Posted in 2017, Movie Review, Movies

ParaNorman (2012) movie review

mv5bmja1otu1ndm3n15bml5banbnxkftztcwmjyxntg0nw-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_     Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a normal kid in all aspects except for one, he is able to see and talk to ghosts. Because of this he is often misunderstood and ostracised by basically everyone else in the small town where he lives with his father (Jeff Garlin) who just wants him to act normal, his mother (Leslie Mann) who tries to understand, and his moody teenaged older sister (Anna Kendrick). But it is because of this power that he is the only one who is able to stop the centuries old witch’s curse.

 

ParaNorman was filmed almost completely using stop motion animation.  Despite this the animation is very clean and there is little to no stuttering in the movement of characters and objects. There is some computer generated animation sure, but the fact that the majority of the film is made up of stop motion animation shows a great deal of skill in the craft. Since this is only the second movie made by Laika studios it is obvious that the many people who work there learned new techniques in the filming of Coraline and again in ParaNorman which they used in their later films.

The story is the type of story you would expect to find around Halloween. There is a witch who cursed her accusers over a hundred years ago which causes them to rise from the dead unless precautions are taken. But what isn’t so typical is that there isn’t any true good or evil. All the characters find themselves in a grey area where they make mistakes out of fear but are still good people. The basic theme of ParaNorman is that people do terrible things out of fear, something that is exclaimed by various characters multiple times throughout the movie. This is demonstrated in the ways certain characters grow between the beginning and the end.

If you want a good movie to watch for Halloween that isn’t that scary here’s a good movie for you. I would also recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed any of Laika’s other movies because for the most part they are all really good.

Final Rating – 46/50

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Posted in 2017, Movies, Ruminated Scrawling

“Your Name” Live Action Remake

Earlier today news came out that J.J. Abrams who you probably know from such movies as the new Star Trek movies, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and TV shows such as Lost and Fringe, will be producing a live action adaptation of Your Name. I personally don’t think that this is a good idea, and I will explain why before. This post contains mild spoilers for Your Name.

The original animated Your Name movie came out literally last year and there are already people thinking of remaking it. The movie was a masterpiece and many of the people who watched it were amazed at the strange supernatural elements, the paradoxes, and the love story. I was one of those people. I just had a reason to not be able to review the movie. Making a remake of a movie can mean two things. One that the original has aged quite considerably and can be done better with newer technology or two so that the story and characters can reach a bigger group of people. Your Name is only a year old, but even if it were much much older I think it would be just as good, and animated movies have done well in the west. Sure Your Name was made with a modern anime style which may make some people refuse to watch it, but people can still enjoy the movie even if they aren’t fans of anime. Why remake such a new movie if it’s a really good movie?

So yeah that is basically my reason why I don’t think remaking Your Name right now is a good idea. There is also the whole live action anime movie remakes are pretty much always awful thing to think about, but I think that if anyone can do this story justice it’s J.J. Abrams. However as this was just announced today we still have at least a couple of years before we will see if he succeeds in making this movie.

 

Posted in 2017, Fiction, Movie Review, Movies

Death Note (Netflix) movie review

MV5BMTUwOTgzMTEyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk3MTM5MjI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_     After a mysterious notebook lands at his feet, high school student Light Turner (Nat Wolff) is shocked to learn that every person whose name is written in the book dies and that the notebook was given to him by a god of death known as Ryuk (Willem Dafoe (voice), Jason Liles). He shows the Death Note to his friend Mia (Margaret Qualley), a cheerleader and together they build up the legend of the god known as Kira, a serial killer who slays the bad guys. After several days the detective known only as L (Lakeith Stanfield) figures out the general location of Kira. He’s in Seattle and L goes there to investigate further along with his handler Watari (Paul Nakauchi). Here L and Kira, both symbolizing a different ideology related to law enforcement work to bring each other down. However Light later learns that his allies may not be the friends he thought they were.

So this movie is based off of a classic anime/manga of the same name. I only read the manga so I know at least most of the major discrepancies in the plot and characters. It is nearly impossible to go over what this movie did wrong without pointing those discrepancies out. Because of that I’ll go over how it holds up without it being an anime adaptation. It isn’t a very good movie, but it isn’t the terrible wreck many people are saying it was. The characters were interesting, the animation of Ryuk was pretty good, and the few small callbacks to the original source material such as the apples gave it at least a connection to the anime. However some scenes were shot oddly for seemingly no reason and there were a few scenes that were a bit too gruesome when they didn’t need to be (i.e. Kira’s first and second murders).

Now on to how good it is as an adaptation. I understand the need to alter a few details to make it fit the courtroom environment of the United States. In Japan most people who go to trial get charged with the crime they were accused of and few people get the death sentence because it’s almost exclusive to cases with multiple murders. This is reflected in some video games such as Ace Attorney where prosecutors tend to be the bad guys. In the United States however the judicial system is different. Is this reflected in the plot at all? Not really except for the fact that capital punishment is a topic of discussion in both the United States and in Japan.

Lights character was altered drastically. Same with Mia’s character. Most of these changes did not need to be made to make the plot fit a different culture. In the anime Light is a honour student with some sociopathic tendencies and Mia (Misa) is an airheaded idol who idealizes Kira to the point where she would commit murders with another death note just to get his attention. In the movie Light is smart but he thinks of the morality of what he does and refuses to kill anybody he sees as innocent. Mia on the other hand is the person who is really pulling the strings behind Kira and will do anything to make him seem all powerful and merciless including killing innocent people. L was also altered drastically. In the anime he is a strange introverted genius who would only ever act calm no matter what happens. He actually seems as though he’s enjoying his hunt for Kira. In the movie he’s still introverted, but later on in the movie he loses that cool. Again these are not changes that needed to be made, in fact the movie would have been better if most of these changes weren’t made.

Some iconic scenes that should have been in the movie were left out it seems in order to make this movie an action packed thriller instead of the slow psychological story of the source material. The potato chip scene would have added a bit of humour to the part where Light is under surveillance. The scene where L is first introduced, the one where he uses different broadcast schedules and death row inmates to find Kira’s general location would have made a lot more sense to L’s character than when he stands in front of many people and is broadcast live on television. In the anime L would never reveal himself like this, especially not before he understood Kira’s modus operandi.

Finally the worst part of this movie is the death note itself. The rules were altered in order to again make this movie more action packed than the source material. They removed the part where anyone who even touches the death note can see Ryuk. It’s also the only death note, unlike in the anime/manga where there were many death notes and many gods of death (shinigami). Instead of the book being dropped to earth by a bored shinigami, it seems that in the movie it is just given to random people and Ryuk will make sure it is passed on. Light only wrote the first name after Ryuk urged him to when in the anime/manga he writes many names before Ryuk even shows up. Most of these changes were not necessary.

So I ended up doing exactly what I didn’t want to do. I focused a lot more on how this movie doesn’t hold up to its original source material instead of just looking at how good the movie itself is unconnected to the anime/manga. This is mainly because the original story is a lot better than this movie just because all these changes were made. I understand that it is difficult to fit all that plot into a movie that is less than 2 hours long, but they could have at least tried. When it was decided to make this movie it is as though no one even read a decent summary of the plot. I do recommend this movie to some people, but not to anyone who has either watched the anime, read the manga, or wants to get into Death Note. If you want to get into Death Note I recommend you watch the anime. You will be far more entertained.

Final Rating – 26/50

Posted in 2017, Movie Review, Movies

Ant-Man (2015) movie review

Ant-Man posterEx-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) steals burglarizes a house in order to get enough money to pay child support. This suit belongs to Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who discovered the Pym particle which can decrease the space between atoms. The suit has the ability to shrink its wearer as well as giving them super strength. Together with Dr. Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Scott and Dr. Pym plan a heist in order to prevent the Pym particle from getting into the wrong hands.

This is a superhero movie which does a few things differently. For instance the training montage which is common in superhero origin story movie’s is not just a montage of the protagonist slowly getting better at using his powers, but rather it is split in two by a fight then a conversation between two characters which highlights what Scott needs to do to succeed. Also Hank is not someone who always makes all the right decisions, but rather someone who makes a lot of mistakes pursuing the greater good and who often takes the easy way out.

The characters are brilliant, and the comic relief characters are not overplayed. I feel as though Hope could have gotten a bit more love especially at the start where Dr. Pym wouldn’t even tell her something despite her need to know and how Dr. Pym refused to let her use the Ant-Man suit. It is explained later on why he made these choices but that does not make it better. At least they make up and the sequel movie is going to have Hope be the Wasp (a superhero I don’t know if I’ll like because of the name).

This is a good superhero movie which doubles as a heist movie. Ant-Man is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Hank makes his return in Captain America: Civil War. There is also going to be a sequel. Watch this movie if you liked any of the other Marvel superhero movies. If you didn’t like any of the other movies watch this one anyway because it is different enough from the others that you may like it.

Final Rating – 47.8/50

 

Posted in 2017, Movie Review, Movies

Big Hero 6 (2014) movie review

Big Hero 6 BannerBig Hero 6 is a great movie which follows Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a 14 year old prodigy in robotics who graduated high school at the age of 13 and who ends up forming a superhero team with six members to defeat a masked villain. After a tragic accident which took the life of Hiro’s older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), Hiro along with Tadashi’s robotics project Baymax (Scott Adsit) go on a mission to heal Hiro’s grieving heart. This is a fantastic animated movie which features themes of death, grief, and depression, and which supplies great role models for those who need them.

This movie was produced by Disney and is based off a Marvel Comics superhero team. It is set in a city called San Fransokyo which if you haven’t already guessed by the name is based off a Japanese version of San Francisco. This is important because in the original Big Hero 6 comic by Marvel Comics the team is made up of superheroes in Japan. This also allowed the setting designers to include iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge as well as keep the setting of the movie similar to the setting of the comic.

The relationships of this movie are incredible. From the very beginning you can tell how much Tadashi cares about his younger brother and when he dies it is crushing not just to Hiro but also to many of the people watching the movie. This relationship is obvious throughout the rest of the movie. Also while I’m talking about relationships there is one thing I found weird about some of them. Hiro’s only friends include Tadashi, a robot, and Tadashi’s college friends. He has no friends of his own. Sure they do introduce him as being mostly alone but that doesn’t mean that he knows no other people.

Throughout the plot there are a few minor inconsistencies in the details. One of these involves Baymax’s body scan. These were most likely missed when the writers were going over the final plot. These inconsistencies are no big deal and you most likely won’t even notice them unless you are actively looking for them. They don’t take away from the story or the characters, but they are there.

Most of the characters are well written, though many of them are based off of cliches and quirks. There are only three fully developed characters in this entire movie, but these three characters are the most important to the plot. I don’t expect any side characters to be well developed in a Disney movie. My favourite character in this movie is Baymax because of his whole purpose to the plot of the story being to help Hiro get better.

The animation is good in this movie. It is very smooth and the character movements are realistic even if their models are very cartoonish. There are many beautiful shots in this movie involving sunsets and landscapes. The first scene in the movie involved the camera zooming into the city revealing many different buildings and landmarks before reaching the robot fight which Hiro was about to enter. There are many other scenes like this one. It is obvious that the animators put a lot of work into this movie.

Big Hero 6 is a movie that deals with death and grief, but also with healing and friendship. If you only have two hours to watch a movie why not watch this one. It is only one and a half hours after all. I highly recommend this movie because of its depictions of grief and depression. Also if you stay until the end of the credits you will be awarded with a complementary Stan Lee cameo appearance.

Final Rating – 49/50

Posted in 2017, Movies, Writing

Use of Flashbacks in The Whole Truth

The Whole Truth is a movie that was released in October 2016. It follows a defense attorney named Ramsey (Keanu Reeves) as he defends a teenager (Gabriel Basso) who is accused of murdering his Father (Jim Belushi) and tries to get him acquitted of all charges. The thing is that the his client Mike has already confessed to all charges and all of the evidence points towards him. The trial can be nothing more than a losing battle. At least that is how it is until Ramsey learns the whole truth behind the murder.

I watched this on Netflix because it looked like something I would like. I wasn’t wrong. I found something about how the movie was shot and put together. If you don’t want to be spoiled please do not read past this point and watch the movie instead because below I discuss what I found interesting about this movie. (I sure hope the ‘Read More’ tag works on this blog template.)

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