Sunday, July 19, 2015
Paul Rudd fronts a competent cast as burglar Scott Lang, a disenfranchised father who can't seem to find a groove between his con-man skills and desire to be with his daughter. Fortunately for him, former Ant-Man Hank Pym (a reinvigorated Michael Douglass) offers Scott a second chance, one that may set him on a path to reunion and redemption. The ensuing plotline is, as you'd expect, a heist scenario fitting for this latest branch in the neverending Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Performance-wise, most of the cast is in fine form. Paul Rudd caters to his off-key and awkward, comedic strengths while keeping the right dose of humanity. Yet he ends up outclassed and outversed by Michael Douglass, who gives one of his best portrayals in recent memory. Douglass runs the gamut from stark comedy to dramatic heft and turns into the film's true center of interest. If anything, he nearly steals the thunder from the action scenes, which are at their best when they're the most spontaneous. The finale is ripe with clever action and silly, comedic touches that leave a lasting impression. Less commendable on the development front is Corey Stoll, bringing enough odd facial expressions to make one doubt the script's own competence. Douglass expositiously mentions that Stoll's character isn't the most stable person, but this facet is insufficiently realized. What ultimatley results from this is a miss-mash of rising action into the climax. The payoff feels disproportionate when compared to recent MCU entries, but this also has much to do with perspective.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Speaking of Greg and Rachel, let's discuss them. The two simply become friends, a fact that Greg points out early into their off-key greeting session. This isn't to say the two don't develop feelings for each other on a different level--a reality Hollywood often makes us forget, quite the contrary. We see what Greg and Rachel do for one another, even if one of them requires more encouragement from other, more minor characters. The film uses its fitting depictions of high school life to bring us in, ultimately keeping us clenched thanks to the transitions out of school and into the characters' personal lives. This is where Greg and Earl's collection of films come into play. On their off time, they write, direct and act out parodies of many famous movies. These are among the many things in Greg's life he'd prefer to keep low-key, yet their significance goes beyond mere charm and entertainment. How exactly is this achieved? You'll have to see the movie to find out.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
The story is literally one of varying moods and perspectives; Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a young girl with five emotions controlling and representing her mind. These include the vibrant Joy (Amy Poehler), hysterical Anger (Lewis Black), sassy Disgust (Mindy Kaling), frantic Fear (Bill Hader) and moody Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Joy reigns bright as Riley's dominant emotion until her parents announce they're moving to San Francisco (from Minnesota). The shift in environment brings numerous challenges, many of them internal, thus resulting in a quest riddled with, well, emotion.
Carrying more weight than visuals is the film's poignancy. Pixar are no stranger to making us feel for their characters through their empathetic struggles; Inside Out replicates this in spades. The choice to emphasize inner turmoil is rarely done in cinema, primarily due to inherent limitations (almost all book adaptations suffer this). However, Pixar have worked around said dilemma with such finesse that viewers can only be drawn in to this fresh yet familiar world. Truth is, Pixar are the perfect company to produce a project such as this, since childrens' imaginations run so wild. Yet this does eventually hit a decline for us all, and Inside Out begs us to take another look at the inevitable struggle.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Now, in the 14 years since Jurassic Park 3, production and crediting issues served as the breadcrumbs leading to the awkwardly titled Jurassic World. We can almost immediately sense a lack of concern in the script, with the premise of how another park got opened being utterly skimmed over. Amidst business jargon, we learn that public demands are nearly insatiable, resulting in the creation of one Indominus Rex, a genetic mutiny waiting to happen. This new dino baddie may sound similar to Jurassic Park 3's Spinosaurus in premise, which it might as well be. Indominus is actually kept obscured for its first few scenes, making for a welcome attempt at build-up that never actually pays off. Jurassic World tries to be brisk on the pacing and is reluctant to put its main characters in harm's way. Neither struggle nor terror are properly realized, leading to a lack of investment and, ultimately, moments of drag from the attempt to zip through scenes.
What about the action and spectacle then? It's sufficient to a point, one that likely won't take long to pass. Jurassic Park 3's over-reliance on CGI, both up-close and afar, leaks and spreads throughout Jurassic World. If animatronics were used, they're far from convincing. Playing up Hollywood's CGI overload, Jurassic World has a highly saturated, strangely contrasted look to its color palette; everything is vibrant, washed out and like to play a part in how well this installment will age (poorly). Many shots are borrowed to the point of stealing from previous films, including runaway shots from Jurassic Park 3. It gets to the point where throwbacks become a crutch for the movie to sit on, as if each one will pardon the tired shortcomings. Another surprising issue is the misuse of music, which would have you believe landscapes should draw more awe than dinosaurs. Remember some of the high points from the trailers and how the music swelled? Don't expect the movie to replicate that.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
After a wonderfully visual opening, Tomorrowland diverts its attention to Casey (Britt Robertson), an unusually intuitive talker whose ambition is trumped only by her constant questions. Through a healthy dose of shenanigans, she comes into contact with bitter-to-the-end Frank (George Clooney), being a reluctant semi-leader of sorts when his ideas aren't too pessimistic. The two lead a familiar ironic-yet-complementary combination to reach Tomorrowland, uncover its secrets and even have a chance to change the world.