Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

Tales from Earthsea is a 2006 fantasy anime film directed by Goro Miyazaki. It is not one of Studio Ghibli’s strongest films, but still a solid fantasy.

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But only to men is it given to know that we must die,

and that is a precious gift

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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It is based on the book by Ursula K. Le Guin and that is evident, especially near the end. The film suffers from being too short. Yes, it is a two-hour long film, but I had the impression that it was ridiculously rushed at times and obviously trimmed for movie treatment. It is an overly epic and detailed story that needed more time to develop properly.

But thankfully the first half is slower in pace and particularly engaging. To me that is the highlight of the film as it flowed really well, it was very involving to watch and quite mystical and magical. But the film definitely stumbles near the end with a somewhat abrupt conclusion and rushed approach at concluding this story. The plot holes are sometimes evident too.

I loved that Tales from Earthsea is a period piece but with magic, wizards and dragons. It is an epic fantasy work which is surprisingly mature and brutal for a Studio Ghibli film which usually does not go into such dark territories. The film is at its core about death and it is has a pro-life message which was great. It also has some inevitable environmental themes. But it also includes drugs, attempted rape and violence which was unexpected, but well done for the most part. The ripping of the arm was unnecessary and too brutal though…

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. The character development here is surprisingly solid for such a maligned Ghibli film which is not great, but certainly not bad as the studio never made a bad film and this one is perfectly solid and quite underrated. I found Prince Arren to be a very strong and not too heroic protagonist which I always appreciate.

I wanted more from Sparrowhawk. He was so cool, but he never got enough action sequences unfortunately. The henchmen were goofy but memorable and those two gossipy women were hilarious. I liked Tenar and I loved that Therry was the savior in the end. She really got a moment to shine in the end which was great.

As for Lord Cob, he is your typical gender-bending anime villain, but those always work and he truly is one of the standouts here. He was so well animated and designed and with such a creepy voice. His quest for immortality is typical but still well realized. And he is just a very menacing presence felt throughout the entire film.

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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Tales from Earthsea is gorgeously animated. Not as artistic as some earlier Ghibli efforts, but still beautiful to watch and absolutely magnificent at times. The attention to detail is expectedly spectacular, I loved the English look of the towns and villages and both the imagery and action sequences were terrifically animated.

The action is very good here and not at all excessive. The end battle was very memorable, but rushed. The pacing is off as at first the film is slow but later on it becomes somewhat abrupt. The direction from Goro Miyazaki is obviously problematic as this is his first effort, but still he showed promise here. The voice acting is terrific, the dialogue is solid but somewhat standard. The standout remains the villain, that beautiful song that stops the film at the middle and of course the entire interesting first half.

Tales from Earthsea is definitely problematic in direction and pacing. It has familiar themes and it is obviously overly rushed in its second half which is much weaker than the first one. But still for a much proclaimed “worst Studio Ghibli film”, it is actually pretty solid and not bad at all. The animation is frequently gorgeous, the first half is very interesting, the action sequences are excellent, the film is admirably dark in tone and the characterization is quite good with the villain being very memorable and menacing.

My Rating – 3.5

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Porky in Egypt (1938)

Porky in Egypt ReviewPorky in Egypt Review

Porky in Egypt is a 1938 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is so good.

As the title suggests, Porky is in Egypt with his camel. They are journeying in the desert and because the sun is too hot, the camel starts losing his mind and behaving erratically. This film is one of the most crazy and hallucinogenic Looney Tunes so far and those scenes were the highlights not only in terms of the humor but also in terms of animation which is very artistic and unique. The movements are particularly well animated and accomplished.

I also liked the character design and the entire Egypt looks awesome and painted with great attention to detail. That along with a fittingly Arabian score definitely creates the mood superbly. The camel is such a great character and he steals the show here, but unfortunately he steals it from Porky who is somewhat underutilized here. The film is very good, but not as funny as I hoped it would be.

Porky in Egypt should have been funnier, but it is a gorgeously animated, wonderfully crazy and hallucinogenic trip to Egypt.

My Rating – 4

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The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

The Lego Ninjago Movie Movie Review

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The Lego Ninjago Movie Movie Review

The Lego Ninjago Movie is a 2017 animated action comedy film starring Dave Franco and Jackie Chan. It is a hugely underappreciated flick.

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You ruined my life!

That’s not true! I haven’t even been a part of your life,

how could I ruin it? I wasn’t even there

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The Lego Ninjago Movie Movie Review

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Certainly a story about a ninja who has a villainous father who abandoned him is rather familiar. There is no denying that. But it is so well executed that I didn’t mind it all that much. I found the relationship between the two to be really sweet and strong. It’s the heart of the film. It is a very engaging, wonderfully entertaining watch.

Lloyd is a pretty good main character and I liked his struggles and how well they were depicted. Dave Franco’s voice is somewhat too mature for the role but still he did a really good job here. The ninjas are solid. They are actually rather fun and dynamic as a team, but definitely underdeveloped and underutilized individually.

The mother is typical as is her story, but I still ended up liking her and I wanted more of her. Master Wu is a lot of fun. He is that typical Asian master character and the movie made fun of him really well and he himself is particularly funny at times.

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The Lego Ninjago Movie Movie Review

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But of course Lord Garmadon steals the show. He is amazing! His story is definitely familiar, but again so well done that I didn’t mind it too much. And because the film takes its time to get there and it develops the father-son relationship fully, his character entirely worked and he changed throughout the course of the film and not too suddenly. But above all else has he amazing one-liners and he made me laugh so many times, especially during the film’s first half.

The Lego Ninjago Movie is expectedly superbly animated and once again the various Lego pieces seem real and not at all like CGI which definitely adds a lot of cute, real appeal to the entire viewing experience. I liked the character design and the jokes surrounding their hook hands were so funny. Garmadon in particular looked great and very memorable. The imagery is awesome, the tech looked fine and the city is fittingly Asian influenced and fueled by great attention to detail.

The problem with this film apart from the familiarity lies in its second half. I did like the family drama and, once again, it was really well done and with mostly strong dialogue. However, the film became too dramatic and less comedic and thus it lost its edge. The first half is much better and much funnier and there lie some of the film’s best moments.

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The Lego Ninjago Movie Movie Review

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I liked the role of the kitty, really well done. But despite a solid work from Jackie Chan, those live-action beginning and ending scenes did not do much for me. Meowthra was great, the Volcanic Lair was awesome and the film had a bunch of memorable set pieces. The action is really well executed too and surprisingly not at all overwhelming as I expected. Overall, the movie took me by surprise and it is actually one of the best animated films from this very weak year. It is weaker than ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ but certainly better than ‘The Lego Movie’.

The Lego Ninjago Movie definitely lost its steam in the second half and the entire story is very familiar, but still well done with a lot of heart and strong characterization. I loved that the film did not have overwhelming action but it relied more on characters and certainly Lord Garmadon steals the show as he is so hilarious. The movie is funny, but also a lot of fun from start to finish leading to one of the year’s most underappreciated films.

My Rating – 4

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Blue Rhythm (1931)

Blue Rhythm ReviewBlue Rhythm Review

Blue Rhythm is a 1931 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a dull entry.

I do realize that people who are into music more are bound to love this film, but I really found it boring. Incredibly boring actually and way too long. It is basically a concert film but unlike other musicals of the time, it is literally a concert short. But unlike those earlier shorts, it is even more boring this time around and it only has that concert novelty to it.

It starts off fine, but becomes repetitive and dull. The runtime is excessive and I found both Mickey and Minnie somewhat forgettable in this particular cartoon. Others are also forgettable and in spite of a couple of charming moments, the film is mostly devoid of either charm or humor. The animation is very good though.

Blue Rhythm is very tedious and overlong. It is another one of those excessive Mickey Mouse musicals.

My Rating – 3.2

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Stronger (2017)

Stronger Movie Review

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Stronger Movie Review

Stronger is a 2017 biopic starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. It is a pretty good and strong, but maudlin film.

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I’m a hero for just standing there and getting my legs blown off?

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Stronger Movie Review

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Stronger dramatizes the Boston Marathon bombing, but in particular it is the tale of Jeff Bauman, a survivor who lost both his legs and had to adjust to his new life. I liked that approach as it is more personal and about one man instead of it being more in the vein of a political movie or a thriller or period piece.

It unfortunately still has some of the pitfalls of the conventional biopic and certainly the entire third act was difficult to sit through as it was just way too sentimental and inspirational for my personal taste. When everyone started coming to Jeff and telling him their stories, that was just too much for me and I disliked those scenes.

But the rest of the film worked really well and it was very emotional and actually quite grounded in reality. It is also smarter than most such biographical pictures as it gives us his struggle not only with his condition but also with his girlfriend. He was humanized here which I loved and that means that he is a flawed human being and not a hero. I loved the commentary about heroism and the pressure of the media.

The highlights were the scenes between the couple as they were so raw in power and emotion. Their biggest argument was just a perfect Oscar moment for Jake Gyllenhaal who here gave another truly terrific performance. He is a great actor and one of the best of his generation. It is such a shame that he hasn’t got himself an Academy Award by now.

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Stronger Movie Review

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Tatiana Maslany also should not be forgotten as her performance is pretty great as well. She proved that she is underestimated and that she should be getting more work in the movies and not just television. The rest of the performances are also very good, but I found his family members overly aggressive and they were portrayed as over-the-top rednecks at times.

Stronger is long, but mostly well paced and engaging to watch. I thought some scenes were too gruesome to watch, but I guess essential for this type of film. They showed me everything I needed to know about this issue and I am glad that I watched this film mostly because of that as the bombing itself is played in the background and that was the right choice.

Stronger is ridiculously maudlin and inspirational in its third act, but everything before that was really well done. It is a strong, emotional and powerful biopic with a couple of hard-hitting scenes with great dialogue. It is propelled by Tatiana Maslany’s excellent work and of course Jake Gyllenhaal’s amazing, Oscar-worthy performance. He proved once again that he is one of the best actors working today.

My Rating – 4

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Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas (1938)

Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas ReviewJohnny Smith and Poker-Huntas Review

Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas is a 1938 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a solid short.

Egghead plays famous John Smith who arrives to America aboard the Mayflower. He meets Poker-Huntas who is obviously a parody of Pocahontas and marries her and they have kids, some resembling her and some resembling him. It is a typical parody flick, but better than most weaker Merry Melodies thanks to some clever gags.

I liked that cute ending, but the highlight in my opinion was the scene when they arrived on the continent and there the Indians already had shops and services. The hairstyle scene was quite amusing. Egghead is okay for this short, but he is getting boring pretty quickly and I am looking forward to him becoming Elmer Fudd finally. The animation is solid here, but far from great.

Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas is nothing special, but a solid little parody with some quite clever gags.

My Rating – 3.6

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Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk Movie Review

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Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk is a 2017 war film directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance among others. It is a hugely overrated movie.

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Men my age dictate this war.

Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?

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Dunkirk Movie Review

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I am all for original WWII films as we desperately need those having in mind that they are so abundant to the point of exhaustion. However, I like good originality and Dunkirk is a perfect case of negative originality. It is original for the sake of being original and its new concept is so bad that even the more straightforward approach would have been better in this instance.

So basically Nolan went out and made an entirely action-oriented war film and that’s it. All you get in Dunkirk is action scene after action scene and even for a relatively short film, it got very boring pretty quickly. It lacks substance and a strong anti-war statement.

It is original in a way that it throws you in a war and portrays war realistically. But in that way it became more of a video game or documentary than a feature film. This is no live-action film in my opinion. It has no story whatsoever, it has no characterization at all and almost no emotional connection. But it also fails as a documentary because it isn’t factual enough and I learned almost nothing about this event and that means that the film is a failure as a history lesson.

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Dunkirk Movie Review

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So Dunkirk is “edgy” for portraying non-heroic people in war and these people will sacrifice their fellow soldiers just so they can survive themselves. And I honestly have a huge problem with that. I do think that some soldiers were like that, but not all soldiers and certainly not in the patriotic 1940s. The film is overly modern and just not truthful in its portrayal of soldiers.

The character development truly is awful which is a shame as they’ve got some talented actors here but none of them got anything to do. Harry Styles did an okay job for a singer, Marc Rylance gave probably the film’s best performance, Kenneth Branagh is also solid… However, they play nameless, bland, unknown non-entities and not real characters or people so all of them are entirely wasted, especially Tom Hardy who once again got to wear a mask on his face which is getting ridiculous by now.

I am trashing Dunkirk for lacking in those more important aspects such as story and characters. However, I am now going to praise it for its technical aspects and really those are the only reason to even see this mess. So the acting is solid and the direction is good. The dialogue is almost non-existent and it almost plays like a silent film, but the sound effects are truly excellent and the film is realistic in its portrayal of combat from air, land and sea. Its non-linear structure did not work and sometimes it was hard to follow and some scenes were more boring than others, but it was still interesting to see battling on all three sides.

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Dunkirk Movie Review

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The cinematography is truly exceptional and the film is so beautifully shot that I adored watching some of its imagery, especially the air scenes. I loved the wide shots of sea and aerial fights and I do realize that this must have been awesome to witness on the big screen. And its biggest selling point is the score which is magnificent – so palpably and fittingly intense and accompanying the action on screen superbly.

Dunkirk is not a movie. It may be called a documentary but this is not a live-action film as it has no story whatsoever and the characterization is horrible. It lacks anti-war statements too and it doesn’t connect emotionally at all. It also fails as a documentary because it isn’t factual enough and I learned almost nothing about this event so the film ended up being entirely pointless. It is realistic in its portrayal of war, but certainly not in its portrayal of soldiers. The technical aspects are truly great with simply stunning cinematography with fantastic wide shots and absolutely magnificent score which is fittingly very intense. But technical aspects do not make a movie great and certainly Dunkirk is not great. It is original but in a very bad manner and it truly is one of the most overrated films of the year from one of the most overrated directors today.

My Rating – 3

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Porky’s Naughty Nephew (1938)

Porky's Naughty Nephew ReviewPorky’s Naughty Nephew Review

Porky’s Naughty Nephew is a 1938 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a weak short.

This is basically one of those Porky Pig cartoons where the focus is on Porky being a victim and this time around he is tormented by his very annoying cousin. I honestly like the victim formula more than most people out there, but this one is weaker than most of the previous offerings and for many reasons.

Certainly it is energetic and mostly well executed plus the animation is good, but the cousin is a forgettable new character and Porky here is even less memorable or endearing than he usually is. But the film just doesn’t have any quality, truly great gags and thus it is an entirely forgettable offering.

Porky’s Naughty Nephew has a forgettable title character and a lack of strong gags to make it more memorable.

My Rating – 3.4

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 spy comedy film directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore and Colin Firth among others. It is a very solid follow-up.

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If I save the world, will you get me two tickets to your next concert?

Darling, if you save the world, I’ll get you a backstage pass

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

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I do not understand the low score for this film on Rotten Tomatoes and I do think that the critics are too snobbish in this instance. While nowhere near as good as ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, The Golden Circle is still a worthy sequel to the original.

The film is certainly too silly in its storyline and characters. And of course the action. But I still really liked this story as it had a very good commentary on drugs plus it is just so incredibly engaging to watch and most of those silly parts tend to work and are funny so I did not mind them all too much.

I did not like how they brought back Harry at all, but Colin Firth is back in action and of course that’s exciting. Taron Egerton is quite good, though more interesting in the first film. Merlin got a couple of wonderful scenes here. Channing Tatum in my opinion is overexposed by now as he appears in way too many movies and always in very minor roles. His character here is essentially the same one he played in ‘Logan Lucky’.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

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I liked the Statesmen and the film definitely Americanized the concept, but still it was very amusing seeing the American version of the Kingsman organization. Julianne Moore is so good as Poppy Adams who is this over-the-top villain with a very dark edge being that she is a cannibal. I really enjoyed her character and she was a lot of fun.

Elton John plays a surprisingly big role here which is not a cameo and is more of a supporting character and his addition definitely worked despite weak acting talents. He was the funniest part of the film without any doubt. Some of the highlights include his flirting with Colin Firth, calling Poppy a bitch and of course kicking some ass in that funny outfit. That scene was perfectly done and hilarious.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle is well scored, well acted and overall with solid dialogue. The script is also quite solid, if not great. I thought the pacing was weak and the film’s runtime should have been slimmed down a bit, but still it ended up being hugely entertaining for the most part and it’s such a fun time. I did not like some silly action sequences and the action was most certainly overwhelming here, but the entire final battle was glorious and hugely entertaining plus the humor is frequently so good that I really enjoyed this film despite its certain shortcomings.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle has too many characters, too much action and spectacle and the runtime should have been a bit shorter. However, this is a very underrated, worthy sequel that gives us a lot of silly action and plot points but those mostly worked as they were either hugely entertaining or frequently very funny. The entire finale is the highlight with some terrific action at display along with Julianne Moore’s Poppy who is a memorable edgy villain and Elton John who stole the show with his hilarious one-liners.

My Rating – 3.5

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Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase (1992)

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase ReviewMona Lisa Descending a Staircase Review

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase is a 1992 Oscar winning animated short film that is for art fans alone.

The film consists of various images of famous paintings and the selling point is that each painting gets morphed into the next one. That is the point of this film and it has nothing else to offer besides that. Certainly the animation is strong and artistic and the animator pulled of this trick remarkably well for 1992, but it is still boring.

It is the kind of film that is unfortunately only suited for art majors and people who are really interested and know a lot about art. I personally have weak knowledge of that and thus I only recognized a couple of paintings here. The film is definitely a very boring watch.

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase has great animation, but despite that selling point, it doesn’t have a lot else to offer and is very boring and too artistic.

My Rating – 3

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