Beautiful Boy – Review

Another Screen Unseen film, I saw the people guessing this film on the Screen Unseen subreddit but it wasn’t exactly a film I’d heard of, none of the American film critics I follow reviewed it when it came out over there.

It’s hard to say if this is good or not. Drug addiction isn’t exactly something I know much about but I am aware that it’s a tricky subject to cover in a movie. I also can’t really say if this movie covers the experiences of the real David and Nic Sheff well having never read the books this movie was influenced by. All I can judge it by is how it works as a movie and I don’t think it flows well as one. The flashback placements were awkward with many being hard to tell they’re flashbacks at first. I also understand the point of making the movie repetitive to highlight the fact that addiction is repetitive but it just made the film feel long.

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The strength of the movie is in the performances of the two leads. Timothée Chalamet has already received a fair amount of nominations and awards for his performance as Nic while Steve Carell gets to show off his ability to play a more serious role with David (I’m sure he’s done it before but this was the first serious performance of his that I’ve seen). This isn’t a film I’d recommend but it is one I wouldn’t be surprised to see get a few Oscar nomination, it ticks a lot of Oscar bait boxes.

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This was probably the last Screen Unseen of the year since I doubt we’re getting one on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. I saw 6 films using Screen Unseen this year and really liked half of them (I, Tonya, A Simple Favour and Sorry to Bother You), not a bad track record for my first year using it. Look out for more Screen Unseen reviews next year.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Review

This was the Marvel movie I was the most excited for this year, even during the height of Infinity War hype. Outside of Big Hero 6 we haven’t really had a big screen animated Marvel movie, and even Big Hero 6 doesn’t exactly promote itself as being Marvel. So when I found out we were getting an animated Spider-Man movie with Mile Morales as the main character I was excited and the more I heard about it the more that excitement grew.

It’s great, without a doubt one of the best films of this year. As an animation fan I really like the unique things they do with the visuals including the best recreation of the look of a comic since Scott Pilgrim. The no glasses 3D look for some of the background visuals stands out more in the first few minutes before Miles gets his powers but is more subtle as the movie moves forward.

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The choice of Spiders for this film was perfect. Of course you have Miles, Peter and Gwen as the ones who get the most attention being the most popular and iconic while Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir and SP//dr are each unique enough to highlight the differences between universes for audiences less familiar with alternate universe versions of Spider-Man while also being fan favourites to those who do know them. I especially like how these three are also animated differently to reflect the influences and styles of their respective universes. Oh and to those who know might be wondering, yes Spider-Ham does have his origin story from the comics.

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Of course the star of the film is Miles Morales. This is a great take on the character and his origin story, it has the right mix of similarities and differences with the original comic. This film is a must see for fans of animation, superhero movies, Spider-Man and especially fans of all three. Oh and being a Marvel movie there is a post-credit scene and it’s hilarious. Before seeing this I rewatched all the other Spider-Man movies so I could figure out my ranking order for them, so here it is

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I do want to have more of these movie ranking images for superhero movies, so far it’s just Spider-Man and Teen Titans. Next year I’m going to try and aim to get them for Batman, Superman and the MCU.

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes – Review

While I’ve not been able to keep up to date on as many anime shows as I used to one I have been following has been My Hero Academia. And so when I heard we were getting a movie for the series this year I was excited but was worried I wouldn’t be able to see it until next year. But then I found out not only was it showing in the UK this year but at my local Vue. Still have to wait until January for the Broly movie though.

As a fan of the show I had a blast watching this, and it was great being in a crowd that knew all these characters as much as I did (or in the case of manga readers more than me) and reacted to each character entrance. Also since we went to see the subbed screening when they accidentally started playing the dub we were all confused and while they paused the movie to switch to the sub we were talking and a few of us had the same “is this the dub or are they just speaking English because this scene is in America?” reaction until All Might spoke with Chris Sabat’s voice.

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On that note one of the big strengths of this movie is the fact it is canon and provides new details about All Might’s backstory including the context for why all his attacks are named after American states. While it’s unclear if the movie characters will reappear in the manga/anime they still feel important to the overall story in a way that is rare for characters introduced in movies. I do hope we do see them again though, especially because I want to see how Melissa Shield and Mei Hatsume would interact.

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If you’re a fan of the series you should enjoy this, there’s plenty of great moments for fans including a spectacular final fight where All Might and Deku team up, something they never got to do in the main series. For those who haven’t seen/read the series there are some scenes designed to catch you up on details of how the world and the two leads work but honestly I’d still recommend checking out the anime first. Also yes that is a hero that looks like Godzilla, being a Toho film they even got to use the official roar sound.

The Princess Switch – Review

So as well as making a sequel to A Christmas Prince Netflix clearly must have decided that the response to the success of the film was to make another Christmas romance about royalty. This time with a Prince and the Pauper twist.

It’s pretty silly but much like with A Christmas Prince if you go in understanding it’s going to be a cheesy Christmas romance you should be fine with how cheesy it is, and oh boy is this cheesy. Of course a lot of the fun of body double movies that don’t use actual twins is seeing the different performances from one actor and while her duchess voice is a stereotypical upper class voice (free from accent criticism by being from a fictional location) I do think seeing the different voices Vanessa Hudgens gets to toy around with is one of the most fun parts of the movie.

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Also speaking of A Christmas Prince they watch it in this. No seriously there is a scene in a Netflix Original Christmas movie where characters are scrolling through Netflix and watch a Netflix Original Christmas movie. And the funny thing is The Christmas Chronicles had a scene where someone was watching Stranger Things, apparently Netflix has started putting “if you like this, why not watch this” ads in the middle of their movies now. Looking forward to the scene in season 2 of She-Ra where Adora is watching Hilda.

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Much like the other Netflix Christmas movies there’s not much point talking about recommendations, I think from the title alone you can probably figure out if this is for you or not. Personally I enjoyed it, it’s silly but a fun kind of silly. Next up it’s back to the Vue for another anime movie.

The Christmas Chronicles – Review

Out of this year’s Netflix Christmas movies this is the one I’ve seen get the most attention. The useful thing about Netflix is that when they release their Christmas movies a little too early for Christmas you can still wait until December to watch them, unlike that Disney Nutcracker movie that isn’t showing anymore because cinemas need screens for newer movies.

It’s a fun movie. It’s a classic kids meet Santa and need to save Christmas story and weirdly it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these. If you’ve seen any of this type of movie before you’ll know where each scene is going but honestly much like A Christmas Prince the cliches are part of the charm. The first few minutes have a bit of an awkward pace as is usually the case for setting up the status quo before breaking it, once Santa is brought into the story it picks up.

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Of course the main strength of the film is also the main selling point, Kurt Russell as Santa. The best scenes are these that focus on him and his interactions with minor characters. I also like the designs of this movie, it’s always neat seeing the festive technology designs in newer Santa movies.

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I think if you like the look of the film from the trailer you’ll probably have fun. There’s a couple more Netflix Christmas movies to watch, I’m going to watch one of them tonight but the 4th will have to wait as I have some other movies planned to watch this week…

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding – Review

Last year Netflix released A Christmas Prince, a cheesy Christmas romance movie that was enjoyable if you were in the mood for watching a cheesy Christmas romance movie. I liked the cast and characters so I was happy to learn there would be a sequel.

While some of the same charm is there not nearly as much focus is on it. With the first movie you could look past, ignore or even accept the flaws as just being what you expect from a cheesy, cliche filled typical Christmas love story but this movie now has something to live up to as most people watching this will be people who liked the first movie and want to see more from these characters.

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A lot of the biggest weaknesses come from new elements introduced to this movie. For example Amber’s father has been recast and while the actor change was most likely due to schedule conflicts and is understandable he’s written like a completely different character whose entire personality is “I’m from Brooklyn”. There’s also a wedding planner character whose entire performance is just a mix of Indian and camp gay guy stereotype voices. These flaws stand out more because they’re the main difference between this movie and the last one.

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When the movie does focus on the returning characters and their interactions that’s when the charm of the first movie is back but even then there’s a disappointment because their character arcs feel way too short. There’s even a redemption arc for Simon, one of the antagonists of the first movie, that is pretty much just “I’m good now”. Even though the main couple are now married and the titular Christmas Prince is really a Christmas King considering all the new couples they set up but don’t technically have get together I can see this getting another sequel if it does well. As for me I’ve got a lot more movies to watch this month, including two more Netflix Christmas movies…

Ralph Breaks the Internet – Review

This is one of the movies I was most excited about seeing this year. The first movie was my #1 movie of 2012 and is one of my favourite Disney movies. I’m also a big fan of crossovers and miss the huge Disney crossover that includes Marvel and Star Wars element of Disney Infinity so of course that element of this movie was always going to appeal to me.

It’s a great movie. While I do still prefer the first movie this one was still a blast from start to finish and is up there with Summer Wars and Digimon Adventure: Our War Game as one of the best visual depictions of the internet in film. Much like the first movie while all the crossovers and cameos are a lot of fun the main strength is the story they tell with this setup, as someone who has close friends that have moved away to pursue their own interests the conflicts Ralph and Vanellope deal with are pretty relatable.

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Of course all the crossover, internet and reference content is still a big part of the movie’s charm too and oh boy is it a blast. The Disney Princesses scenes are like the Pocket Princesses webcomic brought to life, there’s a fun bit of 2D animation in the background of Humphrey the Bear and J. Audubon Woodlore and a glorious Disney medley track in a scene I won’t spoil but you’ll know it when you see it. I really like the way the websites are depicted in this world in ways that just make perfect sense, any real world website with more than a background cameo has so much more creativity put into their design than any of the apps in The Emoji Movie. Especially eBay, depicting it as a regular auction makes perfect sense and they need to implement the eBoy into the site’s layout as soon as possible.

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As a fan of animation, Disney, video games and internet media it’s like this movie was made for me. I know some people are going to be disappointed it doesn’t have as much focus on video games as the first one but I loved seeing more of how this world works. Also be sure to watch the credits, not just for the two bonus scenes but for some pretty funny gags in the visual credits. Really everyone should have the rule of always staying to watch visual credits.