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?