Thursday, October 8, 2015

Inside Out (2015)

         Plot: Inside the mind of a young girl named Riley, five personifications, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger, live inside her mind and influence her actions and memories with a control console. Everything is grand until Riley's family moves to L.A. where things are gloomy compared to her old life and she begins to break down when her important memories, a.k.a. Core Memories are touched by Sadness, causing then to turn sad instead of happy. Joy tries to fix it, but in the process she, along with Sadness and the Core Memories are sucked out of their headquarters and into Riley's long term memory. So they must find a way to get back to their headquarters and place the memories back into their central hub.

         Okay so at this point, you all have likely heard that this is the film that indicates Pixar is back. And do I completely agree? Well...I think I'll save that answer until after The Good Dinosaur, but otherwise, yeah it looks like they are finally back. This movie was creative, it was funny, it was smart, it had memorable characters, it's Pixar as we've known them to be for so long. Sure the idea has been done before, but they were so inventive with it that when you see Riley's mind and/or the minds of other people throughout the film, you start to think about what the people in the inside of your mind would be like. And there were some moments where they were really funny about it too. The best case would be the Triple Dent Gum commercial song that gets into people's head. They timed that really well and used it just to the right amount. 

         The characters, like I said are very memorable. They were very smart in picking the right actors for the emotions, i.e. Amy Poehler as Joy and Phyllis Smith as Sadness. According to one of my brothers, they originally had a couple dozen emotions planned to be in the film. It's good that they brought it down to only five emotions, so that the ones that made it got more focus and thus became better developed characters. If there's one character I didn't really like, at least during the beginning of the film, it would be Sadness. I sure I sound a little like a jerk, but I can't help it, she was a little obnoxious with how she kept wanting to touch the memories even though she knew darn well what would happen.

         But without what Sadness does, we wouldn't have the message from the film. And that leads to probably the strongest element of the film; the deep, powerful and moving scenes during the second half. I won't dare give anything away, but let's just say I pity the kid that was crying when I saw the movie in theaters with my family. And some respects, adults will understand this movie more than kids will, because the film gives such a touching and mature message about life and growing up that adults will understand it more than kids- not all the time, but some. And I think that's where you can really feel that Pixar is back. It succeeds where the more recent films have not in being a film that is enjoyable for both kids and adults in a straight out brilliant way.

And that's my review for Inside Out. It's fun, it's funny, it's inventive, it's moving, it's just a ton of Pixar being the way we love them for the first time since Toy Story 3. Now like I said, whether or not they are officially back or just conjured up a good one before more 'just okay' films come out from them all depends on how The Good Dinosaur turns out.

Until then, just remember; this review H.A.K. review is brought to you by *singing* Triple Dent Gum, will make you smile! Triple Dent Gum, it lasts a while! Triple Dent Gum, will h- *audience fires machine guns over H.A.K.'s head* OKAY, OKAY, I'M SORRY! IT'S JUST A JOKE!!!

Rating: 85%

Broken Blossoms (1919)

So I am taking a film class that goes over the history of film up to the year  1937.  And I started thinking that now would be a good time to review some of the full length films that we have been watching in class. So to start of let's take a look at D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms.

Plot: Cheng  Huan is a Buddhist who leaves his homeland to spread the gentle message of Buddha. But his journey brings him to the brutal and gritty world of London's inner city. But then he comes across Lucy Burrows, a beautiful young woman who is abused and  unwanted  by her alcoholic father. So Cheng decides that his mission is to devote to himself to this woman, this broken blossom.

This is a very good but sad movie. A lot of it reflects on how, as the professor of the class wants us to make darn sure we know, Griffith is a great melodramist; meaning he really captures the concept of something innocent going through suffering, to give us a moral opinion.  And it really delivers on that. Lucy is played by Lilian Gish, who the professor says is the first great actress. And she does an excellent job in helping us feel for this tormented helpless person. It is terrible to see her get beaten by her father, which leads you to be all the more happy whenever Chang is there to practically worship her with the gifts and comfort he gives her. The film also leaves it to your own interpretation as to if Chang is romantically in love with Lucy. On one hand he attempts to kiss her, but on the other hanf he is usually stops himself from going through with it as if he views her as a sort of beauty that is to be seen and worshiped to rather than someone to be romantically in love with. The colors of the film are also well placed, from the blue frames when the characters are outside to express the hard coldness of the inner city to the pink frames when the characters are in Chang's room expressing how it is a peaceful safe haven for the two protagonists.

And that's my review for Broken Blossoms. Really guys, I don't know what more there is to say. It's a good, sad film with great acting, interesting use of color with the film, and a moving story. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

Rating: 95%

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

         Okay so I've been thinking that maybe I should break down my body paragraph into separate paragraphs given how my reviews have are usually structured. So let's give that a try with Ferngully: The Last Rainforest

         Plot: Crysta is a fairy who lives in a rainforest called Ferngully where other fairies and animals live together. Magi, the fairy who is teaching Crystal how to use her magic, tells her the story of how humans and fairies lived together until a spirit named Hexxus drove the humans away before Magi imprisoned him. And ever since then, Crysta has had a curiosity to actually meet humans someday. She comes across a bat named Batty who tells her about how he and other animals have been experimented on by humans. But she doesn't believe him until she encounters lumberjacks cutting down trees. One of them named Zak is almost killed by a falling tree until Crysta shrinks him and saves him from getting chopped up. As she begins to befriend him however, the other lumberjacks cut down the tree that Hexxus was imprisoned in, giving him the chance to use their cutting machine to destroy Ferngully.

           As likely many of you know, this movie is so direct in its message about the environment that it's really annoying. And that has become so commonly known that when people talk about the story lines from films that Avatar is similar to, Ferngully is probably the number one film that people think of the most - either that or Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas. All of which are comparisons that I myself am guilty of making when I wrote my own review for that movie far back when I barely started writing reviews. But as a kid, I never really got the feel that it was preachy at all. I mean granted, I was only a kid and I only saw it a couple of times growing up. But back then, I liked the film, mainly because of its fantasy elements, the fact that Robin Williams was voicing one of the characters. And watching it grown up, I stick by...some parts of those two elements.

          Watching this movie grown up, I didn't find all the magical stuff with the fairies to be all that interesting, especially with how aware I am of its annoying environmental message. There are some little parts that are still a little interesting in their own way I guess, but it's just not the same. In fact, there is at least one moment where something magical happens that I thought was cool and deep, but as an adult I realize it doesn't make sense. In this said scene, the fairies are getting ready for when Hexxus comes, and somehow part of what they are doing involves one of them dying. It seems like the character is sacrificing herself for the magic to work or something, but given what happens step by step, there's no clear explanation as to how or why. But the fantasy element that does hold out the most was Hexxus. They gave gave him pretty cool designs as he goes from being a blob of sludge, to a giant polluted cloud, to a giant skeleton that I think is a made of a mixture of sludge and...just magic. Though as cool as most of the design for when he's a cloud is, even as a kid I thought we was less intimidating in that form. His other two forms are more genuinely menacing to me because you have a blob with a mouth and no eyes in one form and in the other, he's a giant skeleton. And while his cloud form is a good design in the long run, there's just something about his face and voice that just kills it for me.

         Now with Robin Williams as Batty, I am in a bit of a mix. On the one hand, he still is fun to watch...though maybe just for the sake of the fact that it's Robin Williams, especially given his death last year. And I admit that even thought I'm older, I still kind of like his "Batty Rap" early on in the film. As for the character himself, he was a little all over the place. I think the best way I could put it is that Batty is sort of a prologue for Williams' performance as The Genie (especially given that this movie came out a few months before Aladdin), but with a performance with his usual voices and jokes that only half work - or even make sense. But either way, he was the most entertaining about the protagonists, as there isn't much that completely stands out about Zach or Crysta...except how completely revealing Crysta's outfit. I mean I agree with the Nostalgia Chick when she described Crysta has "Tinkerbell's slutty sister," but watching the movie again, I couldn't help but be a little critical of how there are so many moments where that thing should not have covered as much as it did.   

        One really pretentious yet odd factor in the film is the music. It's honestly up to you if they are considered good or not, but whether it's through the whole track or just parts of it, these songs are either forcing in their environmental message or...singing about how sexual the thing they are talking about is. Like there's this iguana who sings about eating Zach as if the entire process of doing so turns him on. Then you have a song about the magic of the rainforest, which is self explanatory. And finally Hexxus' song that has both; the main chorus is about his 'toxic love' and in the middle of the song, he talks about his main goal and adds that humans and their greed are a large help to his plan.

      And that's my review for Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. I think a part of me will always like how much I enjoyed the film as a kid, but now that I'm grown up, I see it as the over kill of an environmental message it is, with its disturbing adult content and not that interesting of a main character. Unless you want to see it just for the sake that you have seen this kind of film, I would skip it.

Rating: 35%

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Yeah, I know this review is late. But because of scheduling and stuff, my dad, my brothers and I haven't been able to see this movie together. But we just finished fixing that about half an hour ago, so here's my take on Mad Max: Fury Road.

Plot: The film begins with Mad Max getting captured by the War Boys, who are lead by Immortam Joe. They use him as a blood donor for a sick warrior named Nux. But when Immortam Joe's imperator, Furiosa uses an armored truck to drive away from him and taking his five wives with her, he sends the War Boys to go after her, including Nux who takes max with him.

This was a very crazy but epic movie. It's filled with wild stunts, cool  looking costumes, great acting and of course, lots of awesome, suspenseful car chases. And the nice thing about the basic plot is that it is simple in terms of what is happening, in how everyone is basically going from point A to point B, and eventually turn around the other way. Granted,  I know that in the case of at least my dad, he did find the story a little confusing, and based on what is implied on the Honest Trailer for the movie, some people might feel the same. And I guess I can kind of see that on account of the specific story that goes with the plot. But not enough that I think it really hurts the movie in any way.

One of the things I especially enjoyed about this movie is the look of the film. Holy crap, we're they creative. I remember during the first half hour or so of the film, I would consistently be wowed by all of these different cars and costumes from Immortal Joe and his group. And of course, this includes the most famous part of the movie: the guy with the electric guitar with a flame thrower attached to it. That guy made me laugh every time he is on screen. But this is a good kind of funny in that it helps the film to be very dramatic, but doesn't entirely need to be taken seriously. After all, this film contains some pretty  deep stuff with one character having a dark past and the wives really wanting to get away from Immortal Joe, so something like a guy with an electric guitar with a flame thrower attached to it has to balance it out.

The acting was very well executed. My personal favorite among the wives was the one played by Rosie Huntington-Whitely not only was she good, but I was just really glad that she is now in another movie besides Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I may as well be the only person that feels this way, but for someone who is a Victoria's Secret model, she is an okay actor and I would like to see her to continue to go further in an acting career. Charlize Theron was the real focus of the film. She had the most depth, she was the most bad a among the characters, she was just enjoyable. But with that said, the one thing that I had a problem with the film is how we had almost none of Mad Max. We had a lot of attention on him early on, but after that, the focus was on everyone else. One of my brothers said that it fits to the franchise because Mad Max is meant to be a drifter; he isn't really on anyone's side, he just happens to be around and helps people out for is own means. (bear with me with that statement because I am paraphrasing.) So that kind of cancels it out. And even then, that is really a nitpick, because all of the other characters are so much more interesting and are meant to be the real focus of the story.

Another huge thing about the film is that action is I almost always are done with real stunts. Not all the time, after all some of the film includes things like people going through a  huge sand storm. But a lot of the jumps, cars crashing and exploding, Immortal Joe minion riding on these wobbly large poles on these cars, apparently are all real. And that is something to really appreciate about the film; we don't really get a lot of action film that don't  put all of their faith in CGI. And it really pays off.

And that's my review for Mad Max: Fury Road. It's Epic, it's dramatic, it's occasionally silly, it's just a ton of fun. If you haven't seen it yet, I do recommend it.

Rating: 90%