Coco (2017)

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Coco Movie Review

Coco is a 2017 animated fantasy musical film directed by Lee Unkrich. It is a strong film from Pixar, but far from their best works.

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I thought I was related to a murderer!

You’re a total upgrade!

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Coco Movie Review

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I was tremendously excited for Coco and I have been looking forward to it for a very long time. It was actually one of my three most anticipated films for 2017. But unfortunately it ended up being a disappointment for me. The film is quite good, don’t get me wrong. But it is just not great and certainly not amazing. My expectations were too high I guess.

So it follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is transported to the land of the dead where he seeks help from his ancestor to return him back to the living world. The boy wants to be a musician, but his family disapproves. Now basically in that disapproving part I found it to be disappointing as I never really got why they opposed music so much. And I also found the first act somewhat lacking as it was too rushed and lacking in characterization.

The film definitely became much better in the second act and that second act is easily the highlight for me as the third one was overly emotional. I do realize now why so many people are getting frustrated with Pixar’s emotional manipulation. Coco isn’t manipulative, but certainly its last scene is overly sentimental. But I do think they somewhat earned that emotion, but not fully for sure.

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Coco Movie Review

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The second act is where the movie shines because it features wonderful fantasy and adventure elements and very memorable plot points. The twist itself I did see coming. I mean I didn’t predict it fully, but I did expect the darker turn and that obviousness was problematic for me. However, they still did the best they could with it and although somewhat soapy, it made the film very intriguing nonetheless.

Let’s talk about its characters. Miguel is very good and likable. He’s a standard, but still a good protagonist. Ernesto de la Cruz is very memorable and effective. Hector is easily the best character in the entire film as he is very well developed, immensely likable and the relationship between him and Miguel is fantastic. The grandmother is too strict, the parents are boring and of course Coco herself is a fantastic plot device. The film needed more characters and better characterization of the supporting players.

Coco is definitely a musical as it relies on music so much, but I have to say that it does that with mixed results. For a film which literally is about music, you would think that we would get a great soundtrack, but what we got was a pretty weak, forgettable soundtrack which is never, ever on par with Disney’s classics.

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Coco Movie Review

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La Llorona is the only song apart from the main one which is even remotely memorable as Everyone Knows Juanita, Un Poco Loco and all of the others are so forgettable that I already have forgotten them. They really needed stronger songwriters for this film.

Of course Remember Me is the standout song. It isn’t great, but it is pretty good with moving lyrics and I particularly liked how it was used so well in all those different sequences in different contexts. But I still had a problem with that approach as using mostly this one song meant that we got less of the other songs which was a giant problem the movie never overcame.

The animation is the best reason to see Coco in my opinion. It is phenomenal. It isn’t as inventive as ‘Inside Out’ was but it’s still very strong and particularly polished and colorful with a great use of many wonderful colors to accompany its Mexican setting so well. The colors of green, yellow and orange were the highlights. The character design is solid and I loved how the skeletons looked and moved.

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Coco Movie Review

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The world building is amazing and they created this whole world populated with the dead beautifully. That is actually the highlight of the film along with its animation – the mythology. I loved the concept of fading or second death after all living people forget you. That was a very powerful and sophisticated approach and I loved it. The film does deal with the theme of death so well and cleverly which is why its final emotional scene is not manipulative.

The voice acting is especially strong and emotionally evocative. The direction from Lee Unkrich is very good as well and the pacing of the film apart from its beginning is pretty good. The score is also very good, but not as great as the trailers promised me. The whole film is just never as fantastic as the trailers were leading to an eventual disappointment for me.

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Coco Movie Review

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Coco is a very good, but unfortunately disappointing film which is far from Pixar’s best works. The standout aspects are its world building which is amazing, its animation which is beautiful and pleasingly colorful and its mythology which has some very interesting concepts very well explored. The film explores death so well, it is sophisticated in that theme and it is particularly effective in the portrayal of Mexican culture and Día de los Muertos. The characterization is good and I particularly loved the second act with the fantasy adventure angle to it. But even though its emotional ending was somewhat earned, it was still too sentimental. The twist is also quite easy to predict. And its major problem is the soundtrack. Remember Me is definitely a good, well utilized song, but the rest of the songs are very weak and never at all comparable to the works of Disney. And when you have a film that is literally about music, you need to have a killer soundtrack which sadly isn’t the case with Coco.

My Rating – 4

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Yeelen (1987)

Yeelen Movie Review

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Yeelen Movie Review

Yeelen is a 1987 Malian historical adventure film directed by Souleymane Cisse. It truly is a very interesting, fascinating film.

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Only a cursed son talks of his parents’ ties

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Yeelen Movie Review

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Yeelen gave me a look at the culture that I hadn’t been acquainted with before and I am grateful for that. It is a great geographical/historical lesson without a doubt. But it is also a strong adventure film above everything else as it a calm and slow, but involving adventure that transports you to its setting and time period so well.

It is set in the 13th century and it follows a young man with magical powers who goes on a quest to search for his uncle who can help him defeat his father who’s a sorcerer. The premise itself makes it sound like a Hollywood fantasy blockbuster, but the execution is exactly the opposite. It is deliberately paced and non-climactic for better and for worse.

Certainly it needed more fantasy elements and a bigger punch plus it is in some segments not as engaging, but I still liked quite a bit its more grounded and realistic approach as that only made its magical ending all the more powerful. Despite being slow, Yeelen is constantly involving and intriguing owing to its strong atmosphere and attention to detail.

Its weakest point is the characterization. The characters are solid but definitely underdeveloped and far from full developed entities. I wanted more scenes with his father, but the mother is memorable and the protagonist is very likable and handsome. The girlfriend is unfortunately disposable. The acting is very strong for amateur actors and actually quite impressive.

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Yeelen Movie Review

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Yeelen is beautifully made. The direction from Souleymane Cisse is superb and both the script and the dialogue are very strong, but I wanted more dialogue for sure. The film acquainted me with its culture so well and although I did not understand everything, most of the magical items and the people’s traditions, rituals and beliefs are so well put to screen.

The score is also quite strong and fitting for its story and time period. And of course the cinematography is one of the strongest aspects of the film as the desert, the various landscapes and water are all wonderfully photographed and captured on camera. The attention to detail is definitely admirable.

Yeelen is deliberately paced for better and for worse and the characterization is not particularly strong. However, the film is a terrific look at Malian culture and history owing to a very interesting, magical storyline, an adventurous tone, excellent direction, fantastic cinematography and a phenomenal attention to detail. Its beginning and ending are particularly memorable.

My Rating – 4

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Movie Review

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Movie Review

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 anime fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is a pre-Ghibli film which is his first signature movie. It’s very good.

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Why does everything that’s good for you have to taste so bad?

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Movie Review

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The story here is obviously ecological and the film is imbued with a strong environmental message. And although it may seem standard for today’s time, it was authentic in 1984 and Miyazaki first made this film and then all of his next ecological tales. Thus this film should be respected for finally introducing those important themes to animation.

The story here is very interesting and admirably proactive. I loved its amazing world building, but it also came at a cost of character development. The film is almost too ambitious and too epic as it has too many characters and plot points for a two-hour film. The war elements are overabundant and the calmer scenes are better in my opinion.

So the characterization definitely needed some work. It is solid, but far from great. Nausicaä herself is a competent female protagonist, a lovely princess and she’s great with animals. She is very endearing and brave, but she pales in comparison to Ghibli’s greatest heroines. Princess Kushana is memorable, but underutilized. Lord Yupa and Asbel are also solid, but then again the supporting characters are somewhat forgettable and they are much weaker than the central figure.

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Movie Review

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is simply gorgeously animated. This animation is honestly groundbreaking for 1984 as it truly is powerful and magnificent. The spores, the desert, the various creatures – they are all wonderfully animated and designed. The human designs and clothes are also really well done. The colors are not as smooth, but the film is colorful and very pleasing to look at. Some of the imagery here truly is breathtaking with the flying scenes, the spores, the animals and the desert being the highlights.

The voice acting is terrific as is the direction from Hayao Miyazaki. It is amazing how he managed to make such a competent film in his second attempt and this truly is an improvement over ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’. He seems confident in direction already and this signaled the arrival of one of animation’s biggest directors.

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Movie Review

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The pacing is not great and the film is sometimes too slow while also being too action-oriented at times. Honestly the fights and wars bored me and I wanted much more dialogue from it. The dialogue that we get is quite good, but the film is not deep enough mostly because it isn’t calm or meditative enough. It is moving emotionally speaking, but it needed a stronger sophisticated pull.

So the film looks great, but it also sounds beautiful thanks to such a fantastic, truly wonderful score from Joe Hisaishi. Some of the scenes here are not only beautiful visually speaking, but accompanied by very pleasant music which I loved. Technically speaking, the movie is marvelous. I just wish that it was stronger in characters.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind has a strong protagonist, but it needed better developed supporting characters. It has too much action, but the story is imbued by a wonderful environmental message and terrific world building. The score from Joe Hisaishi is wonderful and the animation is truly fantastic and even groundbreaking thanks to beautifully designed creatures, plants and landscapes. It’s an admirable early effort from Hayao Miyazaki.

My Rating – 4

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The Red Turtle (2016)

Image result for red turtle gif

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The Red Turtle Movie Review

The Red Turtle is a 2016 French animated film directed by Michael Dudok de Wit. An acclaimed film of the year, I myself found it boring.

It tells the story of a man who becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island where he meets a giant red turtle which eventually becomes a human woman. Needless to say, I don’t know what this is all about and to me it felt pointless and I don’t know what is the message here.

It is a French film distributed by Studio Ghibli and is one of the most acclaimed films of the year, animated or not. It has no dialogue, but it features sound and score. I of course don’t mind and actually quite like silent movies, but here the problem wasn’t the lack of dialogue, but the lack of story and the familiarity of the premise. Those led to a very tedious experience for me and I was bored immensely from start to finish.

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The Red Turtle is the quintessential example of a movie that was born to be made as a short and not feature film. As a short, it would have actually been very good and fascinating, but as a feature, it is boring, prolonged and awfully slow.

The reason why you should see it of course lies in its technical aspects. The animation truly is terrific. It is hand drawn and very artistic in style. Every movie should also have a strong plot and characters in order for it to be considered great, but this one only has the animation and that I just find troublesome right there. But at least it was great to look at, very pleasant and very colorful. The designs are good and it seems like a moving painting at times plus some of the imagery here is truly inspired.

Another great thing about it is its sound design. Wow, is it worthy of an Oscar. Everything here sounds awesome and realistic from the animals to the waves. It is another reason why the film would have been wonderful to see on the big screen, but on the small screen it is much inferior and I unfortunately watched it like that. The score is also solid, if not as great as the sound.

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The Red Turtle is technically marvelous with superb animation with some of the imagery being breathtaking plus the score is solid and the sound design in particular is amazing, but the technical aspects do not make movies great and you also need strong characters, message and story and all of those are lacking here. It is a movie that was destined to be made as a short film and to be watched on the big screen, but watching it on the small screen as a feature film was a tremendously boring experience.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a 2013 fantasy anime film directed by Isao Takahata. It is one of the best Studio Ghibli films in recent years.

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I was born to truly live!

Just like the birds and the beasts

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

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The film is based on an ancient Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. A man finds a princess in a bamboo shoot and he and her wife raise her well. She gets proper education and starts training to be a real princess. Eventually, the suitors arrive but she doesn’t want to marry. All of this sets off a series of events ending in her eventual departure for the Moon when her people come for her.

This is a wonderful story and very traditional but also modern in its approach. It is an old-fashioned fairy tale which I of course loved. It has a terrific style to it, excellent and charming storytelling and many interesting plot points. I loved its mix of fantasy and drama, but the fantasy elements are easily the highlights here.

The modern undercurrent here is of a feminist nature. She is a brave, strong and wonderful woman and the film spotlights how societal and patriarchal norms can have a really bad effect on women. The film deals with feminism in a very subtle and sophisticated manner.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

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But the highlight was easily that ending which I adored. That entire extended final scene stole the show for me as it was so beautiful and poignant witnessing her leave her parents and the entire planet. I loved the message in the end that no matter how bad people on Earth can be, there is still a lot of happiness and wonder to be found here too and that was a wonderful, truthful sentiment.

Let’s talk about the characters. Of course the princess herself is such a wonderful, yet not too great of a human being and is just a realistic, still sweet girl whom I really liked. Sutemaru is very likable and their relationship is quite moving. The flight sequence is gorgeous. The parents are both very sweet, caring people and seeing them suffer her departure was heartbreaking. The princes are too goofy and the rest are unimportant.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

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The standout aspect of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is undoubtedly its glorious animation. This animation is simply a work of art. This is a rare animated film done in watercolor painting style and thus it is unique and astonishing to look at. It is simplistic, yet sophisticated, elegant and very artistic. The woods, the ending scene and especially those running sequences provided stunning, unforgettable imagery. The movements are polished and the character design is fantastic as well. Watching this film is like witnessing a moving work of art or a painting come to life and is thus to be respected on a more significant level than usual. It is one of the best animated films of all time.

The film has its flaws such as the runtime which is unnecessarily prolonged and the humor which is not all that great and it proved to be a distraction this time around. Some middle section scenes were dragging and uninteresting. But even though the pacing is not great, the direction from Isao Takahata is of course as splendid per usual, the dialogue is fantastic and the voice acting is magnificent as is its wonderful score. It ended up being one of the very best of the later Studio Ghibli offerings and certainly in the top ten for the studio.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

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With absolutely stunning animation, well developed characters, well crafted story and emotionally powerful ending, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya certainly doesn’t disappoint and it is one of the finest animated films of the year. It is sometimes slow and uneven, but it is such a wonderfully animated film with authentic and rarely seen watercolor look which seems both original and artistic plus the score is terrific, the ending is imbued with strong emotion, the story is involving and the whole film is executed with such grace, wonder and simple beauty that it is hard not to get in love with it. It is not one of the best Studio Ghibli films, but it is definitely one of their finest recently and it’s a movie every true animation fan should watch and enjoy the admirable artistry and expected quality this entry adds to Ghibli’s impressive pantheon of awesome pictures.

My Rating – 4.5

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017)

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion Movie Review

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion Movie Review

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is a 2017 Indian epic fantasy action film directed by S. S. Rajamouli. It is a pretty good, very entertaining conclusion to this franchise.

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This is my word!

My word is my law!

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion Movie Review

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Now I really liked the first film and this one is not quite as good as its predecessor. It is again a very good blockbuster, but I thought the first one was more entertaining and tonally diverse. This film has its tonal differences, but whenever they threw in comedy and intrigue, they did that to much lesser results. Some of the dialogue was ridiculous.

Baahubali is again a standout character as is Devasena who was much better in the first half than later on. Most of the acting is very good, but some of it felt weak. The story is serviceable. Some of the plot lines were silly and too sappy, but some were actually quite interesting.

But Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is better watched as a spectacle than for storytelling purposes. At least it has solid characters, quite memorable personalities and it is moving and sweet at times and never as cold as this type of film could have easily been.

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion Movie Review

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The visuals here are absolutely fantastic. Indian cinema truly has grown in these last couple of years and they now can make blockbusters as impactful as their American counterparts. And actually I would say that in terms of epic scale, fun and world building, they are much better than most American blockbusters.

The scale truly is epic and this world is huge and so well explored. The film has a lot of highly memorable imagery and tremendous set pieces. It looks colorful, wonderful to watch and above all exceedingly fun and exciting. The special effects truly are amazing as most of the film looked so polished that I could not see the CGI in there. The costumes and the interiors looked superb as well.

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion Movie Review

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The pacing of course could have been better as the film is once again very long and messy. It isn’t boring as it is very entertaining, but it could have been shorter in some areas. The romance was unfortunately lacking this time around, but the soundtrack is mostly pretty solid, if far from great. I found the action very silly at times, but as entertaining as US superhero flicks. Some of the action scenes are just such a lot of fun that I could not resist but to enjoy them.

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is not quite as good as its predecessor with a somewhat weak storyline, but the film is visually dazzling to behold with great costumes, interiors and phenomenal set pieces and special effects. Colorful and exciting, it is also exhilarating, though silly in its action and it thus succeeds as a pretty good conclusion to this story. But above all else, both of these films are very enjoyable as they are incredibly epic in scope and world building and in that aspect are much better than most American blockbusters.

My Rating – 4

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a 2008 animated sci-fi action film which is the only animated entry in the franchise. It is also the weakest one.

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Master Kenobi, always chasing after Skywalker. How predictable.

Anakin leaves quite a mess, which always leads me to you, Ventress

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

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I really did not care for this film although I have to say that it is far from the levels of worst proclaimed by most critics and audiences. Certainly it is mediocre, but never truly bad and of course far from horrible. But still it remains the weakest Star Wars film right in the alley of ‘Attack of the Clones’.

So it follows Anakin who gets himself a Padawan named Ahsoka. The two must help Jabba the Hutt’s son in the ongoing titular war. So let’s first state those rare positives here. I liked the interactions between Ahsoka and Anakin even though they are boring. And I really liked the villain Asajj Ventress. She is badass, powerful and all the lightsaber duels with her were the highlights of the film.

But the rest of the action is entirely forgettable and not to mention overwhelming. The movie is frenetic in pacing and filled with action scene after action scene to the point where it became very exhausting and incredibly dull to watch.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

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Obi-Wan is okay, but Anakin’s story here does not match the rest of the prequels and he is portrayed as overly good and thus this entire film is one big, sugar-coated lie. Count Dooku is very good, but Yoda and Mace Windu as well as all of the others are underutilized. But I liked Jabba’s son and he was endearing. As for Ahsoka, I do realize that she is an important character, but here she came off as rather unappealing, dull and just your regular, boring protagonist with no personality whatsoever.

The voice acting here is quite weak. I have to commend the actors on doing the voices that are so similar to the actual actors from the prequel trilogy, but still the performances lack any emotion to them and are so flat.

And that brings me to the movie’s worst aspect – its animation. Wow, does this film look bad. Certainly the backgrounds are okay, but the character design and the animation of the humans is simply horrible as they look like robots and they move and talk in such a robot-like, puppet manner that threw me off completely. Rarely have I seen worse animation than this one.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

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So The Clone Wars not horrible, but the dialogue is overly simplistic, the script is pretty weak and the overall film is of TV quality which is obvious as these act as four initial episodes of a future show. It shows and they made a mistake for putting it in the theaters.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a very good villain and some memorable action sequences, but most of the action is still boring and highly overwhelming. The script is quite weak, the characterization is slight and the dialogue is rather simplistic. But its worst offender is its animation which is okay in backgrounds, but absolutely horrible in humans who look and act like robots. It isn’t a terrible film, but it is very mediocre.

My Rating – 2.5

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Zathura (2005)

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Zathura Movie Review

Zathura is a 2005 family sci-fi fantasy film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo. It is a pretty good, endearing flick.

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You guys actually set the house on fire?

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Zathura Movie Review

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Two brothers do not get along and once they set off on a space adventure through a board game, they must win it in order to get back home and in the process they become closer together and learn some brotherhood lessons. So this is a message film for sure, but it isn’t too preachy and it gets the message across while still making it a fun experience. That is why the film is most definitely a wonderful, highly recommended adventure for kids.

But it is also pretty good for adults, at least it was to this adult. I liked the mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements and the film is mostly wonderfully childlike, much more so than purely childish which I liked. The sense of wonder and adventure is quite evident here. The plot isn’t original for sure, but the setting is and it left a lot of room for imaginative and entertaining storytelling.

Josh Hutcherson is very good in the main role. Jonah Bobo is not as good, but is okay. Josh was definitely a child star back in the mid 2000s as evidenced also by his turn in ‘Bridge to Terabithia’. It is great that he managed to stay in the business as an adult as well, but as a kid he was more than competent enough to carry an entire film which is exactly what he did here.

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Zathura Movie Review

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Certainly Kristen Stewart’s character got better near the end, but at first she was an overly stereotypical teen girl who really annoyed me. But Stewart is definitely good in this role. I liked Tim Robbins as their dad quite a bit, but Dax Shepard is also solid in his role, though not as memorable as he should have been.

Zathura is best when it centers on the relationship between two brothers. It portrays a very realistic brotherly relationship and bond with a lot of bickering, but evident care too. I really enjoyed it and it should prove terrific for anyone who has a brother. Very relatable.

I did not like the Zorgons at all. Their design was just unappealing to me and not creepy enough. Lisa should have had a bigger role in my opinion and the astronaut should have had a smaller one. I liked the twist quite a bit and it made sense and was really well hinted previously. But the overall third act was just not as entertaining as the film was previously as it was so much fun.

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Zathura Movie Review

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Zathura features a stylized, somewhat less realistic depiction of space which suits its kids’ format quite a bit. I liked the effects for the most part and the imagery was memorable. The interiors of the house are also quite well realized. The acting is good and the direction from Jon Favreau is quite good and he has always had a good eye for fine, old-fashioned family fun which this movie certainly is. It isn’t original or particularly inspired, but it does what it set out to do really well and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Zathura manages to elevate its unoriginal premise and a couple of uninspired, overly action oriented scenes with a very good performance from Josh Hutcherson and a great brotherly relationship at its core which is sweet but also quite realistic. It is a good message film but also a lot of fun to watch thanks to evident sense of childlike wonder and a couple of very interesting plot points.

My Rating – 4

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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Movie Review

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 space opera film directed by George Lucas and starring Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor. It is the best Star Wars prequel by a mile.

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You were the chosen one!

It was said that you would

destroy the Sith, not join them!

Bring balance to the force…

not leave it in darkness!

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Movie Review

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I really liked this film, quite a lot actually and that I did not expect. This is finally a prequel Star Wars film which we deserved as it does everything a prequel should do – it sets up ‘A New Hope’ stupendously well with the entire third act being incredibly emotionally rewarding.

The duel between Yoda and Palpatine is simply fantastic and of course the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan is amazing and emotionally devastating. It is a long, but worthy fight which is unforgettable in the Star Wars lore. Obi-Wan’s final lines are simply devastating to hear and that scene is immensely powerful.

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Movie Review

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I also really liked the birth of Leia and Luke as well as the creation of Darth Vader. Another highlight includes the fight between Obi-Wan and General Grievous. That was a lot of fun. All of the scenes with Anakin being manipulated by Palpatine are of course superb.

I do not understand why George Lucas did not put at least some of this storyline into ‘The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Attack of the Clones’. This movie is so good, but also rushed and just stuffed with too many important plot points and some of those should have been put in the first two films which are by comparison almost unnecessary to watch how pointless they are whereas this one is incredibly important in its story. That was a huge mistake and Lucas is the only one to blame for such a pure structure of this trilogy.

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Movie Review

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Hayden Christensen is still not good, but much better than before. Anakin is definitely overly naive and easily influenced, but still his story is so powerful and emotionally devastating. It felt like some grand tragedy of yesteryear. Padme is still boring, but Mace Windu is very good and tragic. Count Dooku is disposed of too quickly, but Grievous is a very memorable, creepy villain.

The robots take little screen time thankfully and Jar-Jar is almost not here at all. That is why the film is so serious tonally and I loved that. Yoda is of course phenomenal and I loved his every single line of dialogue. And of course the highlight is Palpatine or Darth Sidius who is such a powerful villain who was excellent and mysterious in the original trilogy, but is well utilized and explored here which is also interesting. His quest for power and his entire story is so well written. He is an immensely powerful villain and although Ian McDiarmid’s performance is at times borderline cartoony, it still fits the character properly.

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Movie Review

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Revenge of the Sith has too much action for sure. It needed more calmer scenes. But the action is still excellent for the most part which is why I enjoyed watching this film a lot. It is actually the most rewatchable of all Star Wars films as it’s just so much fun. The dialogue is as weak as I’d come to expect from Lucas and this great script needed much better dialogue. The film is very well shot and with great effects (except that unfortunately dated lava at the end). It is a powerful culmination of this story overall and a very underrated film in its own right.

Revenge of the Sith again has clunky dialogue and it has way too much story and a highly important story at that. I do not understand why George Lucas stuffed all of this greatness into one film and left the first two films ultimately pointless and unnecessary in the bigger scope of things. But there is no denying how powerful this film is and how emotionally rewarding that third act is. Its story is important, grandiose and so well realized and the highlights include all of the scenes between Palpatine and Anakin, the ending, the Yoda-Darth Sidius duel and of course the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan which is not only cool, but also very tragic. It is the most fun and rewatchable Star Wars film of them all and easily the best of the prequel trilogy.

My Rating – 4

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 16th feature film and certainly one of their very best. It’s such a classic.

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Now,  father, you’re living in the past.

This is the 14th century!

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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This fairy tale is actually incredibly dark and thus the movie is also pretty dark, but much milder than the original tale and thankfully so. It is an updated, modernized and frankly much better version of the story. Again Disney made the ultimate film from this story and thus made it their own.

It was a risky, somewhat odd fairy tale to film and thus I hugely appreciate the filmmakers for managing to craft it so well and make a coherent feature film out of it. For a film where most of the characters spend sleeping, it is rather involving and intriguing to watch and that sleeping, dreamlike state is beautifully conveyed thanks to an awesome atmosphere, wonderful score and stellar animation but more on those later.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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The film is definitely childlike in its first half, especially with the fairies, but is very dark, atmospheric and mature in its second half and I loved that shift in tone and it was very well handled. Both halves are excellent and both achieved what they set out to do.

As for the characters, many argue that Aurora is a weak character, but as a princess who is only in a movie for just about 18 minutes, I honestly can’t blame her and I think that she is actually pretty well developed for little screen time that she received. She is beautiful, wonderfully animated and, for such a short time she is in the film, you manage to see why everybody would love her so much. I do realize why nowadays feminists criticize her and yes, she did fall in love with a man she did not know. However, she clearly objected to being betrothed and that progressive side of her should not be forgotten.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Aurora is more of a plot device than an actual character and there is nothing wrong with that and that choice paid off and worked really well for the film. But when you really think about it, the fairies are the protagonists of this film. They are the ultimate Disney fairies and some of the best sidekicks of all time.

They transcend the role of the sidekick stupendously as they not only help Aurora, but also Phillip and basically save the whole kingdom. Plus all three are strong, so well developed, unique characters and I loved the emphasis on them as they are so charming. Fauna is so sweet and of course the fight between Merryweather and Flora about the color of Aurora’s dress (pink or blue) is so much fun and I loved it. They share such wonderful dynamic together and all of their scenes are either very endearing and moving or just a lot of goofy, cartoony entertainment. They provide the necessary humor and childlike nature to an otherwise more serious, dark film.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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But the kings are also quite goofy and funny in their own right as well as their drunk, wine-obsessed servant. That scene almost comes off as a detour, but it is so pleasantly cartoony, amusing while also being grounded in reality in its portrayal of 14th century kings that it worked for me. And I loved the father’s argument with his son with that line about the 14th century being hilarious. It’s again a rather progressive, unfairly forgotten element to this film.

Prince Phillip is without a doubt the best of the early princes. Not only is he given most to do, but he also has a distinct, present personality and is much, much better than all the previous princes. He is a strong character in his own right, a true hero and I loved that, but I also loved his look as he is very handsome and well dressed. He’s very likable and his horse Samson is also quite endearing.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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And as for Maleficent, what is there to say that hasn’t yet been said about her. She is menacing, genuinely creepy, so well developed, beautifully animated and wonderfully cast – Eleanor Audley once again gave a standout performance after her terrific performance in ‘Cinderella’ as horrible Lady Tremaine. She is one of the rare villains who never made a mistake, is always menacing and pose definite threat to the protagonists. She is such a memorable and authentic character with unforgettable looks and voice, a standout in this film and easily one of the very best Disney villains of all time. Plus Diablo is an excellent, very helpful henchman.

Sleeping Beauty has beautiful animation. It is absolutely gorgeous to behold with a painting like, artistic quality to it and a style that is truly original and distinguishes itself from their other animations. The character design, the style, the movements – everything is polished, fits the time period and feels like a work of art. I do think that more Disney films should have utilized on this painting style as it worked like a wonder here and helped create its ominous and dreamlike atmosphere so well. It isn’t as stupendously detailed as Disney’s earliest films, but still I liked its style a lot and it is in my opinion one of the studio’s most artistic endeavors. The highlights include the forest, Maleficent’s look, her very creepy and unforgettable castle and the wonderful cottage in the woods which looks so cozy and charming. I do think that the film was obviously cheaper in terms of budget (the still backgrounds are noticeable), but still I loved that painting quality to it and it fits the storyline extremely well.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Sleeping Beauty is definitely a musical. It only has two true songs with a couple of minor ones as well, but it relies so much on the score to tell its story that it definitely is a musical, but a different one than all the previous Disney films. The score from Tchaikovsky is of course beautiful and again complementing the film’s dreamlike feel perfectly. It was a terrific choice to include his compositions and I adored this score to pieces. It is also quite diverse in style – ranging from thrilling and eerie to dreamlike to playful and comedic.

The Skumps Song, One Gift and Hail the Princess Aurora are all very short pieces which could not be called songs, but they all serve their purpose and accompany their scenes very well. I Wonder is of course the weaker of the film’s two musical numbers. Now I like this song and it is quite sweet, very well sung and with solid lyrics, but it is just too short in length and overall a standard princess fare.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Once Upon a Dream is a masterpiece. This song is just beautiful. The score is brilliant of course, but the added lyrics are so well incorporated and I loved each and every word here. That scene is the standout of the entire film and easily the most romantic scene in all Disney films. I loved the singing of both the prince and the princess and thus it succeeds as an incredible duet, but it is its ethereal, dreamy and timeless chorus that transcends it to the ranks of all-time greatest film songs. It is a perfect ballad, an impeccable waltz and the second best Disney song of all time just after Part of That World from ‘The Little Mermaid’.

The pacing here is sometimes a bit problematic, but mostly better than the troublesome pacing in ‘Snow White’. The voice acting is simply terrific and the direction is superb. Some of the imagery is iconic and visually this is truly a moving work of art. The action near the end is also excellent and thrilling to behold. The tone is diverse and well handled and the humor is not all too great and far from hilarious, but definitely charming and very endearing. I liked the dialogue as well plus the film is emotionally resonant, most especially in its wonderful finale.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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The finale is awesome, but every scene with Maleficent and her castle stole the show. Of course the forest scene is the highlight for me, but the dragon fight is amazing too. All of the action set pieces are certainly magnificent but the highlight is that very last battle between Phillip and Maleficent. And of course the spinning wheel sequence is so incredible – eerie, otherworldly and impeccable. The film truly is close to perfection even though it is very short in length. It truly belongs among the five best Disney films of all time.

With beautiful, truly artistic painting-influenced animation, brilliant score and an outstanding, simply iconic song in Once Upon a Dream, Sleeping Beauty is one of the best Disney films of all time and a moving work of art. The characters are excellent – the fairies are charming and of course Maleficent is one of Disney’s ultimate villains not only in her looks but also her voice and actions. It is an atmospheric fairy tale with a dreamlike, eerie and almost ethereal quality to it. A lot of the scenes here are unforgettable and the film achieves so much in so little time that it truly is a masterpiece in the world of animation.

My Rating – 5

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