Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Review

This screening had a lot more people in it than the others I’ve been to and wow do some people not understand how to go to the cinema. First there was someone whose phone was not only still on and being used when the film started but the screen’s brightness was clearly on full (fortunately they stopped once the introduction ended but I noticed someone else hadn’t) and then during the visual portion of the credits someone stood up and didn’t actually move (I had to move a few seats to the right to actually look at the screen).

It’s alright but honestly the weakest of Disney’s live action remakes. Its biggest problem is in fact being too much like the original to the point it’s pretty much impossible to spoil this movie unless you talk to someone who never saw the original.

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Remember how The Jungle Book remake last year only really used two songs from the original (three if you count Trust In Me being in the credits)? This film uses just about all of them (the only one left out is the reprise of Gaston) and while they’re all performed well it does just feel like they’re there just because they’re iconic. Be Our Guest for example had no reason to be in this version other than the fact it’s one of the most famous songs in the original. But like I said they were performed well and the visuals for these scenes are really good.

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The film does have some new content and I do like the things they add. Gay Lefou made perfect sense the moment I heard about it and the scenes that explore the backstories of Belle and Beast (who still doesn’t have a canon real name in this version) do help the narrative of their romance as you get to know them as they get to know each other. There’s even a scene where Mrs. Potts gives an explanation for why the curse effected everyone else in the castle and some new songs that fit in really well with the classic soundtrack (in fact I’d love to hear Paige O’Hara sing How Does A Moment Last Forever and Robby Benson sing Evermore). It’s actually a shame the film doesn’t have more moments like these or explore them for more than a couple of scenes or lines.

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The cast are all very good and the biggest strength of the film. Emma Watson’s experience playing Hermione made her a great Belle and I really like her singing voice. Luke Evans is clearly having a lot of fun as Gaston and gives one of the most entertaining performances in the film. Dan Stevens’ Beast voice is works really well both for the scenes where he’s intimidating and sounds like a monster and when the romance starts and his voice gets softer.

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But while I like Stevens’ performance as Beast I’m not a fan of his design. He looks too human which is a shame because all the other cursed characters have such detailed designs it really feels they could have made a great Beast design but instead went with a design that makes him look like a fawn. The horns look neat though.

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I’ve seen a lot of people express hate towards this film and while I’m disappointed by it I still had a nice time and want to listen to the songs again. It does a great job of recreating the iconic scenes from the original so while that wasn’t the approach I’d have preferred I still have to give it credit for doing said approach well and at least having some new content. It doesn’t deserve the hate it gets but doesn’t live up to the hype either. I just wish it had more of its own identity like the live action versions of The Jungle Book, Cinderella or Alice In Wonderland.

Kong: Skull Island Review

Before I review this film I suppose I should share my thoughts on the Godzilla film it’s a spin-off of. It was ok but the human characters weren’t nearly interesting enough to make it less annoying when the footage would cut away from Godzilla just as an action scene was going to happen, especially since the action scenes they did show looked really good.

Out of the two films this is the better one. For one thing it doesn’t tease Kong after fully revealing him and when the scenes focus on the human characters for the majority of the time I’m not wondering when the next action scene is going to happen. I say the majority because there are scenes where the two groups argue over the direction to go where you know exactly which way they’re going to go that could be a bit shorter.

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A big part of why I decided to see this in the cinema is for the scale of Kong and this is something the film does really well. This version of Kong is huge, if he tried to climb the Empire State Building it’d fall down (though he’s still smaller than Godzilla). This is the main reason to see it on the big screen and why I’m probably not going to rewatch it when it airs on TV. While I’m talking about Kong himself I’m glad they didn’t just make him look like a Gorilla, you can see the influence the old King Kong suits had on the design.

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The human characters are what you expect from a monster movie, not especially interesting but not too boring that you’re asking “where’s Kong?” every time he’s off-screen. I think the main reason this works is thanks to the cast, these are all talented actors. The characters aren’t memorable but they’re not supposed to be.

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An example of a character who only works because of the performance is the army leader played by Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson has the most entertaining performance in this film as his character’s desire for a war with Kong gets stronger. This film has a scene where Samuel L. Jackson and King Kong glare at each other.

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If you want a scene for scene remake of the original King Kong you’re going to be disappointed but if you just want to see giant monsters fight each other this film delivers. It’s not great but it doesn’t need to be, it’s just a fun giant monster movie.

Logan – Review

When I first heard about this film I wasn’t interested. I felt Days of Future Past was a good book end for the original X-Men films and didn’t feel I needed to see any more, the idea of it being inspired by Old Man Logan wasn’t enough to sell me either. But when that first trailer came out it became one of the films I was most interested in seeing this year.

It’s very good. One of the best films to come out of the X-Men franchise. I’m also really glad the fact it’s an R rated film in the US wasn’t shoved in your face, there are brutal scenes but they’re not shot in a “look how brutal this is” way. A lot of the praise I’ve seen for this film brings up how brutal it gets and I agree that it’s great that we get to see the claws do some real damage but what I think works best about the brutality is that it’s shot in a way that comes across like this is how it’s always been.

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The film is being promoted as the last time Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart play Logan and Xavier and what a performance to go out on. A big part of why this movie works is that these are the actors we’ve grown up seeing as these characters, we’re attached to these versions of the characters already before the film even starts.

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But the character who stole the show was Laura. Dafne Keen makes a great X-23 and the heart of the film is the bond that grows between her an Logan. She doesn’t speak for the majority of the film but you still feel the emotion from her expressions and the way she fights. Maybe instead of hiring a new actor to play Logan now that Jackman is finished they should just make Wolverine movies about Laura instead, she is Wolverine in the comics now after all…

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This is a film I’ll be surprised to not see in my top 10 by the end of the year. If you’re an X-Men fan who enjoyed any of the original X-Men films this is a film you should watch. Even if you’ve gotten tired of Fox’s X-Men movies this is still one that is worth checking out. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some Horizon Zero Dawn to start playing.

The Wolverine – Review

I preparation for seeing Logan I knew I needed to watch the only other X-Men movie I hadn’t seen, especially with it being another Wolverine solo movie I wanted to be prepared in case there might be a connection that comes up in Logan.

It’s decent. Not great but an improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine and better than Apocalypse from last year. It’s a good transition movie between the original X-Men trilogy and Days of Future Past that I’m glad I finally got around to seeing.

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Wolverine’s time in Japan has been a famous part of his life in the comics and it’s neat getting to see some of these characters in the movies. I really liked Rila Fukushima’s portrayal of Yukio and think it’s a shame this is the only X-Men film she’s in.

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The film does feel like it drags on a bit at times though, it never feels boring but does feel long. There’s also a lot of dialogue in Japanese without any subtitles which would be fine if I spoke Japanese but the way these scenes are presented it feels like I’m missing a big part of the movie. This isn’t even the only X-Men film to do this as I remember First Class having no subtitles for Magneto’s origin story. Also there are points when two Japanese characters randomly start speaking English to each other which really stand out as “we want you to understand what they’re saying in this scene” moments.

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The film’s strengths do make up for its flaws though. I like the romance between Logan and Mariko more than the Wolverine/Jean/Cyclops love triangle from the original trilogy and actually would have liked to have seen a sequel centered around Logan and Yukio on an adventure together. But the fact we have at least one good Wolverine solo movie after the infamous X-Men Origins, now lets see if there are two…

My Own Awards Ceremony 2017

With the Oscars over it’s time for my own awards ceremony (with blackjack and hookers). This is my 4th year doing this and as usually the majority of these awards are for those not even nominated. That said there are four awards here where the winner was nominated, three of which I put together the images for before the Oscars even started. Also for those who are new to these awards I do have some of my own categories that other award shows don’t have. Anyway on with the awards, hopefully I won’t get anything mixed up.

Best Game Tie-In

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LEGO Dimensions Story Packs (Ghostbusters/Fantastic Beasts)

I had trouble deciding which of these I liked best so I decided to give the award to the Story Packs in general. Only in LEGO Dimensions will you be playing through the new Ghostbusters movie and find yourself fighting a boss battle against Dr. Eggman. I still have some minikits to collect in these levels and will have a lot of fun exploring these worlds in more detail.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

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Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo (Star Trek Beyond)

This is the only award I chose after seeing the Oscar results. I originally didn’t really feel the need to include this award but after seeing Suicide Squad win the Oscar despite the wider range of impressive makeup present in Star Trek Beyond I knew I needed to fix that.

Best Costume Design

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Jeffrey Kurland (Ghostbusters)

The original Ghostbusters costumes are iconic, so the fact the costumes in the new movie look even better is an impressive feat worth highlighting.

Best Cinematography

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Linus Sandgren (La La Land)

First of two awards with the same result as the Oscars. In my review I said that the best parts of La La Land are when the instrumentals and visuals take center stage. Plus as a musical the film has some great dance choreography.

Best Visual Effects

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LAIKA (Kubo and the Two Strings)

So true to my word no one should ever respect the Academy again, or at the very least the voters because this movie’s effects are amazing. Not only are there several giant stop motion puppets but also stop motion water. I don’t think the Academy voters realize just how impressive this movie’s effects are. Sure Jungle Book looked good but Kubo’s effects blow it out of the STOP MOTION WATER. I’m glad the film was nominated though.

Best Original Song

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Lin-Manuel Miranda/Jemaine Clement – Shiny (Moana)

This was a close call between Shiny and You’re Welcome. But out of the two the song I’ve been listening to the most since seeing the film was this one. I really hope to see Lin-Manuel Miranda’s name attached to more Disney musicals in the future. Also side note how did City of Stars, a song where the only line I can remember is the first one (and only then it’s because it has the name of the song in it), beat How Far I’ll Go? Seriously Academy what’s going on here?

Best Cover Song

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Regina Spektor – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Kubo and the Two Strings)

Every year I add a new award for something I think deserves an award and this year after hearing this song and learning it was a cover I knew it needed to be included. I actually like this version of the song more than the original.

Best Original Score

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RADWIMPS (Your Name)

2016 was a good year for film soundtracks with a lot of great choices to choose from. I went with Your Name though because when I first found out that the same band that performed the songs made the film’s score I was extra impressed.

Best Director

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Makoto Shinkai (Your Name)

A big part of why I loved this movie was is animation and between this and 5 Centimeters Per Second Makoto Shinkai has proven himself to be one of the best anime directors working today. I’ve heard he feels uncomfortable about people calling him “the new Miyazaki” and that’s fair since their strengths are completely different.

Best Reprising Voice Actress

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Ellen DeGeneres as Dory (Finding Dory)

Finding Dory explores Dory more as a character as we learn about her past and Ellen does a fantastic job returning all the same charm to the character that she had in the first movie.

Best Reprising Voice Actor

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Mark Hamill as The Joker (Batman: The Killing Joke)

The Killing Joke isn’t a good movie for a lot of reasons (and I’ll admit I gave the adaptation part more credit than it deserves in my review) but the entire reason for it being made was because of the idea of hearing Mark Hamill’s iconic Joker voice saying the iconic Joker lines from the original comic and that part does deliver. Mark Hamill is still the best Joker and I’m glad this isn’t going to be his last time playing the character.

Best Reprising Actress

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Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh (Alice Through the Looking Glass)

Speaking of movies that weren’t very good that I gave too much credit in my original review I rewatched a bit of this movie recently and honestly I think a lot of the credit I originally gave the film was due to Mia Wasikowska’s performance.

Best Reprising Actor

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Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Deadpool)

While Reynolds was good as Deadpool the first time this is the movie where he finally gets to play Deadpool as he is in the comics and he does an amazing job. Honestly if I didn’t separate the reprising actors from actors playing a role for the first time this would be the Best Actor performance.

Best Supporting Actress

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Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann (Ghostbusters)

Holtzmann is my favourite Ghostbuster in general and a big part of that comes from Kate McKinnon’s perfomance. An example of how good a performance this was is the fact that even some of the less positive reviews I saw of the film still enjoyed her performance.

Best Supporting Actor

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Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther (Captain America: Civil War)

I’m really excited about the Black Panther movie coming out next year and a big part of that comes from Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Civil War. This is a movie where the best live action movie version of Spider-Man makes his first appearance and he’s still upstaged by the king of Wakanda.

Best Voice Actress

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Auli’i Cravalho as Moana Waialiki (Moana)

This is Auli’i Cravalho’s first role and she does a fantastic job, her singing voice is especially good. So far Moana is the only role listed on her IMDB page but hopefully we’ll be hearing more from her in the future.

Best Voice Actor

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Alan Tudyk as K-2SO (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

These last few years Alan Tudyk has found himself in a lot of Disney roles. Out of his roles from last year the one that stood out the most was was the reprogrammed Imperial droid with the funniest lines in the entire movie.

Best Leading Actress

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Emma Stone as Mia Dolan (La La Land)

Often when a good actor plays an actor they pretend to be bad at acting but a big part of what made Emma Stone’s performance so good was her performances in her character’s audition scenes. The other reason was because of the way she sang the audition song near the end of the film. This is also the second award that has the same result as the Oscars.

Best Leading Actor

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Bojack Horseman as Secretariat (Secretariat)

Back in the 90s he was in a very famous TV show- Wait, what is this doing here?

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange)

That’s better. A big part of why this film made it into my top 10 was thanks to this performance. This is the third time I’ve given Benedict Cumberbatch an award and each time it’s been in a different category (though the first two times were for the same character). I know many people are sick of him but he’s a very good actor and has earned his popularity.

Best Documentary

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For the Love of Spock

This was a project that I backed on Kickstarter but even if I hadn’t this would still be the best documentary I saw last year. It shares not just what made Spock such an iconic character but the personal story of Adam Nimoy’s relationship with his father.

Best Pictures

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My Top 10 Films of 2016

Rather than just highlight the best animated and live action movies I decided to highlight my entire top 10 list. Some of you might notice Captain America: Civil War is higher on the list than it used to be. The order of this list changed a lot throughout the year and even after posting that continued to happen so in the event it changes again I’m just going to give the award to the whole list. Maybe if the Academy did this they could have avoided their little mix up.

I included less awards than I did last year but kept most of the ones that I felt deserved the most attention. The only awards I regret not including are for short films as I didn’t see that many last year. While my choice to see some of the Oscar nominated movies this year only impacted two awards I’m still glad I did it and am considering doing it again next year (since I know the Oscar bait movies will get a delayed UK release again). I hope you enjoyed reading this, I look forward to doing this again next year.

Moonlight – Review

The last of the three Best Picture nominees I wanted to see before the Academy Awards themselves. The reason this film caught my attention was the amount of online reviewers I follow giving it high praise and some including it in their top 10 lists.

I liked it but it didn’t live up to the hype. It’s good but I just wasn’t amazed the way other people seemed to be. It’s probably due to my genre preferences though as this is just as good as the other Best Picture nominees I’ve seen but because I tend to prefer movies that are fun I didn’t get the same enjoyment out of it that other film reviewers had.

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The film has a great cast. It’s great seeing more from Mahershala Ali who was fantastic in Luke Cage. It’s a shame he’s only part of the first act as his character gets most of the best lines. The three actors playing Chiron do a great job of making you feel like you’re watching the same person in each act.

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I’d say the first two acts of the film are the strongest with the third act being a good conclusion to the story but dragged on a bit at times. Out of the three nominees I saw I think this and La La Land have the best chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar.

Digimon Adventure tri. 4: Soshitsu

The newest of the Digimon movies that are also episodes. It’s at this point where the release schedule starts to effect the quality of these movisodes.

There’s some interesting lore that gets explored in this right from the start as we finally see a bit of the original generation of Chosen Children (Digidestined) that existed before the original series and the Harmonious Ones. This puts some of the newer characters from the tri series in a new context. Also the evil version of Gennai gets more screentime and he’s really creepy, the fact he appears to only be a henchman is particularly interesting.

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The problem with this is that the formula has gotten tiresome. One or two members of the original team have a problem that takes the full movie to resolve resulting in their partner Digimon reaching their Mega/Ultimate stage. This particular story feels like it should have only covered one or two episodes instead of four, which it’s only doing to be a movie. I actually found Sora and Biomon’s character arc to be interesting (except the love triangle teasing, bored of that) but it was stretched out for too long keeping them from exploring the other interesting themes introduced more.

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There’s two more of these movies left with the next one set to come out some time this year (no month has been specified yet though). Hopefully that means the next one will start answering questions. What happened to the 02 characters and the real Gennai? Are Tai and Meiko going to be a thing? Does Joe’s girlfriend really exist?