Thursday, August 2, 2018

Christopher Robin Review: Pooh's Return is a Delightful Experience

When Disney is not producing animated or superhero films the studio is busy retelling their classic tales in a live action format. From Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast the studio continues to take their animated classics and breathe new life into them with these new retellings. The latest title to take in this live action leap is not an adaption of a classic movie but rather a film that centers on a particular character; and in this case it is the bear from the Hundred Acre Woods Winnie the Pooh. The stories of A.A Milne and E.H Shepard have played a pivotal part in Disney as the tales of Winnie the Pooh have been told in a variety of films as well as other mediums such as television. Now the iconic bear and his friends return to the silver screen in the film Christopher Robin. Directed by Marc Forester Christopher Robin takes a different approach on the Winnie the Pooh series as, rather than reflecting the books, the movie takes a page from the likes Hook and 2010's Alice in Wonderland and centers on a grown up Christopher Robin. While this idea is nothing new this direction could bring new life into the classic series.After watching the movie I can say that Christopher Robin is as much a homage to the series as it is a delightful adventure.

As noted the movie is about Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) reuniting with a grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) who venture to the 100 Acre Woods to find Pooh’s missing friends all the while dealing with Christopher’s personal conflict. At its core the story of Christopher Robin is about rediscovery. Despite being a familiar concept, even when it comes to Disney films, the movie uses this idea to the best of its ability. Rather than being cliche with it morals the story takes a subtle approach to its themes and grounds them in a realistic fashion. Along with this niche direction was the story’s adventure which was enjoyable, but rather standard in hindsight. The plot’s structure and pacing was understandable but it prevented the adventurous aspect to flourish and left points, such as Christopher and Pooh’s journey through the Hundred Acre Woods as well as the return to London, to feel limited in their execution. The story of Christopher Robin was a tame one and while it did have much going for its simplistic nature held the movie back a little bit-but only a little.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review: Sizes Up as A Entertaining Sequel

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe many heroes have risen to stardom. The likes of the Avengers and Spider-Man being major players is no surprise, but this movie continuum has also featured more obscure characters such as Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy; and they have proven to play a vital role in this shared franchise. Among the MCU alumni is none other than the minuscule Avenger: Ant-Man. Ant-Man made his cinematic debut in the 2015 blockbuster and managed to make an impression as his solo film was filled with wit and style. Needless to say that it would not be long before moviegoers would see Ant-Man again as the character not only appeared in Captain America: Civil War but the small time hero received a sequel in the form of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Once again directed by Peyton Reed, the sequel features Ant-Man teaming up with his iconic partner the Wasp. The film has been receiving good buzz (a shocking revelation if I’ve ever heard one) as the likes of critics have praised the movie for its sense of fun. Yet the prospect of a Marvel movie being fun is not enough to sway this Film Adventurer. Truth be told I have not been ecstatic for Ant-Man and the Wasp as details surrounding the film have made me skeptical. Regardless I journeyed to the cinema to see this new superhero film, and after it was all said and done I have to say that Ant-Man and the Wasp was...enjoyable.

The story of Ant-Man and the Wasp deals with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) teaming up with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) who seek to enter the quantum realm in order to find the long lost Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeifer). The story of Ant-Man and the Wasp is perhaps the weakest part of this movie. The story’s concept was not bad but when it came down to it there was little to no substance within the plot itself. The main conflict lacked impact and the story had a tendency to rely on tropes and conveniences too much. Yet this was not to say everything about the story was disappointing. The plot’s adventurous aspects, for the most part, was enjoyable while certain dilemmas ,like Scott dealing with his house arrest, gave the plot a grounded nature. It was these factors that made the plot an enjoyable experience even if the lacking details prevented the superhero tale from reaching its full stature.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review: A Jurassic Disaster

In 2015 the movie world returned to that little park filled with dinosaurs After years of hibernation the Jurassic Park series made its return with the fourth installment in the franchise: Jurassic World; and what a return it was as the summer blockbuster was a success both critically and financially. So because of its success, it came to no surprise that Jurassic World would garner a sequel, and sure enough the adventure would continue three years later in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Taking the helm from Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow this time was director J.A Bayona; although Trevorrow remained on the film as an executive producer and a writer. So with an exploding island as well as a new hybrid, Fallen Kingdom looked to up the adventure for the series and while some may have found this exciting one Film Adventurer did not. See I had a different experience with Jurassic World as I found the blockbuster to be stupid for all the wrong reasons. However just because that experience was a poor one did not mean that the sequel would be the same. Oh how wrong I was.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom centers on Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who return to the island in order to save the raptor Blue, and the rest of the dinosaurs,from extinction. If you have seen any trailer for this movie then odds are you know how this story plays out. Having a predictable plot is not always a bad thing as long as its executed decently.Sadly this was not the case for Fallen Kingdom. The story structure was inconsistent as it rushed through the first act then dragged itself through the remainder of the film to the point where any intriguing aspects were hardly investing due to excessive padding. This was evident in splitting the story up into two areas with the Owen and Claire’s adventure being one part and the mystery of the Indoraptor being another. Although both sides eventually converge they did very little keep this adventurous tale...well adventurous. It did not help matters that the plot was contrived as it relied heavily on conveniences and its sense of continuity was horrendous. Another glaring issue was the story’s use of themes such as nature vs nurture. While this could have been a captivating element for the plot, the movie barely touched on it leading to this theme be nothing but an afterthought. I tend not expect much out of a Jurassic Park tale but I do hope that it has some semblance of storytelling to it; but that is not the case for Fallen Kingdom’s plot as its sense of adventure goes up in flames along with the convenient volcano.

Upgrade Review: A Gritty and Innovated Experience!

In the summer season it is expected to see blockbuster after blockbuster hit the big screen. Yet among the array of anticipated films there are alternatives, such as indie or low budgeted films, that find their way into the season. A fine example of this is the new sci-fi thriller simply known as Upgrade. Written and directed by Leigh Whannell Upgrade takes sci-fi concepts and meshes them with the film subgenre of body horror. In the past week I have heard the rumblings of Upgrade’s success to the point where the film may in fact become a sleeper hit for this year. Needless to say I was curious to see this movie for myself and after experiencing it I can say that Upgrade is not just a hit but it is arguably one of the best films I have seen all year.   

Upgrade centers on Grey (Logan Marshall-Green): a mechanic left for dead after criminals paralyze him and kill his wife Asha (Melaine Vallejo). However after being infused with a computer system called STEM not only is Grey able to move again but is granted superhuman abilities which gives him more than enough power to avenge his wife. There was much going for the plot of Upgrade. At first it was a little difficult to get into the story as it felt a little sporadic, but once it gets going it was hard not to be enamoured by this tale. The plot uses a variety of themes, such as the ghost and the machine, that have been used in many movies before it, but how the plot executed its ideas is what made all the difference. Blending a revenge story with that of a man becoming a monster tale, the plot utilized its concepts in a way that felt very refreshing. Along with its keen use of themes was the story’s setting which brought a practical sense to a futuristic world. The structure could be rather predictable but it was still effective and did not hinder the plot’s payoff, or delivery, in anyway.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Incredibles 2 Review: Pixar's Super Family Returns in Style

Superheroes: a theme that is all too familiar in this day and age. The idea of heroes saving the day has been a concept that has been told time and again on the silver screen and continues to be depicted as the superhero genre expands. However before the Avengers assembled, before the Justice League united, another team defined the meaning of being super. In 2004 the movie world was introduced to the Parrs in the hit film from Pixar Studios, The Incredibles, which told the story of a superhero family trying to adjust to a normal life. To this day The Incredibles is among my favorite Pixar films, as well as one of my favorite animated movies, as its sense of style and charm made it into an instant classic. For a long time now the idea of an Incredibles sequel had been talked about, but nothing really came from it. That was until 2014 when Disney made it official and after fourteen long years Incredibles 2 made its way to the big screen. Once again directed by Brad Bird Incredibles 2 picks up where the first film left and feature the Parr family in another superpowered adventure. Despite the action, the humor and more Jack-Jack my enthusiasm for this sequel was minimal as I found the content in the trailers to be questionable. However after watching the movie my skepticism was put to rest as Incredibles 2 ended being a sequel worth the wait...well for the most part anyways.

The story of Incredibles 2 centers on the Parr family dealing with another conflict as Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is selected to bring Supers back from retirement while Bob/Mr.Incredible (Craig T.Nelson) has to stay home and watch the kids. While I was hesitant at first, the story of Incredibles 2 ended up being better than expected. The plot handled its concepts well as both Helen’s case and the family being stuck at home were executed decently, and both sides of the story meshed well with the movie’s overall tone. Yet this super tale was not without its weaknesses as the story had a tendency to drag on and certain plot points were too predictable for my taste. However things still worked out for the story as its stylish delivery made the plot one that was both entertaining and fitting for the Pixar series.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Annihilation Review: A Conflicting Sci-fi Film

Every now and again there comes a movie that shakes things up. Whether it is a big time blockbuster or something independent one film tends to pop up during the year and get people talking. A cased point of this would be the 2015 sleeper hit Ex Machina. The sci-fi film directed by Alex Garland arrived on the scene in the spring of 2015 and received a massive reception from critics and moviegoers a like. Now two years later it seems that Garland is at it again with his latest contribution to the sci-fi genre: Annihilation. Annihilation is based on the 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer and Garland wrote the story for the screen. The movie is now playing in theater and it appears that lightning has struck twice for Mr.Garland as Annihilation has been a critical hit. With the film garnering so much praise my curiosity was peaked and I decided to see this new sci-fi film for myself. My experience with Annihilation was a bit different from the majority as found myself indifferent about the new sci-fi movie.

Annihilation tells the story of Lena (Natalie Portman) a biologist who joins three women on a mission to a excavate the quarantine zone known as the shimmer-which contains a mutated environment that is as deadly as it is fascinating. Conceptually speaking the story of Annihilation is sound as it featured engaging elements worthy of any sci-fi tale. However the way the movie went about delivering this story is where I find myself at odds with Annihilation. The main plot is fairly straightforward and easy enough to get into. However elements likes Lena’s backstory as well as Lena conveying the events to a group of scientists were not handled well as these factors just took me out of the story. Rather than adding to the plot these aspects came off as contrived and it made the movie’s narrative feel very sporadic. Furthermore the thematic elements to the story, although ambitious, were a bit lackluster. It felt like the themes were trying to be thought provoking, but they were not fully explored within the story itself and because of this they just come off as minute details. The plot was by no means boring (although the pace could be slow at times) as I was interested to see how things would play out and this certainly made up for the plot’s lack of substance.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Solo A Star Wars Story Review: Smuggles The Series' Sense of Adventure

In Star Wars there have been many things to define the franchise like the Jedi and the Rebellion. Yet despite the galaxy far, far, away centering on the heroic tales of the Skywalkers one character manages to steal the show and cannot help but love him for it. This character is none other than the scruffy looking nerfherder himself: Han Solo. Since appearing in the cantina and shooting Greedo the iconic smuggler has been a prevalent addition to the Star Wars franchise. However, despite his role in the franchise, the origin of Han Solo has been all but a mystery on the silver screen; that is until now. With the franchise branching out into the Star Wars Anthology film series, moviegoers can now see Han’s humble beginnings in Solo: A Star Wars Story. While production of the film went through major changes the anthology movie was able to make its release date with director Ron Howard taking the helm for this installment. While it can be hard for me not to be excited for a new Star Wars film, my anticipation for Solo was a subtle one as all I was expecting from this standalone tale was it being a swashbuckling adventure; and in that regard this Star Wars Story did not disappoint.

The story of Solo centers on a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) who is whisked into a crime filled adventure that leads the novice outlaw meeting the likes of Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) as well as finding his future ship the Millennium Falcon. Even for Star Wars the story of Solo was a simple one; though that was not necessarily a bad thing. Although it was a little jeering to get into the plot to this Star Wars Story was indeed thrilling. The second act in particular was adventurous and really got into the spirit of the series. Granted this was a double edged sword for the plot as the third act did not have the impact as the previous chapter. Another highlight for the plot, although a minor one, was its references to other stories in the Star Wars Saga; both in the films and other mediums. When it came down to it what held this plot back was its structure, but even that was not enough to keep this tale from being a engaging adventure.