I was very excited to see the movie the trailers for A Simple Favor showed. What I got was a very Paul Feig version of the premise. If we split the movie into thirds, the first third is exactly what I wanted, the second third was way off base, and the last third was just wrong. Blake Lively is great and her character adds the perfect kind of dark humor to stop this movie from feeling too much like Gone Girl. The issue here is that Paul Feig refuses to just let this movie be an exciting thriller/drama; he just has to make it goofy. Anna Kendrick plays Anna Kendrick, which means her character is incredibly unlikable with her constant quirky, goody-two-shoes shtick and it's way too much. Even if we put her character aside for a moment, the rest of the film is just way too goofy. Lively's character has a lot of fun dark humor, but everyone else is constantly chirping in with the dumbest middle school jokes. A Simple Favor with anyone else at the helm could be a perfect film, but Feig insists on dumbing it down. The humor here is like if you told a pre-teen Disney star to be edgy. "Uh oh, that lady said a bad word to her child! HAHA! Now she's wearing a shirt with giant pompons on it!" As much as I hate remakes, this would be a great story for a better producer & director to pick up in ten years, long after everyone has forgotten that this film even existed.
Rewatching the Shrek Series hits a big road block at Shrek the Third. The story feels way too similar to the previous two movies and it's starting to feel really old. None of the new characters add anything and the more interesting side characters they've drug along aren't getting enough screen time. I'm kind of over Shrek going through the same character arc and Donkey doing nothing other than comic relief. Shrek the Third still has some good humor, but I think it's less funny and less fun that Shrek 2. The animation hasn't improved, but the great voice acting kind of covers it. The previous installments had licensed songs, but this time it's a little to obtuse. There is a pretty funny and clever use of Immigrant Song but I think the Fergie cover of Barracuda cancels it out. Shrek the Third shows the series was beginning to run out of gas, just as I did when we get Prince Charming trying to take over the kingdom again.
Ratatouille has the trademark Pixar charm, but it's visually disappointing and isn't as fun and comical as I've come to expect. The story line is fine, but it's leaning a little too much towards saccharine and none of the characters other than Remy feel real. Alfredo has unclear goals and the fact that he never even gives Remy a name (and instead calls him "Little Chef") further hollows his character. For a Pixar movie, the animation was pretty good for almost everything, but the character models look awful. The rats aren't terrible, but they are much more reminiscent of a Dreamworks animated feature than a Pixar. The human's look terrible, though. Comparing Ratatouille's humans to Andy from the first Toy Story highlights how lazy and ugly Ratatouille's character models are. The story isn't exactly novel and I think they paid too much attention to their ham-fisted message and not enough to the actual story elements. This is the first Pixar movie where I never found anything funny and honestly struggled to find what they though would be funny. The voice acting is good and the audio quality was great, but Patton Oswald plays Remy far to hammy. If it wasn't Pixar, Ratatouille would be a perfectly okay, if bland, animated movie, but knowing what Pixar is capable of and had given us prior to this film, I was very disappointed. The story feels Pixar-ish, but the animation doesn't hit the bar and it's lacking any fun and whimsy.
I understand why audiences weren't thrilled with Episode IV back in 1980. The Empire Strikes Back is like Avengers: Infinity War in that it 100% can not stand alone and only serves as a volley for the next film. I did find Empire a lot more interesting and there is a lot more plot, but we barely move from where we start and mostly just spin our wheels in scenarios that don't matter in the end until we get to the ending where we are left feeling hopeless about what's to come. The acting is still great and I enjoyed the scenes while they were on, but as soon as they were over they no longer have any relevance. The entire sequence with Luke and the Wampa serves no purpose other than to explain away Hamill's facial scars. Luke's training with Yoda is just a pit stop that is forgotten as soon as it's over. Speaking of Yoda, he is a terrible character here. I haven't watched the original trilogy in over a decade, so I am very hazy on plot details, but re-watching it this time his character doesn't make any sense. His first "test" is wholly unrepresentative of what he's trying to measure and totally unfair. Plus, he looks awful. The puppet is terribly made. The biggest issue I have with Empire is that almost nothing that happens matters. If you went from A New Hope to Return of the Jedi and only watched the last twenty minutes of Empire in-between, you wouldn't be missing anything. What separates it from The Last Jedi, which has the same issue, is that I enjoyed the pointless scenes in Empire and I actually like the characters. The effects in Empire are much worse, but I like the battle on Hoth and I had fun on Bespin. The Last Jedi's pointless scenes were frustrating, nonsensical, and poorly written. Plus, Empire treads water for two hours and Last Jedi spends two and a half hours undoing the previous movie and wasting our time.
It's Snow White,if you replaced the dwarves with witches. The audio sounds awful, with a couple of characters sounding like their lines were recorded through a tin can, and they keep playing the same song over and over. The animation looks awful. Why does their world look like Minecraft? All of the trees are square and all of the hills and bluffs are inexplicably squared off. There is very little characterization for any of the characters and the villain has no motive other than "You didn't invite me to a party that I didn't really want to go to anyway" and the way magic works makes no sense. Why is it even called Sleeping Beauty when she's only asleep for about seven minutes? Sleeping Beauty is a messy fairy tale with characters that have no personality and a very weird surrealist animation style. There are no memorable characters, songs, or antics. It just doesn't hold up.
The Good Dinosaur begins with an absolutely beautiful scene setting up their alternative version of Earth where the asteroid never hit and dinosaurs got to continue their reign at the top of the hierarchy. All of the nature shots and backgrounds are wonderfully animated and if you had told me they were from a Discovery Chanel nature documentary, I'd probably have believed you. They clearly spent a lot of time and money on these secondary elements, but everything else looks like garbage. The dinosaurs look terrible; like the very worst Illumination knock-off movies. For crying out loud, this is Pixar! How did these terrible character designs and animations pass all the way to theaters? All of the characters look awful: dinosaurs, people, bugs, everything that isn't scenery. It's damn near painful to see the beautiful water effects and physics share the same screen with Arlo looking like a Duplo Block. The animation that should have gotten all the attention looks like crap. The voice acting is okay, but no one does a particularly good job. Although not as bad as the animation, the story is also dreadful. There are so many awful plot conveniences and plot holes, terrible pacing, awful characters, and the most cliche and predictable story imaginable. There are tons of little dumb things that bothered me, like how since the asteroid didn't hit, dinosaurs kept on evolving for millions of years, but they didn't physically change in any way, but instead are somehow now capable of building houses and farming. How the Hell is an Apatosaurus with no thumbs or any gripping ability able to construct, put on, and operate a wooden mechanism to spread seed and how come they have a tool for that, but they are still digging trenches with their heads? Why do the humans (if that's what they are supposed to be) act like canines and not primates? Just because dinosaurs still exist, humans are millions of years behind on their evolutionary track? The Apatosaurus literally only farm corn and don't interact with any other characters, so are we to believe that they survive by only eating corn? There are tons of stupid little things like this that just piss me off, but not nearly as much as the lame, cookie-cutter story that you can predict beat by beat five minutes in. The inauthentic, saccharine moments are so forced, manipulative, and nauseating that I really wanted to turn the movie off. I hated every character and the stupid decisions they made and I hate Disney/Pixar for letting this horse crap make it past story boards. This is easily the worst Pixar movie. Even if we include the awful early Pixar shorts, this is the worst. I was prepared for something super mediocre, but The Good Dinosaur (why is that even the name of the movie?) is abysmal. Just take out all of the characters and sell it as a 90 minute screen saver, because the only thing here that isn't garbage is the backgrounds.
Life as We Know It is a perfectly okay movie. It's a 100% generic and cliche romantic comedy that you can predict beat for beat after the first ten minutes. The acting is fine and the secondary cast offers some good laughs, but everything else is painfully average for a rom-com. There isn't anything to really pile on or nitpick, because it's all exactly what you expect it to be. It's a perfectly inoffensive movie to enjoy with a significant other or your mom or whoever you watch this kind of movie with. If someone wanted to watch it, I could watch it again, but I will never watch it again by myself.
I bought The Angry Birds Movie assuming it was going to be hilariously bad, but it turns out it's something so much worse; The Angry Birds Movie is painfully average. The animation looks fine, not as good as Pixar but not as bad as Illumination, but just fine. The voice acting is good, although I don't like a fair portion of the voice actors, they didn't do a bad job. The story is very predictable and cliche, but it's not terrible. I hated most of the characters, but a few (like the one Josh Gad plays) are okay. It's clearly a kids movie, but they do make attempts to entertain the adults who are forced to watch it. The issue is that these attempts are very odd choices. There is an uncomfortable amount of sexual humor and innuendo for a kids' movie. I personally have no problem with sexual humor and innuendo, but it feels so wrong and dirty to see a cartoon bird doing pelvic thrusts while talking about making new eggs. They also just throw in random references that are out of place, like The Shinning and 50 Shades of Grey. The Angry Birds Movie isn't offensively bad like Ice Age or Sausage Party, but it also isn't "good bad" like Life is a Jungle or one of the knockoff movies. This movie doesn't do anything particularly well or terribly, everything is just okay. I wanted a dumpster fire, a hard F-, but I got a C-. It's colorful and energetic enough to keep kids entertained, but there isn't any reason for an adult to chose to watch it.
Parasite is a story like I've never seen before. The acting was perfect, the cinematography is great, the score is wonderful, but the story is what i loved the most. I went into Parasite with the misinformation that it was a horror and no other information. I'd recommend not looking up any plot information because experiencing it blind was the perfect experience. Parasite works on so many levels that if you just want a comprehensive story that you don't have to have to dig deep into to get meaning and enjoyment, Parasite is fun, shocking, and kind of funny. I loved every character and the chemistry between them all felt very real. If you are someone who wants to rip a movie apart and look at every element under a microscope for symbolism and can't get anything out of a film that isn't stuffed full of allegory, Parasite has a lot to say and it's in every fiber of the movie. The reason Parasite speaks to so many people is that it has a fairly universal message that it tells on multiple levels. I hate movies like Mother! that only work as a series of metaphors and are barely even a story at surface level. If you can get beyond the bar of reading subtitles, Parasite has something or someone you can connect to. I wish the plot was more evenly distributed and we didn't rush through the last half hour, but otherwise I can't find any big faults.
It Chapter Two is a mess. The acting is great (even if the chemistry isn't as good between the adults as the kids), there were some really cool camera shots, and I liked the little nods to other King novels, but I hated everything else. Chapter Two is almost three hours long, about half an hour longer than the first movie, and you feel every minute. There were so many scenes that accomplish nothing and just being a scene that was in the book doesn't make it any better. There are tons of things from the book that they skipped that would have been great, so the pawn shop scene being in the book doesn't validate its place in the movie. I understand making a few changes, but the ending is so much worse than the book. Stephen King writes terrible endings. Every single one of his books that I have read is great up until act three and then it becomes total dog shit. It Chapter Two is so much worse in every way. There is one bit that I really want to address, but I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that they add dimensions to characters that are in no way even remotely hinted at in the book, in the first movie, or in the first two hours of this movie. It feels like a forced element just to tick a box on the checklist some who will never even see this movie anyway. It's really shame because the cast is great, again not as good as the younger cast, but still great. The CGI is pretty awful, but the script is 85% of what is wrong with this movie. The pacing is just so bad because they spend way too long setting up everything the first movie already set up and constantly deflate all the tension with a random joke. It Chapter Two is far more concerned with trying to be funny than it is trying to be scary. I get that Richie is a comedian, but every fucking scene Bill Hader is in is just him making awful jokes and then they make Eddie joke around the whole movie too. Bill Hader is doing a great job with his character, but his character is so annoying and grating, even worse than Harry Anderson's tone deaf portrayal. Even Pennywise trying to be scary is funny half of the time. In the first movie, he'd being doing something similar and it would be creepy and unsettling, in Chapter Two it's mostly just coming of as comic. The first movie had three co-writers and Chapter Two was just Gary Dauberman and based on the other movies he's written, I feel pretty safe blaming him for this awful script. The CGI is pretty terrible too, but the script is what really tanked this sequel. It Chapter Two is a bastardization of the book and a total waste of the acclaim the first film built. The cast is good and the cinematography was fun. This is everything that isn't garbage.