It Follows (2015)

It Follows

It Follows

it Follows Review

It Follows is a 2015 horror film directed by David Robert Mitchell and it is one of a few horror movies in recent years that has received critical acclaim and rightfully so.

It Follows follows a girl who is chased by a supernatural being after a sexual encounter she had. She then learns that she can pass it to someone else as the occurrences of these creatures appear when sleeping with a person who already has it. Afterwards she goes with her friends from place to place into hiding and preparing to destroy it. The plot is fairly simple, but it is executed perfectly with quite stellar script. What I find fascinating is its powerful theme which is too obvious and that is the STD aspect to it. The fear and panic caused by it is a great touch and a reason why this plot works so well as a parallel to those serious deceases.

What is also great is the fact that the movie is very smart and rather original not only in its execution but also in character interactions and behavior. It Follows has an authentic premise never quite seen before and it uses that to its fullest advantage. The detail is great with the creatures and their properties. Although I found the zombie appearance of the beings extremely annoying and very typical along with their slow movements which was also seen countless times before, their design nevertheless changes throughout the movie, from male to female, from older to younger, and that was interesting as is the fact that only she can see them but her friends can’t, but still help her and they are with her from start to finish, trusting her. I found that really wonderful and refreshing. The characters thankfully never make stupid mistakes and ridiculous decisions and they stick together which was fascinating to me and a pleasant surprise. The movie still has some empty scenes with just staring and coming closer, but it is mostly devoid of that. But the thing that surprised me the most has to be the fact that almost the entire movie happens at daylight. The whole of it! That was really brave and fresh from the filmmakers and I hope others would take note from them for their movies because this is certainly the way to go.

The characterization is solid as is the acting. The main character is rather well developed and although her friends are not, they are still with her throughout the whole movie showing a strong friendship which was great to see. The performances are solid across the board. Not one of them was cringe-worthy and Maika Monroe as the protagonist is especially good portraying the fear and madness in a great way.

As for the scares themselves, there are only a couple of true scares, but nothing too frightening which definitely hurts the movie. It should have been more terrifying. But it compensates for it with beautifully created atmosphere of utter despair and sickness which can definitely be felt in the air. The cinematography is also quite good, but it was frustrating to me with sometimes too frequent moving camera shots and wide angles. The direction is excellent and quite stupendous as is the editing. It really is a tightly edited little film with never a spare or dull moment.

Engrossing from start to finish, authentic in its plot and smart in is execution with not only realistic character interactions and behavior but also with most of the time spent on daylight which is really refreshing, It Follows has some annoying stares and empty scenes as well as typical creature design and behavior and it is never truly frightening, but it has a stellar script, a wonderfully created atmosphere filled with utter despair and madness, evident theme, solid acting and it is above all a smart in its authentic horror film which is really rare and it should be seen by horror and non-horror fans alike.

My Rating – 4


Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II Movie Review

Coming out four years after the original, Robert Zemeckis directed Back to the Future Part II in 1989, successfully making a franchise in the process. And he made quite a solid film, if vastly inferior compared to the first one.

First, the plot. It is both the movie’s strongest as well as its weakest point. It is strong because it benefits from absolutely terrific world-building and in terms of that and the sheer epic scope, it certainly trumps its predecessor. But it is weak because it is way too convoluted and of course too action-oriented. The plot is simple from the beginning, but it quickly gets too complicated, highly unlikely to happen and very hard to follow. And it also gets tired near the end and even boring. Yes, all of that action can put you to sleep for it has action after action with no still moments whatsoever which is really troublesome and annoying. And the ending is very cheesy with the Old West along with of course being a not so successful call for a sequel as the first Back to the Future was and did it wonderfully. This ending is everything but, it is very idiotic and I wished for it to end soon how poor it was.

But the first act is what drives this film with a wonderfully depicted year of 2015. Yes, it is foolish and too fictional of course, but it is pure fun and it fits into this franchise and world perfectly. The world it creates is extraordinary here, brimming with detail and life. And the whole film, not just the first act, is a lot of pure-hearted and spirited fun. I love all the details from the future, from the games to the billboards to the hoverboards to the flying cars. It is all executed perfectly due to fantastic world-building, terrific imagination, an eye for detail and naturally magnificent visual effects. The effects are not only stunning but also incredibly advanced which made the movie age like fine wine unlike so many other 1980s films to which time was not kind to at all.

The acting is top-notch. Everyone gave a respectable performance although I found Thomas F. Wilson’s performance too theatrical and goofy and even stupid at times and quite mediocre. And his character of Biff is very poorly realized and idiotic. As for the other characters, Doc is once again excellent and I would even go so far as to say that he is better here than before owing to more screen time and better characterization. But Marty suffered a bit here not only because Michael J. Fox is clearly older, but also because the character itself is pretty weakly developed here and boring to say the least.

Technically, the movie looks splendid. The effects are superb, the direction is solid and the imagery and cinematography are both very good. However, the pacing is bad because it goes for too long, it somehow feels repetitive and, as I said earlier, it can become boring due to endless action sequences.

With a terrific first act, amazing world-building, a lot of detail and heart, great imagination and solid performances, Back to the Future Part II also has way too much action which can get pretty annoying at times, too convoluted story, too frenetic tone and a bloated running time. It is way inferior to the original, but as a sequel, it is quite solid after all and offering a lot of spirited and light-hearted fun.

My Rating – 3,5


Paddington (2014)


Paddington Review

Paddington is a 2014 British family film directed by Paul King and, although the trailers weren’t promising, it proved to be quite a good film and even magnificent in its own right.

The first thing I noticed about this film is how old-fashioned and traditional it is. It reminded me of all those feel-good family films of the nineties that I grew up with. And the story is, although quite predictable and familiar in that fashion, nevertheless extremely entertaining and engaging from start to finish.

The technical aspects in this movie are absolutely terrific and they definitely help elevate the film to the next level. The direction is surprisingly good, but the art direction and production design is simply astonishing. The Muppets meets Wes Anderson – that’s what this film has been called by some. I honestly think that might be true, but it has to be more of the former, because I absolutely hate Wes Anderson’s films , they are just not for me, so that connection definitely seemed odd to me. But the evident attention to detail that went into this production is amazing to behold and all those wonderful details help the film feel like such a well crafted and rarely well thought-out children’s film.

The next big thing that is certainly a huge plus for this movie is its humor. Wow, never would I expect something like this. The humor is so charming, endearing and filled with so many goofy moments and great lines that can really make you laugh. What of course makes it so good is the fact that this movie can be enjoyed by people of all ages and that is due to the inclusion of various kinds of humor that range from goofy slapstick to British dry humor to pop-culture references. Add to that some excellent messages and wonderful characters and you’ve got a beautiful distraction for the whole family.

Speaking of the characters, the character development here is dealt with surprisingly well. The protagonist is simply endearing, the whole Brown family is interesting and the villain is somewhat funny. But the relationship between Paddington and the father is what drives the film and makes it so human with all the nuances in his character. The acting is also pretty good, not fantastic, but fine nevertheless and serves the purpose.

The pacing and editing are also quite good, but the action is overwhelming and while I know that today’s audiences like that, I dislike too much action and this is the same problem I’ve had with the Toy Story trilogy in that the story, characters and everything is so good, but there is not nearly enough quiet, character-driven or emotional moments to compensate for all that overwhelming action. But that, along with familiar storyline, is the only big flaw I found in this film. Everything else is unexpectedly phenomenal and charming.

All in all, Paddington is a proof that a family film can still be done if it is made with proper care, right amount of humor with all of its kinds, effervescent characters and charming tone and details. It is one of the biggest surprises of 2014 and one of the year’s best films for children.

My Reting – 4


Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Image result for alice in wonderland disney gif


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 13th animated film. It is a hugely underrated, amazing film.


Most everyone’s mad here.

You may have noticed that I’m not all there myself.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


Being based on a classic book which is very episodic, the film is quite episodic in nature itself. Sometimes it was too episodic, but for the most part they actually did the best they could for such an uncinematic book and I applaud them. Because of its episodic nature, I am going to review the story from the first plot element to the last one instead of the usual format.

It starts with Alice being bored from listening the book her sister is reading to her, she sees the White Rabbit and follows him to the rabbit hole. This beginning is perfectly edited, it is not too long nor too short, and it introduces us to the character of Alice wonderfully. Next, the journey through the hole is remarkable in terms of its animation and visual style. The next couple of sequences with size-altering food are very faithful to the source material and well-done.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum sequence could have easily been a detour, but thanks to their tale of The Walrus and the Carpenter, it becomes more than a detour – it is one of the darkest and most heartbreaking scenes ever to come from Disney because of the poor oysters. It gave me nightmares as a child and it is not easy to watch even now. Needless to say, it is one of the most underrated moments from the studio.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


The sequences with Bill the Lizard and the flowers are both interesting and memorable, but after those scenes comes Caterpillar in what is one of the highlights of the film. It is, as always, visually stunning and hallucinatory. And the character of Caterpillar is the first truly great and memorable character who really gives Alice a headache, but also moves the plot forward with his mushroom advice.

The next scene introduces us to the next great character – The Cheshire Cat and it’s a great scene. The part with Mad Hatter is one of the best and most memorable parts in the movie thanks to superb the Unbirthday Song which is the finest song in the film, excellent character of Mad Hatter and terrific, quick and hilarious dialogue exchange which was wonderfully taken from the book.

The next emotional part where Alice gets lost in the woods is the added scene not present in the book and it was a superb move because it slows the pace which was much needed and gives some character development for the protagonist. The final part of the film is of course wonderfully epic and menacing and the conclusion is perfect.

Alice is a very good protagonist, exceptional for this type of film as she actually gets some development and realizes her mistake in wanting to be in this crazy world. She starts to appreciate the real world by the end and that character growth is awesome and is pleasantly reminiscent to Chihiro’s journey in ‘Spirited Away’.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


Now let’s talk about the characters she meets along the way, all of them immensely crazy and memorable. As I said above, Caterpillar is terrific. I loved some of his hilarious lines (“Who are you?!”), his look and his voice. He is a great plot device, but a genuinely unforgettable part of the film too.

Mad Hatter and March Hare are phenomenal as these two crazy lunatics who drink tea and celebrate Unbirthday. They gave probably the most headache to Alice and are simply unforgettable Disney creations. I just loved their many instantly memorable one-liners. The Dormouse is a mystery and whether or not he is their prisoner which again gives the movie a very dark edge.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee aren’t as essential to the film but are still solid. The Walrus and the Carpenter are terrific villains for sure and of course the White Rabbit is a fabulous plot device. His constant appearance throughout the film is very well thought out and his appearance and his signature clock make him very memorable.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


Doorknob is interesting, Bill the Lizard is classical funny character and the flowers are memorably bitchy and awful to Alice. I also loved those crazy birds near the end as they are all stupendously designed. The Cheshire Cat is phenomenal. He is again a great plot device, but more than that as his one-liners about craziness stole the show here and of course his loony personality. There is no denying that Alice in Wonderland is reminiscent to Looney Tunes in a way and because I love both Looney Tunes and Disney naturally I adore this film.

The Queen of Hearts is fantastic. She is also underrated and while not one of the best, she is one of the better Disney villains and her catchphrase “Off with her head!” is easily recognizable. She looks great and sounds phenomenal and is just such a superbly realized character who is so unstable and dangerous that everyone is walking on eggshells around her.

The animation in Alice in Wonderland, while not quite refined as Disney’s previous efforts, is nevertheless very interesting and original. It achieves the whimsical and hallucinatory feel which perfectly accompanies what goes on screen and was a perfect way to film this particular book. I loved its dark color palette so much and the character design is particularly amazing here with all of the characters looking intriguing and well thought out.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


It is, along with ‘Fantasia’, the weirdest animation ever to come from Disney and it may be the reason why it flopped when first released. But it is a joy to watch and as world building goes, it is one of the very best from the studio – it transports you to Wonderland wonderfully with great animation and attention to detail and is a big reason why this film works so well.

The soundtrack of the film is a curious one in that it has both a lot and a few songs meaning that the songs are some of the shortest in the Disney canon, but there are however around fifteen of them which definitely has to be the largest number of songs ever for Disney. Because there are so many songs, many are too short and not particularly memorable to mention.

Very Good Advice is a heartbreaking scene with moving lyrics, A-E-I-O-U is too short but visually pleasing and Old Father William is again too short to talk about. We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out is again short but very entertaining. The film has a lot of these small songs which last for less than half a minute. I’m Late is certainly the best of those incredibly short songs as it is very catchy and a lot of fun.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


And now for the film’s three best songs. All in the Golden Afternoon is one of them. It describes flowers so well, it’s perfectly sung and it has such a wonderful, memorable chorus. I love this entire scene a lot and it’s very underrated.

The Unbirthday Song is naturally the highlight of the film as the funniest scene in the movie, but the song itself is terrific. It is so well incorporated into the sequence, it has phenomenal explanatory lyrics for this made up holiday and the ending with the fireworks is the standout moment.

But actually the best song in the film is Painting the Roses Red which is one of the most underrated Disney songs of all time and one of my favorites as I love it so much. It is certainly a children’s song in its tone, but the lyrics are again fantastic (the movie surely knows how to use songs to advance the plot and build characters) and it is again wonderfully sung. It’s just such a hugely fun number with such fun lyrics and a great, easy to sing to, catchy tune.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


The story is adapted in a wonderful way. Some boring characters from the book such as The Duchess are removed and the scene in the woods is added which is a great plot point to add to slow things down. For all these reasons and because it visually is a wonder and because it is very faithful, it is undoubtedly the best adaptation ever of this particular book.

There are some small flaws I have with this film. Sometimes it felt too episodic. There are too many (short) songs here and particularly the pacing is troublesome as it is way too frenetic and fast and most of the film is oddly paced in my opinion. That’s a problem many Disney classics share. And it is way too short in runtime as 75 minutes was just not enough. It is so incredibly entertaining that I wanted more of it.

But the score is amazing with March of the Cards in particular being just a fantastic, very fun composition. The voice acting is phenomenal across the board with Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn and Sterling Holloway being the standouts. It has a great attention to detail, it is emotional at times and of course both the humor and the dialogue are some of the best that Disney has ever put out.


Alice in Wonderland Movie Review


Alice in Wonderland is in the end still a great classic of a film and actually my fifth favorite Disney film. It is immensely underrated and I do not get why more people do not consider it one of Disney’s best when it so clearly is. It is different than all Disney films and thus should be appreciated.

With hallucinatory, outstanding and different animation and many simply unforgettable crazy characters such as Mad Hatter, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland is definitely too short and fast paced, but it features amazing world building, superb voice acting as well as some of the best dialogue and humor ever to come from Disney along with a couple of wonderful songs. It is a weird, crazy and unforgettable journey and thus the ultimate adaptation of this famous book and a shamefully underappreciated movie which is one of the greatest Disney animated films of all time.

My Rating – 4.5


Breaking Away (1979)

Breaking Away Movie Review

Breaking Away Movie Review

Breaking Away is a 1979 coming-of-age film that is regarded as a classic within its genre, but to me it is a perfect textbook example of everything wrong you can do in this particular genre.

First, the story. It follows four teenagers and specifically the protagonist’s obsession with Italian, his relationship with his parents and of course his cycling competition in the end. All of these are delivered in such a cliched and entirely predictable fashion that it really starts to bother you. The script is so weak and barely ever moving away from the formula that I honestly cannot understand how it ever got away with it. But it somehow did, leaving critics rave how amazing it is when it frustratingly isn’t. But the ending is so typical that it is sickening. The whole sports drama in the end is so cliched and endlessly boring that they should have cut that whole bad part that definitely ruined the film.

Secondly and most importantly, the characters. They are, simply put, annoying and very unlikable. I have to be honest. They are developed, at least half of them, but are not sympathetic at all. Moocher and Cyril are barely developed and Mike is a typical Dennis Quaid character meaning that he is cocky and annoying. Then of course is the protagonist Dave Stoller who is the biggest reason why I found the film to be weak, he ruined the movie without a doubt. His behavior and voice are off-putting, but his obsession with Italian and constant speaking in the respectable language takes the cake as the most annoying thing in the entire picture. And his type of relationship with a girlfriend for the time Katherine is so cliched and has been used countless times. And the filmmakers never gave me a reason why the rest of the guys would hang out with him as they are obviously so different from him in both personality and interests. He is the biggest, major problem here and he is the weakest link. He is so annoying and even obnoxious at times.

So why do I give this film a passing mark if I hated the characters and story so much and they are the two most important aspects in each and every movie? Well, for two reasons. First, there are the technical aspects which are all excellent. The direction is good and the acting is phenomenal across the board. Every performance is great which is a big thing having in mind most of the actors were practically unknown at the time. The score is of course great, using the classical music at appropriate times thus achieving excellent editing as well. Technically, this movie is splendid and it is such a shame that this weak story got such a fantastic and professional treatment.

The second saving grace here is the father Ray, so wonderfully portrayed here by superb Paul Dooley. He brings the necessary humor to the film with his very amusing lines and comedic behavior. His relationship with his son is beautiful and is incredibly realistic and rarely portrayed so grounded as in this movie. The dialogue sequences between the two are wonderful and they are certainly the highlights here. They are filled with heart and excellent lines and beautiful emotion. They certainly lift the whole thing and it is a shame there wasn’t more of it.

In conclusion, Breaking Away has a superb father-son relationship, some warm humor and it is very well-made, but the script is so cliched and the characters are so annoying that they ruin the whole film which becomes unfortunately very disappointing and even overrated.

My Rating – 3


The Duff (2015)

The Duff

The Duff Review

The Duff is a 2015 teen comedy film directed by Ari Sandel and starring Robbie Amell and the wonderful Mae Whitman. It is one of the funniest films in a while and a guilty pleasure by all means.

It tells the story of Bianca, a teenager who learns that she is the DUFF of her group which is an acronym of designated ugly fat friend meaning that she is the least popular and most accessible person of the group. She then asks the help from her childhood friend, the handsome Wes to help her change. The main reason why this story hurts the whole film is that it is not only incredibly clichéd but also devastatingly predictable and tired. I literally knew every little thing that would happen in this movie making all that trip somewhat pointless. The other main problem that is as important as the typical story is of course the message in the end. It is very vague and ambiguous in that it preaches one thing but ends with a completely different thing. It teaches us how people should not label themselves and should be comfortable in their own skin and then is ends with Bianca getting a handsome boyfriend while coming on a prom in a make-over edition. It is a very troublesome approach with the message that does not pay off and has been typical of Hollywood for decades and decades. I wish someday we would have a film that shows it is okay to be less handsome and single and that would end in such a way.

But why did I like this film when the story and message are done so poorly? Well, the answer is twofold. First there is the acting which is absolutely phenomenal across the board with Robbie Amell being very likable and professional in his role. But he pales in comparison to Mae Whitman who is simply lovable in the role of an interesting and sympathetic protagonist. She gives a powerhouse performance here that should have gotten her way more attention and even some accolades. Yes, she is that good. And she did with this stale material what she could have done and she did it perfectly and to the greatest extent possible. She is not only extremely likable but also very original in her execution. There are endless interesting and funny facial expressions she incorporated into some great sequences leading to her character being the most hilarious part of the film bringing the most humor for sure. She is amazing and quite frankly a revelation. I am now very excited to see more of her in the future.

The next aspect that helped the movie are of course the characters and the humor. The characters are all incredibly sympathetic and they are all stupendously well developed. But the humor is fantastic with a lot of simply hilarious sequences and excellent lines. They absolutely lift this weak script and make the film fun to watch and a great recommendation for anyone. Of all the hilarious scenes, I found the one with Bianca arguing with her friends and erasing her from the friends list on the social networks as the finest one and probably the biggest reason why this movie could become classic in the future. It perfectly captures today’s society obsessed with internet and the teenagers’ obsession with social networks and making fun of everybody on the internet. The cyber bullying is a great and important theme introduced in The Duff and I only wish the whole film could have been that smart, sophisticated and relevant.

The direction is solid, the acting is top-notch but the dialogue is superb from start to finish and the chemistry between the leads is evident. It is one reason apart from acting why they made the story tolerable because you can feel the chemistry between them and their evident powerhouse performances driving it all. And the pacing is mostly good as is the soundtrack. All of the technical aspects are very good making the movie feel very polished and professional.

With extremely likable characters, very good humor with a couple of really hilarious sequences and lines and evident chemistry between the leads, The Duff is unfortunately undone by terrible script which is not only typical but also incredibly predictable and the message which is very ambiguous and vague hurting the movie a lot. But it is very charming, extremely funny, it has some great themes, it is relevant and it is above all a hugely entertaining and fun film which could become classic in the future. It is incredibly flawed, but also endearing and a great guilty pleasure.

My Rating – 3


The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The Never Ending Story

The Never Ending Story

The NeverEnding Story Review

The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 fantasy film directed by Wolfgang Petersen and it is about a young boy who reads a book in which a warrior must save a dying land from a dark force. It is one of the most highly regarded and fondly remembered children’s films and it achieved that status quite rightfully.

The movie has quite a typical story at first, but it gets progressively sophisticated and special as it continues. It has such a terrific world building here which truly is extraordinary creating this beautiful whole new fantasy world of wonder. And all of the creatures are wonderfully imagined and depicted. It has a problem and that is the second act which is very inferior to the rest of the movie and quite frankly even boring and uninspired at times. The fact that the protagonist does not have any sidekicks early on definitely contributed to the boring tone because children’s films ought to have memorable sidekicks helping the protagonist and adding the comedic element to the picture. This does not have that and it sacrifices the humor which is non-existent. It is also not that important and not necessary, but I would have liked to have some of it mainly to ease the tone which is even too dark for a kid’s film. But the whole first act is a beautiful introduction to the story and the whole third act is astonishing to behold. It shows the movie’s brain and heart at its core. It wonderfully explored the themes of imagination and childhood. Most of the people, especially adults, easily forget their childhood and they lose their sense of wonder, excitement and imagination and if more people maintained that child’s part in them, this would be a much better and happier world to live in.

As for the characters, they are solidly developed, but nothing out of the ordinary. The protagonist is very good and he is a sympathetic kid, but the warrior child in the story I did not like at all, he was the typical hero and was very annoying. As for the girl empress, she is very likable and the whole sequence with her is quite emotional. And all of the creatures are well developed and imagined with the dragon being the standout here of course with such a memorable design and likable personality.

The acting is passable, the adults are all good, but the kid who plays the warrior is quite honestly awful. He gave a terrible performance to an already annoying character. However, he is a child which is the reason why I forgive them for that otherwise fatal flaw. But the empress and the protagonist are quite good and their child actors did a splendid job here which is stupendous because they are so young.

What I liked most about The NeverEnding Story is the sheep epic scope of it and of course the wonderful imaginative world it created. It has a great attention to detail, very good character design and stupendous practical effects for the time. The effects can sometimes feel dated, but they are mostly executed in a great way and having in mind the movie’s age, it looks incredible. The editing should have been better owing to that slow second act, but the directing here is surprisingly good and polished. As for the cinematography, it is excellent throughout, but the imagery is outstanding and sticks with you, especially some of the flying sequences which are very memorable and endearing. I also have to give kudos to the score as it is absolutely amazing.  It is perfectly uplifting and majestic, fitting within this story magnificently. The opening song was to me one of the most refreshing surprises and one of the most underrated songs as well. It was a terrific start for the film, a catchy tune and a sign that this was going to be a great flick.

Some of the acting is bad and the second act is slow and should have featured some sidekicks to ease the tone a bit, but the first act is a beautiful introduction to this great story and the whole third act is marvelous to behold showcasing the movie’s sophisticated themes as well as the brain and heart at its core. The NeverEnding Story also has absolutely amazing score, great practical effects, wonderful world building and a moving and enthralling story leading to what is arguably one of the finest children’s films ever made.

My Rating – 4,5


Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Five Easy Pieces

Five Easy Pieces Movie Review

Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 Oscar nominated drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Karen Black. It is one of the better and more underrated drama films of the seventies.

The story is about a man who hears that his father is dying and goes home to see him bringing along his girlfriend. The premise is nothing spectacular when you hear about it, but it is executed so well and it has such a smart and wonderfully crafted screenplay. However, here is one major problem I have with the film and that is the editing. It is very weird and problematic. The first third is so dragged and there isn’t a point to have half an hour before learning about his father except for the film to introduce its characters. And on the other hand, the last third is definitely rushed which is a shame because the film really starts to become interesting later on. But that is the only major problem here in an otherwise outstanding film. That first third is somewhat weaker, but second third is superb with excellent character study and some fine humor, while the last third is a terrific conclusion with a very memorable and smart ending. Of course the story is superb with not a single cliché used which is quite an accomplishment.

The characterization here is thankfully remarkably good because the script necessitates it. The protagonist is highly unlikable and even obnoxious at times, but while that is a problem at times, it is also the film’s strength because it is very realistic and relevant in his portrayal. His relationship with all the other characters is remarkable and very well executed. And his scenes with Catherine and his sick father are also wonderful. Rayette is his very stupid, redneck girlfriend and although she is weak and not the brightest, her care for him is evident and she is sympathetic, although pitiful at times. Catherine as his affair girlfriend is very well developed as well along with the protagonist’s sister. But there are also two characters that shouldn’t be forgotten and those are the two women who they pick up while driving to his father’s home. One woman in particular. She is simply hilarious with her hippie attitude and obsession with filth and her constant repeated phrase after a long speech – “I don’t even want to talk about it” – is extremely funny and delivered perfectly. Her character is a comic highlight bringing some very nice humor to an otherwise serious film.

All those well developed characters needed great actors and they got them. Each and every performance in this movie is phenomenal. Karen Black is excellent in her very demanding role and all of the family members are wonderfully acted as well, but this is of course Jack Nicholson’s movie and he absolutely nails it, giving probably his best performance ever. He is so natural, so professional that he brings depth to his character and is a standout in the whole film.

It is technically a fantastic film as well. The tone is well handled and the direction is excellent. The film is filled with emotion but also realism which is great. And the dialogue is, along with the script, very realistic and clever, perfectly delivered and executed. Apart from the editing, the technical aspects are great.

All in all, Five Easy Pieces is weakly edited, but it is filled with superbly developed characters, very good screenplay, fantastic acting across the board, fine direction and it is above all a terrific character study and a great vehicle for Nicholson’s acting abilities. It is one of the very best films of 1970 that honestly should have won Best Picture because it is clearly the best among the nominees.

My Rating – 4,5


Gandahar (1988)


GandaharGandahar Review

Gandahar is a 1988 French animated science fiction film directed by Rene Laloux and it is one of the most underappreciated and unfortunately underrated animated movies I have ever seen.

It tells the story of Sylvain who after witnessing an attack on his people by the automatons is sent to investigate and meets a race of deformed mutant beings who offer their help to defeat the Men of Metal. This is such a fascinating story with an authentic and well written script. It is enthralling literally from start to finish and it is a beautifully created world thanks to some incredibly strong world building at play here. It starts off somewhat abruptly and the second half is a bit inferior to the first one, but it is otherwise a feast for the eyes and a remarkable experience mostly thanks to excellent and beautifully imagined story as it really is stunning. The attention to detail is evident here as well as the craftsmanship that went into the production. But the whole story is such an original and riveting one that the whole film flies by and it leaves an impression for sure.

As for the character development, it is solid but not great. Sylvain is your typical hero meaning that he is the one who is destined to save the day, noble and strong. Airelle is quite solid as his love interest whereas the villain is pretty memorable and quite malicious. As for the Deformed, they are the standouts here as their development is the biggest and the emotional investment is the largest. You can feel their pain, you can understand them and they are portrayed in a grounded way and also with a lot of care and detail which is evident in their language as well as of course the terrific character design. The characters are not the strongest, but this is an epic science fiction story that does not need powerful characterization and that is why I do not consider that a big flaw.

Now, the animation. Wow, what an artistic and beautiful animation this movie has. It is indescribably beautiful and although it may feel dated to some and more reminiscent to the decade of the seventies, I enjoyed that old-fashioned feel to it very much. But it’s stunning not only for its color palette and artistic quality, but also for its truly exceptional meticulous approach with lots of incredible details and extraordinary and truly authentic character design with each and every character wonderfully conceived and beautifully fitting to the world presented here. Apart from the amazing story, the animation is the biggest contributor to Gandahar’s extreme quality.

As for other technical aspects, they are all masterful. The voice acting is absolutely superb with not a single weak performance. The score and sound are also good as is of course the direction from Rene Laloux. But the approach here is absolutely audacious not only because it has such a serious and mature tone to it, but also because it is harsh and very violent at times. The action sequences are very well executed as well. The whole picture is not only original and highly imaginative thanks to its stellar script but also very memorable and powerful and daring in scope. I also have to give kudos to the cinematography and of course the imagery as it is undeniably terrific with so many intriguing and entirely breathtaking images and production design presented. The dialogue is also clever and mature fitting within this serious world.

When comparing it to other French animated films, it is not one of the very best, but it is certainly near the top of the list. I also have to mention ‘Fantastic Planet’ as it is evidently influenced by that movie and it is quite similar in both its psychedelic imagery as well as the epic scope and mature tone of the story. But honestly it is not that inferior to the aforementioned classic which brings me to this point – Gandahar is an incredibly and frustratingly underseen and underrated movie. It is certainly one of the most underappreciated animated movies of all time which is a real shame given its evident quality which it has in spades.

With fascinating, authentic and riveting story, mature tone, superb world building and absolutely breathtaking and truly artistic animation with a lot of care and evident detail, Gandahar is not only well crafted due to its amazing technical aspects, but also wonderfully imagined thanks to its stellar script and it is undoubtedly one of the most underrated and shamefully forgotten animated films of all time.


The Incredible Hulk (2008)


The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Review

The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 superhero film directed by Louis Leterrier starring Edward Norton in the title role and it is the second feature film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It follows  the Hulk as he attempts to cure himself while he also has to fight one soldier who becomes somewhat of a similar creature later on. The plot in this movie is so by-the-numbers and incredibly typical and predictable. It has a somewhat stupendous first act but it later progressively got worse with a rushed villain origin story as well as annoying and pretty weak fight sequences in the last act. However, the appearance of Tony Stark in the ending scene is a nice touch and an excellent introduction to The Avengers. But overall, this story seems too ordinary, too standard and it never rises above that level unfortunately.

As for the characters, they are mostly solid, but again rather forgettable. Bruce Banner is a passable protagonist, but you never quite get to know/care for him in spite of some solid romantic sequences with him and Betty. Speaking of Betty, she is a typical damsel in distress and a typical superhero’s girlfriend, never managing to move away from that distinction. The Abomination has a rushed plot arc, but he is quite strong physically and he posed a bigger threat to the main character than most of the other Marvel villains which is ridiculous when you think about it but that is how it goes.

The acting is okay and everyone does his or her job with fine performances, but there is a reason why Marvel replaced Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo and it is evident when you watch The Incredible Hulk. He just never has his moment to shine, he gave a respectable but a forgettable performance and he never quite fits into this role. As for the other actors, they are all fine, but again nothing too remarkable and not worth higher praise.

The action in this movie is solidly executed, especially in the first half, but it gets too much like a comic-book in the second half and it is overwhelming. There is way too much action and nowhere near enough story or character development in here. But surprisingly the directing is quite good here and stupendous to say the least definitely helping the movie rise above the average status. The pacing is also good, but the score is forgettable and the visual effects are nothing spectacular. The cinematography is a big problem as it is rather poor and always of course too dark to see a thing which can get super frustrating.

Comparing the movie to other MCU films, it is one of their worst definitely, but it is not bad for sure and it is certainly better than Iron Man 2. It is the worst MCU film after ‘Iron Man 2’, but it is not bad because whatever you think of Marvel, they have yet to make a totally bad movie.

With so-so special effects, poor cinematography, too much action and not enough story, The Incredible Hulk is very flawed indeed but it does have solid characters, entertaining plot, some very good sequences,  a fairly good direction and a pretty good villain. It is one of the worst Marvel movies, but it is not bad, it is passable and it is definitely better than Iron Man 2.

My Rating – 3