Tag: Adventure

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

¨It only took twenty years, but we finally have a Jumanji sequel…” said no one ever about this movie, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

Especially since everyone of course remembers that Zathura: A Space Adventure totally exists!

But also because when this movie was announced, a lot of people got pretty angry. Saying things like it would tarnish Robin Williams´ legacy, that it was changing too many things, that it didn´t feel like Jumanji, and everything else. People seem to think that movie studios were sitting on this idea for years, just waiting for Williams to fall over so they could move on. Williams did not own the rights to Jumanji.

When I saw the trailer initially I was actually a little bit excited. Getting sucked into a video game is not a new prompt. It has been done many times as one-off TV show episodes, entire shows have been based on them, and movies as well, but it feels like when it happens it is usually shit. And since I like a lot of these actors, I had a bit more hope for this one.

Group
A diverse cast of characters in a jungle, WHAT YEAR IS IT?!

Don’t worry purists, this film takes place in the same universe as the first Jumanji film! As it starts in the mid 90’s, boardgame found on a beach. However, board games are lame, so the kid doesn’ play it and goes back to his video games. So what’s an evil sentient-esque game supposed to do but morph into a playing system? That is how they will get the kids hooked.

Flash forward to modern times, and we have four kids, very distinct histories and likes, who end up getting detention at the same time. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is our nerd/video game lover, we have The Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) who is good at sports, Bethany (Madison Iseman) a popular cute girl addicted to her phone, and Martha (Morgan Turner) who also is nerdy but more reclusive. They have a task of removing staplers from hundreds of magazines in a basement, hooray child labor! They of course instead find this old video game, all agree to play, because fuck work, and lo and behold, they get sucked into a video game!

Now, they are all the avatars they chose as their characters. Spencer is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), good at everything, while The Fridge is Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), the backpack guy sidekick, Martha is now Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) a fighter good at fighting, and Bethany has become Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), an overweight cartologist.

They must work together to balance their strengths and weaknesses in their new bodies to save the jungles of Jumanji, and also, get themselves back home.

Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Nick Jonas, Marc Evan Jackson, and Colin Hanks.

Shock
The Rock showing emotion, WHAT YEAR IS IT?

As previously mentioned, most “jump into video game movies” are poorly made. Just look at the third Spy Kids movie. The problem with all of these films or tv shows is they just never seem to “get” video games. They make them awkward puzzle based challenges, but mostly a lot of…non gaming things. The closest we have to a movie understanding video games has been Edge of Tomorrow.

If there is anything you can say about Jumanji 2, it is that it at least understands video games. Our characters have multiple lives, sharing lives, strengths and weaknesses, there are obvious levels, there are boundaries, there are goals, NPCs, weird interactions. It feels like people interacting with a video game world for the most part, that is wonderful.

It is wonderful, until they contradict themselves. For example, one of my biggest issues with this movie is Dr. Smolder Bravestone. He has no weaknesses, and his strengths include Fighting, Strength, Endurance, Speed, and being Fearless. Yeah, he has a bunch. And all the characters in avatar form obviously have strengths or weaknesses that are not normal. But hey, Ruby can actually fight despite being weak in real life. And Smolder can run fast, jump high, and all that.

Except for apparently his Fearless trait. Because a recurring plot point is watching Johnson scream at the slightest and smallest of animals, running in terror, over and over again. It causes one of his deaths. It is such a ridiculous oversight, it really bugs me because everything else was on point and this one felt glaring.

Overall, the movie is just okay still. The video game aspects are fine, the plot is really week. It doesn’t have an overall sense of awe or wonder like its predecessors. Everything is of course just extremely CGI’d and action scenes, with too many of the scenes focusing on human bad guys instead of swell animal problems. We don’t even get natural disasters, despite the several plant or weather based issues that Jumanji gave us.

A fine film, it just still could have been a lot better.

2 out of 4.

Leap!

2017 has been a shit year for animation. That is basically how I begin everything for animation at the end of the year, by the way.

At this point the only films I gave okay ratings to were Coco and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which is saying a lot about my opinions on these films.

Well, Leap! was released at the end of last year in France and Europe, but didn’t make it to America until August. I had been waiting for a bit and waiting even more. When it finally came out, no one seemed to care, due to lack of advertising, and even I forgot about it.

It is one of those weird films that is already in English, but has a slightly different voice cast depending on the country. Not many changes were made, but the European version had Dane DeHaan as the boy lead. And honestly, without hearing it, it was probably a good change. We don’t need to hear 12 year olds with extra deep voices as if they are constantly pretending to be batman.

Dancer
Now if DeHaan had voiced the lead? I would pay extra for that uncomfortable version.

Felicie (Elle Fanning) is an orphan in a small French town, in a Church. She doesn’t want to be there of course, she wants to escape and become a famous dancer! Partially because the only thing she has from her mother is a dancing figure in a music box, her main treasure. Her best friend, Victor (Nat Wolff) also wants to escape with her. He has dreams of being an inventor and is focusing a lot of his efforts on a flying machine.

Well, Victor finds a flyer for a famous ballet school in Paris, so they decide they should run away and make it there! And they do!

But they immediately get separated, so Felicie is on her own to achieve her dreams. She finds the dance hall, sees an amazing dancer, but gets found out by the groundskeeper and almost given to the police, but a cleaning lady saves her. Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen) walks with a cane, clearly having once been a dancer and had her life ruined by something or another. She stays in the guest house of a mansion, she just also has to clean it up as well. And the owner, Regine (Kate McKinnon), is a huge bitch.

She is rich though, so she can be a bitch. She has raised a bitch daughter too, Camille (Maddie Ziegler), who just so happens to be a dancer. And because she is a bitch, Felicie steals her invite to the dance school and pretends to be Camille to get a shot of her dream coming true. She just has to be good enough every day to not be the one person cut, so she can have a feature spot in the upcoming Nutcracker show.

Also featuring the voices of Shoshana Sperling and Mel Brooks.

Friendship
Oh he is definitely in the “best friend for years until she loves me” role. Silly boy. This isn’t the 90’s anymore.

Leap! tells a very standard story about a girl and a boy running off to achieve their lofty ambitions, and do so, quite easily! How they both fall into their respective positions is meant to be quick and easy, which is part of the comedy and charm, so that is not an issue.

It has its moments, both funny and cute. The animation is fine, Victor makes a good comic relief, and Felicie a great go-getter lead! The film also had some Karate Kid moments, just to keep things interesting.

But the devil is in the details, and this film was a mess. I first noticed it on my own, after three very specific references happened, and I was curious if they all were around the same time. That would be, The Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and Sherlock Holmes. The first Holmes story was in 1887, the Eiffel tower started being built in 1887, but the Statue of Liberty was already in America in 1886. So to show it barely built at the same time as the Eiffel Tower was barely built is just wrong. And it had the statue already green, which is also quite annoying.

So I figured it must be set in 1887 and they had one mistake, sure. But apparently the film was set in 1979, years before all of these things. In addition to those facts, the dancers were trying out for a part in The Nutcracker, which came out in 1892. I learned the last fact and more from IMDB’s goof section, after I already found out these inconsistencies. If they are going to set the film in a lively part of the world and go for a realistic story, then it just seems terrible to have so many references just wrong.

Another aspect that just consistantly threw me off was the soundtrack. There five or more pop songs used as montage music mostly, including songs from Sia and Jepsen, and these things took me out of the experience. They never quite melded well with the scenes behind it. Given the subject matter, actual ballet, opera, classical, anything music wise like that would have felt better for the story.

Despite being called Leap!, this film was unable to rise above other animated films this year. It just ended up okay like the rest of the best.

2 out of 4.

Coco

Walt Disney Animation Studios have been on a kick lately, where they want simplistic, yet bold film titles, often in one word. Tangled. Frozen. Moana. Zootopia. Gigantic, which apparently isn’t going to happen anymore.

Disney isn’t officially doing Coco, Pixar is (Which is owned by Disney), who, outside of the franchise that should not be named, has mostly shied away from these sort of titles. Is Coco a sign of things to come for Pixar in the title department? It is hard to say, given the fact that its previous two movies, and next two movies are all sequels. Ugh.

I will note I experienced almost no hype for Coco. And that is because of its immediately similarity to The Book of Life. They aren’t even doppelganger films, because the other one came out years earlier, so it is just a bit odd to see such similar topics in animated films so close to each other. But the good news is, The Book of Life was only okay, I forgot basically all of it by now so it really didn’t mess with my opinion.

Strum
Guitars, afterlife, Mexico, love, sadness, revenge. Very similar films indeed.

Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach) has a sad story, but a strong one. She had a daughter, Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía), with her husband, who had more loves in the world than just his family. He left them, to become a singer and a star, and never returned. Poor Imelda had to raise Coco on her own, while also bringing home the bacon. She learned to make shoes and started her own shoe empire, going down her line of children.

Now, many years later, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is a 12 year old boy, and he loves music. He wants to play the guitar and sing, but there is a ban on music in his family, given the past incident. His Abuela (Renee Victor) is the main matriarch now, since his great-grandmother, Coco, is in a chair and doesn’t speak much.

Miguel idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), who is basically the Mexican Elvis in this film, extremely famous and well loved. But he has to keep his obsession secret. Well, due to some shenanigans involving a dead man’s guitar, Miguel finds him in the underworld! And on this, Dia de los Muertos, when the dead are trying to get back to the real world, not the other way around.

Miguel is going on an adventure, on the run from disapproving and dead realities, while he searches for his great great grandfathers approval, so that he can return to the real world AND play music officially. And he has bumbling Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) to help him, who just wants someone to post his photo in the real world so he can cross over to the real world just one time before no one remembers him.

Also featuring the voices of many others, including Edward James Olmos, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Herbert Siguenza, Lombardo Boyar, and Sofía Espinosa.

Familia
Well, Miguel doesn’t LOOK like his ancestors.

It is interesting that this film came out in Thanksgiving weekend and not like, the week before Dia de los Muertos like the film takes place on. Usually films go into effort to come out near specific holidays, but Pixar needed that Thanksgiving break money. It was released in Mexico before the day at least, so it has been out for almost a month somewhere else in the world.

On an emotional level, Coco hits on most of the cylinders. It should be a relatively easy feat, given the subject of DEATH and loss being its main focus. Relatives dying? Wives, kids, parents, whatever the level, it will get people choked up. It had a diverse soundtrack of authentic sounds, and despite Remember Me getting the most screen time (and one cry), my favorite song was Proud Corazón by the end, which tied up everything with a nice bow, as these films tend to do.

Miguel’s relationship with his various family members feels real on the level that a 12 year old boy might feel, including the parts where no one lets him talk. But adults refusing to listen to children in films end up usually being a pet peeve, as they just create lazy plot situations where communication does not occur and leads to all of the conflict.

Coco is a beautiful film, physically and emotionally, but it just seems to falter on the smaller elements. Ideas I couldn’t get out of my mind. Timing these events on Dia de los Muertos seemed to have hurt it instead of helping it. On this day, the dead want to go to the real world to party, hang out, get trinkets. And yet the city of the dead is so fucking full of people. We see a very small shanty area of folks who can’t cross because they don’t have pictures. But all of the biggest underworld celebrities are just still there? All the citizens are having their own parties in the place they are stuck so many days of the year?

It seems like a minor nitpick, and maybe it is, but it really distracted me most of the film. There were issues with the spirit animals, in that apparently one is so much more powerful than the others that it can just murder in the underworld and be basically okay. We have the fear of falling to death ruined by a last minute save, that would have still killed the person falling based on how they did it.

And we had SO MANY times when slow decisions were being made just toe extend the film. At least three times we had moments where the viewer would assume that everyone is fine now, time to fix things, and then wham, nope. Whether it be from last second pointless arguments, lack of communication, or just forgetting how to move.

The plot felt very lazy, so much that the film became more tearjerky than anything.

I love the culture of the film, I love the authentic voice actors, and how some of the songs were actually all in Spanish. Having this much of a multicultural element in a Pixar film is a welcome change (since most of their culture is inanimate/dead things with feelings). It just relied to heavily on that component and not enough on a decent plot.

And to bring us back to the beginning, Coco is not a good title for this film.

2 out of 4.

Smurfs: The Lost Village


The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2 were met with a lot of mixed results, especially on this site. But you know what? A lot of things really worked.

Like Hank Azaria as Gargamel. He was great as the voice and character himself and felt perfect. I also enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris as our human contact.

But the sequel bombed because it was a poor movie. However they blamed it on the real actors for whatever reason and promised that the next Smurfs movie would stay in Smurfs land. No real people, just CGI for everyone. And now we have Smurfs: The Lost Village as a sort of reboot on the franchise where people won’t realize that things are different.

Adventures
Hundreds of smurfs, and we will only focus on a handful of course.

In this movie we are reminded again that Smurfette (Demi Lovato) was created by Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) to find the smurfs and be evil, but Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) did some of that smurf magic to make her blonde, and thus, nicer. However, Smurfette feels weird because she doesn’t know what her smurf talent is. After all, all the men smurfs have an adjective to describe their talent, but her talent is just being a girl I guess.

After some fun time, Smurfette, Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), and Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer) find some other smurf like thing who runs into the forbidden forest, blocked by a huge wall. And through some plot, Gargamel finds out that in that forest is a hidden smurf village that no one knew about before. If he can’t get the close smurfs, he might as well get the ones that don’t even know he exist!

So now these smurfs go out on an adventure, alone, to try and race to the lost village to warn the smurfs about Gargamel before it is too late.

Also featuring Ariel Winter, Dee Bradley Baker, Ellie Kemper, Frank Welker, Julia Roberts, Meghan Trainer, and Michelle Rordriguez.

Girls
Blonde just has to stand out I guess. Blue all the way down otherwise.

Why is it really that whenever we get a smurfs movie, they can only handle an actual handful amount only, and never like 10 or more? Oh we get one off jokes for a few of the smurfs. Vanity and Nosy got a few jokes I guess, but everyone else was one scene and done for the most part. Such a goddamn waste when there are like a hundred of them. Such lazy writers. Clumsy being there is just for comic relief, at least Hefty and Brainy have a purpose.

Wilson does a terrible Gargamel. If Azoria was never Gargamel in the past, I don’t know if I would be saying that, but at least comparison, it is so much worse. It just feels like some dude talking, not an evil grouchy balding wizard. He has lost his snarl in this movie and never feels threatening.

The story itself is just so generic. The adventure has bullshit perils, generic bad plantlife and lacks any amount of creativity.

But the worst part is that the ending is complete crap. For whatever reason, Smurfette is suddenly immune to a spell from Gargamel because she really isn’t a smurf. However, that same spell worked on rats and Gargamel, who also aren’t smurfs, so I am not sure why that it is relevant. And apparently what that really means is that Gargamel can’t cast spells on her at all. And that is how the plot gets finished, because she saves everyone by tricking him. And it serves absolutely no logic at all.

There are few okay moments and decent jokes, but it is a huge shit show. And it is not because of any human people this time. Also, Demi Lovato as Smurfette is a poor man’s Katy Perry. It is true and you know it.

1 out of 4.

Thor: Ragnarok

Okay, Thor: The Dark World was sort of bad. I was caught up in Marvel hype at the time, but I still stand by my original Thor rating.

I love the god of Thunder, and I want Chris Hemsworth to be in many more movies, so I just ooze out happiness towards him, hoping everything is great and falling in love. Except for Blackhat. And The Huntsman: Winter’s War. And Ghostbusters. Okay, so lately Thor is all he has going for him outside of Rush (is it the four letter word theme?!).

But that is not why I am excited about Thor: Ragnarok. I am floor to the wall excited thanks to Taika Waititi.

Who? The indie film New Zealand director who gave us What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (one of my top films last year). This man is so good at his craft, bringing natural humor and an adventure out of little. The fact that he was given a Marvel film to helm, to put his own spin on things, blows my minds, and honestly, I just could not fucking wait.

lightning
Basically, Thor is now full on Rayden.

Ragnarok takes place sometimes after the events of other movies. Thor (Hemsworth) is roaming the stars, leaving Midgard (Earth) behind for a bit in their squabbles, as he makes sure life around the Realms is swell. He is having nightmares about Asgard falling in flames, and he would rather not have that happen to his home.

After dealing with threats, he returns to Asgard and finds it complacent in the suffering of the realm. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is missing. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is clearly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise, not actually dead like everyone assumed. But that is only the beginning of the issues.

It turns out that Thor has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who has been imprisoned by Odin for some time. She is set to return, to return Asgard to a machine of death and destruction to conquer the cosmos. The Asgard of the past was a scary place, everyone would prefer peace time now, but it is hard for that to occur when she shows up on their doorstep, stronger than the other Asgardians and willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

Thor and Odin are expelled from their realm, with mixed results. Odin would like to survive and run, while Thor would prefer to get out of his new reality, defeat his sister and finally claim the throne he has denied in the past. I mean, he has to, or else everyone will die or something.

We get a few new characters into the story, including the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldbloom), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge (Karl Urban).

Also featuring the Warriors Three (sort of) (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano), the voice of Clancy Brown, Rachel House, Taika Waititi (he is in his own movie, yes), Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a few cameos to keep on your toes.

War
This is probably what I would wear if I got into LARPing.

Thor is such an odd character to make films about. The goal is to make sure the films have their own unique feel to them and are not a generic action superhero film. This means that Thor gets to go to other planets and realms, but not like the Guardians of the Galaxy, as his is more solo based and war based. GotG is more bad dudes all around.

Years ago this was being noted of being a sort of Road Trip Marvel film, which is not a very apt description. We get to see different areas, different people, at various amounts, while Thor deals with his friends and family tearing itself apart. Unfortunately like a lot of those films, some areas spend too much time, seemingly drag on, when the viewer might just wish it to move its ass along eventually. Namely, the trash planet with the gladiators. Sure, some cool stuff happens there. Some sweet characters. But damn it, get going, get out, let´s get this plot going!

And there is a lot of cool stuff in this film! Thor at the end of the movie is a complete badass, finally rocking out in such an epic way that it feels like a Thor makeover, and I don´t just mean his hair. Hulk is given a decent amount of screen time and gets to show off. Loki is around, which is okay. Hela likes to throw spikes or whatever, and I guess she is strong doing that. Heimdall finally has a purpose in these movies, but still not a lot of purpose. And cameos!

Then there are questions like: Where is Lady Sif? She is a major part of the Thor crew, but she is basically replaced with Valkyrie and we are supposed to be cool with it? (She could not make the filming time, and they just ignored her existence. The Warriors Three at least had parts though).

The questions brought up at the end of The Dark World with Odin/Loki were really quickly dealt with as well. TDW had a very ominous ending and I have been waiting many years for this to come about and it was a disappointment.

Again, the film has tons of fun moments. It does a lot of things right, and it is quite hilarious and badass at various points. It is just a bit too long, rushes through the better things, drags at others, and ignores characters without a good reason.

3 out of 4.

My Little Pony: The Movie

Over four years ago, I reviewed a film on a whim. I had to drive almost an hour to get to the theater (which meant something pre-Houston days), for the only screen time it was showing. Something like 12:30 pm on a Saturday. A very limited release, I guess you could say.

That movie was My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. It was my first foray into the subject. Oh, I heard about it before on the internet, and heard about bronies, but I never thought about watching the show before. I just went to see the movie because, damn it, I watch everything, so why not that as well? I went in blind. I didn’t have any background on the show.

Now sure, after it I watched a few episodes and thought it was okay. Nothing I would binge watch, but something I could watch occasionally. And now, years later, I have seen tons of episodes over seasons. I understand the characters now. I have made art with the characters. But I am still not up to some obsessed level with the show, because I haven’t seen most of it. Just parts of episodes here and there. The kids have seen a lot more than me.

But I feel qualified (As fuck!) to review My Little Pony: The Movie. New art style, same ponies, music, and fun. I was excited for this. I took my whole family to this. My youngest daughter, who is two? This is now her first movie ever seen in a movie theater.

I was excited and ready to go.

Friendship
I just really wanted to find out if Friendship was still magic.

The story starts us off with Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and Spike (Cathy Weseluck), properly freaking out because there is about to be a Friendship Festival, with all the kingdoms and princess and even goddamn derpy all excited. They need to highlight friendship, so that everyone can be so fucking magical. For whatever reason, the highlight of the festival is a pony, Songbird Serenade (Sia) singing. She feels stressed, but it is okay, because she has her FRIENDS to help her. They got this. Rarity (Tabitha St. German), Applejack, Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman).

Well, turns out friendship can’t do everything, all the time, right away. Because a few storm clouds start to gather, even though Twilight asked for good weather. Maybe she didn’t friend enough of the people?! Inside the storm clouds are some sweet airships, apparently led by Commander Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt)! With a name like that, of course she is fucking evil. She is a unicorn, with a broken horn. The saddest. With a head minion Grubber (Michael Pena), they work for The Storm King (Liev Shreiber), and Tempest goes and freezes 3 of the princesses! I don’t even have to tell you which one is able to escape.

The last words they heard were to find the Queen of the Hippos. Huh. Okay. Well, if that is the way to save everyone, then that is what they will do. And on the way, they will find a singing cat (Taye Diggs), some bird sky pirates led (Zoe Saldana), some water horse thing (Kristin Chenoweth) and her mom (Uzo Aduba).

Friends
Guys. I think friendship is back on the table.

Like the subtitle suggests, this certainly is a whole movie. 100 minutes long, big adventure, tons of fun, a beautiful heart, that is faithful and strong with…um, kindness. That last bit will only make sense to some of you.

They have about five or six songs, the best one from Rainbow dash about being awesome. A couple of decent ones, and a few forgettable, including Sia’s songs. Which on that note, Sia is my first real dislike of the film. Oh cool, they made a pony that looks like…Sia as a horse. Why couldn’t they have just made a singing pony by Sia be a pony? Kind of just feels shoe horned.

The story and plot is actually pretty good while also still being easy to follow. It isn’t entirely original, but it does some good things. The biggest problem with the story comes from Twilight Sparkle, our main character. The writers just totally seem to disregard her. She acts totally out of character from my point of view. Why? to advance the plot. And that sort of thing can really anger someone.

In a movie one can easily argue about how a character would act. But with 7 seasons behind us, it is easy to figure out what Twilight would do. They could have set it up better to better explain her actions, but she comes across as stupid, shallow, and certainly not the PRINCESS. OF. FRIENDSHIP.

My other biggest gripe? A totally huge disparity when it comes to pony importance. Of course Twilight is the most important, sure. But not too far after her is Pinkie Pie in terms of lines, jokes, and plot advancement. Then not far after, Rainbow Dash. But after that? Much further down, very far down, come our other three ponies. They basically exist as extremely minor characters with an occasional joke or reference. It was odd. Balance the main characters before you add an equal number of characters for celebrity sake.

Fans of the show should still enjoy it, minus the straight up murder of Twlight’s actions. I’m sure I will end up watching it again.

2 out of 4.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

I hate Luc Bessson. I probably have said that at least a thousand times in my life at to this point. I have also already said that he hasn’t made anything good since The Fifth Element, which was of course 20 years ago, and relevant to the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Because I went into Valerian and I expected to hate it. I expected it to be somehow a Eurotrash movie, but in Space. I didn’t have any fond reasons to love the leads at all, and was just ready to be scathing. But then I didn’t hate it. I didn’t dislike it either. At the lowest I knew it would be an average rating, but not sure if it could land higher.

I did know that I had to go and rewatch The Fifth Element before I wrote this review. Because in all honesty, I hadn’t seen it since it came out when I was a kid, and I remembered nothing except for the intro scenes. And after going back and watching it, I sort of shrugged me shoulders and sighed, remembering it to be better than that.

Two takeaways from this intro: I guess I only really really like Leon, The Professional from Besson, and I don’t hate Valerian.

Boob Armor
But I did hate how stupid looking they decided to make her armor.

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are team of space soldier ranger things. They work for some intergalactic agency and have to do missions. In space! Pretty standard police stuff. We get to see them doing some space mission after Valerian wakes up from a space dream where a planet of blue things get wrecked super hard.

From this mission, Valerian and Laureline, gain a sweet pearl of extreme energetic power, and a cool little lizard who makes copies of anything it eats. I think you all can put two and two together to see why this is an intense combination. And this is the cause of all of their problems. Because when they return back to Alpha (aka the City of a Thousand Planets. A floating, giant space station that has inhabitants from all over to create one massive entity in unity), shit starts hitting the fan. A wiped out race of aliens appear and steal the lizard, but they use non lethal means. The main captain is taken and people who have no idea what is going on are in charge.

But don’t worry. We have Valerian and Laureline, who will take turns saving each other, to get to the bottom of this mess.

Also featuring Alain Chabat, Clive Owen, Elizabeth Debicki, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, John Goodman, Kris Wu, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rihanna, Rutger Hauer, and Sam Spruell.

Aliens
Stare deeply into the eyes of the Blue Dhalsim.

I have put off writing this review for over a week. I have reviews that come out next week that I have already written before this one, it is just so hard.

The thoughts I had when I left the theater: Well, I don’t hate it. But do I love it? Is it average?

It is so damn hard to tell. There is quite a lot for someone to like in this film, and almost an equal number to dislike. So…Here…we…go!

Dislikes:

  • DeHaan is not a bad actor, but he is not great in this film. Far too much of his dialogue is spent trying to badly woo Delevingne and it just drags on. His voice is way too gruff for his boyish face, like he is trying to play Batman. He worked for A Cure For Wellness, but it is hard to like him here.
  • Delevingne, for the most part, is a bad actress. She isn’t great here either, but they don’t give her a lot to work with. Her character is weakly written, despite being an integral part of the team. Her name should be part of the movie, not just focused on the boy hero. But also, it is like her role is one entire eye roll.
  • Goodman was wasted in this film, his voice was great for the character, but they implied he would have a bigger impact on the movie and then he…never came back.
  • The Alpha station got really annoying. All of these special biomes and places to live, so of course we have a couple parts of the plot where our characters can rush through EVERY SINGLE ONE MENTIONED. Doing the “look at all the stuff in here!” and making sure it all matters instead of just keeping it small scale and letting stuff happen in the future. I had a similar issue with Zootopia, all these biomes, MAKE SURE WE HIT THEM ALL.
  • Related to points 1 and 2, Delevingne and DeHaan had terrible chemistry.

Likes:

  • What a goddamn introduction to he film. A nice, beach and ocean planet. A tribe of native aliens. In my screener there was a mess up with the intro, where we couldn’t see their dialogue and subtitles, and guess what, IT WASN’T NECESSARY. A story was told, it was awe inspiring, it was great, quality, film.
  • The CGI for the most part was always on par as well. A ton of visual effects and they helped the universe, they didn’t hurt it. A lot of unique elements too, maybe from the comic, maybe not, but it was pleasing to look at.
  • The plot wasn’t terrible. It had quite a few good elements and a lot of random twists in the middle. No one would guess where this film is going, even if you could guess where it ends.
  • This hurts to say this, which makes it more true. Rihanna was in this film, and her character was fun. It was fun and Rihanna was completely fine in it. She didn’t take away from the movie, although how she exited the movie seemed unnecessary.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this movie. What I am left with is realizing this is a step in the right direction for Besson. Another of these films with a more focused story and planet or planets could be amazing. And I wouldn’t even care if he replaced the leads, I swear. It is not terrible, despite pretty bad elements. It is just totally okay.

2 out of 4.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Third times the charm?

Well, that is a weird phrase to apply to this situation. But it is one I have heard quite a lot.

After all, this is our third Spider-Man actor in 18 years. The problem with that phrase is that it implies the other times were not charming. But damn it, most people still talk highly about Spider-Man 1 and Spider-Man 2, especially the sequel. Just because the third one was a dud doesn’t taint the whole.

And for The Amazing Spider-Man? Shit, I liked the first one, and the sequel was disappointing, but Andrew Garfield was still pretty good as a Spider-Man.

People have just really wanted Spider-Man to go back under some amount of control to Marvel, so that we can see him interact with other heroes. Which is fair. But I want Spider-Man: Homecoming to be just a great movie on its own right, not flashy with in universe references.

Boat
I also hope this Spider-Man can just hold everything together.

This film begins with the events of Captain America: Civil War, from Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) perspective. To see how he got to Europe, his sweet suit, and his life afterwards. His life is to be put on hold, waiting for a new “assignment” from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) as his go to man to report any issues or problems.

And this keeps Peter busy. He patrols the streets of Queens in the afternoon/evenings after school, under the guise of a Stark Internship, so that his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) doesn’t get too concerned. This does put a strain on his social life however. He cancels most of his extracurricular activites, hangs out with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) less, and he is even about to miss parts of the Academic Decathlon! Besides being smart and enjoying it, it annoys him more because it is run by Liz (Laura Harrier). But don’t worry, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) still picks on him.

Speaking of busy, eventually he runs into some thugs who are selling alien technology weapons they made! Turns out when NYC was fucked over by aliens those 8 years ago, a lot of alien tech was lying about the city. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) was in the salvage business, but Tony Stark in an effort to help the city made his own special Damage Control division that won a government contract to clean up any superhero mess. This puts Toomes out of business and enraged about the rich getting richer. So he decides to keep some of the tech, and with his small band of workers and tinkerer friend Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus), they decide to take salvage and turn it into cash in the form of new, high tech weapons. Hooray for capitalism!

Spider-Man cannot let this happen on his streets, as innocents will get hurt, and apparently this is not a problem that the avengers have to worry about. Oh well, I am sure he can handle some thugs and alien weapon technology and gear no sweat!

Also, unsurprisingly, starring a whole lot of other people! We got a whole lot of classmates (Zendaya, Abraham Attah, Angourie Rice, Tiffany Espensen, Michael Barbieri, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), Thugs (Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Mando), and others (Donald Glover, Kenneth Choi, Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, Jennifer Connelly).

Keaton
If you think that list is big, wait til you see Keaton’s personal trainer list!

There are a lot of praises I could sing for Spider-Man, and a lot of them come from story and plot decisions. It isn’t an origin story, because he already exists and we already know it. It does not mean that we don’t get Spider-Man doing things for the first time.

For instance, his first real villain in The Vulture, outside of just petty criminal stuff. We find out that he is not the wall crawler swinging through Manhattan like previous films, but mostly in the much smaller building complexes of Queens. So we have his first time at extreme heights, and we get to see how he handles fighting crime in a suburb, without the ability to swing around with ease.

Speaking of villains, they knocked it out of the park with The Vulture. We get a backstory for Toomes, reasons for his life of crime, reasons for why he feels he is in the right, morally gray shit, we got it all. They gave us what we have been wanting, and it is an excellent villain.

Holland is still good as Spider-Man, but we already knew that from Civil War. The large swaths of side characters fill their niches and no one really feels wasted.

And finally this Spider-Man tries to be very different from the previous iterations. No Gwen Stacy or MJ right away to get you all romantically fluttered, we get LIZ. We get a diverse looking school. We get nerds and a neighborhood that feels like a goddamn neighborhood. And a lot of the characters are new just for this film, with plans to take this film in its own direction, regardless of comics. I give it props.

But strangely enough, I barely laughed in the film. I did a few times, but I was alone. The movie theater was silent, it was no where close to being as wise cracking as I’d imagine a Spider-Man movie to be. I also think it relied too heavily on Iron Man/Happy characters to make sure everyone knew it was fitting in.

And Spider-Man’s suit? Well, it was a bit annoying. Turns out it is super high tech, and most of the known Spider-Man powers aren’t actually his, but suit based. Like Spider-Senses. I am not sure what powers he actually got. Some super strength and acrobatics skills, with some sticking to walls?

It is a decent film, just again, not as great as I had hoped it would be.

3 out of 4.

Okja

I didn’t know a whole lot about Okja going in, but I did see a few posters and just knew, just knew, I had to see it. Like, as soon as possible.

I also definitely thought it was a horror film, a foreign South Korean horror film. About a beast? I don’t know, the name and poster sort of scared me.

But then the advertisements got a bit more flashy, and I realized this was going to be a film bigger than itself. I also heard that it was directed by Joon-ho Bong, an established director who I have only seen one film of before, Snowpiercer. Yeah, I bet you saw Snowpiercer as well. One of the better indie “Have to see this movie!” campaigns over the last few years.

And this time, his film is right away on Netflix, allowing that same sort of campaign to happen, but for even more people.

Shorts
But come on, we all came for the gratuitous sexual overtones.

Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), new CEO of Mirando Corporation, has taken over from her father, a controversial man. It is a meat factory, and she is introducing a new superpig that they have bred/discovered/something like that. And over 20 of these pigs are being sent around the world to various farms, to see who could raise the biggest and best super pig in 10 years time, with the winner being crowned in a giant event.

And now, ten years later, we get to meet Okja, a superpig, living in the mountains of South Korea. Okja is being raised my Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) and her grandfather (Hee-Bong Byun) alone and really don’t want to let Okja go. But they come, they love Okja, and take him away. They even brought Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal), famed TV animal show guy, but that doesn’t soften the blow.

So despite their best attempts, Okja is still taken, so Mija decides to chase after them. Fuck the corporate people taking her friend over the last decade. It turns out she isn’t the only one after Okja either. So is the Animal Liberation Front, an animal rights group, who apparently tries to practice non violent behavior. They want to free Okja and bring down Mirando Corp.

Oh joy, caught between animal rights groups and a meat company, Mija just wants to be alone and happy with her family and friend.

Also starring Giancarlo Esposito, Paula Dano, Steven Yeun, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Lily Collins, and Devon Bostick.

Pig
I’m glad they told me this was a pig, because if not, I would have assumed…well, lets go with hippo dog.

Okja, for a lack of better words, is an experience. The very first scene is so bright, vivid, and Tilda Swinton, that you are immediately wondering just what sort of film you have gotten yourself into. But it will drive your curiosity and you will find yourself needing to sit through to see where the fuck it is going.

And then after the opening, we get quaint wilderness, giant pigs, and subtitles, so immediately a lot of people may be turned off. A whole lot of this film is subtitles, along with English language, because it is set in the real world and it wants to be authentic. Also because the director is of course Joon-ho Bong and he probably wants to represent his country in the movies he is making.

The characters in Okja, besides Mija and her family, are downright zany. They go to the extreme and bring characters outside of their normal roles. Gyllenhaal is super weird and has a higher pitched voice, it is a bit bizarre to imagine him the star of a successful animal reality show. Like a gone stupid version of Steve Irwin maybe. And Dano? He normally plays the eccentric strange character, but compared to other members, his Animal Liberation Front frontman seemed a bit…ordinary. A guy who would go to great lengths to get what he wants, sure, but relatively normal.

The CGI for the beast was pretty good, but it was still pretty awkward at times. Watching random characters badly interact with Okja as it is stomping and running around leaves a lot of room for error. But it never took me out of the experience.

Okja is a dark film at times, a light film at other times, and balls to the wall in a few other parts. It is probably one of the best Netflix Original films ever made, it just doesn’t feel like one of the best films I have ever seen. But a very strong film regardless and one that a lot of different ages and groups would enjoy.

3 out of 4.