Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Review

I never grew up with this show so the main thing I knew Mr. Rogers from was The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. However because this show was such a big part of the childhood of a lot of Americans it gets brought up a lot online.

This documentary does help explain not just the impact Fred Rogers and his show had on people but why the generations of people who grew up watching them covers such a large amount of people.

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Unfortunately while these are interesting things to learn about as a documentary it is pretty mediocre. Maybe that’s because I don’t have that familiarity that many of the people who really liked this documentary had but my overall thoughts after seeing it were just “that was alright”.

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So while I could just make my awards now having seen more than one documentary I feel like I need to see one more to make the award more balanced.

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Three Identical Strangers – Review

So I recently watched Sammy Paul’s top 10 movies of 2018 video and while there were a fair amount of entries on his list I haven’t seen one that really stood out was this one, especially because I realized I really hadn’t seen any documentaries from last year.

It’s very interesting and every time you think it might be nearing the end you look and realize there’s still a load of details left to talk about. And while these three were famous this movie was my first exposure to this story which made each reveal that much more shocking to the point I think that even though this is a true story you might want to avoid spoilers for this one.

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However one detail that you notice early enough to not really count as a spoiler is that because the present day segments only include two of the triplets it’s very clear that at some point while you watch this things do get tragic. And with that in mind I think it is important to be aware of this side of the story if the topic of suicide is one that closely impacts you.

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This is a very interesting story and from what I can tell it’s been told well. That being said as far as documentaries about identical siblings reuniting go I still think Twinsters is a much better film. I’ll try and watch one more documentary before I do my awards post I make after the Oscars so I at least have a choice for a Best Documentary award.

Wild Rose – Review

While there have been a couple of Screen Unseens already this year this was the first I’ve been too. Normally these films are ones that have already been out in America for a month or two (maybe more) but aren’t out in the UK yet. This time it’s a UK film we got to see before the wide release with the previous showings (in 2018 making it a 2018 film by my rules) were at festivals.

It’s a decent film but nothing all that special. A big part of why this review is a few days late is that I had trouble thinking of things to say about it. The main character arc for Jessie Buckley’s characters works but it’s not exactly anything new.

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The main reason to see this would be for the performances. The interactions between Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters’ characters as cliche as they may be are very well acted and they work really well together. Jessie Buckley is also a great singer making the song segments a lot of fun too.

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I enjoyed the film while watching it but when I look back on it I just think it was alright. However I will admit that maybe the experience will be different for people who are more into country music or grew up in Glasgow so if you saw the trailer and liked what you saw you should go and see it when it comes out. Otherwise it’s really something you maybe watch on Netflix or Sky Movies, good for watching in the evening but not something you need to pay to see.

A Silent Voice – Review

After waiting too long I finally got around to watching this. I also rewatched Naoko Yamada’s first two films before watching it and was reminded of just how good they were too, not just as movies of their respective franchises but in general.

It’s really good. It centers around darker subjects than most of Yamada’s work such as bullying, self hatred and attempts at suicide. The core theme of the movie is forgiveness but less about being able to forgive someone who bullied you (Shoko forgives Shoya pretty quickly) and more about being able to forgive yourself when you feel you don’t deserve redemption. But despite being so different from the rest of her work this is very much a Naoko Yamada film and it’s really hard to say how exactly.

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The visuals are really impressive. This movie is based on a manga and after looking it up I can see what elements are drawn from that source material. One of the most notable examples is the use of X marks on the faces of people to represent Shoya’s inability to look at people’s faces. Then there’s the other details in the art and animation that are hard to describe but you’ll understand when you see it.

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A lot of the strengths of the movie come when we learn more about Shoko as a character, her perspective and how see feels about herself and her impact on the people around her. To say more would be going into spoilers so I’ll end by saying if you’re an anime fan and haven’t seen this yet you should. If you have seen it you should consider watching Naoko Yamada’s other movies and shows. On that note…

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All four of these films are really good and this order could very easily change by the time her next film comes out, especially if I watch Sound! Euphonium by then. This year I’ll hopefully be able to make more of these images for directors as well as series.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Review

I’ve enjoyed all the LEGO movies so far. They’ve each have their own charm and are really creative with the ways they design and use various elements. Now after two spin-off movies it’s time for a follow up to the first movie.

I really liked it. It’s neat getting to see just how much the spin-offs have added to the series even just by looking at Batman. The animation in these movies has always been impressive but keep finding new ways to impress with a stand out of this movie being the shapeshifting Queen Watevra Wa’nabi who of course gets two musical sequences to showcase these abilities in rapid succession.

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And of course being a LEGO movie you’ve got to talk about the LEGO itself. The first movie made me comfortable seeing regular minifigs and licenced minifigs side by side and this movie throws mini-dolls into the mix. The new characters have some really cool designs while the returning ones have fitting updates both to match the Apocalypse and Systar system as well as small changes like Emmet’s figure looking more worn out. They’re all really great figure designs both in and out of the movie.

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If you’ve been a fan of the other LEGO movies you’ll enjoy this one. I don’t know if we’ll return to the full cast again, at least for a while anyway, but I’m glad to know we have at least two more spin-offs planned. And now that there’s 4 of them that means it can have a movie ranking image.

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Now to see how long I can resist the urge to buy some of these new sets…

Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost – Review

Out of the many Scooby-Doo shows one I had a lot of fond memories of watching as a kid was The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, which notably ended without capturing the 13th ghost… until now. The premise of this movie is an interesting one, a 13 Ghosts reunion with Fred and Velma along for the ride to catch the 13th ghost? Sounds great.

Unfortunately the end result is pretty underwhelming, it’s pretty much just your average modern Scooby-Doo movie and while there are some neat nods to The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo it just doesn’t feel like a proper conclusion to the series. Also can we stop ignoring Scrappy already. I know a lot of people hate him but you’d think even they would understand that he should be part of a 13 Ghosts reunion but he’s flat out absent from the recap credits and only gets a single mention from Flim-Flam that is quickly dismissed. Still that’s more than Bogel and Weerd got, they’re completely absent from this movie. And they don’t even include the 13 Ghosts opening theme, the best Scooby-Doo opening.

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As for positives this is movie has several moments that give Daphne a chance to shine, this really is her movie. Maurice LaMarche does an excellent Vincent Price impression making Vincent Van Ghoul’s scenes a lot of fun. The references we do get to the original show are pretty neat and at least show that there was some love for the show from the creative team, even if they clearly disliked other elements of it. Also while the gang discovering the existence of real ghosts for the first time gets old fast this movie’s status as a sequel at least meant that Shaggy, Scooby and Daphne were all aware from the start.

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On that note I feel this movie highlights a weakness with a lot of Scooby-Doo media lately, the status quo. They always have to go back to being in their default state by the end. It’s especially bad for Velma who has the exact same arc every time real ghosts are introduced with this movie even making sure she goes back to not believing in them by the end. I think WB like toying with the idea of making drastic changes to Scooby and the gang but can never commit to it. This is an alright movie but not lacking for anyone who was a fan of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. Also Flim-Flam being older is completely pointless.

Alita: Battle Angel – Review

I haven’t read the original manga of Gunnm or watched the OVA (though it is only 2 episodes so I might watch it at some point) so I went into this movie knowing only what I’d seen in the trailers. Those trailers did look like it had the potential to be a pretty good movie and Rosa Salazar was really good in the Maze Runner sequels.

It’s a pretty good movie. The action scenes are really good and exactly what you want out of a live action manga adaptation. While it’s not saying much this is without a doubt the best live action manga adaptation movie I’ve seen. And while I can’t say how well it depicts the original story judging just as a movie I really liked it.

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Rosa Salazar is great here too and while I liked Brenda in the Maze Runner movies Alita is a much better character. The CGI for her is also really impressive, especially when you look at behind the scenes footage and see just how much of her is CG. The rest of the cast are good too with Mahershala Ali being one of the stand outs. I do wish the movie didn’t underuse Lana Condor but apparently her character appears more often in later sections of the manga so maybe she’ll have a bigger role in a potential sequel.

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I do hope this does get a sequel, not just because it set one up but because I can tell that they’re only just getting started introducing this world and its characters. But if it doesn’t get one I guess I could just read the manga. Two movies in an 2019 is off to a pretty good start.