sort of magic from their hands and feet (I had not seen Avatar The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra yet). This is probably why me, and many other kids loved Elsa so much. I recall a video where a reviewer had said Elsa was "The dress, the hair, and the song." I would add her powers to this list. She is the "straight man" to Anna, who is bubbly and outgoing, which many kids love because they see her as a magic queen with cool hair and a catchy theme song, like a superhero (It is why I loved her at the time). I had neglected to realize that Elsa was effectively trying to stay away from Anna and never thinks to make amends with her only remaining family, that "Let it Go" (which I cannot listen to without hating) seemed to promote her liberation through living in solitude without telling anyone that cares about her, and that her primary emotion was fear. When Elsa is taken back to Arendelle, she tries to escape before even trying to fix her relationship with Anna, knowing full-well Anna is dying. Even if Elsa didn't know how to fix the "eternal winter" (which wasn't even that eternal), she should have made an attempt to console her sister in her final moments. I will admit that Elsa's serious behavior is part of her personality, and she doesn't think rationally (it must run in the family), but she has so little depth.
Anna is not much better. She is very eccentric, bubbly, and weird, in a semi-charming way. She can be a bit naive, but that is a result of her circumstances of being sheltered and alone most of her life. Being alone is the worst thing for her, and she assumes it is the same for Elsa. While everyone needs some alone time, it is unhealthy to have no human interaction for so long. Anna and Elsa are just such extreme depictions of that. Anna is endearing, but she can be a bit obnoxious.
I have no major problems with Kristoff, but I wish I knew more about him, or why he likes ice so much. He is a sweet and sarcastic man who loves his reindeer. His imagining he is talking to Sven like a stuffed animal is adorable and cheesy, since he is essentially in touch with his inner child.
Olaf is a cute snowman who whispers his lines, his song is novel, and his joke about being impaled is hilarious (which sounds weird when I say it like that). I will say after "In Summer" is played over and over, you may like it less and less, but it is down to personal preference.
The twist regarding Hans, while ridiculous in execution, is a good twist in concept. The twist regarding Anna saving herself is admittedly the best thing about the movie. Anna has been relying on other people the whole movie, so it makes sense for her, in the action of saving her sister, that she saves herself. However, immediately after, when she comes back to life, Elsa fixes everything with the power of love. I get what they were going for, but isn't her love for her sister and making sure Anna didn't get hurt the cause of the "eternal winter"? The opposite of fear isn't love, it is bravery. The opposite of love is hate. This doesn't quite correlate.
The songs are catchy, so it is understandable that people would love them so much. It also explains why people would hate them after certain ones being replayed over and over. "Let it Go" on its own is a nice song, but has been ruined by replaying. Most of the other songs are a bit annoying in some way except for "Reindeers are Better Than People", "Vuelie" (the choir song), and "Frozen Heart"(the ice cutter song).
I understand and appreciate certain aspects of this movie, and the impact it has had on future movies (especially the element of independence and sisterly relationships), but I cannot in good conscience say this itself is a great movie. The hype for this movie is unwarranted, and it makes me sad to say it. This could have been amazing. If you need something more like the Hans Christen Anderson story, I will direct you to Wizart's "Snow Queen" trilogy. Though its continuation is tenuous at best, and its budget is limited, its snowy atmosphere and darker tones and lack of musical numbers may be something you are looking for. It is technically a rip-off, but it says something when I would rather watch a rip-off than a Disney movie.
A Subversive, Clever Film
Though a rather slow-moving finale to an unconventional superhero trilogy, "Glass" subverts expectations in a way that leaves the viewer thinking long after they leave the theater. One detail in particular I noticed was the film's use of color, with Elijah's purple opposing Kevin's yellow (complementary colors, equal length apart on a color wheel), while David's green outfit leaves him in the middle (green is made of blue and yellow, making David relate more to Kevin's yellow, but is a piece of Elijah's purple, as a testament to their history together from "Unbreakable"). All the while, Staple's washed out pinks and whites in the asylum attempts to wash out their colors, convincing them they are not as superhuman as they believe (also, the brain is often portrayed as pink, connecting her sweetness to a form of intelligence). I have never seen a film that uses color theory so thoroughly in its craft that I could remember it for so long. Each shot is meticulous and precise in it's vision.
James MacAvoy, who plays Kevin, is brilliant as a man with multiple personalities. The scene where he must switch through a multitude of personalities is such a joy to watch, and will surely make you either laugh uncontrollably or squirm uncomfortably (especially with Patricia and Hedwig). David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis, is stoic and stern as always, but you can see doubt in his eyes after listening to the many lies of Dr. Staple. Samuel L Jackson's character Elijah, though frail in nature, seems so devious in masterminding the whole story despite being in a wheelchair, silent as can be.
Shyamalan's subversion of the big tower fight scene trope makes sense in it's nature, as Elijah had to have known that they would all die before they would get close enough to the tower to justify his reasoning. The idea of using the internet as a way to convince the world that they exist is genius. They don't justify Elijah's actions, but he does get the affirmation he needed that he wasn't a mistake or the freak of nature he had so long believed he was.
This movie has stuck in my mind all year, and I continue to look back on it with fond memories of the genius at work in it. I don't care that the critics didn't enjoy this as much as Shyamalan's previous works of genius like "Unbreakable" or "The Sixth Sense," but I can overlook the flaws of this movie enough to speak of its unbridled greatness.
The Farewell (2019)
A Touching True Story Unlike Anything Seen in 2019
The director, Lulu Wang, brings us a story of the shockingly true tradition of many Chinese families (that tradition being not telling someone they are dying before it happens, and reuniting the family to give one last goodbye to the loved one) through her first major feature film. Brought to us by A24 (the company responsible for "Eighth Grade" and others), this movie is made and directed with such care and craft for the story being told. Every moment feels painfully real and earnest. Awkwafina, who plays Billi, helps guide the audience through this emotional roller coaster by giving her best performance as of yet. Each shot is constructed to represent the feelings of each individual perfectly. And the ending (which I will not spoil) is satisfying without feeling forced or cheesy in any way. I can't remember a film in recent memory that I can say I had never seen anything like before to this extent, to the point where I gasped during the last shots of the film. I hope very dearly that the Oscars represent Awkwafina's performance in this film with at least a nomination. She holds my favorite female performance of the year, and my hopes go out to her. I look forward to seeing what she and the director, Lulu Wang brings us in the future.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
One of the Funniest Movies EVER
When I went to see this movie with my Dad, I was not expecting much. I really had no plans to see an animated movie in theaters in 2017 (with the exception of Cars 3 because of the teaser trailer). Within the logos alone I knew that this would be a great time. You can tell a movie is awesome when you are laughing before any part of the plot has even been shown. This movie is a humorous, emotional, sad, joyful movie that you will want to cheer at. This was my first Batman movie I had ever seen, and yet I understood all of the references. The Joker is one of the best characters I have seen in a while. His relationship with Batman is a comical and sad. I relate to him, which I would never have guessed. He just wants to hear Batman admit that they have something special. Robin is a hilarious little kid with a heart of gold who just wants to live up to the expectations of his surrogate father. He listens to everything Batman says and takes it to heart. Batman's stern demeanor makes him cold, but he never comes off as a bad guy. He has just built up a wall around his heart, and when he opens it up, he is afraid to lose the people he learned to love. His advances are wrong, and you know it, but you can tell he just can't experience any more heartbreak. Alfred is a funny and lovable butler with some of the funniest parts of the movie. When Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" song is used, it melted my heart. This movie is one of the fondest memories of going to the movie theater with my dad I have had in recent memory. It is a blast.
This is the best animated movie (in my mind) of 2017 (which includes Coco). It was truly a shame when Boss Baby and Ferdinand were nominated for the Oscar in place of this. The LEGO Batman Movie is comedy platinum.
Because I Said So (2007)
Worst Movie Ever
I am literally typing this as my mom is watching it for the first time. Just a few hours ago I deemed Secret Life of Pets the worst movie I have ever seen, but this takes the cake. The mother in this movie does not learn anything after being given chances time and time again. She does not deserve the happy ending the movie presents in such a short amount of time. A mother (and I am not one, this is just speculation) is supposed to support you but allow you the space to grow or fail in life, but will always be there for you. That is everything Daphne is not. She supports little kids calling people "dummy" and saying things little kids should not say that young.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Though I am not the biggest fan of Marvel movies, I can say without a doubt that this had the most epic finale in a movie ever. This was not a movie. This was an experience, an event. This was a fantastic end to a decade of generation-defining super hero movies. This was a movie to remember. Also, the credits were very touching (it may be a weird note, but they are great).
Though I will say this movie was a little too long, and Thanos felt a little less emotional real than he was in Infinity War. Also, it was very overwhelming in scope for such a long time, I was actually dizzy afterwards.
Mr. Turner (2014)
A Complex Movie that I Didn't Understand
Perhaps it is just my opinion, but this slow burn movie did not seem to leave much impact on me other than showing just how hard it can be to be an artist living in his time. I understand this may not be my kind of movie, but I do usually connect with more indpendent films like "The Old Man and the Gun."
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Unfunny, Safe, and Bland
The best parts of this movie are all spoiled in the trailer, and I barely laughed at any of the jokes (or smiled for that matter). As soon as the first 10 minutes went by, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and I was correct (which doesn't usually happen). It is a cheap rip-off of Toy Story if I have ever seen one. It baffles me that this made so much money, and it saddens me that not even half of the money this movie got didn't go to Kubo and the Two Strings, a far superior summer animated movie from 2016. The animation is not bad, I will admit, but the human designs look no different than Illuminations other human characters (tiny eyes, big noses, skinny legs). I was in a depression when I saw this movie and honestly, I felt more depressed leaving than I did entering. I was 11 when I saw this, so I was the perfect demographic. This is the worst film I have ever seen. I apoligize if this doesn't help you.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The Worship of this Movie is Unwarranted
When I first saw this movie, I knew there was something wrong that I couldn't place, so I said it was a good movie. I was blinded by the shiny product that Disney was trying to convince me was better than the animated movie they made years ago. The original Beauty and the Beast is a classic in every sense of the word, to the point that it was nominated for Best Picture by the Oscars (and for my money, would have won if Silence of the Lambs didn't come out that same year). There is so much I need to say about this, so I am just going to list everything wrong with it. This is just my opinion.
1. Emma Watson has very little emotional range here. She always comes off as either smug when she is supposed to be happy, or disgusted when she is trying to be vulnerable. 2. The Beast acts too human for a man who was transformed into a hairy, mangy Beast for so long. 3. Belle and the Beast bonding over having dead mothers is not romance material. 4.The teleporting book takes away the importance of the mirror to the outside world. 5.The teleporting book is not used to get Belle back home at the end. 6. Emma Watson's singing is robotic and her vocal range is amateur. She just needed more proper training. 7. Finding out what happened to Belle's mother does not further the plot. 8. Plumette mentions to Lumiere that "this plan of yours is dangerous." How is the plan dangerous at all? 9. Why were the servants cursed more severely than the Beast? They didn't deserve it. If the reason was that they didn't make the Prince less cruel, weren't they just following orders? Is this an example of punishing the powerless? 10. The Enchantress erased memory of government and tore families apart. What is her problem? That is morally skewed. 11. In French, "le fou" stands for "the fool". Need I say more? 12. The weather immediately turns to winter near the castle. whats the point? If anyone was near the castle, they would wonder about those weather patterns, and get closer to investigate. That attracts more people to the castle, so the Beast was surely not alone all those years. 13. If the castle keeps crumbling after each rose petal falls, why does the entire castle not crumble after the flower is fully wilted? 14, Why did Gaston not die by his own doing? He just dies because the castle is falling apart. 15. Why is Belle not the only one wearing blue in the village? That seperates her from the townspeople. 16. Why is Maurice going to the market when Belle was just at the market? 17. Why does Audra McDonolad not sing a full length song when she has one of the best vocal ranges ever?
There are a few positives in this remake though.
1. Maurice is a less eccentric inventor, which helps establish his more familial connection to Belle. 2. The older style costumes of the townspeople were very effective for their status. 3. The Beast's new song "Evermore" and Maurice's scene at the beginning were bittersweet. 4. Seeing the castle staff turn into antiques was sad. 5. Josh Gad and Luke Evans as Lefou and Gaston were solid representations of their characters. 6. The song "Gaston" and "The Mob Song" were nicely staged.
I truly do not understand the worship and hype around this movie.The reason why I like some of the other remakes is because they had significant changes to the plot and characters, like Cinderella, Pete's Dragon, The Jungle Book, and Maleficent. If you like this movie without acknowledging at least one of the flaws I have brought up, that is okay. But you must at least respect my opinion. That is enough for me.