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The Lion King (2019)
The most unnecessary cash-grabby Disney live-action remake
The remake takes all the fanciful wonder of the original and replaces it with the stale crunch of a BBC documentary. Sure, the CG looks impressively realistic. But the original is often considered a pinnacle, a benchmark modern CG is still trying to achieve. There are ways animation can often tell a story more effectively than live-action, and CG is usually somewhere between live action and hand-drawn. The remake aims for the realistic end of the spectrum, only it's less charming than real animals. If you compare it to live-action films with real animals, like Babe, Lion King 2019 seems lifeless. There's neither the expressiveness you get with animation nor the spontaneity and fidgetiness you get with real animals - it looks accurate, but accurate for a soulless beast under a spell: predictable, mundane, overly smooth. It's like the animators' greatest fear was of accidentally surprising the audience. Heaven forbid any frame less than 99.9% predictable!
Expressive animal faces? Not realistic. Dancing? I mean, Pixar doesn't so probably nobody will miss it. Humor? Let's get rid of that. Voice acting? So long as we have some voice actors adults know are funny in real life, people won't notice they're not funny in the film.
I literally can't think of a single scene from the remake that was stronger than the original. The closest was the addition of Beyoncé's song, Spirit, which was nice, but overall the scene didn't move the story forward more powerfully than the original.
Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
Better, I guess.
I fell asleep 30 minutes into the theatrical release. This one took me 40 minutes. I suppose that counts as better, but too much gravitas for me regardless.
Such a waste
The story had such potential, but it's ruined horribly. I could only make it 3 episodes through before I gave up.
The biggest problem is how anachronistic it all feels. The set looks like it's supposed to have a realistic feel and the plot tries to seriously tackle issues of the period, but the characters are all over the place. Some of them feel like they were transported straight out of the last decade, heavy modern Cali accents and all. I mean, they couldn't even pass for 1980s, let alone 1880s. Others are gross caricatures of the period. But obviously, they can still create a realistic gritty feel by slathering boobs and f-bombs left and right. The dialogue is so bad.
Home Alone (1990)
Family comedy with a bit of violence
This is one of the most famous, well-loved Christmas movies. I highly recommend watching this movie in a close circle of friends and family. The main idea which is given in the film is that is never too late to stop being afraid of anything, even if it is a simple fear of spiders or fear of relationships.
Kevin, the main character of the movie, has great strength, intelligence and creativity. He is able to protect his house against burglars and leave any fears even though he is only eight. The acting is believable, and I especially imagined myself in the shoes of his mother as she desperately tried to find a way home when all the flights were booked.
Kids are quite interested in this movie. I showed it to my kids this year (8 and 11 years old) and they found it hilarious. BTW, there are some scenes in the movie which are not appropriate for children because of the terrific tricks of the child which children would like to copy.
Shen san qi xia (1970)
So bad it's good.
This is easily the worst Kung Fu film I've ever seen, and I love it. I've forced all of my family to see parts of it, but I wouldn't make them watch the whole thing. Some parts you have to rewatch several times to even get what is supposed to be happening. The Aussie dub is horrendous as well, which really maximizes the hilarity.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Before we get into what makes this movie boring...
First, it's important to explain some reasons why I'm leaving this review of an action film about time travel. There are lots of reasons, and some of them almost make sense when you think about it. Now, that we're beginning, forget that, we'll start doing something else entirely.
Now I'm going to explain why I'm going to write a new review about a blockbuster involving time travel. There are several contributing factors, and if you consider them long enough, you will begin to comprehend. Now that we have begun, let's switch things up, we'll enact a new plan.
At this point, it's time for me to pen a review for a sequel to the 80s Schwarzenegger flick that is unique from the one I originally planned. There are details pertinent to understanding. You will mull things over until you connect the dots. We are in the execution phase, and now we are doing something else. Congratulations! You should understand the general feel of the film.
The Witches (2020)
So insulting and pointless
How on earth does it make sense to, in the name of being inclusive to minorities, adapt a book written by a Norwegian-English author that revolves around the land of his heritage, and completely Americanize every aspect of it! To me this screams blind ethnocentrism. Now, I think it could be justified if there was a point, like in order to stick to the spirit of the original that may be lost otherwise. But this isn't the case.
As with so many of the introduced elements to this adaptation, there is no real point at all. I won't give spoilers, but time and again, a new character or ability is introduced. You start thinking to yourself, "I wonder how this is going to be used in the story to create new conflict, build tension, add depth, or set up a more epic confrontation." Each time, you are let down. As soon as something new is introduced, it is promptly forgotten, and the result is that this wasted time and distraction waters down the original story. Tense, climactic moments are simplified and hurried through in the most pedestrian way possible. Both the book and the 1990 film were so much better in terms of storytelling.
They also introduced plot holes so big that they confused my children on more than one occasion. I am pretty forgiving when it comes to plot holes in children's stories, but it does get to a point where it's off-putting, like, "They're just dumb kids, it doesn't matter."
The only reason I gave it 2 stars instead of 1 is because of one change I came to appreciate--the addition of the snake-like mouths for the witches. It does add to the feeling that the witches are inhuman creatures which is in line with the source material.
The last issue, the one that makes it really hard to give even 2 stars, is how mind-numbingly lame the dialogue is. I'm not sure this is a direct quote, "Those mean, nasty witches, are really mean, nasty and evil!" but it's hard to keep track because there are probably 50 or so analogues. That and characters awkwardly stating the obvious to the viewer: "Oh no, the mean, nasty witches just ***** and now they are trying to *****!", when we have just seen ***** and *****, and there is no reason for the character to communicate this to another character.
Such a disappointment.
I wasn't expecting much from this low budget film but was looking forward to it all the same. It could have gone either the folklore route or historical route and been incredibly interesting if done at least half-way decent. That is where this goes all wrong. It did nothing except show a guy dressed up as him trying to make tough, thoughtful facial expressions.
None of the scenes are personal in any way. There is a guy with a name. Girls have crushes on him. He falls in love with a pretty girl with a pretty dress. We are shown that there are historical characters who were in history. There are shady guys who feel the need to shift shady glances constantly each time they mention the Mormons' property. People shoot at him and he shoots them. Carl Malone is there. All of the time spent tying in a narrator feels convoluted and does nothing to provide insight into the title character.
I really don't see how it was possible to write such horrible script and direct such a horrible film when there is so much material to write it off and so many effective, straight-forward methods of telling the story. For instance, the first scene shows some kid's parents get shot. He goes to Joseph Smith's house and sees Rockwell there. Now we know he was a friend of Smith, and we are later told they were friends from childhood. Why not just open by showing Rockwell trying to bust Joseph out of prison? Later we see a reenactment of Smith's assassination, who has been introduced but not developed. This tells us nothing about Rockwell. Also it was hard to not get distracted by the comic mob noises. By now you're getting the idea.
Now throw in stale dance scene to give Carl Malone some time on stage. Others have mentioned the play scene. By now we feel like we're being deliberately insulted.
The only saving grace, of which there is little, are the scenes and quotes that made Rockwell a legend. The ear collector scene was solid enough. The problem is that at least 80% of the film should be like that, but we get less than 10%.
Conclusion: If you have a Mormon grandpa, go camping with him and he'll spin a good Porter Rockwell yarn or two. If you don't, find a good book on him. I'm sure some day there will be an amazing film, too, but this ain't it.
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Warning: Film May Cause Elation in Viewers
So yesterday I made wife (Russian) watch Singin' in the Rain with me. There are two kinds of classics: the many that now feel like a museum piece, the few golden that are timeless. Singin' in the Rain is a true masterpiece.
The comedy is cleverly woven into the script, taking advantage of inherent opportunities afforded by the plot rather than ladling it over the surface like some kind of sauce. Jean Hagen, as the actress with a voice made for silent films, got more laughs from my 5-year-old daughter than any of the fart jokes from more recent cartoons. The musical numbers, of which there are so many, each manage to encapsulate a moment, and each is unique in style. Here we really get the benefit of a more mature Gene Kelly, who has had time to develop and evolve stylistically as a dancer. Donald O'Conner is at the top of his game--you can't help but be impressed with his athleticism and attention to detail. Debbie Reynold's has the perfect voice for the part and is so charming that you can't help but love her.
As great as all that is (which seems like way too much to fit into 1:43), that's not what makes the film. It's that everything flows so easily and seamlessly that you don't think about any of this while you're watching. You only stop to think about that when everything has finished. During the film you're just enjoying each moment:
Death Note: Desu nôto (2006)
The first half was good... What happened?
The series starts off great. There are around 5 excellently developed characters; there's a great premise; the plot develops logically and compellingly; the pacing of building tension then action is spot on. You've got a unique feel, and some moral dilemma action thought-provoking action. Everything has a balanced and cohesive feel - pretty much everything you'd expect when you see a series rated 8.9.
*I have to warn a very slight plot spoil, but I won't give anything remotely specific.*
Then about halfway through the series, to solve some stagnation they throw in a good dose of anticlimax. Now the majority of the interesting characters stop getting any screen time for various reasons and follow up by introducing and then disposing of characters you never have any reason to care about. The very ending was well done. (Pity it wouldn't make sense if you just skipped the 15 episodes preceding it!)
Maybe the manga developed all of the lame characters in the second half and had I first read all of them I would have enjoyed it all, but still... I just can't justify how sloppy everything got. Compare with either of the Fullmetal Alchemist adaptations, or Code Geass if you can tolerate mecha action, and you'll see where I'm coming from.
It either needed to be around 20-25 episodes and finish off strong without all of the later stuff, of have been extended to at least 50 so that they could have developed the last half into something workable.
Addams Family Values (1993)
Great Dark, Cheezy Fun
It's probably been 10 years since I last saw this movie, and I can still remember half the lines. "I was a Ballerina, GRACEFUL DELICATE! They had to go." Kind of like Quentin Tarantino for kids. As a kid, I thought this was at least 1.5x better than the first movie, which I also liked, but the sequel's plot seemed less obliged, and the scripting more memorable. Everyone dominates their roles, especially impressive getting everyone to enjoyably and consistently manage the silly vs dark factor to keep a light flow from person to person, scene to scene. Not Oscar material, but comparing apples to apples--well written, well directed, and well acted.