Many issues squarely fall on Rian Johnson's shoulders. He delivers more head-scratchers as his telegraphing is so blatantly obvious that the film was actively painful to watch. It became a checklist as I was looking for elements that were spotlighted and communicated to the audience as being important. Johnson suffers from using too many close-ups as his only tool to say "this is important". His desire to have every element in the movie connect probably comes from a good place, but that doesn't excuse the monotony of the entire ordeal.
The picture reeks of someone thinking they are telling a clever story, something that defies expectations. Some might describe the sequence of events as "twists and turns", but they feel more like a kid going, "and then, and then". It relies heavily on humor to keep the pace moving since there is no suspense to drive the movie forward. For me, much of the humor felt like the film asking the audience to laugh rather than being genuinely funny. Everyone seemed to fall for it as the rest of my theater did laugh a lot.
The only praise I can offer to the film is the performance by Ana de Armas. As the focus of the movie, she does a great job acting like someone that doesn't know what's going on. It's a significant departure from her work in Bladerunner 2049 and is probably much different than her work in the upcoming Bond film. While the challenges she faces in the story are not that strong, thanks to Johnson's script, she adds validity to them through her performance.
So Knives Out wasn't for me, precisely because its construction was broken from the start. It reminds me of Christopher McQuarrie's comments on how he worked as a script doctor on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. His job there was to reveal the things that drove plot and hide the emotional beats to encourage curiosity. Nothing resembling that is present in Knives Out, it just fumbles about until it's over.
After rereading that review, its seems definitive, but seeing the film again changed my mind. Knowing the plot from the start and forgetting about the marketing material helped to ease my frustrations. I laughed at more of the jokes, was more intrigued by the plot, and overall felt a little happier. There are still plenty of issues I have with the movie, but it's undeniable that this fun romp is cozy. I'm still a little hesitant on what score I think it deserves, somewhere in the 5-6 range, but it seems better than an average picture, so it'll be a 6 for now.
There was one shot where the camera was on a tripod and then ripped off of it to transition into handheld and it was very distracting
With the music hindered, it was all on the story to keep the movie going. Infamously, Frozen was majorly changed at the last minute since Elsa was supposed to be a villain; this is not brought up as a vote of confidence. The level at which Frozen 2 fails at telling a compelling narrative is massive. It starts by retconning aspects of the first film and continues to snowball (heh) from there. Anna goes from having goals in 2013 to being a passive character now. Events just happen to her, and she barely participates. Not a single character has anything resembling an arc; they're all static, unchanged from the beginning to the end. The movie tries to hide its shortcomings by heavy-handedly shoving paper-thin character motivations in your face. Exposition dumps group together with characters always telling you how they feel; show don't tell should be the most obvious rule to follow.
From a big-picture perspective, the film stumbles as it tries to set up mysteries and lessons early on. These would only work if everything wasn't so obvious and if the movie didn't keep referencing them every other scene. It also has one of the most bizarre third acts I've ever seen, lasting a max of 20 minutes. Right as a huge revelation is revealed, and characters are put in difficult situations, everything resolves in a snap. I can't elaborate as it would contain spoilers, but the rate at which all hope is lost turns to everything is alright flashes by.
Frozen 2 isn't inventive enough either. There are three separate references to "Do You Want to Build a Snowman"; THREE. It takes ideas, aspects, and structure from the first film so often that it felt like Deja Vu. Some might mischaracterize this as nostalgia, but movies have been struggling to spawn sequels for decades. Even the lightweight queerbaiting is back, only more prominent than before.
Two things did put a smile on my face, the first being the animation. There were so many little touches that added to the overall character, so many references where you blink, and you'll miss them. Some are character movements, and others are presentation nods, it's wild how many there are. The second thing is the texturing and rendering technology on display. Disney proves once again that no one is close to achieving the level of fidelity that they can reach. Some landscapes and backgrounds look photorealistic. It honestly is impressive stuff and blew my mind each time I saw it.
Frozen 2 is pretty bad. It was at its best during the first act since it played to the brand's strength. Olaf was able to make me laugh, and there was a budding curiosity on what adventure the cast was going to embark on. Once that all came crashing down, my head was propped up by my hand as I sighed my way through the rest of the runtime. There was clapping when the credits rolled so you might enjoy it, but I cannot recommend it.
The music during the credits are the songs sung by professionals and its great
Since the story is designed to be easy to follow, the film inserts scenes of needless conflict to keep the pace moving. An argument can erupt and be solved in the next three minutes of screen time, making the whole thing inconsequential. It's this added fat, which makes the movie not as good as the Hollywood classics that it's trying to impersonate. There is an added problem I have with the story, which stems from the fact it rewrites history. Events happened in a different order; people didn't know each other when they were shown to have met in the film. It's basically a timeline problem that also embellishes drama that never happened.
Ford v Ferrari's quality is shown off in every frame. The cinematography composes familiar shots differently to keep them interesting. It's constantly moving the camera while never crossing action lines to avoid making it confusing for the audience. There are intricate sequences that are easy to follow, with a lot of it shot in camera. Some tremendous full CGI sequences are sneaked here and there, which most probably won't notice.
Along with great racing sequences, the acting from Christian Bale and Matt Damon are the main draw. Their relationship is the heart of the story as they fight and work together to achieve their dreams. You can feel their friendship after a couple of scenes between them, and they continue to sell it throughout the movie. Other critics are praising Bale's performance as something they've never seen from the actor. It's a lot looser and more whimsical than the usual roles he plays.
So this is a pretty easy recommendation. As a crowd-pleaser, it will do its job well. I don't know if including certain events in the film was a good idea, but it does result in the best moment for Matt Damon. I'm vague here, so I won't spoil anything if you do go and see it, I just had to point it out. Also, I feel that in an attempt to be as crowd-pleasing as possible, there were mistakes made that detracted from the final product. So while it was entertaining, and it does get you in the pocket where your anticipation meets excitement, I just wouldn't watch it again.
A lock for Oscar nominations
This complaint of the laissez faire attitude spreads throughout the film and is felt in every scene. There is a distinct lack of proactive action; each character seems to have an aspect about them to lend itself to comedy while betraying the truth of the situation. The attempt to make light of atrocities only works when done in satire, think The Great Dictator from Charlie Chaplin. Where Waititi gets it wrong is making it a Dramedy that pretends to have a message. It's a situation where the intention is well-meaning but didn't translate to action.
The main character, Jojo, doesn't have a moment where he casts off his Nazi fanaticism because it's wrong. Everyone around him except for two people encourages his behavior, pressing him to continue in blind faith. He is given a pass, even though he is a Nazi. That's where all of the critics have their hangups. It gives an out to people for their terrible behavior with no repercussions.
The reason that general audiences like the film is because of the lighthearted mood that rarely falters. The movie's ability to make jokes and keep them going is spectacular. Some gags show up at the beginning of the picture and only come back at the very end. Dialogue is excellent as reasoning for characters' actions are contextualized in little quips that cue the viewer into the hilarity of the situation. It all works due to the cast's great performances.
The obvious standout is Scarlett Johansson, who plays Jojo's mother. I say obvious since she is one of the only actors whose roles are not solely used for comedic effect. Though, Sam Rockwell is a delight as the ineffective German general. The last person to make an impression was Thomasin McKenzie, who plays the Jewish girl. She does a great job being sarcastic and lending the story some humanity.
The strength of Jojo Rabbit comes from how much it can make you laugh. There is plenty of fun to be had while watching it, but when the credits roll, there are some severe insinuations that the movie makes. These problems didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying myself, but they are unavoidable. I also want to make clear that even without the pressing issues at the end, there are still other problems in the rest of the film. I would advise that you go into the movie ready to laugh, but understand that being a Nazi is not ok.
Its extremely enjoyable and simultaneously misses the mark