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Inside Out (2015)
Another Pixar Classic
Do you ever look at someone and wonder, "What is going on inside their head?" Well, the reality is the answers pretty dull. It's just a big brain sending messages across your body to determine your actions. But in the minds of the creators at Pixar the answer has no limits, with every persons head containing a fully functioning world, where small beings create and store every idea and memory we have in life. And at the centre of this world is a control panel, similar to something like the deck of the Enterprise, which is controlled by our emotions that lead us through every decision we make in our lives.
Inside Out follows a girl named Riley (Katilyn Dias) and the five emotions that lead her every action- Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Riley's most important emotion that has shaped all of Riley's core memories that make her the person she is, Joy (Amy Pohler). They all care for Riley and one another like one big family, always looking to give Riley the best life she can have. This includes everything from remembering to avoid Broccoli to maintaining Riley's goofy attitude to remain her parents happy little girl.
But Riley is entering a difficult period in her life of great change. She is moving to a new home in San Francisco, leaving her friends behind, and her father has become too busy with work to look after her the way he used to. This causes the emotions to conflict on the best way to deal with it, with the ensuing chaos causing Joy and Sadness to get lost in the furthest reaches of Riley's mind and forcing them to go on a journey to return to the control room, or Riley might never be happy again.
In some ways the film is a nice reminder of how even after 20 years, Pixar has stuck to what made them so engaging to audiences to begin with. The journey that Joy and Sadness go on is a great buddy travel movie, that's in a similar vein to Buzz and Woody in 'Toy Story'. And just like 'Toy Story', Pixar has continued to remain focused on developing memorable characters that will help shape many childhoods, with the likes of Joy's energetic personality and simplistic but lovable design bound to stick in our heads the same way that Buzz Lightyear did when 'Toy Story' was first released.
But in other ways the film is a reminder to show how far both Pixar and CGI animation has come, with the worlds Pixar's movies take place in going from the constraints of a child's bedroom to creating an entire world within the mind of a child. And the world that they create is something truly special. Other films have taken place in a person's mind in the past with their own distinct styles, from the epic mind bending action of 'Inception' to the fragmenting chaos in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. But no other film has ever approached the inner workings of a mind with the same creativity as Pixar has.
The film includes as much as it could of developing how a mind works and what an 11 year old girl would be thinking about, incorporating it as either a great gag or as a way the world is designed to function. There's a literal train of thought that's able to carry memories across Riley's mind, a place called Déjà vu that keeps popping up, and even a dream centre that operates like a movie studio to give Riley something to watch at night. Even small sayings like getting a song stuck in your head are incorporated in to the film in some of Pixars funniest running gags to date. Plus I'm relatively certain that anyone who's seen the film will be humming Triple Dent Gum for the rest of their lives.
As always, at the films heart remains the human drama that has kept Pixar movies so relatable over the years. In one of the most touching scenes, we watch as Joy turns on one of Riley's treasured childhood memories of her skating to pick up her spirits and slowly begins to skate with her in perfect synch. It's a beautiful moment where we're shown both the close bond that Riley and her emotions share, whilst reminding us all on the way we all hold on to out childhood in a way that only Pixar can.
It's moments like this that can be universally related to, mixed with Pixar's stunning animation and their ability to create such original worlds that ensures Inside Out is another addition to Pixar's constantly growing collection of treasured classics.
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
What is the Rabbits Foot?
For the third outing of the Mission Impossible franchise, JJ Abrams was bought in to bring cruise back for a new mission. Considering that he had already been creating television shows done with a cinematic budget to a cinematic quality like Lost and Alias, it made sense that he take on the reigns of the multi million dollar franchise. But whilst he is able to keep the franchise action packed, his style is unable to flourish the same way that Palma or Woo were able to in the previous films.
Some time after the second film, Hunt has decided to retire from active duty and is now training IMF agents. He also has new fiancée, forgetting Thandie Newton from Mission Impossible II, who is gone without explanation, and is now with a nurse named Julia (Michelle Monaghan). It's a situation similar to True Lies, with Cruise living a double life and his wife being entirely unaware of his life as a secret agent that Hunt has decided to leave in his past to be with her. But just like any other film about a retired agent, it's not long before Hunt has received a new self destructing message with a new mission which he chooses to accept, leading him to assemble a new team to save one of the agents he trained in the past.
And just like every Mission Impossible film, his mission inevitably goes wrong. Thus Hunt is plunged back into the life of a spy, having to take down brutal arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), save his wife to be, and track down the mysterious rabbit's foot. What exactly this rabbit foot is, we're never really told. It's a Macguffin in a similar vein to the likes of the suitcase in Pulp Fiction. It could some kind of toxin. Or it could be a doomsday device. But whatever it is, we know it's bad, and that if the villain gets his hand on it there will be trouble. It leaves it up to the viewer to decide just how high the stakes will be this time around.
As usual, Cruise is great as Hunt. He still has the American action hero charm mixed with some great stunt and physical work, with one stand out scene where he's sprinting through Shanghai at breakneck speeds. But as great as he is, Hoffman really steals the film as the psychotic arms dealer Owen Davian, who is throughout the film one of the most intimidating villains in a PG-13 movie. At the midpoint when he says to Cruise ""Do you have a wife? A girlfriend? Because if you do, I'm gonna find her. I'm gonna hurt her." We believe him, since he really seems willing to do anything to get what he wants. The only downside to his character is that he does not get enough screen time. The film even pushes him out of the way for a while, instead focusing on the overused traitor from within the organisation cliché we've already seen in both of the previous films in the franchise. You'd really think by now IMF would keep a closer check on their agents.
Abrams is able to shoot a confident action sequence, however he doesn't make the same mark on the franchise that his predecessors did. Few blockbuster films have come anywhere near the nail biting suspense that De Palma was capable of in the first Mission: Impossible and nobody's ever done it in quite the same way. And love it or loath it, no director can make an action sequence quite as over the top as Woo with his explosive 20 minute finale. But with Abrams his style is less distinct. It looks just like every other action movie, which isn't necessarily bad, but doesn't leave the same mark that the first two films had.
Beyond this there's a certain repetitiveness to the sequences. There's only so many time you can watch the same high speed chases and good guys shooting bad guys before it can become boring. And whilst the locations change, throughout the film all the action sequences end up feeling largely similar. Whilst other spy franchises at the time like Bond and Bourne were starting to experiment with darker and more realistic film-making, Mission Impossible remained stuck in the same generic action that's been see many times before. It still lives up to basic expectations, but it never tries to exceed those expectations either and is instead just a very ordinary action movie.
300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Just Stick To the First One
After "300" turned out to be a surprising success, earning over $450 million at the box office on a budget of only $65 million, it did make sense to make a sequel. And with the Persian armies still roaming by the end of the film there was still potential to continue the story. But as much as "300: Rise of an Empire" tries, it's unable to recapture the same style Zack Snyder used in the first film.
Taking place partly before, partly during, and partly after the battle of "300", we follow the story Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) as he tries to hold off from the legions of Persian troops attacking from the seas through using his fleet of 50 warships to hold them back. The Persians are being led by Artemisia (Eva Green), the naval war lord who continues to hammer at him brutally and relentlessly.
It's enough plot to justify the violence but at the same time it doesn't have the same spirit that made "300" so enjoyable. There the focus was on Leonidas and his 300 Spartans prevailing against the odds at every turn to fight for what they believe in. But here, the story never brings any real purpose to the battle beyond defeating the bad guys. It really is just mindless violence, with no real purpose.
Whilst Sullivan Stapleton does look the role with the right muscular form to seem like the warrior he needs to be, he's still not able to live up to Gerard Butler's performance as Leonidas in the first film. Whilst he's decent at being the generic tough warrior performance, he can't quite live up to Butler's energetic, over the top delivery that made the line 'This is Sparta!' such an internet sensation. He doesn't even have any personality beyond being a generic action hero.
However, this film does introduce a greater villain than its predecessor. Possibly to combat some of the misogynistic elements of the original graphic novel and first film, we get an introduction to Eva Green as the Femme Fatale of the film. Whilst she's not up there with the best femme fatales like Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity", she's still the most interesting character of the film, receiving a dark back-story where she was born Greek, but defected to the Persian armies after her family is murdered. Not only is she a deadly warrior, but also is incredibly smart and knows how to use her sexuality as a weapon.
When it comes down to it the most important part of the film are its action sequences. And unfortunately this is really where the film falls short. Whilst it does try to copy the graphic novel look that Snyder went for the first film, it's far less successful here. The cool dark visuals used in the first film are replaced here with some weak murky visuals that end up looking less like a graphic novel and more like a video game.
It's director Murro also lacks the same directorial vision that made the battle's in Snyder's 300 so memorable. Many of his shots stick in mind due to their detail and execution with shot's like pushing the Persians off the cliff really sticking in memory. But even after just watching Rise of an Empire, it's tough to remember a single shot because it's all the action just blends together. Because of lacking any real memorability, anyone would be better off re-watching the first 300 than watching this disappointment of a sequel.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Bad Plot, But Some Great Action
Just like the first "Mission: Impossible" film was entirely different to the TV show it was based on, "Mission: Impossible II" is nothing like it's 1996 predecessor. The slow, tension building pace Palma used in the first film, has been replaced by John Woo's love of fast paced action and insane shootouts. Woo draws from the auteurist action movies he made in the east like "The Killer" in order to bring his own brand of high octane action to western filmmaking.
If anyone doubted how different Woo's style would be, he immediately distances his style from the first film in the first 5 minutes. Whilst "Mission: Impossible" had its agents receive missions in stylish way that resembled a Bond movie, with a cassette tape being delivered on a plane before detonating in a puff of smoke, that approach was apparently not extreme enough for the generation that made films like "Bad Boys" a hit. So instead the mission is delivered to Hunt as he climbs a cliff, with a helicopter firing down the assignment in a missile containing a pair of sunglasses, which he listens to before they explode in a ball of flame. It's completely pointless and serves no purpose to the plot. But it's still an awesome introduction to the film, and sets the tone for the ludicrous and enjoyable action to come.
To match ridiculous action sequences like this, the plot is similarly as ridiculous and over the top. This time Ethan's mission is to retrieve and destroy a genetically engineered disease called 'Chimera', before a group of terrorists led by formal IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) get a hold of it and release it to the public. To get close to him Ethan is told to recruit Sean's ex- girlfriend Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) so she can seduce him. But of course as the typical American action hero, Hunt falls in love with her and thus must both stop the terrorists and save the girl.
Coincidentally, just like the first film had a heavy Hitchcock influence through its visual style and slow pacing, this film has a plot that is heavily inspired by Hitchcock's "Notorious". However unlike Notorious where there was a genuine connection between the two leads, here Cruise and Newton share no such chemistry. They hardly even spend any time together, having only a short amount of screen time with a little flirting, a short car race, and a single night of passion. But for the action movie formula, this is apparently enough to justify them being madly in love.
This wouldn't be a problem if this film did the same as the first "Mission: Impossible" and spent minimal time on character and story. But here a great portion of the film hinges on Cruise worrying for her and it doesn't work since no real connection is established between the pair. There's also several plot holes and continuity errors, with characters just showing up in random places with no explanation whatsoever. Although in the films defence, supposedly the original cut was intended to be over 3 hours long, but had to be cut down for a cinematic release which would explain most of these problems.
Regardless, it's easy to look past this weak plotting, because as always Woo's real strength relies on his action sequences. And as usual he's on top form. He transforms Cruise from the stealthy espionage spy he played in the first film, into an all American action hero similar to the likes of John Rambo.
Hunt fights through seemingly unbeatable odds, gunning down terrorists and blowing up cars, all whilst hardly gaining a single scratch because he's just that deadly. And of course Woo throws all his usual trademarks into the mix, like Cruise constantly dual wielding pistols, the gratuitous but cool slow motion and of course random doves being thrown into the climax.
But even for a director like Woo who made his name through over the top sequences like the one take hallway sequence in "Hard Boiled", this still feels a little overdone. For example, at one point in the film when Cruise is breaking into a terrorist hideout, a door blows up and a dove literally flies through the flames. Moments like this are so ridiculous that they end up feeling less like a genuine action movie and more like a flat out parody.
Even with these moments that go a little too far, it can't be denied that nobody does action quite the same as Woo does it. If his brand of insane violence didn't appeal in his previous work like "Face Off" or "A Better Tomorrow", it won't appeal here. But if you do enjoy his adrenaline fuelled style, then you'll likely enjoy it here. And whilst it may not be the strongest of the series, it's nonetheless another fun outing for the "Mission: Impossible" franchise.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
In a time where a lot of classic TV shows were being given weak cinematic remakes ("The Flintstones", "The Beverly Hillbillies" etc.), Mission Impossible overcame this negative trend by bringing in Brian De Palma do his own take of the series. With the gadgets of a Bond movie, the pacing of a Hitchcockian thriller, and the stunt work of a great American action movie, De Palma was able to breath new life into a classic show and begun one of the most enduring film franchises in recent memory.
It stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, a professional spy, who along with his team accept a mission to retrieve an important file and catch the enemy agent who is attempting to steal it. But things begin to go gravely wrong, with Ethan seemingly left as the lone survivor. After this Ethan is suspected of being a double agent and goes on the run from his own agency, setting out to find the real culprit using whatever methods necessary to clear his name.
Rather than going the route of more recent spy flicks like "Kingsman: The Secret Service" that parodies the spy genre, "Mission: Impossible" does the exact opposite. Instead it indulges in all the clichés, with elaborate disguises, high tech gadgets, high octane explosions, double crosses, and many surprise twists. Although one problem with these twists is it's quite easy to poke holes in them, since they're often done with no foreshadowing and there's little logic behind the characters plans. But this never really matters, for this is a film that lives in the moment. These twists mostly exist to draw us further into the nail biting tension and succeed at doing so.
In spite of De Palma arguably being best known for his iconic shootouts, such as the ending of "Scarface" or "The Untouchables" stair sequence, here our lead never fires a single gun. Instead of using standard action shoot ups or fist brawls, the film delivers tension with 3 unique action sequences: the opening infiltration of the ball room; the vault heist dangling from a wire on the ceiling in the middle of the film; and the final chase involving a helicopter following a high speed train into a tunnel.
The ballroom sequence works as a brilliant introduction to this world of spies. We see the cool gadgets, their detailed plans and how similar to other great spies like Bond they keep a sharp wit whilst they do it. At the same time the scene remains unpredictable, with so many things going wrong that it's really uncertain of who will get out alive.
Then comes the iconic vault heist where Hunt dangles from wires to steal data from a heavily secured vault. This scene has to stand as one of Palma's greatest contributions to cinema. It may take influence from other great heists like Jules Dassin's "Riffi", Palma still adds his own unique take on the concept. Largely by bringing so many great elements together in the scene with slow pacing, great stunt work from Cruise and the way that the scene juggles so many risks from the worker who could walk in at any moment to the sweat dripping from Hunt's head.
Unfortunately the final sequence does not live up to the previous two. The basic concept is cool, with Cruise chasing the villains on top of a speeding train whilst a helicopter chases, but unfortunately it falls flat due to execution. Obviously with a scene like this CGI is a necessity, for actually having a helicopter following a train into a tunnel really would be impossible. But 90's effects just weren't ready to portray a sequence like this authentically. Also whilst the concept of a chase on a speeding train is great, adding in a helicopter just seems like overkill and draws attention to the scenes lack of realism in contrast to the previous tone of the film. Although even with this the chase is still entertaining on a basic level, but just fails to deliver the same tension of previous scenes.
Besides this it's far from ruining the brilliance that preceded it, with Palma's brilliant execution mixed with the excitement of a great spy thriller allows "Mission: Impossible" to overcome all the usual expectations of a typical action movie, and is a heck of a lot of fun because of it.
Good Family Fun
Whilst these gooey lemons weren't the focus of Despicable Me, they were without a doubt the stars. As great as Gru was, not a single kid or adult left cinemas without at some point going "Bannana!" So it makes sense that they should end up getting a movie all of their own, that still has the same great animation and visual gags that made the franchise enjoyable to begin with.
It starts out giving a brief back-story for the history of the minions. Turns out the minions have been around since the dawn of time, always following the most evil bosses they can find. But their masters don't seem to last long as the minions end up accidentally causing the downfall of everyone of them, from Genghis Khan to Dracula. After hiding out for several years (leaving them oddly absent from having to work for the likes of Hitler or Stalin), 3 of the pint sized ducklings (Kevin, Stuart and Bob) go off to America in search of a new master in the 60's. Thus they go on an adventure, finding a new master called Scarlett Overkill, stealing a crown and accidentally taking over England.
The plot never actually takes any form, never remaining focused for long with the small yellow blobs getting distracted by every passing thing. But with the slapstick and chaos of the minions you don't really need one. It's less of a story and more of a series of sketches for the minions to put them into different situations going from hanging out with a family of bank robbers to being stepped on by the Beatles in Abbey Road.
An unexpected joy of this film ends up being the soundtrack. Not just because of the great Minion renditions (it starts off on a particular high note with the minions singing the 20th Century Fox theme), but also just a great selection of classic 60's tracks that should fill parents with nostalgia and introduce kids to some classic tracks.
However the film does have one key problem, which is there's too much from the minions. Their slapstick is funny, but it's not enough to carry the film for an hour and a half on it's own and ends up feeling worn out towards the end. The Despicable Me films mixed in Gru's brand of humour where he played the victim, that stopped the minions slapstick from becoming repetitive. It's also lacking the same emotional core that a character like Gru brought to Despicable Me, with his bittersweet story of a man becoming a father being far more engaging than a crazed villain wanting to own a crown.
But whilst the minions work much better as side characters, this spin off never feels like a misfire. It still has enough humour to be fun for the family, but just lacks the same level of rewatchability as previous films of the franchise.
Dragonball Evolution (2009)
Don't Bother With This. Just Watch The Anime.
Dragon Ball is an epic saga of a kid named Goku, who travels the world to find 7 mystical balls of power to stop them from falling in to the hands of evil. In his travels he constantly overcomes his own limits to defeat any opponent in his way, protect his friends and become the greatest fighter in the world. It was a great anime that had many memorable characters and some of the most impressive action sequences on television. Dragonball Evolution on the other hand is an hour and a half of disappointment, watching as franchise that has such an enormous fan-base be ruined, losing all the charm that made the anime it was based on great to begin with.
Obviously it's understandable for a film adaptation to make changes from the source material, but there is so little here that even resembles the anime that it's based on. It does keep the basic story the same. Goku and his friends are still trying to collect the dragon balls to prevent them from falling in to the hands of the likes of the evil Lord Piccolo. They also try to incorporate various other mythos from the show like the Kamehameha wave, but they fail at doing it well. All of the explanations of the universe and Goku's powers are rushed over so quickly that people new to the series will be lost and loyalists of the franchise will be annoyed at how poorly these mythos are incorporated in the film.
Also whilst the characters share the same names as their anime counterparts, this is about as far as their similarities go. Goku's personality is changed from being a light minded fool who cares about only doing good and being the best fighter he can be, to being a typical teenage kid who spends most of the film having a crush on Chi Chi. Roshi's nothing more than a generic master who Goku finds. Bulma is just a Lara Croft type character without any of the attitude that made her character enjoyable. The character closest to their anime counterparts ends up being Lord Piccolo, since at the least he looks like the villain that he's based on. Everyone else suffers from worse miscasting than The Last Airbender movie with all the cast having nothing in common with their respective roles.
It's also a dreadfully made film on a technical level, with director James Wong taking the epic world destroying fights from the original anime and turning them into amateuristic sequences that seem like they were made by a film student. They use a mixture of awful choreography with the fighters moving slowly and fast paced editing where each shot will last no more than a second at a time. Plus for a film with a 45 million dollar budget, the effects really suck. When the 2D cartoon that the film is based on looks more realistic than the effects do, it's pretty obvious that you screwed up.
This film fails in every way. It won't appeal well to people unfamiliar to Dragon Ball since the characters and story are so generic, whilst being a terribly made mess of a film. And fans are certain to hate it since it fails to recapture anything that made the franchise great to begin with. It doesn't even feel like a real film. It feels like one of those parody trailers you see in something like The Simpsons that spoof how bad Hollywood is at with adaptations got turned into a real film. If you want to enjoy Dragon Ball just stick with the anime.
Blade II (2002)
Cool Characters and Great Action
After the great success of the first Blade film and before the horrific disaster that was Blade Trinity, Guillermo Del Toro took the reigns of the Blade franchise for it's second outing to turn Blade into the first Marvel movie franchise. In spite of this being Torro's first venture in to action, he proves that he is clearly suited for the genre already having the trademarks that make him such a great director, including his flair for cool designs and his ability to create stylish and focused action sequences.
Taking place 2 years after the first Blade film, a mutation has occurred within the vampire community that causes them to mutate into a new species called Reapers. These creatures are stronger, faster and have a far more extreme blood lust, sucking both the blood of vampires and humans at a rapid rate. Thus Blade and his team of vampire hunters are recruited by an elite squad of vampires called the blood pack, to hunt down the Reapers and save both vampires and humans from this new threat.
Once again Snipes is on top form as the Blade, bringing the right mix of humour and sword wielding mastery needed to bring the comic book character to life on screen. But the best new addition to the film is the inclusion of the Bloodpack. Their incorporation into the film creates an interesting dynamic as they were originally trained to kill the daywalker, but put in this new situation are forced to work with him. Thus we're basically waiting for the timb bomb to go off throughout the film, waiting for the inevitable double crossing to begin. Although whilst they all look like the badass vampires they're supposed to and the team as a whole are effective in the story, several members of the team don't seem to get any real screen time. Out of the 8 in the team only 2 of them are being given more than the bare minimum amount of dialogue, making it too clear the rest of them are the vampire equivalent to a nameless red coat.
But the members of the Bloodpack that the film does give time to live up to their badass looks. Ron Perlman plays the leader Reinhardt, who brings his usual tough guy attitude to the role, whilst sharing a cool unfriendly rivalry with Blade, where the pair constantly try to oneup each other. Then there's Nyssa who acts as the main liaison with Blade and his team. Whilst her role in the film is fairly typical as the standard love interest in spite of sharing little chemistry with Snipes, the character still has some great moments through her fight scenes and an interesting side plot exploring where her loyalties should lie.
Toro takes all his talents from directing horror movies into the action genre, with the Reapers slit lipped mouths looking like they could have been ripped directly from a horror film. He's also able to adapt to the action genre by incorporating a constant sense of movement in his camera movement, making the already fast paced swordplay even more exciting. The only downside with the action is the CGI, which at times is rather chunky and ends up making Blade look more like an action figure. However it's so well implemented to maintain the flow of the fight that the effects never distract from the enjoyment of the scene.
Not everything in this film works, with some characters having no real purpose and some poorly explained story elements like Whistler coming back from death in the first film. But what does work is so great that it's easy to look past these flaws. This is by far the best Blade film by delivering on all the cool things that made the first film so enjoyable, with it's fast paced action and awesome designs, whilst improving on the formula with even more impressive action sequences and a great story that leads up to an extremely satisfying pay off.
Another Weak Sandler Film, Just With a Bigger Effects Budget
Video games really don't have a good reputation when it comes to having film adaptations. Sure we have a few good one's like Wreck it Wralph or Scott Pilgrim, but for the most part they seem to go down the same route as the Super Mario Bros movie where the film loses all the charm that made the game enjoyable to begin with. Part of the reason for this is they always seem to be put into dreadful hands. This time those dreadful hands are Happy Madison Productions, Sandler's film studio that have been producing his cinematic turds for 15 years now. And once again they have produced another insulting comedy, lacking any real charm and being light on laughs.
The plot unfolds because back in the 80's NASA sent several video games in to space to communicate to extraterrestrials. But their message of peace was misinterpreted as a declaration of war and the aliens send several video game characters to attack the earth. Thus President Cooper (Kevin James) recruits his childhood friend and gaming champion Brenner (Adam Sandler) to fight off the alien invasion.
Right away we've really got to suspend disbelief to accept the plot. Not just because of having to accept the poorly explained justification of why the aliens are attacking as video games, but also buying Kevin James as president of the USA. It's never explained how he became President, but unless Donald Trump was the only other candidate there's no way he could've gotten voted into the position. Especially considering he plays the same annoying character he always does of the dumb guy who does nothing but hang out with Adam Sandlers character.
None of the other characters are much better. Sandler has as much charisma as a plank of wood. Josh Gad's performance as the nerdy friend is annoying from the start. The only one who gets even a chuckle is Dinklage as the over the top douchey rival, but even that gets worn out quickly. Also just like all Sandler productions we get a lot of offensive stereotypes. This time the focus is on geek stereotypes, like gamers are antisocial weirdo's who have no lives and live in their mothers basement. Albeit this isn't the most offensive stereotype, but it's still insulting one of the film's biggest audiences.
Besides this there are other typical offensive representations we see in all Sandler movies, like women being nothing more than eye candy. In fact there are only two female characters in lead roles. The first is Michelle Monaghan who's in the film only to give Sandlers character somebody to flirt with. The other is Ashley Benson who plays one of the video game characters who comes to life, who not only doesn't get a single line of dialogue in the film but also ends up being a literal trophy for one of the characters.
Having some of gaming's most recognisable icons, you'd really think the film would actually do something good with them. But it doesn't. The gaming characters will just attack Sandler and co. only for the humans to fight back and that's it. It never tries to actually make any jokes with these characters, but instead does the same thing as a film like Disaster Movie where it will try to get a laugh by just naming something popular. The only video game icon they do anything else with is Q*bert, who is one of their trophies to help them. But all they have him do is typical annoying Sandler humour like watching Q*bert wet himself with pixels and some weak slapstick.
Although at least the gaming icons they use actually look good. It's not like the Mario Bro's Movie where Goomba's looked like a pear on the body of Frankenstein and instead the 3d CGI models maintain the charm of the original designs. But to me this makes the film even worse than typical Sandler comedies because it ends up feeling like such wasted potential. Had a better production been given the chance to use these characters, we might have got a charming homage to video games. But instead we got a typical Sandler comedy, just as unfunny as always but with a bigger effects budget.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
"Did You Guys Ever Watch The Show?"
We're all familiar with the mass fandom of sci-fi shows like Star Trek. Even if you've never seen it, you've undoubtedly seen the cult fandom of the show who embrace the source material almost like a life style with some going as far as to learn an entire language based around the show. It's the knowledge of this fandom that makes Galaxy Quest so enjoyable. It combines its parody of typical sci-fi clichés, with a deconstruction of the fandoms that such shows have inspired.
The film starts off at a convention for a TV show that's very similar to a show like Star Trek. Just like any comic con the place is packed with people dressed up as typical Sci-Fi characters and flocking for the chance to meet their favourite characters from the show. This includes Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) a Shakespearean style actor, who's fed up with being known as the Spock type alien from the show and wants to take on more serious roles. Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) who played the blonde airhead character who had no real role on the show other than to look pretty. And the only actor to thrive in the fandom, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) the ex lead of the show who gets all the attention at the cons and approaches his popularity with a typically cocky attitude.
Whilst at the convention they encounter a group of oddballs who turn out to be an alien race called the Thermians, a species of squid like creatures who use a special device that gives them a human form. They received broadcasts of the show in space but have mistaken the episodes as "historical documents" and believe that these actors really are the characters that they were on the show and worship them as heroes. Thus they recruit the actors to defend them in a battle against a terrifying reptilian species.
There are many jokes in the films where it's important to have some familiarity with sci-fi shows like Star Trek. For example one of the best running gags in the film involves Rockwell's character fearing for his life on every dangerous mission he goes on since nobody knows his name and fears that he's an expendable character. And there's even more gags that only a person with serious familiarity with the show would be able to get.
But what makes this film so great is that you could enjoy this film even if you had no familiarity with any of the things that they were referencing. It's characters are still fun, memorable and exist in their own right. Plus the costumes and effects are so great that it's even led to a small fandom somewhat similar to the likes of which the film was paying homage to that can be enjoyed by both fans of the genre and newcomers to it.