Assassin’s Creed was supposed to prove that the video game movie renaissance was upon us. It was supposed to break the trend of bad video game movies and highlight what could be done with adaptations of established interactive stories. It was supposed to be the beacon of hope that the soon to follow video game movies would rival those of the comic book movies that have taken over the theaters. It is really disappointing to report that Assassin’s Creed does not fulfil this role.
The first major problem with this movie is the story. What actually happens and what are the characters called, I couldn’t tell you. Walking out of the movie theaters I could not recall any single character's’ name from the movie because they so unmemorable. The movie is unmemorable and will be quickly forgotten. The changes they made to the Assassin’s Creed lore is drastic and pretty bad, and even more egregious is that fact that it doesn’t work in the movie either. I am not so attached to the lore from the video games that I would dismiss the movie altogether, but the reason it is so bad is because it was poor overall. I get that you might have to change some things for the movie to be more interesting than its source material, this has been happening to books for so long. The fact that it is still horrible is where my dismay comes into play. The story sucked, it didn’t make much sense, and nothing was memorable. There were a couple glimmers of hope but they were so short and few that they hold no candle to the final overall work.
I usually do not talk about film making techniques and other technical practices that make a movie, but this time it cannot be avoided. Assassin’s Creed was one of the worst shot movies I have ever seen. The constant cutting to irrelevant scenes while more interesting action are going on, or the continued zooming out effect they tried doing to give you scale of the situation. During action sequences, the few scenes the movie did have, it would cut mid fight to something that did not have action in the scene and halt momentum. The constant zooming out to show the really bad CGI city of 13th century spain, and the absurd amount of smoke in every shot.
Assassin’s Creed was supposed to be the peoples’ champion, and for the two people that clapped after the movie ended it was, but for every other sane person it was literal shit. It is sad to see so much money wasted on such a bad movie, and that’s why it rounds out all of the movies that I have seen this year.
Manchester By the Sea is the first movie from Amazon that has really penetrated the awards circuit. Netflix has tried before and still does with very little success, highlighting the importance by playing by the award’s rules. This movie has been nominated for many big awards and I can tell you it might not deserve some of them.
Manchester by the Sea’s biggest strength is its loyalty to the human condition. Its characters are real people that do what real people would do. There is no embellishment of characteristics that you would hope to see to make the story become better, it plays like real life. The attention to the fact that life is scary and unforgiving without remorse. The idea that you can’t run away from your demons and it is hard to face them. This movie speaks to the truth of a past that haunts you and no matter how hard you try to rise to the occasion, it beats you into submission. We would like to think that in life and in movies, you can rise to the occasion to overcome all obstacles, but more often than not it’s not possible.
This movie tells a story, and the people in my theater would argue an incomplete one, but I would deem it finished. There was nothing more to say, nothing more to do, other than changing the movie’s core belief. We may try to act for other people’s best interests, but at the end of the day the world is a cruel place. To at the very end change what made the movie so special, would not have gotten Casey Affleck so much praise.
Overall I can’t recommend you see this movie if you don’t understand it. It tells a real story of struggle, an internal one that doesn’t make for a flashy movie but speaks to the heart. To the old guy sitting next to me who wouldn’t shut up, you don’t get it and that makes me sad for you.
Update: After consideration of the story the movie was trying to tell, I now fully understand it but it does not detract from how I felt watching the movie. So it is still good, but the message and actual events that happen tell a different story than I originally thought.
Original: La La Land is Damien Chazelle’s next movie after 2014’s amazing Whiplash. He also wrote the screenplay for this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane which makes this director writer a true treasure for the film community. His ability to personify desire and express an idea is truly amazing and a gift.
La La Land continues the director’s amazing track record with great movies. Though Whiplash got J.K. Simmons and Oscar for best supporting actor, La La Land is a high priority on many prestigious award lists. La La Land is a musical about two starving artists who are trying to find their purpose and achieve their dreams.
It might come as a surprise, but Damien Chazelle really likes jazz music. This is a joke for anyone who did not have the pleasure of seeing Whiplash, but Chazelle continues to bring it back. In this movie there is a character who also loves jazz and seems to be an important point for Chazelle as a director. Now don’t get me wrong, I have come to love the jazz that Chazelle brings, but one must worry if that plot point will soon get old.
Since on the topic of music, I must address my problems with musicals in general. If characters start breaking out into song for no reason, I will not like it. If there is no reason for the musical number, it is pretty much there as filler. So I am glad to say that this movie is pretty much void of this problem. The only time this happens is at the beginning of the movie, and since it doesn’t happen again, it gets a pass. The rest of the movie musical makes sense when the singing and dancing happens which is nice since it allows for it all to flow together. The music itself warms its way to your heart until it can only put a smile on your face when you hear it. It is not as infatuating as Whiplash’s sound track, but that has to do with the amount of songs that the movies try and get you to fall in love with. While Whiplash had two really great songs over the course of the movie, La La Land has many more for you to enjoy. The quality of songs do not really differ and each one has its place.
Music can really help a film be more memorable and be more personal since music so deeply connected to human emotion. It moves through us and evokes feeling, so that makes this movie better than it would have been without it. This is due to the story being fine, but a generic one. To say that La La Land is something special has truth to it, but not entirely true. A story about two starving artists waiting to achieve their dreams and meeting each other is not anything new, but it does it well. You can feel the desperation and raw reality of an artist’s dilemma. Now the outcome of the movie is very “movie’ but that is to be expected because it complements the story the way it was designed to.
It is important with this movie to distinguish the reactions of the growing few, to the shrinking many. You may have no clue as to what I am talking about, but it is important. The critics who have seen this movie love it, and now that it is available to the public to see, the reviews might start to go towards the other direction. Some complaints are entrenched in the logistics of reality which is a fair point. The idea that you should risk your life for fame and the romanticization of employment is not a great message. These things are real problems that plague people today that are in fact not fun to deal with. Also the idea of a white narrative that strings the movie along is something to consider, but for me all of these complaints didn’t affect my movie going experience. A more real black mark on the movie comes from the idea of if the character's roles were switched. If the man was in the woman's position, would it be heaviliy criticised? If you want a review that highlights the oppositions of this movie, definitly search for one because it might really affect how you see the movie.
Overall this movie was a musical no doubt, not a perfect one, but a good one. It doesn’t really fill the shoes of Whiplash since that was a more personal story, but I still enjoyed watching it.
7.5/10 Unless the hidden meaning is intentional than it would get a higher score
Moana is the next movie out of Disney Animation following Zootopia, but in their Disney Princess line. This means that there should be characters breaking out into song once in awhile and a story focused, well, on a princess. Moana does just that along with a side comment about not being a princess herself (which she totally is).
Moana was fast tracked after the success of Frozen, Disney thinking that they could capitalize on its box office performance. Moana tried to reach that same status but has fallen short on that dream of success.
So if the financial situation is not looking as good, is that due to the movie not being as good? To be honest, Moana has a better arcing story than Frozen does but its message is not as strong. While Frozen was a great movie about sisterhood and independence, Moana is a story about growing up and believing in one’s self. Now that sounds great, but that story has been done so many times that you almost miss it. While Frozen was memorable Moana was forgetful, so are there any good things?
Frozen was known primarily for its soundtrack, mainly two songs that stood out to audiences, but does Moana have equivalents? The soundtrack for Moana, get ready, is overall better than Frozen’s. While Frozen had those two songs, Moana has at least three that I find personally very appealing. So since it has more songs that I like, leading to me preferring the soundtrack to Moana better.
Now that music is out of the way, what made Moana good and bad? Simply put, Moana is a really amazing animated movie on the verge of photorealism. Its depictions of the water, greenery, and landscapes are breathtaking. Sadly that praise does not carry over to other parts of the movie. The story like most recent Disney Animation and Pixar movies seems to be slightly rushed, slowing towards the end. Nothing felt fisted into the project but nothing stood out either. One glaring missed opportunity that the movie did pass up on was bringing the pig along for thee journey because it was so adorable for like 10 minutes. I could watch a whole movie about that pig because it was the best animal in this movie.
Moving on though this move was above average, but not a movie that reached for the stars. It had a simple plot with simple tropey storytelling devices, but executed well. It doesn’t evoke feeling, even though it might of tried to do so. It just seems like another adventure story, just animated very nicely.
Overall, Moana’s “saving grace” comes from its soundtrack and animation quality. There is talk about other animation studios becoming “Pixar quality good”, but I think they need to watch some of these recent Disney animated studios (both of them ie. Pixar and Disney Animation) and rethink that statement.
Arrival is Denis Villeneuve next film after last year’s Sicario. Sicario was a good average movie; it was nicely shot and gave birth to a great character, but overall was pretty average. His next film after Arrival is Blade Runner 2049, which is a big movie that is highly anticipated. Needless to say, but important to highlight, Denis Villeneuve is an exciting director to watch out for. My review of Arrival might come as a surprise now because of how I painted the director.
Arrival is a movie that puts an emphasis on the use of motifs, subtle and throughout but not detectable to audiences not looking for them. It puts an emphasis on the layers hidden beneath the surface and the messages that lie within. It’s more in its own head and focuses on the subtlety that the movie has to offer. This style of filmmaking, the importance of the small details and the underlying tone, has been growing in prominence over time. Movies like this include Mad Max: Fury Road and even Zootopia to a degree. The key difference between the three movies is the fact that Mad Max and Zootopia are movies that have more to offer than the message beneath the surface, while Arrival banks the whole movie off of that one factor.
This wouldn’t be a problem if we lived in a world where movies were still king in the entertainment business. Television has been growing in quality and along with it, intense viewership. This has created a space for stories with longer running times to be told, which now rival movies for the video storytelling medium.
Why do I bring up television, because West World happened. I finished West World before I got a chance to see Arrival, and that made this movie average fare for me. The subject material for each product is completely different, but the same storytelling tool is used for both. This means that the big “twist” at the end of Arrival was not as impactful as it could have been, if I had not seen the same thing used in West World I would have had a better reaction. For West World’s final I was blown away by the subtle storytelling and the same kind of “twist” that blew my mind. But to try and pull that same “trick” again is an impossible task due to the fact it was still so fresh in my mind.
If you want to see Arrival and be amazed by it, do not watch West World. It might just be me, but trust me, there is only so many times you can be surprised by one thing. I guess if you want to save your reaction for West World and don’t mind Arrival not realising its full potential, that is fine too. I actually prefer West World because there was more to work with there, the longer running time really helped that series build itself, while Arrival is constrained to be a 2 hour movie.
Overall the movie was good, but it didn't blow me away like it did for everone else.
The latest movie in the Star Wars universe takes place in an unlikely place. It happens between the prequals and the original trilogy, having the job to bridge that gap. The story is a magnification of one line of dialogue in the very first Star Wars movie released, Star Wars. At least that is what it was called when it first came out, now it is more commonly know as A New Hope.
Rogue One is the first in a new series of Star Wars movies that will seperate the main films from each other. You can think of them filling the off year when the main star has to take a break. These movies promised to be different than the main Star Wars movies by providing you with genre shifts and tonal differences, and this one delivers on that promise.
The Star Wars formula is set in stone by now, though good movies, it has become apparent that that formula is the reason Episode VII was not panned by everyone. This newest movie on the other hand, deffinitly brought change where it might have been dangerous to do so. Star Wars is a beloved franchise that would be wise not to disrupt the its core audience. (cough Kathleen Kennedy)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was first introduced to the public as a BlackHawk Down style of movie, which to me sounded really interesting. The final product sees another brunette female protagonist lead the charge of a rag tag group. But in this case, it seems less egregious than when Episode VII did it. This movie also has the added bonus of not having a Marry Sue, but that is an after thought.
To get into the nitty gritty, Rogue One is a great movie no doubt about it. It is a personal look at the stories of people in a world where there is almost no hope. It takes you on a full character arc that has meaning and warmpth. It invites you into a disgruntled world and surprises you with how deep it can go. It's not perfect albeit, with way too many cuts at the beginning, it took a while for it to settle down. With more establishing shots it finally eased into the masterpiece it finally became.
That's right, this is the best Star Wars movie ever made period. The movie has real stakes and real consequences that have an impact. I found a salty tear role down my face twords the end of the movie, and the movie earned that reaction from me. Though my time with these characters brief, I hope one day I will be able to experience them again. This due to the fact there is not a planed follow up since the next anthology film is the Han Solo movie.(Uh another brunette female, not Han Solo himself... nevermind)
It is surprising to see such a success story from a movie that had to underwent extensive reshoots, but it paid off big time. Overall, Rogue One blew me out of the water and the whole year of movies. There are a couple of movies I have to still see, but this one will probably be in the top 3 no problem.
9.5/10 They took out a lot of scenes from the early trailers thank goodness
This movie, just like all other movies about true stories, probably was exaggerated a bit to make it a more exciting movie. But a problem arises form that notion, what was embellished and what was real. War Dogs blurs the line of what actually happend and what is movie magic. The ridiculousness of the event to have even happend in real life is quite puzzling and outlandish, let alone what happens in the film.
That puzzling question aside, how was the movie? It might seem to be a generic story about a guy down on his luck but then rises to the top, only to get caught by the government - the real question is, is that actually generic. So maybe the happy ending, believe me it's a happy ending, makes it seem more of a generic story but thats life. With the movie TheWolf of Wall Street you saw the exact same thing, this movie should not be treated differently in that respect. So the main character coming out of the whole ordeal, pretty much unscathed, aside leaves what?
Another parallel this movie does that The Wolf of Wallstreet did was hire Jonah Hill as the supporting character. This is a fantastic choice due to that fact that Jonah Hill has proven to be a great actor that can really deliver a role at a high caliber. The laugh that he came up with for his character cements the movie and defines it. This might seem like an exaggeration, but it is not. That laugh, whenever heard, made me crack a smile which did wonders for this movie. But it still could not overcome the biggest factor that weighed the whole thing down.
Miles Teller, though part of the amazing movie Whiplash where J.K. Simmons won an Oscar for his supporting role, is not a strong actor. He seems to be trying to make movies that are likely to be nominated for awards, but the sad truth lies in his involvment. He brings down a project due to his inability to carry a movie as a lead. This movie was actually more successful that his latest attempt Bleed for This which is a complete failure. He seems to be a capble actor but he just isn't a draw for the mainstream moviegoer.
All in all if you do decide to watch this movie, just realise it's the Jonah Hill show. It probably has less jokes than you thought it might of had due to the pretty good trailers. Like most comedy movies it took the best jokes and used it in the ad campaign.
6.8/10 Jonah Hill's character could be friends with the new Joker