Friday, April 14, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Plot: Desmond Doss grew up in a seventh-day adventist church which leads to him strongly believing in the commandment "Thou shall not kill" after he nearly kills his younger brother during a fight. He becomes interested in medical work after he falls in love with a nurse named Dorothy and decides to become a combat medic. He becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers when he refuses to train on Saturdays or pick up a rifle. Eventually, he is allowed to be a medic without a weapon and thus faces the challenge of trying to save lives with being able to defend himself.

You know, it's stuff like this that is why World War II is my favorite time period. It's the time in our history that's so rich with stories of different kinds and from different perspectives during a war that we tend to romanticize as a great fight between good and evil even if that's not necessarily how the entire world sees it. Right down to the concept that this is about someone who specifically wants to be a medic during World War II without carrying a gun, I was immediately invested in the story and from there Hacksaw Ridge just got better and better and better.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, let's start off with the strongest aspect of the movie, Andrew Garfield. I love this guy in both Amazing Spider-Man films and even though I look forward to what Tom Holland has in store for Spider-Man: Homecoming, I do wish we got a little more of  Garfield as the infamous web-head, and it's stuff like this that gives me more reasons why. I love how devoted Andrew Garfield is to his role and how it's a story about sticking to your beliefs. He's not insane, he's not doing it out of pride - though at one point he considers that it might be the case, he's sticking to his beliefs as a Christian and is willing to do his part in the war no matter the risk, and to a Christian like me, that is nothing short of awesome. When I came home from watching this movie and I was talking to my brother about it who saw it weeks before I did, he asked me if Andrew Garfield is a Christian and I told him no but his performance is so good that it kind of makes me believe that he could be a pretty good Christian if he opened his heart to Jesus like that. Now obviously that's a subject that's a matter between Garfield and Jesus, but you get the idea that he makes the idea of sticking to your faith so awesome and inspiring. It also helps that is not a simple decision for him to not pick up a gun. Everyone including his fiancé, Dorothy, tells him to do it, he has a nightmare where he gets shot and is defenseless to stop it, and we even have a back story that goes further into why he refuses to carry a gun which was great.

The other actors are pretty good too. I was really surprised that Sam Worthington is actually in this film. Truth be told, I thought he practically disappeared from the map after movies like Terminator Salvation, Avatar and a couple other films, but he's in here to and he gave a nice performance. It was also kind of a nice surprise to see some other actors like Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving perform, and I honestly wonder if the relationship between Desmond and Dorothy was as strong and challenged in real life as they make it out to be in the movie.

One of the main reasons why I really wanted to see this movie was because of the action. Like I said before, my brother saw it before me and he said that the battle scenes are just as good if not arguably better in the Omaha beach scene in Saving Private Ryan. Immediately, that got me interested because we and the rest of our siblings we're pretty much raised to hold Saving Private Ryan in such high regard to the point that it's tradition in our family to watch the movie on June 6th as a way to pay our respects to the men who fought and died at Omaha Beach. So I was eager to find out how exactly did Hacksaw Ridge meet/exceed the gore and the emotion that Steven Spielberg brought in Saving Private Ryan. When I got to the first battle, just the mere setup exceeded my expectations with the soldiers looking at corpses that have been destroyed and some are even getting eaten by rats and it sets the mood perfectly. Jeremy Jahns said it best in his own review for the movie when he said that they set it like the soldiers are in a horror movie. The action itself is full of so much action and gore that looks so realistic and sometimes hard to watch. It establishes perfectly how anyone can die in any possible way. Now you could make the argument that it's potentially too gory if for no other reason than the fact that this is directed by Mel Gibson who does have a reputation for being considered, shall we say, a little too interested in bringing in gore to his films. I'll admit that sometimes I did think that way while watching the film knowing that he directed this too, but it doesn't hurt the movie. I think similar to Braveheart and at least most of The Passion of the Christ, he brings the right kind of violence to capture what happened at that time period.

The last third of the movie is the most emotional part of the movie. I won't go into details for those of you who haven't seen it, but it's the heart of what makes this film different from other WWII films. It's thrilling, it's suspenseful, you don't know for sure what's going to happen and when the end credits hit, I was starting to cry, the ending was so incredible.

And that's my review for Hacksaw Ridge. If your not interested in gore Mel Gibson style or something like that, I understand, but to me, the action was great, the emotional moments where powerful, and Garfield gives a wonderful performance that tells such a remarkable story. I'll admit that I'm biased seeing as I am a Christian myself, but I think this is such a moving film regardless. It probably stood no chance in winning best picture, but it's still a film that I recommend.

Rating: 95%

We're Back! A Dinosaur Story (1993)

Plot: The film opens with a trio of bluebirds teasing their younger brother, Buster who decides to run away to the circus until he meets an intelligent T-Rex named Rex. Rex tells Buster how he knew a boy who also wanted to join the circus and tells Buster the tale of when he and three other dinosaurs, a parasaurolophus named Dweeb, a triceratops named Woog and a pteranodon named Elsa, were captured from their native timeline and given the ability to speak by Captain Neweyes. Neweyes gives them a mission to travel to present time New York to go to the Museum of Natural History and to beware his brother, Professor Screweyes. Along the way, they meet a boy named Louie who wants to join the circus and a girl named Cecilia who is neglected by her parents.  

When I was little, I used to visit a friend of my mother's and her children and a few times she would show us this movie. I only remembered certain parts of it, but being a kid that would like anything animated I liked it nonetheless. Then I started to want to see it again somewhat like with Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, and so I borrowed the movie from the library and took a look at it, and as it turns's a bit of a mess.

Let's start off with what is more or less good about it. The animation is good to look at on occasion.  Most of it is basic cartoon animation, but every now and again you'll see something that is pleasing to look at. While Rex is not the most interesting character in the world of animation, he has some likable moments- partly because John Goodman does his voice. Honestly, the only two things I really remembered is Rex and the parade scene where he sings Road Back to Back which is a catchy tune. Even though I'm an adult I liked that scene enough to replay it a few times before finishing the movie.

So what is wrong with this film? Well to put it simply, it's clunky and poorly paced. Very often the film tends to lose focus on what it's trying to do to the point that you probably forget that the dinosaurs' goal is finding the museum. Most of the time, the film wants to focus on putting the characters in comic high jinx and rushing through exposition/character development. So much of the latter feels so thrown in, rarely feels like it's given the right amount of time to be itself. Even when Captain Neweyes is telling the dinosaurs their goal and what they're up against straight out, it feels kind of rushed. The last scene with Professor Screweyes had the most interesting atmosphere in the movie, but they don't explain or really build up what exactly happens to him or why.  The romance with Elsa and Rex and Cecilia's feelings with Louie have no real purpose and are brought up in random parts of the story. All of the dinosaurs apart from Rex are pretty forgettable. When I said Rex and the parade where the only things I really remembered about this movie as a kid, I meant it. I had virtually no memory about the other dinosaurs as a kid and I barely remember much about them now even after having just recently watched this movie again. Even though there's a whole chase scene focused solely on Woog, Dweeb and Elsa, they didn't do a thing for me at all.  Heck, I had to look up their names online just for the sake of saying them in this review they're so forgettable.

The funny thing about the poor pacing in this film is that it feels similar to the pacing in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, and it turns out that is because this movie is made by the studio with the same directors. So considering how I give that film high praise despite having a similar flaw, how does An American Tail: Fievel Goes West succeed where We're Back! A Dinosaurs Story does not? I admit that I'm biased since I grew up loving Fievel Goes West, but apart from its fun music, world, and cartoon action, that film still knew to focus a lot on its characters. Even though the film feels like it's going a little too fast paced, there still is a lot of time devoted to establishing who all the characters are and what their goals are. Fievel wants to find/save his family, Tanya wants to be a famous singer, Tiger wants to win back Miss Kitty's heart and Cat R. Waul wants to make burgers out of the mice. All of these are interesting goals that come together for an exciting film. But because there's so much focus on just Rex (and to some extent Louie) that I barely remember anything about all the other characters or their goals. the most notable thing about the other three dinosaurs is that Elsa has a crush on Rex, which like I said is barely mentioned and that Woog loves to eat hot dogs and that's pretty much it. In fact, the ending has virtually nothing to do with the events of the climax. Everyone gets what they want in the end or get some sort of a satisfying ending in Buster's case, but none of it connects to the adventure they have.

And that's my review for We're Back! A Dinosaur Story. All I truly remembered as a kid was Rex and the song Road Back To Back, and honestly that's mostly all I think is relatively good now that I'm an adult. The pacing is too fast, the supporting characters are forgettable, and the story has little focus. It was nice to see again just like with Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and Cats Don't Dance, but like the latter, I'm not in a hurry to see it again.


Cats Don't Dance (1997)

Plot: set in 1939, Danny is an optimistic cat who dreams of Holywood stardom and so travels there in hopes of starting a career. He gets a role in a movie but is bummed to find out that it's a minor role and that animals are not allowed to play in large roles. He tries to weasel his way into a bigger role only to anger a spoiled, popular child actress named Darla Dimple her overly large Valet, Max. So he tries to band the other animals together and forge a plan to encourage humans to cast animals in main roles.

When I was a kid, I saw parts of this movie once when I was spending the weekend at my grandparent's house. I didn't get to finish it, but I liked it enough that I wanted to find out how it ends. It wasn't until about two months ago that I finally found it online and watched the whole thing.  So how is it? It's...okay. Not bad, but nothing special either.

So what makes it just okay? Well...just about everything that isn't the protagonist and the villains specifically. The story is a little predictable structurally, but the concept of trying to prove that the animals can perform like humans is a cute idea. The songs are nothing memorable, but they're serviceable whenever they're on. The supporting characters are a mix between sort of memorable and at the same time not really. While I do remember some of them like the Tillie Hippo and Sawyer, (by the way, is it me or does the voice actress for Sawyer, Jasmine Guy sound an awful lot like Scarlet Johansson?), they're nothing special apart from being merely acceptable in their roles.

With everything that's so 'okay' with the film, is there anything that's truly good? Well, the villains are surprisingly entertaining. Darla is this parody of Shirley Temple, and she's amusing to watch... though I could do without her wearing dresses where you can totally see her underwear...just no. But even she was nothing compared to her giant Valet, Max. I didn't think much of him as a kid, but he cracks me up as an adult. From his voice to his facial expressions to how much they go into how over-the-top big and powerful he is, he makes me laugh almost every time he's on screen. There are some scenes that are so funny that I replayed them multiple times.

Is there anything that is officially wrong with the film?  Well, sadly Danny is by far the blandest thing in the whole film. While most of the characters are stereotypes in some way or another, they still had their own charm in some very small way.  Danny, on the other hand, doesn't. Whenever he's on screen, I kept thinking "oh, here's the optimistic guy who has the answers and is gonna go on this journey where he doubts himself but is brought back by his friends to save the day " It may not have completely turned out that word by word, but a lot of the predictable moments in this film really comes from his story arc. If you like this kind of character regardless, fine, but if you've seen histype many times already, he doesn't really bring anything new.

And that's my review for Cats Don't Dance. The villains are funny, the hero is a bore, everything else is just passable. If you just feel like watching an animated film and don't care what it is, this is harmless. I'm glad I fully saw it, but I don't care to see it again.

Rating: 60%

Rouge One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Plot: Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Jyn Erso is a criminal whose father, Galen Erso is forced to work for the Empire as an imperial scientist. When word reaches the Rebel Alliance that a defected imperial pilot named Bohdi Rook has an important message from Galen about a weapon that the Empire is building, Jyn is rescued by the rebels and they convince her to help them find the pilot and find out what the Empire is up to.

Yeah, this movie is already months old, but I intentionally delayed posting this review hoping to add a paragraph about Carrie Fisher's passing made by my mom as a way to pay our respects, but it kept getting delayed and now the film is out on DVD and blue-ray, so I figured the oppertunity to do that is past. Anyway, after months of trying to be as close as possible about this movie and finally seeing it only the day after it came out, I can say Rogue One: A Star Wars Story met most of my expectations. It started off very slow and confusing during the first 45 minutes, but after that I had a nice time that most Star Wars fans enjoy as well.

I'll first talk about how much Star Wars lore from the expanded universe they made canon. There's a ton of stuff that they certainly make canon from characters from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels series, to small touches like people watching Twi'lek dancers on holograms, to even some of the ships during the final battle have designs based off of ships from the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. There's also a scene with Darth Vader where he has his own Sith fortress on Mustafar that is designed like the Sith temples back in the times of Star Wars:The Old Republic which is one of my personal favorite scenes in the movie.

The tone for this movie is surprisingly darker too. This isn't a simple good vs evil story line like it usually is in the Star Wars films, they make it clear that the Rebel Alliance has its darker side too. There are moments where they will make mistakes or choose to murder for the sake standing up to the Empire. I think that's what I personally like about Cassian in particular. He appears to have been created to represent how much the Rebel Alliance has cold blood in their hands too.

It's also nice to see some ships and other vehicles from the original trilogy as well. I personally was looking forward to the AT-AT walkers (or AT-ACTs as these particular walkers are actually called,) and just their entrance alone is pretty cool to watch. My personal nitpick is that they aren't there for very long and these particular walkers aren't quite as powerful as the original AT-ATs, but it turns out that's because the AT-ACTs are actually cargo transports that are designed to be powerful against infantry but weak against air forces, so now I understand why. It's still a bummer for me personally because the walkers were one of the few things that I knew about the film going in and thus they were one of the things that I was looking forward to the most, but they're still pretty cool for what they have. Maybe we'll get more in episode 8. I certainly hope so.

The characters well not as immediately memorable as the new characters in The Force Awakens, are still enjoyable. Jyn was likable, Bodhi is charming in his own way, Baze and Chirrut were memorable, but by far the most memorable character is K -2SO. He has the most charm and wit in the movie by far whenever he is going over statistics or showing his dark humor against his human friends, and it was enjoyable. Director Krennic is one of those villains that to hate but at the same time kind of pity. He's a cruel heartless man, but at the same time it's a pity how he's discredited from his life's work. It's also a pleasant surprise to see other characters from the original trilogy. James Earl Jones reprises his voice acting role as Darth Vader, we have unused footage of the guys that played Gold leader and Rogue leader from A New Hope, but the most memorable appearances were Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia. Apparently, they had different actors play the roles and then digitize them to look like Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher (rest in peace.) People have problems with how Princess Leia looks, but by far the best effects was for the digital effects for Grand Moff Tarkin. When he first appears in the movie we see only his reflection while he still has his back to the camera and so you think he's only going to talk while not being seen to mostly tease the audience, but then he turns around and he looks amazing. I don't know how they did it with both the digital effects and the voice acting, but he looks almost pitch perfect. Apart from a couple occasions where his mouth doesn't move just right, there are virtually no moments where I can tell that it's CGI. In fact, whenever I talk about this movie to someone, usually the first thing we talk about is how great the CGI for Tarkin is. It's so good that sometimes I'll hear some people say that they think it's Peter Cushing himself not knowing that he's been dead for 22 years.

The action has given us some of the most memorable moments in Star Wars including what some people consider to be the best scene with Darth Vader ever. Without going into too much detail, there's a scene where he cuts down a bunch of Rebel soldiers and his entrance alone adds so much weight and atmosphere to how dangerous the situation is against the rebels. It was also nice to see another space battle with Star Destroyers, Rebel Alliance cruisers and Y-wings actually bombing places which we've only seen in video games like Rouge Squadron and Battlefront II until now. It's a subtle moment, but it's a welcoming touch for people who know Star Wars outside of the movies. The fighting on the ground feels more like a great battle than the previous ground battles in Star Wars. I think someone on Facebook put it best that it felt like it was like Saving Private Ryan for Star Wars (minus the gore of course.)

If I had any problems with the movie which I brought up earlier, it would be the first 45 minutes. This movie doesn't start with the classic title crawl so we are left with no information about what is happening going in and because of this, the first scene was relatively strong but the rest of the first 45 minutes was mostly giving us a bunch of scenes that didn't really seems to connect with each other until you re-watch the film. I was a little more forgiving about this the first time I watched this movie, but my family really hated the first 45 minutes. They thought it was an implication that this movie was going to be really bad because they were so clueless of what was really happening. And while I'm not as hateful those first 45 minutes, I do have to admit that if you see this movie knowing nothing about it like we did, you're going to be really clueless with what is really going on. It isn't until Jyn finally meets Saw and thus finds out more about her father that the story becomes clear and the main characters are given a more direct goal. Now to be fair, it makes sense that the beginning of the film doesn't have the same intro as all the other films excluding Star Wars: the Clone Wars. This isn't an official episode of Star Wars and so some things have to be a little different. But if you watch this movie for the first time without having at least read the plot paragraph for this review, chances are you'll be as clueless as my family and I were. Though to be fair, our confusion also comes fromt he fact that we make sure we know nothing about any new Star Wars film before we finally see it and because of that, most of us thought this movie takes place shortly after the events of The Force Awakens. It wasn't until we were about 20 minutes in  that we we're starting to figure out that that this takes place  before A New Hope. Having said all of this however, the rest of the story is very strong. The third act in particular is arguably the strongest aspect of the movie by far with so many connections to A New Hope that's not even funny. I also really enjoyed how they explain some things that didn't add up in A New Hope. I won't spoil it for you but it was an appreciative addition to the story.

And that's my review for Rouge One: A Star Wars Story. The first 45 minutes are confusing if you don't know anything about the story before watching it like my family did, but apart from that, it's a great Star Wars film with great cameos, a welcoming collection of things from the expanded universe made canon, exciting action and likable characters that makes it fun for young fans and nostalgic for older fans. It's not as strong as The Force Awakens, but if you enjoy Star Wars and haven't seen this movie yet, definitely check it out. 

Rating: 85%

Thursday, April 13, 2017

La La Land (2016)

Plot: Mia is an aspiring actress who is struggling to be cast in anything, and Sebastian is a struggling jazz pianist who wants to open his own jazz club. The two of them meet each other and get off on the wrong foot until they talk about their passions and start to form a relationship. Things are going well between them and tey eventually decide to pursue their dreams further with Mia writing a one-woman play and Sebastian performing in a jazz club

During the past couple weeks, before I saw this film, I was anticipating this movie and I got more excited whenever I heard feedback from some of my friends at the film program at my college. I didn't know the story or anything like that, all I knew was that it was a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Finally, the opportunity came to see this film after work and of course, I had a very nice time. Is a giant masterpiece? I don't know if I would go that far, but I had a lot of fun with its story, music, and seeing both Gosling and Stone together again to entertain me.

Let's start with talking about the main characters. Gosling is enjoyable as this passionate jazz musician who's struggling to try to make his dreams come true. Some of the best scenes in the film are when he talks about the concept of jazz making it feel so special and so important makes it something to truly appreciate which also leads to an interesting conflict during the second half. Emma Stone as some of you probably already know is my all-time favorite actress and this is another film where you can see why. She is one of those few actresses that (in my opinion) constantly entertains in a way that most actors can't quite do worth spit and this film is no exception as she gives us a bit of everything that makes her my favorite actress. She's emotional, she's passionate, she's dramatic, she's funny, she's a good singer and you can get into the moments when Mia is auditioning for a role and you know that she is a great actress with a lot of variety in her, which makes it so cruel how the casting directors don't even pay attention. I'm happy that she didn't disappoint me as usual and I'm even happier that she finally got her oscar. Together they are what gives this movie so much heart as you can imagine. I have never seen Gangster Squad, but I have seen Crazy, Stupid, Love which I praise as one of my all-time favorite films and that film proved that Gosling and Stone have great chemistry and it shows even more in La La Land. They're energetic, they're passionate, and even though it's a musical they have moments where they are deep in conversation and they're getting to know one another discussing their relationships and their goals and the dialogue works in such a way where you truly believe that this is a solid relationship between two people who are falling in love.

The musical numbers are a ton of fun to watch while not an immediate grab like some of the songs in Moana - at least for me personally. It's nice to see these big dance numbers in these modern locations with these shots that make you look like it's all being done and one single solitary shot. The beginning scene alone with the song Another Day of Sun I thought was especially impressive. It's kind of a shame how it actually isn't done in one take because the way that they make it look like it was in one shot is really neat to look at. I also enjoy how some of the songs feel more like songs from musicals back in the days where movies like Singing in the Rain where they are shot in big sets and with big long dance numbers that you could probably tell it's all on a stage but it looks very nice to see. In fact, the further you get into the movie the more you can tell that this film is meant to be a love letter to those films back in that era when musicals used to be big bucks. It's even kind of fascinating how the music and the choreography and the setting give the feeling that it's very Hollywood back of that time in a modern setting. Then, of course, you have the two songs most people think of when they think of the soundtrack, City of Stars and Audition (The Fools Who Dream.) Both of them have very memorable melodies that can get into your head easily. Now I have heard some people like my brother, Tommy discredit Ryan Gosling's singing, saying that Gosling's singing is noticeably bad. I think he's serviceable throughout most of the film, but I reluctantly admit that he does fall flat on a couple of notes in City of Stars that - to be fair, do sound a little hard to hit. Audition (The Fools Who Dream) on the other hand appears to be where people knew Stone was going to get her oscar. The singing was emotional, the music was deep, and it apparently related to people who go through the things that Mia goes through in the film (or so I've heard.)

The colors in the cinematography in this movie are beautiful. The first half of the film has a number scenes where the colors of the dresses Mia nd her friends wear for example just pop. And when they're shooting a scene that you can tell they're performing in a set as a means of paying homage to musical films in the old days they look beautiful.

If there's anything I would find a flaw in the film, it would have to be the story or more specifically the plot. Now I enjoy the story as a whole. I liked the romance and I liked the conflict Sebastian encounters over what counts as jazz and the ending was very satisfying. With that said, however, you can probably figure out most of what happens pretty early on. If you have a problem with the story coming out as predictable I can understand why, but I see it as a nitpick because I think the story was supposed to be familiar to the audience. In the same way that the musical numbers are supposed to be a love letter to past musicals from decades ago, I think the story itself was supposed to be a part of the love letter. It didn't need to be nor does it necessarily have to be a film that with a particular creative storyline with a unique story structure like Room (yeah I know, I haven't review that yet) or Inglourious Basterds or something like that. It's supposed to be its own familiar simple thing to pay homage to classical musical films while still having its own unique modern twist to it.

And that's my review for La La Land. It's an enjoyable musical with some memorable songs, beautiful cinematography, and the main actors give great performances. I don't know if this will become a classic or anything like that, but I did have a good time with it and I'm happy that Emma Stone finally got her oscar.

Rating: 85%

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)

Plot: Jimmy is a ten-year-old genius inventor who gets into trouble making his gadgets with his robot dog Goddard. One day, he builds a rocket and sends a meeting message for space aliens which his parents ridicule him for trying to talk to strangers. Jimmy's message is picked up by an alien race called the Yokians who use his message to abduct all of the adults in Retroville which Jimmy and his friends enjoy at first but begin to miss their parents. When Jimmy finds out that aliens kidnapped his parents, he and the other kids build rockets to fly into outer space to save their parents.

When I was a kid, I was in love with Jimmy Neutron. I loved the show, I loved the video games, only heaven knows how many times I listened to the soundtrack, and yes, I loved this movie too. For a while I've wanted to go through a lot of it again and see how some of it holds up more that I'm older. Now that I have I can say that the show is still good, whereas this also still good, but I notice a lot of its flaws now that I'm older.

A lot of the characters are still enjoyable to watch. Libby, Carl, Sheen, Hugh, Judy, Goddard, the list goes on  The only supporting character that I don't think I ever fully cared for was Cindy. Is not that she doesn't have her likable moments, but similar to D.W. in Arthur, she was more of an annoying nuisance to me because of how she's always making fun of Jimmy and pulling pranks on him both in the movie and in the show. The villains, King Goobot and Ooblar are still fun to watch...though it's a little messed up to hear King Goobot's voice now that I know that he's voiced by Patrick Stewart. Maybe he's been in some live-action films where he's the villain, but to me he's the kind of guy you want to see as one of the heroes rather than one of the villains. Sure, he's been a villain in some other animated films like The Prince of Egypt and TMNT, but apart from them and this film, it just doesn't sound right for the guy who gave us Jean-Luc Picard and Professor Charles Xavier to be a villain in anything. Just doesn't sound right.

Then you have Jimmy himself. For a good chunk of my childhood, Jimmy Neutron was my favorite character ever. Sure, he makes a lot of mistakes and usually the problems Retroville encounters are his fault, but he has a good heart and he fixes his mistakes in the end. On top of that, he makes science and making inventions so interesting and cool. From his jet pack, to the bubble gum mobile, to his shrink ray to just about anything he came up with in the show, it was always fun to see Jimmy going on adventures or just hanging out with friends with his various inventions.

The soundtrack still hold up for me personally.  From the film's versions of He Blinded Me With Science, or We're the Kids of America, to Nsync's song Pop and especially all the songs with Aaron Carter. And I know what some of you are thinking; "Really? Aaron Carter?" Well...yeah. Say what you will about his personal life and things like that, but I enjoy his music. I still have all of his official albums and I even have his new one, LøVë. He may be a has been for most people, but his music still holds up strong for me, and his songs in this movie- particularly Leave It Up To Me and A.C.'s Alien Nation are no exception.

So what's wrong with this movie?  Well sadly it's the story - more specifically the morals. Now I know that Jimmy Neutron as a whole is meant solely for children, but the way it shows with the morals that the film is teaching hurts the film harshly. I won't spoil what they are, but while they are important morals for children, they're also morals you've heard before. Similar to The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie and especially Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, the excitement of the adventure that the characters are experiencing is not as effective when the moral is something so commonly told (and sometimes not even that in cases like Little Nemo.) Even when I was a kid and my love for anything related to Jimmy Neutron practically rivaled that of Sheen's love for Ultra Lord, there was a part of me that reluctantly admitted that it was lame that Jimmy and his friends are going on an adventure with spaceships, aliens and a man-eating monster just to learn these morals that Barney the Dinosaur can tell you. This is why so many people like me prefered the show to the movie. Sure he would learn a moral there too every now and again, but the morals he learns in the show are slightly less cliche, and in the end the show is less about that and more of just Jimmy and his friends going on adventures with various enemies and inventions which is all most fans like me really wanted.

And that's my review for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The morals that Jimmy learns makes the film much more corny than I remember, but it's still nice to see Jimmy and all the other characters go on adventures and see all the cool gadgets that Jimmy invents again. If you've never seen this before, I think you'll like it okay... you'll just have to bear in mind the corny moments, but if you grew up with Jimmy Neutron and you're feeling nostalgic, the show is more fun, but this is a nice little blast from the past too.

Rating: 65%

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Power Rangers (2017)

Plot: The film focuses on five teenagers who are all experiencing troubles in their lives. Jason is a former football player who is kicked off the team after a failed prank against another school, Billy is autistic and is in trouble for causing an explosion in school (at least I think that's who he explained it), Kimberly is taken out of the cheerleading team after leaking an inappropriate footage of one of her teammates, Trini has been kicked out of three other schools and Zack is a school truant. One night, Billy destroys a part of an abandoned gold mine attracting the attention of the other four kids and they all discover the Power Coins and eventually an ancient ship where they meet Alpha 5 and Zordon who tell them they are the Power Rangers and they need to learnt o use their new abilities to stop Rita from destroying the world.

The key thing to bear in mind with this review is that I never grew up with Power Rangers. I wanted to watch it when I was little, bit I wasn't allowed. Most of my understanding of the franchise comes from Doug Walker's Nostalgia Critic reviews for the first two movies which looked pretry bad judging on his videos about them. When a reboot was announced, I was interested to see it and then I officially decided to go see it when my buddy, Santiago, asked that I watch and review it. So after seeing the movie I can honestly say... the first half was surprisingly the strongest part. No joke. This is one of those rare occasions where watching the hero(es) before they suit up was the most entertaining aspect of the movie, and I mainly mean that in a good way.

So how are the Power Rangers more interesting without their uniforms? Well, the kids themselves are interesting. If you've seen the trailers for this film, you know that they are aiming for the rangers to be actual outcasts in society like they apparently are supposed to be in the original franchise (or so I've heard,) and in my opinion, it pays off.  They all have their own interesting personalities and relatable flaws, and even if some aspects about them are stereotypical like the jock who losses his fame as high school sports star or a guy who lives with his sick mother that he takes care of, you can tell they're giving us these cliches with a certain amount of effort to them. A lot of that comes from the actors themselves who you can tell they're giving it their all. The best example who is the heart of the group in my opinion is Billy. Billy is the most interesting and likable character in the group, though part of that comes from the fact that he is actually autistic. As someone with autism, I can say that he delivers the concept of being sometime high functioning in a well delivered and relatable manner. It's not something that doesn't  add much like the kid that might have Asperger's Syndrome in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, he's showing us someone with Autism in a tasteful and likable fashion. I didn't expect to see that in this film in a relatable way, but I suppose that makes the blue ranger my favorite now. But even taking Billy aside, the other team members are likable too. The film takes its time to show the five of them starting to grow as friends and ultimately as teammates and that was surprisingly nice to watch.

So why did the second half not grab me the way the first half did? Well part of it had to do with a scene where something happens to Billy that is dramatic but it could easily been solved, but it's mainly because when the kids finally become the Power Rangers, the rest of the film reminds me why the franchise never grabbed me the same way something like The Transformers or Marvel has. From what I understand, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is a franchise where the fans embrace how cheesy and silly it can be. If that's the case, then the second half does a really good job in embracing the tone of the source material. From the moment they're in their uniforms and charging into battle with their Zords, I keep looking at what is happening feeling that this would be more fun if I was a fan, but because I'm not I can't any of this seriously.  Some parts of the action is cool, like when they merge onto Megazoid and fight Goldar was neat to watch,  but apart from that, I felt very disconnected from all the corny tone.

In fact that's another flaw with the film, the tone between both halves of the film are so different from each other that it king of feels like two different movies. Even with Rita, the villain, she makes a big switch from being really creepy to completely over-the-top. I suppose she's more faithful to the material when she's screaming orders to her minions like the character probably does in the show, but it's not doing anything for me as a non-fan.

And that's my review for Power Rangers. The first half where they are these troublesome kids on top of learning to be Power Rangers is done with a lot of effort that I think is very admirable. But the second half is just corny to watch which is great if you are a fan and for sticking true to the source material, but is a major tone change from the first half and will not interest you if you aren't a fan. It's not the best, but at the end of the day, I'm glad I saw it for the first half and some of the action and I think it's an admirable film all around given the franchise itself.

Rating: 60%

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989)

Plot: Nemo is a little boy who wants to go to the circus, but his parents are unable to take him because they're too busy. Later that night, Nemo imitates sleepwalking in an attempt to sneak some pie away against his promise to his mother only to be caught. Upon falling asleep that night, he is approached by figures from the circus parade lead by Professor Genius who invite him to Slumberland where the king gives Nemo a mission to be the playmate of Princess Camille and to be made prince of Slumberland on the condition that he must never open the door that frees the Nightmare King. But a troublemaker named Flip tricks Nemo into opening the door and thus the Nightmare King steals King Morpheus away, so it's up to Nemo, Professor Genius, Flip, and Camille to go into Nightmare Land to try to rescue King Morpheus.

The reason that I watched this movie recently is because I watched the last third of it when I was a kid and I liked it so much that I wanted to see the entire movie ever since. And at the time, why wouldn't I have wanted that? An animated movie with far off fantasy places, colorful supporting characters, creative creatures, saving a world from a terrible, giant, evil villain, a romance with a princess, and it's all happening to a boy around my age at the time? Yes, please! The problem apart from the fact that movies weren't watchable on the Internet yet back then was that I never learned what was the name of the movie until I was an adult and found that Doug Walker made a Nostalgia Critic review for it and ...yeah, that's as concerning as it sounds. Apparently, this is a movie that took many years to make with several people either being offered to direct the film but declined or briefly worked on the film but left the project due to artistic differences including George Lucas, Chuck Jones, and even Hayao Miyazaki, who would later declare that working on the project was the worst experience he had ever been through. The film continued to go through different directors and screenwriters until it was finally put together in 1989.

So with all this information in mind and after finally watching the movie from beginning to end, how is Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland? Well...there's some good things in it, but I think it definitely needed another rewrite or two. While most of the story is easy to follow, there are a couple aspects to the world building that don't really add up. The biggest example comes from whenever Nemo is going from the dream world to the real world. The first time he's dreaming, there's nothing happening story wise, just Nemo having a nightmare where his bed is flying but then he's pursued by a locomotive. I guess it establishes how anything can happen in the dream world, but it doesn't add much to the story. Then there are moments when Nemo wakes up from the dream world as the story does go on but then the story just continues shortly after he's back in bed indicating that he's still dreaming, making all the moments where he's back in bed completely pointless. They could have just written that he fainted or was knocked unconscious between scenes or something and you would have lost nothing. The moral of the story is also particularly lame, but I'll get to that when I talk about Nemo himself.

A lot of the animation is nice to look at when the movie is not on the kingdom of Slumberland.  The kingdom itself looks way too bright and kid friendly that I think I would've disliked even when I was a kid. But that aside, just about everything else with the animation is good. The nightmare with the locomotive is pointless in terms of plot, but it looks great visually. Some of the rooms inside the castle like Princess Camille's room look nice, and the Nightmare King has a really cool, menacing design.

The songs don't do a thing for me at all. Granted, there's only three real musical numbers in the entire film, but they're nothing special. Just one song about how wonderful Slumberland is, a song about Nemo's duties as a prince and then one about the shapeshifting goblins and that's it.

The supporting characters are...serviceable at best. King Morpheus is a little too jolly and childish most of the time, Professor Genius is your typical stick to the rules guy, and the moments with the Princess Camille...kind of work for a romance, but not for a particularly memorable one.  Flip is a little annoying and it's crazy to believe he's voiced my Mickey Rooney. The goblins have cool designs, but they don't stand out as memorable characters. The Nightmare King has a cool intimidating presence, but his voice doesn't quite fit.

As for Nemo himself... I want to like him because he's the hero and everything, but he is just one uninteresting protagonist. When it's all said and done, there isn't anything really interesting about him and some of his dialogue is almost nothing but saying "huh?" or "wow!" or "oh no!" and so on. But the most allotting aspect about us is how his adventures in his dreams actually connect over his trying to steal the pie that he promised his mom not to touch.  I'm really not kidding here. He's going on a big adventure that mostly regrets his attempt to steal pie...that's really dumb. I guess that's something that would be relatable back in 1905, but today, it is pretty lame that your child hero is going on a grand adventure just to learn something that someone half Nemo's age should learn.

So with all this negative talk about the movie, is there anything genuinely good? Well...I still enjoy the climax. Yeah, the characters are not as likable as I hoped they would be, but it's still cool to watch Nemo encounter creatures like the goblins and giant bats, fight a giant powerful force of evil like the Nightmare King and how it ends after that (aspects like bringing up the pie again put aside.)

And that's my review for Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. When it's just being a fantasy adventure film like I wanted it to be, I still enjoy it personally, but the supporting characters were just okay, the songs are forgettable, the story needed a little more work and Nemo himself is an uninteresting protagonist. I'm glad I got to see the full movie after wanting to for so many years, but it's a shame how the process of creating it alone was such a mess that even one of my favorite directors despised taking any part in it.

Rating: 30%