Tallulah – Review

Last night I decided to watch another 2016 film on Netflix and as it turns out one had just been added the day before. And as the featured image suggests it’s a Netflix Original too.

Like with The Fundamentals of Caring I went into this knowing only what the Netflix description said. So far Netflix has been a pretty useful source of films to watch this year in terms of quality (quantity is sadly pretty low) because this film is really good.

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I’ve only seen a small handful of the films Ellen Page has been in but she’s great in all of them and was the first thing that stood out about the film when scrolling through Netflix’s new releases. She gives another great performance here as a lot of her character’s charm comes from Page’s delivery. It’s also nice seeing her work with fellow Juno star Allison Janney again.

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This is a very character driven story and having such a great cast really helps, with a different cast my thoughts on this film could have been very different. I also have to make note of some really cleverly shot scene transitions for flashbacks and dream sequences. This is director Sian Heder’s first film but she has worked on a few TV shows and short films beforehand and that experience really shows.

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If you’ve got a Netflix account and have already finished the latest seasons of Bojack Horseman and Orange is the New Black and want something to watch while waiting for Luke Cage I recommend checking this film out. I look forward to seeing what other films I’ll find through Netflix this year.

The BFG – Review

This has been a pretty good month for watching movies. This makes 6 2016 films I’ve seen in one month, three of which I watched in the cinema. Hopefully I’ll match that next month, maybe even surpass it. I decided to wrap up this month’s cinema trips by seeing what the combination of Disney, Steven Spielberg and Roald Dhal is like.

It’s been a long time since the book was read to me as a child and I saw the previous film adaptation but watching this it certainly captured the way I remember the story. It’s also got a very clear Spielberg feel to it, you can see the effect he’s had on the film.

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This film’s biggest strengths are in the visuals. Dream Country and the BFG’s house both look really impressive and the effects for the dreams are pretty neat. The BFG himself looks great, he resembles the classic book illustrations while also looking realistic.

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A topic I remember one of my friends bringing up about this film before was concern about the giants being too scary for children. Having seen it though I think most children of the intended age group should be fine. The giants can be intimidating but they’re more like the giants you see in other fantasy and fairy tale films than the more monstrous designs they had in the old film which are more like the titans from Attack on Titan.

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If you enjoyed the book as a child and like Spielberg movies you should like this too. This is one of the better Roald Dahl adaptations I’ve seen, which is a good thing because I did not care for the last two I saw, especially Fantastic Mr Fox which was awful.

Batman: The Killing Joke – Review

The Killing Joke, an iconic comic praised for its depiction of the Joker and criticized for the way it treated Barbara Gordon. Before this movie was even announced this was always a story that DC fans felt very strongly about, some consider it a beloved classic while others see it as an example of the horrible ways female characters are treated in comics. This is also the film Mark Hamill has gone on record saying that he’d reprise the role for even after considering retiring from playing the Joker. And those are just the details surrounding the idea of a Killing Joke movie.

The problem with reviewing this movie is that it comes in two parts. One part is an adaptation of the Alan Moore comic, the other is an entirely new story about Batgirl that was added to give her a bigger role (but also to pad for time because it’s a pretty short film otherwise). This new story has been the subject of a lot of controversy and when you look up The Killing Joke on Google the articles talking about the movie are focused on this.

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The Batgirl prologue is terrible and would be terrible even without the parts that make it controversial. The story is almost half an hour long and does not fit in with the rest of the movie. Not only is the story completely unrelated but the art direction looks like it belongs in a completely different Batman movie (making Batman himself look really out of place in his Killing Joke design), characters are shown using modern looking phones despite no such devices being used in the actual adaptation. In the end when it finally transitioned into the main feature I couldn’t help but think “what did any of that have to do with The Killing Joke?”

And yes lets talk about the controversial part, the fact this story is about Batgirl and Batman having an abusive relationship which eventually leads to them having sex. This didn’t come out of nowhere either, it was foreshadowed by a bunch of scenes of Barbara talking to her stereotypical gay best friend about her relationship with her “yoga teacher”. And this was supposed to be the thing that they added to make up for Barbara’s treatment in the original comic. Oh and none of this story gets referenced during the actual adaptation. I think they had good intentions in trying to expand Barbara’s role but how anyone thought the end result was a good idea is a mystery.

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In contrast the actual adaptation of The Killing Joke is really good. They take the script almost word for word from the original comic and the visuals are much better than they seem in the trailer. And of course having Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy in the starring roles is what really makes this adaptation work.

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Mark Hamill is particularly amazing in this. After all this time his Joker performance is still the best. Hearing these iconic Joker lines spoken by the best Joker voice is everything I wanted out of a Killing Joke movie. It’s also great to hear his take on the man the Joker was before becoming the Joker (or at least the man he remembers being at that point in time). If this really is his last time playing the Joker it’s an amazing performance to go out on.

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Personally I’d recommend skipping the Batgirl prologue and just watching the actual adaptation. If you liked the original comic you’ll enjoy it, if you hated it maybe just go look up the iconic quote scenes on YouTube. And who knows, maybe they’ll release an adaptation only cut of the movie (probably not though).

Ghostheads – Review

The Ghostbusters fandom recently just seems to be getting worse. The attitude I’ve seen towards people who like the new film (or even just think it was ok) has been ridiculous and of course you have the racists who harassed Leslie Jones on Twitter. So when I saw there was a Ghostbusters fandom documentary on Netflix I was a bit concerned.

Fortunately this documentary shows the other side of this fandom. It serves as a reminder that no matter how horrible a fandom can get there is still that positive side that has a real impact on people’s lives.

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I think the thing that really helped this documentary was that whenever the new film was brought up people’s views were positive. There was excitement about the filming, respect for Paul Feig, an understanding that it was going to be its own thing and one of the fans they interviewed cosplayed as Holtzmann.

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As far as fandom documentaries go it’s alright, I’d say I prefer the two Brony documentaries though. Unfortunately there’s not much to say about it overall so this is a pretty show review. I am planning to watch another film on Netflix shortly though, not a documentary this time (at least as far as I can tell anyway).

The Fundamentals of Caring – Review

So last night I decided to scroll Netflix’s New Releases section for 2016 films (on that note Netflix really needs to add to option to search by year or add a “films from this year” section). Last year when I did this I found the documentary Twinsters which I really liked and included in my top 10. The film I found this time was a Netflix Original called The Fundamentals of Caring.

So I went into this film knowing nothing about it. I hadn’t seen the trailer above this paragraph and I’d never heard of it before. I just knew it was a Netflix Original movie from 2016. That said when you open the film up on Netflix it’s pretty clear from the images that one of the main characters is in a wheelchair and in films there are concerns when this happens, especially when the actor playing them isn’t in a wheelchair and the film is from the perspective of a character who isn’t in a wheelchair. I was reminded of the criticism directed at the film Me Before You (which I haven’t seen) that bring up similar details.

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Fortunately this film’s tone is a lot more lighthearted than that other film appears to be. There are emotional subplots but the strength of this movie is the comedy. The focus of the film is the road trip and the back and forth trolling between the two leads.

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Honestly I’d say the weakest area of this film would probably be the emotional moments. Not for the reason I feared though, they were just a little too predictable. Paul Rudd’s character in particular you know exactly where each of his subplots are going the moment they’re brought up. The exception to this however is the romance between Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez’s characters Trevor and Dot which is both cute and funny.

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The film was alright. It’s funny and has a great cast but I don’t think I’d have seen this had it come out in the cinema (probably wouldn’t have even heard of it). If you’re browsing Netflix for a film to watch like I did it’s a good choice. I’ll be sure to check Netflix for more films throughout the year, especially since I haven’t seen any documentaries yet…

Kung Fu Panda 3 – Review

The original Kung Fu Panda was one of those Dreamworks movies I originally skipped until I started hearing good things about it. As some readers may remember I was planning to see this earlier in the year while it was still in cinemas but ended up going to see Zootopia instead. Now that it’s out on DVD I decided it was time to finally watch it.

The returning voice cast continue to do a great job. The majority of the Furious Five members are still underused but some do get a bit more dialogue than previous films. Bryan Cranston and J.K. Simmons are great additions to the cast and it was nice hearing Randall Duk Kim reprise his role as Oogway from the first film.

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Something that the Kung Fu Panda movies have always been really good at are their visuals and this film is no exception. The scenery is stunning and after seeing Little Door Gods earlier this year I can actually see the influence Chinese animation has had on this film.

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Another standout trait of this film is the soundtrack. Kai’s theme in particular is really neat and sets the tone every time he enters a scene swinging his blades. There’s also a Chinese cover of Kung Fu Fighting. I’d say this film has the best score of 2016 so far and includes some of Hans Zimmer’s best work.

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Overall this is a fun film. If you liked the other films you’ll enjoy this one. Apparently there are plans to make more films in this series but if they give up on those plans this is a good place to end the story. Besides there are other Dreamworks films that deserve a sequel, like Megamind (seriously Megamind is one of their best films).

Ghostbusters (2016) – Review

There has been a lot of hate directed at this movie for extremely petty reasons. This is of course to be expected of reboots of iconic film franchises but the hate for this film has been ridiculous. Of course there’s the elephant in the room that is the sexism (along with the backlash you get for even acknowledging the sexism) but even ignoring that I’ve yet to find a valid criticism for this movie. Meanwhile I’ve liked the look of this film ever since they first started showing pictures of the cast in character.

I really liked this movie. In fact it’s one of the better films I’ve seen this year, I’ll be surprised if it isn’t part of my top 10 my the end of the year. It’s very funny, the cast did a great job and most importantly it’s a different story. The only worry I had about this film was that I didn’t want it to just be the original film but with the genders reversed, I wanted a new story with its own characters and that’s what I got. Of course it’s not too different either, there are parallels to the original that help make it feel like a Ghostbusters movie.

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As I said one of the things I liked about this movie from the start are the designs. In fact it’s an area it surpasses the original in by a long shot, especially when translating into different art style. They also remind me of The Real Ghostbusters designs which is another plus for me being a fan of that show when I was younger.

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All four leads did a fantastic job but Kate McKinnon steals the show as Holtzmann. She is the funniest character and is entertaining just about every time she is on screen. This is only the second film I’ve seen her in (the first being a small part in Angry Birds) but I’m really looking forward to seeing more from her.

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Out of the three Paul Feig movies I’ve seen (the other two being Bridesmaids and Spy) this is his best. Also for fans of the Ghostbusters franchise there are some entertaining cameos and several variations of the original theme (but the first you hear is the original).

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In conclusion this is great addition to the Ghostbusters franchise and I’m really looking forward to the LEGO Dimensions Story Pack it’s getting in September. Also be sure to stay after the credits. Now I’m off to Tumblr to reblog gifsets of this movie.