It has been nine years since the last main installment of the Bourne series and four since the spin-off film with Jeremy Renner. Some would call this a return to form for the series since the spin-off did not have Matt Damon and a different director as well. This is entirely true and almost nothing else needs to be said about the movie.
The Bourne franchise has been around since its first installment back in 2002 with The Bourne Identity. Since then, the Bourne movies have been thematically the same with no real deviation from it's formula. Jason Bourne is running and hiding from people in a control room who is tracking all his movements. There is fighting and some cool stunts, it's well written and engaging. But you have seen this movie three times already. This doesn't make it a bad movie, but it doesn't offer anything new.
The movie makes it easy for any new viewer to understand the plot without having seen the first three movies. It would help to have seen them, but it does not hold back the film from being a good time. The biggest omission the movie presents to the viewer are the missing set pieces that movies are know for. The only one that stands out is a car chase scene in Las Vegas, but it would have been helpful for there to be more than one really big scene. Another problem with this scene is that it comes towards the end of the movie so you have to go through the movie without a big scene to captivate you.
Boiled down, this movie doesn't provide you with a new aspect to the Bourne series, but it is still a good enough movie on its own.
The first reaction I had to this movie came from its loud advertisement campaign. It threw Star Trek fans through a loop with its loud rock song and emphasis on motorcycle stunts. To some it was the evidence of the new director, Justin Lin, who had helmed the Fast and the Furious franchise for so long. The truth is, that loud advertisement seeped into my subconscious and infected me with anticipation. I had been more excited for this movie to come out than the previous entry, Star Trek Into Darkness, which had the added benefit of Benedict Cumberbatch. That entry had its effect on this one though, evidence found from its opening box office being 10 million less than its predecessor. But I dare to say that this movie took the risk to surprise movie goers with a film worth buying on Blu-ray.
The main complaint I have with the movie is one of the innovations Justin Lin brings to the table. The constant spinning of the camera to encircle the subject is an overused camera trick in the first 10 minutes that is reminiscent of motion sickness. With this as an omission the rest of the film is exciting, funny, and skews towards the conceptual.
The philosophical questions and debate that Star Trek is supposed to invoke have been long forgotten since the 2009 reboot. The series is now know for its spectacle set pieces and the slight tug on emotion, but with a set precedent. The previous films have defined the narrative and emotion to, at its center, be about Spock and Kirk's relationship. This film dares to shift that focus which might cause some people to feel that there is something missing from this entry.
This voyage from the star ship Enterprise focuses more on the main crew dynamic, also adding a new character to their roster as well. This was done in the previous film with Alice Eve's character, Carol Marcus, which does not return for the end of the trilogy. It would be a hopeful event that this new character would be added to the main roster, but it will probably not happen. These new character additions really help to elevate the film so this new character is a welcomed edition.
All in all this movie is pretty similar to the other Star Trek movies, so if you liked those ones you will like this one.
Demolition is another movie demonstrating Jake Gyllenhaal's amazing range as an actor and just like those other movies, many people will not be aware of this movie due to its inability to captivate the main movie goer audience. It seems to be a reoccurring trend for Jake Gyllenhaal's movies to be undiscovered gems, at least to the people that enjoy them. This is where that audience disconnect originates from, the movies are so potent when conveying their ideas that for some people its over bearing. This movie doesn't hold its punches, it wants you to deal with everything that it throws at you without waiting for you to process what it has given you.
This would be an interesting form of storytelling if it had been more efficiently done. Since the movie wants to not only tell you the main story, literally up to the very last moment, but it also shoe horns in three subplots. The movie fires everything it has at you which makes it impossible to give each plot the time it needs to resonate with the audience. Its a shame because each subplot is critical to see the growth within the main character and his relationship with the people around him.
If you were to compare this movie to Night Crawler, one of Jake Gyllenhaal's best performances, it is a far cry. The thing that gets in the way of this movie being the next Night Crawler is how the story was told, which is a like a paradox because it needed that story telling for the movie to be as good as it was.
The biggest thing that hindered the movie were the questions that it posed for the simple fact of there not being answers. You can argue that you don't need the answers you desire because that was not the point of the movie, but it still would have been nice to get answers. Especially since the biggest burning question comes from one of the biggest reveal/surprises the movie tosses in your direction. In the end, it is a movie that is worth seeing for Jake Gyllenhaal but for not much else.
The first thing that people accuse The Secret Life of Pets of doing, is ripping off Toy Story. The idea that when humans aren't looking, things that we don't expect to move do. This way of thinking is not appropriate for a number of reasons. The first being that if that were true, then Toy Story ripped off a movie for its premise, a movie called The Brave Little Toaster. That movie borrowed its idea from another work called The Indian in the Cupboard. So many films and works have used this story telling device way before Toy Story. Second, there are a wide variety of differences from Toy Story and The Secret Life of Pets that make it seem like they are no where near the same. So that argument has no weight to it.
What about the movie itself though? The simple answer comes down to a couple factors. The comedy in the movie is completely dull and unoriginal. I have seen the same simple gag tricks done in animated TV shows many years ago. The only redeeming thing about the movie's comedy is Kevin Heart's performance as Snowball the bunny. I know there is no review here for Central Intelligence, but that was not a great movie. Kevin Heart is basically just doing what he always does there, but in The Secret Life of Pets he is the only saving grace. Almost every single scene except for one, I laughed because of Kevin Heart's character. I want to prefecit that these were not big laughs, just little chuckles. So even if there was more of Snowball the bunny it wouldn't have been enough.
The second problem with the movie comes down to its big cast of supporting characters. There are so many things to pay attention to that you cannot completely focus on one group of characters. You can't enjoy the journey that the three main groups take in the movie because it has to cut to a different group to fill in their story. The movie wants you to form a quick connection with everyone but it is hard to do. Instead of having a deep story with a small group, you get very little information with a large group.
There are only a couple of strong suits that the movie did, but they are so minor that they cannot save this movie from itself. I will list a couple of them because they factor in with why the movie didn't work well. The first thing I noticed was that Illumination Entertainment has gone the Pixar route in which they had a short in front of the movie. This short was about the minions and it made me actually laugh, not just a chuckle. This has to do with how minion comedy is presented. With The Secret Life of Pets, the comedy was generic and uninspired while minion comedy is still amazing. This comes down to the fact that the minion comedy is inventive and something that is not widely know or used before. It is a fresh experience that catches you off guard and is genuinely funny unlike the comedy in this movie. The second thing that stood out was the first 10 min of the movie. It was an exact retread of the trailer with the alternating shots of pets and their owners. This made the movie start off really boring for me since I have seen the trailer multiple times, but I can appreciate what that means for a movie goer watching the full movie. It allows for the movie not to be spoiled by the trailer and leaves new experiences, it is a shame that the movie is not good enough to capitalize on this.
It was cool to see a garden gnome in the movie from the minion short that was shown before the movie and a poster for the next Illumination Entertainment movie on a bus. Overall, I wish I didn't see it in theaters because I was let down since Minions was far superior to this movie.
The last thing I want to bring up is the idea that this movie is better that Finding Dory. Yes, Finding Dory was not as good as Finding Nemo, but The Secret Life of Pets is also not as good as Finding Nemo. If you were to go to the movie theaters right now, go watch Finding Dory because it is still way better than this movie.