While the narrative does ultimately work, there are quite a few speed bumps along the way. The opening and ending of the movie don't belong as they utilize uninspired tropes that make you feel like your watching a completely different thing. Then there are two separate moments where the score is overbearing and ruins some genuine heart to hearts or dispirits the final act. These problems all play into a bigger issue that goes beyond Pixar films. The act of cutting off emotional resonance with a joke or music cue is used to relieve the audience of brunting any emotional work. It's a modern problem that gives viewers a pass as filmmakers only want people to cry at the very end. I wish those moments could be given room to breathe.
Pixar has always seemed more interested in telling stories than chasing digital superiority. Unlike recent Disney Animation movies, there was never an instance where I thought I was looking at something real. The more stylized approach works here as the fantasy setting ends up validating itself by the end. Even though photorealism isn't achieved here, the animation technology on display is no slouch. The hair on characters melds the abundant strands with a course look that makes it the best hair I've seen in animation. Magical effects are wonderfully rendered and realized.
Onward is the best thing from Pixar since Up. It has the heart, it looks great, and my entire theater clapped... twice. It's a safe bet to take the whole family to when it comes out on March 6, and everyone will have a good time. Children and adults laughed, awed, and the adults teared up. I hope this is a sign that Pixar will go back to making moving animated stories that hit the mark. Not only would audiences finally be going to movies that are worth their time, but the whole industry would benefit too.
I hope this isn't an Incredibles 2 moment where I really like it then realize its not that good
Other notable things about the picture include "action scenes". It felt like there were too many of these as they were used as plot devices to speed up events or to keep the children's attention. One of these sequences is lifted from the X-Men movies, specifically the effect that is used for Quicksilver to show off how fast he is. Its use here is less inventive with little spectacle, which has it come off as an inferior copy.
Deadpool is another property that Sonic the Hedgehog copies as it comes across as the children's version of that series. The number of jokes, the voice over, the visual gags, it's all there. In no way am I insinuating that I would have liked a rated R Sonic feature film, but this impersonation just doesn't work for me.
Everything wasn't all bad, though, as some of the jokes did land, and the VFX were pretty good. I even like that the movie alludes to potential sequels, something that should never happen unless its a sure thing. While a follow up to Sonic's first outing isn't guaranteed, I do like the idea of expanding the world to refine what is here.
Overall, if you have children, this will be a pretty good time for them. If you're an adult, there might be some fun to be had, but it's less than you would hope for. Nothing about Sonic the Hedgehog is specifically horrible, its mostly just not funny and a little boring. It's very comparable to another kid's movie that came out this year, Dolittle. If you had to choose between the two, this one is it.
The intimidation joke was when it peaked
All my grievances can be attributed to the script and editing. The first blatantly obvious setup of the movie is that it divides the women and men from each other. Not literally, but it basically creates two pens to hold the characters in, one labeled 'Good' and the other labeled 'Bad'. Even when you have Harley Quinn, a mass murderer, and certifiable villain, the film sticks her in the 'Good' pen. Only men are labeled as bad since little is done to develop these characters from being more than one dimensional. It helps make the 'Girl Power' message easier to implement as this plays more like a generic low budget affair than what's expected of a 'comic book movie'.
Another point of extreme pain for me was Casandra Cain, played by Ella Jay Basco. Her performance could have been edited weirdly or just didn't fit with the overall tone that the film, but it was horrible. Her line delivery and acting was cringe-worthy as it never seemed like she belonged with everyone else. It's a shame because the character is in most of the movie. Somehow, this major grievance isn't the worst thing either.
Black Mask, for the uninitiated, is an iconic villain for Batman. So debuting him in an offshute picture seemed fine to develop his origin story. What I don't apprieciate is how the ending handles him as a character. The amount of disrespect and laziness that this 'girl power' shitshow uses to wrap him up, visibly shocked me in the theater. I couldn't believe what just happened.
Aside from characters and acting, Birds of Prey fails to be the fun light-hearted romp that it thinks it is. The situations that characters get into are low stakes until the very end, and almost none of the humor hits. The structure in which the story is told is entirely wrong, and a more traditional style would have helped for overall pacing and intrigue. There just isn't that much fun being had as most of the runtime focuses on voice over and scenes dedicated to driving home the 'girl power' message.
Birds of Prey was bad, boring, and at the end, very upsetting. The vibe that was promised, a fun picture about women winning and men losing was only half delivered as there was nothing fun about it. The failure to capture the tone was the fault of editing, specific performances, and the horrible use of music. Some might take offense to how beloved characters were changed, but I personally was only affronted by how Black Mask was treated at the end. If you go see this, you're either a DCEU fan that thinks Batman v. Superman and Justice League are good movies or an agenda-pushing person that might not even see this at all. To everyone else, stay far away from the theater as the hope of interesting action sequences will fail you just like this picture did when it promised to be interesting.
The 'girl power' message is thrown out the window when a female character uses their connection to a male character as protection and abuses that