Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kingsglaive vs Kubo: Try Not to Cut Yourself on Your Cutting Edge

Last weekend two revolutionary cutting-edge animated feature films came out. This is unusual since on most weekends not a single revolutionary or cutting-edge animated feature film comes out. Just watch the trailer for "The Wild Life" - this is the kind of ambition-less crap that we usually get. But last weekend we were spoiled. Two ambitious studios, Laika and Square Enix, both dropped two of the most visually impressive films of the year. On two separate frontiers of animation, stop-motion and photo-realistic CG, their movies pushed the envelopes. On a technical level this is incredible stuff.

"Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV", the two hour trailer for the upcoming video game, is a step way beyond anything Square Enix has made before. There is serious graphical horsepower on display here, featuring a world and characters that could very easily fool you into being live action. The people still are slightly mutated Final Fantasy beings, with eyes a bit too large and their movements not quite right. But otherwise, it is a startlingly realistic-looking film.

Meanwhile, "Kubo and the Two Strings" is an incredible jump up from Laika's previous films, "Para-Norman" and "The Box Trolls". They're attempting a full action fantasy film with the artistic elegance and style of a Studio Ghibli production. They've kept their slightly twisted Laika style, but have something legitimately beautiful. All this is possible thanks to the possibilities of 3D printing for more detailed characters and faster production. Laika is showing that there is no limit to the potential of stop-motion animation.

But when you get past the technical level, one of these movies is a pile of shit. Unfortunately, Square Enix still can't actually tell a good story. Laika can.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Can Anybody Tell Me Why I Liked Suicide Squad?

At the moment things are not going too well for Warner Bros' last-minute race to catch up with Marvel. Actually things are not going too well for the entire film industry in general. This summer has been a disastrous wasteland. Ever since I wrote up my list of the Best Movies of 2016 So Far, it feels like nothing at all has come out. Sure, there have been huge blockbuster movies, but does anybody care about a new Jason Bourne? Did anybody really care about "Ghostbusters" once the controversy died down? Did you even know a fucking Tarzan movie came out? I didn't. And to nobody's shock, the box office is hurting.

"Suicide Squad" was released last Friday to reviews that ranged from "OH MY GOD, MY FACE IS ON FIRE" to "OH MY GOD, THE WORLD IS ON FIRE". This coming just six months after Warner Bros farted out "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Possibly the Worst Movie of the Decade". It is not good for anybody at Warner Bros or the industry. "Man of Steel" was Strike One, "BvS" is Strike Two. In order to save this ballgame, DC needed a grand slam. Instead they got "Suicide Squad", a movie everybody hates. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies - fuck you, 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you ever needed evidence that you should have just stayed home and finished "Stranger Things", this was it.

I'm not going to mince words. Why should I? People are going to be a lot meaner than me when it comes to this movie. "Suicide Squad" is a mess. It was clearly torn to pieces in editing. Director David Ayer seems to have had a gritty Tarantino-esque superhero movie by way of crime thriller in mind. But the studio wanted a new "Guardians of the Galaxy"... oh wait no, they wanted a new "Deadpool". The results are clear. The movie is half flashback. Then those flashbacks are followed by exposition that explain the flashbacks. There's a desperation in the editing as the soundtrack goes from one Top 100 Hit of Yesteryear to another in a truly sad attempt to inject fun in the proceedings. And Jared Leto's Joker is shit.

So can anybody explain to me why I liked "Suicide Squad"? Could you explain why I'm even going to give this movie a recommendation?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

So after months and months of bitter warfare between horrible sexist GamerGate nerd assholes and SJW tumblrite militant FeminiNazis... the movie was fine.

Meh.

Decent enough.

I have nothing to say about this movie, gonna be honest. The cameos were a bit obnoxious. The jokes landed here or there. Too many fart jokes. Melissa McCarthy wasn't very funny, Kate McKinnon probably saved the movie, Leslie Jones wasn't bad, Kristin Wiig was... I don't even know or care.

I don't remember anything about this movie already. "Ghostbusters" (2016) is probably the least interesting thing to talk about of the entire year. Was Michael K. Williams in this movie? I can't remember. After all that bullshit. All the crap on my twitter feed. It was this. ...It was okay. Doesn't even begin to compare with the 1984 original. So what?

Meh... I was hoping for this whole thing to write here. I could have pulled together 5,000 words easily if "Ghostbusters" (2016) was as bad as the remakes of "Vacation" or "Red Dawn" or "RoboCop" or that fucking "Total Recall" movie with the stupid gravity train. I wish it were worse. I could have gotten good and mad and written a review. Or it were in any way spectacular I'd have material. Instead I got nothing to work with here. Three out of Five, whatever. You can do worse.

Sorry for wasting your time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Some of What Might Be the Best Movies of 2016

The year of Our Lord Lena "Tracer" Oxton 2016 is now half over. Actually it’s more than half over but I’m typically late about everything. It seems that since I rarely have time to write movie reviews, I should just update you all on what movies you should have seen in the last six months. Obviously it is now too late to see most of them because they’re already out of theaters. So well… Yeah, I wish I had something to help you with how shitty that is. Anyhoo, speaking of incredibly late, it’s now closer to 2017 than 2015, and I realize I never wrote a Best Movies of 2015 List*. (See footnote.)

My plan in 2016 has been to watch what I call "good movies". Once upon a time when this blog was in its prime I would watch every single piece of shit that Hollywood produced. Now I can look at the wonder that is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2" and say "no". I'm very happy about that. 25% of my life has passed, I've seen enough shitty movies. I can tolerate some cheese like "Warcraft" or "X-Men Apocalypse" every now and then, but if its "Divergent 3"? I don't need to see it. I'm free of that crap! So here's ten good movies from 2016 that I saw instead:

10) Captain America: Civil War – Okay, so a superhero film is on the list. But it is not Deadpool and it is definitely not "Buttfuck v Superfuck: Dawn of Fuck". Actually I think "Captain America: Civil War" really only hangs on this list thanks to my eternal hatred of "BvS", which is already the Worst Movie of 2016. (Debate is over.) "Civil War" is how you do that movie right. You have real characters, you have real stakes, and you have humor. It also does not hurt to have a giant Ant-Man fighting Spider-Man fighting androids fighting robots fighting mutants in the greatest and silliest comic brawl of all time. "Civil War" gives you the taste of everything the Marvel universe can do. It can hit sillier highs and lower emotional blows than any movie Marvel has done before.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Game of Thrones Season 6 Reaction: The Good, the Bad, and the Sand Snakes

Season 5 was not good for "Game of Thrones". If you remember my post from last year, I summed up the season with something along the lines of:  "There is a point where it is just not fun. Watching a TV show should not feel like an extended funeral every week. Maybe that's what you're into in your entertainment, I won't judge too harshly. But I'm not." Or to put it another way: Season 5 fucking sucked. Between the rapes, the child murder, the terrible plotting, and Dorne, it was a disaster of a season.

The problem with Season 5 was not just the unrelenting misery or the "bad poosy". It was a victim of the same larger problem that ruined the last book of A Song of Ice and Fire, "A Dance With Dragons". That's the same larger problem that will cause "The Winds of Winter" to miss my pessimistic 2011 predicted release date of August 2016*. That problem is that George R. R. Martin is stuck. He's been stuck for over a decade now. He does not know how to get from his plodding middle section to the third act. We all know what has to happen:  Jon has to become King in the North, Dany has to beat the Slavers and go to Westeros,  and (eventually) the Wall is coming down and the Others are invading. But how do you get there? How do you line up all your pieces and just get there?

While GRRM has been struggling with this unsolvable problem, the show has suffered. Season 5 was not just bad bad because the villains won all the time in diablo ex machinas after diablo ex machinas. It was bad because the show was padding itself out. You could see the padding all the way back in Season 4 with entirely created arcs involving Night's Watch deserters and the fookin' legend of Gin Alley, Karl Tanner. Dorne didn't just suck because the Sand Snakes were bad, it sucked because it was irrelevant and took forever. Meereen is awful because it is a sideshow in the books and the show. Ramsay became an annoying character because he was not important to the overall story and to stall for time he was transformed into this ridiculous Hannibal Lecter-esque supervillain.

So Season 6 is not perfect by any means. It has padding, it has bad plotting, it has mistakes. But here's the thing:  it gets there. By the end of this season we are at the final act of the story. We are ready for the final wars. And even an uneven season with several mistakes requires a nod of recognition from me. At least it got there.