Great action, vivid animation and fun references throughout.
Great action, vivid animation and fun references throughout.
Not gonna lie, I'm disappointed on almost every level. What was heartwarming about the original "Wreck-It Ralph" is lost here. Yeah, it may be ambitious, but it's a waste of the Ralph/Vanellope relationship, the inherent humor of the arcade culture is gone and Disney hijacked the movie for their own (horrifying) studio marketing. Seriously, the Rodent's footprint is massive in this movie.
This is nothing short of an adrenaline rush, where every action scene seems to outdo the last. It's solidly-paced, funny, brutal and the fight choreography is unbelievable (what John Wick does with that library book is a thing of violent beauty). It's a sequel that's comfortable in the already-established world and just proceeds to roll out the action.
And I am a willing supporter.
Where I was lukewarm on the original, this is much more charming, and I can see this becoming another Despicable Me-esque franchise. I'm ready for more.
But even while watching this, I appreciated the movie on its technical merits. It's beautifully shot (especially if yellow's your color), and Jake Gyllenhaal is fascinating in a dual-role. It can't be easy playing your own doppelgänger, all the while making it an existential crisis.
This is the third movie I've seen from Denis Villeneuve, and even though I have no interest in another "Dune", I'd sit through it for his name alone.
Nothing about this movie can be neatly placed into a box, and that's almost a defining character trait. It's engaging -- no doubt -- but the long stretches of quiet will surprise you. I'd recommend this solely on the basis that you'll have no idea how it will end.
This is Kevin Smith having his Hollywood access and eating it too. He goes after Tinseltown with sharpened knives and a gleeful smirk, and it makes for a solid vehicle for his two mainstay stoners.
With a twisty screenplay and an aesthetic that's equal parts "Blade Runner" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", the movie deposits you in the thick of a who-dunnit, and you don't really have time to care about all the Pokémon goings-on. I certainly didn't walk into this movie as an expert (haven't touched the fandom in twenty years), but still managed to find plenty within to entertain. Reynolds is his usual self without going overboard, and the story is involving from the beginning; at times even touching. I liked these characters, I liked the environment and I'd do it all again.
All that being said, this is another shining example of Tom Cruise's star power in full effect.
Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough live as one in the wilderness, evil visits upon them for senseless reasons, and devastating loss ensues. After that, it's all about revenge.
And it's here that the movie fires on all cylinders, putting Cage's overacting to refreshing use as a man who's lost it all and prepares for war. I'm trying not to spoil anything here, but there's a particular scene in Cage's bathroom that encapsulates the entire movie. And it's nothing but screaming. Jesus, what a scene.
That one-sheet image gives you an idea of what you're in for (especially when you see Cage's blood-caked face and know that there's a chainsaw fight involved). But the end result still threw me for a loop. The first 75 minutes are tranquil, meditative; that droning score is the only hint of coming violence. And then the movie shifts gears entirely and you're in for a nightmare. Kinda like Mad Max forges a mighty axe and wreaks vengeance as the ambient noise drones on. It's a torturous fever dream and I can't think of anything else like it.
Everyone knows what this movie's best feature is (and I'll get to that in a second), but the level of quality in its animation is staggering. The color saturation is purely eye-candy, and it makes Agrabah a memorable Disney kingdom. Even the characters (some of the whitest Arabs ever put to film) have personality in their movements that you just don't expect.
These assets by themselves make this a worthwhile movie, but it's Robin Williams who blasts it out of the park. His overstimulated execution leaves an indelible mark on this company's history, and the lion's share of laughs come directly from him. It's a gifted, delightful and energetic performance, and it's easy to lay the movie's vast appeal at his feet.
But honestly, the whole thing is wildly entertaining.
But here's why I would highly recommend this to anyone and their mother: this is the kind of villainous turn that DeVito was seemingly born to play. He's got the face, mannerisms and voice to really epitomize the slimy cretin who's trying to get away with murder; almost the living embodiment of the wicked sneer. This is something akin to his role in "Romancing the Stone" but he is undoubtedly enjoying his time making this movie. It is pure delight.
But the kids in my theater (my 9 year-old included) really liked it. My daughter enjoyed herself, even being moved at one point. And Kelly Clarkson is impressive in her own right.
Best I can offer is actually wait til it's on Netflix, then the ticket price won't sting. But it's harmless.
I liked watching "Endgame". It was clearly the more emotional of the Infinity saga, the villain was better handled, and there were times when I was firmly butt-in-seat for whatever came next. Did it need to crash the 3-minute threshold? Good lord, no! I never glanced at my watch (which I guess says something) but it's not without its draggy segments. And as much as I wanted the team to get back at the bad guy and make things right, I was more interested in the time-travel, fan service and movie-hopping than I was in the big battle scene.
Don't get me wrong; I know this is a milestone. Ten years' worth of franchise-building capped in one movie; filling the imposing shoes of vanquishing Thanos; raking in a billion dollars. It was less escapism for me than it was witnessing history in the making. That much was palpable. And this a good movie, but it's hard to say if it lives up the unbelievable hype.
For me, it's questionable.
And is it just me, or does "Not my tempo" belong up there with "Is it safe" as far as chilling lines go?
For such a peripheral character, Scott Lang has seemingly come from behind and is one of my favorite MCU players. Rudd and Lilly make for a great team.
Part of the film's appeal is the question of what would we do differently given the chance to relive our youth? That right there is an irresistible hook. Man, I really liked this movie!
For me, this doesn't hit the dizzying highs of "All the President's Men", but Newman and Field are more than capable -- and this movie stands as a sobering comment on the perils of reckless journalism.
But script-wise, this movie falls flat. The jokes are tired, the comedy's off-the-mark, and everyone involved really deserves better. The adult humor is a surprising turn, given the Animated Series' long shadow over this film, but that just makes things ... awkward.
It's a misfire.
*SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS*
Now for the (much) longer version. I appreciate the movie from a warts-and-all perspective; and there are definite flaws. For one, the entire Canto Bight sequence. I like the theme introduced, but it's a tangent that slows the movie down. That, and Benicio Del Toro. Just doesn't work for me. You could also make an argument against the general pacing of the film.
That said, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Particularly with Mark Hamill's performance; far and away the movie's shining star. He realized a broken Luke Skywalker and brought out the conflict and pain therein. His scenes with Daisy Ridley were among the best in the movie. I can't speak highly enough of him in this film. His finale still hits me square in the chest, and it stands in direct competition with Yoda's appearance for my very favorite scene (I can't tell you how excited I was to see Yoda again in the theater, put to phenomenal use; it's nothing short of a tonic).
There are issues I had with The Force Awakens that this (thankfully) addresses directly. I love that Rey's parents turned out to be nobodies (think about it, the last thing she should be is a Skywalker or a Kenobi); I love that undeveloped characters like Snoke and Phasma are summarily dealt with, giving the next movie freedom to move; and I love that Kylo Ren suddenly has purpose as a character.
The more I see this, the more I get the criticisms. Things that could've been done differently, better, etc. What I don't understand is the acute backlash. If anything, The Last Jedi just exposes the flaws of the last movie. Sure, Luke didn't get his heroic turn in the conventional sense, but neither did Han or Leia. They were just used as background players for the new generation, but they deserved so much more. Luke gets shafted the most; The Force Awakens centers on "Where is Luke?" but all we get is a wordless non-ending.
And why is the Rebellion (Resistance) right back where it started? They were so quick to copy the original trilogy that Han, Leia and Luke are fighting and running again for no good reason. Everyone's old and tired and repeating the past. This never sat well with me, and because of the circumstances (R.I.P. Carrie), our heroes are dead.
As much as "The Last Jedi" leaves us (me) with a sense of hope, I am cynical. I don't doubt for a second that Abrams will retcon Rey's heritage (noooo, Ren was lying!) and probably bring back Snoke. The desire to play it safe is strong with Disney - especially with their knee-jerk reaction to Solo's underperformance. Abrams is all-too-willing to wield the nostalgia bait, and it makes me nervous about Episode IX.
But here's what keeps me engaged: I'm pretty sure Luke will return. And even in Force ghost form, that's enough to buy a ticket for the next one.
Outside of that, the reason to see this movie is the wealth of uncovered costume-test footage with Nicolas Cage and Tim Burton. This paints a different tale than just the pictures we've had on the internet for so many years. Still would've made for a whacko movie. The director conducts a stilted interview with Burton himself (poor lighting and all), but give the man credit; have you ever heard a Burton commentary? They're not easy to get through.
The Death of Superman Lives is worth a watch, and it'll hold your attention, but you can get by with Smith's testimony of events in one of his on-stage conversations. And he makes for better subject matter.